The bad news about Obamacare just keeps getting worse. In addition to recent reports that colleges are dropping higher costing student health plans prescribed under the law’s provisions, we now discover that Obamacare puts a new excise tax on one of the remaining areas of job creating and innovation in which we still lead the world – medical device manufacturing. It’s one of the few industries left that contributes to the positive side of our trade balance, and provides over 400,000 direct jobs and about two million indirect support jobs. Here I’m talking about CT scanners, pacemakers, blood pressure devices, and even the new robots used in surgery.
In ‘Obamacare’s Killer Device Tax’ Dr Henry Miller writes that “the US leads the world in medical technology. A punitive new excise levy jeopardizes jobs and innovation.” Team Obama sees this industry as the next one it can attack in order to further disable American leadership in innovation and commerce. Obamacare will impose a new add-on 2.3% excise tax on medical devices that kicks in next January. This is a serious kick in the shorts because of the high regulatory cost of jumping through hoops, and the long accrual of sales revenues required before ROI becomes positive. It isn’t that hard overseas.
And what happened to this year's five million new citizens that became of age and didn't bump the number in the workforce? Lots of possible answers, "Or are more of the long-term unemployed becoming the never-again employed?" The labor market participation has increased since the 1940s, then leveled and started going down around 2000, causing a lot of people to look for reasons. My money is also on the govt worker retirees whose outlandish pensions came due, and made it easy to drop out early. Meanwhile on the campaign trail the Big Lie machine about how our economy is creating jobs under the Messiah is in full swing. Daily the real news belies every bit of his empty braggadocio.
‘Testing is not Teaching’ is the growing cry of parents of minority kids across the country. The teachers unions like NEA are joining in and asking that Congress roll back testing mandates that started under Bush2’s No Child Left Behind and were picked up by Obama’s Race to the Top. The charges against testing range from being unfair to teachers, having arbitrary scoring levels, being poorly designed, to stifling the more creative aspects of education. Teachers are accused of teaching to the tests, and they are not doing a good job at it. Meanwhile other school districts are saying that their teachers have not changed their curricula, are not teaching to the tests, and that their kids are doing quite well on such tests.
I’m a proponent of standardized testing in core skill areas like reading, writing, and math. Testing can also be useful in confirming what kids have learned in the hard sciences like physics and chemistry. But things get squishier when you add in questions about sociology, literature, and even civics. The opponents of testing don’t tell us about reliable alternatives for measuring how kids and teachers are doing in the learning and teaching of critical skills that underpin the ability to do well in all the other subjects, and in life.
For reasons that I don’t understand, the cost of testing has also gone up, even with the introduction of computers and other technology. And that is part and parcel of the overall cost of education that is sky rocketing, again for reasons that both academics and economists are attempting to discover. Over the years why does it cost more and more to turn out Susies and Johnnies who know less than ever?
And did you catch that some school children from LA are suing California for promoting a "statutory scheme" that keeps bad teachers in classrooms, especially classrooms in low-income schools.
Climbing Sugar Mountain. Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is going to hit the merciless markets on Friday, and no one really knows what it’s worth. Why? Well, Facebook’s market cap will be based on “finding ways to make money that haven’t been demonstrated or articulated yet.” No one is sure that ads on the social medium work, and dealing in the vast amounts of collected user data is an uncertain minefield. And young Mr Zuckerberg has not exactly been sending strong signals about his concern for profits and acumen in being CEO of a public company, one that will be under intense scrutiny by everyone. But what the hell - got a hunch, bet a bunch – after all, people are saying that out the gate Facebook will be worth ten times as much as Google was at its IPO.