Assorted links

by on August 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Memoir of Bombay.

2. Your Japanese toilet can be hacked.

3. Photos from a visit to the Yakuza.

4. Public unions and ACA nervousness.

5. I am pleased to have made this Time list of the best bloggers.  The discussion of MR is here.

6. Free download of Calestous Juma, The New Harvest, a very good book on agriculture in Africa.

7. How do dogs show their love?  And do they actually have mixed emotions toward you?

日本鬼子 August 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

(2) is apparently based on insufficient research.

From the comments: “(…) to pair with the Bluetooth toilet, you must have physical access to the toilet to put it in pairing mode. Thirdly, the dryer and bidet functions won’t work if a human is not on the toilet. Thus, you can’t just flush the toilets in random stranger’s homes from afar anonymously; you must first have physical access to the SATIS.”

jdm August 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

5. Congrats and well deserved.

dearieme August 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

What is this “Time” of which you speak?

Brian Donohue August 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm

#4. The clash between ACA and gold-plated public sector benefits is just too delicious. I’m estimating the sympathy level from the general public to hover around zero.

ThomasH August 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm

ACA was designed to reduce the link between employment (where you work and if you work) and access to health insurance. The “Cadillac” tax is a logical component. It does affect employees/firms that chose to accept/pay a higher portion of the wage in the form of health insurance coverage, but that should not cause any tears. Not everyone can benefit equally and some not at all from millions of people getting insurance for the first time.

Eric H August 5, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Look how close Marx came to being right, only we backed into it. Fewer and fewer employers offering full time jobs with benefits until there was only government jobs, and munis can’t afford what the workers demand, so the entire SCM* benefit system has to be nationalized. Only now the workers of the world will unite in opposition. Or something.

*State County Municipal, as any Ackroyd fan will know, since you can’t have SCMODS without SCM

Brian Donohue August 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

“should not cause any tears”. Did you read the link? Cuz you’re already wrong.

Ad Nauseum August 6, 2013 at 11:13 am

The “Cadillac” tax has arguable benefits, but wouldn’t it be more logical to either tax all health plans or none at all?

And yeah, the unions kinda stepped in it this time, suppose its time for them to change the way they bargain.

Brian O August 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The article points to ACA as forcing this, but I think it’s just an element of a larger pressure knocking down unrealistic and unsustainable public benefits and pensions. If ACA didn’t do it the burgeoning renegotiation through bankruptcy movement that began in Detroit would be the alternative.

As far as public sympathy, there sure isn’t much here in Chicago for teachers arguing they need their benefits and pensions to the detriment of the students.

mulp August 6, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Right, given government is refusing to control health care costs and individuals can’t because individually they lack the market power, the government officials want to blame Obama – right now, everything is blamed on Obama – so the use that to justify cutting health benefits, and cutting wages at the same time, I’m sure.

The union benefits are currently no where near being taxed:

“Under the tax, plans that cost above a certain threshold in 2018 — $10,200 annually for individual plans and $27,500 for family plans, with slightly higher cutoffs for retirees and those in high-risk professions like law enforcement — will be taxed at 40 percent of their costs in excess of the limit. (The thresholds will rise with inflation after 2018.)

“State and local governments across the country tend to offer more expensive health plans than private businesses do, and workers often accept smaller wage increases to retain their benefits. Because of this, state and local government employees are expected to be disproportionately represented among those whose plans will be subject to the tax.

“New York City expects its two most popular employee health plans to reach taxable Cadillac levels by 2018 or shortly after. This year, the city projects that it will pay a total of $7,128 for individuals and $18,249 for families in its most popular plan, including the costs the city pays into union welfare funds to cover prescription drug benefits. That is above the national average for employer-sponsored health care coverage, which last year was $5,615 for single coverage and $15,745 for family coverage, according to a 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation survey.”

To reach the threshold for being taxed, premiums must increase 7.5% annually for the NY union individual. That is an average increase higher than the average annual employer benefit cost increase over the past decade.

Does anyone think that the repeal of Obamacare would result in government officials saying, “oh, no tax, great, let’s do nothing about those 7.5% annual increases on health benefits because it is so cheap at $10,200 for an individual worker!”

Of course, the tax is only on the cost in excess of $10,200, so to pay a $1000 tax, the premium would need to be $13,700 – an annual increase of more than 12%.

Just more blame Obama… Wages have stagnated since 1980, blame Obama. Job security has declined since 1980, blame Obama. Deficits and debt have exploded since 1980, blame Obama. Health care costs have risen out of control since 1980, blame Obama. Gridlock in Congress has ridden since 1990, blame Obama. The conservatives designed a bad policy of mandating buying private insurance in the 90s, blame Obama. Conservatives argued for taxing high cost benefits, but that isn’t popular, so blame Obama.

Adrian Ratnapala August 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm

#1: The foodie talk makes me wonder if anything like that can happen in Europe.

The thesis is that migrants bring their dishes to Bombay, which as a result has the best food. Later migrants find that they have to up the standard of their dishes in order to sell in Bombay, and the resulting improved dishes are re-exported throughout India.

Where else can this happen? Singapore? London? New York?

And if you follow the common thread between the above four cities, what about Hong Kong?

Alexei Sadeski August 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Suspect that a good organized crime culture helps keep street crime super low. Chaotic organized crime situation in US may explain stubbornly high murder rates of some areas.

GeorgeDoehner August 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm

#4: There comes a point in every revolution when the sheep finally see the wolf. The public sector unions thought they would be spared and now they see that was a mistake. Of course, it is too late. It is always too late. They are not alone. Doctors now see that their lobbying group is just a bunch of grifters who sold them down the river. Insurers are finding out that it is not the bonanza they imagined.

All products and services are rationed. No exceptions. That reality will eventually unravel all of these health care schemes.

charlie August 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I don’t know. Insurance companies seem to be doing very well as they’ll sell insurance to people who don’t need it.

And it is pigs, not sheep?

Mike August 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm

5. Well deserved but would be better with more Tyrone

Andrew' August 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

“How do dogs show their love?” Doggy style?

Anyway, I wonder why they didn’t mention the quality of the comments this time…

Anon. August 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm

prior_approval ruined them.

Ben August 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

As a very long time reader congratulations on the recognition by Time. All of this from part time work!

Alan August 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Are you surprised or disappointed that Andrew Sullivan did not make the list?

Tony August 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm

“The Yakuza Hacked My Toilet” would be a great title for someone’s memoir.

revver August 6, 2013 at 12:38 am

4. Ahh…Excuse me while I indulge in left vs. left shadenfreude, sweeter than honey it is.

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