Archive for November, 2009

Single Page National Health Care Plan

November 23, 2009

Health care coverage basically boils down to four (4) questions:

Q1. Who needs it?
Q2. What do they need?
Q3. How much will it cost?
Q4. Who pays?

Instead of 1000-2000 page documents like what Congress likes to produce, a comprehensive and comprehendible starting structure for a national healthcare plan can be formatted on a couple of spreadsheets.  It would look something like the following:


(This was created from spreadsheet & not a stone tablet. Feel free to create your own.)

Q1. Who needs it?

*Gender – Female/Male
*Age – 0-12/12-18/18-25/25-40/40-65/65+

Q2. What do they need?
The U.S. Department of Health &  Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaide Services has published a listing of Category Definitions for National Healthcare Expenditures.


Well vs. sick care

Insurance Coverage

Q3. How much will it cost?
(Fill in the blanks.)

Q4. Who pays?
(Fill in the blanks.)

To address national healthcare, or any other issue, you:

1. Insert numbers in the blank cells of the spreadsheet.

2. Sort the numbers in descending order, from biggest to smallest.

3. Make a bar chart showing the numbers from biggest to smallest.

4. Start with the biggest bar on the chart.


Or… can start with 1000-2000 page incomprehendible documents and the uncompromising arguments that accompany them.


$100 Million Funding Program for Public Schools – Homework & Test Sponsorship*

November 13, 2009


Schools receive considerable sponsorship by many means, such as advertisements in the printed programs for football games.  At my son’s high school, a collection of advertising banners is hung on the fence surrounding school property.  Businesses also give rewards (e,g, fast food & pizza) to students for good grades and attendance. A car dealership in my town gives away a car to a high school student who has perfect attendance during the school year.

The tax money pie has shrunk.  It will continue to shrink.  No matter how you slice it, there is simply less tax money to go around.  So, why not raise revenues for public schools by offering sponsorship opportunities for instructional materials (e.g., homework assignment & tests)?  In addition to businesses, some parents would sponsor homework assignments or tests for their children’s classes. (See news article below.)  This would replace some of the school funding that continues to be cut from the state budgets as the money pie continues to shrink.

*Below is an example analysis showing how you might raise $100 million for South Carolina public schools from sponsorship of  homework assignments.


Potential revenues for public schools from sponsorship of instructional material such as homework assignment

This is based upon:

700,000 SC students X  150 homework school days = 105,000,000 total student assignment days.

105,000,000 X $0.10 per/(assignment-day) = $10,500,000

This number increases with the number of classes that a student takes, assignments given, and if the sponsorship cost is increased.

$10,500,000 x 5 assignments/day x $0.20/assignment = $105,000,000

If you object to this type of sponsorship, then consider why it would be worse than any other type of school sponsorship that schools currently receive, especially if sponsorship of instructional materials were to be allowed as a form of tax payment (Tax Payment Choice.)  Would you prefer to have your child’s class size increased, or to lose their teacher in the middle of the school year? As with all things in schools, guidelines would be implemented.

You can read some articles about a teacher that sells ads for tests. (Google keywords: “teacher sells ads on tests”)

This following article has an image of an ad on a test.  It is just a single line that states,”Sponsored by…”  With guidelines, this can be done in an acceptable manner for students. Children would realize that people are paying attention to them.  Children and parents need to realize and appreciate that someone else is paying for their public education.

‘Ads on tests add up for teacher’

“About two-thirds of Farber’s ads are inspirational messages underwritten by parents. Others are ads for local businesses, such as two from a structural engineering firm and one from a dentist who urges students, “Brace Yourself for a Great Semester!”

Principal Paul Robinson says reaction has been “mixed,” but he notes, “It’s not like, ‘This test is brought to you by McDonald’s or Nike.’ “

If alternative funding methods are not employed to stabilize school funding, then what else is left to do but raise taxes or just keep cutting?

ROSI – Return On Social Investment

November 10, 2009

A common business metric is Return On Investment (ROI.)  It is used to measure the money gained or lost on an investment, relative to the amount of money invested.

Addressing social pathologies requires an ongoing financial investment.  I propose that a metric be created to measure the increase or decrease in tax money that is expended on programs that address social pathologies: Return On Social Investment (ROSI.)

For example, what is the ROSI for money spent on teen pregnancy prevention and high school dropout prevention programs?  What investment is required to realize a $1 million savings to taxpayers?

If a programs has a negative ROSI, then consider another, more cost effective program.

Social pathologies represent several great costs to our nation.  These pathologies include a variety of crimes, dropping out of school, substance abuse, and various forms of physical, mental, and emotional abuse.  The costs to us all include higher tax burdens, lost workplace productivity, higher crime rates, dependency upon social programs, crowded prisons, and an overall decline in the quality of life in our communities.

There is a body of data that estimates the tax burden associated with various social pathologies.  There is also a cost of doing nothing to address them.  Prevention is usually cheaper than intervention and having to address the consequences of the problem for years.

There is also an issue with addressing the needs of our U.S veterans.  Many are homeless.  Many others who were sent into conflict must now deal with physical, mental, and emotional scars.  On the US Economy blog, you can read about how the VA is addressing the needs of veterans:

$3.2 Billion Well Spent to Help Vets

The cost to rehabilitate 154,000 homeless veterans is $2.3 billion.  Over the life time of these veterans, what are all the types of costs that result from doing nothing to help them, who will bears all of these various costs, how much money will these costs represents, and for how many years will we bear all of these costs?

Aside from the cost of doing nothing, there is an intangible cost for not addressing the needs of these veterans.  It is a loss of national honor for not attending to those who answered the call of duty and paid a price.

I was on the state planning committee for the 2008 South Carolina Dropout Prevention Summit.  There, I heard someone suggest that if a student drops out of school, you might as well send them straight to prison because that is where so many dropouts end up, anyway. When you compare the cost of 4 years of high school to 10-20 years for incarceration, the investment in education seems a lot cheaper.

My focus on the Dropout Summit planning committee was to work with SC Dept. of Ed. staff and other state education policy makers to develop a school resource funding model that school districts could use to obtain locally funded resources for dropout prevention and other school programs.  Basically, if a business, organization, or person has budgeted or purchased a resource, and is provided with an incentive to offer that resource for public service, then taxpayers do not need to pay for it.

I developed a couple of spreadsheets to demonstrate this school resource funding concept. You can download them from the SC Dept. of Eduction website. For my example, I chose the risk factors related to teen pregnancy for which dropout prevention programs might be developed in order to help these at risk students stay in school until graduation.

Click on the following link at the bottom of the web page to download the spreadsheets.
Example of Dropout Risk Factor Resource Inventory and Analysis
(Anderson County Teen Pregnancy & Early Parenthood)

One spreadsheet is for tabulating a countywide inventory of resources (e.g, qualified personnel, facilities, equipment & supplies) that you would include in the budget for a dropout prevention programs.

The second spreadsheet is a resource capacity analysis.  With a comprehensive resource inventory, you can estimate how many at risk students can be helped, or not.  If there is a resource deficit, then a decision must be made whether or not to provide the resources for these at risk students to help them stay in school until graduation.  If we decide not provide the resources, them we know that they are still at risk of dropping out, and should simply quit complaining about our low high school graduation rates and the low workplace competency of our workforce.

The very useful thing about a spreadsheet is that you can change the row headings and still have the same spreadsheet.  Since public education is a government program, this funding model applies to any governement agency, and to the budget of any state, county, or local government.  You just need to pick the program that needs resources and insert the resource providers in the row headings.

All Economics Are Local

November 8, 2009

The old saw goes that “All politics are local.”  Likewise, all economics is local.  You need to look at communities to get a sense of how bad things really are.

In addition to the usual national unemployment rate data (UR), and your state, & county that your local news media report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports UR data for “Cities and towns above 25,000 population.” (There are also a few other ways they slice the data.)

I culled through the preliminary, not seasonally adjusted, Sept. 2009 data for the 10 states with the highest UR. In each of these states, pulled out the town or city with the highest UR. In Michigan, two communities tied for first place with a UR of 35.2%
On This Page: Unemployment
Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)
Area Type: Cities and towns above 25,000 population

State (%UR) / Highest UR Town or City (%UR)
Michigan (15.3) / Highland Park & Pontiac (35.2)
Nevada (13.3) / North Las Vegas (15.5)
Rhode Island (13.0) / Woonsocket (15.1)
California (12.2) / Delano (34.1)
South Carolina (11.6) / Anderson (27.9)
Oregon (11.5) / Springfield (13.9)
District of Columbia (11.4) / Washington (11.7)
Florida (11.0) / Fort Pierce (20.1)
Kentucky (10.9) / Hopkinsville (13.0)
North Carolina (10.8) / Kinston (12.9)