Fair Price Trumps (Not) For Profit
Nathaniel Hoffman's article "Poor Farm Boise" was spot on (BW, News, June 25, 2008). I was proud that he called out the normally sacrosanct hospitals, such as St. Luke's, that profit from the distress of the poor and the sick.
St. Luke's is, technically, a not-for-profit hospital, which enables them to be exempt from county, state and federal taxes. In order to maintain this tax-exempt status they must provide some sort of a community benefit and then publish the benefits provided in an annual report. According to the 2006 annual report, St. Luke's (Boise/Meridian) profited over $46 million.
Of course, this $46 million is not labeled as profit in the report, but instead, "The excess of available income over expenses in support of our mission." I think this label rivals "correctional facility" as one of the most ineffective euphemisms ever concocted. The report goes on to state that St. Luke's provided $27 million in unreimbursed care for Medicare patients. Basically, that $27 million is composed of the difference between the initial hospital charges, which are always inflated, and how much Medicare pays after it adjusts the cost.
I pose two questions to St. Luke's: how much unreimbursed care did you provide for your cronies, the insurance companies? Whatever the amount, I am certain that it dwarfs the discounts given to Medicaid or Medicare. Why not charge everybody one fair and reasonable price? As Paul Woods points out in Hoffman's article, lots of time and energy are wasted in haggling a fair price.
Dalton on Pound
I was disappointed to see how my comments to Tony Evans were mangled and misrepresented in his article "Raising Ezra" (BW, Feature, June 25, 2008), even after I had corrected them in writing. Mr. Evans has called to apologize to me, but having not heard from the editors of the Boise Weekly I wish to set the record straight on two particularly egregious representations out of the several that appeared in the article.
The article has me saying, "Many economists would agree that John Maynard Keynes (the economist favored by Roosevelt's New Deal begun in 1933) adopted many of Pound's ideas ..." The first point is that Keynes did not adopt Pound's ideas. Keynes was working on his General Theory far before Pound wrote anything of substance in economics, and there is simply no evidence that Keynes had even heard of any of Pound's economic ideas. The second point is that the New Deal began before Keynes' General Theory was in print, and indeed, the policies that Roosevelt carried out were uninfluenced by Keynes or his work.
The article also represents me in the following manner: "Dalton compares Pound with libertarian Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who, like Pound, would eliminate income tax and stay away from overseas conflicts." How a 30-minute conversation beginning with Mr. Evans asking me to make such a comparison can be boiled down into such a summary boggles my mind. The only thing that Pound has in common with Paul is they are both highly critical of the American corporate state. As I told Mr. Evans, however, their analysis of what the problems are and their proposed remedies are miles apart.
Pound was clearly anti-Jewish; Paul receives his economic ideas from the Austrian School—the leaders of which are ethnic Jews (including Ludwig Mises, Murray Rothbard and Israel Kirzner). Pound was highly critical of commercial society; Paul sees commercial society as a means for individual flourishing and independence.
Pound sought to reform the Federal Reserve by increasing the central bank's powers, putting the "right" people in charge and having those people follow the "right" inflationary credit policies. Paul seeks to abolish the Federal Reserve and institute a 100-percent reserve banking gold standard, removing the control of politicians, and preventing bankers from initiating inflationary credit policies. Pound sought to replace the income tax with the dividend from the reformed central bank, allowing the government to continue to fund programs. Paul seeks to abolish the income tax and replace it with nothing; instead, reducing government spending across the board, including corporate welfare and military spending.
How these differences turn into a sentence which gives the impression that Pound and Paul are very much alike astounds me. How written corrections go unheeded after being solicited is atrocious.
Boise Weekly may be an alternative political voice, but it seems it is very much like the mainstream media in terms of its sloppiness of effort and misrepresentation of others' views.
—D. Allen Dalton,