A Perspective On The Huge “First 100 Days” Focus

The huge focus of the media — both liberal and conservative — on President Trump’s accomplishments in his “first 100 days” in office is yet another clear confirmation of what I’ve been saying for several years now, particularly since I set up this web site last year and started posting to its Blog section. What prompts me to say this? …

“Outside The Box” Thinking

Almost nobody in the media seems to be “thinking outside the box” in covering what is going on in our government these days.  News anchors, as well as the “expert panels” they have on their nightly broadcasts, are simply looking at historical information and comparing conclusions drawn from that information to what is going on now, and making their assessments accordingly.  This approach completely ignores the fact that we are in a completely different environment than any that has existed certainly in my lifetime, possibly since this country’s founding.

Let me use a simple parallel to describe what I’m saying.  Let’s look at Podunk, a town of 10,000 people in a largely rural area somewhere, one of six similar-sized towns about 20-25 miles apart, each within 25 miles of Metropolis, a city of 500,000 people. Acme Water Company, the water company serving Podunk, is projecting its future needs for expansion and upgrade of its infrastructure.  Analyzing historical usage trends, they project that in the next 10 years demand for the water they supply to Podunk will increase by 2-3% per year, and they outline their infrastructure projects accordingly [sizes of pipes, pumps, etc.]. Two years later, the town is in an uproar because water usage has doubled and very unpleasant restrictions on water usage have been necessary to balance supply and demand until massive “emergency” infrastructure upgrades can be made by Acme. … In making its ten-year projections two years earlier, Acme had failed to take into account several significant facts that made linear projection based on Podunk’s past data meaningless: 1) the population of Metropolis at that time was almost twice what it had been just three years earlier, and property prices were driving residential development to the surrounding smaller towns [but at that time, not to Podunk]; 2) four large manufacturing plants had recently been built in the two towns closest to Podunk, one having gone into production six months earlier and one scheduled to do so later that year. I won’t go into more here because I think my point [and hopefully the parallel connection] has been made.

The Seven Most Dangerous Words …

I shall never forget the words a Partner of a major “big eight” consulting firm made in a presentation to the Board and Executive Team [of which I was a part] over twenty years ago: “The seven most dangerous words within an organization are ‘We’ve never done it that way before’ “. Let me introduce here my corollary to that statement: “Seven additional dangerous words within an organization are ‘But we’ve always done it this way’ “.

The media today is failing to recognize either of these warning signs. They’re doing exactly what Acme Water Company did in my allegorical parallel above. … Looking at past presidencies, matching First 100 Days “success” with years-later evaluations of overall “success” after their one or two terms — using parameters like “major” legislation passed, Executive Orders issued, etc. Then, they’re comparing their resulting conclusions with Trump’s “success” or lack thereof in his First 100 Days and projecting what they think that means in terms of how his presidency will ultimately be assessed vis-à-vis past presidencies. There’s a total failure to recognize that they are comparing apples to oranges.

One Thing On Which Everybody Seems To Agree …

For all his faults, there’s one thing about President Trump on which I think almost everybody, whether they like him or hate him, agrees: he doesn’t fit any of the “molds” that characterize past presidents. Just as two recent examples of how he just thinks differently — like a businessman, not a politician: “The price tag for the new Air Force 1 is ludicrous” [result: it has been negotiated significantly downward]; “Let’s use American steel in the Keystone and Dakota pipelines” [result: limited because of contracts already in place, but the idea would probably never have even occurred to a politician].

This “doesn’t fit past molds” observation alone should put the media in “outside the box” thinking mode. The message to the anchors and “expert panels”? … Quit trying to force this square peg into the nice round holes you’ve bored into which you put daily “happenings”. Instead, consider the cumulative post-2016 “pile” of “happenings” as pieces of a puzzle which, when grouped into categories — some of which will be entirely new categories — and placed onto the board, can begin to reveal the image of the New Paradigm. As you do that, you will see every day a bigger and bigger percentage of the mosaic depicting the New Paradigm. That, in turn, will enable you to report information that actually interests people, rather than continuing to develop content that feeds your own perceptions of reality [which are clearly in the Old Paradigm]!

For starters, how about this? … Pull from your databases two lists: 1) everything DJT said in the campaign he’d do in his First 100 Days and “score it”; and 2) everything HRC said in the campaign she’d do in her First 100 Days and try to objectively “score it” [i.e., try to realistically view how much from that list she might have actually gotten done within that 100 days with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate].  Also, try to paint a picture of what our overall status would be now had she won last November and had that projected First 100 Days “score”, and compare that to what our overall status is now [“overall status” meaning the economy, international perceptions, national security, etc.]. I for one would find any truly objectively-produced content like that very interesting.

img_7026 Charles M Jones

Charles M. Jones

“Going Nuclear” On Gorsuch — And? …


I honestly don’t understand why Mitch McConnell’s 4/6/17 decision to extend Harry Reid’s 2013 “nuclear option” method of getting federal judgeships through Senate confirmations and apply it to Supreme Court confirmations as well was such a big deal. To me, it’s just another confirmation of what I’ve been saying since starting this web site and making posts to its Blog section — that a major paradigm shift is well underway in this country [see the A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway page at this site]. Democrats would have tried to filibuster any SCOTUS nominee — it wasn’t about Neil Gorsuch.  And, despite all the rhetoric about this filibuster being “payback” for the Republican filibuster of President Obama’s nominee [Merrick Garland] last year, it wasn’t about that, either. They are determined to block President Trump at every point possible, and it is likely that many more filibusters are in the pipeline [you can certainly bet on that for any healthcare bill that is characterized as a repeal of the ACA (rather than improvements/enhancements to it)].

The next step, which practically all Senators in both parties are saying would “destroy the Senate as we know it” [those actual words have been used by some Senators in media interviews], would be to just go ahead and drive the last nail in the coffin of the whole filibuster concept and remove it from Senate rules altogether. That last step would be to extend what Reid [a Democrat] and McConnell [a Republican] have already done to apply to legislation as well — and the way I see it, that would be a good thing.

Original Rationale For The Filibuster No Longer Valid

I’m not a history buff, but from a little research I found that the original rationale for the filibuster was that the minority party should not be totally powerless — i.e., if Senators in that party were so adamantly opposed in principle to something that they would do everything possible to block it, maybe it would be best to provide a mechanism for them to do so. The logic was probably that this mechanism would ensure that minority opinions were at least heard and understood before the Senate voted on an issue, thereby possibly enabling the minority to gain majority support for at least some of the modifications they considered to be the most important.

So why isn’t that rationale still valid? Here’s a brief synopsis …

Senate rules first allowed for filibusters in 1806, though the first filibuster actually occurred more than 30 years later, in 1837. They continued to be rare for more than another century.

Prior to 1917, as long as a senator kept talking on the floor, a bill could not move forward, and ending the filibuster was up to the filibustering senators. In 1917, the Senate adopted the cloture rule, under which two thirds of senators could vote to force an end to debate and bring the question under consideration to an up-or-down vote. The two-thirds requirement was later changed to the current three-fifths [60%].

For the next sixty years, the filibuster continued to be used sparingly. In 1975, though, the Senate made a change that made it significantly easier to filibuster by adopting rules that allow other business to be conducted while a filibuster is, technically underway. Since then, senators have not needed to stand up on the floor and make their case to their colleagues and their constituents in order to halt legislation. Instead, these “virtual filibusters” can be conducted in absentia.

The filibuster has been used 1,300 times since 1917. However, the vast majority of those filibusters have taken place in recent years. Filibuster use began to increase dramatically in the 1970s. Even so, there still had only been a grand total of 413 Senate filibusters by 1990. Over the last 12 years, however, the filibuster was used nearly 600 times!

These filibusters aren’t just being used to extend debates or stall votes—today, senators filibuster motions to proceed, preventing bills from being debated at all. A device intended to promote comprehensive discussion has turned into a tool to keep ideas from even being heard. Filibusters on motions to proceed prevent the Senate from even being able to consider ideas for how to solve our country’s big problems. For years now, small numbers of senators representing as little as 11% of the country have kept the Senate from even discussing important legislation that has passed committee review.

“Virtual filibusters” allow small numbers of senators to effortlessly place personal political agendas above the work of government with no consequence. As a result, even routine Senate functions like approving executive appointees get mired in partisan politics, resulting in [numerous] vacancies on federal judiciary benches. Major pieces of legislation … have enjoyed majority support in the Senate yet died in the face of filibusters for lack of cloture.

Legislation that should pass into law has been canceled and courts have been thrown into disarray, but the senators who have helped make that happen have never needed to actually make a case to their colleagues or their constituents.

Source: About The Filibuster.

It would be difficult to find a more convincing example to serve as evidence that a paradigm shift is clearly underway in America’s government.

Four current facts render the original rationale for the filibuster no longer valid: 1) the extremely polarized environment [two parties whose ideologies as well as their philosophies on government’s role are so far apart that there is a huge chasm between them]; 2) a “herd mentality” within both parties that usually results in “bloc votes” along party lines [although the failure of the first attempt to repeal and replace the ACA shows that the Republicans are not quite as monolithic as the Democrats in this context]; 3) a total focus on gaining, maintaining, or restoring party dominance, and on personal reelection [for all the warm and fuzzy rhetoric about helping people, it’s the power focus that drives individual actions of individual lawmakers]; and 4) a huge swath of what one radio talkshow host calls “low information voters” [unfortunately, this is probably the largest single segment of voters].

These facts, coupled with what I strongly believe is the beginning of the end of the two-party system in America [see these links at this site: Revisiting Hope And ChangeBinary Party Affiliation Choices — We Need Something Better], are moving us rapidly toward more and more tight-margin votes — which, if the “last plank left” in the filibuster rule remains in place, will produce even more gridlock than we have seen in recent years. This dysfunctional government [see the Dysfunctional Government page at this site] is clearly a part of the Current Paradigm that is rapidly giving way to the New Paradigm.

So “Shoot For The Moon”, Senator McConnell!

So Senator McConnell, just go ahead and “shoot for the moon”, as players of at least one card game say when bidding a hand they think can win them every trick. Go ahead and get rid of the filibuster altogether. You’ll catch a lot of flack initially, but the blistering speed with which you will be able to get great things done will ultimately be what you, Speaker Ryan, others in party leadership, and President Trump and his administration will be remembered for decades from now.

img_7026 Charles M Jones

Charles M. Jones

Guide For Participants in Congressional Hearings

Tillerson HearingWatching coverage over the past few months of Congressional hearings on Cabinet nominees, and now on the “Russian invasion” against the U.S., I’ve had a strange sense of déjà vu — kind of like “I’ve seen this movie before”. After thinking that through a bit, I realized that this feeling stems from the fact that these hearings are precisely like last year’s hearings on the Benghazi embassy attack, the Clinton email scandal, etc. The only difference between the former group of hearings and the current group is which party is taking the “half full” view and which party is taking the “half-empty” view [see my post “Fake News”? (Or Is It Just Meaningless “News”?) for more depth on that phraseology]. In the former hearings, questions from Republicans stemmed from a half-empty view [where there’s this much smoke, there must be a fire somewhere], and questions from Democrats stemmed from a half-full view [there is no evidence / this is just partisan witch-hunting]. In the current hearings, questions from Republicans stem from a half-full view [ditto previous translation], and questions from Democrats stem from a half-empty view [ditto previous translation].

This was kind of an epiphany for me — the seed of an idea that has now developed into the Guide For Participants In Congressional Hearings that I am announcing via this blog. I think you will agree that if this catches on, it will be a huge time-saver for our dedicated public servants in both branches of the Legislature, freeing up hundreds of thousands — maybe millions — of person-hours of staff time devoted to preparing them for these kinds of hearings. This freed-up time, then, can be devoted to actual productive work — the possibilities are mind-boggling. There will, of course, be a time of transition to allow our legislators and their staffs to get their “sea legs”, since atrophy has already set in from the long dearth of productive activity. I am confident, however, that those with any signs of life other than a pulse will be able to rise to the occasion.

So Here It Is! … [Cick Here For Fanfare]

Step 1 — Participant Profile Development

Just answer these simple questions:

    • I am a __Senator __ Representative from __ [State] {if Representative, __ Congressional District}
    • I caucus with [__Democrats __Republicans] {Check one (If you think you are truly “Independent”, see Note 1)}
    • I am considering running for President in 2020 or 2024: [__Yes __No __Maybe] {Check one}

Step 2 — Subject Of Hearing

The purpose of this Hearing is to {Check one}:

__ 1 Confirm somebody nominated by the President [who is in my party] for _________________ [Position]

__ 2 Confirm somebody nominated by the President [who is in “the other party”] for _________________ [Position]

__ 3 Investigate this issue raised by my party: _______________________________ [Issue]

__ 4 Investigate this issue raised by “the other party”: _________________________________ [Issue]

Step 3 — Generation Of Initial Opening Statement And Question List [Automated Step]

A draft Opening Statement will now be generated, followed by a preliminary list of questions for you to ask at the Hearing.

Step 4 — Review And Screening Of Initial List [Manual Step Now, But See Note 2]

If you checked #1 or #3 in Step 2, the Opening Statement will have an overall tone that is positive and supportive, and questions will be what you might call “soft” — e.g., “Do you think being a Supreme Court Justice is an honor, and do you feel that you are qualified for this role?” If you checked #2 or #4 in Step 2, the Opening Statement will have an overall tone of skepticism and cautiousness, and questions will be what you might call “hard” — e.g., “Since your controversial Smith v. Brown ruling was overturned on appeal, have you stopped issuing rulings that reflect your personal ideological positions — please answer Yes or No?”

All you have to do is check the items you want retained in the final list — and if you wish, make edits in your Opening Statement. Be aware, however, that the automatically-generated information stems from a very sophisticated algorithm that is designed to maximize your chances of re-election, so by making edits you may be unwittingly reducing those chances.

Step 5 — Generation Of Script For Hearing [Automated Step]

This is what you will need to have with you in the Hearing. For maximum effectiveness at the Hearing, you should read through this very carefully in advance, paying particular attention to the embedded tips on optics [voice intonation, facial expressions, hand and body language, etc.].

Step 6 — Participation In Hearing

Don’t forget to bring your script, and as you give your Opening Statement and ask your questions, to pay very close attention to the imbedded tips on optics.

Step 7 — Review Of Transcripts From Hearing [Partially Manual Step Now, But See Note 2]

First, run the transcript text through the screening agent that is part of this guide. It is designed to find excerpts that best relate to “hot button” issues that will resonate with your particular constituents. From the generated list, pick those you feel are best suited for incorporation into your overall campaign strategy, and refine them into “talking points”.

Step 8 — Resume Daily Routine

Keep campaign talking points handy at all times, and actually memorize the ones you think are most critical to your re-election. You never know when a media pundit may want to interview you, and maximizing public exposure is a critical part of any re-election campaign strategy.

That’s It! … It’s That Simple

Once you’ve used this guide for one Hearing, you will have mastered the technique. Using the guide for future Hearings will be as easy as falling off a log — and you will have the satisfaction that you are making your party proud! [Except possibly not if you checked Yes or Maybe to the Step 1 question “I am considering running for President in 2020 or 2024” — the output from Step 3 might have produced some items that will ruffle the feathers of your party’s leadership.]

Note. … this Guide is available only to Legislators as an App for Apple and Android devices. It is not available to the general public because that would allow their constituents to see what drives the thinking of their elected officials on a day-to-day basis. That, in turn, would likely result in a massive “un-election” of all incumbents over the next three election cycles. Although I think that might actually be a good thing, I’d hate to think that I was the cause of such a massive upheaval that the country might not be quite ready to absorb.

What Readers Of This Blog Post Can Do

Send this link to this post to the two Senators from your state, and to the Representative for the Congressional district in which you reside.



  1. There is no need for you to proceed. This Guide will only be useful for legislators who understand current reality. Keep yourself informed about it, though — as the Paradigm Shift that is now underway intensifies, this guide will either a) be updated accordingly or b) become obsolete and no longer useful [see the page A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway at this site].
  2. The basic technology to automate major parts of, and ultimately all of, these steps already exists. However, providing that level of automation will require considerably more time. Because so much legislator and staff time is currently being wasted, I felt that focusing on getting out a workable initial version was most important right now; hence this release being announced today. I’ll follow up with future enhanced versions that will automate these steps.

img_7026 Charles M Jones

Charles M. Jones

Lessons From The Great Horse Manure Crisis Of 1894

It’s interesting to me that some things from many years ago that I remember just vaguely now are things I think today I should remember more clearly — and vice versa: some things from many years ago that I remember very vividly today are things that seem now like trivia I should have long-since forgotten about. One thing in the latter category is an article I read in the Scientific American when I was in college [back then, that magazine was a much more scientifically erudite publication than it is today]. The article was in their “50 [and 60, and 70, and … ] Years Ago” section that contained a brief synopsis of what was notable in each of the stated timeframes. I found it both fascinating and humorous at the same time. As I think back on it today, it brings to mind a lesson I think we can learn from gloomy predictions of the future some people are making today.

The article was about what since has been referred back to by many writers as The Great Horse Manure Crisis Of 1894. Someone back then observed a problem that was getting steadily worse, portending a looming crisis: within a few decades, large cities that depended on thousands of horses for their daily functioning would be anywhere from 2 or 3 feet to 9 feet or more deep in horse manure [because the number of horses their projected populations would require would render their manure disposal methods inadequate].

He even did the math: In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced 2.5 million pounds of manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of; he even factored in land area and the resulting buildup, removal capacity under current methods, etc. [re: Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Oxford University Press, 1999].

In 1898 the first international urban-planning conference convened in New York. It was abandoned after three days, instead of the scheduled ten, because none of the delegates could see any solution to the growing crisis posed by urban horses and their output.

Enter Stage Left … A Paradigm Shift

The fundamental problem with most predictions of this kind, and particularly the gloomy ones, is that they make a critical, false assumption: that things will go on as they are [or in the terminology I’ve used on the pages of this site and blogs posted here, they stem from Old Paradigm thinking — see A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway]. This assumption in turn comes from overlooking one of the basic insights of economics: that people respond to incentives. In a system of free exchange, people receive all kinds of signals that lead them to solve problems. In this case, better manure removal processes were never needed to avoid the crisis because of the invention of the internal combustion engine [the history of which goes back at least as far as 1680, but potential commercial feasibility came about with creation in 1876 of the first modern internal combustion engine by Nikolaus Otto]. The real solution to the manure problem, however, stemmed from conversion of this invention into mass-produced automobiles through the entrepreneurial and capitalistic genius of people like Gottlieb Daimler and Henry Ford, rapidly eliminating the source of the problem [while improving, I might add, the overall quality of life in many other ways].

Lessons And Takeaways

There are two lessons we can learn from this.  First, human beings, left to their own devices, will usually find solutions to problems, but only if they are allowed to; that is [for example], if excessive regulatory burdens do not quell innovation and creativity. Left to political mechanisms, problems will not be as effectively solved [if at all].  Left to themselves, our great grandparents solved the great horse-manure problem. If things had been left to the urban planners, they would almost certainly have turned out worse.

A second lesson we can learn is that those within our elected leadership [in both parties], as well as the appointees of the majority party, who are trying to project how the ideas on which President Trump campaigned will translate into laws under the Old Paradigm need to realize that his modus operandi, brash and unorthodox as it may be, stems from a recognition that the paradigm is shifting.  The traditional politicians still in “Old Paradigm mode” would be wise to ask themselves: 1) What is different about this New Paradigm [as compared to what I think is still the Current Paradigm, but which I may be just now realizing is rapidly becoming the Old Paradigm]? and 2) What changes in my way of thinking do I need to make in order to be successful in it?

Finally, people in the media need to learn that the above logic applies to many [I would argue most] of them as well — i.e., applying Old Paradigm coverage techniques to events unfolding in the New Paradigm simply does not work, and if they continue to try to fit the New Paradigm “square peg” into their Old Paradigm “round hole”, they will find themselves rapidly becoming irrelevant.


img_7026 Charles M Jones

Charles M. Jones

Note. My description in this post of the horse manure crisis was paraphrased from this article: https://fee.org/articles/the-great-horse-manure-crisis-of-1894/.  Some amount of actual text from that article appears here as well. The reason I did not include quote marks in those cases is that the extracted text was rearranged considerably to fit the theme of this post.

“The Left”, “The Right”, “Moderates”, …

left_right_political_spectrum_011-2The Left”,The Right”, “Moderates”, … Outdated Pigeonholes!

It’s interesting to me how practically all media pundits [both liberal and conservative], in their reporting and commentary about “goings on” these days, use the terms The Left”,The Right”, and “Moderates” to describe what they apparently view as monolithic blocs of people who all fit neatly fit into one of these three categories. Other terms like The Far Left Wing” or Sanders/Warren Wing,The Far Right Wing” or Tea Party Wing, and “Mainstream Politicians” also get into the dialog, and could possibly delineate five [maybe six] assumed blocs rather than three.

At the breakneck speed of developments over the past four months, last September seems like an eternity ago. However, my observation here of apparent media pigeonholes reminded me of my 9/28/16 blog post entitled Binary Party Affiliation Choices — We Need Something Better [Read It Here]. I’ve also written, in blogs and in the pages of this web site, about the major Paradigm Shift that is underway in this country [e.g., see this site’s page A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway; also, search for “Paradigm” on the Home Page to see references to several blog posts].

I honestly believe that politicians — as well as media pundits — who think this way will fall from relevance along with the other components of the Old [and generally, still Current] Paradigm. New Paradigm thinkers are those who fully understand the scope of what I have referred to often in posts to this blog as The Trump/Sanders Phenomenon, and are adapting to it.

A New Focus For This Web Site and My Blog Posts

I mention these observations as a backdrop for describing part of a new focus for this web site and the posts I make to its Blog section. Let me begin that description by backing up a bit and saying that I believe there are [and will continue to be through current and future shifting paradigms] just two basic “camps” into which everybody, either consciously or subconsciously, fits: Liberals [most of whom stem from a Naturalistic Worldview] and Conservatives [most of whom stem from a Theistic Worldview] {For an expansion of the concept of Worldviews, see Why I’m Doing What I Do}. Liberals seem to be trying to shift the terminology describing them to “Progressives”, but I believe that is nothing more than a ploy to attach a connotation of “movement in a desirable direction” to themselves [thereby making it easier to depict Conservatives as “stuck in the past/present and not moving on to better things”]. For that reason, I’ll stay with Liberals.

This binary distinction is actually worse [less accurate, less useful] than the rapidly-becoming-useless three- to six-bloc categorizations described above — and therein lies the seed that can begin to sprout into a solution. Before proceeding to describe my view of that solution and then my plan for moving this site and my blogs to what I’ll call Phase 2, I’ll try to summarize in the next section the basic concept first presented in the above-mentioned 9/28/16 blog post entitled Binary Party Affiliation Choices — We Need Something Better [Read It Here].

Custom-Tailored Political “Parties”

The system I described in that post would allow people to indicate where they are on a far left to far right scale in each of, say, ten specific issues, with their answers resulting in mapping to a specific point on a left-to-right spectrum.  Taking it a step farther, each person could then form his/her own “Custom-Tailored Party”, or CTP — i.e., connect [through emails and/or texts and/or web/app interaction designed by that “Custom-Tailored Party”, or probably more efficiently through existing social media like FaceBook, Twitter, etc.] with everybody who is within some plus or minus “band” around his/her position on the left-to-right spectrum. The final refinement suggested for this CTP system was the ability for each person to place a weight on each issue.  This weight could be 1, 2 or 3, with 2 meaning average weight for that person, 1 meaning less important/critical than his/her average and 3 meaning more important/critical than his/her average.

The [Now-Developing] New Paradigm

Now let’s assume that the tool is in place — i.e., it has become widely known about, millions of Americans have used it to find and “join” their custom-tailored political “party” [CTP], and the campaign for the first election whose outcome could be controlled by this New Paradigm is getting underway. What would make this a better system? Consider the following:

    • Campaign Financing. As the Eric Cantor and Hillary Clinton losses [and probably other campaigns less widely publicized] clearly demonstrated, money is no longer as dominant as it has been in determining which candidate will win an election. Something similar to “crowdfunding” [currently popular for business startups, social good projects, etc.] could completely change the campaign financing landscape.
    • Conventions. These expensive events could become continuous online processes, costing a tiny fraction of what the big events currently cost.
    • Debates. These could be conducted as Social Media [SM] events rather than “filtered” by media giants and “journalists” — scheduled, as they are now, but live on SM, with SM producing questions based on real-time “topic volumes” identified by the SM providers.
    • Polls. Pollsters could randomly poll online and weight samples according to the size of each “party”. Much detail needs to be worked out on this to ensure true randomness and integrity of results, but it is definitely doable — also, current polling methodologies have already exhibited serious flaws, anyway, and are not considered as reliable as they have been in the past, so this part of campaigns needs fixing.
    • Actual Voting? … In the long term, the actual voting process could potentially be done online, but there is MUCH detail to be worked out to make that a reality.

Stay Tuned …

In some of my future posts [not all of which will be on this theme], I’ll develop this concept in more depth. A second part of the new focus for this web site and posts I make to its Blog section will be to present what I believe are pragmatic, workable solutions to this country’s problems — the first of which will be a conceptual framework for a healthcare system to replace the rapidly-crashing Affordable Care Act [ACA, aka “Obamacare”]. As I make changes to the overall structure and organization of the site, I will post announcements about them separately from the overall theme and direction of my blog posts.


img_7026 img_7043

Charles M. Jones

Mses. Judd & Ciconne or Ms. Germanotto?

lady-gaga-super-bowlLast Sunday, I was about 2/3 finished with the weekly post I had planned for today when it was time for Super Bowl LI, so I put my writing down to watch the game. As always, I enjoyed watching the last game of the season for the professional-level component of my favorite sport, but this year, something else struck me more than the top-level performances of the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons — so I changed my game plan for this post.

As for my Super Bowl experience … During the commercial time out segments cleverly placed at opportune breaks in action during the game, I watched 30-second commercials that cost $5 million a pop and left me wondering what product had been advertised. Then, although I don’t usually watch half-time shows, I decided to watch this one. The star was a woman I would not have known if I’d seen her on the street that afternoon. Although the show was apparently very well done if you like that kind of thing, it sounded to me like an inaudible collection of gibberish that left me wondering what, if anything had been her basic theme [modern sound systems tend to drown lyrics out — in my ears, at least].

Given the resounding applause and apparent adoration of Ms. Germanotto’s [Lady Gaga’s] fans on the field [and in the stands], her performance was apparently a booming success. Because of her strong support for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election campaign, media pundits all week had been predicting that she would have some anti-Trump sentiments built into her show. Whether she did or not, I have no idea because, as is the case with most “music” [to use the term loosely] and sound systems these days, I simply could not distinguish enough of the words in most of her lyrics to make sense of them. Her opening, though, seemed at least a little encouraging because I did make out a phrase or verse of God Bless America and “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all” from the Pledge of Allegiance. It also contained a phrase or verse from Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land, which seemed fine to me until I learned later through some media reports that this has been a theme in anti-Trump protests around the country. But as best I could tell, there were no direct anti-Trump slogans — and interestingly, USA Today’s coverage said “but a political protest never arrived, as Gaga opted for patriotism and unity over making a divisive proclamation” [emphasis mine].

I guess this is the point at which I must confess, if it’s not obvious from what I’ve written in this post to this point, that I am apparently “old”. At 71, I don’t really think of most of my life being in the past [although mortality tables say that is the case], and I’m actually excited about what I’m doing [including but not limited to this web site and my blog posts] and look forward to where my current pursuits might lead. But if “young” people can extract meaning and significance [or entertainment, for that matter] from last Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials and halftime show, I am definitely not one of them, which means that I must be “old” … Q.E.D., as mathematicians would say after proving a theorem [Quod Erat Demonstrandum, Latin for “which was to be shown”].

One thing I did pick up on, unless it was buried in the difficult-to-hear-clearly lyrics, was the absence of vulgarities and vitriolic tone like what spewed out of the mouths of Ashley Judd and Madonna Ciccone in the 1/21/17 Women’s March.  So if Ms. Germanotto’s performance did include any of that kind of thing, my “oldness” mercifully shielded me from it. To the extent she intended the show as a protest against our President and I just didn’t pick up on it, my hat is off to her for rising above the kind of ridiculous profile exhibited on January 21 by Mses. Judd and Ciccone.

Anybody who makes anything other than unsupportive remarks about almost anything President Trump says or does these days is viewed by liberal media pundits as small-minded and unable to understand what a terrible thing his election is turning out to be for America.  When I say something positive about what he is doing, it is not a blanket endorsement of him, the person — his is definitely not the profile I would like the person in the White House to have.  But when I consider the other person who would have moved in had she won last November, and what the outlook would be now, I am elated. There would have been fewer perceived snafus than many believe have occurred in Mr. Trump’s first two weeks in office, but that would simply be because she would not have had to get anything done that quickly in order to maintain the status quo — not because she is a “better” person or would have been a “better” president.  The first two weeks of her administration would have been nothing but celebratory events touting the historic significance of the United States electing its first woman president, a very high percentage of media coverage dedicated to special programming about her life and many accomplishments, appearances by her on all the “respectable” Sunday morning shows, etc. Nobody would have expected her to actually accomplish anything in her first two weeks.

The 1927 poem Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, contains this line: “Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”. The poem’s name is Latin for “desired things”.  For those who share my Christian worldview, these excerpts from the Bible, viewed collectively in context with each other, convey the same sentiment: “No one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” [Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV]; “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose” [Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV]. “There is a time for every purpose and for every work” [Ecclesiastes 3:17 NKJV]; “The vision … will surely come” [Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV]; “[God] changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” [Daniel 2:20-21 NKJV]. Wise words for all of us to consider in the current environment.

Personally, I would prefer that Mr. Trump find ways to be less abrasive if [and only if] he could do that without compromising his clear conviction to do what he believes is right for our country. However, the odds are that the most militant of all the blocs and special interest groups that oppose him [supported by the liberal media through wide coverage], would still be second-guessing his every move even if he had done that part successfully.

I am seeing a major common element to all the demonstrating, the dis’ing from some of Mr. Trump’s remarks and actions by “establishment” politicians [even in his own party], and the insistence of media pundits [liberal and conservative alike] to try to filter everything he does through their traditional lenses [while turning a blind eye to new lenses they need to be developing in the rapidly-unfolding New Paradigm] — resistance to change, which is a natural human tendency. This is yet another manifestation of the major paradigm shift that is underway [see the page Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway at this site].

I, for one, want to give our new President the opportunity to do his job. I do not categorically endorse everything he says and does, but I respect the fact that he is the duly-elected President of our country, and I do believe that he truly desires the “great again” America he promoted in his campaign. I honestly hope we can soon get to a point at which more people see the situation that way and at least consider giving President Trump a little more latitude rather than making an issue out of practically everything he says and does.



Charles M. Jones

News [or NNTN?] Circa 2017


NNTN Then, “News” Now

I’m sure most people in their 40s or older today remember NNTN [Not Necessarily The News], their memories probably stemming more from off-shoot segments on shows such as NBC’s Laugh-In and Saturday Night Live than from the original [which was a satirical sketch comedy that first aired on HBO as a comedy special in 1982, and then ran as a series from 1983 to 1990; the 2004 movie Anchorman was similar in concept, but focused its satire more on the deliverer of the news than its content].

For this blog post, I’m going to start out positing that much of what is called “news” in the media today is remarkably similar to NNTN episodes of the 1980s, the main differences being a) that the talking heads and pundits do a better job of putting on serious faces throughout their shows than did their NNTN counterparts and b) audience laughter is not audible because it occurs in the homes of the viewers rather than in the studio airing the broadcast. As for “journalists” writing for “news”papers and magazines or posting their articles on social media, the serious face part is not as applicable, but content similarities are just as remarkable.

Let’s start with all the mention lately of “fake news” [re: my blog post An Alarming Development]. This term began to catch on recently as there has been more and more media coverage about whether “fake news” cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.  In the above-mentioned post, I got into the potential dangers I can see in continued proliferation of the use of that term — for the simple reason that each news broadcaster/publisher will have a different interpretation of what is “fake” and what is “real”.  In this context, we must keep some key facts in mind:

    • 90 percent of U.S. media is controlled by six corporations [see this link for source]. We can logically assume that they are driven by at least two factors that bring into question their objectivity: 1) their responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits; and 2) the worldview of their top leadership [i.e., the context within which these leaders make decisions about what does and does not make it into their publications and broadcasts].
    • Information on the amount of material available on the internet is hard to pin down with assurance of accuracy, but these statistics are as accurate as any and serve to make a point: there are well over a billion websites in existence; hundreds of new sites start up every minute; 288 million monthly active Twitter users tweet a combined average of 347,222 times per minute; 1.44 billion monthly active FaceBook users send an average of 31.25 million messages and posts and view 2.77 million videos every minute.
    • Although the exact amount can be argued, scientists in medicine and psychology would agree that there is some finite limit to how much of the information to which the average person is exposed in a given day he/she will retain even at the end of that day, not to mention future days, weeks, months and years.

It is quite possible that the only place a person can go to find truly unbiased news is the uncensored internet; the key phrase being “to find“.  Unfortunately, applying some simple math to the above-mentioned facts clearly reveals that even if the average person spends an hour a day looking for news [which is far more than many sources indicate is the case], he/she decides [consciously or subconsciously] from among at least seven or eight TV channels and literally millions of internet-based sources where to spend that time [and in the latter case, the amount of available content being created per hour is far more than he/she could access by spending only one second on each page clicked on].

So Back To NNTN …

So from this perspective, consider a typical nightly news show on a broadcast or cable TV channel.  Whatever the talking head is reading from his/her teleprompter is the product of the company’s decision-making process for selecting what will and will not be included [after applying their own filter from the sea of possibilities — i.e., a decision has already been made as to what from that “sea” is real, what is fake, what will produce viewers and clicks, etc.].  The talking head has his/her own worldview and perspective, and through voice intonation, facial expressions and body language, affects how the actual content is perceived by many.  The same filtering process applies to print and posted media, the only difference in presentation being choice of words and phrases — and accompanying pictures and images — instead of voice intonation, facial expression and body language.

Comparing this scenario to an NNTN-type episode results in an obvious similarity [same description as above, the only differences being in bold italics]. … Whatever the talking head is reading from his/her teleprompter is the product of the company’s decision-making process for selecting what will and will not be included [after applying their own filter from the sea of possibilities — i.e., a decision has already been made as to what from that “sea” is funny and entertaining, what will produce viewers and clicks, etc.].  The talking head has his/her own worldview and perspective, and through voice intonation, facial expressions and body language, and perhaps some off-script content injections affects how the actual content is perceived by many.  The same filtering process applies to print and posted media, the only difference in presentation being choice of words and phrases — and accompanying pictures and images — instead of voice intonation, facial expression and body language.

Part Of Paradigm Shift

This fundamental change in “the media” — what it is structurally, how it is perceived, and how it can be used to influence public opinion — is simply one more piece of evidence confirming that a major paradigm shift is underway not only in America, but in the world [see A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway; Election Aftermath – 1].  Evidence of this shift over the past two decades has been clearer and more visible in industry [manufacturing, mining, retailing, banking, etc. — and the entertainment component of the media].  Over the past two years, largely as a result of one of the most if not the most unusual presidential election campaigns in our history, evidence of it in politics and the news component of the media have moved to front and center.

So Where Can One Turn To Get Real News?

As I mentioned in my What I learned as a Boy Scout post, I believe all American citizens have an obligation to keep themselves informed about the issues of the day so they can vote intelligently in all elections at all levels of government. Only two things give a person the ability to develop truly well-informed positions on the issues: 1) personal choices of “channels” to access [“channels” here being much broader than the TV/YouTube connotation]; and 2) personal filters, based on his/her value system and Worldview, applied to the content flowing through those “channels”. Anyone who limits the first to just one or two channels and/or who essentially delegates the second to just one or two “trusted consolidators” runs a substantial risk of simply disappearing into the huge crowd of what one popular radio personality calls “low information voters”. Anyone who takes whatever time is required [whether he/she thinks he/she has that much time available or not] to control both of these things himself/herself will always be a part of making things better than they are. It’s a hard choice, but the greater the “flow” of people from the latter category to the former, the more rapid our drift toward authoritarianism will be.


img_7026 img_7043

Charles M. Jones

Illegitimate? Really?

On the eve of this day when we honor a man I believe was one of the greatest people of modern times, I was appalled when I saw news coverage of a sitting U.S. Representative saying “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president”. This statement came from John Lewis, the Representative from Georgia’s 5th District [which includes the Atlanta area], on NBC’s Meet The Press program.

Note. … I am nearing completion of my regular weekly post, and will publish it on the usual mid-week schedule. I simply could not let this deplorable situation pass, however, without at least expressing my very negative view of it.

I know what a Civil Rights icon Congressman Lewis is, and I know that if I were a better-known commentator I’d be excoriated in the media as a racist for saying this, but this man has greatly reduced his own stature in my eyes. Clear proof that Lewis’ remark was pure politics is the fact that he took the opposite position last year when taking issue with people speaking disparagingly of President Obama — “Even if Obama’s critics don’t like him as a person, they should at least respect the position” [2016 interview on CNBC].

I grew up in the Deep South [Louisiana], and my preteen through high school years were in the late 1950s to early 1960s. That piece of information would cause many people who don’t know me to think that I’m just another white man putting down on a black man. Although the times, and to a considerable extent the region, of my upbringing exposed me to the racial divide that existed in those days, my upbringing was one that rose above all that and caused me to be just as appalled over racist activities as anybody from the North or the Midwest could possibly have been. My father was a school superintendent, and by his words, his demeanor and his actions, he was responsible for all schools in the parish, not just the white schools. In the excellent home environment that he and my mother provided, I developed an attitude of respect for people regardless of their race.

I say that simply to say that my repudiation of Congressman Lewis’ remark has absolutely nothing to do with his race. In fact, he and many other [certainly not all] black people in leadership roles these days are responsible for what, in many ways, is a worse racial divide than the one of my formative years. But maybe this scenario can end up being constructive. One way that outcome could come about would be for a considerable number of black leaders to take the high road and put their country above their politics and their sour grapes and let this inauguration be what it is supposed to be — a celebration of the peaceful transfer of power that is a bedrock of our country’s system of government [interestingly, that’s the way Democrats described this week when they were confident last November of a Clinton victory].

So in the spirit of what our country has been and hopefully has not completely lost, and in remembrance of the great man we honor today and the hope that those of his ilk will prevail over those of Representative Lewis’ ilk, let me close by saying that I hope everybody reading this has had a happy Martin Luther King Day.


img_7026 img_7043

Charles M. Jones

Revisiting “Hope and Change”

How’s It Working Out?

Hope and Change — Sound familiar?

Barack Obama’s theme in the campaign that resulted in his election in 2008 was “Hope and Change”. He repeated that theme over and over during the campaign, also saying “We are going to fundamentally change America”. Now, as he leaves office after an eight-year term, whether Americans have more Hope or less depends on which Americans you ask.  As for Change, few could argue that it has certainly come about on the ideological front and on the international stage [with many dissenters saying “OK, but not that kind of change”!] — but that on the political front, the establishment not only has not changed, it has gotten worse through even heavier polarization and entrenchment.

So is real change on the horizon now?

[and maybe I should add, “… And if so, will it be change for the better?”]

In a recent post in one of the blogs/sites I follow [www.FACTn.org], the author [a good friend of mine] pursued an interesting question: Will the Trump Revolution bring real change?. His post pursued the question from a Christian Worldview perspective, and as readers of my blog posts know if they have accessed applicable pages at this site, I share that perspective [see applicable links at this site: Who I AmWhy I’m Doing What I Do]. However, since I created this site to appeal to anybody who would listen to me regardless of whether or not they share my Christian Worldview, I’d like to take a shot at pursuing the same question from an “It is what it is” perspective, just applying simple logic to our Current Paradigm and [using what we have learned so far about it] the unfolding New Paradigm [for a refresher on the paradigm shift underway, see these pages at this site: A Major Paradigm Shift Well UnderwayElection Aftermath – 1].

When it became apparent in the final stretch leading up to the 2016 Republican convention that Donald Trump could actually become the nominee, I began to hear a lot more references to him [by Republicans] in which the term RINO [Republican In Name Only] was used. That term had been used early on in the primary campaigns to describe “mainstream” candidates like Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, John Kasich, et al [at that point, the prevalent thinking was that Trump was a flash in the pan and wouldn’t be in the “finals”; otherwise, those who used that term to describe Bush, Perry and Kasich [et al] would have called Trump a RINO, too, because although he didn’t fit into existing categories well, his positions on issues in the “core conservative mantra” were not strong enough to suit them].

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term DINO used to refer to a person fitting the parallel profile in the Democrat party. My guess is that this avoidance [by Democrats] is intentional because of the potential attachment of the word DINOsaur to that acronym — which would create an imagery of obsolescence that Republicans could use as fodder in their campaign speeches. Be that as it may, the acronym is certainly applicable to “mainstream” Democrats [of which Hillary Clinton could be considered the poster child], and is no doubt thought of conceptually by far left Democrats [like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren] whether they articulate it or not.


For reasons I have stated in one way or another in several previous posts, I firmly believe that the two-party system in the Current Paradigm is definitely on the demise as the New Paradigm continues to move into place. The only thing that remains to be seen is how long it will take for that demise to be complete. I doubt that it will be complete during Trump’s first term, but if his radical approach to things continues, I do believe it could be completed within a second term if he is re-elected.

Under the scenario that can begin unfolding after Trump’s inauguration [which I hope will unfold], terms like RINO and DINO would be meaningless. That scenario would result in passage of major legislation that can fundamentally change the entire outlook for this country while concomitantly putting in place a sustainable long-term fiscal path. That scenario is within reach because the two-party system has already been damaged enough to at least open the door for resolution very soon of the gridlock issues that have made our government dysfunctional [see Dysfunctional Government at this site] for at least the last four to six years. Four things favor the scenario I’m projecting:

  1. Lack of a closely-aligned philosophical mindset within the Republican majorities. A nearly monolithic alignment would be necessary to overcome what will clearly be a solid alignment among Democrats against at least some, maybe many, Republican initiatives.  Far-right Republicans seem to have been learning very quickly that a far-right, ultra-conservative agenda will do nothing but make the Republicans fail at every turn even though their party now “controls” the House, the Senate, and the White House — and drag their newly elected president down with them. The math that computes to this situation is simple: moderate Republicans [RINOs in the eyes of some] will not go along with far-right initiatives, and far-right Republicans will not go along with more moderate agendas [and in the Senate, in situations where Democrats are voting in lock step with each other, it only takes three Republicans to side with them and block a bill].
  2. A more closely-aligned [albeit not completely monolithic] philosophical mindset within the Democrat minorities. The far left wing of the Democrat party does not so far seem as able to exert as much influence on that side of “the center” as is the far right wing of the Republican Party to exert significant influence on that side of “the center” — the result being that Democrats seem more monolithic than they actually are. As 2020 approaches, I expect this will change, and the “Sanders” part of the “Trump/Sanders Phenomenon” [A Major Paradigm Shift Well UnderwayBack To The FutureCome, Let Us Reason Together …] will surface again through some other candidate [e.g., Elizabeth Warren, or more likely, somebody of her ilk but much younger — or,  maybe even Michelle Obama].
  3. A 2018 mid-term election cycle that favors Republicans unless Trump’s first term is viewed as a disaster at that point [i.e., more Democrats than Republicans will be up for re-election in 2018, many of them in Republican states]. Based on what’s been in the media recently, it appears that Democrats are gearing up to make Trump’s first term as unproductive as possible, setting the stage [in their view] for major shifts to Democrats [particularly the Senate] in 2018 and 2020 and a White House win in 2020. If Trump’s first term is viewed negatively by most Americans in 2018, and no better or even worse in 2020, that strategy might prove successful. Conversely, if Trump’s first term is viewed as at least “OK” in 2018, and at least as good or even better in 2020, that strategy will seriously backfire and paint Democrats as obstructionists, possibly resulting in even more power flowing to Republicans.
  4. A President who does not think like practically all his predecessors have, and who may actually: a) threaten vetoes of some legislation even when originated by and supported by a majority of Republicans in both Houses; or b) support some legislation even when originated by and supported by Democrats but opposed by significant numbers of Republicans [but not enough to block passage].

Unfortunately, there is at least one potentially major “fly in the ointment” that may present significant problems vis-a-vis #1 above. At least three Senators [possibly more] probably have their sights set on a Presidential run in 2024 for sure, possibly in 2020 — Paul, Rubio and Cruz.  To the extent they see contentious initiatives as opportunities to exert disproportionate influence and keep themselves in the media, they may “take a stand” on some bills on the Republican agenda [Senator Paul has already done this during the very first week of the new Congress in casting the only dissenting Republican vote on the first bill designed as part of repealing the ACA — on the grounds that it does not contribute toward addressing the national debt crisis].

The stage is set …

The bottom line is that the stage is set, probably better than it has been in recent history, for good negotiators to get a lot done — and remember, the ability to negotiate well was a major theme in Mr. Trump’s campaign; it is also evident that he has filled Cabinet and other top staff positions with people he believes possess this ability. For initiatives that Democrats will probably be unified in their efforts to block [like repealing the ACA], Republicans will have to negotiate intensely among themselves if there is no clear consensus at the outset on the details [because in these situations, almost monolithic Republican support would be required in the Senate].  Furthermore, they cannot assume that Trump will sign all bills that passed both houses without any support from Democrats [which means they must have regular dialog with him during development of those bills to ensure that the versions heading to the finish line address any concerns he may have with them].

It will be very interesting to see whether there is early evidence [say, in the “first 100 days” everybody seems to be focused on lately] that the scenario I’ve described in this post is unfolding.  I hope it is.


img_7026 img_7043

Charles M. Jones

A Realistic View of the ACA – Part 4

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the series and covered the first part, Repeal.  In Part 2, Transition, I focused on a relatively simple transition plan for people currently covered under the ACA, including some of the financial math that would be associated with such a plan. In this Part 3, Replace, I focused on essential elements that would need to be included in a system to permanently replace the ACA.  In this Part 4, Looking Forward, I’ll get into 1) how repeal and replacement of the ACA could potentially be the main determinant of the outcome of the 2018 mid-term elections and/or the 2020 presidential election, and 2) what the future will probably look like under the replacement law if it is successful.

2018 and 2020 Elections Could Swing On Success Or Failure of the ACA Repeal/Replace Scenario

If repeal and replacement of the ACA is viewed as highly successful, that will favor continued and potentially even heavier Republican dominance. If is viewed as a total flop, that will favor at least some swing of the pendulum back toward Democrats.  Whether the outcomes of those elections are “sweeps” in either direction will depend on the perceived success or failure in other areas [immigration, terrorism, etc., but probably mostly the economy].

Note. Although the preceding paragraph assumes that the Current Paradigm will not fully “die” in another 2, maybe even 4 years, we must keep that factor in our thinking. A major acceleration in the paradigm shift underway, which I think is likely because of Mr Trump’s leadership style, would essentially erase the Republican/Democrat domination and change future elections dramatically [see the page A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway at this site for a more in-depth description of this paradigm shift, and my blog post Election Aftermath – 1 for a confirmation that such a shift is underway].

It will be very interesting to see how the media characterizes both repeal and replacement. The extreme liberal bias in the media will no doubt result in second-guessing Trump and his administration at every point. The media’s strong supportive tone in reporting on Obama for the past eight years will turn into resistance and skepticism in its reporting on Trump. This will make Trump’s task in repeal and replacement much more difficult than Obama’s task in getting the ACA pushed through [i.e., Trump will have to not only produce a successful transition, but also counter negative press about it — much more challenging than having a press that is essentially a cheer-leading squad].

The Unfolding Of Healthcare From Here

There are two trends that I believe are imminent and will consume an increasing share of both financial and “mainstream” media coverage about Healthcare over the next few years.  Both would no doubt have occurred regardless of the presence or absence of the ACA or its replacement, for one simple reason: in 1960, Healthcare costs were 6% of the GDP; at the end of 2015 [most recent finalized data available], they were 17.8% and still rising. You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand that this is an exponential trend that not only will not, but cannot continue. Any component of the economy exhibiting that kind of exponential increase in the percentage of the GDP is headed for massive change, because continuation of that trend would ultimately result in that component completely dominating the economy and, over time, literally shutting down all other components.

Home Health And Other Alternate [Non-Hospital] Service Delivery Venues

One of these trends has to do with a major shift in how Healthcare services are delivered — specifically, a shift toward a substantially higher percentage of care that is delivered in venues other than hospitals. I believe hospital care will become more and more associated with very complex surgeries and other conditions that require intensive care and highly expensive equipment, that smaller hospitals will ultimately become more like networks of “remote emergency rooms” associated with large tertiary care hospitals, and that home-based care will become much more prevalent than it is today.

The trend toward alternate-venue delivery of healthcare services has actually been underway for well upwards of a decade [one evidence being the proliferation during that time of Urgent Care Centers, often staffed by Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners], but it is accelerating much more rapidly now. Also, more in-home service [Home Health] agencies are starting up, and existing ones are experiencing exponential growth.

The reason for this trend is no more complicated than cost containment. Hospitals have extremely high fixed costs when compared with those of alternate venues [particularly patients’ homes], and per-service costs in the alternate venues do not include allocations to cover those high fixed costs. Variable [labor and materials] costs are also higher in tertiary hospitals because of specialty staff and materials that have to always be available in them [this staff and those materials are not actually needed for many, many procedures].  Even when transportation costs [e.g., of medical professionals to patient homes] are accounted for, overall costs are still lower. As icing on the cake, it is quite possible that the quality of some alternate-venue services, all things considered, could actually be higher than the quality of services delivered in hospitals.

Massive Re-Engineering of the Healthcare Industry

The other trend I see on the horizon might actually be several different trends that could be viewed separately. I am grouping them into one because they will all be fueled by one main driver — the huge and rapidly growing need for improved overall effectiveness, a term I like to use to describe the ratio of quality divided by cost. Since there is no single number that reflects quality, this ratio does not exist, but referring to it conceptually is a concise way to define overall effectiveness — i.e.: if quality improves and cost remains constant, overall effectiveness [OE] increases; if quality remains constant and cost is reduced, OE increases; and [the ideal scenario] if quality improves and cost is reduced, OE increases dramatically.  This trend, then, can be thought of as a massive re-engineering of the Healthcare industry, not unlike what we have seen over the past few decades in other industries — notably manufacturing and mining.

Although considerable progress has been made in the past decade or so, Healthcare, in comparison to other industries, is still extremely inefficient. With all that technology has done to increase the OE of other industries, Healthcare is still a very “manual”, labor-intensive industry.  Granted, barriers to progress in Healthcare are probably more intense than in other industries [information security, for example], and risks of failure are more severe [loss of life from system failures rather than just recovery costs and/or lost revenue from outages in other industries], but the biggest barrier is burdensome regulation.  Getting into the details of that is beyond the scope of this blog post, but believe me, I wrestled with the Healthcare regulatory environment for decades. It’s like putting a boxer in the ring with one arm tied behind his back.

On the positive side, I believe the stage is now set for huge leaps in OE in Healthcare. Technology [telemedicine, more sophisticated yet less expensive testing methods, smartphones and smart watches and other “wearables”, smart homes and the “Internet of Things”, emerging standards for information interchange, more non-invasive “surgical” procedures …] is poised to facilitate massive functional changes, and the current leadership mindset of reducing government regulations, although mostly articulated in terms of environmental and financial regulations, will hopefully extend to Healthcare.

And Finally … Actually Dealing With Fraud and Abuse

Another factor that would contribute substantially to OE is virtual elimination of — not just reduction in — fraud and abuse [one notable example being providers who obtain reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid based on fraudulently reported diagnoses and/or procedures]. This has become a standard claim of both Republican and Democrat candidates for at least the last six presidential election campaigns, and it has even been quantified by DHHS at $60 billion [that’s BILLION, with a “b”] in 2015. In my years as a senior executive in large regional healthcare systems, if I had told my Board that I had become aware of $16 million in unnecessary and avoidable expenses [about the same percent of annual budgets in those organizations as $60 billion is of the $3.8 trillion federal budget], particularly if they were related to fraud, it would have been OK if I had simultaneously articulated my plan for eliminating them in the current quarter. If I had said I just wanted them to be aware, and that I had formed a task force to look into the matter and fully quantify the problem and give me recommendations by the end of the current quarter to completely eliminate that waste in the next quarter, that might have been OK, too.  Had I then said in the next quarter that we were still researching the matter without simultaneously reporting at least some progress toward fixing the problem, I would have been fired on the spot. Only in government can a $60 billion [that we know of] problem be allowed to exist for decades and still be talked about by politicians as something that “we need to look into”.

Series Conclusion / Upcoming Plans For This Website

This post concludes this 4-part series that I entitled A Realistic View of the ACA.  Since this topic is so critical to the success of the Trump administration, I have decided to include the main content of Parts 2 [Transition] and 3 [Replace] in a new section of pages at this website that will focus on the future [Healthcare being only one of those areas of focus]. When that section’s content is ready for publication [which I’m currently targeting for sometime in January 2017], I will announce it in a blog post.  I have already drafted quite a few additions to the page that was originally the content of the Replace plan in Part 3 [some of those additions stemmed from reader comments].  Stay tuned!


img_7026 img_7043

Charles M. Jones

%d bloggers like this: