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The New Robber Barons

Cottage Hospital and Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara, California’s two largest health care providers, gave up on their proposed merger because of regulatory delays and a lack of clarity from the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that protects us from uncompetitive trade practices and monopolies. Cottage is now our only remaining hospital and Sansum is our largest medical clinic. Both are large, state-of-the-art providers.

After almost four years, Cottage and Sansum called off their attempt to create cost savings from a more efficient organization. In a fast-changing health care world, the uncertainty of their status made it difficult for them to plan for the future.

It is likely that the FTC believes that these kinds of vertical mergers in the health care system will give the resulting organization “monopolistic” pricing power because a lack of competition which will lead to higher costs for consumers of health care services.

That may be correct, but it is not what is driving up health care costs and the problems with our health care system.

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The Thirty Dollar T-Shirt

I checked out my closet to see where my clothes were made. My shirts were made in Vietnam, China, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand, and Turkey. My Levi jeans were made in Bangladesh, India, and Mexico. I couldn’t find any clothing made in America. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. At Costco you can get a very nice all cotton t-shirt made in Peru for $12.

Think about all the jobs lost because of these cheap imports. If Costco was truly patriotic why don’t they buy American made clothing? Wouldn’t that keep jobs in America? Trump says that China and Mexico are stealing American jobs. (more…)

Fidel Castro, R. I. H.

Fidel Castro died.

Praise was heaped on him from every thuggish leader around the world. China’s Xi said he was a “dear comrade and true friend” of the Chinese people who made “immortal contributions to the development of socialism around the world.” Putin said he was “a wise and strong person” who was “an inspiring example for all countries and peoples” and a “sincere and reliable friend of Russia.” Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro offered solidarity and love to the Cuban people. Pope Francis prayed for his eternal rest. Even President Obama offered tactful condolences to the Castro family and said “our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people.”

They were partying in Miami, home to those who fled Castro’s terror. (more…)