Yakima Valley school officials stand firm to protect funding for student programs
Aug 14, 2018

Last week The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Yakima School Superintendent Jack Irion is under pressure from the WEA union to divert funding intended for student programs to provide double-digit pay increases to school employees. To their credit, Superintendent Irion and the Yakima School Board are standing firm.

The Yakima School District is not alone. This summer officials at 250 of Washington’s 295 districts have been negotiating new contracts with school employees. WEA union executives have been holding rallies at local school districts around the state, demanding up to 21 percent pay increases for teachers and 37 percent pay increases for non-teachers. Union executives are threatening strikes to close schools this fall in Seattle, Kent, Kennewick, Evergreen (Clark), Washougal and Tacoma.

To justify these threats, WEA union executives rely on a number of claims. First, the WEA claims the legislature intended McCleary funding to provide double-digit pay increases. Second, the WEA union claims teachers are not fairly paid. Third, the WEA claims strikes are justified to close schools to force districts to deliver these pay increases.

I will briefly reply to each claim, one at a time.

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Hospitals Correctly Oppose "Medicare for All"
Aug 14, 2018

Hospital care accounts for over 30 percent of health care costs in the United States.Therefore, it might be of some interest to know where hospital administrators stand on the idea of “Medicare for All.”

The president of the American Federation of Hospitals (AFH) stated recently that he was “disappointed that … Democrats are going off on this tangent (single-payer).” The AHF represents investor-owned hospitals, but even the large 5000-member American Hospital Association (AHA) opposed the national “public option” in 2016.

To understand the hospitals’ position, it comes down to “follow the money.”

Medicare reimburses hospitals much less than private insurance. Depending on the procedure or patient diagnosis, the payment may be only 50 percent to 70 percent of what a private health plan would pay. In most cases, this lower reimbursement doesn’t cover hospital costs. In other words, hospitals couldn’t keep their doors open if all patients paid the Medicare rates.

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The Immoral Reaction to an Orca Mother's Grief
Aug 13, 2018

Emotional events can evoke some poor policy choices. The heartbreaking images of an orca mother named Tahlequah, clinging to her dead calf are inspiring some dangerous, and frankly, immoral responses.

Co-chair of the Governor’s orca task force Stephanie Solien told The Seattle Times recently, “I honestly believe that Tahlequah is on a mission.” The chair of the Spokane City Council echoed that sentiment on his Facebook page, saying, “This has to be her communicating.” A Pierce County Councilman tweeted, “This isn’t grieving. It’s a protest. Orcas are sick of our nonsense and want action to save our Sound.”

The death of the orca calf should be a call to everyone who cares about Puget Sound and the southern-resident orca to be more serious about the approach we take. The comments of these politicians show the opposite is happening – they are becoming less rational, more emotional, and less scientific.

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