Ed’s Daily Notes for March 26th   9 comments

bee-pollen-benefits(hat tip to The Wellness Doer for the pic)

This year, March came in like a lion, and is going out with a sneeze. In Savannah, Georgia, the pollen is like a layer of yellow over any standing body of water, sometimes as thick as sludge. And that doesn’t even consider the layer sitting on my car right now…

Reuters (via Tahoo): China official urges calm as depositors again queue outside rural banks

Have you heard China is just fine? The government will just print some more money, and everything will be ok…

A Chinese county official appealed for calm among bank depositors in the eastern city of Yancheng on Wednesday as queues formed for a third straight day outside the branches of two small banks rumored to be in financial trouble.

Police and security guards stood by as dozens of people formed a line outside a branch of Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai, one of the two banks that have suffered a rush of withdrawals this week on the outskirts of the city.

The Huanghai bank was open as normal and its electronic billboard urged depositors not to be worried by rumors.

Also in Yancheng, a queue of around 25 people formed outside a branch of Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank, the first bank to be identified in local media reports on Monday as being mobbed by depositors attempting to withdraw their savings on fears that it had become insolvent.

The governor of Sheyang county, which includes Yancheng, posted a video on the county government’s website, urging depositors not to panic and saying bank deposits were protected.

Oh, those crazy Chinese! I wonder why they don’t believe their own government? As Chico Marx once said, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

China’s problems are just beginning.

CNBC: Facebook buying virtual reality firm Oculus for $2 billion

Facebook is getting into the virtual reality game. The social media giant announced a $2 billion deal to buy Oculus VR Inc.

The deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock. Oculus made waves with its virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a statement. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

I’m not sure what I think of this deal. Oculus would have been a better fit with Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo. I could even see it with Google. Unless Facebook has some plans I’m not aware of, I don’t see what they get out of it. You don’t need virtual reality to use Facebook, nor would it improve the Facebook experience. Maybe I am underestimating Zuckerberg’s vision here? If so, he must be planning a major overhaul of Facebook.

Time: Supreme Court Women Raise Questions on Contraception Coverage

Justices Kagan, Sotomayor and Ginsburg aggressively questioned the corporate challengers who want exemptions from providing contraception under Obamacare at Tuesday’s oral arguments. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties say the measure violates their religious freedoms

One thing in the article stood out to me:

Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan asked: Because nobody is forcing Hobby Lobby or Conestoga to provide health insurance, they can simply pay the tax penalty instead.

So if a company wants to provide health insurance to their employees, but the owners are religiously opposed to what the government requires, then they no longer have the option of providing health insurance because they have to pay a tax instead. Sorry employees, you’re on your own!

Also, why is contraception even in this insane law? Condoms are cheap, when they aren’t being given away for free. By having government subsidize contraception, we run the risk of having contraceptive costs skyrocket like the rest of our healthcare costs have.


Posted March 26, 2014 by edmcgon in China, Editorial/opinion, News, Politics, Stocks, Technology

9 responses to “Ed’s Daily Notes for March 26th

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I am conflicted about contraception being covered under Obamacare. On one hand, I do not why anyone should have to buy insurance to protect them against something as trivial as the cost of birth control. On the other hand, contraception is much cheaper compared to the cost of delivering a baby and public education.

    • Alex,
      The inherent problem with having the government give away contraception is the “leading a horse to water” problem. Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean people will automatically use it.

      • The government is not giving away anything. If a woman has health insurance they mandated that there be no co-pay for birth control if the woman chooses to obtain a prescription for it. So it is the health insurance company that is actually paying for the prescription not the government.

        Additionally condoms != birth control for a woman.

        In the end I think it was a terrible provision to add to Obamacare since it is pretty clear that if it truly saved money in the long run health insurance companies would have been offering birth control for free already. Unfortunately when one side of the political aisle refuses to even participate in the bill creation process you get excesses in the laws that are created and passed.

        What if an Islamic business owner decides that all woman employees must wear clothes that cover their entire bodies when reporting to work since a woman exposing herself is something the business owner is religiously opposed to? Why can religious beliefs trump the law in some cases but not others? Or is it just ok when it is christian beliefs?


      • Robb,
        And if the health insurance company loses money? The government reimburses them a percentage of their loss. A government giveaway.

        And if the contraceptive company decides to raise their price? The health insurance company has to pay for it. If more people decide to get “free” contraceptives, that will increase the likelihood of health insurers losing money on the deal, increasing the likelihood of the government giveaway.

        As for your last example, government doesn’t have a mandate that business employees must wear “X”, so your example is moot. However, if the government did have such a regulation, then the Islamic business owner would have a point.

      • Actually the business owner can not force their women employees to wear certain clothing to meet Islamic restrictions since it would be considered discriminatory (ie law against discrimination) so it is not in fact moot.

        Your argument appears to boil down to your belief that the hypothetical loss and resultant government giveaway would be due entirely to free contraception…not a particularly strong argument given that most health care experts expect any losses to be due to the influx of people with expensive pre-existing conditions and the lack of young, healthy adults to offset them.


      • Robb,
        How many decades have we seen a large portion of the population covered by health insurance, even as we have seen large increases in the cost of health care? That is no coincidence.

        Assuming we will see large increases in the costs of contraceptives is only logical, especially when insurance companies will be giving them away free. If you aren’t familiar with the economic concept “The Tragedy of the Commons”, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

  2. On the Facebook/Oculus deal, I’m with you Ed, I don’t get how this can any way benefit Facebook’s business.

    So here is what I think it is.

    Zuckerberg is a kid flush with money, so he is buying whatever he finds “cool”.
    I notice for instance in the case of WhatsApp that it was mentioned that he had become fast friend with the owner of WhatsApp in series of lunch meetings and such. That tends to tell me that such purchases are more about “cool” than about growing the business.

    Frankly the way I see it, just because a person comes out with an idea that become popular, that doesn’t instantly change them into some kind of business genius.

    • Interesting point Chris. I’ve noticed Oculus is considered “cool” on a lot of techwebsites, even though it’s practicality is questionable, and even more questionable at several hundred bucks for a headset.

      • Yeah, and interesting enough from what I have seen a good percentage of the people that love the idea, hate the fact that Facebook bought it.
        I was reading about the developer of MineSweep, that had even put in $10,000 to the kickstart project, had just stopped all development for it.
        They see it as a betrayal of their trust/support of that project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: