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Thread: The sky has finally fallen...
03-31-2010, 09:24 AM #120
We should hear more from the Europeans, they are the pioneer on this issue.
03-31-2010, 10:12 AM #121
Mr Li says there's a properties bubble. How?
03-31-2010, 10:48 AM #122
If it is Li Ka Shing of Cheung Kong Holdings, Hong Kong, he actually says there is no bubble in Hong Kong or China real estate. He is often called Superman as he has the golden touch. Unlike many companies, Li's operations involve buying businesses, restructuring them, and then selling them.
He made billions of dollars when he sold Orange mobile to Vodaphone. Another of his affiliate is a Canadian Oil company he bought for a song when oil prices were about US$10/bbl. Just imagine how much he can make selling this company (Husky Oil company), but he has refused to sell just now.
Mr Li is also very good to shareholders-you get good dividends and Cheung Kong shares are even more solid and of better quality than HSBC.
03-31-2010, 11:35 AM #123
A slight quote from the movie Top Gun.
BO's ego is writing checks US can not cash.
03-31-2010, 11:55 AM #124
(on a side topic, how come US doesn't guard its border better?)
Last edited by cooler; 03-31-2010 at 11:59 AM.
03-31-2010, 02:24 PM #125
Record deficits, high unemployment, depressed economy, skyrocketing US$12.7T debts (congress approved and BO signed US$14.3T debt ceiling on Feb 4, 2010), with next year US$1.6T projected deficit, looks like BO will be going to congress very soon to up the threshold....again.
It is just ridiculous to compare a corporation incurring short term debt financing business activity with plan to pay them off to a govt getting into huge, forever, deficits/debts with no plan to pay them off.
Whatever budgets come next, the interest on the current debt will bite a huge chunk from those budgets, and if Prez wants to maintain the same projects and introduce more pet programs w/o deleting some current projects (as BO is doing now), you know where this will lead to...more deficits, more debts, increasing debt ceiling and one vicious circle.
With huge reserves as in CHN, Spore and HK and no debt, there is obviously a different scenario. Why don't those countries introduce universal, free for all Medicare on the same level as Canada and Australia, should makes T and Y happy? USA can do the same, just find some rooms to cut to pay for healthcare (I concur I would put healthcare at the top priority of govt spending to promote citizen's health as T said), obviously BO cannot or does not have the political will as T said to find any.
Last edited by OneToughBirdie; 03-31-2010 at 02:29 PM.
03-31-2010, 02:37 PM #126
We are not even including the unfunded liabilities US gov has. I think it was estimated at $16T last year. Please note that they are just "unfunded" and and they are just "liabilities" only. That means, US gov can just pass laws to cut medicare payments (More on the top of the one in health bill already). Cut on Soc Sec payment (which will be insolvent very soon if Uncle Sam is not going to pay IOU). Just wait till Cali start asking US gov for help to pay for it's deficit...
03-31-2010, 02:55 PM #127
03-31-2010, 03:11 PM #128
Governator: "I'll be back."
03-31-2010, 03:19 PM #129
03-31-2010, 03:22 PM #130
As a net receipt of transfer money(billions) from the Federal Gov't, Quebec still have to raise more taxes to pay for their best of canada health care. BTW, quebec has the best social programs in Canada, i thot social programs suppose to equal across canada. Some provinces are more equal than others.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Quebec to levy health fee, hike taxes
By Kevin Doughertyin Quebec and Kenyon Wallace, National Post, with files from Canwest News Service
Quebecers can look forward to paying a new "health contribution" and 9.5% in provincial sales tax by 2012 under the budget Finance Minister Raymond Bachand brought down on Tuesday, as the province struggles to contain a projected $4.5-billion deficit.
The new health contribution measure kicks in on July 1, and will see citizens pay $25 this year when filing their income taxes, rising to $100 next year and $200 in 2012, generating revenues of $945-million annually when fully implemented in an effort to help pay for Quebec's rising health-care costs, which account for 45% of program spending.
A second proposal, still not finalized, calls for another health tax that citizens would pay depending on the number of times in the year they see a doctor. At $25 a visit, for 10 visits, an adult taxpayer would pay $250 more for health care, with a ceiling of 1% of taxable income. This measure would raise another $500-million.
The decision to introduce what are essentially two health taxes is a risky move, especially in light of other provincial budgets that sought to limit tax increases and instead raise money for health care from other means.
Ontario's recent budget aims to limit hospital spending, while British Columbia plans to devote all of the proceeds from its new harmonized sales tax to health care.
In addition to the health taxes, the province wants to increase its sales tax to 9.5% from 7.5%, and is implementing two one-cent-a-litre fuel tax increases.
"The initiatives we are announcing today will have little impact on Quebecers' disposable income in 2010," Mr. Bachand said. "They will take effect gradually so that Quebecers can prepare for them."
Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois recalled that in his 2008 re-election campaign, Premier Jean Charest gave no hint of higher taxes and fees.
"The government is going to pick the pocket of Quebecers," she said.
Nancy Neamtan, of the Chantier de l'economie sociable, which promotes co-operatives and non-profit groups, called Quebec's new health charges "regressive."
"People who are earning minimum wage are going to be hit with all these new taxes," she said. "Those who are wealthiest, it's not going to affect their lifestyle at all."
Starting tomorrow, Quebecers get their first taste of Mr. Bachand's new "sustainable solutions" to cut the deficit when the first of two one-cent-a-litre fuel-tax hikes comes into force.
The budget addressed concerns that the new taxes could violate the Canada Health Act, which says health care must be universal, portable and accessible for all, by saying a health deductible through income taxes would not restrict accessibility to health care in Quebec.
In its budget, the Ontario Liberal government aimed to cap the growth in health spending to 3% by 2012, in part by restricting hospital funding to 1.5% this year by asking hospital CEOs to find efficiencies, and promising to cap prescription drug prices by using the province's regulatory powers. Ontario says it can do this and eliminate its deficit of $21.3-billion -- the province's biggest ever -- within eight years.
But Ontario's overall health care costs, currently at 45% of the province's total program spending, aren't any better than its provincial neighbour.
In its budget that came down last month, Alberta pledged not to increase taxes [-- keeping it the lowest tax regime in Canada -- while increasing spending on health programs by $1.7-billion. This in the face of a projected defict this year of $4.7-billion. Citing "cost savings found across government," the province also promised to increase funding for education and funding for seniors. A surplus of $505-million is projected for 2012.
To allay fears over the impending introduction of its provincial harmonized sales tax, the British Columbia government promised in its budget earlier this month to allocate every dollar from the new tax -- expected to take effect July 1 -- to health care. The HST will see sales tax rise from the current 7% to 12%. B.C. projects a deficit this year of $1.7-billion.
To hold costs down in Quebec, Mr. Bachand proposes a 5% cap on health spending increases and annual reports to monitor spending.
Quebec is running deficit budgets to counteract the economic slowdown. Its goal is a 2013-2014 return to a balanced budget.
"We ran deficits out of necessity," Mr. Bachand said. "We are going to eliminate them out of duty."
If nothing was done by 2013-14, the deficit would rise to $12.3-billion, he said. The deficit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, ending today, is $4.3-billion. In his new 2010-2011 budget, the deficit is projected at $4.5-billion
To close the gap, Mr. Bachand said the government is reining in its spending by $6.9-billion.
03-31-2010, 03:26 PM #131
Our provincial treasurer Jim Dining once said famously to his Federal counterpart Paul Martin "it is not the revenue, it is the spending, stupid".
03-31-2010, 03:30 PM #132
some tibit on Quebec, the poor little rich province.
Using the measurement of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, it's also the fifth-most indebted jurisdiction in the industrialized world, far beyond Canada and the U.S.
Its debt is at 94 per cent of its gross domestic product, just ahead of Japan, Italy and Greece, whose debts exceed their GDP, according to numbers calculated by the provincial finance ministry.
03-31-2010, 11:17 PM #133
On the mend
The US health care reform is bitter medicine to some, balm to others. In Hong Kong, the benefits of a 'socialist' system seem obvious after a visit to a public hospital
Ruth Marcus, John Berthelsen
Updated on Mar 25, 2010
The conventions of political pontification do not allow for admissions of uncertainty or ambivalence. Thus, Sunday night's House debate on US health care featured bombastic declarations from both sides about the impending disaster (Republicans) or nirvana (Democrats) being ushered in.
In fact, the occasion called for more humility than hyperbole, however unlikely that may have been given the setting. If I were a member of Congress, my floor speech before casting a yes vote would have boiled down to: Gee, I hope this works.
One of the astonishing aspects of the health care debate is how little is actually known about the implications of a change this sweeping. Everyone has a theory and a model to match, but even some of the most fundamental questions remain the subject of debate.
On the most basic of all - does having health insurance lead to better health? - the evidence is solid but not unanimous. The Institute of Medicine, reviewing the literature last year, found that "the body of evidence on the health consequences of health insurance is stronger than ever before ... Simply stated: health insurance coverage matters."
But a 2009 study by Richard Kronick, a former health care adviser to former president Bill Clinton, found "little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States". Kronick's study has been criticised because it did not adjust for the fact that those in poor health are more likely to seek insurance. The disagreement underscores the difficulty of knowing precisely what changes are in store.
To take another example, one common assertion has been that the uninsured end up getting health care - just more expensive health care, in emergency rooms and when conditions have worsened, with the costs passed on to the rest of the population. The notion that the tab is being picked up one way or another makes intuitive sense. A new National Bureau of Economic Research paper questions this assumption. Researchers Michael Anderson, Carlos Dobkin and Tal Gross examined health care consumption by 19-year-olds who had just been dropped from their parents' coverage.
They found that not having insurance resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in emergency room visits - "contradicting the conventional wisdom that the uninsured are more likely to visit" the emergency room - and a 61 per cent drop in hospital admissions.
"Overall, these results suggest that an expansion in health insurance coverage would substantially increase the amount of care that currently uninsured individuals receive and require an increase in net expenditures," the authors wrote. Emergency room visits could increase by 13 million annually, and hospital admissions by 3.8 million, they project.
So prudence is in order when tinkering with such an interconnected system and when making confident predictions about the effects of reform, for good or ill.
Will younger adults, who account for about half the population of the non-elderly adult uninsured, sign up for coverage - or will they pay the fine instead? How will that decision affect premium levels and the adequacy of federal subsidies?
Will the expansion of coverage create a shortage of health care providers and result in higher prices, or will higher Medicaid payments for primary-care doctors stem an exodus of doctors from the programme? Will employers add coverage because workers facing the mandate to obtain insurance will press for it, or will they drop it because it will be cheaper to pay the penalty and let employees fend for themselves?
Will increased coverage of preventive care save money because diseases will be caught earlier - or will the added cost of widespread screening exceed the economic benefits? The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that, "for most preventive services, expanded utilisation leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall".
The legislation is a risk worth taking. Millions of Americans are without insurance, a national scandal that should have been addressed long ago. Rising health care costs threaten the nation's fiscal security, and the new law holds the promise of beginning to stem the increases.
The status quo is unsustainable. A new study by the Urban Institute think tank shows how, without reform, the numbers of uninsured will rise, employers will continue to drop coverage and premiums will climb. Still, for those who express cocky certitude about how this is going to turn out, the best prescription is a generous dose of caution.
Ruth Marcus is a Washington Post columnist
As I was leisurely handshaking my way out of a goodbye party for a friend recently, I grabbed a couple of macadamia nuts out of a dish to munch. Within minutes, I noticed that parts of my gums were starting to swell. Before I got to the lift, the swelling had travelled around my whole mouth and my tongue was swelling as well.
I was joining the thousands who go off unexpectedly to the emergency room every day. But my allergic reaction - my first - was taking place in Hong Kong, a city that, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation, stands No1 at the global epicentre of fang-and-claw capitalism. For perhaps a dozen years, it secured the top of the foundation's Index of Economic Freedom World Rankings, except when it changed places with Singapore.
This is the city with the famed flat tax so beloved of the Heritage Foundation and of conservative guru Steve Forbes. Effective tax rates here can either be progressive - from 2 per cent to 17 per cent on income adjusted for deductions and allowances - or a flat 15 per cent of gross income, depending on which is lower, not higher. This is not a place for socialistic approaches to societal well-being. Nonetheless, what happened to me over the next three hours ought to inform the debate over health insurance that is now wracking the United States. Despite Congress' vote on Sunday, the Republicans, saying the plan amounts to socialism, vow to continue their opposition and to clean out the Democratic stables in November's elections.
The Heritage Foundation is one of those right-wing lobbying organisations that waged the last-ditch fight against US President Barack Obama's plans. Yet, of the top 10 countries on the Heritage Foundation's index, every single one has some system of universal health care except for the US. After Hong Kong, they are Singapore, second, Australia third, followed by New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, the US, Denmark and Chile, in that order. Freedom of universal health care obviously does not figure in the Heritage Foundation's definition of economic freedom. Leaving my friend's flat, I could feel my hands and feet swelling. I started to feel like I was being bitten from head to foot by fire ants, and to onlookers I must have looked like a man in the most painful stages of heroin withdrawal.
As my throat started to constrict, I jumped into a passing taxi and asked to be taken to the nearest hospital. That was the nearby Ruttonjee Hospital, a one-time tuberculosis sanatorium that was turned into a 600-bed general facility in 1991 and remains partly government funded.
Ruttonjee is emblematic of Hong Kong's parallel medical infrastructure, which features 12 private hospitals and more than 50 public ones. Polyclinics also offer primary-care services, including dentistry. Most of the universities offer free or affordable health care to students.
Only 10 per cent of Hong Kong's population have health insurance or receive health benefits from their employers, according to a study by two Queen Mary Hospital specialists. The other 90 per cent go to the public hospitals. The government spends 2.97 per cent of gross domestic product on public health services, covering 92 per cent of all hospital admissions.
Private care is about as expensive as it is in the United States. Private patients spend 1.8 per cent of GDP on private care - or 40 per cent of total health spending - which covers just 8 per cent of all hospital admissions. In the US, by contrast, health care spending amounts to 17 per cent of GDP and triggers 62 per cent of all personal bankruptcies, according to studies by Harvard University and the American Journal of Medicine.
Although 92 per cent of the public get their health care from public institutions, Hong Kong is one of the healthiest places on the planet. Early public-health education and professional health services give the city the second-highest life expectancy in the world, at 85 years for the average female and 79 years for men. Its infant mortality rate, 2.94 deaths per 1,000 live births, is the world's fourth-lowest.
Within minutes after the terrified taxi driver dropped me, panting and gargling, at the doors of Ruttonjee, I was on a gurney being given medication. The check-in procedure involved handing my permanent resident identification card to the admissions counter. The card's computer chip gives my age, digital thumbprints and other information.
Admission also features payment of HK$100 - US$12.88. That was all it cost for three hours of care including an electrocardiogram, saline drip with antihistamines and steroids, the expert care of Dr Karen Wong Mei-kam and three nurses. It also covered five days of free medication including Piriton (chlorpheniramine maleate), Phenergan (promethazine HCl) and Prednisolone, plus a couple of hours of enormously sound sleep.
While for me it was an emergency, for the hospital it was probably routine. There was no need to hand over a credit card, or fill out a series of forms by hand. In the US, such treatment is simply unthinkable. According to Consumer Health Ratings, a US-based website, a typical emergency room arrival in the US costs US$1,038. An electrocardiogram can run to another US$1,375. Anyone who has ever been to a publicly funded emergency room faces hours of waiting unless they suffer from an immediate life-threatening condition.
There were no bills for me to sign at Ruttonjee. When the nurse awoke me, she asked me if I wished to spend the night. Since I live near the hospital, I got up and walked home minus a HK$100 note, along with HK$20 for the taxi ride in. So take your pick. Does the Heritage Foundation's raw capitalism have a dose of socialism?
John Berthelsen is the editor of the Asia Sentinel, a regional internet-based magazine of news, comment and analysis based in Hong Kong
04-01-2010, 02:27 AM #134
I think if John Berthelsen has to go back for follow-up treatrment it will cost only HK$60, down from HK$100. Also this rate applies only to Hong Kong permanent residents, not non-permanent residents. Also, Hong Kong treats citizens and permanent residents who may citizens of other countries equally.
04-01-2010, 02:32 AM #135
The US is also an economic driver so its debt to GDP, although high, is nothing to worry about.
04-01-2010, 09:11 AM #136