Paying Forgetful Patients To Take Their Meds

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You’d think that if your life depends on you taking your medicines that it would be incentive enough. But not for some patients, whose conditions are often made worse because they forget to take their meds.

When they get really sick and “boomerang” in and out of the hospital, these forgetful patients actually cost a lot of money. So, government, insurance companies, and doctors created a counterintuitive program to coax patients to take their meds: by paying them!

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Tax Hikes and the Coming 2011 Economic Collapse

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Arthur Laffer predicts a gloomy year ahead because of taxes

ARTHUR LAFFER
People can change the volume, the location and the composition of their income, and they can do so in response to changes in government policies.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the nine states without an income tax are growing far faster and attracting more people than are the nine states with the highest income tax rates. People and businesses change the location of income based on incentives.
Likewise, who is gobsmacked when they are told that the two wealthiest Americans—Bill Gates and Warren Buffett—hold the bulk of their wealth in the nontaxed form of unrealized capital gains? The composition of wealth also responds to incentives. And it’s also simple enough for most people to understand that if the government taxes people who work and pays people not to work, fewer people will work.
People can also change the timing of when they earn and receive their income in response to government policies. According to a 2004 U.S. Treasury report, “high income taxpayers accelerated the receipt of wages and year-end bonuses from 1993 to 1992—over $15 billion—in order to avoid the effects of the anticipated increase in the top rate from 31% to 39.6%. At the end of 1993, taxpayers shifted wages and bonuses yet again to avoid the increase in Medicare taxes that went into effect beginning 1994.”
Just remember what happened to auto sales when the cash for clunkers program ended. Or how about new housing sales when the $8,000 tax credit ended? It isn’t rocket surgery, as the Ivy League professor said.
On or about Jan. 1, 2011, federal, state and local tax rates are scheduled to rise quite sharply. President George W. Bush’s tax cuts expire on that date, meaning that the highest federal personal income tax rate will go 39.6% from 35%, the highest federal dividend tax rate pops up to 39.6% from 15%, the capital gains tax rate to 20% from 15%, and the estate tax rate to 55% from zero. Lots and lots of other changes will also occur as a result of the sunset provision in the Bush tax cuts.
Tax rates have been and will be raised on income earned from off-shore investments. Payroll taxes are already scheduled to rise in 2013 and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will be digging deeper and deeper into middle-income taxpayers. And there’s always the celebrated tax increase on Cadillac health care plans. State and local tax rates are also going up in 2011 as they did in 2010. Tax rate increases next year are everywhere.
Now, if people know tax rates will be higher next year than they are this year, what will those people do this year? They will shift production and income out of next year into this year to the extent possible. As a result, income this year has already been inflated above where it otherwise should be and next year, 2011, income will be lower than it otherwise should be.
Also, the prospect of rising prices, higher interest rates and more regulations next year will further entice demand and supply to be shifted from 2011 into 2010. In my view, this shift of income and demand is a major reason that the economy in 2010 has appeared as strong as it has. When we pass the tax boundary of Jan. 1, 2011, my best guess is that the train goes off the tracks and we get our worst nightmare of a severe “double dip” recession.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan—with bipartisan support—began the first phase in a series of tax cuts passed under the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA), whereby the bulk of the tax cuts didn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 1983. Reagan’s delayed tax cuts were the mirror image of President Barack Obama’s delayed tax rate increases. For 1981 and 1982 people deferred so much economic activity that real GDP was basically flat (i.e., no growth), and the unemployment rate rose to well over 10%.
But at the tax boundary of Jan. 1, 1983 the economy took off like a rocket, with average real growth reaching 7.5% in 1983 and 5.5% in 1984. It has always amazed me how tax cuts don’t work until they take effect. Mr. Obama’s experience with deferred tax rate increases will be the reverse. The economy will collapse in 2011.
Consider corporate profits as a share of GDP. Today, corporate profits as a share of GDP are way too high given the state of the U.S. economy. These high profits reflect the shift in income into 2010 from 2011. These profits will tumble in 2011, preceded most likely by the stock market.
In 2010, without any prepayment penalties, people can cash in their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Keough deferred income accounts and 401(k) deferred income accounts. After paying their taxes, these deferred income accounts can be rolled into Roth IRAs that provide after-tax income to their owners into the future. Given what’s going to happen to tax rates, this conversion seems like a no-brainer.
The result will be a crash in tax receipts once the surge is past. If you thought deficits and unemployment have been bad lately, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of “Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status” (Threshold, 2010).

Arthur Laffer:  People can change the volume, the location and the composition of their income, and they can do so in response to changes in government policies.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the nine states without an income tax are growing far faster and attracting more people than are the nine states with the highest income tax rates. People and businesses change the location of income based on incentives.

Continue reading… “Tax Hikes and the Coming 2011 Economic Collapse”

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Longmont, CO May Host Global Contest

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The Greener Home Competition

Fifty Longmont homeowners could get full-house makeovers.
But that wouldn’t mean new couches, matching drapes and fresh paint.
These makeovers would include installing solar panels, wind turbines and data-control centers to manage energy use and safety systems.
Englewood-based DaVinci Quest is putting together a global contest to invite teams to design environmentally friendly smart homes — and then renovate 50 houses — for a “significant cash prize.”
And Longmont residents could be the beneficiaries if the company chooses Longmont as the host city.
“It’s kind of like ‘Extreme Home Makeover,’ only with 50 houses,” DaVinci Quest CEO Karl Dakin said. “What may be done to each one may be similar; it may be entirely different.”
The company’s “Greener House Contest” will kick off later this year, Dakin said. He expects DaVinci Quest to choose its host city within the next three months. The company then in early December will put out the call for teams to start designing.
Crews would start renovating and retrofitting houses next summer, likely between June and August, Dakin said.
The goal is that 50 teams will be matched with 50 homeowners who will give over their houses to be renovated to make them more energy efficient, safer and smarter.
If you build a house smart enough to manage energy, Dakin asked, why not build a house smart enough to manage other things as well, such as safety?
That could take many different forms, he said. For example, a system could alert firefighters that no one is inside a burning home or alert residents when the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch.
The contest criteria, so far, are:
Reduce the house’s energy consumption and reduce the waste produced there.
Produce and store energy, as well as store water, at the house.
Enhance communications and telecommuting opportunities.
Link the home with local safety departments.
Operate the house as a system and connect it with available community systems.
Spend no more than $25,000 on the renovation.
Solving problems
DaVinci Quest is a spinoff of the DaVinci Institute, which Thomas Frey launched in 1997 in a small office on Main Street in Longmont. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Frey spent 15 years as an engineer and designer for IBM, where he received more than 270 awards.
The institute began as “a nonprofit futurist think tank,” according to its Web site, but soon morphed into an organization focused on tangible results: inventions, innovations, business concepts.
The institute began educating aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs to give them the skills to make their projects viable, according the Web site.
That is, in part, how DaVinci Quest came about, Dakin said. The affiliate is a for-profit social enterprise that is taking on global social problems by fostering innovations, he said.
“Problems in the world need to be solved, and we need new innovations to do that,” Dakin said.
DaVinci Quest plans to do that by creating a series of 10 competitions to focus resources — time, money, people, ideas — on issues such as energy consumption, health care, food supply and natural disasters.
And it’s doing it through a relatively new concept called “crowdsourcing,” which Dakin describes as “using the world as our research and development team.”
Instead of handing over a task to a panel of experts, DaVinci Quest puts out an open call for ideas. The Internet allows people from all over the world to “come at a problem in every way,” Dakin said.
“The potential wisdom of the crowd is greater than a bunch of smart people in a room,” he said.
Teams could be university faculty or government agencies — or just a random person who decides to take on the challenge.
“It can be anybody anywhere in the world,” Dakin said. “We want to involve as many people in the world as possible.”
But there has to be an incentive, a push, a reason for those faceless people in the global crowd to focus on one issue. Enter DaVinci Quest and its contests.
DaVinci designs the criteria for a contest and creates measurable objectives and metrics to determine who wins.
And the “Greener House Contest” is its first.
DaVinci Quest is limiting its search for a host city to Boulder County, in large part because of the countywide ClimateSmart program, Dakin said.
ClimateSmart helps residents and businesses invest in energy-efficient improvements by providing loans for more than 40 different energy-efficiency upgrades.
Dakin said DaVinci Quest plans to choose one city — rather than pick 50 homes scattered throughout Boulder County — to cut down on complications that would come with different building codes, plans, permits and programs.
DaVinci Quest is looking for a company to sponsor a “significant cash prize,” though the amount hasn’t been determined. It also is looking for companies to sponsor each of the 50 teams.
A team can be one or more people from any-where in the world. Each team would pay an entry fee, be matched with a homeowner and use local programs to finance renovation costs.
The city would function as the economic development partner to help provide support services and guide everyone through building code issues.
Dakin met with Longmont Area Economic Council president and CEO John Cody last week to discuss the economic development possibilities of having Longmont as host city for such a contest.
By Rachel Carter via TimesCall.com

Fifty Longmont homeowners could get full-house makeovers. But that wouldn’t mean new couches, matching drapes and fresh paint.

These makeovers would include installing solar panels, wind turbines and data-control centers to manage energy use and safety systems.

Englewood-based DaVinci Quest is putting together a global contest to invite teams to design environmentally friendly smart homes — and then renovate 50 houses — for a “significant cash prize.”

Continue reading… “Longmont, CO May Host Global Contest”

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The N-Prize Competition

 The N-Prize Competition

Nanosatellites, because small is the new big

Earlier this week we heard that “Cambridge University Spaceflight” would be entering the N-Prize competition. The N-Prize (the “N” stands for “Nanosatellite“) is a competition to stimulate innovation directed towards obtaining cheap access to space. The competition was launched in 2008 by Cambridge biologist Paul H. Dear, and is intended specifically to spur amateur involvement in spaceflight.

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The $300 Million Battery Prize

The $300 Million Battery Prize

 Next generation car batteries could power a car for days without recharging

John McCain hopes to solve the country’s energy crisis with cold hard cash.The presumed Republican nominee is proposing a $300 million government prize to whoever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology. The bounty would equate to $1 for every man, woman and child in the country, “a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” McCain said in remarks prepared for delivery Monday at Fresno State University in California.

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PETA Offers X-Prize for Artificial Meat

PETA Offers X-Prize for Artificial Meat

PETA – The meat brand we’ve all come to love and trust

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants to pay a million dollars for fake meat — even if it has caused a “near civil war” within the organization.

The organization said it would announce plans on Monday for a $1 million prize to the “first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012.”

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