2017 December 04

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Bethlehem, New York
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Clark Reservation State Park
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December 2017
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Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.

Could drilling rigs pop up in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah?

There has previously been some drilling inside the monument but the last well stopped producing in 1992. Now, there are dozens of old, abandoned oil and gas wells still there. But Ruple is skeptical that drilling could start back up in any serious way.

“That area is just too inaccessible. The oil and gas potential is very low and the cost of getting any product out to a refinery and to market would be very high,” Ruple said.

Ballston Lake

Ballston Lake is located in the Town of Ballston, Saratoga County. This lake offers excellent warm water fishing. Ballston Lake is long narrow lake with overall temperatures too warm for any coldwater fish to survive.

Clark Reservation State Park

While Green Lakes State Park gets all the attention in the Greater Syracuse Area, you should also check out Clark Reservation in Jamesville. It's a very nice park, and in many ways much more wild and rugged then Green Lakes State Park.

"Clark Reservation State Park is a geologic wonder of the last ice age and a botanist's paradise. The park's natural features include rugged cliffs and rocky outcrops, woodland and meadow, a wetland and a glacial plunge basin lake in which the surface waters and bottom waters do not mix. Fishermen can catch pickerel, bullheads and sunfish; while birdwatchers may observe cedar waxwings, kingfishers and woodpeckers."

Check out the pictures of this beautiful state park that I took a few years back: http://andyarthur.org/clark-reservation

Meromictic lake

I had no idea until tonight that Ballston Lake north of Albany is a Meromictic Lake. Just lake Green Lake and Round Lake in Green Lakes State Park, and Glacial Lake at Clark Reservation in Jamesville.

I was reading about how the federal tax bill would cut Medicare. That is disconcerting, as this is a vital health program for many seniors in our country. I hate being told things by political pundits but having no data or evidence to back up there views.

So I was curious what a cut to Medicare really mean for both today’s seniors and generations to come, including myself in another 30 years? First off, a cut to Medicare does not mean a reduction in benefits or higher co-pays for consumers. It’s a cut payments to physicians and hospitals. Your doctor gets the hair cut, and depending on how you view these cuts, it might reduce access to care. Or it might not. Certainly doctor and hospital lobbyists would protest any cut to their fat. As the AARP explains:

The Senate tax proposal would add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Under PAYGO, if this bill were to become law, the government would have to lop off $150 billion in spending every year for 10 years.

Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps and other social safety net programs are exempt from the PAYGO law, which went into effect in 2010. But Medicare and other programs — such as federal student loans, agricultural subsidies and the operations of the Customs and Border Patrol — are not exempt.

The law caps how much the government can trim from Medicare at 4 percent. That’s $25 billion the first year, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The annual amount could increase in subsequent years depending on the size of the deficit and Medicare’s budget.

The $25 billion reduction would affect the payments that doctors, hospitals and other health care providers receive for treating Medicare patients. Individual benefits would not change and neither would premiums, deductibles or copays. But with so much less money going to providers, the cuts could have major impacts on patient access to health care — such as fewer physicians accepting Medicare patients.

Source: https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2017/senate-tax-medicare-cuts-fd.html

So cuts to Medicare could affect seniors, by denying them access to new doctors who might decide not to take new Medicare patients. It’s not clear though if doctors are actively dropping Medicare patients.  This 2015 article from Kaiser foundation looks at how many doctors currently accept Medicare patients.

The vast majority of non-pediatric primary care physicians (93 percent) say they accept Medicare—comparable to the share accepting private insurance (94 percent) (Figure 1). A majority of primary care physicians also say they are also taking new Medicare patients (72 percent), but this share is somewhat lower than the share of primary care physicians accepting new privately insured patients (80 percent).

Source: https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/primary-care-physicians-accepting-medicare-a-snapshot/

While doctors often have high malpractice insurance costs, not to mention all the costs of education debt, most doctors in America live fairly well off. Other medical professionals not as well, but their employers usually aren’t struggling for cash. Many medical facilities and doctors probably could survive on lower Medicare payments, but they would have to trim fat from their businesses. But would they? Or would they focus more on private insurance business or those who paid with cash? Maybe. But seniors need the most medical care, so it seems unlikely they would leave the government money on the table, even if it was reduced levels from years past.

Google Maps: 2017 Bethlehem Enrollments

There are only two election districts in the town of Bethlehem were conservative party registrations (Republican-Conservative-Reform) outnumber liberal party registrations (Democrats-Working Families-Womens Equality Party-Green). They are Bethlehem 18 (South Bethlehem) and Bethlehem 29 (Glenmont).

Data Source: November 1, 2017 Election District Enrollment Statistics for Albany County, NYS Board of Elections. https://www.elections.ny.gov/2017EnrollmentED.html

Google Maps: NY Senate Enrollments

This map shows the Senate Districts based on how Democratic or Republican leaning they are based on raw enrollments. Raw enrollment numbers suggest that Democrats should preform better in many of the State Senate districts upstate then they actually do. But Democrats often do not vote in local elections, and many upstate districts have popular incumbents.

Data Source: November 2017 NY Senate Enrollments, NYS BOE. http://www.elections.ny.gov/EnrollmentSD.html

President Trump and Secretary Zinke Announce Modification to Utah Monuments, Resulting in 5 Unique National Monument Units Totaling More Than 1.2 Million Acres

I worry that too much of the public lands are being locked up as wilderness -- land of no uses. Wilderness area not only restrict mineral use, they also restrict public recreational uses, and often are poorly funded and maintained with no dedicated revenue source. Timber, oil, gas, coal and cattle pay for roads, trails, campsites and recreational uses of land. Trees that are harvested are replanted, coal fields are filled by in and re-planted, oil and gas wells are capped and returned to public use. Cows properly fenced in and herd numbers controlled can maintain proper grass lands. Heck, in Allegheny National Forest, many of the best free campsites are former oil and gas wells. It's not fair to compare land management of 50, much less 120 years ago to what is done today, with much better science and laws. The science on how to properly control graze a land or harvest timber in 1900 wasn't what it is 2017. To the layman, land management may not be easy to understand, especially right after a timber harvest or mineral extraction activity. You have to come back in a few years once the ecosystem is rehabilitated.

If you want free use of public lands, you have to allow for timber and mineral sales. Otherwise, they are going to have higher and higher admission prices, especially as public subsidies aren't guaranteed.