1 Aug – PZ Myers Doesn’t Understand Alaska

To be fair, except for biology, he doesn’t understand much.

Alaska is a unique state, to say the least. We lived there for years and have received the Permanent Fund Dividend PZ lies about today. By no means are we experts, but had we not lived in the state, we might have, perhaps, done some research on the Permanent Fund before pretending to know something about it.

But that’s not PZ’s style. He knows what he knows – Republicans are all evil, all the time – and everything else flows from there.

PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:

The only solution is to recall the governor and about half the legislature. That’s almost impossible. The governor is making these cuts while promising to mail out large dividend checks to the general Alaskan population, so he’s basically buying support for the evisceration of Alaskan education and Alaskan health and human services. Once again, Republicans are accusing Democrats of what they routinely do, draining the treasury to buy votes.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/07/31/not-at-my-university/

Facts:

This isn’t the first time PZ has lied about Alaska’s 2019 budget cuts. The first time, he generally confined his criticism of the Governor’s actions to how they would affect the university system in the state. Here he includes two other claims, both of which are false.

First, he claims the budget cuts will eviscerate “Alaskan health and human services.” Alaska doesn’t have a Department of Health and Human Services, but it does have a Department of Health and Social Services, which is what we think PZ is really talking about. So, the question then becomes, how will these budget cuts effect that Department? Here is Commissioner Adam Crum:

“The current path of state spending on Medicaid and health care in general is unsustainable,” said Crum. “As many of you know, Alaska has the highest health care costs in the nation. The Health Care Cost Institute actually shows that Anchorage—these major cities—is 65% above the national average for health care costs. That’s just Anchorage. So as you get further away from that—from the hubs into these smaller communities, those numbers actually go up even more,” Crum said.

The department is working with Public Consulting Group to determine whether moving portions of the Medicaid population into the federally facilitated marketplace will save the department money. The restructuring should benefit eligible Medicaid enrollees by connecting them to private coverage. Populations that will remain with Medicaid include the medically fragile, citizens with incomes below 50% of the central poverty level, those on dual Medicare/Medicaid, incarcerated individuals and those recently released from prison; and aged, blind, and disabled enrollees.


Crum said all current eligibility criteria will remain the same and no one will lose access to coverage…Crum said the changes will attract new insurance providers and increase competition among insurers to possibly lower the cost of health care in Alaska.

https://www.krbd.org/2019/06/25/health-social-services-commissioner-talks-medicaid-changes/

In other words, not only will the budget cuts not “eviscerate” the Department, they may actually improve the cost of health services in the state. PZ should like that, right?

The second lie comes as a result of PZ – willfully or not – misunderstanding the Alaska Permanent Fund. Established by the Alaska State Constitution in 1976, the Fund’s principal is not part of the State’s “Treasury” and cannot be spent on things like the University system or the Department of Health and Social Services, however the interest made from the Fund’s investments can be spent in that manner. The State of Alaska is fiscally sound in part because elected officials are prohibited by law from “draining the treasury” to buy votes. In other words, reality is once again the polar opposite of what PZ Myers portrays here. If the Governor wanted to “drain the treasury” to buy votes, he would maintain the University’s funding while simultaneously giving the proceeds from the Permanent Fund back to the citizens of Alaska.

Analysis:

PZ Myers should love the Alaska Permanent Fund. It is among the most progressive policies ever put in place by any State government – putting real sums of money into the hands of the poorest people in the state, but he apparently doesn’t care very much about that. He’s only worried about two things: maintaining the status of academics, like himself, and bashing Republicans.

Final Tally:

Today: 0 science-related posts, 6 posts on other stuff

Since 30 May 19: 76 science-related posts, 192 non-science posts.

28% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science. 

Today: 1 PZ Myers Lies

Since 30 May 19: 78 PZ Myers Lies

Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.

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