Monday, March 29, 2010

And the boys inside the beltway say there won't be any impact until 2014...

Law of Unintended Consequences and What Healthcare May Mean to You

Check this out.  Three  days after the new healthcare bill is signed into law, there's an SEC filing by AT&T.  Remember, the rules are that your company has to file these things as soon as you're aware of their impact, not when they're taking effect.  So AT&T is aware, and they filed within 3 days.

(excerpt from the SEC filing at SEC's site:)

"On March 23, 2010, the President signed into law comprehensive health care reform legislation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590).  Included among the major provisions of the law is a change in the tax treatment of the Medicare Part D subsidy.  AT&T Inc. ("AT&T") intends to take a non-cash charge of approximately $1 billion in the first quarter of 2010 to reflect the impact of this change.  As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company."

3 days.  That's all it took.  Okay, so what is the downstream effect?  What's this going to do to the balance sheet of AT&T for Q1 2010?  1 Billion hit?  Holy crap.  That's monstrous.  Let's say you work for AT&T.  Do you think you're going to see a raise anytime soon?  Let's say you're trying to find a job.  Do you think AT&T is going to be hiring anytime soon?  Let's say you're a stockholder of AT&T.  You think this is going to do good things for your earning? It certainly is.  That's because 1 billion is 8% of the company's profits.  So even if all else goes well, they have to amend their earnings down to circa 92% of target.  So, all you teachers out there who have AT&T in your pension fund portfolio, how do you think you're going to fare in the coming years with your earnings down 10% or so?  And by the way, John Deere has also filed a $150 Million hit (that's a huge 16% off their profits), and Caterpillar has filed a $100 million hit. (that's 11% off their profits)  Anyone looking for a job with Cat or Deere will also be feeling this.  Verizon, Valero Energy, and AK Steel have done the same. 

Law of Unintended Consequences: (according to wiki) is defined as follows:

"Any intervention in a complex system may or may not have the intended result, but will inevitably create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes".  In common usage, it is a wry or humorous expression warning against the hubristic belief that humans can fully control the world around them. It is used in variety of different contexts in different fields of study, including Philosophy, Economics, History, and Social Sciences. "

This fits perfectly, no?  Hubristic belief that humans can fully control the world around them.  And yes, that includes the other humans around them too. if that doens't fit the boys (and girls) inside the beltway to a tee, I don't know what does.   

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