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by Vice President Knight Allen
Originally published on August 14, 2014 - reprinted with permission

    Let's start with a follow up regarding NV Energy's (NVE) proposed rate increase. The headline read "No shock: Electricity rates soar" "PUC report: Customer bill that was $67 in 1985 now costs $161."That's an increase of 140%. When I stepped back and thought about it that didn't seem so terrible to me.

    Three decades 140%? When you consider the insane growth we experienced here in Clark County and the amount of capital Nevada Power had to invest to keep up with it the 140% comes close to being a loaves and fishes miracle. Now before you get all upset with me, I'm not in love with NVE. I never owned a share of the company's stock when it was NVP or when it became NVE before the Buffett buyout. Also, I own no shares of any public utility so I've got no self interest in praising NVE. Assuming the PUC's numbers are accurate the company did one heck of a job. Just to get a little perspective I dove into my files and found the average wage in Clark County in 1985 and compared it to now: $18,000 to $44,142 equals 145%.

    Are you a Medicare Advantage (MA) member? Do you like it? I am and I do. I've had two major incidents both requiring hospitalization and rehab and in both cases I have been very satisfied with the care I received. I have this very uncomfortable feeling MA has a bull's-eye on it. Back in February the Wall Street Journal reported the Health & Human Services (HHS) Department has "warned the insurance industry . . . . . to expect a cut (to MA) of roughly 6% to 7%. That's a real decline in funding, not a slower growth rate and much steeper than anticipated." The same report said the number of MA plans has shrunk from 48 in 2009 to 20 now.

    On the other hand, all the articles I've seen telling me not to worry, that MA is fine are coming from inside of government and I admit that I can no longer accept those assurances. At some point in time the talking points coming from both sides go by the wayside and you get to the bottom line. United Healthcare, which runs the Senior Dimensions MA plan here in Clark County, reported a 2 percent drop in second-quarter earnings primarily due to the Affordable Care Acts' MA funding reduction. Two percent isn't much but it's really just the beginning.

    I ran across a report about the Declaration of Independence. It pointed out the Declaration is really two documents. One declaring the natural rights of man, "We hold these truths to be self evident---"and the other a statement to the nations of the world documenting twenty eight actions by the King & Parliament justifying why " . . . these United Colonies are and of Right ought to be Free & Independent States . . ."

    Here's where it gets very interesting. Over one half of the 193 member countries of the United Nations actually have a Declaration of Independence. Every one of them, like ours, documents the reasons why they should be recognized as new nations. But . . . are you ready for this? Only a couple declares commitment to the natural rights of man. In other words the people had no rights under the old regime and they still have no rights under the new one. Authoritarians, dictators and tyrants in all forms, including benevolent, and in every age can't stand "We hold these truths . . ." and that seems to include more than a few sitting in Washington DC right now.

Contact Director Knight Allen