What Harley-Davidson Did with Its Tax Break

Harley-Davidson paid its President and Chief Executive Officer, Matthew S. Levatich, $11.1 million in 2017, a 19% increase from his $9.35 million take the prior year, rewarding him for taking the company’s net income to $522 million, down 25% from 2016’s $692 million. Five years ago, he collected a paltry $3.7 million. A share of H-D stock (HOG) was priced at $69.24 at the end of 2013; $50.88 at the close of 2017, down 27%. ($42.31 on May 25, 2018.)

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ACA and HCA and Cheesecake Factory Medicine

(In what other first-world country do people regularly come together to raise money to help pay a friend or neighbor’s medical bills?)

Put aside for a moment all the headlines about repealing Obamacare and replacing it with Paul Ryan’s handiwork. (You knew he was serious because he presented his PowerPoint overview wearing rolled-up shirtsleeves with not one, but two U.S. flags behind him.) The U.S. spends more, way more, per capita on health care than any other country. The U.S. ranks near the bottom in life expectancy, infant mortality and obesity.

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Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, and a professor in the department of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health and in the department of surgery at Harvard Medical School, compared our health care processes and results to the processes and outcomes at the Cheesecake Factory chain of restaurants.

At the Cheesecake Factory, for preparation of Hibachi Steak:

“…the instructions were precise about the ingredients and the objectives (the steak slices were to be a quarter of an inch thick, the presentation just so), but not about how to get there. The cook has to decide how much to salt and baste, how to sequence the onions and mushrooms and meat so they’re done at the same time, how to swivel from grill to countertop and back, sprinkling a pinch of salt here, flipping a burger there, sending word to the fry cook for the asparagus tempura, all the while keeping an eye on the steak. In producing complicated food, there might be recipes, but there was also a substantial amount of what’s called “tacit knowledge”—knowledge that has not been reduced to instructions.”

At the hospital where the author is a surgeon, he gives the example of knee-replacement surgery:

“…there was now, for instance, a limit as to which prostheses they could use. Each of our nine knee-replacement surgeons had his preferred type and brand. Knee surgeons are as particular about their implants as professional tennis players are about their racquets. But the hardware is easily the biggest cost of the operation—the average retail price is around eight thousand dollars, and some cost twice that, with no solid evidence of real differences in results.”

Read Dr. Gawande’s report, published by the New Yorker, here. Definitely will stimulate your thinking.