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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 1-Dec-2013
1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed

Web Log - December, 2013

1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed

Australia faces strategic dilemma as rise of China challenges U.S.

This morning's key headlines from

Australia faces strategic dilemma as rise of China challenges U.S.

Australian Defense Force Academy parade, 2-March-2013
Australian Defense Force Academy parade, 2-March-2013

Because Australia's geographical location places it too far from its historic allies in terms of potential military support, Australia is facing a strategic dilemma in dealing with China's rise and America's relative decline in Asia.

On the one hand, the United States may decide to step aside and accept Chinese supremacy, while encouraging Japan, India and other countries to take on China themselves. In this case, Australia would be living in a region that is highly contested and unstable, and it would no longer be able to rely on the U.S. for support.

It's more likely that the United States will not want to give up Asian primacy, and it has already moved closer to Japan, South Korea, India and Vietnam, strengthening bilateral security and diplomatic ties. In this case, the rise of China does pose a challenge to the U.S., as China has taken increasingly belligerent actions in the South and East China Seas, and if the United States chooses to confront China in the future, this will inevitably lead to greater regional instability.

Either way, this will require Australia Defense Force (ADF) policies to support allies in high-level contingencies. The Australian government would prefer to maintain the status-quo with its present alliance, but it might respond to future developments in the Asian region by shifting the country’s strategic defense policy and the ADF’s corresponding orientation. Geopolitical Monitor

Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed

The historic IT disaster known as the Obamacare web site has been of intense interest to me, since I've been a Senior Software Engineer for decades, and I have personally participated in, witnessed, and reported on (as a technology reporter) a number of IT disasters. But even so, the size of the Obamacare web site catastrophe on October 1 still takes my breath away.

When I first heard, shortly after October 1, that there was 500 million lines of code in, I quickly rejected that figure, because it's impossible.

Going back to the development of IBM's System/360 operating system, as described in Fred Brooks' classic book, The Mythical Man-Month, the average programmer on the project wrote six lines of code per day. Of course, every programmer writes a lot more than that on SOME days, but on other days he writes zero lines of code, since he's doing testing or debugging or rewriting or documenting. So for System/360, it all averaged out to six lines per day per programmer.

So let's say that the Obamacare programmers were much better than that, and wrote 100 lines of code per day average. Let's say that there were 1000 programmers. And let's say that, over the three year period, there were about 660 business days. Then, with those generous assumptions, you get 100*1000*660 = 66,000,000 lines of code. It's simply impossible to reach 500,000,000.

And yet, the 500 million figure is apparently true. I've heard it dozens of times in the last month, and no one is denying it. apparently really does have 500 million lines of code. How is that possible?

I get a picture in my mind of 1,000 monkeys sitting a computers typing code, without worrying about whether or not it works. Given the size of the catastrophe, some variation of that must have happened.

More important than that, a code base that size is unsupportable. Health services is a rapidly changing field, and every time there's some kind of process or rule change, it will take an army of programmers to make all the necessary changes in the code base. And that assumes that all the bugs have been fixed, which is far from true. will not be fully functional at any time in the foreseeable future, if ever.

On October 1, had 500 million lines of code, and could handle six (6) simultaneous users. has 20 million lines of code, and handles millions of simultaneous users.

Then there's the cost. should have cost $5-10 million to implement. Take into account government corruption and incompetence, it should have cost $10-25 million. Instead, it cost $300-600 million -- let's say $500 million. How do we get to that figure? Well, assume 1000 programmers are paid an average of $100 per hour ($200,000 per year) for 8 hours per day for 660 business days: $100*1000*8*660 = $528 million. So at least that figure makes sense -- as long as you understand that the Obama administration poured half a billion dollars into the pockets of his cronies and supporters, and got exactly what he deserved with

How could President Obama have been so wrong?

There have been numerous reports that the Obama administration had been informed many times, including by McKinsey & Co. in March, that was in serious trouble. And yet, just two weeks ago, on November 19, President Barack Obama said:

"I was not informed directly that the web site would not be working as the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I would not be going out saying, 'Boy, this is gonna be great.' You know - I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying, 'This is gonna be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity' a week before the web site opens if I thought it wasn't gonna work. So, clearly we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the web site."

And so, since he posed the question of how he couldn't have been that stupid, let's try to find an answer.

Once again, I have a number of personal experiences that relate to this, and the main one I'd like to relate is the most bizarre day of my professional life.

In 1985, I was doing contract programming for Northrop Corp., developing embedded software for munitions guidance systems. The project manager had to be reassigned, and I became acting manager. After being in this position for 2-3 weeks, it was clear to me that the whole project was in trouble, would slip at least three months. I told this to the program manager, and he nearly freaked out.

I was then pulled into one meeting after another, and met high-level managers that I never knew existed. Their conclusion apparently was that I was full of crap, and they decided to fire me, but they weren't sure, so they decided to let me stay on until the release date, and then they would fire me.

About a week before the release date, there was a meeting in the lab, where the lead programmer was to demonstrate the embedded system to the Corporate VP. I attended this demo, but I was ordered just to stand there and keep my mouth shut. So I stood back, leaned against the wall, and just watched the proceedings.

The lead programmer gave his demo, and the VP ooohed and ahhhhed. He then asked, "And this will be ready for release next Monday?" The lead programmer said, "Yes, it will be ready on Monday." The other managers in the room also said, "Monday."

I was holding my breath through all this. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Either I was crazy or all of them were crazy. That's why I call this the most bizarre day of my life.

Well anyway, to make a long story short, the project was not ready for release the following Monday. It slipped six months. I wasn't fired because one Silent generation manager went around and told everyone that "Xenakis was right, so he shouldn't be fired." So I wasn't fired.

I've had several other experiences like that, except that usually I was fired, even though I was always right. In 1992, I was working as a contract programmer for Fidelity. I did a little unit testing, and wrote a memo to my manager, listing numerous problems why the project was in trouble, saying that it would slip at least six months. The manager was so furious that he had smoke coming out of his ears. He fired me. The project crashed completely a couple of months later. I was right, and he was wrong, though I paid the price.

In a previous article ( "14-Oct-13 World View -- IT systems a continuing disaster") I related a 2005 experience where I was fired for telling my management that the $10 million project currently under development would slip 6-12 months. I was fired and out of a salary, while the dozens of incompetent engineers kept collecting salaries for over another year, at which time the disastrous project was canceled completely.

So there's really nothing about the disaster that's a surprise to me (except the 500 million lines of code). I've been a Senior Software Engineer for a long time, and I've worked on over 100 projects, so I've seen disasters. The only thing that's different about is the breathtaking size of criminality of the Obama administration in wasting so much money on cronies and corruption, and the breathtaking size of the resulting well-deserved disaster.

It's now December 1, the scheduled date of the re-launch. Based on news reports, the following has been done:

With regard to the billing being done by mail, as I understand it, you have to miss three payments in a row to be dropped off your Obamacare plan. If that turns out to be true, then what you can do, Dear Reader, is sign up for an Obamacare plan, not pay your bill, and then sign up with a different insurance company in three months. However, your doctor won't be happy to see you, since the insurance company won't reimburse him for treating you.

The future of Obamacare

Long-time readers are aware that from the day it was first proposed in 2009, I've referred to President Barack Obama's health care plan as a proposal of economic insanity, because it's a repeat of President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls, which were an utter, total disaster for the economy.

In an article on July 5 ( "5-Jul-13 World View -- Eurozone and Obamacare continue their parallel economic collapse"), I explained in greater detail why Obamacare would fail for the same reasons as Nixon's wage-price controls and Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward in the 1950s.

A couple of people criticized me for making the comparison to Mao's Great Leap Forward. However, Mao's Great Leap Forward contained exactly the same elements as Nixon's wage-price controls and Obamacare -- attempts to control a huge market by passing a law, which makes just as much sense as trying to control the weather by passing a law.

But if the elements are the same, there are major differences in degree. Mao carried those elements much farther, and the results were commensurately more disastrous, with the deaths of tens of millions of people. Nothing like that happened with Nixon's controls, or is expected to happen with Obamacare, where the "only" result is a disastrous economic and medical crisis, with the destruction of much of the medical services marketplace.

Still, there's one more lesson to be learned from Mao's Great Leap Forward. When things started going wrong in early 1959, Mao was warned by numerous experts. Instead of heeding those warnings immediately, which might have saved ten or twenty million lives, Mao had the experts fired or executed. We're now at a very dangerous time when the economic calamities of Obamacare are obvious to almost everyone, and are being pointed out by many people. But instead of heeding the warnings, President Obama is ignoring them, and threatening political opponents with such things as further IRS audits. The longer President Obama continues in this way, the more damage he does. Obamacare will not cause the tens of millions of deaths that Mao's Great Leap Forward did, but it's now quite possible that Obamacare will be the direct cause of hundreds or even thousands of deaths. Investors Business Daily

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Dec-2013) Permanent Link
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