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Worst suspicions realized with Obamacare

Have you been following Lambert and Team’s Obamacare ClusterF^&* series on Corrente? They’re culling the internet and getting personal stories about what it’s like to sign up for the exchanges from around the country.  It ain’t pretty.  Some of their findings:

  • The sign-up procedure appears to be a way of matching your credit score to how much you will pay for a policy.  If you’ve been out of work for some time, have medical bills or have some other unforeseen life event that affected your credit score, expect to pay more for your health care.
  • The exchange policies are thin.  They are mostly in-network policies.  Unfortunately, you can’t always predict whether the guy who treats you in the ER is going to be in your network.  Come to think of it, that time I broke my wrist on vacation in Florida probably wouldn’t be covered so now you’re going to have to think ahead and purchase policies when ever you go out of town for any reason.
  • Cancer treatment may not be covered, or not covered in the way you thought.  You may not get the best treatment or the doctor you want because of the restrictions on the policy.
  • The websites are kludgy and definitely not ready for prime time in some places.

Here’s my overall impression: If you’re covered by your employer, you should consider yourself extremely lucky but be aware that no job is secure these days.  If you’re not covered by your employer, you fall into this “separate but equal” category thing.  Obamacare is supposed to help you get affordable healthcare but you might as well be using the other entrance, drinking from a spigot and barred from the nicer places of business.  They don’t want your kind hanging around.  If this is a *national* healthcare policy, it should be unconstitutional.  The difference is that now the discrimination is based on how you are employed.

On the other hand, there’s a possibility that now a lot more people will know what it feels like to be a discriminated minority.

Hard to believe that Democrats went along with this.

 

It took these guys 350 years to accept the world goes ’round the sun

Take a good look at this picture.  These are the representatives of a global organization that is dictating the terms by which a woman’s uterus will operate.

These guys, and they are ALL guys, have been in business for 1600 years.  Well, longer than that when you consider that what really happened was that the Roman emperor Constantine conducted a merger of the polytheistic religious hierarchy with Christianity.  Yep, one day all of the pontiffs were worshipping Jupiter, the next Jesus Christ.  Constantine did it for pragmatic reasons.  No one’s certain that he gave up pagan ways entirely.  I’d be curious about the priests who suddenly had to make a choice.  Do they continue to read entrails at the Pantheon and believe  Minerva emerged from the head of her father and the head god shows up to empregnate beautiful young mortal women as a shower of gold or do they embrace a new religion based on “The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.”? (That last definition of Christianity is courtesy of the Urban Dictionary)

We know the answer to this question.  The priests switched sides but kept much of their old corporate culture.  For example, there are no women in their executive offices.  Nope.  Not one.  In 1600 years and counting, there has never been so much as female intern in their ranks.  I’ve heard unofficial stories of female popes but they were disguised as men so it doesn’t count.  They cornered the market on book learnin’ but tended to revere tradition, naturally.  So when Galileo Galilei showed that the earth went around the sun and mocked them for ignoring the evidence, they made him pay.  He was forced to eat those words (sort of).  The Roman Catholic Church did a “talk to the hand” on the subject of Galileo and his heliocentric theory.  Eventually, the church “softened”.   One hundred years after stuffing a sock in Galileo’s mouth, it quietly allowed publication of his astronomical works. It has never formally apologized but it has expressed “regret” over the whole unfortunate incident.  It only took until 1992.  No one can accuse the Church of being hasty.

It must be nice to wear the same uniform every day and pronounce the rules by which others will live.  That would include the lives of women who don’t even believe in your religion.  Those women have, what?, 80 years on earth to make their mark and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others?  They have to get educated and get jobs, they get married or not.  They are in most “civilized” countries, complete, independent, PERSONS, with unalienable rights endowed by their Creator, whoever that may be.  But according to these stick in the mud throwbacks from the 4th century, they have no right to decide when and under what circumstances they will be parents.  It is the Church’s bishops that call the shots here in the US.  They have the right to overturn the personhood of every woman in America whether those women give a $#@% about their exclusive boy’s club or not.

I would love to hear Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak explain why the women of this country are having their personhood stripped from them by a bunch of color coordinated old guys from the smallest country in the world.  And can someone please tell me if Ben Nelson, Bart Stupak, and Marcy Kaptur (fergawdsakes, Marcy!) even believe that women are persons?  Aren’t they entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Are women allowed to have their own belief systems?  Are they allowed to follow the religion of their choice or is there one overarching religion that applies solely to women?  Men can follow whatever creed they wish.  Women are subject to The Church.  Poor women are doubly subject but are middle class women to join their ranks?  And does the amount of money you have affect the kind of liberty you are entitled to?

Are women persons? If you are in Congress and you don’t move heaven and earth to get rid of the Stupak Amendment, then you don’t believe they are.  You don’t believe we women will move heaven and earth to get rid of you.  Maybe you even believe that the sun goes round the earth.

You may come to “regret” that and a lot sooner than 350 years.

Thursday: The Quiet Coup of 2008

And it’s still cloudy over the northeast.  The less said about it the better.  It’s just too depressing.

"Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam
and the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day"

Yellowstone Lake, Montana

Yellowstone Lake, Montana

Does anyone care about Governor Sanford of South Carolina?  Me neither.  Just resign already for keeping your Lt. Governor in the dark.   This story isn’t worth two front page pieces at the NYTimes.  FOCUS people!  There’s still a problem in Iran.  You know, crazy Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard threatening to further destabilize an unravelling region of the world?!  Aw, jeez, why do I bother?

StateofDosbelief asks a very good question:

How can the failbots defend what’s going on with so-called healthcare reform?  This latest update from the Senate Finance committee notes that their ideas include:

Dropping the employer mandate
Dropping the public option
Including a new “tax credit to purchase insurance”
and
Taxing employer-based health benefits

Uh…doesn’t this sound a whole bunch like someone else’s ideas?  yeah, Bush II and McCain.  WTF is going on?  My head will explode if this is what we end up with and the failbots try to paint it as a victory.

She also wonders what ever happened to Franken in Minnesota.  The unresolved senate case was presented before the Minnesota Supreme Court in the first week of June and we’ve been waiting ever since.  Franken is the Democrat’s 60th vote.  He is the filibuster proofer.  OoooooOOOOOooooo!  Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln might have to act like Democrats since there would be no reason for them to give away the store anymore.  Well, we’ll have none of that.  It appears that nothing is happening in Minnesota.  One *almost* suspects that there’s a deal to get most of the tricky legislation off of the table before the Senate recesses and THEN the Minnesota Supreme Court will say Franken won. The delay is somewhat inexplicable.  From what I read previously, there was virtually no way that Coleman could emerge victorious.  The ruling imeediately previous to this one pretty much told him to give it up already.  So, what gives?

Now, a lot of you dislike Franken and, hey, if you want to hold his former profession against him, who am I to tell you you’re wrong?  But there comes a point when past resentments should take a backseat to current events.  Franken is a true liberal senator, or he will be once he’s sworn in.  If you want healthcare, the end of the wars, equality for all, financial accountability and someone who will stand against the coup of 2008, your best bet is with Franken.  You can donate to his recount fund here.  Yes, the guy still needs money.  It’s expensive to keep this going for 7 months and lawyers need to eat too, damn them.

Americans aren’t the only ones wondering what they heck is going on with their government.  One of my French colleagues just got back from a trip from Paris.  She tells me the French are thoroughly disgusted with Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently booked a night at Versailles to hold an unprecedented meeting with the legilative branch.  Yep, Versailles, that beautiful white elephant and former diggs of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.  I don’t get it either.  Versailles is about 30 minutes trip from Paris via the RER.  The setting is beautiful but why would you want to have a meeting there when presumably there are suitable meeting facilities in the city?  D’oh!  It’s a perfect photo drop:

Nicolas Sarkozy at Versailles to give a speech

Nicolas Sarkozy at Versailles to give a speech

Surprisingly, the French do not seem to approve of such excess and staging.  Who knew?  My colleague says he’s been a little imperious with his cabinet as well, reshuffling the deck chairs, getting rid of people and generally acting like an arrogant little prince.  She thinks it’s funny that he’s so short too.  Yep, “short people got no reason to live” ridicule is not a good sign for Sarkozy.  Not good at all.

Podcast of the day: Donald Kagan teaches the history of ancient Greece at Yale.  You can find his fascinating lectures online at youtube, so technically, this isn’t a podcast recommendation.  In lecture number 8 on Sparta, Kagan discusses the origins of the word “tyranny”.   It’s all just a little bit of history repeating.


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Your Breakfast Read: Tweedly-deedly-dee!

The ominous clouds still hover over New Jersey.  It’s less than a week from the summer solstice and I am still wearing flannels.  It’s a balmy 62 degrees.  Brrrrrrrr!  What I wouldn’t give to be somewhere else.  Like…

Breakfast on Santorini

Breakfast on Santorini

Grab a seat, er, a chair.

On the newsfront, Hillary says she don’t know nothin’ about Twitter (she’s being coy), but apparently it’s very important to young people.  Er, I guess that would be us, the middle aged, uneducated womenfolk and guys of The Confluence.  Ok, at the risk of sounding like a Hillary groupie, which I could very well be, I just have to point out something that she says a lot but which seems to go over the Obots’ heads: she always grounds her reasons for doing or supporting things in some principle.  In the case of twitter and the Iran election:

Clinton said she considered it important to keep “that line of communication open and enabling people to share information, particularly at a time when there [were] not many other sources of information. . . . It is a fundamental right for people to be able to communicate.”

Making a decision is so much easier when you know what you stand for.  Obama should try it sometime.

Oh and check this out.

What a lovely shade of green.  She’s also a proponent of having votes counted (you have to wait til the very end).  Who knew?

By the way, Hillary broke her elbow on her way to the WH yesterday.  She will need surgery in the upcoming week to fix it properly.  Having broken my wrist in three places a couple of years ago, I sympathize.  The pain and swelling isn’t pleasant.  We hope it’s of short duration.

E.J. Dionne asks a very good question: “Where did we get the idea that the only good health care bill is a bipartisan bill?” I was wondering when someone in Versailles would start to snap out of it.  Bipartisanship in itself is not a goal.  Affordable, universal healthcare is the goal.  And once you figure that out, you also quickly realize that Republicans don’t really want affordable, universal healthcare.  Way to go, E.J.!  He can be taught.  Give him a biscuit.

The NYTimes reports that Ayatollah Khamenei blinks again.  Iran’s Guardian Council is offering to meet with the opposition candidates to discuss their grievances.  I like the way Moussavi, Karoubi and others are handling the uprising but this meeting could be tricky.  The Guardian Council appears to be offering an olive branch with the expectation that the protestors will get sick of waiting and go back to work.   The meetings are scheduled for next week or Saturday at the earliest.  Why wait?  Why not today? Let’s get down to business. The disruption in telecommunications must be doing a number on day to day business.  It’s a showdown.  Stay tuned.

For the parents out there who think the world has gone mad trying to keep kids ultra safe, check out one of my new favorite blogs by Lenore Skenazy called Free Range Kids.  Some of the stories she has assembled make you scratch your head and say WTF???  Yes, you really can overdo the safety thing.  Let’s give back childhood to our kids and quit micromanaging their lives.  (She says as she quietly commits her daughter to 5 weeks of intense algebra)

Podcasts du Jour: Paul Krugman gave a series of lectures in London last week and he has made them available for the rest of us via podcast.  I listened to parts 1 and 2 yesterday.  Sometimes, he gets a bit geeky and I’m no economist so some of it goes over head.  But you should be able to follow along pretty well and get the gist of it.  Krugman’s style is, well, a bit geeky.  It take a little getting used to but he’s got some charming antedotes and appreciates Monty Python and finds CD players in cars newfangled innovations.  Highly recommended.


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Friday: Budget under control? Great. What about mass transit?

The CRRNJ terminal and ferry docks in Jersey City, sitting idle.

The CRRNJ terminal and ferry docks in Jersey City, sitting idle.

Paul Krugman reviews Obama’s budget plans and gives a thumbs up.  Obama’s got his priorities straight, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some problems coming up:

So we have good priorities and plausible projections. What’s not to like about this budget? Basically, the long run outlook remains worrying.

According to the Obama administration’s budget projections, the ratio of federal debt to G.D.P., a widely used measure of the government’s financial position, will soar over the next few years, then more or less stabilize. But this stability will be achieved at a debt-to-G.D.P. ratio of around 60 percent. That wouldn’t be an extremely high debt level by international standards, but it would be the deepest in debt America has been since the years immediately following World War II. And it would leave us with considerably reduced room for maneuver if another crisis comes along.

Furthermore, the Obama budget only tells us about the next 10 years. That’s an improvement on Bush-era budgets, which looked only 5 years ahead. But America’s really big fiscal problems lurk over that budget horizon: sooner or later we’re going to have to come to grips with the forces driving up long-run spending — above all, the ever-rising cost of health care.

And even if fundamental health care reform brings costs under control, I at least find it hard to see how the federal government can meet its long-term obligations without some tax increases on the middle class. Whatever politicians may say now, there’s probably a value-added tax in our future.

The health care funding is the key.  It stops well short of universal however.  Let’s not forget that there’s a hidden tax applied to every working taxpayer to pay for the uninsured. In NJ, that hidden tax is estimated to total  $700,000,000 per year and with more people out of work these days, it’s bound to go up.  That’s why universal healthcare is so important.  Ideally, we want to keep people healthy before they become so sick they end up in the emergency room and the hospital.  It saves us all money in the end.

Krugman expects tax increases on the middle class.  I suppose that is inevitable but I hope that someone is thinking about the millions of us single parents out here who pay taxes at a single rate and even with Head of Household and dependent deductions end up paying more every year in taxes than married people.  I’m sorry, married people, but I think this is unfair.  No one is reducing the cost of living for single people and single parents aren’t spending like there’s no tomorrow, except on the locusts who reside with us and regularly clean out our refrigerators.  Reports of our disposable incomes are greatly exaggerated.

One thing I haven’t heard mentioned is mass transit.

The abandoned CRRNJ station at Belle Mead, NJ

The abandoned CRRNJ station at Belle Mead, NJ

My impression is that it was underfunded but if anyone has a handle on the exact numbers, raise your hand.  Here on the east coast, especially dense NJ, there were a number of commuter rail lines that were abandoned in the 60′s as workers took to their cars.  Now, 40 years later, suburban sprawl has made getting from point A to point B a nightmare.  But the old rail lines are still there.  You can see them on google satlellite maps.In at least one case, the CRRNJ, the terminal station in Jersey city is still there.  It looks like it’s waiting for someone to just flip a switch.  I’m sure there’s a lot more to it than that but with most of the infrastructure already in place, what are the barriers to getting it up and running again?  We could really use it.

What’s your budget priorty?  Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday: His penis didn’t drop off

At the risk of sounding like an echo chamber, I’m reprinting this comment from MABlue that Edgeoforever at Not Your Sweetie found at our site:

“Why is this guy never supposed to do anything, take any position or win a debate before being declared the winner?”

“Obama still has the main characteristics that led me to support him. He didn’t drop dead during the debate, which means he still has a pulse. His penis didn’t drop off during the debate,which means it’s still attached. I don’t have any other real requirements, he can eat puppies onstage for all I care.”–the punditry

Oh, I don’t know if those are the only requirements but it does appear at times that the media has beer googles where Obama is concerned.

Neither of the remaining candidates is the one I would have chosen to be president.   The one *I* wanted, indeed, much of the country wanted, was taken away from us.  The media should be on notice.  We aren’t going to forget its part in sidelining Hillary for a long, long time. But Obama most certainly did NOT win that debate last night.  McCain had a slight edge over Obama for one reason- he took risks.

McCain was as forthcoming as he could be without pissing people off.  My Friends, the government of George W. Bush has been so successful at achieving the Conservative Movement’s goals that pissing people off is the inevitable outcome for the forseeable future.  We are royally screwed nine times til Sunday.  As Dakinikat said last night, if you have a job, consider yourself lucky and hang onto it.  It’s going to get rough, maybe rougher than we’ve ever known in our lives.  There are some social safety net programs that will need to be restructured.  Social Security can probably get by with a tweak with no restructuring, assuming the economy recovers in some not too distant future.  Medicare is the juggernaut that will do us in if we’re not proactive about fixing it.  We need to curb our dependence on foreign sources of energy and reduce greenhouse gases.  That means we have to seriously consider nuclear energy.  McCain was right to introduce these subjects during the debate because they are very serious and we can’t turn our heads and pretend that “Hope!” and “Change!” are going to fix things.

I didn’t hear Barack Obama go out on a limb for anything.  His healthcare proposals are better than McCain’s but that’s because they are rip offs of Hillary’s.  McCain copied Hillary on the HOLC proposal.  I give McCain points but not Obama because McCain really *is* bucking his party’s position on HOLC where Obama is not taking a risk on healthcare.  For Obama, it’s a safe position to take.  Healthcare is not likely to get addressed in the next administration anyway.  Why is that?  Because there’s no money.  At least John McCain is putting  the horse before the cart by trying to solve the economic crisis at its roots.  Solving the mortgage crisis is an essential but currently missing portion of digging ourselves out of the financial meltdown that is going to ruin our economy.  Obama barely mentioned it in passing.

But it hardly matters that McCain’s approach seems to be more practical especially given the parameters he will be working with.  Obama has a penis and it did not fall off.  It stayed attached and that’s all that matters.  We will lower the standards for him like we have done all primary season like a game of bumper bowling.  He simply can not miss.  We who were subjected to that incoherent rambling style and find it free of substance will be declared racists for not appreciating the impact of his historic candidacy, the beauty of his mere presence on that stage where no one like him has ever been before.

But it is the spirit of Hillary Clinton hovering over both candidates that I feel most acutely.  Both candidates make reference to her.  We shouldn’t look back or regret what has happened.  We should only look forward.  Yes, she would have made a better debater, policy maker and president.

Alas, she did not have a penis.

More on the debate and the economic crisis can be found in this post at Anglachel (here’s hoping she has recovered from her psychogenic fugue.)

Do Republicans argue badly or is it just me?

More bad argumentation on the health care issue. A commenter writes:

The high healthcare costs in the U.S. are the product of the current regulations. U.S. tax law, combined with the idea that employer-sponsored health-care is “a good thing”, have combined to create a situation where health-insurance is not insurance at all. Instead, it covers every little expenditure — like a managed account. From this root, springs the fact that a huge bureacracy is required to monitor these managed spending accounts.

Here’s a good article on the history of health-care costs.

The bottom line is that universal health-care will benefit some and hurt others. Similarly, if one increased taxes a little, and used the money to raise unemployment payouts, you would benefit some and hurt others. The essential issue is the immorality of having the government force people to be altruistic. Redistributing my income? No thank you!

Where to start:
The essential issue is the immorality of having the government force people to be altruistic.”

You must be a libertarian, Republican or a very stupid Democrat. The government is already forcing you to be altruistic. You pay a hidden tax to cover the costs of the uninsured. These uninsureds are either low paid workers whose companies do not provide healthcare or small biz owners who can’t afford to buy healthcare for their workers or self-employed who would rather keep the cash or dumb twenty somethings who think they’re never going to get sick. You might be a contractor who falls into one of these categories. So, when you get sick, as you will during your lifetime or just before you die, you will have to pay for treatment or we, the taxpayers, will have to cough up the bucks in the form of compensation to the hospitals that are stuck with the bill that you owe and can’t pay because you waited until your condition got to be serious enough to require hospitalization.

You’re *already* being forced to be nice to people because we as a society generally think it’s a bad thing for sick people to go without treatment or have their bloated corpses lying around. Of course, Republicans have been trying to get Americans to not feel so strongly about this so they will feel less guilty about letting poor people drown and die in New Orleans, for example. But it hasn’t been very successful because even the non-New Orleans native knows that there but for the grace of God go they.

I’m just curious, why is it that altruism towards the less fortunate is frowned upon but bailing out millionaire investors on bad real estate deals is perfectly OK? THAT kind of altruism Republicans can’t get enough of and they rob the hardworking taxpayers of NJ to pay their business buddies in Iraq with no bid contracts too and this does not trouble their consciences. And for some reason, we hard working slobs have it in our heads that we are being unreasonable to insist on affordable healthcare for everyone. WE feel guilty about asking everyone to pitch in so that people will not die or go bankrupt unnecessarily. The bastards in charge have been pretty good at messing with our heads when they get us to passively accept our fate as somehow not deserving of “charity” while we lavish government bailouts on *their* friends as if they’ve met with some catastrophic fate instead of a loss in their portfolios.

There seems to be no limit to the altruism heaped on those people with our tax dollars. But pay for a insulin pump for a diabetic child or a mammogram for a self-employed woman or an MRI for a guy with stomach pains, that’s where we draw the line. That’s just stealing from people like you. But stealing from me to cover Merril-Lynch’s bad investment gambles, that’s OK?

Go haunt a Norquist blog and drown someone else’s government in a bathtub.

Wednesday Morning- Hunkering Down

Alright, there’s no reason to belabor the point. Yeah, yeah, courtesy of intense media fluffing Obama is ahead. But it’s not over yet. One good debate should put everything back in perspective.

Anyway, there’s more stuff for me to do today. What do these people want from me, a cure for cancer?!?! Er, Ok, I’ll try. (NOTE: I happen to be the luckiest person in the world when it comes to work. I have a job I love and I work for a woman who I admire greatly. She is fair, collaborative, professional and the best mentor I have ever had. So, I’m just kidding about the work thing. It’s actually quite fun.) In the meantime, enjoy these fine selections from around the web:

  • Terry Gross does it again with another great interview comparing the healthcare plans of the candidates. Political scientist Jonathan Oberlander is her guest. Highly recommended.
  • ghost2 pointed me to a speech that Obama gave in 2006 where we can get an idea of the roll of religion in his America:

    Democrats, for the most part, have taken the bait. At best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religious values altogether, fearful of offending anyone and claiming that – regardless of our personal beliefs – constitutional principles tie our hands. At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word “Christian” describes one’s political opponents, not people of faith.Such strategies of avoidance may work for progressives when the opponent is Alan Keyes. But over the long haul, I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people, and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.

    (snip)

    This is why, if we truly hope to speak to people where they’re at – to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to their own – we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse. …

    Senator Barack Obama

    I don’t know about you but I don’t particularly like the idea that my presidential candidate assumes that religion is an essential part of our lives and I don’t care which religion he’s referring to. If the religious want to talk amongst themselves about the value of religion in their lives, that’s just ticketyboo but must the rest of us be subjected to it? I happen to have a faith but my adolescent decided at the tender age of nine that she doesn’t believe in God. I don’t recall her saying she didn’t believe in good moral behavior and values. It was just the whole God part she had trouble swallowing. Obama gives me the impression that she’s somehow unfulfilled because she’s not a religious person, as if her moral maturity level is stunted and it would behoove her to hear about the religious values and dogmas of others. This is one of the many reasons I can’t support Obama. I don’t hear any tolerance from him regarding non-believers. Instead of telling the faithful to back off and let others have some breathing room, he takes pains to chastise his own side for daring to dissent on the necessity of faith itself. The pluralistic society he refers to contains not just many faiths but sometimes NO faith. He seems to run from unpopular faiths like Islam and he fails to acknowledge the full citizenship of the atheist. That’s just wrong, IMHO.

  • I never liked Howard Dean. There, I said it. When the whole world was going crazy for him in 2004, he just didn’t do it for me. The hype around him seemed artificial, sort of like Obama today. And whatever his message was, it didn’t resonate with me. It had nothing to do with the scream. I felt this way about Dean before the scream. He projected something that just bounced off of me. Wes Clark was more my style. But the netroots like Howard and I think the failure to get him nominated in 2004 has a lot to do with their zealous frenzy to push Obama down our throats in 2008: it makes them feel important. But it’s sort of like being rebels without a cause. Many of them know that Obama is not ready or doesn’t have their best interests at heart. That’s not the point. The point is they are not going to be told what to do. They are the new generation, blah, blah, blah. Like the rest of us are geezers. Anyway, back to Howard. If anyone is responsible for the mess that the nomination process is in right now, it’s Howard. My theory, and you can disagree if you’d like, is that Howard is an Idea Rat. In Dilbert cartoons, the Idea Rat is the one who comes to meetings and says stuff like “We need to restructure our core compentencies and maximize our values to become a worldclass organization!” And everyone says what a great idea that is (it could be something much more worthy than bizspeak, but you get the point) and they turn to him and say, “Go do it” and he says, “Oh, I can’t do it. I’m just an Idea Rat.” This is Howard. He’s got a lot of great ideas but implementation is a problem. He’s not quite sure how to pull that off. So, yes, it is a great idea that the big Democratic states finally got a say in the primary system after letting NH and Iowa pick our candidates. But it sucks that now that I’ve gotten to cast my ballot for my candidate of choice in NJ, along with my likeminded friends in NY, CA, MA, MI and FL, *our* preferences will be essentially negated by Howard’s not-very-well-thought-through decision to not seat the Florida and Michigan delegations. The disenfranchisement of a good portion of the Democratic electorate by the elimination of Florida is summed up in the following cartoon.florida chad Thanks Howard.

The Healthcare Argument

I got a the following comment from a reader regarding the scary Clinton healthcare proposal:

The Clinton campaign didn’t have a healthcare plan before it failed and they don’t have one now. Well to be honest, if everyone is a government employee, then the Clinton healthcare plan will work for everyone. Unfortunately some are self employed, independent contractors or work for private employers or small business. Under the Clinton healthcare plan these people would be penalized if they don’t pay for their healthcare. This means that most of your family members and friends will have their paychecks garnished. We all know that it doesn’t stop there if it is a goverment enforcement. There will be fines and then misdemeanors which is a criminal offense defined as less serious than a felony. Why did Ms. Clinton decide on this approach? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Big business, big Corporation call it what you will, they want their money back and in order for Ms. Clinton to get their support in her race to presidency she is giving victory to one side (the healthcare providers) by promising to them that she will have the poeople wages garnished if they continue to give healthcare. Thus allowing her to shout the words “UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE” This is a shady tactic and makes fools out of every american that falls for this trick. The Obama healthcare plan is for the people. Poor people, middle class and rich people can rest assured that there is no tricks or penalties in the Obama healthcare plan. VOTE OBAMA!!

To be honest, this reader’s enthusiasm was relatively sane and I appreciate that. But now that we’ve gotten Obama Love out of our system (you Clinton people can stop vomiting now), I’m going to give it a shot:

I think what you wrote about the healthcare issue is wrong for several reasons.

1.) Universal coverage is necessary because right now, every person who currently has insurance is subsidizing the care of those who do not. In NJ this amounts to a $700,000,000.00 hidden tax to compensate the hospitals around the state for care they provide to the uninsured. So, if you have insurance, you’re already paying more than you should.

2.) When everyone is covered, the cost of insurance should actually drop. That is because we will be sharing the risk and sick people will not wait until they are in need of hospitalization before they seek help. If you factor in prescription drugs to control blood pressure and cholesterol as well as contraceptives, you reduce the instances of heart attack, stroke and unplanned pregnancies.

3.) Universal coverage gives small businesses and self employed people the cost benefits of collective bargaining. They will qualify for group rates. On the other side, more people in a bigger group can put pressure on insurance companies to negotiate. The ability to buy good insurance at group rates will result in an increase in entrpreneurship since the security of health care will no longer be dependent on landing a job with benefits and staying there forever whether you like your employer or not. I would expect wages to rise similarly since businesses will have to offer good employees more in order to intice them to stay.

4.) Here at my current employer, those with the best salaries subsidize the health insurance of those employees who make less. Our rates might be higher but it’s not burdensome. But it does depend on everyone being in the plan together.  Even the working class needs to pay something into the collective pot.  The goal is affordability not free.  And just because someone is healthy and young and willing to assume their own risks doesn’t mean they will have the funds to cover a catastrophic illness or accident.  Pay now or pay a LOT more later.  Why should the rest of us who are planning and paying our fair share pick up the extra cost associated with an opt-outs higher cost of care?

5.) Clinton says that if you’re not enrolled when you get sick, you will be enrolled on the spot and the cost will not exceed a certain portion of your income. If you don’t pay your portion, I suspect it would be similar to not paying your social security tax. In fact, the social security system is the closest analog to what Clinton is proposing. Social security is a very successful program but it depends on everyone buying in. We’ve already run the numbers on the cost of partial privatization and it didn’t fly because the people who opt out shove the cost of covering the retired onto those who are still in the system . Revenue is lowered and benefits need to be cut. So, it’s all opt in or you might as well do nothing- like Obama is suggesting.

BTW, it was wrong of him to use the Harry and Louise type ads to diss the Clinton-Edwards health care proposals. That’s just what the insurance companies did to us back in the 90’s. And now, 16 years later, they are still raking in the big bucks and passing the costs onto us. For that alone, there is more than enough reason to avoid Obama like the plague.
Thanks for playing.

700,000,000

That is today’s number. It represents the hidden tax that every working New Jerseyan pays for the healthcare of uninsured residents of our state.

$700,000,000.00

It’s 3/4 of a Billion dollars that the state comps hospitals around the state when an uninsured 10 year old needs oxygen during a severe asthma attack, or an uninsured man needs to be treated for a heart attack or an uninsured free-lancing woman needs chemotherapy for breast cancer.

1.8 Million New Jerseyans out of 8 million are uninsured. That’s a lot of potentially sick people. Wouldn’t it be better for them to pay into a universal health insurance policy while they’re well so that the risk is dispersed and hospitals don’t have to pass the cost onto the insured like they do now?

One of our candidates believes in univesal coverage, The other would let the young and healthy opt out until they need it. In the meantime, the tax becomes less well hidden…

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