My oh my, and to think that all one apparently needs is that higher education industry mill piece of paper, when if a tradesman performs any work and gets caught without being licensed all hell breaks lose, Especially if something goes wrong!!
Nov 22 2010
Oil Spill’s Unlicensed Engineers
Sep 30 2010
A Doctor Responds
In response to my prior piece about Medicare and doctors, I received an e-mail from a physician. I will summarize her response below.
Mar 20 2010
30 Rock and the Arrival of Late Capitalism
Ordinarily I’ve avoided referencing pop culture in my posts, but forgive me again for doing so once more. I’ve been inspired to write on this topic based on watching this past Thursday’s 30 Rock episode. Its main idea implies that this naggingly persistent Great Recession was largely a result of those in big business who went for the easy, predictable sell and in so doing completely eliminated the idea of risk. In the episode, a fictional company that has recently bought NBC’s parent company, General Election, has devised a scheme to generate an endless supply of guaranteed income–namely, hundreds of channels of pay-per-view internet pornography. The revelation doesn’t sit well with Jack Donaghy, the Alec Baldwin character, a top ranking executive who is used to committing brainpower and elbow grease to creating innovations that sell, regardless of whether they are environmentally friendly, exploitative, gimmicky, or completely useless. As he puts it, the new company has made his entire skill set obsolete and reduced making money to a robotic perpetual motion machine.
Many pertinent issues are raised in the episode. Among the most notable is the suggestion as to whether or not consumerism and consumer capitalism ought to be viewed as some sort of necessary evil. Jack Donaghy is frequently an unsympathetic character on the show, but he does represent the very American idea that buckets of money can be made for those clever and resourceful enough to come up with a product or concept the public will clamor for, regardless of how stupid, pointless, or wasteful it might be. This has indeed been the criticism many of us on the Left have made over the years when we contemplate our obsession with the acquisition of possessions to no real positive end. When played off the idea that even necessary evil has been corrupted by an unimaginative scheme which promises guaranteed rates of return and no possible margin for error, the larger question is whether our current economic downturn was, in part, caused by risk-averse thinking. Have we exchanged necessary evil for unnecessary evil?
Instead of taking a chance and risking gaining either great wealth or a setback, it appears that some have ventured to circumvent the old ways. Though I am certainly no fan of the capitalist system, it is my understanding that, based on its rules, anyone and everyone is given the opportunity to try their hand at making money. Some efforts succeed and some efforts fail, certainly, but that’s just the nature of it. Many have made fortunes and lost them outright and many have achieved much in the way of capital through the process of trial, error, and dogged determination. But when that enterprising spirit and simultaneous revelation that one achieves when realizing that life itself is a series of ups and downs—when that become obscured by a desire to take the easy way out—then we all are simultaneously inhuman and poorer in the end.
Whether or not we believed that the American Dream was a dream deferred or a bad dream in the first place, it is interesting to ponder whether it has been royally short-circuited. To be sure, there were certain economic theorists and historians who had long proposed that something like this was an inevitability. Those in particular who espoused the theory of late capitalism would seem to be validated by the episode’s premise. We who have long spoken out against the injustices and inequalities of the existing system have nonetheless learned to live with it, and the idea that a brand new enemy may have taken the place of the old is certainly worth contemplating. Still, predicting the ultimate demise of capitalism is a bit like setting a date for the end of the world, if not the Second Coming. As it is written, brothers and sisters, you don’t need anyone to write to you about times and dates. For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
Dec 16 2009
The Often Disturbing Reality of Social Media
Julia Angwin’s column entitled How Facebook is Making Friending Obsolete provides a revealing look into the ways that supposedly free services like Facebook and Twitter are mining the data of unsuspecting users for profit. The tactic is unethical at best, but it highlights just how desperate some companies are to turn a profit. The idea of monthly or yearly subscriptions, which were the bread and butter of old media cannot be relied on in this medium because online users refuse to pay them and then gravitate to the latest platform that can be used for free™. As for my own personal leanings, any technology that subverts the established system and forces it out of its comfort zone is worthy of praise in my book, but I suppose this degree of perfidy and with it monetary gain ought to be expected under the circumstances. The basic idea of capitalism is built on the idea of change and the next big thing, but this, of course, threatens the establishment that doesn’t like having to think outside of its cozy comfort zone.
Angwin sets up her column by saying,
Friending wasn’t used as a verb until about five years ago, when social networks such as Friendster, MySpace and Facebook burst onto the scene.
Suddenly, our friends were something even better – an audience. If blogging felt like shouting into the void, posting updates on a social network felt more like an intimate conversation among friends at a pub.
That degree of false intimacy, however, proved to have consequences. It lulled many into an imagined sense of security that could be broached by ten mouse clicks or less. Potentially embarrassing personal details could be accessed easily by complete strangers, and when these users complained and very publicly cried foul, the media picked up on it by running stories and op-eds that adopted the tone of a finger-waggling parent. Apparently it deemed that the best way to keep from oversharing personal details online was a good hearty dose of stern lecturing and abject moralizing. To be sure, irresponsible behavior led to the establishment of a thousand or so online-based drama queens and flame wars. That which had been an interesting concept in drawing people together began to show some serious flaws.
Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it,
Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
I never recognized how repressive a culture of which we are all a part until I incorporated the internet into my daily routine. The guise of anonymity that cyberspace provides gives people the opportunity for people to come clean with a million different, but highly related fears, phobias, neuroses, and insecurities as though we were all members of a giant support group. Unlike some, I don’t get much pleasure out of observing the scars of other people, no matter how selfishly rendered they may be. I pity those who feel that the only way they can truly be honest with themselves and in so doing brave vulnerability and sincerity is when among those who they cannot see, hear, or speak to face to face. And yet, each of us is like that to some degree.
Regarding keeping ourselves in check a bit, I don’t mean it in a kind of Puritanical repressive sense, but rather that the immediate gratification and instant attention the internet provides us caters to a sense of narcissism and me-centered discourse. If intimacy with friends is what we were seeking, the Wild West freedom provided by the technology makes a true circle of trust and discretion nearly impossible. One can only work within the limitations of the medium itself. Whatever ends up being broadcast online usually can be discovered with enough searching.
When I was younger, I volunteered information in cyberspace that hindsight allows me to recognize that I probably should have been a bit more discerning. But again, I was a teenager then, and every adolescent is half child, half adult, and all insecure. I am fortunate I had the internet at that formative time in my life because I met other people my own age going through the same things I was and I had a shared sense of solace there. Had I been born even five years earlier, I would not have had that outlet and would have suffered mightily in its absence.
Returning to the larger point, the true lesson here is that major sectors of our capitalist wilderness are desperately trying to find ways to make money and are doing so by methods that openly violate our trust and our sense of security. I suppose I could jump up and down, screaming about constitutional statutes and right to privacy being broached, shortly after contacting the ACLU, but I doubt it would do much in the way of good. The recession merely exacerbated trends that had been slowly, steadily progressing of their own accord. That certain companies would have the testicular fortitude to so sneakily use our own information and thoughts for their gain is damning enough, but provided we remain complicit and enabling in it, more companies will attempt similar tactics.
Any system based on profit will be adaptive and find a way to use our humanity against us. In an age where we are lonely, desirous of companionship, isolated by distance, and hoping to find a means to be a part of something larger than ourselves, Facebook arrived to fill the void. It captured the Zeitgeist, for better or for worse, and now it is merely the latest manipulator for profit. I am decidedly not a purist in this regard and though I will certainly take care to make sure I don’t resort to blarf on the page, neither will I take stock that someday social networking will replace what face-to-face personal contact ought to provide.
It is a testament to the fact that judge not, lest ye be judged is probably the moral teaching we disregard the most in this day. That we judge ourselves more harshly than any troll or disapproving person ever could gets down to the root cause of the matter. These are “guilty before proven innocent” times. These are Nancy Grace days. If we wish to change them, learning to forgive ourselves for being imperfect might be a good place to begin. Embracing this unfair, didactic standard forces us to feel as though jumping through hoops and adhering to an obstacle course of needlessly complex, self-appointed guidelines is the key to living a satisfying life. Micromanaging every aspect of who we are is the quickest road to misery I’ve ever seen. We have unfortunately adopted a belief in the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law.
Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language. Following the letter of the law but not the spirit is also a tactic used by oppressive governments.
This is something, quite predictably, with which we have been struggling for a very long time.
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard that, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor; those who are sick do. I’ve come to call sinners, not people who think they have God’s approval.”
But neither do we need to appear self-righteous in talking about self-righteous, egocentric behavior. That is deepest irony and part of this same judge-addicted culture.
Twitter’s updates were also easily searchable on the Web, forcing users to be somewhat thoughtful about their posts. The intimate conversation became a talent show, a challenge to prove your intellectual prowess in 140 characters or less.
People are competitive in nature. I take it Angwin finds this sort of conduct distasteful. I myself have used my Twitter posts to underscore the larger points I was mulling over at the time, often while in the process of constructing my posts, but the point was never to be adored or to win a fan base. Often I felt a compulsion to put down something substantive to counterbalance the vast amount of trite banter that makes its way onto status updates. Along these same lines, I notice that many people seem to make it a challenge to see how many friends they can achieve on Facebook, no matter whether they actually have ever met in person or not. Life may be a talent show, but no one forces one to sign up for a space, either.
Angwin concludes her column, vowing,
…I will also remove the vestiges of my private life from Facebook and make sure I never post anything that I wouldn’t want my parents, employer, next-door neighbor or future employer to see. You’d be smart to do the same.
We’ll need to treat this increasingly public version of Facebook with the same hard-headedness that we treat Twitter: as a place to broadcast, but not a place for vulnerability. A place to carefully calibrate, sanitize and bowdlerize our words for every possible audience, now and forever. Not a place for intimacy with friends.
While I agree with the author’s conclusion, I also add that being careful about that what we post in a public forum might not be a bad habit to get into, after all. Her frustration with Facebook is quite palpable, but I’m not sure cutting off our nose to spite our face is a good solution. Nor am I completely certain that there was ever some golden age where vulnerability on any online platform could be safely protected and manipulation of intimacy did not exist. Secrets have a way of spilling out, even among friends, and even in real life.
Nothing can be covered up forever and the paradoxical reality about success and increased exposure is that the larger a profile a person has, the more public is his or her life. When I was growing up, my mother frequently invoked the old saying that just because you have dirty laundry doesn’t mean you ought to put it out on the front porch for all to see. I’ve always disagreed with the statement and what it implies, because I think being vulnerable need not be purely irresponsible. It’s a matter of degree and it’s a matter of balance.
The internet has catered to a fickle side of who we are. MySpace was once the end-all, be-all of social networking sites, and now it has given way to Facebook. Twitter, not to be forgotten, has muscled its way into the public consciousness. Anyone designing a social media network should keep in mind that success is ephemeral in the internet age and that one needs only look back roughly a decade to see all of the companies, platforms, programs and their ilk that have fallen out of public favor. We are no longer beholden to brand loyalty, which is probably what separates Baby Boomers from their children regarding the strongest sense of disconnect.
Today Facebook, tomorrow something else. Whatever comes afterward will probably have to be monitored, too, but my belief in our economic system was that so long as we cling to Adam Smith’s invention, we will have to be our own regulators, but neither does this mean that all of our efforts should be devoted to plugging the dam. I have no doubt that if we adopted socialism wholesale we’d need to be mindful of its shortcomings as well, but neither should we be utterly consumed with finding fault. Life is too short.
Nov 16 2009
Building a Name-Brand Health Care System, Not a Low-Cost Generic Alternative
Much as credit card companies have charged exorbitant interest rates in the period leading up to the passage and enactment of reform, so too have prescription drug companies added more cost to their already prohibitively expensive products. Afraid that health care regulatory legislation will cut too heavily into their soaring profits, the industry feels no shame, nor any compulsion to give heavily burdened consumers much of a break. This is a side of the debate that has not gotten the same attention as other areas and one that I have tried to bring to light quite frequently, being that I myself stand to lose quite a bit if out-of-control price increases are not sharply curtailed. I do not deceive myself into thinking that I am the only one who stands to lose. Though I do not mind invoking personal experience if it facilitates greater understanding and urgency, I wish it didn’t take the anecdotes of the chronically ill to impress upon a skeptical public the importance of health care reform.
On the subject of psychotropic medication, something of which I am an amateur expert, I have closely monitored new classes, types, and formulations of prescription drugs in a desire to find the best way possible to treat my condition. For every new medication that breaks new ground, wins approval by the FDA, and is then prescribed by GPs and psychiatrists across the country, it is a never-ending source of frustration for me to observe the three new offerings which are merely slightly different formulations of existing medications. This is a covetous process undertaken mainly to reap maximum profit when older scripts are on the verge of losing patent status and thus being offered as generics. For example, the anti-depressant which is the most recent addition to a family of medications known as SSNRIs has been marketed under the name Pristiq. Pristiq has a very similar chemical structure and as a result works only slightly differently from an existing drug in the same school, Effexor, that has been around for over ten years. Sometimes, however, even generics occasionally have limitations. Though a lower-cost equivalent to Effexor exists, the less-expensive form has been reported to work not nearly as effectively as the name brand formulation.
An article in today’s New York Times reports on Big Pharma’s side of the story.
But drug companies say they are having to raise prices to maintain the profits necessary to invest in research and development of new drugs as the patents on many of their most popular drugs are set to expire over the next few years.
That may be, but before one gets misty-eyed listening to the woe-is-us violin, rest assured that the pharmaceutical industry isn’t exactly hurting for business. Conveniently they don’t mention the larger picture. Another example of this kind of infuriating slight-of-hand is the sleep aid Ambien, which has had a sufficient generic alternative for a while. A relatively new formulation dubbed Ambien CR produces an only a slightly different reaction, mainly by time-releasing the absorption of the drug into the blood stream. The drug is the same, but the gimmick is different. Returning to psychiatry, it is either a testament to how little we know about the function of the brain or how unwilling we are to risk radical change that the medications used to treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia have broken only relatively limited ground in decades. The best treatment for depression are still a class of powerful anti-depressant known as a MAOI inhibitors, which are close to fifty years old. They are rarely prescribed, however, because taking them requires strict dietary restrictions that, if not adhered to, can result in serious damage to the body and, in extreme cases, even death. In treating bipolar disorder, some patients still respond best to Lithium, which has been used in treatment for over a century, but extensively since the Fifties.
Newer medication often cut down side effects and make the period of adjustment less painful, but do little to increasing the stated objectives of the drug, namely to drag people out of depressive episodes and set them on a course towards health and functionality. Experimental trials are often plodding affairs proceeding at the pace of a snail, targeting a relatively limited area of the brain, and unwilling to take any unnecessary chances. Despite this, some medications do pass muster and do end up being taken by who are suffering in the hopes of providing relief. Even so, the drug makers and those who formulate them sometimes fail to take into account such crucial details as major side effects in a rush to get out the next big thing. SSNRIs like Effexor, for example, are infamous for producing absolutely awful issues when someone stops taking it. Though not strictly classified as such, one might even say that such drugs are addictive because the brain acts violently when the medication is discontinued. These serious matters somehow never find their way onto the commercials on television or the ads inside glossy magazines.
The difference in cost between name brand and generic drugs is quite vast. Often it is a matter of several hundred dollars for a one month supply, though it can be as high as a thousand dollars or more. As one might expect, those with employer-based or individual plans paid for out of pocket have to pay substantially higher co-pays for name brand drugs. When I had private insurance, the co-pay for generic medications was $10 and for name-brand drugs, it was $60. Sometimes I had no choice but to take a name-brand medication, which are often treated by insurance companies as something bordering on cosmetic and not essential, when the fact of the matter is that they are highly necessary and highly unavoidable at times.
Those who don’t have the luxury of private insurance, of course, have it rougher. Those who have to rely on Medicaid find that they have no choice but to settle for generic medications when a name-brand drug would be a much better fit and work much more effectively. Medicaid programs vary, but in the state of Alabama, the most expensive medications are only covered if a doctor or specialist one can provide proof that at least two lower-cost alternatives have failed or been insufficient to treat the condition. Not only must they have failed, one must also work within the confines of a 90 day coverage window. If a claim to cover a more expensive medication is not filed within 90 days of failing the requisite two medications, then coverage is not granted. This is ridiculous in lots of ways, mainly that few medications used to treat mental illness work quickly, and many take weeks upon weeks before any psychiatrist or doctor can make a judgment either way. It’s also ridiculous because it uses a broad brush of convenience, painting all illnesses as basically the same and all treatment regimens as similar. Some name-brand medications, regardless of the need are not covered at all, since whomever set up the system decided that covering it would unnecessarily drain the General Fund and that it was an unnecessary prescription in the first place.
Returning to the Times column,
But the drug makers have been proudly citing the agreement they reached with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee chairman to trim $8 billion a year – $80 billion over 10 years – from the nation’s drug bill by giving rebates to older Americans and the government. That provision is likely to be part of the legislation that will reach the Senate floor in coming weeks.
But this year’s price increases would effectively cancel out the savings from at least the first year of the Senate Finance agreement. And some critics say the surge in drug prices could change the dynamics of the entire 10-year deal.
Those who trust Big Pharma do so at their own peril.
Additionally, The news broke today that, quite unsurprisingly, much misinformation exists surrounding the Public Option™. As Politico points out,
The debate has placed disproportionate emphasis on the creation of a government insurance plan, raising the expectation that everyone could ditch their employer-provided coverage and enroll in the public option.
But that won’t happen, at least not at the start. The reality is that only about 30 million Americans – 10 percent of the population – would even be eligible.
It could be accessed only through a new insurance marketplace known as an exchange, where consumers would shop for plans. Only certain categories of people could use the exchange: the self-employed, small businesses, lower-income people who qualify for tax credits to purchase insurance and those who are otherwise unable to find affordable private coverage.
This might deflate the hopes of supporters and pacify opponents, but since so much of this debate has been a three-ring-circus based on raw emotion and faulty logic, I sincerely doubt it. However, as proposed, it is interesting to note that the Public Option™ would be more like Medicaid than anything else. My hope is that we do not make the same mistakes with the current bill as we do with existing systems it seeks to augment or replace, particularly those in red states who likely would opt-out altogether if provided the opportunity to do so. Though at least red state residents would presumably have the fall-back of Medicaid, provided they could qualify, the framework is based on ignorance and tunnel-vision of an almost incomprehensible degree. One cannot simplify the complexities of humanity, nor its diseases, which are as multifarious as its people.
Returning to the treatment of mental illness, what is often not cited is the disconcerting fact that often African-Americans and Latinos respond much less favorably to medications used to treat the condition. This is a contentious topic with lots of disagreement, but the argument some advance is that cultural stigma factors in to a very large degree. If minorities feel shamed or guilty about seeking help for psychiatric needs, they are much less likely to engage in medical research. Furthermore, many believe that therapy is a more viable option than medication. Often it is difficult to make any kind of pronouncement when the truth is obscured by so many different interrelated factors. And though one can easily make a case for mental illness, one could also make a case that minority and low-income residents might be less inclined to visit a doctor for a more run-of-the-mill ailments as well.
The lifetime prevalence of major depression in the United States is estimated to be 16.2 percent, with considerable social and role impairment evident in the majority of patients. Previous studies found only minor differences in depression rates among African Americans, Latinos and whites. But various studies have found patients from lower social economic groups often have less access to mental health care, are less likely to be prescribed and to fill prescriptions for new antidepressants and are less likely to receive care beyond medications when compared to whites.
This fear and anxiety so many have that resembles to these eyes a case of St. Vitus Dance may not have any basis in reality. Doesn’t matter how good the system is if no one uses it. God forbid everyone in this country have a high standard of living and good health. As the article points out, minorities and low-income citizens often have the highest need for quality care and are apt to put off seeking help until the pain becomes intolerable. That these are the people most likely to be eligible for enrollment in the government-run (gasp) option, those now building it from the ground up would do well to consider its target audience. We speak out of our own privilege when we assume that somehow the Public Option™ will directly affect us for better or for worse, when the poor and less fortunate will be the ones who either reap its rewards or suffer from its limitations. While it is true that middle class individuals and the reasonably affluent have struggled under the yoke of skyrocketing health care costs, I recall going in that I assumed the changes needed and intended were meant to appeal to our tired, our poor, our huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Somewhere along the way this became all about us.
Nov 04 2009
Parents of slain UC-Davis student stunned by hospital bill
This is one of those horrible stories which seem to illustrate vividly the problem with the whole “profit in healthcare” system that is now in place in the United States.
On Saturday, 10 days after Scott Hawkins was beaten to death inside his dormitory at California State University, Sacramento, his parents got a letter in the mail.
It contained a bill from the UC Davis Medical Center for $29,186.50 along with a form letter addressed “Dear Patient” that implied they were indigent and stated that the hospital no longer could provide them services.
“UC Davis can no longer provide follow-up care or any other non-emergency care to you,” it read. “Please go to a County clinic for all non-emergency care or to get a referral to another doctor.”
For Gerald and Elizabeth Hawkins, it was just too much to bear.
“It was just devastating and insulting,” Gerald Hawkins said Monday. “It’s just hard to grasp for words. My wife and I were near collapse.”
The couple said the mailing tore at the wounds opened by the loss of their 23-year-old son.
“We were just very upset on Saturday, it just all spiraled downward,” Elizabeth Hawkins said. “We called a crisis counselor and he came over and spent several hours over here.”
As a means of coping, the family made a copy of the letter, took it into the backyard of their Santa Clara home and burned it.
Monday morning, they picked up the phone to straighten things out.
Gerald Hawkins said he first called the UC Davis billing department, but was so distraught he lost his voice and handed the phone to his wife.
“It was just one more unpleasant process,” she said. “I was crying through the whole thing.”
The parents also sent a note to the billing department noting that their son was not indigent and that he carried full medical coverage through a Kaiser Permanente plan.
Contacted by The Bee on Monday, Carole Gan, a hospital spokeswoman, called the mailing “a mistake.”
A “mistake”. Yeah, I’ll say. Having a for-profit healthcare system is, indeed, a “mistake”.
Sorry! We made a mistake! You’ll just have to get over it! Now have a nice day!
Jul 25 2009
Bill Maher: New Rule “Not everything in America has to make a profit”
And you wonder why they fear socialism.
“But Bill, the profit motive is what sustains Capitalism. Yes, and our sex drive is what sustains the human species but we don’t try to fuck everything!”.
“The problem with President Obama’s health care plan is not socialism, it is capitalism.”
“It’s not just medicine, prisons used to be a non profit thing.”
“It is not a coincidence that we outsourced running prisons to private coporations and then the number of prisoners skyrocketed.”
“And my final example of the profit motive screwing something up that used to be good when it was non-profit . . . TV NEWS!
I heard all the news anchors this week talk about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkites day, and I thought, ‘Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it.’ ”
In order to make a super profit we rape the earth and enslave our fellow human beings. Can you think of ANYTHING that is Big Business that doen’t do one or the other?
We need to PUSH BACK, YELL LOUDER, whatever it takes.
We need to March on Washington this summer for health care if they are going to vacation while main street burns. We need to march for health care, for war crimes accountability, to audit the Fed, for many reasons.
The status quo is not just untenable, it is KILLING US.
We need to march for justice.
And I will lead the way, if you will follow me.
So, who’s coming with me?
Jun 24 2009
Making a killing in the free market
Call it Personal Disaster Capitalism
If Reform Costs X and Fighting it costs Y – choose the lesser of the two everytime.
Executives of three of the nation’s largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.
Why? Why would they do this?
Because it is profitable, of course.
The line between taking a profit and making a killing is where ethics ends and Super Profits begin. There are thousands of examples we can find in our economy today where taking a profit is not good enough, and thus making a killing is what we do.
It seems as though once the line between making a profit ethically is crossed there is no going back. Once the people who profit by stepping over the line and making a killing have gone there, the damage is already done and it is too late. What good is it to us if we fine a polluter some millions they can afford after they have made the Super Profit and ripped the resources out of the bare earth, or by denying someone Health Care they paid the Insurance for, or by ginning up a war fro their contractor buddies. The war still happens, people die of preventable disease and no one can put the environment back together again.
This is how our economy works. Whoever can fuck over the most people the best win. You can be too big to fail but if there is any competition to worry about, don’t worry, the Government will take care of it for you, but if average Joe Sixpacks demand the same thing that is socialism, and that is bad.
So what is a person to do?
The first step to fighting the Class War is to know your enemy.
An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.
It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.
You see, if they actually provided the health care insurance policy holders are paying for, they would not make such a big profit. It is as simple as that. $300,000,000 over 5 years is hard for a Board of Directors to turn down.
The Murder By Spreadsheet Industry is not alone here. Many industries and big businesses claim they can not survive without there special little exceptions around basic decency and common sense.
Some examples are
Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining
You can call this Environmental Disaster Capitalism
First off, these companies will NEVER invest in Green Technology and Green energy, because that costs money and any initial investment towards progress will hurt their profits, and that makes Executives cry.
Never mind the fact that there are other, less destructive ways to mine for coal, but that costs money, and is less profitable than the Super – Profits that can be made by wrecking the place. Never mind the fact that coal is toxic, toxic to the air, the rivers, everything around it. That is not important, making money, now that is what is important.
If companies do not have the ability to bust unions, how will they make their Super Profits? Can large employers like WalMart get by when their employees can demand better wages and benefits? Of course.
Will they admit that? Hell no!
What costs more, making TV ads or actually paying employees more? Do the long term benefits to society and our economy outweigh the initial costs? Of course not, that would get in the way of making a killing. What are you, some kind of socialist?
Well, yes, if by socialist you mean something other than an unfettered free market capitalist. If that is what you mean by socialist I am guilty as charged.
This one is so big I will not get into it too much, suffice it too say that they are certainly making a killing on Wall St. I have yet to hear when the Wall St Bailout will be paid back
No matter how bad the risk, the people who take those risks never feel the pain of their failure. They are Too Big To Fail. You are not.
Socialism for the rich is fine, just don’t go getting socialist on the rest of the proletariat. If you feed them once you will never get rid of them.
War and The Military Industrial Complex
This is true Disaster Capitalism at work, and the heart of all class warfare. War is class warfare.
If we do not have wars to fight how will we ever justify spending a quarter of our federal budget on our military, plus supplemental spending and all the other goodies we hand out to the MIC year to year?
And if there are no actual wars to fight, we can just invent them with a little help from the Corporate controlled media
May 29 2009
The Medical/Insurance Complex
HMO’s, Big Pharma and other special interests have made America a place where getting sick equals getting poor for the massive majority of our citizens. While we struggle to pay for prescription medicine and health insurance that does not cover our needs, the wealth CEO’s and their political allies are fighting harder than ever to deny us the most basic of human rights, the right to see a doctor.
Why? So they can make a bigger profit, of course.