Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The children of Ayn Rand are children.

I've said it before, but it needs repeating: adherents of Ayn Rand, almost without exception, are emotionally stunted children, walking around in the bodies of adults.
Our latest example? Paul Ryan.

Frank Bruni today in the NYTimes notes that when Paul was 16, his father died. Apparently, soon after this, Paul found Ayn Rand. Her writings appeal to both the emotionally stunted ('you can't tell me what to do, Mooooom') and the emotionally isolated. At 16, without his father, Paul Ryan was in both categories. And, by his adherence to her excuse for an economic theory, he continues to inhabit at least one. Which one is irrelevant.

The truth about this rugged, self-made individualist's self-made myth is that it's a lie from end to end. His family's business, since 1910, was building roads. That's government contracting. That's profiting from your tax dollars, local, state and federal. Enough profit so that at 16, Paul inherited at least $150K of the family trust, in 1986 dollars. Not exactly bereft of funds. Yet he chose to collect the monthly Social Security benefit minor children of dead parents receive. I know a bit about this, as my sister died and left two girls behind in high school. Depending on when Paul Ryan's dad died, he may have collected that monthly payment until the month after he turned twenty-one. That's five years of free money to someone who';d never paid into Social Security when those payments started.

I said depending on when his dad died, because the rule changed in 1986. My nieces only got to collect until they were eighteen, a result of Reagan's balancing his 600-ship Navy build-out on the backs of orphans, among others.

This is Randism, Ryan-style: come from a family built on tax dollars, never work three days in a row for any employer except governments or politicians, then claim to know something about working for a living, accusing others of being freeloaders.

This nation doesn't need business leaders or 'job creators' in our legislatures, and we don't need politicians who've never worked except to get elected.

We need employees, line workers, working moms, who worry about paying their only mortgage, feeding the kids, and trying to keep them from needing the emergency room.

Because they have a better idea of priorities, of why this nation was founded, and of how the game should be played, than almost all of the butt-trumpets trying to get elected or re-elected these days.

Especially Paul Ryan. A lost boy still playing at 'Man Of The House', crying himself to sleep every night, waiting for Daddy to come home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Emtala !

There are only two arguments about the health insurance package of regulations, HCRA, that passed last year.
Financially, either this law is intended to reduce the expense on each person, on average, of the fastest inflating cost sector of our economy, or it is an attempt to bankrupt the nation by "nationalizing health care."
Legally, this is either a standard regulation issued by Congress under the 'Commerce Clause' of the Constitution, or the imposition of dictatorial power over the citizens of this great nation, and over the great states that should have the right to nullify this law.

I'd like to look at it a little differently.
I'd like to say a magic word, an incantation over this argument, to see if I can change it into something else.
Here's my magic word.

I see two parts to the actual problem of medical care in this country, the actual problem being it costs too damned much to get medical care in this country.

These parts are mirrors of each other: no one wants to be required to pay for it, but everyone is already required to pay for it.


First, as a nation, we're doing exactly nothing to bring down costs. No wonder so many people not only do without insurance, they do without care. "I'll ignore it. It'll go away."

But the other is that, as a nation, we're required to provide, and pay for, emergency care for anyone who walks into any emergency room and asks for it. Even if the emergency room determines the person doesn't need service, it's required to have a medical professional make that determination. And it costs money to know when to say 'No.'


I kept wondering, is it true that the law that now says that in 2014, if you don't have medical insurance, you could be fined, is constitutionally void? Not because it manages commerce but because it forces commerce onto everyone, requiring them to buy something from an insurance company?

Because if that's the case, then something else is unconstitutional.
Something that even that great constitutionalist, George W Bush, has held up as a shining beacon of our health care system.
Because it, too, requires each of us to buy something from a private company, usually a hospital corporation, but often a doctors group, an emergency transportation service, or some other provider involved in emergency care.

And it is...Emtala!

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, included in the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconcilaition Act of 1986. The EMTALA of COBRA, if you will.

It codified and federalized the requirement to provide, to anyone who comes to an emergency room, (or maybe just within 250 yards of it,) all medical care needed to stabilize the person's condition, whether needing emergency care or in active labor. All this without regard to ability to pay. In fact, the prices of the services may not be discussed, due to the impact they may have on the person's willingness to receive service.

While all other civilized nations debated the moral obligation of universal health care, and decided in favor of it, our recent arguments have been exclusively about costs, and who should bear them.

Perhaps it is because we had our discussion on moral obligation back in 1986, when we decided, as George W Bush pointed out, that everyone has coverage. We as a nation required ourselves to pay for the emergency rooms provided by public or private hospitals and clinics across the country. Without asking what that cost might be.

Oh, the providers may try to bill the actual patients after the fact. Impose a financial debt on the newborn, or send the dying off with one last sheaf of bills. They may even make a good case for bankrupting a family whose child was in need. But ultimately, we are the guarantors of those debts. Each and every one of us has been forced into a financial transaction with a commercial institution, with our consent, because EMTALA was passed by our federal representatives, just as the HCRA was.

Maybe we should have linked HCRA to EMTALA explicitly. Because if one is unconstitutional, they both are. If one goes down, the other does, too.

Then, anyone who doesn't want to buy health insurance would be assured of not being a burden at the emergency room, since emergency treatment, like all medical treatment, would be based on ability to pay. Show your insurance card or go die in the parking lot.

And, since the emergency room could post its prices, any mother, as a sharp-eyed American consumer, could shop her son's broken arm or her daughter's bursting appendix around to the most cost-effective emergency room.

After all, isn't the best way to bring down costs to make everyone pay their bill?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If you're cutting back, and I'm cutting back, and they're...

(10:34:30 PM)
Everybody's got an opinion on the federal budget. I've enjoyed Kevin Drum's analysis at Mother Jones, and the NYTimes has a sweet little roll-yer-own budget fix toy at their site. And the Republican's have the Tax Hike they wrote ten years ago and scheduled as a surprise for this New Year's Eve. Obama and the rest of the G-20 are talking spending cuts to solve the economic disaster brought to us courtesy of Phil and Cindy Gramm, Mozillo's Countrywide, and the folks that rolled and sold the mortgage securities we all got high on, before we crashed.

Here's what I know about the economy:
I'm in a high tech position in a low tech field, in the 6th year of a three-month contract at a privately-held company. I can be let go any day. My wife, on the other hand, has a secure position as a researcher (read "profit-center") at UCLA. As secure as a state employee's job can be in California these days, anyway.
Those things in mind, we are paying off the three credit cards and the second mortgage as fast as we can. We are not buying new cars any time soon. Mine's ten years old, her's is fifteen, but they'll last another five years, until we can buy used in the electric-car or hybrid markets.
We used to go out at least once a week. That ended a year ago, partly due to schedules, partly because of the economy.
We're putting everything we can into not being vulnerable to the banks or the unemployment line.

We ain't helping the economy.

Neither are the corporations that are sitting on, what's the latest sum, one trillion, two trillion in cash? They're flush, but they're afraid to invest in America, because they don't see where it's going. Obama keeps driving along the edge of the ditch, never quite pulling us back onto the road to the future, but never letting the Republicans steer us further off the road into the ditch. The Republicans, now with one-and-a-half houses of Congress, want to extend tax cuts and cut spending on oversight and regulation. Insanity isn't the only thing that is "doing the same thing, expecting different results." The death of America is caused that way, too.

And the wealthy sure as hell aren't spending. Not here. They're getting their exit plans in order. Mister Prince, former owner of Blackwater, now resides in Dubai, which has no taxes and no extradition treaty with us. Offshore accounts, in the Bahamas and on the Isle of Man for example, are doing more business than ever. Wealthy Americans now just consider themselves wealthy. They have enough to live anywhere, and to buy off anyone, to avoid taxes or "penalties."

You and I aren't spending anything we don't have to. Neither are corporations. Neither are the top half of 1%, who have taken their 25% or America's wealth, and taken it off the table. States are almost all in the red, and are bound by their own constitutions and laws to balance their budgets.

So demand is collapsing across the board, as every person, every company, every agency pulls back, holds onto what they have, only reluctantly spends anything, and only when it's absolutely necessary.

That leaves only one possible current source of demand, for goods and services, and research and investment. Only one source of income for the 15 million unwemployed, the 60 million uninsured, the tens of millions of aged and infirm on Social Security.

So the best way, the only way, to grow the American economy, to put Americans back to work, to get American corporations back in the game, not just at home, but in the world's markets, is for the Federal government to...cut back on spending, fire federal workers, reduce other workers income, and eliminate suppprts to the unemployed, the uninsured and the aged.

Because that's Investing in America's Future.

Assuming she has one.
(11:02:10 PM)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Same GOP: '06, '08, '10: Never Give Up, Never Give Up , Never Give Up

(11:05:05 PM)
This one's to catch up on a note that's been burning a hole in my pocket.

Last Saturday morning, while I was running, I heard this interview on NPR's weekend edition. (transcript)
I hope you'll take the five minutes to listen to it. This is the enemy.

This is Mike Fitzpatrick, who just won back the PA-08 House seat he lost to a Democrat in '08. He is not a caricature, like Michele Bachmann or Christine O'Donnell, nor a sharp operator like Haley Barbour, or John Boehner. Fitzpatrick is the drone of the zombie horde, the enemy of the future of America, the walking dead idea. Listen to him. A calm, reasonable voice. Not trying to sell or convince, simply stating his long disproved, and recently re-disproved, Republican mantra: more tax cuts, fewer returns on our social investments, we must make cuts in entitlements, lower taxes to create jobs. You are getting sleepy, you will stay home, you will not vote against us, because we walk the land and feed on brains...brains...brains of FOX viewers....

He's not stupid, he just has no ability to question the  hive mind overlord,  Murdoch or the CofC, whatever those things out there are being controlled by,  but if it takes putting down NPR to keep them from infecting the rest of us, so be it....

Two final points, mildly related to this post.

1) I finally got around to re-upping my subscription to my all-talk NPR station. I re-joined for $10 a month, every month, until I tell them to stop. I had also done this for the Californuia Democratic party's DEM2010 program, starting back at the beginning of the year. That seems to have worked out. (C'mon, Kamala!) With Republicans threatening to take away the maybe 3% of the funding NPR gets through federal grants, I want to help make up the difference.

2) A joke I heard before Halloween: The Zombie Rallying Cry: "What Do We Want?" BRAINS! "When Do We Want Them?"...BRAINS!
(Well, FOX and its viewers do stay on message. Perhaps this explains why.)
(11:22:43 PM)