Sunday, May 28, 2017

Turning the Tide

or "How to Turn a Profitable Health Care Crisis into Family Theme Park Fun"

For over forty years, We the People have been hard sold many innovative ideas, progressive solutions, economist's pipe dreams, recollections of historical revisionists, statistician's comparative studies, folk wisdom simple solutions, and revolutionary panaceas to make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans. Some of these visions attempted to treat the symptoms, while others targeted a cure for rapidly rising, across the board health care costs​. The results have been an attempt​ at holding back a rising tide, our human efforts amount to vanity. Useless, all useless.

Of our own accord or a lack of options, We the People have turned to our most dangerous servant, government, to formulate the chill pills for our red hot medical bill ills. Government has provided a four decade long political theater of very expensive rhetoric with low budget performance. To date​ government has performed on par with the aforementioned aspiring remedy providers. It's been a situational comedy with an all too common plot: "Talk much, Do nothing." We didn't elect consultants, we elected leaders, supposedly. So, I'm not laughing anymore. Neither should you.

For over forty years, we have witnessed Congress after Congress pass law after law, initiate or abrogate some program or regulation, and revised or rescinded all manners of administrative authorities in the hope of reigning in runaway medical costs. Republican solutions, Democratic solutions, Populist solutions, Left wing, Right wing, every kind of thing solutions, all their efforts have proven futile… every single one.

The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act (AKA - Obamacare) was the government's latest, and most sweeping permutation of a one size fits all, command and control health care system for the masses. You just have to vote for it and hope it passes before you can see what’s in the Bill. Oh, look, it’s a bill of the burgeoning, budget busting variety. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

So much for “free” health care.

After so many years and so many leaders with so many ideologies, philosophies, and let’s not forget, so many "Grandma had to sell her house for the surgery” atrocities, I must question the veracity of those honorable ladies and gentlemen of the late payment State from which they hail (not a typo). I question their sincerity and posit those who bear the responsibility to make life and death choices for the People, are either misdiagnosing the problem in ineptitude or performing malpractice by intent. In spite of all their assurances and claims of concern for the health of average Americans, regardless of all their long speeches detailing the deleterious effect of health care costs on the financial well-being of Mr. and Mrs. Main Street America, I have my doubts about their sincerity. So, should you.

I have to raise an eyebrow at both the sources and the tsunami of campaign contributions slamming and damning our alleged Constitutional Republic which may sway those who fill the seats under our capitol dome to represent the interests of those back home. With millions upon millions of dollars being laundered clean to anonymize their origin through Super PACs, foreign donors, and dark/ shadow back trails, these "Oh, so concerned" policymakers are looking sleazier than the most notable organized crime bosses of the 1970’s. At least, the Mafia had a Code by which they lived and were executed gangland style. Sure, it was brutal, childishly club-like and violently club-like, but it was a Code, a genuine loyalty to the Boss. Unless you could do better on your own. Say an offer you couldn’t refuse. It was a loyalty set in stone until they made your shoes from concrete, but even then you knew you weren’t coming back. You were headed for a bullet induced heart attack over a generous helping of ziti and Italian sausage. A kind of prelude to your next incarnation, post mortem.

This one contains only pork. I hope.

Politicians have no such ethos. They are ethically free and unencumbered by the drudgery of accountability. Their sole responsibility for their terms majority is maintaining and improving their re-electability. Unfortunately, re-electability has damn little to do with the People in the Land of the Fee, health care affordability, or anything else that happens on Main Street. Politicians tend to be more money grubbing, clannish, and self-interested than those old Mafia goons that they put out of business to take up the room in the finest hotels, restaurants, and bars making shady deals and rubbing elbows with the rich and nameless, near, and far. The gangsters loved their mothers and kissed them for luck. The politicians would sell their own mothers for a couple thousand dollars and not…

rely on luck.

Therefore, knowing the nature of the political beast, my eyebrow remains elevated.

Your eyebrow should not remain seated, either.

These very same "I feel your pain" legislators who set National Health Care Policy (which is just a colloquial way of saying “printing checks”) in Washington DC are helplessly addicted to and heavily under the influence of big dollar donor dope. There are relationships between campaign contributions and votes cast in both chambers of Congress. It is as our Fathers would say, “self-evident”. There are also relationships between those who donate and those who vote. These highly valued and equally suspects​ relationships between regulators and the regulated, the big donors and the constituent owners of representation in the Condo of the Free. I see this “to the highest bidder goes my vote” as sapping or undercutting the Principles we claim to honor in our American legends and lore, our history, and our heroes not to mention a few old documents called The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States of America, and The Bill of Rights. This is our biggest national security threat, today. What good is winning a War on Terror, if in the struggle we have already returned to the Reign of Terror.

Health insurance is covered under insurance, not health.

According to the nonpartisan research group The Center for Responsive Politics, the biggest contributors to political campaigns are from the “Financial, Insurance, and Real Estate” sectors, which makes perfect sense when you consider these are by far the biggest beneficiaries of our peculiar national policies. Many within this sector have benefited in ways which in any educated and civilized nation would result in large mobs of citizens storming the capitol to drag their respective representatives into the city streets and unceremoniously shooting them in the back of their heads. Mercifully and regrettably, we don't live in such a nation.

A Farewell to Kings... and lesser tyrants.

I don't advocate such mob action, but I wouldn't necessarily object too strenuously either, as the Right of Revolution is the true final check on government corruption. However, I would prefer we allow the Angels of our Better Nature prevail. Rather than choosing destruction, let us build a wonderful theme park. A modern Great Wonder of epic proportion where we can bring our entire family and teach our children American​ values. Values like Freedom of Choice, Self-Sufficiency, An Honest Day's Labor, and lest we forget, Accountability. Yes, accountability for one's actions and inactions. "This is what we do with those who try to reduce a free people into unwitting mercenaries for merchants”, we would instruct the kids as we pass the cozy accommodations for the current convicts whom we formerly entrusted to do what is in the People's best interest, not their own.

Such an awesome tourist attraction and patriotic venue would surely draw an international crowd. The idea might spread, imagine this! A rollback to Republic v1.0, without slavery and sporting universal suffrage from the git-go. That would make me so proud to be an American again.

Another Revolutionary American Innovation!

(Long sigh...)

But... in lieu of this beautiful national treasure, and potential World Heritage Site, we have the politicians blaming pharmaceuticals, defrauders of the system, insurance companies, those nasty HMO's 
which the politicians created(LOL!), and finger pointing at each other. The pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, and health care providers in turn blame the politicians, the inefficiencies of bureaucracy, and the demographics of an aging population linked with the costs of high-tech treatments.

It's all very complex, very confusing, and it's all been so heartbreaking for so long that we've grown numb from the horror... the horror. Grandma having to sell her house to afford the surgery doesn’t seem so bad anymore. It’s the norm, and that’s pitiful because somewhere in this carnival of hope, fear, worry, and loss we've forgotten the simple, effective tool of Supply and Demand. Do you remember this key economic principle from high school?

Supply and Demand

the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as major factors regulating its price.

"By the law of supply and demand the cost of health care will plummet."

Yes, it is that simple.

What brings costs down is competition, regardless of whether we’re talking about widgets, vacuum cleaners, cell phone providers, oil change franchises, cheese burgers, blog writers, heart bypasses, medicines, scalpels, beagle puppies, or Beanie Babies, prices are primarily determined by Supply and Demand. 

Author's Note: Please, keep this in mind as you read the rest of this post and EVERY SINGLE TIME you hear about the high price of health care in the future.

Those who push for the “Single Payer” system, which is to socialized medicine what ”Climate Change” is to global warming, are advocating the free market system of Supply and Demand. They won't admit to it, but what they are doing is limiting demand by grouping everyone into one giant consumer. Then, removing choices they consider overly burdensome on public monies and adding mandates they consider essential for the benefit of their own personal agendas, which most likely has nothing in common with your own. That's a backwards solution, although they won't admit that either. Instead, they will employ one well known American value called "the Fifth."

While we could all use at least a fifth, what we need are more providers. Lots more. I want to see as many health care providers, insurers, and equipment manufacturers as there are porn sites on the web, coffee kiosk in Seattle, and hair weave shops in ethnic neighborhoods. I want to see doctors chasing patients like telemarketers hawking magazine subscriptions and Girl Scouts hustling cookies, because it's the Supply side of the Supply and Demand equation that has been over-specialized, rationed, and regulated into rarity.

Doctors are disappearing from private practice into huge “Single Provider” regional medical centers… one stop shopping like Mega Walmarts of health care with the Sotheby's price tags.

Many politicians, research analysts, and advocacy groups have taken "Big Pharma" to task for their predatory pricing, but nobody says a word about the massive medical center down the street. However, the Medical Center's popularity plays a central role in health care's lack of affordability.

Meanwhile, health care insurance companies are gobbling up competitors in a feeding frenzy to be the one and only… you guessed it… “Single Payer” for the whole health care cartel.

I know, it looks like they're working towards a monopoly! Yes, I do understand that monopolies are bad for consumers and lead to price gouging. Of, course, I know that a monopoly is like an aggressive cancer which should be surgically removed, but who is going to hold the scalpel when all our surgeons are working for the cancer?

We need a lot less of these…

and a lot more of these…

Working in private practice.

We also need a lot less of these…

and these...

Lawyers can't do health care, but they can destroy it. 
(Like everything else.)

and we definitely require at least one of these…

We have the supply all we need is your demand... and maybe a concessions stand.

Oh, look the tide is turning.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Between the Red and the Blue

I hope you brought lunch because we've got a lot of ground to cover today...

Here between the red and blue, the passion and the patriotism, between the hype and the horror, there are some very good people who are getting slaughtered as collateral damage by all the partisanry. The salt of the fruited plain, blue collar grease stained, working nights under supermarket lights, white collar office temp guy, stay at home mom changing diapers all night, the U-N-I types. That’s you and I, if I spelled it right.

Meanwhile, at the Cheney's Wyoming ranch...

Dick laughs at the force and fury of angry pundits bickering on TV, and familiar swanky lobbyists looking down from the gallery, pharmaceutical reps have something with your monogram for free. Just set aside ten minutes in private, Senator, for me. I'll make you King of Greece after they pay off the lien.

Dick thinks, "Ah, the good old days are just ahead of me thanks to a little Genie in a bottle company."

So, now you know why were fighting on Syrian soil. We're​ liberating oil from the people who own it, exclusively.

International law refers to this ownership as sovereignty.

"Fuck that law, it doesn't apply me. I'm Dick fucking Cheney! Don't fuck with me. I'll go 9/11 on you. I am conscience free."

It's just that sick. We're all mercenaries for merchants collectively. Truth, justice, whatever! Don't be a Dick. Stop lying to me!

Now, back to us...

We're standing in line for a Metro bus trying to live a decent life, a job, a home, and maybe a loving wife. Out in a world between terrorist plots and the lay-off knife, your hard work only costs you your sacrifice, middle management is about to be downsized, and you're a little lamb among the other sheep who advise, "Little lamb don't make a peep." The wolves are stacked up about six deep. Through the pasture they creep while the shepherds sleep dreaming of a decent life, a job, a home, and maybe a loving wife. Sleep tight, Here come the wolves...

From the ivory tower in the distance, the banker offers his assistance,  we have to capitalize on our socialist persistence. Celebrate diversity, that's the difference between what you pay for and I get for free. I just have to finance electability, everything else is public property. That's you, not me. Public debt is my prosperity. Eventually, when the bill goes unpaid your kids will curse your name.  You did the crime, they will take the blame. 

What did you say? "That doesn't seem lawful to me"? I have friends in Washington D.C., who scribble words incomprehensibly, and that's the law, you see. The law's for you, not me. 

Look into my eyes, you're feeling very sleepy. Keep watching MSNBC. The anchor says, "Remember to celebrate diversity".  Which seems odd to me, if we're all celebrating diversity, isn’t that uniformity? Maybe, it's just me.

The Senator smiles and whispers, "Off the record, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me. Just a bumper sticker slogan to keep you occupied while I’m chopping down the Tree of Liberty. Two eighty a cord with free delivery, and a discount because it came from your property."

You and me are praying “Deliver me!” We’re in an overgrown field looking at abandoned factories spread out as far as the eye can see. But the stock market is flying high on the recovery of the new jobs we’ll never see, except for fast food or the retail industry at minimum wage the new median for people trying to raise a family. 

The inner city kid walking the street explains, "Who cares about jobs that pay nothing? I’m wasting my time filling out applications or calling. A man on the corner showed me I can make ten year's salary if I’m big ballin'."

Two weeks later the task force put my career to an end and I got a new vocation sleeping, eating slop in the DOC swine pen for eighteen to twenty-four months minus good time. There is no good time when you're​ warehoused with the dead and dying. 

After the system destroys what's left of his humanity the Prodigal Son returns to the same neighborhood street. No jobs, no home, no loving wife, his only work record is prison industries, modern slavery. Here on this street the biggest industry is baby mamas pushing out the next generation of me at $10,000 a shot. Take a number, wait in line, another victim of the welfare plot.

You were born middle class and me poor, but that isn’t a problem because now we're all poor as the stock market hits a new high score. To war, to war watch those jet fighters soar, Twenty-two million and no peace, if you buy a dozen or more. Without bombs exploding television news is a bore. Don't you feel that rush of adrenaline when you see the explosion from the vantage of a predator, that God's subtle way of telling you that you're a murderer. 

I heard a songwriter cry, "Tax the rich, feed the poor, until there ain’t no poor, no more.” sounds great in words, sucks in practice. Let me show you what happens. The rich take their money and fly away leaving just the middle and poor to pay. Middle is exhausted bit by bit, trying to support the rest of it, until the drop a rung, Hey, we’re all equal. Well Hallelu! But the poor can’t support the poor, and the rich they all moved. The songwriter is mystified. We’re all screwed!

A caddy hears a muffled voice on the 16th fairway where the senator just spent a billion three of our money in pursuit of security, safety, miscellany, and to buy Halliburton everything they need for the quarter's profitability

It’s a free country, nominally. Unless you're accounting for the debt or the prison population that's higher than anywhere else in humanity. But we're free, we're free. That’s what they keep saying to me on the billboards, magazines, radio, and prime time T.V., but we keep trading real liberty for the illusion of safety and crafty financial securities. Sub-prime time from sea to shinning sea. 

What did “Old Ben” say, someone please remind me?

Separate but equal, equally dead as can be. The rich, they are just arriving in Maui for the week. The songwriter is rich too, but his Economics are weak as can be.

The Bilderberg's keynote speaks, “We don’t kill the sheep, we just sheer them vigorously until they bleed. Don’t fret the medical expenses are on your Uncle Scam and me. Add it up that’s really free, free of medical care, but it will care for me thanks to your taxes and my posse of cronies. I
 work for them, and you people all work for me. Here come the wolves! I suggest you keep quiet, please. No need to frighten the other sheep.

Hey did you hear that? O say, can you see? Jose goes to jail, but look above all you see is insulated, consecrated criminality. Not to mention any names, dear Hillary was purged from suspicion after a triple perjury. We came, we saw, and she walked free in good company. 

Hey Barrack, the Commerce Clause wasn’t meant be backdoor to everything. You're supposed to use a general clause sparingly so we can all choose, some you win, some you lose, and that President O, equals free. Not free to be your Tinkertoy economy built on thin air, broken promises, and pipe dreams. 

Pump a little, then a little more quantitatively, and a shit load of stimulus money to your best friends and their families. Smells like old money to me. You're their latest product and you sold out immediately. Now, you’re all living in that green economy. They say figures don't lie, but that doesn’t mean they speak the truth exclusively.

Senator, please. We’ve listened to all the shady characters C-Span could televise consecutively. I don’t need a hearing, fact finding, or even an inquiry. Now, give me back my Liberty or there will be hell to pay eventually. 

The Senator quickly adjourned himself for the rest of the week. His personal assistant announces, “We’ll be landing in Riyadh around three. Just in time for tea, leave your Bible on-board for your safety, not that you ever read that thing.” The King would like you to enjoy some falconry. It's like the bowling of royalty. It’s for the birds, with no booze or women in this country to see. 

In the palace of a repressive monarchy held up by the arms of a failing democracy and petro-dollars turned into fanatics gunning the People down in our streets. The Minister of Defense (Peace be upon him and the other Saudis) yawns and asks the Senator, “ Did you bring me the best deal on the weaponry. We've both made a lot of enemies, you and me, but the King’s will take priority. 

Shopping at grocery outlet, buy one get one free is the best deal we can see. Stretching to payday while living Monopoly. Watching our wealth blow up in Basrah, Helmet, and Tripoli. Our sweat becomes the fireworks in night vision green. Whoopie! We're deep in the red and far out of the ivy, and chasing boogeymen through the tall weeds.

The paper said it was the fricken’ KGB, so why is everyone looking at me? Constitutionality, the first casualty of a failed democracy, then comes us, that's you and me. I suspect we're suspects by the mob surrounding us wearing red and blue. That's what we were all told to do. Now, our back is up against the wall. United we stood, divided we (firing squad, scream, fades to silence).

They said it couldn't happen here, but it's happening all around me. Put your palms together and start praying fervently, "Lord, deliver me, for into the Valley between Red and Blue we walk silently like little sheep...

With a lot of ground to cover."