Sunday, May 07, 2017

Violent Solutions?

Lately, I’ve noticed that many of my Facebook posts and comments, in retrospect, seem to hint that I believe violence might be an effective solution to the stupidity infestation in our government.  This coming from a self-professed liberal is shocking to some of my left-wing brethren – many of whom are the quintessential tree-hugging, peace & love, Subaru-driving stereotypes in the eyes of all right wingers. That’s great. I love ‘em for that; and that’s why they’re my friends. But not all liberals fit that mold.

I’m not saying it’s now, but I believe there is a time and a place for violence.

When the Confederacy of American Rednecks was screaming to take up arms and “Take our country back” from the dark-skinned man who had occupied the White House, my response was, simply, that the “American Way” to address grievances was to wait another four years and settle it at the polls.  Well. Instead of shooting all us libs with those many guns they so cherish and ache for a reason to use, that’s what they did. So, far as I can tell, we’re no longer under that persistent threat of hordes of pickup trucks pulling up at the anti-pipeline rallies and machine-gunning us all into mass graves – but we’re all in danger, just the same. And, so are most of them. They just don’t realize it yet.

Of course, I’m talking about the healthcare situation.  Liberals, as you know, are the only sinners in America.  And sinners are the only people who get sick and die. It’s God’s will. That’s how He weeds out the bad seeds from civilization. Republican lawmakers (people who make the laws) have stated that if people lived healthy (physically and spiritually) lives, they wouldn’t get sick. If you don’t get sick, what do you need with health insurance?  These esteemed lawmakers believe that people more likely to catch one of God’s little plagues should have to pay more for health insurance than, say, that nice preacherman who lives up on that hill. Preacherman votes for esteemed lawmaker, and suggests that his congregation do the same – lest they want to end up in a fiery pit and watch their white flesh melt. What are they gonna do?

One Congressman from the great state of Idaho recently said, in response to a question from somebody at a town hall meeting “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.”  I suggested that if someone was to pop a cap into his femoral artery and then keep paramedics and doctors from responding, he might be inclined to alter his position. But he wouldn’t die from not having access to healthcare – he’d die because his body had emptied itself of blood; and it’s necessary to have blood in one’s body to sustain life. See how that works?  But I’m not suggesting that somebody shoot the stupid son-of-a-bitch, I’m just proposing a scenario in which, in those last few minutes before he goes to meet with Jesus, he might change his mind. But, then, there’d just be another one just like him come along to take his place.  You see, our elected officials aren’t the problem. They’re merely a symptom. They are nothing more than the personification of the collective idiocy that elected them. And as long as these people are more interested in sticking it to the liberals than they are life itself, this is what we’re going to get.

I haven’t seen the numbers, so I’m only speculating, but there’s probably more of “them” who depend(ed) on ObamaCare than there were of “us.”  Will God take care of them once they don’t have insurance, and therefore can’t obtain medical attention, when needed?  Will they simply not need it, by virtue of not being “liberals”?  I think I know the answer to that.

So, what to do?

Suppose, for a moment, that the country (government) had been taken over by Christian Scientists. Nice folks, I guess, as long as they aren’t in a position to make your healthcare decisions for you. But, if you’re not a Christian Scientist, and you’re having to live by their rules, what do you do? 

Say, your wife, like mine, needs a kidney transplant. The government tells you they’ll pray for her. That’s sweet. But not all that comforting. She had insurance that would pay for it, but now they’re talking seriously about doing away with that. You’re told you can now go anywhere you want to get insurance. But the insurance companies can deny coverage – on the grounds that she already has the kidney disease (pre-existing condition). So now, you’re without insurance. And, oddly enough, the prayers haven’t improved her condition; and, oddly enough, doctors and hospitals won’t give her the transplant if somebody doesn’t pay them a shitload of money; and you don’t have, say, a million dollars in the bank to pay for it. Your fault, for not living a more frugal life.  Suppose that.

So, like those anti-Obama rednecks, yes, I can see that I’m starting to recognize the virtues of violence, in theory. But, practically-speaking, it’s still not a viable answer to this particular problem. They’re better at it, and more prepared than us. The only thing to do now is wait, and let them diminish by attrition; then go back to the polls and try again to get a government seated that has more interest in keeping its citizenry alive than they do making money for corporations.  

But I’m not going to shut up about the nimrods in office and the clueless who support them.  For whatever that’s worth.

 © Rick Baber, 2017

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

HealthCare Solved - You're welcome

Talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, just took the healthcare debate to another level with his tearful on-air plea; and the story of the recent birth and heart issues of his son. There’s going to be a lot of people talking about it. Lots more arguments. But nothing will change. The reason nothing will change is because the argument isn’t about health care at all. The argument is about money.  And the left and the right will never agree about how money should be spent. I don’t agree with either of them.

While “Obamacare” seemed to be a step in the right direction – toward making healthcare accessible to those who didn’t have it before – it also wasn’t really about providing healthcare, it was about providing insurance. “Health Insurance” is a misnomer.  Nothing about it insures that people are healthy, any more than homeowners insurance guarantees that your house won’t burn down; or auto insurance guarantees you won’t run into a telephone pole. It’s not meant to. What it’s intended to do is guarantee payment to medical providers when the “insured” seeks the services to keep him/her healthy. Obamacare was an effort to reduce the cost of health insurance by volume. Once everybody was insured, medical providers wouldn’t have to break it off in those who could pay to compensate for all those who couldn’t. They could drop their prices to keep that high-volume business coming in. Once everybody had to be insured, the insurers would also have much greater volume and they could drop their prices as well. See? It’s all about business, not health. It would work in much the same way as WalMart keeps down the cost of, say, a television. Volume.  Problem was, it was going to make both the providers and the insurers – as well as the “insureds,” take it on the chin until the program came to fruition, and nobody wanted to, or thought they could afford to make that sacrifice.

Insurance companies make a lot of money. Doctors make a lot of money. They both like that, and they don’t want to make less money. We all understand that. Right? So, even though they might be able, in the long run, to make, say 2x the money they’re making now, under the plan they’d be doing, say, 4x the amount of work. So they’d still be making less (much less) per unit of work than they’re making now.  Assume you’re an artist. You sell your original paintings for $2 per square inch, meaning you get $1728 for a 2’x3’ painting. That’s real good money.  Now, you work out a deal to have your paintings mass-produced and sell the same size prints for $39.95 through Hobby Lobby, and you lose the rights to sell the original image. You’ll only net, say $10 per unit, but you’re getting orders for a thousand at a time. Ten grand for a painting that you would have sold yourself for less than 1/5 of that. Foolish pride aside, would you do that?  Sure you would. But, the difference is, you wouldn’t have to hand paint that image 1000 times. You’re not doing any more work than you did before.  There’s the difference. Nobody, including insurers and healthcare providers wants to make less money per unit of work. Thus, the resistance to ObamaCare.

Here’s where I get all communistic on the subject. Don’t hate.

In 2015, the U.S. military budget was 598.5 billion dollars ($598,500,000,000). That was 54% of the total $1.11 trillion budget. Of the money spent on the military, roughly 22.5% was to pay the salaries of military personnel. For the sake of my argument, let’s call that $135 billion.  That’s all fine and good. We like our military. We want them to get paid, and most of us would probably agree that they deserve more money for what they do for us. But, not everybody enlists in the military because they just want to kill people and break things.  Many enlist because it’s a job, and it teaches them skills for use after they are out of the military – so they can make a living and afford things like health care for their families.

For perspective, keep in mind that medicine was once a calling to help people, and it had nothing at all to do with money.

WHAT IF?  What if we, as a civilization, were able to make it so again? What if the government took a chunk of that $135 billion military payroll budget and started another branch – the Medical Corps – and trained doctors like they do soldiers? Qualified applicants would enlist for ten years; receive their education in 6; and, if they were able to complete their training, would come out of that training as doctors (nurses, technicians, etc.) Instead of paying (with money) for their education, and therefore having to pass that enormous cost on to their future patients, they’d be getting paid to do their training. The remaining four years of their enlistment would require them to work in government-run hospitals and clinics, treating anybody who needed their services for free.  After that, they could re-enlist and remain on the government payroll, working as doctors (nurses, technicians) for what active-duty soldiers get paid, or go off and be medical providers on their own, making whatever that market dictates.

No insurance necessary. If you are a human, there are plenty of places you can receive needed medical attention, at no charge. None. Zero. Zilch.

If you’re a rich person and you think you won’t be able to get the quality of care you deserve at the free clinics and hospitals, you can always go somewhere else for treatment and pay for it just like you do now.  But, given the competition, those rates should come down.

I think it’s a win/win.  Arguments expected.
(c) Rick Baber, 2017