Obamacare

This Week In Doom, July 9, 2017


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 9, 2017

“Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, –
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!”

 ― Robert Burns  


Thinking it might be time to blow the dust off this long-neglected franchise and take a quick tour around the Internetz to see what's new in the world of Doom.


If you trolled this woman, eat a bag of salted dicks

No better place to start than here, with our basic oligarch-instilled and funded inhumanity to one another. Because if you're "the Other," you're not me, you're not worthy of consideration as human, amirite?

Alison Chandra contributed a story via Vox, entitled, I shared my toddler's hospital bill on Twitter. First came supporters — then death threats. It's a story of a Twitter post gone horribly awry– her son, who needed a life saving operation, received the care that he needed, and she posted an image of the $200,000+ bill, with her portion due $500, because medical insurance.

She snapped a picture of the bill and posted it to Twitter, thinking it a useful commentary on why people should care so much about laws that ensure our access to affordable health care, ban lifetime limits and ensure that no one is denied coverage simply because they’d been born with preexisting conditions. A feel good story, yes?

Uh, no. Then her thread blew up. Cue the haters.

The morning after I sent the tweets, I was at the market with my kids, choosing between scones and muffins, when a friend texted me: “That thread of yours really took off!”

I opened my phone, and instead of the usual 10 or so likes, I found my mentions and messages overrun. There were journalists reaching out to me, verified accounts with millions of followers retweeting me, and a few very angry men telling me that I shouldn’t steal from them, that my child was better off dead, that I should have let him just succumb to natural selection.

I was offered a .22 bullet, although I’m still not sure whom he meant it for, me or my child.

I suggest following the link and reading the whole story, although it is anything but edifying. But if you're an old bastard like the author, you'll be amazed at how far we've fallen in the last 60-70 years. A tribute to the ceaseless propaganda commending market fundamentalism and the reduction of everything to the morality of the balance sheet. And if you commented adversely to Alison's post, do the world a favor and eat a bullet. Right now.


Klan and the Antifa

Closer to home, Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Pelham, N.C., received a permit for a demonstration on Saturday, July 8. The ostensible point of the demonstration was to protest the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They shouted “white power,” burnished flags, and some wore white robes. Others carried handguns, as they approached the recently renamed "Emancipation Park," (formerly Lee Park.)

Virginia State Police, Albemarle County police and University of Virginia police were on hand to assist Charlottesville police as they escorted an estimated 30-40 Klansmen to and from the rally.  Police in riot gear separated the rallygoers from approximately 1,000 counterprotesters who greeted them with jeers. Attempts by Klan leaders to address the crowd were repeatedly drowned out by boos and chants. 

After the Klan rally ended, police led several people away in handcuffs after a large group of counterprotesters remained near the vicinity of the park. Police asked those still gathered nearby to disperse. Wearing riot gear and gas masks, the police declared the counterprotesters “an unlawful assembly” and used gas canisters to compel them to leave the area.

Because why get dressed in riot gear without making arrests and dispending tear gas, right?

Another hot day in Virginia.


Antarctic iceberg break the size of Delaware 'imminent,' say scientists

 

In the latest news about the global warming that the drooling right insists is not happening, an Antarctic iceberg break is 'imminent.' One of the world's biggest icebergs ever recorded is "hours, days, or weeks" away from breaking off an Antarctic ice shelf, scientists announced Wednesday.

We are told further that could the iceberg calve "within days" or hours, and that the volume of water contained will rival the volume of Lake Michigan. Business Insider reported that this may be the third-largest iceberg recorded since satellites began taking photos of Earth.

"In another sign that the iceberg calving is imminent, the soon-to-be-iceberg part of Larsen C Ice Shelf has tripled in speed to more than 10 meters per day between June 24th and June 27th," said Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic research project that's keeping watch on the ever-growing crack.

"The iceberg remains attached to the ice shelf, but its outer end is moving at the highest speed ever recorded on this ice shelf. We still can’t tell when calving will occur — it could be hours, days or weeks," he added.

Once the iceberg breaks off, it "will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula," he said.

But don't worry, be happy.


Catholic Church: Women are to Blame for Pedophile Priests

And as long as we're being happy, let's consider the latest pose from the Club for Kidfucking Priests that's been operating for 2000 years, ever since Paul and Silas spent "quality time" together: Let's blame the little ladies.

Seems that the problems in the Church don't stem so much from adult men telling young boys, "This is what God's love feels like," and more from the fact that little girls want to participate in the life of the church by being altar girls. 

Cardinal Burke argues that serving mass is a "manly" job, and claims that the participation of women and girls into the daily life of the church has a chilling effect on priests, causing them to turn to "immoral and unpriestly vocations." This is much like Trump complaining that his team's failure to book a hotel at the recently ended G-20 meeting was Obama's fault.

“The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,” said the Cardinal, a member of one of the oldest and most enduring men’s groups on earth.

“Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women. The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved."

 "The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time. I want to emphasize that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church."

Yeah, we get that.

Irish Central reports: So it’s not the international abuse crisis that has most led men to reconsider joining the church, it’s girl cooties. And feminism, of course.

So we have it straight from a Prince of the Church that the problems facing Catholicism today, in particular the epidemic of pedophilia, are the fault of women. And feminism. We thank the good Cardinal for completely unmasking the contempt and hatred with which the institutional Church has long held women. 


And since a consistent theme of this week's Doom Report is man's inhumanity to man, let's end with yet another human sacrifice to the logic of the spreadsheet:

Sending elderly to forests as tiger prey for compensation from government is as savage as it can get

India Today reports that families in Uttar Pradesh are sending the elderly members of their houses into forests as tiger prey to claim compensation worth lakhs from the government, giving the phrase "taking one for the team" to a whole new level.

The website reports that if locals are to be believed, elders of the family willingly go along with this scheme. "They think that since they can't get resources from the forest, this is the only way their families can escape poverty."

 

Authorities surmise that people are sending older members of the family into the tiger reserve for them to become a prey. 

Once killed, their bodies are relocated to fields, and staged as victims of a tiger attack, so that the respective family can claim lakhs in compensation from the government.

On the other hand, if I had sent grandma into the forest, I'd probably say it was her idea as well.

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere, and once quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. Where he met the woman who now shares his old Virginia home and who, like he, is grateful that he is not yet taking a dirt nap, and like he, will be disappointed to not be prominently featured on an enemies list compiled by the incoming administration.

This Week in Doom: A Crack in Everything


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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2016-results

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on November 13, 2016

"Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in.… "
-Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

 


Many of the bells I listen ring discordantly or not at all this week, as the improbable has occurred, and serial pussy-grabber Donald J. Trump has been elected President-elect. That alone is enough to recommend the reappearance of this infrequent franchise, heralding as it does the apocalypse.

The pervasive story retailed in the weeks leading up to the election was that "Hillary had a durable three to four point lead." Repeated on cable newz and the better boutique websites, like fivethirtyeight.com, where even on election day, they moved a story titled,Final Election Update: There’s A Wide Range Of Outcomes, And Most Of Them Come Up Clinton. Now hiding behind the hedge known as "margin of error," they are pretending that this was not the narrative they marketed, quickly moving to shove all that down the memory hole with stories like, Why FiveThirtyEight Gave Trump A Better Chance Than Almost Anyone Else. You can't make this stuff up. If indeed "The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice", Nate Silver will be stocking shelves at a Wal-Mart by Christmas.

And the punditry of the execrable cable "news product" networks certainly did their part.

Since election day, I have not watched the "news" shows on CNN or MSNBC, which both gave Trump millions of dollars of free advertising over the past 18 months, while constantly preaching, as experts do, that at best he had a "narrow path" to victory. It's funny that Trump keeps lambasting the press; it played a major role in his electoral college victory. With news networks giving him billions in free publicity (Phil Griffin in particular should roast in hell), the Fox "News" entertainment net gave him millions more in sheer advocacy. And let's not allow Les Moonves' quote on Trump to be forgotten: "It May Not Be Good for America, but It's Damn Good for CBS." This is what happens when news becomes entertainment and has to sing for its supper. Shareholders' interest uber alles.

Trump drew 60.1 M votes, compared to Romney's 60.6M in 2012. Clinton underperformed Obama by 9M from 2008 and by 5+M from 2012. Dems stayed home in droves. Michael Moore noted that 90,000 Michigan voters voted a complete ballot but left President blank. Your margin in Michigan was 11,000. In Michigan and Wisconsin, county after county that went twice for Obama went for Trump.  And yes, now we get to enjoy AG Giuliani and Secretary of Interior Palin along with our new retrograde supremes.

I blame the DNC on tipping the scales away from an electable candidate and for their preferred insider. They ran a status-quo candidate in a change election, and turned a continued deaf ear to the plight of people in flyover country. They didn't listen- now we all inherit the wind.  And yes I know about voter suppression, and that remains a problem, but the so-called Obama coalition did not turn out. Putting the lie to "elections don't matter." If you continue to believe they don't matter, prepare to enjoy life under Trump, Pence and Ryan. And lose my number.

 

Perhaps William Rivers Pitt has said it best:

Trump didn't win because your friend criticized Clinton on Facebook, or because your sister likes Jill Stein, or because Bernie sold out to Hillary or because of any of the galaxy of stupid self-destructive pissy pissant excuses I've been hearing and reading today.

Unfuck your brain pans, folks. Trump won because millions of people have been getting jackhammer-fucked for decades by nearly a half century of trickle-down economic thievery. Millions of people live paycheck to paycheck, and pay through the nose for health insurance, and have no equity in their homes any more, and have an expensive degree that can't get them a job, and they think they have no future, and maybe they're fuckin-a right. Economic inequality has been mother's milk for bigotry and hate since before the pharaohs built those big pointy grain silos.

People are justly pissed because America has been a shell game since before Reagan, a long con to extract wealth and resources, and the people never get to find the pea under the pistachio. So along comes this gifted grifter from the TV who tapped into that angst and ran wild with it. THAT'S why he won, because he cannily capitalized on a decrepit system, and millions who don't know where else to look or who to blame after years of trying said fuck it, why not. They're not stupid. They're exhausted and fed up because they've been let down over and over again. It worked.

 


Reaction has occurred in many cities, with people marching in the streets. While mobilization is important, my brief experience with Occupy has taught me that ad hoc assemblies let off steam but do little more without a more extensive agenda. Strategy is what is needed. There will be time for that. Also, let's not forget that we are about to turn over the immense surveillance power of the NSA to a serial tweeter who maintains enemies lists.

There has been some violence, much dramatized by the alt-right. During Occupy. It was pretty obvious that anybody exhorting people to violence was probably collecting a government paycheck. After all, in activist politics, the FBI plant is the guy who offers to get the dynamite. 

They call it "political correctness" when the oppressed tell the privileged they're tired of putting up with their shit.

Marchers and others are amazed that the people of the US voted to elect a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, and who tweets gleeful posts about deporting families, other examples of casual cruelty, and thinly veiled, dog-whistle racism. Plenty of Trumpeters demand that the unhappy line up behind the new "President of all of us," when they never returned the favor. We are supposed to forget the plotting in a DC steakhouse on Inauguration night of 2009, where R s plotted to obstruct Every. Single. Thing. Obama proposed. And then was the demonization of him and his family, the birtherism. The reflexive racism, the monkey memes… we're supposed to forget all that. I promise a President Rich Asshole the same tender consideration that his fellow travellers offered Barack Obama.

Many survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault awoke on Wednesday morning to the realization that a man who said his accusers were too ugly to assault was endorsed by nearly half the country as a leader. They woke up to newspapers splashed with pictures of a man who said that he could “grab women by the pussy” without their consent because he’s a "big, big star."  Friends of color saw a man elected as their president who was willing to hire as his campaign CEO one of the most vile racists that exists, and who began his campaign by calling them, their friends, and their family members who face racial violence every day “rapists” and “drug dealers.” They watched a man become president who called the first black president “evil” and illegitimate, and heard him tell them they were “living in hell,” accuse them of dupes for voting Democrat for several decades now, and demonize the only movement working toward ending the murders of their sons, mothers, brothers, fathers, and friends at the hands of police. And those that are gay, or Muslim, or Latina, or undocumented fear for their lives and for their children’s safety. The simple fact is that the vast majority of those not part of the one per cent and living off investments or trust funds are hurt and grieving, and the half of the electorate that voted for Trump don't realize what is about to happen to them.

My neighbors, co-workers and family helped elect that man. And we all have to live with that. Some of us are more prepared than others.

Meanwhile, The Fed/Wall Street elite and private military contractors have never been happier and rub their hands together at the feast about to unfold. They have thoroughly divided and propagandized the American public and in Trump have a camera-ready stooge to turn over the keys to the Treasury. Meanwhile, the D vs R, liberal vs conservative divide and conquer techniques continue, and the same interests make off with the boodle. Wash, rinse, repeat.


In other news, Ku Klux Klan announces Trump victory parade in North Carolina. It was on the website of the kkkknights but is no longer on their main page. It was scheduled for December 3 at an undisclosed location in NC. Perhaps they have had second thoughts- or have been encouraged to have them. And I was ready for a road trip.

As Trump puts together a transition team, we receive early word that one of his selects is one Myron Ebell, described as one of seven “climate criminals” wanted for “destroying our future.” This means a reversal of the tepid Obama climate change policies and an unshackling of energy companies' plunder of public resources and public waters. From the NT Times:

In looking for someone to follow through on his campaign vow to dismantle one of the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies, President-elect Donald J. Trump probably could not have found a better candidate for the job than Mr. Ebell.

Mr. Ebell, who revels in taking on the scientific consensus on global warming, will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction of the federal agencies that address climate change and environmental policy more broadly.

Mr. Ebell, whose organization is financed in part by the coal industry, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the linchpin of that policy, the Clean Power Plan. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agencythe plan is a far-reaching set of regulations that, by seeking to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation, could result in the closing of many coal-burning power plants, among other effects.

Remember the plunder of the EPA, the selloff of national parks to private interests, and poisoning of the nation's fresh water when your grandchildren curse and spit at the mention of your name.

As of this writing, we hear from Trump that that wall thingy might have been a little overreach. Future Secretary of State Newt Gingrich gave us a new term for deception. Describing Trump's now deleted pledge to have Mexico build a wall on its border, he dubbed it a "great campaign device." Trump and his advisers have backed off major campaign pledges, including Obamacare and the wall.

President-elect Donald Trump and key advisers in recent days have backed away from some of the most sweeping pledges that the Republican candidate made on the campaign trail, suggesting that his administration may not deliver on promises that were important to his most fervent supporters.

Trump built his campaign message around bold vows to, among other things, force Mexico to pay for a massive border wall, fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and ban Muslims from entering the United States. But in the days since his upset election victory, he or his advisers have suggested that those proposals and others may be subject to revision.

Trump also avoided answering whether he would follow through on a campaign vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state. "It's not something I've given a lot of thought, because I want to solve health care, jobs, border control, tax reform," he said.

That ambivalent tone is a far cry from Trump's sweeping rhetoric on the campaign trail, where he repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace the ACA and led crowds in chants of "Lock her up!" in reference to Clinton. His lack of clarity on these and other issues has added more uncertainty to an already chaotic presidential transition, as he scrambles to build a team.

And in other Gingrich news, Newt Gingrich wants new House Un-American Activities Committee. Put me on record right now that I will be deeply offended if not named on a list.

And in breaking news Sunday night calculated to make one yearn for the good old days of George W. Bush, Trump chose Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, and Steve Bannon as top adviser. "Draining the swamp" directly into the Oval Office. This is what we get for failing to have hanged 5000 seditionists at the end of the Civil War. Now we have a Republiconfederacy.

What could possibly go wrong?

The passing of the great Leonard Cohen this week reminds us of some of his most poignant lyrics. Those quoted above seem apt. At such a moment of darkness, we are called to remember that there is, indeed, "a crack in everything." And we must remember that the light always gets in. Whether the light can penetrate in time remains to be seen.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary in the triumph of hope over experience, and is grateful that he is not yet taking a dirt nap.

60 Hours a Week is not Enough

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Published on The Economic Collapse on May 17, 2016

Woman Face Skyline - Public Domain

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Working 60 Hours A Week At 3 Part-Time Jobs And Still Living Paycheck To Paycheck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do when you are working 60 hours a week at three part-time jobs and it is still not enough?  In America today, many people have taken on more than one job in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, but they still come up short at the end of the month.  And those that are actually working are the fortunate ones, because in one out of every five families in the United States nobody has a job.  There are more than 100 million working age Americans that are currently not employed (yes this is true), and as I pointed out yesterday, job cut announcements by major firms are currently running 24 percent ahead of last year’s pace.  But unemployment is just part of the overall problem.  There is this growing misconception out there that if you “have a job” that you must be doing okay.  Unfortunately for the growing number of “working poor” in America, that is not true at all.

Just consider the case of 55-year-old Erlinda Delacruz.  At one time she had a good full-time manufacturing job, but then her factory closed down.  Millions of other Americans have also seen their good paying jobs sent out of the country in recent years, and yet our politicians refuse to do anything about it.  Today, she works 60 hours a week at three different part-time jobs and she still makes less than she once did at the manufacturing plant…

For 15 years, Erlinda Delacruz had a full-time manufacturing job in rural Winters, Texas.

It gave her health benefits and four weeks of paid vacation along with a salary that supported a good life. Then the rug was pulled from under her in 2009, when the plant closed. Since then, it’s been a battle of survival as Delacruz worked a string of part-time jobs. Last summer, she even lost her home to foreclosure.

Delacruz, 55, still works part-time. Except at three different places — Monday through Wednesday she works eight hours a day at a senior citizens center serving meals, and Thursday through Sunday Delacruz divides her time between two other jobs as a cashier at Walmart (WMT) and the Wes-T-Go convenience store.

She told CNN that she lives paycheck to paycheck”, and just like half the country, she is basically flat broke at this point.

Barack Obama promised to be the hero of the working class when he was elected, but it seems like almost everything that he has done has hurt the working class even more.

Take Obamacare for example.  Health insurance premiums have soared through the roof since Obamacare was implemented, and many struggling families now find that they can no longer afford health insurance at all.

And many of those that have signed up for Obamacare are often discovering that many doctors and hospitals won’t even accept their coverage.  The following comes from the New York Times

AMY MOSES and her circle of self-employed small-business owners were supporters of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. They bought policies on the newly created New York State exchange. But when they called doctors and hospitals in Manhattan to schedule appointments, they were dismayed to be turned away again and again with a common refrain: “We don’t take Obamacare,” the umbrella epithet for the hundreds of plans offered through the president’s signature health legislation.

“Anyone who is on these plans knows it’s a two-tiered system,” said Ms. Moses, describing the emotional sting of those words to a successful entrepreneur.

“Anytime one of us needs a doctor,” she continued, “we send out an alert: ‘Does anyone have anyone on an exchange plan that does mammography or colonoscopy? Who takes our insurance?’ It’s really a problem.”

Unfortunately, things are not going to be getting any better for the working class because we have now entered the early stages of the next major economic downturn.

Earlier today, I received an email from someone that works for a very large company that provides produce for some of the biggest grocery chains in America.  According to him, there has been a dramatic decline in orders coming in recently, and this is something that didn’t even happen during the depths of the last major recession.

So why in the world would that be happening if the economy was in good shape?

I have been receiving similar anecdotal reports from people all over America.  We may not be experiencing a full-blown economic implosion like Venezuela is quite yet, but we are starting to slide in that direction.

And just like in Venezuela and elsewhere around the globe, when economic conditions get harder violent crime goes up.  I have warned that this would happen over and over again, and it is already starting to happen in major cities all over the nation

According to new reports, 2016 is shaping up to be an even more murderous year than last in over two dozen major U.S. cities as homicides rise at their fastest pace yet.

Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas have seen the worst, all of which experienced increased homicides in 2015, evidenced by acceleration of murders in the first three months of 2016.

Law enforcement officials and experts are saying the increase over the last year is due to many factors, including an uptick in gang and drug-related violence. Yet, many believe cops and citizens are now interacting differently since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has shifted attitudes to distrust police.

Of course we haven’t even gotten to the bad stuff yet.

What we have seen so far is just the very beginning of the chaos that is coming to America.

Before I go today, I want to mention a couple of things.

First of all, the Dow was down another 180 points today, and someone out there is betting unprecedented amounts of money that a major market crash is imminent.  Just check out this chart.  You buy shares of financial instruments such as UVXY because you think that the market is going to implode.  So if there is a giant market crash in our very near future, whoever purchased all of those shares of UVXY stands to make an enormous amount of money.

Secondly, I really started to sound the alarm about German banking giant Deutsche Bank back in September.  And sure enough – their stock price plunged to an all-time record low earlier this year.

But now the whispers are getting louder that even bigger trouble is ahead for this pillar of the European financial system.  The following originally comes from Berenberg analyst James Chappell

Too many problems still: The biggest problem is that DBK has too much leverage. On our measures, we believe DBK is still over 40x levered. DBK can either reduce assets or increase capital to rectify this. On the first path, the markets do not exist in the size nor pricing to enable it to follow this route. Going down the second path also seems impossible at the moment, as the profitability of the core business is under pressure. Seeking outside capital is also likely to be difficult as management would likely find it hard to offer any type of return on new capital invested.

Keep a close eye on Deutsche Bank.  They may very well end up providing us with the next “Lehman Brothers moment” that so many people have been waiting for.

There is so much going on “under the surface” right now, and I am convinced that it will not stay “under the surface” for very much longer.

The global financial system is starting to come apart at the seams even as you read this article, and this is going to have enormous implications for every man, woman and child on the planet in the years ahead.

So as bad as things are for the working class in America right now, the truth is that they are about to get a whole lot worse.

The Days of Our Lives

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 10, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Medicine & Health Table inside the Diner

I'm taking a break this week from doing my usual Wednesday Audio Rant, because with all the shit going down with the Diner Crash and my personal  Health Crash issues, I just haven't had the time to get one recorded this week.

In its place, from Inside the Diner in a restricted forum for Regular Diners Only is today's tale of my latest visit with the Surgeon Pro From Dover who is supposed to carve up my neck at some point and slow the progress toward Quadraplegia and Inevitable Death.

It's a short snippet of the tale of the Amerikan Medical System, and how it fails to operate in any sane fashion.  Enjoy.  LOL.


From RE:

Another appointment with the Surgeon today.

(Note: The Image Below is NOT my Xray!  I can't use my own Imaging for Legal Reasons.  Suffice it to say that my issue is in the C4-C5 area but somewhat dissimilar to this one in some respects.  I can't go into that either.  Beyond that, an XRay doesn't reveal the scope of the problem too well.  For this you need an MRI and CT Scan.  KACHING!)

http://www.knowyourback.org/PublishingImages/cervical_rao1.jpgI handed them my Imaging DVDs at the Desk.  Waited about 20 min.  Got called in to go to an exam room.

I saw the intake Nurse who takes your BP and recent history of symptoms, then sat in the exam room for 45 min waiting for the Physician'a Assistant.

Physician's Assistant tells me again what I already know, condition is deteriorating, need Surgery Soon.  Taps my knees with the Mallet, has me try and lift my arms.  No can do with the right arm as usual.

Another 30 min wait and the Surgery Scheduler comes in and hands me basically the same paper as before with the Surgeon's Price List on it.  We discuss the same issues regarding how Insurance will cover it, and the Workman's Comp case.  I am told once again it needs to be "subrogated", which I tried to do after they told me that the first time, but was told by whoever it was I spoke to at the Insurance company that it wasn't necessary.  Said insurance company says I never called them, which is bullshit.  This time I am going to do it online in writing and take a record of it.

Wait another 15 minutes and the Billing Clerk comes in, with a list of Phone numbers I need to call to get Price Lists from Anaesthesiologist, Neuro Monitoring Pro From Dover who monitors nerve impulses as the Scalpel Pro From Dover carves up my Neck, and the Hospital itself that charges for the Operating Room expenses and any time you need to spend in recovery.

I never actually see the Surgeon himself on this visit.

So we are basically at the same place we were before, with the added Info that none of the 3 Pros From Dover are "In Network" for my Insurance company, so likely what will be covered is not what will be charged.

I will write the Insurance company tomorrow about the Subrogation bullshit, not up to it today.  I'll also give them the Codes and list of charges from the Surgeon to see what they will cover.

At this point however, I will not go in for Surgery until this economic nonsense is better defined.

From AG

From RE

BTW, for this "Consult" with the Surgeon (who I never actually saw), I was charged $650.

For the $650 I got:

10 Min with the Nurse taking my BP (Good today at 118/78  :icon_sunny:)
10 Min with the PA Tapping my knees and chatting with me encouraging me to sign up for surgery NOW!
10 Min with the Surgery Scheduler going over the same Price List as before
 5 Min with the Billing Clerk discussing Insurance issues
85 Min Waiting Time in the Exam Room Surfing the Net on my Smart Phone

What a fucking RACKET!

From GO

You are getting off easy.

I hate to add to your misery RE, but things are really bad, much worse than you have encountered so far.

They have drive by doctors now that no one requests who work hospitals and cases just like yours. People get bills for twenty and thirty grand from these pricks.

Max Keiser and others have done shows recently on these swill. Please check it out on various places on the web and do what you can to protect yourself from them. It is a con that is growing rapidly, and the bastards get away with it legally some how.  A sad situation.  :'(

From Eddie

Wow! That's ridiculous. Hard to believe. I believe it, but it's really outrageous. I can't believe any insurance company would pay that for a minute…so of course they stick it to you, since they won't. ONLY IN 'MERIKA.

From RE

Well, actually so far the Insurance Company HAS picked up the tab for this nonsense.

I met my Deductible and Max Out of Pocket for the year of $1500, within reason and my ability to pay.

So far, my total bills for all the diagnostics and consult are still under $10K (slightly).  This is still less than the $12K/year my Insurance costs, paid for by you the Taxpayer under Obamacare.  :icon_sunny:

However, I am 100% CERTAIN that once I rack up the 6-Figure costs for the Surgery, they will not be so generous.  LOL.

Even though I haven't got cost estimates from the other 2 Pros From Dover and the Hospital on their charges, I am pretty certain we are talking a $200K Bill here.

medical_billsNow, besides this, the Surgeon Billing Department on the way out wants YOU to pay the bill right then and there, then YOU negotiate with the Insurance company to get Reimbursed.  Needless to say, on both visits to the Surgeon for a Consult, I "forgot" my checkbook.  LOL.  So they billed the Insurance company in the end for the first one, which they paid up on.  No idea what will happen with this one.

Have I got off EZ here?  Yea, so far actually I have.  I did get diagnosed finally and it only cost me $1500 so far, max $2150 if the insurance company balks on paying the latest ridiculous bill.

Will I rack up $200K in bills without having it spelled out what is gonna be paid for here and what won't and by who?

HELL WILL FREEZE OVER FIRST!

I would rather get 2 nice years here of Retirement and then give myself up to the Bear than let these folks RAPE me!  I do not sign up for this fucking surgery until it goes onto the Tab of Workman's Comp insurance or I have already bankrupted my savings, THEN I will go in and have said surgery and declare Bankruptcy.

Will my condition deteriorate because I am not gonna do this?  Probably.

Then, if I finally do come through it I will file a Class Action Lawsuit against the Federal Goobermint, Workman's Comp and Social Security and the Insurance Companies for the delays involved in getting the Health Care I need.

I am going to go out FIGHTING!


So ends today's Ongoing Soap Opera with my Neck Injury.  This is sure to continue onward for MONTHS, if not YEARS if I don't Buy My Ticket to the Great BeyondTM before it plays itself out.

If nothing else, I am going to get a SHIT LOAD of writing material (and ranting too when I have some time to record) out of this.

LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS, THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES

RE

 

An Energy-Related Reason Why US Healthcare Outcomes are Awful

Off the keyboard of Gail Tverberg

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Published on Our Finite World on September 9, 2014

Monsanto-DuPont-Roundup-war

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Back in January 2013, the US Institute of Medicine published a report called U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health. This poor health outcome for US citizens is in spite of the US spending twice as much as a percentage of GDP on healthcare as other high-income nations.

As an example of the problems the US has, the report showed the following exhibit, pointing out that the US has made much smaller advances in life expectancy since 1980 than other high-income nations.  The US is now seventeenth of the seventeen countries analyzed in male life expectancy, and sixteenth out of seventeenth in female life expectancy.

Figure 1-6 Female life expectancy at birth

I am sure I do not know all of the reasons for the US divergence from patterns seen elsewhere, but let me try to explain one energy-related reason for our problems. It has to do with a need to get a wide variety of nutrients at the same time we need to balance (Energy In) = (Energy Needed for Life Processes), in a period of time when the food we eat is increasingly of the “processed” variety. There may also be an issue of eating too much animal protein in our food mix, thanks to today’s ability to ramp up meat production using grains grown and shipped around the world, using fossil fuels.

An Overview of Energy-Related Modifications to Food

If look at primates in general, it is pretty clear that all of the nutrients such animals need come prepackaged in the food that they gather with their limbs. They get the level of exercise they need from gathering this food and from their other daily activities. They have a pretty good balance between (Energy In) = (Energy Needed for Life Processes), without any special effort.

We humans have been modifying food for a very long time, dating back to the days of being hunter-gatherers. Our earliest changes were successful from the point of making humans more dominant. They allowed us to grow larger brains and allowed human population to grow.

The changes made in recent years, thanks to abundant fossil fuels, seem to be excessive, however. The new processed foods are often missing necessary nutrients and fiber, providing mostly empty calories. It becomes a balancing act to get enough of the right nutrients without filling our bodies with calories we don’t need. Some foods (juices, added sugars, very finely ground grains) are sufficiently different from natural foods that our systems don’t react properly to such food. Also, the exercise our body was expecting is often much reduced.

The way our current system works, the food that is closest to its original form is hardest to ship and store, so tends to be highest-priced. The most calorie-dense, over-processed food tends to be cheapest. As a result, the least-educated people (who tend to be poorest) tend to be most damaged by our poor food supply. According to one study, at age twenty-five, men with less than a high school education have a sixteen-year shorter life expectancy than men with a graduate degree.

Remaining Years of Life_prbOf course, at least part of the problem is the disproportionate lack of health care of less-educated US citizens. There are no doubt effects related to feeling like second-class citizens as well, because of reduced work-opportunities for those with poor educations. But having to work around a poor food system with an inadequate income is an issue that likely plays a major role as well.

How Did Humans Develop Larger Brains?  

There is a popular belief that eating meat made us human. While meat eating may have played a role, there seem to be other factors as well. National Geographic in an article in the September 2014 issue, The Evolution of Diet, observes that modern day hunter-gatherers typically get about 30% of their calories from meat. When meat supplies are scarce, they often live for long periods on a plant-based diet. The article says, “New studies suggest that more than a reliance on meat in ancient human diets fueled the brain’s expansion.”

The point National Geographic mentions is the one I have brought up previously–the theory advanced by Richard Wrangham in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. It seems to be the ability to control of fire, allowing humans to burn biomass, which set us apart from other primates. This allowed us to cook food, and in doing so, allowed the food to be more easily chewed and digested. Reduced chewing time freed up time for other activities, such as making tools. Nutrients could be more easily absorbed from cooked food. The fact that the food was easier to chew and digest allowed chewing and digestive systems to shrink, and brains to increase in size. It probably also made it easier for more human children to survive.

Furthermore, we now know that some other primates eat meat, so humans are not unique in this regard. Chimpanzees even hunt animals for their meat. National Geographic reports that baboons eat birds, rodents, and even the young of larger mammals, such as antelopes and sheep. But meat makes up only a small share of their diet. We also know that when monkeys are fed a diet that includes very much meat, they gain weight and experience degenerative diseases like humans.

Food Processing: A Little of a Good Thing vs. Too Much of Good Thing

The experience with cooking some food back in hunter-gatherer days shows that a little help in getting more nutrition from foods can be helpful. Plant cell walls are made of cellulose. Cooking vegetables helps break down these cell walls, making nutrients more accessible. There are other ways of processing food–pounding meat to make it more tender or using a blender to chop it into fine pieces. Humans have been milling grains for a very long time.

But it is easy to overdo the processing of food, especially with the help of fossil fuels. Grains can be ground very finely, far more finely they would have been ground, years ago. Sweeteners of various types can be derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, and corn, and added to products of many types. Parts of fruits and vegetables that are deemed “less desirable” such as skins can be removed, even if these parts have a disproportionate share of the nutrients in them.

There is even a second order kind of change to the food supply that can be put in place. For example, before recent “improvements,” cattle ate a mixture of grasses and digested them in their four-part stomachs that are designed from that purpose. Now cattle are being fed all kinds of foods that are not suitable for their digestive systems, including corn and dried distillers grain, a byproduct of making ethanol from corn. There are many other shortcuts taken, from hormones to antibiotics, so as to produce more meat at less expense. Our bodies aren’t necessarily adapted all of these changes. For one thing, there is much more fat in the beef, and for another, the ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids is badly skewed.

There is the additional issue of whether plants actually contain the nutrients that they did years ago. Many of us have learned Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, which states that plant growth is not controlled by total amount of resources available, but by the scarcest resource. In other words, a plant needs all of its nutrients–just adding more of the most abundant nutrient isn’t good enough. But Liebig’s Law of the Minimum doesn’t remove all deviations in nutrient quantity. Plants will still grow, even if some of the trace elements are present in smaller than the usual quantities. Adding fertilizer (or even crop rotation) does not entirely fix this situation. We still end up with soil that is deficient in some micronutrients. This situation tends to get worse with time, as our sewer systems send human wastes out to sea.

In recent years, we have been hearing more about the role intestinal bacteria play. The processing of our food is especially likely to remove the less digestible portions of our food that these bacteria depend on for their nutrition. This adds yet another dimension to the problem of food that deviates from what our bodies are expecting us to eat.

Thanks to fossil fuels, processing of all kinds is cheap. So is adding sugar, artificial colors and artificial flavors to help cover up deficiencies in the original crop. The shortcuts farmers take, including heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides, are ways to produce food more cheaply. The food we end up with is inexpensive and convenient, but doesn’t necessarily match up well with what human digestive systems are adapted to.

What Kind of Exercise Do We Need? 

The story I keep reading is that we need a certain amount of high-intensity intermittent exercise to help our bodies operate as they are intended to. Running for even an average of five or ten minutes a day is said to reduce cardiac causes of death by 30% to 45%, and to increase overall life expectancy by three years. We can easily imagine that hunter-gatherers quite often needed to sprint from time to time, either to avoid predators or to catch potential prey. The finding that human beings need short bursts of high intensity exercise, such as running, would seem to be consistent with what our ancestors did. We also can’t sit for long periods–something our ancestors didn’t do either.

How about strength training? One thing that occurred to me when I visited India is how unnatural it is to have chairs to sit on. Much of the world’s population, even today, sits on the ground when they want to sit down. Needless to say, people who don’t sit on chairs get up from the floor many times a day. This is a type of fitness training that we in this country miss. We in the West also don’t squat much–another type of fitness training.

Even with the beneficial effects of exercise, some researchers today believe that food plays a more important role than exercise in obesity. (Obesity is linked to ill health and shorter life expectancies.) A recent study by Herman Pontzer and others compared the energy expenditure of the Hazda hunter-gatherers to Westerners. The study found that average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hazda foragers was no different from that of Westerners, after controlling for body size. The body seemed to compensate for higher energy expenditure at times, with lower energy expenditure at other times.

Conclusion

It seems to me that our appetites don’t work correctly when we fill ourselves with overly processed foods that are lacking for essential nutrients. We don’t stop eating soon enough, and we quickly feel hungry again. In part this may be from eating foods highly processed foods that would never be found in nature; in part it may be because the foods are missing the micronutrients and fiber that our bodies are expecting. Low-income people especially have a problem with such diets, since diets rich in fruits and vegetables are more expensive.

Many people believe doctors can fix our health problems. Looking across countries, diet and public health issues tend to be much more important than the medical care system in the health of a population. With most chronic health conditions, doctors can only take bad health situations and make them somewhat better. High rates of illness and increased mortality remain, similar to what we see in the United States.

Many of us have heard about the so-called calorie restriction diets of monkeys. This is a misnomer, in my view. In at least one version of it, it is a comparison of monkeys fed a low calorie diet that provides a wide range of nutrients found in vegetables, with a diet typical of Americans. If, in fact, we humans also need a wide range of nutrients found in vegetables, we should not be surprised if we have similarly poor health outcomes.

NYT 31aging_graphic_lgAccording to the graphic, Owen, 26, is affected by arthritis. His skin is wrinkled and his hair is falling out. He is frail and moves slowly. His blood work shows unhealthy levels of glucose and triglycerides. Canto, 25, is aging fairly well.

I personally have been eating a diet that is close to vegetarian for twenty years (heavy on vegetables, fruits and nuts; some fish and diary products; meat only as flavoring in soups). I also cut way back on processed foods and foods with added sugar or corn by-products. When I first changed my diet, I had a problem with arthritis and was concerned that I was at high risk for Type II diabetes. I lost weight, and my arthritis disappeared, as did my blood sugar problems. In fact, I rarely have reason to visit a doctor. In many ways, I feel like Canto on the left.

As I pointed out at the beginning of the post, we need to get a wide variety of nutrients at the same time we need to balance (Energy In) = (Energy Needed for Life Processes). Back in hunter-gatherer days, this was easy to do, but it is increasingly difficult to do today. Besides cutting back on processed foods, eating a diet at that is low in meat may be a way of doing this. Studies of people who eat mostly vegetarian diets show that they tend to have longer life spans. There is also direct evidence that diets that are higher in animal protein tend to shorten life spans. These findings don’t necessarily correlate with studies of what works best for losing weight, which is what most people are concerned about in the short term. Thus, we are deluged with a lot of confusing findings.

Food and health problems are issues that tend to strike a nerve with a lot of people. I can’t claim to be an expert in this area. But stepping back and looking at the issue more broadly, as I have tried to do in this article, can perhaps add some new perspectives.

Fourth Turning: The People versus Big Brother

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on March 13, 2014

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“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” 

– Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

“In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”Frank Church on Meet the Press regarding the NSA – 1975

Ever since Edward Snowden burst onto the worldwide stage in June 2013, I’ve been wondering how he fits into the fabric of this ongoing Fourth Turning. This period of Crisis that arrives like clockwork, 60 to 70 years after the end of the previous Fourth Turning (Civil War – 66 years after American Revolution, Great Depression/World War II – 64 years after Civil War, Global Financial Crisis – 62 years after World War II), arrived in September 2008 with the Federal Reserve created collapse of the global financial system. We are now five and a half years into this Fourth Turning, with its climax not likely until the late-2020’s. At this point in previous Fourth Turnings a regeneracy had unified sides in their cause and a grey champion or champions (Ben Franklin/Samuel Adams, Lincoln/Davis, FDR) had stepped forward to lead. Thus far, no one from the Prophet generation has been able to unify the nation and create a sense of common civic purpose. Societal trust continues to implode, as faith in political, financial, corporate, and religious institutions spirals downward. There is no sign of a unifying regeneracy on the horizon.

The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.

In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Debt

The core crisis element of debt is far worse than it was at the outset of this Crisis in September 2008. The National Debt has risen from $9.7 trillion to $17.5 trillion, an 80% increase in five and half years. It took 215 years for the country to accumulate as much debt as it has accumulated since the start of this Crisis. We continue to add $2.8 billion a day to the National debt, and the president declares it is time for this austerity to end. The total unfunded liabilities of the Federal government for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions and now Obamacare exceeds $200 trillion and is mathematically impossible to honor. Corporate debt stands at an all-time high. Margin debt is at record levels, as faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to levitate the stock market borders on delusional. Consumer debt has reached new heights, as the government doles out subprime auto loans to deadbeats and subprime student loans to future University of Phoenix Einsteins. Global debt has surged by 40% since 2008 to over $100 trillion, as central bankers have attempted to cure a disease caused by debt with more debt.

All of this debt accumulation is compliments of Bernanke/Yellen and the Federal Reserve, who have produced this new debt bubble with their zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing that has driven their balance sheet from $935 billion of mostly Treasury bonds in September 2008 to $4.2 trillion of toxic mortgage garbage acquired from their owners – the insolvent Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. This entire house of cards is reliant upon permanently low interest rates, the faith of foreigners in our lies, and trust in Ivy League educated economists captured by Wall Street. This debt laden house of cards sits atop hundreds of trillions of derivatives of mass destruction used by the Wall Street casinos to generate “riskless” profits. When, not if, a trigger ignites this explosive concoction of debt, the collapse will be epic and the violent phase of this Fourth Turning will commence.

Civic Decay

The core crisis element of civic decay is evident everywhere you turn. Our failed public educational system is responsible for much of the civic decay, as a highly educated critical thinking populace is our only defense against a small cabal of bankers and billionaires acquiring unwarranted influence and control over our country. Our children have been taught how to feel and to believe government propaganda. The atrocious educational system is not a mistake. It has been designed and manipulated by your owners to produce the results they desire, as explained bluntly by George Carlin.

“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest.”

The urban ghettos become more dangerous and uninhabitable by the day. The inner cities are crumbling under the weight of welfare spending and declining tax revenues. The very welfare policies begun fifty years ago to alleviate poverty have hopelessly enslaved the poor and ignorant in permanent squalor and destitution. The four decade old drug war has done nothing to reduce the use of drugs. It has benefited the corporate prison industry, as millions have been thrown into prison for minor drug offenses. Meanwhile, millions more have been legally addicted to drugs peddled by the corporate healthcare complex. The culture warriors and advocates of new rights for every special interest group continue their never ending battles which receive an inordinate amount of publicity from the corporate media. Class warfare is simmering and being inflamed by politicians pushing their particular agendas. Violence provoked by race and religion is growing by the day. The fault lines are visible and the imminent financial earthquake will push distress levels beyond the breaking point. Once the EBT cards stop working, all hell will break loose. Three days of panic will empty grocery store shelves and the National Guard will be called out to try and restore control.

Global Disorder

The core crisis element of global disorder is evident everywhere you turn. The false flag revolution in the Ukraine, initiated by the U.S. and EU in order to blunt Russia’s control of natural gas to Europe, has the potential to erupt into a full blown shooting war at any moment. The attempt by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. to overthrow the Syrian dictator in order to run a natural gas pipeline across their land into Europe was blunted by Russia. Iraq is roiled in a civil war, after the U.S. invaded, occupied and destabilized the country. After 12 years of occupation, Afghanistan is more dysfunctional and dangerous than it was before the U.S. saved them from the evil Taliban. Unrest, violent protests, and brutal measures by rulers continue in Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, Bahrain, Brazil, and throughout Africa. American predator drones roam the skies of the world murdering suspected terrorists. The European Union is insolvent, with Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal propped up with newly created debt. Austerity for the people and prosperity for the bankers is creating tremendous distress and tension across the continent. A global volcanic eruption is in the offing.

It is clear to me the American Empire is in terminal decline. Hubris, delusion, corruption, foolish disregard for future generations and endless foreign follies have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to a cascading sequence of debt defaults, mass poverty, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation or deflation, depending on the actions of feckless bankers and politicians. There is no avoiding the tragic outcome brought on by decades of bad choices and a century of allowing private banking interests to control our currency. The “emergency” QE and ZIRP responses by the Federal Reserve to the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial collapse continue, even though the propaganda peddled by the Deep State tries to convince the public we have fully recovered. This grand fraud cannot go on forever. Ponzi schemes no longer work once you run out of dupes. With societal trust levels approaching all-time lows and foreign countries beginning to understand they are the dupes, another global financial crisis is a lock.

The Snowden Factor

With ten to fifteen years likely remaining in this Fourth Turning Crisis, people familiar with generational turnings can’t help but ponder what will happen next. Linear thinkers, who constitute the majority, mistakenly believe things will magically return to normal and we’ll continue our never ending forward human progress. Their ignorance of history and generational turnings that recur like the four seasons will bite them in the ass. We are being flung forward across the vast chaos of time and our existing social order will be transformed beyond recognition into something far better or far worse. The actual events over the coming decade are unknowable in advance, but the mood and reactions of the generational archetypes to these events are predictable. The actions of individuals will matter during this Fourth Turning. The majority are trapped in their propaganda induced, techno distracted stupor of willful ignorance. It will take a minority of liberty minded individuals, who honor the principles of the U.S. Constitution and are willing to sacrifice their lives, to prevail in the coming struggle.

Despite fog engulfing the path of future events, we know they will be propelled by debt, civic decay, and global disorder. Finding a unifying grey champion figure seems unlikely at this point. I believe the revelations by Edward Snowden have set the course for future events during this Fourth Turning. The choices of private citizens, like Snowden, Assange, and Manning, have made a difference. The choices we all make over the next ten years will make a difference. A battle for the soul of this country is underway. The Deep State is firmly ingrained, controlling the financial, political and educational systems, while using their vast wealth to perpetuate endless war, and domination of the media to manipulate the masses with propaganda and triviality. They are powerful and malevolent. They will not relinquish their supremacy and wealth willingly.

Snowden has revealed the evil intent of the ruling class and their willingness to trash the Constitution in their psychopathic pursuit of mammon. The mass surveillance of the entire population, locking down of an entire city in pursuit of two teenagers, military training exercises in major metropolitan areas, militarization of local police forces by DHS, crushing peaceful demonstrations with brute force, attempting to restrict and confiscate guns, molesting innocent airline passengers, executive orders utilized on a regular basis by the president, and treating all citizens like suspects has set the stage for the coming conflict. Strauss & Howe warned that history has shown armed conflict is always a major ingredient during a Fourth Turning.

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.” The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe -1997

It appears to me the Deep State is preparing for armed conflict with the people. Why else would they be utilizing Big Brother methods of surveillance, militarization of police forces  and Gestapo like tactics of intimidation to control the masses? This doesn’t happen in a democratic republic where private individuals are supposed to know everything done by public government servants, not vice versa. They know the cheap, easy to access energy resources are essentially depleted. They know the system they have built upon a foundation of cheap energy and cheap debt is unsustainable and will crash in the near future. They know their fiat currency scheme is failing.They know it is going to come crashing down.  

They know America and the world will plunge into an era of depression, violence, and war. They also know they want to retain their wealth, power and control. There is no possibility the existing establishment can be purged through the ballot box. It’s a one party Big Brother system that provides the illusion of choice to the Proles. Like it or not, the only way this country can cast off the shackles of the banking, corporate, fascist elites, and the government surveillance state is through an armed revolution. The alternative is to allow an authoritarian regime, on par with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, to rise from the ashes of our financial collapse. This is a distinct possibility, given the ignorance and helplessness of most Americans after decades of government education and propaganda.       

The average mentally asleep American cannot conceive of armed conflict within the borders of the U.S. War, violence and dead bodies are something they see on their 52 inch HDTVs while gobbling chicken wings and cheetos in their Barcalounger. We’ve allowed a banking cartel and their central bank puppets to warp and deform our financial system into a hideous façade, sold to the masses as free market capitalism. We’ve allowed corporate interests to capture our political system through bribery and corruption.

We’ve allowed the rise of a surveillance state that has stripped us of our privacy, freedom, liberty and individuality in a futile pursuit of safety and security. We’ve allowed a military industrial complex to exercise undue influence in Washington DC, leading to endless undeclared wars designed to enrich the arms makers. We’ve allowed the corporate media and the government education complex to use propaganda, misinformation and social engineering techniques to dumb down the masses and make them compliant consumers. These delusions will be shattered when our financial and economic system no longer functions. The end is approaching rapidly and very few see it coming.

Glory or Ruin?

The scenario I envision is a collapse of our debt saturated financial system, with a domino effect of corporate, personal, and governmental defaults, exacerbated by the trillions of currency, interest rate, and stock derivatives. Global stock markets will crash. Trillions in paper wealth will evaporate into thin air. The Greater Depression will gain a choke-hold around the world. Mass bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty will sweep across the land. The social safety net will tear under the weight of un-payable entitlements. Riots and unrest will breakout in urban areas. Armed citizens in rural areas will begin to assemble in small units. The police and National Guard will be unable to regain control. The military will be called on to suppress any and all resistance to the Federal government. This act of war will spur further resistance from liberty minded armed patriots. The new American Revolution will have begun. Leaders will arise in the name of freedom. Regional and local bands of fighters will use guerilla tactics to defeat a slow top heavy military dependent upon technology and vast quantities of oil. A dictatorial regime may assume power on a Federal level. A breakup of the nation into regional states is a distinct possibility.

With the American Empire crumbling from within, our international influence will wane. With China also in the midst of a Fourth Turning, their debt bubble will burst and social unrest will explode into civil war. Global disorder, wars, terrorism, and financial collapse will lead to a dramatic decrease in oil production, further sinking the world into depression. The tensions caused by worldwide recession will lead to the rise of authoritarian regimes and global warfare. With “advances” in technological warfare and the proliferation of nuclear warheads, this scenario has the potential to end life on earth as we know it. The modern world could be set back into the stone-age with the push of a button. There are no guarantees of a happy ending for humanity.

The outcome of this Fourth Turning is dependent upon the actions of a minority of critical thinking Americans who decide to act. No one can avoid the trials and tribulations that lie ahead. We will be faced with immense challenges. Courage and sacrifice will be required in large doses. Elders will need to lead and millennials will need to carry a heavy load, doing most of the dying. The very survival of our society hangs in the balance. Edward Snowden has provided an example of the sacrifice required during this Fourth Turning. How we respond and the choices we make over the next decade will determine whether this Fourth Turning will result in glory or ruin for our nation.

 

“Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Click these links to read the first two parts of this three part series:

Do No Evil Google – Censor & Snitch for the State

Google, China, the NSA and the Fourth Turning

Extinction of the Middle Class

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on Economic Collapse on February 5, 2014

Dilapidated-House-In-Indiana

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28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Toward Extinction

The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it.  Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt.  Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be “middle class”, and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high.  This is not a good thing.  Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be “okay” simply has no idea what they are talking about.  The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction…

#1 You don’t have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying.  This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers.  The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled “The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World“…

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.

As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.

#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit”.

#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.

#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.

#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.

#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far.  Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).

#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care.  At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.

#24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

As if the middle class didn’t have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.

As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.

Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare.  For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers “were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance“…

And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.

Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.

But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.

The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.

The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today.  That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can.  Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master’s degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post.  What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic…

Dear Mr. President,

I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment — 16 hours each week at $12 per hour — but I don’t work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn’t include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.

This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn’t freeze — if it freezes, we use the campground’s restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it’s cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don’t have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn’t working for us. We don’t have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it’s freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.

You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.

This is not the America that I remember.

What in the world is happening to us?

Dense Fog Turns into Toxic Smog

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on December 31, 2013

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

 

In mid-January of this year I wrote my annual prediction article for 2013 – Apparitions in the Fog. It is again time to assess my inability to predict the future any better than a dart throwing monkey. As usual, sticking to facts was a mistake in a world fueled by misinformation, propaganda, delusion and wishful thinking. I was far too pessimistic about the near term implications of debt, civic decay and global disorder. Those in power have successfully held off the unavoidable collapse which will be brought about by their ravenous unbridled greed, and blatant disregard for the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution and rights and liberties of the American people. The day to day minutia, pointless drivel of our techno-narcissistic selfie showbiz society, and artificially created issues (gay marriage, Zimmerman-Martin, Baby North West, Duck Dynasty) designed to distract the public from thinking, are worthless trivialities in the broad landscape of human history.

The course of human history is determined by recurring cyclical themes based upon human frailties that have been perpetual through centuries of antiquity. The immense day to day noise of an inter-connected techno-world awash in inconsequentialities and manipulated by men of evil intent is designed to divert the attention of the masses from the criminal activities of those in power. It has always been so. There have always been arrogant, ambitious, greedy, power hungry, deceitful men, willing to take advantage of a fearful, lazy, ignorant, selfish, easily manipulated populace. The rhythms of history are unaffected by predictions of “experts” who are paid to spin yarns in order to sustain the status quo. There is no avoiding the consequences of actions taken and not taken over the last eighty years. We are in the midst of a twenty year period of Crisis that was launched in September 2008 with the worldwide financial collapse, created by the Federal Reserve, their Wall Street owners, their bought off Washington politicians, and their media and academic propaganda machines.

I still stand by the final paragraph of my 2013 missive, and despite the fact the establishment has been able to fend off the final collapse of their man made credit boom for longer than I anticipated, they have only insured a far worse outcome when the bubble bursts:

“So now I’m on the record for 2013 and I can be scorned and ridiculed for being such a pessimist when December rolls around and our Ponzi scheme economy hasn’t collapsed. There is no disputing the facts. The economic situation is deteriorating for the average American, the mood of the country is darkening, and the world is awash in debt and turmoil. Every country is attempting to print their way to renewed prosperity. No one wins a race to the bottom. The oligarchs have chosen a path of currency debasement, propping up insolvent banks, propaganda and impoverishing the masses as their preferred course. They attempt to keep the masses distracted with political theater, gun control vitriol, reality TV and iGadgets. What can be said about a society where 10% of the population follows Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga on Twitter and where 50% think the National Debt is a monument in Washington D.C. The country is controlled by evil sycophants, intellectually dishonest toadies and blood sucking leeches. Their lies and deception have held sway for the last four years, but they have only delayed the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. They will not reverse course and believe their intellectual superiority will allow them to retain their control after the collapse.”

The core elements of this Crisis have been visible since Strauss & Howe wrote The Fourth Turning in 1997. All the major events that transpire during this Crisis will be driven by one or more of these core elements – Debt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder.

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

My 2013 predictions were framed by these core elements. After re-reading my article for the first time in eleven months I’ve concluded it is lucky I don’t charge for investment predictions. Many of my prognostications were in the ballpark, but I have continually underestimated the ability of central bankers and their Wall Street co-conspirators to use the $2.8 billion per day of QE to artificially elevate the stock market to bubble level proportions once again. If I wasn’t such a trusting soul, I might conclude the .1% financial elite, who run this country, created QEternity to benefit themselves, their .1% corporate CEO accomplices and the corrupt government apparatchiks who shield their flagrant criminality from the righteous hand of justice.

Even a highly educated Ivy League economist might grasp the fact that Ben Bernanke’s QEternity and ZIRP, sold to the unsuspecting masses as desperate measures during a crisis that could have brought the system down, have been kept in place for five years as a means to drive stock prices and home prices higher. The emergency was over by 2010, according to government reported data. The current monetary policy of the Federal Reserve would have been viewed as outrageous, reckless, and incomprehensible in 2007. It is truly a credit to the ruling elite and their media propaganda arm that they have been able to convince a majority of Americans their brazen felonious disregard for the wellbeing of the 99% is necessary to sustain the .1% way of life. Those palaces in the Hamptons aren’t going to pay for themselves without those $100 billion of annual bonuses.

Do you think the 170% increase in the S&P 500 has been accidently correlated with the quadrupling of the Federal Reserve balance sheet or has Bernanke just done the bidding of his puppet masters? Considering the .1% billionaire clique owns the vast majority of stock in this corporate fascist paradise, is it really a surprise the trickle down canard would be the solution of choice from these sociopathic scoundrels? Of course QE and ZIRP have impacted the 80% who own virtually no stocks in a slightly different manner. Do you think the 100% increase in gasoline prices since 2009 was caused by Bernanke’s QEternity?

Do you think the 8% decline in real median household income since 2008 was caused by Bernanke’s QE and ZIRP policies?

Click to View

Do you think the $10.8 trillion stolen from grandmothers and risk adverse savers was caused by Bernanke’s ZIRP?

Was the $860 billion increase in real GDP (5.8% over five years) worth the $8 trillion increase in the National Debt and $3 trillion increase in the Federal Reserve balance sheet? Was it moral, courageous and honorable of the Wall Street plantation owners to syphon the remaining wealth of the dying middle class peasants and leaving the millennial generation and future generations bound in chains of unfunded debt to the tune of $200 trillion?

My assessment regarding unpredictable events lurking in the fog was borne out by what happened that NO ONE predicted, including: the first resignation of a pope in six hundred years, the military coup of a democratically elected president of Egypt – supported by the democratically elected U.S. president, the rise of an alternative currency – bitcoin, the bankruptcy of one of the largest cities in the U.S. – Detroit, a minor terrorist attack in Boston that freaked out the entire country and revealed the Nazi-like un-Constitutional tactics that will be used by the police state as this Crisis deepens, and revelations by a brilliant young patriot named Edward Snowden proving that the U.S. has been turned into an Orwellian surveillance state as every electronic communication of every American is being monitored and recorded. The Democrats and Republicans played their parts in this theater of the absurd. They proved to be two faces of the same Party as neither faction questions the droning of innocent people around the globe, mass spying on citizens, Wall Street criminality, trillion dollar deficits, a rogue Federal Reserve, or out of control unsustainable government spending.

My predictions for 2013 were divided into the three categories driving this Fourth Turning CrisisDebt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder. Let’s assess my inaccuracy.

Debt

  • The debt ceiling will be raised as the toothless Republican Party vows to cut spending next time. The political hacks will create a 3,000 page document of triggers and create a committee to study the issue, with actual measures that slow the growth of annual spending by .000005% starting in 2017.

The government shutdown reality TV show proved to be the usual Washington D.C. kabuki theater. They gave a shutdown and no one noticed. It had zero impact on the economy. More people came to the realization that government does nothing except spend our money and push us around. The debt ceiling was raised, the sequester faux “cuts” were reversed and $20 billion of spending will be cut sometime in the distant future. Washington snakes are entirely predictable. I nailed this prediction.

  • The National Debt will increase by $1.25 trillion and debt to GDP will reach 106% by the end of the fiscal year.

The National Debt increased by ONLY $964 billion in the last fiscal year, even though the government stopped counting in May. The temporary sequester cuts, the expiration of the 2% payroll tax cut, the fake Fannie & Freddie paybacks to the U.S. Treasury based upon mark to fantasy accounting, and the automatic expiration of stimulus spending combined to keep the real deficit from reaching $1 trillion for the fifth straight year. Debt to GDP was 104%, before our beloved government drones decided to “adjust” GDP upwards by $500 billion based upon a new and improved formula, like Tide detergent. I missed this prediction by a smidgeon.

  • The Federal Reserve balance sheet will reach $4 trillion by the end of the year.

The Federal Reserve balance sheet stands at $4.075 trillion today. Ben is very predictable, and of course “transparent”. This was an easy one.

  • Consumer debt will reach $2.9 trillion as the Feds accelerate student loans and Ally Financial, along with the other Too Big To Control Wall Street banks, keep pumping out subprime auto loans. By mid-year reported losses on student loans will soar and auto loan delinquencies will show an upturn. This will force a slowdown in consumer debt issuance, exacerbating the recession that started in 2012.

Consumer debt outstanding currently stands at $3.076 trillion despite the fact that credit card debt has been virtually flat. The Federal government has continued to dole out billions in loans to University of Phoenix wannabes and to the subprime urban entitlement armies who deserve to drive an Escalade despite having no job, no assets and a sub 650 credit score, through government owned Ally Financial. It helps drive business when you don’t care about being repaid. Student loan delinquency rates are at an all-time high, as there are no jobs for graduates with tens of thousands in debt. Auto loan delinquencies have begun to rise despite the fact we are supposedly in a strongly recovering economy. The slowdown in debt issuance has not happened, as the Federal government is in complete control of the non-revolving loan segment. My prediction has proven to be accurate.

  • The Bakken oil miracle will prove to be nothing more than Wall Street shysters selling a storyline. Daily output will stall at 750,000 barrels per day and the dreams of imminent energy independence will be annihilated by reality, again. The price of oil will average $105 per barrel, as global tensions restrict supply.

Bakken production has reached 867,000 barrels per day as more and more wells have been drilled to offset the steep depletion rates of the existing wells. The average price per barrel has been $104, despite the frantic propaganda campaign about imminent American energy independence. Tell that to the average Joe filling their tank and paying the highest December gas price in history. My prediction was too pessimistic, but the Bakken miracle will be revealed as an over-hyped Wall Street scam in 2014.

  • The home price increases generated through inventory manipulation in 2012 will peter out as 2013 progresses. The market has been flooded by investors. There is very little real demand for new homes. Young households with heavy student loan debt and low paying jobs will continue to rent, since the oligarchs refused to let prices fall to a level that would spur real demand. Mortgage delinquencies will rise as job growth remains stagnant, leading to an increase in foreclosures. Rent prices will flatten as apartment construction and investors flood the market with supply.

Existing home sales peaked in the middle of 2013 and have been in decline as mortgage rates have jumped from 3.25% to 4.5% since February. New home sales remain stagnant, near record low levels. The median sales price for existing home sales peaked at $214,000 in June and has fallen for five consecutive months by a total of 8%. First time home buyers account for a record low of 28% of purchases, while investors account for a record high level of purchasers. Mortgage delinquencies fell for most of the year, but the chickens are beginning to come home to roost as delinquent mortgage loans rose from 6.28% in October to 6.45% in November. Rent increases slowed to below 3% as Blackrock and the other Wall Street shysters flood the market with their foreclosure rental properties. My housing prediction was accurate.

 

  • The disconnect between the stock market and the housing and employment markets will be rectified when the MSM can no longer deny the recession that began in 2012 and will deepen in the first part of 2013. While housing prices languish 30% below their peak levels of 2006, the stock market has prematurely ejaculated back to pre-crisis levels. Declining corporate profits, stagnant consumer spending, and increasing debt defaults will finally result in a 20% decline in the stock market, with a chance for losses greater than 30% if Japan or the EU begin to crumble.

And now we get to the prediction that makes me happy I don’t charge people for investment advice. Facts don’t matter in world of QE for the psychopathic titans of Wall Street and misery for the indebted peasants of Main Street. The government data drones, Ivy League educated Wall Street economists, and the obedient corporate media propaganda apparatus declare that GDP has grown by 2% over the last four quarters and we are not in a recession. If you believe their bogus inflation calculation then just ignore the collapsing retail sales, stagnant real wages, and rising gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us. Using a true measure of inflation reveals an economy in recession since 2004. Whose version matches the reality on the ground?

 

Corporate profits have leveled off at record highs as mark to fantasy accounting fraud, condoned and encouraged by the Federal Reserve, along with loan loss reserve depletion and $5 billion of risk free profits from parking deposits at the Fed have created a one-time peak. The record level of negative earnings warnings is the proverbial bell ringing at the top.

negative earnings

I only missed my stock market prediction by 50%, as the 30% rise was somewhat better than my 20% decline prediction. Bernanke’s QEternity, Wall Street’s high frequency trading supercomputers, record levels of margin debt, a dash of delusion, and a helping of clueless dupes have taken the stock market to another bubble high. My prediction makes me look like an idiot today. I’m OK with that, since I know facts and reality always prevail in the long-run. As John Hussman sagely points out, today’s idiot will be tomorrow’s beacon of truth:

“The problem with bubbles is that they force one to decide whether to look like an idiot before the peak, or an idiot after the peak. There’s no calling the top, and most of the signals that have been most historically useful for that purpose have been blazing red since late-2011. My impression remains that the downside risks for the market have been deferred, not eliminated, and that they will be worse for the wait.”

  • Japan is still a bug in search of a windshield. With a debt to GDP ratio of 230%, a population dying off, energy dependence escalating, trade surplus decreasing, an already failed Prime Minister vowing to increase inflation, and rising tensions with China, Japan is a primary candidate to be the first domino to fall in the game of debt chicken. A 2% increase in interest rates would destroy the Japanese economic system.

Abenomics has done nothing for the average Japanese citizen, but it has done wonders for the ruling class who own all the stocks. Abe has implemented monetary policies that make Bernanke get a hard on. Japanese economic growth remains mired at 1.1%, wages remain stagnant, and their debt to GDP ratio remains above 230%, but at least he has driven their currency down 20% versus the USD and crushed the common person with 9% energy inflation. None of this matters, because the .1% have benefitted from a 56% increase in the Japanese stock market. My prediction was wrong. The windshield is further down the road, but it is approaching at 100 mph.

  • The EU has temporarily delayed the endgame for their failed experiment. Economic conditions in Greece, Spain and Italy worsen by the day with unemployment reaching dangerous revolutionary levels. Pretending countries will pay each other with newly created debt will not solve a debt crisis. They don’t have a liquidity problem. They have a solvency problem. The only people who have been saved by the actions taken so far are bankers and politicians. I believe the crisis will reignite, with interest rates spiking in Spain, Italy and France. The Germans will get fed up with the rest of Europe and the EU will begin to disintegrate.

This was another complete miss on my part. Economic conditions have not improved in Europe. Unemployment remains at record levels. EU GDP is barely above 0%. Debt levels continue to rise. Central bank bond buying has propped up this teetering edifice of ineptitude and interest rates in Spain, Italy and France have fallen to ridiculously low levels of 4%, considering they are completely insolvent with no possibility for escape. The disintegration of the EU will have to wait for another day.

Civic Decay

  • Progressive’s attempt to distract the masses from our worsening economic situation with their assault on the 2nd Amendment will fail. Congress will pass no new restrictions on gun ownership and 2013 will see the highest level of gun sales in history.

Obama and his gun grabbing sycophants attempted to use the Newtown massacre as the lever to overturn the 2nd Amendment. The liberal media went into full shriek mode, but the citizens again prevailed and no Federal legislation restricting the 2nd Amendment passed. Gun sales in 2013 will set an all-time record. With the Orwellian surveillance state growing by the day, arming yourself is the rational thing to do. I nailed this prediction.

  • The deepening recession, higher taxes on small businesses and middle class, along with Obamacare mandates will lead to rising unemployment and rising anger with the failed economic policies of the last four years. Protests and rallies will begin to burgeon.

The little people are experiencing a recession. The little people bore the brunt of the 2% payroll tax increase. The little people are bearing the burden of the Obamacare insurance premium increases. The number of employed Americans has increased by 1 million in the last year, a whole .4% of the working age population. The number of Americans who have willingly left the labor force in the last year because their lives are so fulfilled totaled 2.5 million, leaving the labor participation rate at a 35 year low. The anger among the former middle class is simmering below the surface, as Bernanke’s policies further impoverish the multitudes. Mass protests have not materialized but the Washington Navy yard shooting, dental hygenist murdered by DC police for ramming a White House barrier, and self- immolation of veteran John Constantino on the National Mall were all individual acts of desperation against the establishment.

  • The number of people on food stamps will reach 50 million and the number of people on SSDI will reach 11 million. Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and Jeff Immelt will compensate themselves to the tune of $100 million. CNBC will proclaim an economic recovery based on these facts.

The number of people on food stamps appears to have peaked just below 48 million, as the expiration of stimulus spending will probably keep the program from reaching 50 million. As of November there were 10.98 million people in the SSDI program. The top eight Wall Street banks have set aside a modest $91 billion for 2013 bonuses. The cost of providing food stamps for 48 million Americans totaled $76 billion. CNBC is thrilled with the record level of bonuses for the noble Wall Street capitalists, while scorning the lazy laid-off middle class workers whose jobs were shipped to China by the corporations whose profits are at all-time highs and stock price soars. Isn’t crony capitalism grand?

  • The drought will continue in 2013 resulting in higher food prices, ethanol prices, and shipping costs, as transporting goods on the Mississippi River will become further restricted. The misery index for the average American family will reach new highs.

The drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest have been relieved. Ethanol prices have been flat. Beef prices have risen by 10% since May due to the drought impact from 2012, but overall food price increases have been moderate. The misery index (unemployment rate + inflation rate) has supposedly fallen, based on government manipulated data. I whiffed on this prediction.

  • There will be assassination attempts on political and business leaders as retribution for their actions during and after the financial crisis.

There have been no assassination attempts on those responsible for our downward financial spiral. The anger has been turned inward as suicides have increased by 30% due to the unbearable economic circumstances brought on by the illegal financial machinations of the Wall Street criminal banks. Obama and Dick Cheney must be thrilled that more military personnel died by suicide in 2013 than on the battlefield. Mission Accomplished. The retribution dealt to bankers and politicians will come after the next collapse. For now, my prediction was premature.

  • The revelation of more fraud in the financial sector will result in an outcry from the public for justice. Prosecutions will be pursued by State’s attorney generals, as Holder has been captured by Wall Street.

Holder and the U.S. government remain fully captured by Wall Street. The states have proven to be toothless in their efforts to enforce the law against Wall Street. The continuing revelations of Wall Street fraud and billions in fines paid by JP Morgan and the other Too Big To Trust banks have been glossed over by the captured mainstream media. As long as EBT cards, Visas and Mastercards continue to function, there will be no outrage from the techno-narcissistic, debt addicted, math challenged, wilfully ignorant masses. Another wishful thinking wrong prediction on my part.

  • The deepening pension crisis in the states will lead to more state worker layoffs and more confrontation between governors attempting to balance budgets and government worker unions. There will be more municipal bankruptcies.

Using a still optimistic discount rate of 5%, the unfunded pension liability of states and municipalities totals $3 trillion. The taxpayers don’t have enough cheese left for the government rats to steal. The crisis deepens by the second. State and municipal budgets require larger pension payments every year. The tax base is stagnant or declining. States must balance their budgets. They will continue to cut existing workers to pay the legacy costs until they all experience their Detroit moment. With the Detroit bankruptcy, I’ll take credit for getting this prediction right.

  • The gun issue will further enflame talk of state secession. The red state/blue state divide will grow ever wider. The MSM will aggravate the divisions with vitriolic propaganda.

With the revelations of Federal government spying, military training exercises in cities across the country, the blatant disregard for the 4th Amendment during the shutdown of Boston, and un-Constitutional mandates of Obamacare, there has been a tremendous increase in chatter about secession. A google search gets over 200,000 hits in the last year. The divide between red states and blue states has never been wider.

  • The government will accelerate their surveillance efforts and renew their attempt to monitor, control, and censor the internet. This will result in increased cyber-attacks on government and corporate computer networks in retaliation.

If anything I dramatically underestimated the lengths to which the United States government would go in their illegal surveillance of the American people and foreign leaders. Edward Snowden exposed the grandest government criminal conspiracy in history as the world found out the NSA, with the full knowledge of the president and Congress, has been conspiring with major communications and internet companies to monitor and record every electronic communication on earth, in clear violation of the 4th Amendment. Government apparatchiks like James Clapper have blatantly lied to Congress about their spying activities. The lawlessness with which the government is now operating has led to anarchist computer hackers conducting cyber-attacks on government and corporate networks. The recent hacking of the Target credit card system will have devastating implications to their already waning business. I’ll take credit for an accurate prediction on this one.

Global Disorder 

  • With new leadership in Japan and China, neither will want to lose face, so early in their new terms. Neither side will back down in their ongoing conflict over islands in the East China Sea. China will shoot down a Japanese aircraft and trade between the countries will halt, leading to further downturns in both of their economies.

The Japanese/Chinese dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands has blown hot and cold throughout the year. In the past month the vitriol has grown intense. China has scrambled fighter jets over the disputed islands. The recent visit of Abe to a World War II shrine honoring war criminals has enraged the Chinese. Trade between the countries has declined. An aircraft has not been shot down, but an American warship almost collided with a Chinese warship near the islands, since our empire must stick their nose into every worldwide dispute. We are one miscalculation away from a shooting war. It hasn’t happened yet, so my prediction was wrong.

  • Worker protests over slave labor conditions in Chinese factories will increase as food price increases hit home on peasants that spend 70% of their pay for food. The new regime will crackdown with brutal measures, but the protests will grow increasingly violent. The economic data showing growth will be discredited by what is happening on the ground. China will come in for a real hard landing. Maybe they can hide the billions of bad debt in some of their vacant cities.

The number of worker protests over low pay and working conditions in China doubled over the previous year, but censorship of reporting has kept these facts under wraps. In a dictatorship, the crackdown on these protests goes unreported. The fraudulent economic data issued by the government has been proven false by independent analysts. The Chinese stock market has fallen 14%, reflecting the true economic situation. The Chinese property bubble is in the process of popping. China will never officially report a hard landing. China is the most corrupt nation on earth and is rotting from the inside, like their vacant malls and cities. China’s economy is like an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 coming in for a landing at SF International.

  • Violence and turmoil in Greece will spread to Spain during the early part of the year, with protests and anger spreading to Italy and France later in the year. The EU public relations campaign, built on sandcastles of debt in the sky and false promises of corrupt politicians, will falter by mid-year. Interest rates will begin to spike and the endgame will commence. Greece will depart the EU, with Spain not far behind. The unraveling of debt will plunge all of Europe into depression.

Violent protests flared in Greece and Spain throughout the year. They did not spread to Italy and France. The central bankers and the puppet politicians have been able to contain the EU’s debt insolvency through the issuance of more debt. What a great plan. The grand finale has been delayed into 2014. Greece remains on life support and still in the EU. The EU remains in recession, but the depression has been postponed for the time being. This prediction was a dud.

  • Iran will grow increasingly desperate as hyperinflation caused by U.S. economic sanctions provokes the leadership to lash out at its neighbors and unleash cyber-attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and U.S. corporations. Israel will use the rising tensions as the impetus to finally attack Iranian nuclear facilities. The U.S. will support the attack and Iran will launch missiles at Saudi Arabia and Israel in retaliation. The price of oil will spike above $125 per barrel, further deepening the worldwide recession.

Iran was experiencing hyperinflationary conditions early in the year, but since the election of the new president the economy has stabilized. Iran has conducted cyber-attacks against Saudi Arabian gas companies and the U.S. Navy during 2013. Israel and Saudi Arabia have failed in their efforts to lure Iran into a shooting war. Obama has opened dialogue with the new president to the chagrin of Israel. War has been put off and the negative economic impacts of surging oil prices have been forestalled. I missed on this prediction.

  • Syrian President Assad will be ousted and executed by rebels. Syria will fall under the control of Islamic rebels, who will not be friendly to the United States or Israel. Russia will stir up discontent in retaliation for the ouster of their ally.

Assad has proven to be much tougher than anyone expected. The trumped up charges of gassing rebel forces, created by the Saudis who want a gas pipeline through Syria, was not enough to convince the American people to allow our president to invade another sovereign country. Putin and Russia won this battle. America’s stature in the eyes of the world was reduced further. America continues to support Al Qaeda rebels in Syria, while fighting them in Afghanistan. The hypocrisy is palpable. Another miss.

  • Egypt and Libya will increasingly become Islamic states and will further descend into civil war.

The first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup as the country has descended into a civil war between the military forces and Islamic forces. It should be noted that the U.S. supported the overthrow of a democratically elected leader. Libya is a failed state with Islamic factions vying for power and on the verge of a 2nd civil war. Oil production has collapsed. I’ll take credit for an accurate prediction on this one.

  • The further depletion of the Cantarell oil field will destroy the Mexican economy as it becomes a net energy importer. The drug violence will increase and more illegal immigrants will pour into the U.S. The U.S. will station military troops along the border.

Mexican oil production fell for the ninth consecutive year in 2013. It has fallen 25% since 2004 to the lowest level since 1995. Energy exports still slightly outweigh imports, but the trend is irreversible. Mexico is under siege by the drug cartels. The violence increases by the day. After declining from 2007 through 2009, illegal immigration from Mexico has been on the rise. Troops have not been stationed on the border as Obama and his liberal army encourages illegal immigration in their desire for an increase in Democratic voters. This prediction was mostly correct.

  • Cyber-attacks by China and Iran on government and corporate computer networks will grow increasingly frequent. One or more of these attacks will threaten nuclear power plants, our electrical grid, or the Pentagon.

China and Iran have been utilizing cyber-attacks on the U.S. military and government agencies as a response to NSA spying and U.S. sabotaging of Iranian nuclear facilities. Experts are issuing warnings regarding the susceptibility of U.S. nuclear facilities to cyber-attack. If a serious breach has occurred, the U.S. government wouldn’t be publicizing it. Again, this prediction was accurate.

I achieved about a 50% accuracy rate on my 2013 predictions. These minor distractions are meaningless in the broad spectrum of history and the inevitability of the current Fourth Turning sweeping away the existing social order in a whirlwind of chaos, violence, financial collapse and ultimately a decisive war. The exact timing and exact events which will precipitate the demise of the establishment are unknowable with any precision, but there is no escape from the inexorable march of history. While most people get lost in the minutia of day to day existence and supposed Ivy League thought leaders are consumed with their own reputations and wealth, apparent stability will morph into terrifying volatility in an instant. The normalcy bias being practiced by an entire country will be shattered in a reality storm of consequences. The Crisis will continue to be driven by the ever growing debt levels, civic decay caused by government overreach, and global disorder driven by resource shortages and religious zealotry. The ultimate outcome is unpredictable, but the choices we make will matter. History is about to fling us towards a vast chaos.

“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.”  – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Duct Tape Politics

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  November 4, 2013

 Duct-tape_Moving_Van

 

 

 Duct Tape Politics

The ObamaCare website rollout fiasco, joined by the bait-and-switch “You can keep your current insurance (not)” tempest, obscure the fundamental quandary about so-called health-care in America: that it is a gigantic racket structured to allow countless layers of grift and counter-grift. The end product of all that artifice is that medical care costs twice as much in America as any other civilized country, and that it has to be operated by a cruel and despotic matrix of poorly coordinated bureaucracies that commonly leave people more disabled financially than the diseases that brought them into the system.

     ObamaCare was designed to work like a giant roll of duct tape that would allow the current cast of characters in charge (Democratic Progressives) to pretend that the system could keep going a few years longer. But it looks like it has already blown out the patch on the manifold and is getting ready to throw a rod — which duct tape will not avail to fix.

    I had three major surgeries (hip, open heart, spine) the past year and paid attention to the statements that rolled in from my then-insurer, Blue Shield (the policy was cancelled in October). These documents were always advertised as “this is not a bill” and that was technically true, but it deflected attention from what it really was, a record of negotiated scams between the “providers” (doctors and hospitals) and the insurance company.

      There was never any discussion (or offer of discussion) of the cost of care before a procedure. When asked, doctors commonly pretend not to know what their work costs. Why is that? It’s not to spare the patient’s feelings. It’s because sick people are hostages and both the doctors and the hospital management know they will agree to anything that will get them through the crisis of illness. This sets up a situation that allows the “providers” to blindside the patient with charges after the fact.

     My hip “revision” operation was necessary because my original implant was a defective (“innovative” circa 2003) metal-on-metal joint that released metal fragments into my system and it had to be removed. The stated charge for replacement part — a simple two piece bearing made of metal and plastic, about the size of tangerine — was $14,000. Blue Shield “negotiated” the price down to about $7,000. If you go to the websites of any of the manufacturers of these things, you will not see any suggested retail or wholesale price. The markup on these things must be out of this world. Cars come with four ball joints that carry roughly the same time warrantee, and they come with a staggering array of “extras”— engines, transmissions, air-conditioning, seats, air-bags, and radios. The pattern was similar for the other surgeries and what they entailed. I ended up paying five-figures out-of-pocket. Lucky for me that I saved some money before this all happened. I don’t have kids so I haven’t been paying extortionate college tuitions during my peak income years.

     All the surgeries I had required hospital stays. For the hip op, I was in for a day and a half in a non-special bed (no fancy hookups). The charge was $23,000 per day. For what? They took my blood pressure nine times. I got about six bad meals. The line charge on the Blue Shield statement said “room and board.” It would be a joke if this extortion wasn’t multiplied millions of times a day across the nation. Citizen-hostages obviously don’t know where to begin to unravel this skein of dreadful rackets. If you think it’s possible to have a productive conversation with an insurance company rep at the other end of the phone line, then you’re going to be disappointed. You might as well be talking to a third-sub-deputy under-commissar in the Soviet motor vehicle bureau.

     This ghastly matrix of corruption really only has two ways to go. It can completely implode in a fairly short time frame (say, five years, tops), or we can, by some miracle of political will, get our priorities straight and sweep away all the layers of racketeering with a single-payer system. The evidence in other civilized countries is not so encouraging. England’s National Health Service has degenerated into a two layer system of half-assed soviet-style medicine for the proles and concierge service for the rich. France’s system works more democratically, but the nation is going bankrupt and eventually their health care network will fall apart. The Scandinavian countries have relatively tiny populations. I don’t know, frankly, how the Germans are doing.

     Here in the USA, you can make arguments for putting a greater share of public money into a single-payer system. For instance, if we redirected the money spent on our stupid military adventures and closed some of the countless redundant bases we run overseas. That would be a biggie. Given the current choke-hold of the military-industrial complex on our politicians, I wouldn’t expect much traction there.

     You can argue that nobody complains about government spending on the highway system, so why should “the people” complain about organizing a medical system that really works? Obviously, there’s no consensus to make that happen. Too many doctors want to drive BMWs. Too many insurance executives and hospital administrators want to make multi-million dollar salaries. Too many lobbyist parasites and lawyers are feeding off that revenue stream. Too many politicians with gold-plated health insurance coverage don’t want to change the current distribution of goodies. End-of-story, as the late Tony Soprano used to say.

       It’s the old quandary of fire or ice… which way do you want to go? Since I’m interested in reality-based outcomes, my bet would be on implosion. In any case, several of the other systems that currently support the activities of our society are scheduled for near-term implosion, too. That would be the banking-finance system, the energy supply system, and the industrial agriculture system. As those things wind down or crash, you can be sure that everything connected with them will be affected, so the chance that we could mount a real national health care system is, in my opinion, zero.

      The ObamaCare duct-taped system will go down. The big hospitals, HMOs, insurers, pharma companies will all starve and shrivel. Like all things in the emergent new paradigm, they will reorganize on a small and much simpler basis. Everyone will make less money and high-tech medicine will probably dwindle for all but a very few… and for them, only for a while. Eventually, we’ll re-set to local clinic style medicine with far fewer resources, specialties, and miracle cures. There will be a whole lot less aggravation, though, and people may die more peacefully.

     Finally, there’s the pathetic American lumpen-public of our day itself, steadily committing suicide en masse by corn byproducts, the three-hundred pounders lumbering down the Wal-Mart aisles in search of the latest designer nacho. What can you do about such a people, except let fate take them where it will?

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

Healthcare Hiccups

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 3, 2013

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Inside the Diner this week I FINALLY got a bug up my butt to write about the CLUSTERFUCK that is the Affordable Health Care Act, AKA Obamacare.

I have basically ignored this piece of legislative insanity here on the Diner, it is fundamentally a Derivative Problem of a Failing Monetary System, and bogging down blogging on it when I am quite sure it will collapse along with the monetary system supporting it seemed unnecessary to me for a long time here.  However, the Integral Part it played in the Kabuki Theatre that played out in the most recent Debt Ceiling stand-off motivated me to take a look at the various problems and failings in the methodology chosen to try and get Every Amerikan access to “Affordable” Health Care.

I will start this examination with a paste from inside the Diner of my Original Post Obamacare Online Fiasco, followed by a few Pithy Comments from some of the Diners.

From RE:

I’m going to have to write a Blog Article about the complete INSANITY of the so-called “Health Care Marketplace” that was supposed to be integrated by Healthcare.gov for getting everybody Insured for Medical Issues, but for tonight for the Diner Regulars I want to drop on a few initial thoughts on this Clusterfuck.

First, the IDEA of getting everybody “covered” in some sense for Health issues is obviously important.  All Men are NOT created Equal if one guy can get a New Heart when his ticker stops working right and another cannot.  If your access to the best Medical Care is dependent on your economic status in the society, obviously being POOR makes you Less Equal.

At the same time, providing exceedingly EXPENSIVE medical care to EVERYBODY is on its face impossible.  Given the typical income of most people, the exceedingly EXPENSIVE Drugs and Proceedures modern medicine is CAPABLE of cannot be offered to EVERYONE.  Insurance does not solve that problem.  All insurance does is distribute out risk, but if everyone is at risk and eventually everyone comes down with some disease that takes expensive care to maintain life.  This comes as a result of aging no matter WHAT.  Does not matter how well you take care of yourself, EVENTUALLY you will need the same medical care that somebody who does NOT take care of themself does.

Look at the Smoking Issue.  If you are a Smoker, they tack on a huge premium because you are more at risk for Heart Disease, Emphysema etc earlier in your life.  But if you live long enough, you’ll STILL come down with the same diseases!  Long as you will provide the same level of Medical Care for 80 year olds as 50 year olds, it does not MATTER if you smoked or not, eventually you will need the same level of medical intervention.  EVERYBODY gets sick and dies eventually.  EVERYBODY.

No distinction is made on Age as far as any of this stuff is concerned, and this is the fundamental problem.  If you made a distinction on Age, you could say at age 50 say you would give a Life Saving Operation to a non-Smoker as opposed to a Smoker, since the NS took better care of himself.  If you make no such distinction, the non-smoker will get the same diseases just a few years later in life and the same expenses incurred in keeping him ticking.  He poays premiums a few years longer, but the premiums do not cover the costs on an actuarial level.  If they did, you could just save money to cover your eventual health issue that WILL come down the pipe eventually.

The next issue is the insane COMPLEXITY involved in this exercise, they based it all on the ability to create a Google-like massive database that could handle MILLIONS of people seeking Health Care options.  Insane really, even Google evolved over the last decade or two to become the behemoth it is, it did not develop overnight.  They have many vendors all contributing glitchy software to this thing, and it is a fucking MESS.  Very few people that the system targets could negotiate it even if it worked properly!  Not only do you need a functioning laptop with good Java Script capability, you yourself have to be literate enough to negotiate the mess.  Most people who have a laptop just use it to surf Amazon for buying crap or surf for Porn, they do NOT engage interactively with even basic software.  The difficulties many people have just negotiating the SMF we run the Diner on is an example of this, and SMF is WELL DESIGNED software!

In reality, Health Care has to be SIMPLIFIED, not COMPLEXIFIED, and the services you can get need to be limited to what the society as a whole can afford.  REQUIRING everyone to buy insurance is plain NUTS!  How is any price “affordable” if you are already maxed out paying rent, buying groceries and transportation costs to get to the workplace, assuming you still HAVE a job?  Forget the car, in NYC these days the Public Transport of the Subway is up to $2.50!!!!  I was not alive when it was a Nickel, but in my youngest years is was 15 cents, and last price I paid still doing Subway commutes was around 35 cents.  Today, to get to and from work on the Subway would cost you minimum $5.  I shudder to think what the cost is these days on the LIRR.

So what is gonna HAPPEN here with “Affordable Health Care”?

First off, the objectives of getting Millions of Uninsured people on the Insurance Roles by Jan 2014 is NOT gonna happen. The computer system is too fucked up to begin with, and even if it wasn’t most of the people this is directed at can’t afford “Affordable” Health Care at ANY PRICE.  If I currently cannot meet my bills, I sure am not going to sign up for an additional Monthly Bill even IF threatened with fines or Jail, and Jailing people for not paying their required premium is just a joke.  Talk about increasing your Prison Population!  LOL.

In a large society, availability of Health Care SHOULD be a right of the Citizen of such a large society.  It should not be dependent on your personal means as an individual.  However, we cannot AFFORD large societies anymore.  We cannot afford complex Health Care of the Wealth Care system anymore either.  If you get sick and there are not basic remedies that can help you, you DIE.  Take good care of yourself, eat healthy, avoid Radioactive Fallout, maybe you last a decent amount of time here.  Getting your Femoral Arteries rotor rootered out with Lasers and Ultrasound as I did a couple of years ago is not gonna be an option too much longer.

Forget Medical Care of this type.  When you get sick enough, you die, end of story.  If you are young enough and WANT to live long enough to see the whole biz crash big time, eat well, exercise and avoid radioactive fallout zones.  Personally I am past this period of living.  I’m a dead man walking waiting for some real nasty consequence of not taking good care of myself for 57 years, and Obamacare will not Save Me.

A plane trip to a Brazilian or Indian Hospital might though, for a year or two more.  :icon_sunny:

RE

From Surly:

Quote

In reality, Health Care has to be SIMPLIFIED, not COMPLEXIFIED, and the services you can get need to be limited to what the society as a whole can afford.  REQUIRING everyone to buy insurance is plain NUTS!  How is any price “affordable” if you are already maxed out paying rent, buying groceries and transportation costs to get to the workplace, assuming you still HAVE a job?

Single Payer, or “Medicare for everyone” would address much of that, but single-payer was off the table from the beginning of hearings. Advocates of single payer were forcibly ejected and otherwise prevented from making the case, let it become part of the public record.

Plenty of evidence and links here.

Recall that this was at a time when Dems controlled both houses of Congress. Thus, feel free to lay the blame at the feet of the people responsible: the Democrats. Perhaps the realized that the insurers were so strong that they would crush any proposal which threatened their sugar-tit. Or perhaps they were afraid of waking up with a horse’s head in their beds. Or, maybe they just liked it that way. Check out the video; and may Max Baucus roast in hell.

“We need more police…”  “Hahahaha…”

Funny stuff. Not.

 From Uncle Bob:

Taking an across the board general approach, theres a shrinking tax base and healthcare is paid for by deficit spending. But heres where there is a lot of waste:
1 procedures on palliative patients. Ambulances and beds tied up too much, as well as just not allowing people to die with dignity. Its all about money, they buy lotsa drugs.
2 Drug addicts. Again, ambulances and beds especially in psych wards. Also most likely to abuse staff.
3 Extremely overweight. Problems of their own making end up taking too much of the pie.
4 Disability. While I agree things such as wheelchairs and other technology and care options improve quality of life most times, there are also massive costs for profoundly disabled patients such as Cerebral Palsy and achieve nothing really. A “coordinated care” monthly meeting will have numerous service providers and professionals present all getting paid to achieve not much. I Sat through so many for no real reason when an email to several recipients should have sufficed.

Tighten up those areas and increase funding to Paediatrics and Mental Health. Many psychiatrists and psychologists are effectively prostituting their professionalism because they are paid by the insurance co’s and dance to their tune. When you are paid by medicare you are more independent and more likely to report  objectively. Its fine for medicare to fund 2/3 of consultation for a limited number of appointments for those without insurance (an ever increasing number now), but many people cannot afford the 40 or 50$ out of their  pocket to make up the Scheduled Fee, and they should not have scheduled fees, they should have a scale based to some extent on what patients can afford.

From Eddie:

To make universal care work, several things need to happen.

One is that people have to “age out” at some age. Perhaps 75 would be about right. This would eliminate much of the huge amount of waste we spend on dying elderly people in their last year of life. Is that the same as a “Death Panel’? No, because it would take the judgment out of the process. People would just have to accept that there are LIMITS on what we can pay.

Secondly, we would need to limit the care we give to barely viable premature children, who run up huge bills before their 1st birthday, and then burden the system for the rest of their lives. This is harsh, but right now what we do is completely crazy and based on emotional decision-making.

Thirdly,we would need to go to single payer, and then relentlessly prosecute doctors ( and hospitals) who try to game the system.
Or make the practice of medicine a government salaried job, so that no motivation would exist to steal from the system.

No huge online marketplace needed. Cost reduced by maybe 75% from where we are now.

Boom, I just fixed the system for ya.

Unfortunately, none of that will ever happen.

From RE:

Indeed, the first thing to cut off is the End of Life Extend-a-Care where many if not most of the huge bills get racked up.  This of course does not play well with the aging demographic of the society.  Then the insane neo-natal care for barely viable infants needs to be axed, but this does not play well with Right-to-Lifers and people who generally like Babies and think they all should be taken care of, no matter how badly malformed they are.

You have the problem of Inequality if Rich people can just BUY the services others cannot afford, so essentially you have to make it illegal to purchase health care outside the system.  The equivalent idea to this is to just make Health Care a Goobermint service, paying the Docs and Nurses through Taxation.  This of course is way too “Socialist” and besides Libertarians would have a COW.  It also would basically collapse the Pharmaceutical company scam kicking back Money to docs to prescribe their medications.

So, none of the above possible fixes will happen, and basically when the monetary Ponzi of perpetual debt issuance collapses, the whole Medical Industry goes with it.  You may still be able to see a Doctor if you have a Chicken to trade for his House Call, but he won’t have any medicine unless he is out there picking Medicinal Plants himself.  He won’t have a CT Scanner or even an X-ray machine.

How FAST will it drop down to this level?  That remains to be seen, but it will get there in the bye & bye for sure.

From Uncle Bob:

About 15 yrs ago I was in the dept of Family & Children’s Services and responsible for supervising Social Workers. From a remote aboriginal community of Full blooded aboriginals an alcoholic woman had birthed a profoundly disabled child, Lee-Shaun Wurramurra and had made a decision to let him die. The do-good SW’s saved him and he lived in constant agony his fingers and toes curled and knotted  eyes rolled somewhere in their sockets, and limbs  twisted as well with tension, in nappies  for life, groaning and dribbling and needing to be rolled over etc.

The FCS and hospital SW’s entered him for the  Chief Minister’s (like a governor) Bravery Award, which he was awarded. While the SW’s were tut tutting about how horrible his natural family had treated him to leave him dying.

The point I make here is that aside from the huge cost in $, it is highly debatable whether the western ideal is in fact more humane IMO.

And RE youre wrong thinking having the govt fund medication shuts down the pharmacos bribery scam. It still goes on unabated. PBS = Pharmacuetical Benefits Scheme eg RU486 1700$ abortion pill available for 1$ No insurance required, taxpayer funded.

 From RE:

The point I make here is that aside from the huge cost in $, it is highly debatable whether the western ideal is in fact more humane IMO.
Highly debatable for sure, but the Christian concept here is that ALL life is “Sacred”, and whatever it takes you are supposed to try to keep any person born living out of the vaginal canal ALIVE as long as you can, no matter WHAT.

The example of Stephen Hawking is often used here as an example of a Genius with extreme physical disability who would not live without extreme intervention of high tech medicine.  Value of his contributions to understanding Physics notwithstanding, how many such people can a society keep living?

If I lose my legs to the PAD, should *I* be kept living on SSDI?  I don’t think so.  Time to take my trip to the Great Beyond.

Quote

And RE youre wrong thinking having the govt fund medication shuts down the pharmacos bribery scam. It still goes on unabated. PBS = Pharmacuetical Benefits Scheme eg RU486 1700$ abortion pill available for 1$ No insurance required, taxpayer funded.
Well, in theory you squash this kind of kickback also.

From Lucid Dreams:

Forget Medical Care of this type.  When you get sick enough, you die, end of story.  If you are young enough and WANT to live long enough to see the whole biz crash big time, eat well, exercise and avoid radioactive fallout zones.
RE
Well I eat well (all whole foods cooked at home with the occasional trip to a Mexican joint), and I exercise well, but avoiding radioactive fallout zones is going to be difficult.  Only way to do that would be to have a bug out machine big enough for my family with very expensive radiation detection equipment.  The cheap shit doesn’t pick up the real small radioactive particulates…at least that’s my understanding.  At any rate that would require money, which I don’t have.

Far as the Obamacare bull shit, my wife and two kids have medaid, I am uninsured due to making too much money (although I’m not even employed so figure that shit out…they said it was because we “own” a home…so if you have a mortgage that you can’t pay, and you move in with family and rent your house, you make too much money for medicaid).  My wife, on the other hand, does make some money and qualified (I think it’s cause she was pregnant at the time and she’s in a glitch of state gov incompetence right now).

My plan with this Obama care shit is to do nothing.  Fuckem.  Maybe they’ll show up and try to cart my ass off to prison…good luck with that.  They’d have to catch me with my pants down, cause I’d grab a bugout bag and disappear into the woods.  They ain’t takin’ me away from my family on account of fascism.  At that point they would be taking me to prison for not having a job is essentially what it would boil down to.  At that point I get violent if need be because the revolution will have been long past due.  You can’t take people to prison for doing nothing wrong (well you can, but not in an open and democratic society).  What we have is a clusterfuck society with a clusterfuck government whom is incapable of dealing with reality.

My healthcare plan is the plants I grow, and am going to be growing, in my yard.

When I need healthcare…guess I’ll just be fucked won’t I :-\

So, here you see a nice cross-section of Opinion on the various problems faced in trying to get EVERYONE access to Health Care at an affordable price, which is basically impossible since the absolute COST of Health Care has gone out of reach for everyone except the Uber-Rich.  Insurance does not reduce the absolute cost, it merely distributes out the risk across all the people in the Insurance Pool.  Since everybody is going to get sick and die at some point, if everyone has access to expensive proceedures to keep them ticking, EVERYONE will rack up a huge bill at SOME point in their life.

Obamacare doesn’t make any of the proceedures undertaken these days to keep people alive any cheaper.  It just mandates that everyone drop into the Insurance Pool, and if you are too poor to afford the Insurance, Da Goobermint will Subsidize your Premium.  Then it purports to make this whole signup proceedure possible for ALL AMERIKANS by loading up a BEHEMOTH WEBSITE called a “Healthcare Marketplace”.  Has a nice “Free Market”, “Capitalist” ring to it, no?  This of course is pandering to the FEAR OF SOCIALISM!  God Forbid we Socialize Medicine like the Hosers in Canada or the Brits in Jolly Old England!  EVERYBODY KNOWS those systems don’t work!    Long waits for treatment, substandard care yadda yadda are all always brought in here as failings of Socialized Medicine, and some of those Critiques are Valid also!

Let us get back to some REALITY here, how the Health Care Conundrum affects REAL PEOPLE, like you, me and my Sidekick on the Collapse Cafe Monsta666, who just got released from Hospital over in the UK after suffering a Heart Attack in his 20s!

If it was not obvious to you that the Single Payer, Socialized System that the UK is running does a better job of distributing Health Care to Young Brits than the nonsensical insurance Scheme of Obamacare does before this, I hope you can see it now.

Is it PERFECT?  Hardly, but it is not the CLUSTERFUCK Obamacare is, basically pandering to the Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies. Besides that and thousands of pages of legal mumbo-jumbo in the act is a sorry-ass online system for sign up about nobody can negotiate, which apparently now is supposed to be FIXED by the very same Obama-sam Cronies that set it up in the first place!

Until we get complete crash here, your best bet for Health Care at an Affordable Price?  A Plane Ticket to India and Cash on Hand.  For lesser illnesses which Drugs might ameliorate, cross the border into Mejico and buy them on the cheap.  Otherwise, eat well, stay away from GMO foods and take some Vitamins if you wanna try to live a bit longer than average.  If you are already past average, make your peace with your Maker and prepare for the trip to the Great Beyond if you get really sick.

RE

Two Forces and Three Bears

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  October 28, 2013
Escher_Implosion_spiral_toroid

 

 

     In these climax years of industrial technocratic society, two opposing forces shape the destiny of government: the desperate effort to control everything versus the decline of the ability to carry out that effort. The result will be the loss of legitimacy and the collapse of government from the highest levels, moving downward until the real power to make anything work re-sets at a feasible and appropriate level — probably very local. This dynamic is seen very clearly in three spectacles du jour: the “national security” (spying) mess, government-sponsored accounting fraud in finance, and the ObamaCare rollout.

     As history develops, people do things for the simple reason that it seems like a good idea at the time. Computer tech made it possible for bureaucrats and military apparatchiks to invade the privacy of everybody, but in the end it only had the effect of embarrassing the perpetrators and eroding a big chunk of the US government’s legitimacy. The attempt at maximum control will eventually lead to maximum resistance and, quite possibly, some sort of political revolution, perhaps starting with the death of the two dominant political parties. When political disruption finally occurs, it will manifest quickly, as criticality thresholds are breached. It has the potential of taking this society in very undesirable directions including civil war, theocracy, and war against other peoples.

     The diminishing returns of computer technology applied to intelligence gathering are that it produces more mountains of data than any team of professionals can make sense of, and it prompts said professionals to make mischief with the information that is easiest to sort out: the financial records of ordinary citizens. Nothing will create political resistance more surely than messing with people’s money. The NSA apparatus is now a self-reinforcing monster that will strive for ever more control ineffectively, creating a debris path of ever more embarrassment and resentment. A lone true patriot like Snowden does more to oppose this monster than all the “freedom” and “liberty” spouting, flag-lapel-pin-wearing cowards in either political party.

     The pervasive accounting fraud in the attempt to prop up an unsound banking system is even closer to criticality. A society that produces tradable goods needs sound money which functions as 1) a medium of exchange, 2) a store of value 3) a unit of account for establishing prices. The combined accounting frauds in Federal Reserve policy, private banking and securities markets, and government fiscal management is destroying all these functions. The more abstracted finance gets from real productive activity, the more fragile the system becomes. We are doing nothing now except adding more complexity and abstraction to it, causing the system to become more detached from reality. In effect, we’re opting to forego an economy based on goods in favor of one based on empty promises and paper swindles. The potential and probable consequent destruction of nominal wealth would be an event that advanced technocratic society likely will not recover from — in the sense that today’s standard of living could be preserved for billions of people worldwide. That destruction would herald a new dark age, this time without any prospect of recovery via the exploitation of natural resources, which will have been depleted.

     The ObamaCare piece of the picture is a mere pathetic soap opera compared to the first two quandaries. The 2000-page law did nothing to address the core tragedy of medicine in America — namely, that it has evolved into a hideous hostage racket. You go to a hospital with a terrifying illness and you are susceptible to fleecing by the so-called “care-givers” for the promise that you may get to live. No prices for treatment are never discussed. They are presumed to be astronomical — but who cares if you end up dead, and if you do get to live, you’ll figure that out later. If you hold an insurance policy, these charges will be subject to a fake negotiation between grifting insurance companies and grifting hospitals, physicians, and drug companies. The price “settlements” are only slightly less a joke than the actual charges, and are obfuscated in documents designed to bewilder even well-educated policy-holders.

     Even if you are insured, the charges may bankrupt you. A typical one-day charge for “room and board” in a non-specialized hospital in-patient bed runs $23,000 at my local hospital. For what? Half a dozen blood-pressure checks and three bad meals? You can be sure that ever-fewer families will be able to fork over $12,000-a-year for basic coverage. The ObamaCare legislation and its laughable rollout of a useless website is just a punctuation mark at the end of the soap opera script. The result eventually will be the complete implosion of the medical racket and a return to a very primitive clinic system, with payment in chickens or cords of stove-wood. The smaller number of surviving humans will surely enjoy better health, and greater piece of mind, when this monster racket expires of inertia, bad faith, and deceit.

    These efforts to manage runaway hyper-complexity with more complexity are guaranteed to fail. Our prime task at this moment in history is managing contraction, and the means for doing that would be simplifying, not adding layers of complication larded with fraud, pretense, and mendacity.

 

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

Counterpoint: Obamacare and Free Market Solutions

Off the keyboard of Eddie

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Published inside the Doomstead Diner on October 7, 2013

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The Affordable Healthcare Act really doesn’t represent a government takeover of healthcare, nor does it represent what the John Lounsbury claims in Obamacare and Free Market Solutions, that it is ” a step toward eliminating major sources of waste in health care.”

What it represents is possibly the nail  in the coffin of healthcare as we know it, at least as far as healthcare delivered at the level of service we have been led to believe we deserve. It really represents an almost  complete corporate takeover of healthcare by the insurance industry.

They (insurance corporations) now have the best of both worlds. The government has mandated that ALL citizens will pay them a premium (albeit a subsidized one for the poor), and the government has handed them the reins with regards to determining HOW to allocate the money.

The expected result is that (a) the insurance companies will make out like bandits and (b) the actual providers of care (doctors) will get screwed, and (c) the patient will be taught to accept a lower level of care.

It’s a David vs. Goliath fight, and it’s already all over but the crying. Goliaths always win in the real world.

http://americanvision.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Obamacare-cartoon.jpgThe truth is that single payer would be a far more efficient system than the one we are about to receive. So-called “managed care” is really a shell game perpetuated by insurance companies, one in which the rules for getting paid are constantly changing, fees are constantly being downgraded in an arbitrary manner, and under which systems that work are abandoned and replaced by ones that funnel more money to the middle man.

Don’t get me wrong. I greatly favor a healthcare system in which the patient is the “economic arbiter of his own healthcare”. I just think the author is naive about the chances of that happening.

In my opinion, if patients were paying for their own care, they would demand a lot less of it than what they are getting now. Nobody would sit quietly and let the doctors do a coronary bypass on their aging parent if they had to pay a hundred thousand dollar deposit up front instead of Medicare being billed.

It’s true that significant waste exists in a system that charges 100K for a bypass, but the fact is that “managed care” is the way it works already for most people. Medicare and Medicaid are already administered under this type of system, although
the real payer is the government, paying for it with money BORROWED from  future generations. Under this type of “management” doctors have already seen their payments drop, private insurance premiums are exorbitant and getting worse, and the insurance companies….are making RECORD PROFITS.

The real coup of Affordable Care is the expected extraction of a premium from young healthy individuals who don’t need much healthcare. This will (supposedly) help cover the old folks. The system already represents an unaffordable burden for the taxpayer, and is projected to increase in cost  logarithmically over the next several years. Forcing young people in this country to pay insurance premiums really amounts to increased taxation, and on the demographic group that can least afford it, and who are already on the hook to pay far more than their fair share in the years to come.

Deficit spending is paying for Medicare/Medicaid now, and those deficits will increase substantially under Affordable Care. The premiums collected from those not now in the system won’t cover the shortfall.

Whatever care gets delivered, somebody has to pay for it. Although inefficiencies do exist, putting the insurance corporations in charge of healthcare does only one thing. It creates a very big, expensive middle layer of management, that does little to contribute to patient care, but skims much of the premium dollar.

Insurance companies have a tried and true way of making money. They take the premium, give the patient the lowest level of service he will accept, and then  try to screw the doctor completely out of getting paid. The insurance companies already own the hospitals. They would like to own the doctors too. They are pretty close, because they set the fees. And they are the final arbiters on whether or not to pay. Sweet deal, for them.

Any doctor who has been around the block would greatly prefer a single payer system. We had that with Medicare/Medicaid for a long time, and it more or less worked. At least claims usually got paid, albeit at a reduced fee compared to private pay. Now it’s a total crap shoot. Doctors are forced to deal with as many as 50 or more corporate entities when they bill for services. Each company has it’s own arbitrary rules designed to delay and obfuscate payment, and some are known to NEVER pay a clean claim without a fight. Yeah, that creates efficiency…NOT!

elephant-in-the-roomThe elephant in the room really is Peak Oil. The real problem is that we no longer have the abundance that cheap oil provided, and no system of healthcare can possibly be conjured that will be sustainable…without greatly limiting certain services that are now deemed sacrosanct.

Eventually all this top-down “efficiency” will pass away. Healthcare will be 100% local and will vary according to local abundance and the ability of people to actually pay for the service. I don’t know how long that will take, but it will happen.

In the meantime, don’t look for the new system to reduce your taxes, raise your level of care, or empower you to change anything.

Prepare to be assimilated.

http://mbtimetraveler.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/borg1.gif

Obamacare and Free Market Solutions

Off the keyboard of John Lounsbury

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Published on Global Economic Intersection on September 23, 2013

obamacare-toon

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Note from RE:

With this article, the Diner welcomes John Lounsbury from Global Economic Intersection to the list of Cross Posting Bloggers featured on the Diner Blog.  John is an old friend from days back on the Raging Debate website, where I also first got together with Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform.  Steve Hansen who works together with John on GEI also is a veteran of the Raging Debate, which ended up spawning quite a few Collapse Bloggers of varying types in the end.

John’s blog Global Economic Intersection is quite comprehensive, covering economic topics from many perspectives and publishing numerous articles of interest every day for Kollapsniks to wade through.  A highly recommended read for all Diners.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum hospital:  Socialized medicine was passed into law and free market implementation broke out.  Liberals have proclaimed the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be the first step in establishing truly universal care for all Americans – in their view it is a step down the road to single payer “socialized medicine“.  And this is exactly why many conservatives criticize it as a “government take-over of health care“.

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Follow up:

This observer now sees Obamacare as a government enabled and subsidized free market health care insurance system. What is happening is a progression toward an ideal that this observer argued for in 2009 here and here. The consumer (the patient) is becoming the economic arbiter of his own health care insurance implementation. This is a step toward eliminating major sources of waste in health care. As I said in 2009:

If the patient is negotiating for service with his own money, we will have the most effective and affordable control of fraud and unnecessary treatment possible.

Corporate Sugar Daddies

Since the middle of the last century the traditional source of health care has been employer provided insurance. Employees have generally liked that arrangement – they had a major economic factor (their health care costs) magically paid for by their corporate sugar daddy. Someone who was paid $50,000 a year in salary never considered the cost in dollar terms of his comprehensive coverage as part of his compensation, even though it might have been as much as 20-40% of taxable salary. Few recognized that the $50,000 salary they received was actually part of their larger compensation – they were also receiving the equivalent of another $10,000 to $20,000 a year in tax free medical benefits.

This employee was receiving his compensation in two forms:  $50,000 in taxable cash and $10,000 to $20,000 in untaxed services.  The employee probably paid a great deal of attention to how he spent the cash; he paid very little attention to how effectively he “spent” the services portion because he wasn’t viewing that as part of his income.  He rather viewed it as a “benefit” that flowed like nectar from the gods.

Even as employee contributions to health care have been implemented over the past two decades the perception of company paid health care benefits as part of total compensation in a dollar context has not been on the minds of most employees. That is all changing very rapidly because of Obamacare.

How Much Will Government Costs for Health Care Increase?

The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) seems to know the answer: The government will pay a lot more, rising to 8% of GDP by 2038 (up from 4.6% in 2012).

However, how health care costs will accrue to the government in the future is subject to much uncertainty and the CBO’s current projections could be either too high or too low. From a recent GEI News article:

One study finds that small increases in employer provided plans could shift millions of people into the public insurance exchanges and shift the supplemental support for premium payments from companies to government.

Another study finds that costs of Obamacare accruing to the government could result in enormous pricing power for the consumer and hence reduce the cost of government subsidies. The study also concludes that the cost savings could be impacted by continued political resistance. Those politically active in “fighting” Obamacare may achieve the opposite of their stated objective; they may reduce the cost savings that could otherwise be achieved and thereby increase government expenditures, according to researchers from the Brookings Institute and Georgetown University.

The shift of health care costs from corporations to employees and government is picking up speed. GEI News recently reported the movement of corporations away from group health plans for retirees:

Corporate benefits for retiree health care have been shrinking for years but the latest changes appear to be accelerating the process. Late last month GEI News covered the shifting pattern of employers moving from sponsored group plans to use of private insurance exchanges where employees shop for individually tailored coverage with corporate support of part of premium costs through donations to HCAs (Health Care Accounts). The changes are especially common for retirees.

Corporate giants who are making this change include General Electric (NYSE:GE), IBM (NYSE:IBM), DuPont (NYSE:DD), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWC) which made the announcement today (09 September 2013). GEI News covered details of the IBM change in the article last month.

The answer as to how much government costs for health care will increase over the next 5, 10 and 20 years is not one for which a reliable estimate can be made at present. The playing field is changing in a revolutionary way.

Private Insurance Exchanges are NOT Obamacare

What corporate headlines are reflecting is not a shift from corporate group plans to Obamacare. The private insurance exchanges that are rapidly expanding have been operational on a smaller scale for a number of years. They are just now becoming major players as large corporations shift their retiree health plans from corporate sponsored group plans to the new format. And, even though just a month ago survey results indicated a much lower active interest in the insurance exchange format, now the use of exchanges for active employees is suddenly in the news. Just last week Walgreen announced it was shifting its 160,000 employees from a company group plan to individual purchase on a private exchange.

The public exchanges opening for registration of applicants next month under Obamacare are newcomers to the exchange platform concept. As time goes on the efficiencies of the older private exchange system and the public exchanges can be compared and operational costs can be reduced. Eventually there may be just a single set of insurance exchanges with a merger of public and private structures.

Winners and Losers

Any time big changes are made there will be winners and losers. In many cases the same parties may be both winners and losers – it’s called a process of trade-offs. Some of the winners:

  • Corporations will be better able to cap and plan for health care benefit costs.
  • Employees will no longer be captives to a health care benefit shackle tying them to one employer.
  • Insurance companies will gain millions of new premium payers greatly increasing their revenues.

Here are some of the losers – the list looks similar:

  • Corporations will have to compete more vigorously to staff their most demanding positions because talent will be more mobile.
  • Employees will no longer have a “sugar daddy” paying for their health care.
  • All seeking health care coverage will have to put forth effort to get the best individual coverage.
  • Insurance companies will be subjected to more competition for cost effectiveness as tens of millions of customers shop for the most cost effective coverage.

Bottom Line

The “socialized medicine” legislation known as Obamacare may unleash private market forces that will be cheered by today’s opponents and are probably feared by many present-day proponents. The cost curve for health care may be bent and the CBO projections may turn out to be way off the mark. Remember federal surpluses “forever” (2000) and trillion dollar deficits “as far as the eye can see” (2009)?  The CBO has a record of projecting poorly from past records into the future.

Rather than the first step to socialized medicine with everything offered through central planning, we may be seeing the first step toward distributed health care determined by 150 million consumer housholds. Which path has the greater likelihood of resulting in the most efficient delivery of health care and the best chance to “bend the curve”?

Single payer may offer a path to holding down the growth of health care costs.  But couldn’t 150 million payers also curtail that growth?  And which process has the best chance of optimization for each household?

An Aside to Ron Paul

Ron Paul recently reviewed Obamacare and concluded it was merely a waypoint before we got a single payer.  He criticized the Obama administration as “corporatist” and criticized the structure of the health care delivery system.  Mr. Paul suggested that the most efficient system would be for everyday health care to be paid for by patients directly, with insurance used only for coverage of catastrophic events.  This aligns with my arguments more than four years ago.

However, I propose a glass half full view of Obamacare and suggest it could be a step closer to our shared view. Mr. Paul views the glass as half empty and envisions a future moving away from the free market forces I suggest may hold sway.

 

Grand Bargain Betrayal Coming

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman 

Published on Steve Lendman Blog on November 10, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

 
Obama’s economic record includes nearly 25 million unemployed, around 23% of working age Americans without jobs, poverty, homelessness, and hunger at record levels or close to it, and the greatest wealth disparity in US history.
 
Privileged elites benefitted enormously on his watch. They’ll get plenty more ahead. Others are enduring protracted hard times. Bipartisan complicity calls for making things worse, not better. Huge budget cuts loom. Social programs will be hit hardest. More on that below.
 
America’s compromised progressive left hailed Obama’s victory. Condemnation should have been headlined instead. Nation magazine lost its soul long ago. 
 
Throughout its history, it pretended to have one. It scorns truth. It turns reality on its head. It ducks responsible reporting on issues mattering most.
 
On November 7, it headlined “A Progressive Surge,” saying:
 
“While President Obama’s re-election inspires varying degrees of hope among progressives, it has evoked one common sentiment: relief. Democracy may not be reborn, but a living symbol of plutocracy was defeated by the voters on November 6.”
 
It’s hard believing so-called progressive editors would publish outrageous rubbish this offensive. Obama matches Romney’s anti-populist agenda blow for blow. 
 
They agree on most everything benefitting corporate favorites and rich elites at the expense of all others. They scorn social America. They don’t give a damn about people needs. Pretending otherwise is unprincipled, reprehensible, and stupid.
 
Nonetheless, Nation editors celebrated “exhilarating wins” for Obama and likeminded Democrats. Hail to the party of the rich. It replicates the other rich man’s party. America’s duopoly calls progressivism a four-letter word.
 
“We are glad the 1 percent (was) rebuffed at the polls,” said Nation editors….”We are glad that progressive politics….made the difference.”
 
Perhaps they meant Venezuela’s election instead. In October, people power defeated privilege. Letting Obama lead America’s Money Party for another four years assures worse for ordinary people than in term one. It’s baked in the cake. 
 
Too bad Nation readers weren’t told the truth. Nor regular New York Times adherents. On November 7, its editorial headlined “An Invigorated Second Term,” saying:
 
“Without question, (Obama) intends to build on and improve the significant accomplishments of the last four years….to keep the economy growing.”
 
His first term record might make some despots blush. His economic policies are weapons of mass destruction affecting ordinary people. He’s got further mass immiseration in mind for term two. He also plans more war on humanity globally.
 
Times editors want his mandate used to “broaden his agenda.” How much more scorched earth hell can people stand? They’ll shortly find out straightaway.
 
Top domestic policy is massive social benefit cuts. Newspeak terminology substituted “grand bargain” for “austerity.” 
 
“Fiscal cliff” language refers to expiring yearend tax breaks and unemployment benefits, as well as looming $1.2 trillion in largely discretionary sequestered cuts to address them.
 
The 2011 Budget Control Act mandates them. Automatic reductions will affect vital social programs. Medicare, Medicaid, public pensions, food stamps, and other important ones will be hit hard.
 
The sequestered $1.2 trillion is for starters. Around $4 trillion over the next decade was agreed on. At issue isn’t deficit cutting. Key is protecting corporate handouts and Bush era tax cuts, as well as expanding them for business and upper-bracket earners.
 
Bush era tax cuts cost America at least $3.5 trillion in vital revenue. Important domestic needs were sacrificed. If maintained or increased for 10 more years, another $3.5 trillion or more will be lost. 
 
At the same, deficits will rise. Conservative projections show it. More realistic ones reveal ominous numbers.
 
America’s duopoly already agreed on cuts and increases in principle. When publicly announced, newspeak duplicity will conceal the severity of what’s coming. Initial cuts are expected on January 1 or shortly thereafter. 
 
Neither party worries about deficits or debt. Saying so is duplicitous deception. Obama, most Democrats, and Republicans want corporate friends and super-rich elites protected.
 
Working Americans and seniors will bear the burden. Increased corporate and upper-bracket earner benefits are planned. Cuts affecting ordinary people were agreed on months ago. Timing remains to be decided. 
 
It’s not about amounts, who pays, and who benefits. Key also is assuring Bush era cuts are preserved and sweetened.
 
From now through yearend, four major issues must be resolved:
 
(1) extending the 2% payroll tax deduction another year. In fact, it’s a stealth drain of hundreds of billions of dollars from Social Security’s Trust Fund reserves. 
 
Revenue already lost irreparably weakened its ability to pay future benefits. Lose more and the entire program may be lost. Privatization assures it.
 
Obama fully concurs on driving a stake through the heart of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and public pensions. He’s no progressive. He’s a corporatist hardliner. He never would have become president otherwise. Populists needn’t apply.
 
(2) extending expiring unemployment benefits for millions of laid off workers.
 
(3) another one-year Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) fix.
 
(4) delaying the 29% cut in doctors fees for serving Medicare patients.
 
Expect Republicans to drive a hard bargain like they always do. Democrats pretend they care. In fact, they’ve already sold out. Obama’s reelection hinged on it. 
 
He talks tough, then caves at the 11th hour. He did repeatedly throughout his first term. Both parties are in lockstep on defending privilege. 
 
People needs don’t matter. It’s part of a longstanding plan to third worldize America. Safety net protection is someone else’s problem.
 
On November 6, Bill Black discussed what’s coming. His article headlined “Wall Street Urges Obama to Commit the Great Betrayal,” saying:
 
Top domestic policy is eroding safety net protections en route to eliminating them altogether.
 
“Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it (a process that would occur over a number of years) by legitimizing the claim that (it) must be cut.”
 
Obama was hand-picked to do it. “Wall Street’s unholy grail (is) privatizing Social Security.” 
 
Doing so will let financial predators “charge tens of billions of dollars in fees annually and the banks that administered the privatized program would be systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) because the consequences of allowing bank failures to cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their retirement savings would require either that all such deposits be federally insured or that the failing banks be bailed out by the federal government.” 
 
“Privatization, therefore, is a convenient fiction. The banks’ profits will be privatized. Any catastrophic losses will be borne by the public.”
 
The Big Lie claims no acceptable alternative exists. Safety net cuts must be imposed. Obama’s sharpened knife is a dagger at the heart of what matters most to ordinary people. Their welfare, security and futures are up for grabs. They’re being destroyed in plain sight.
 
Force-fed austerity assures the worst of hard times. It’s responsible for what Black calls “the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse:”
 
  • economic decline;
 
  • job cuts and greater unemployment;
 
  • increased deficits and debt; and
 
  • destruction of safety net protections.
 
Combined assures third world status. Black said Obama prioritizes it. We’re forewarned but does it matter? Few Americans understand what’s coming. 
 
Grand bargain betrayal is planned. It’s come in stages like boiling a frog. It doesn’t know it’s dinner until too late. 
 
Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. It’s been happening incrementally for decades. Democrats are in league with Republicans. Their agenda assures intolerable pain and suffering for ordinary people.
 
Standard & Poor’s and other rating agencies endorse it. They’re corporate tools. They mostly represent Wall Street and other financial interests. S&P’s marching orders called for downgrading US credit to AA+. It did so in August 2011, saying:
 
“The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.”
 
“America’s credit rating is at a crossroads. We can choose to heed this message by finishing the deficit reduction job with a balanced plan that is composed mainly of entitlement cuts, closing tax loopholes and defense cuts, or we can squabble while our global standing continues to sink.” 
 
“The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.”
 
S&P targeted safety net protections. Including defense and tax loopholes reflected pro forma deception. Whatever benefits America’s imperium, Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites is sacrosanct and untouchable.
 
Expect fast and loose deception to conceal it. Obama’s an old hand at it. He’s a con man. He’s Wall Street’s man. They chose him and expect four more years of subservience. He won’t disappoint.
 
Forewarned is forearmed. “(W)e do not need to unravel the safety net and doing so would harm our nation,” said Black. Ideologues are wrong about what’s best for America. 
 
Throughout his political career, Obama’s been a stealth Republican. His voting record proves it. Reelecting him serves elitist interests well. They know what they want and got it.

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Of Harvests and Hurricanes By Cognitive Dissonance   Aside from the planting and harvesting of vario [...]

The American Way: Mindless Pursuit By Cognitive Dissonance   It’s actually embarrassing if I’m to be [...]

I apologize for being missing in action for nearly two weeks. July and August are very busy for Mrs. [...]

This and That - Vol. 1 Lines in the Sand By Cognitive Dissonance   When I was younger I would get in [...]

We Are All Going To Die! By Cognitive Dissonance   This one is short and sweet folks. The subject al [...]

Event Update For 2017-09-17http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-09-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-09-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-09-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2017-09-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

With a bit of ice on the floor depositers could almost ride the seeds right on in (photo by Global C [...]

Well, at least it was made sure that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault looks real pretty (photo courtes [...]

Now it's data that makes the world go round? It's comfortably accepted by many that what w [...]

I left off last week's post – "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, Industrial-Scale Renewabl [...]

When you wish upon a star the Blue Fairy sends Tinker Bell, who plants a magic seed, which grows int [...]

Daily Doom Photo

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Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Is Apple Acing Chemistry but Flunking Biology?"It used to be that half of all heart patients first report their condition to their physician [...]

Irmageddon"Denial and existential climate threat are a stable pair."Image courtesy Tatyana Tomsickov [...]

The Beauty of Biomass"You probably wouldn’t want to invest in beachfront property at the rate sea level rise and sup [...]

Creative Loafing with Joe the Baker"I just want to make a really good loaf every time."Malthouse Couching by Andrea GentlWhil [...]

Planting A Personal Forest"If you appreciate the effort it takes for a single individual to become carbon-neutral, you ca [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Democracy and politics would be messy business even if all participants were saints. But America doe [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

The Bakken statistics are still kept: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/stats/historicalbakkenoilstats.p [...]

Steve, if you have time to indulge me, what do you think the effect of the depreciating dollar (103 [...]

Some truth comes out of MSM: "Electrical power is needed, too, to keep water and sanitation sys [...]

Hey Steve! I'm sure your bat/laptop has plenty more hits left in it the problem is that it migh [...]

Welcome back to blogging, Steve, I missed your view of things and your way with words. "Economi [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

This study analyzed the trends of extreme daily rainfall indices over the Ouémé basin using the obse [...]

Climate change is prevalent across the world and can have large influence on plant regeneration, rec [...]

This study aims to estimate the influence of atmospheric circulation modes on future Baltic Sea leve [...]

Given the growing evidence and scientific consensus on global climate change, carbon emission tradin [...]