What every American needs to say to the GOP, and what they need to do every election day

This is exactly how I feel toward the GOP.

There can never be another compromise with them on anything. Ever.

Trump is all the proof any thinking person should need to accept the reality that conservatives and Republicans are waging a war on decency, intellect, intelligence, and the future.

The Republican Party is the enemy of everything this country is supposed to be about.

What to do?

Show up on every election day to vote against every Republican at every level of government, from school board and town council to Congress and the Presidency. If we don’t, we don’t get to complain, and we can’t be angry and outraged about the country sliding down the slippery slope toward the kind of hate-filled, corrupt, and stupid kleptocracy embodied by Trump.

Complain that the system is rigged.
Complain that there’s not enough difference between Democrats and Republicans.
Complain about Big Money in politics and anything else that bothers you.

But, stay home or throw away your vote, and you need to understand that you’re helping the GOP.

It’s that simple.

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The difference between healthcare and health insurance explained (mostly for Republicans and Trump’s acolytes)

People like GA Republican Rep “Buddy” Carter and the rest of the GOP are either misleading Americans or out-and-out lying to them.

They either don’t know the difference or are intentionally obfuscating the difference between healthcare and health insurance *choices* by either unwittingly or knowingly talking about them as if they are one and the same, and that Americans are somehow being held back from making choices because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

 

The only people who won’t have choices and who will be left behind by the GOP are people who aren’t covered by employer-subsidized health insurance and who aren’t poor enough to be covered by Medicaid. The so-called “free market” cannot solve this issue of access to healthcare in an affordable way for EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN.

It’s a Business – That’s the Problem

Health insurance as a business exists solely because healthcare has become too expensive to be a service one can pay for out-of-pocket.

Doctors stopped accepting chickens decades ago, and a 1.2trillion dollar industry – the insurance industry, that is, of which 55% is in the life/health side of the business – has absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose as a business by actually insuring people who need healthcare.

Why does healthcare cost so much? Lots of reasons, I think, but mostly for two reasons.

Capitalism at its Worst

The first is because we’re all just greedy enough and selfish enough in capitalist America to actually put a price tag on healthcare and on life itself.

As every good capitalist would tend to agree, the more expensive something is, the better it must be (or at least many of us have convinced ourselves of that premise).

So, if healthcare costs a lot and some people are priced out of it, c’est la vie. That’s capitalism and free markets at work, right? (“Yeah! Tell those lazy poor people to get a job!”….and all of that dysfunctional and inhumane nonsense we hear all the time from libertarians and conservatives.)

The second reason healthcare is so expensive is one that many may not realize. It’s *how* it’s paid for in America.

30% of the cost of delivering healthcare in America is tied up in “administration.” That’s a euphemism for processing claims; claims that are paid by insurers whose profit motive is to take in billions in premiums and to not pay or to pay claims as slowly as possible.

Make no mistake about it. Private health insurance companies are the real death panels.

Compounding the problem of administrative overhead costs is that every health insurer has a different way to process claims. It’s why 1 in 4 people who work in healthcare work in administration.

In 2015 there were 859 health insurance companies in the the U.S. Even if all you count are the top 25, that’s still 25 ways a healthcare provider will have to know how to process claims if they want to be paid. That, or they turn away patients who have health insurance they don’t know how to process, or they outsource claims processing to a third party. Whatever decisions they make, it all adds up.

Single payer eliminates it all.

You Had 8 Years and Trumpcare is the Best You Can Do?

As for the embarrassment that is the GOP abomination presumably 8 years in the making, “choice” is among the many lies “Buddy” Carter and the rest of the GOP are trying to sell you on now.

I worked for a company that provided technology to insurance carriers. Not agents, the insurance companies themselves. I saw it from the inside. Here’s how the industry works in a nutshell.

Insurance companies come up with products – the plans they want to sell. They have to file the products with each state’s Department of Insurance where they wish to sell said product(s). Each state decides independently as to whether they allow said product to be sold to their citizens.

One of the many Protections in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that insurers did NOT like (they only liked the mandate) was the elimination of junk insurance. It’s called that because that’s what it is.

Junk insurance were plans like the one I had to have a few years back when I was laid off, couldn’t afford COBRA coverage, and didn’t want to risk being “tagged” as uninsured by a future employer and their insurance company. I went to the open market in those pre-Obamacare days.

The plan I found and that I could afford was UnitedHealthOne Saver 70. It was $275.00 per month. It had a $12,500.00 deductible, paid only 70% after that was reached, and didn’t cover office visits or prescriptions.

That’s the kind of “choice” the GOP and insurance companies want back. A cheap plan that for all practical purposes guarantees the insurer will never have to pay benefits on because the insured will never go to the doctor because that’s another out-of-pocket expense, and they can’t afford the 12-grand anyway before benefits would kick in.

If Ryan and the GOP get their way with Trumpcare’s threat of a 30% buy-back-in penalty, junk insurance will fit the bill perfectly. It will make millions off of poorer Americans who will never file a claim but who will buy junk as a hedge against that future buy-back penalty.

Insurers Put Profits Over People. Period.

The insurers who are whining and crying and gnashing their teeth as they abandoned the Obamacare health insurance exchanges in some states didn’t abandon their health insurances business (although it must be understood that some insurance companies were so greedy they did stop selling health insurance because of the PPACA’s 80/20 rule).

The insurers who have left state exchanges did so because they couldn’t make enough money in those places and from people who were previously uninsured but who are now able to get healthcare for which the insurance company must pay.

Which brings us back to Rep Carter. He’s either an idiot or a liar or both.

I take that back. What he is is a Republican politician.

In my view, the sooner Americans come to their senses and stop voting for Republicans at every level of government, including the state and local levels, the better off we all will be, and the sooner we’re likely to move to a healthcare system that serves us better and which every American can benefit from regardless of their income.

 

Sources

INSURANCE INDUSTRY AT A GLANCE

The Reason Health Care Is So Expensive: Insurance Companies

Top Health Insurance Companies

Administrative costs are killing U.S. healthcare

Rate Review & the 80/20 Rule

 

Blogs I’ve written in the past on the topic of health insurance

More #PPACA Red Herrings: Renewals and Benefits

The ‘Protection’ in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Health insurance companies keep making the case for single payer

New Yorker Podcast: Terrified States of America

The New Yorker’s “Politics and More” podcast is a favorite of mine.
In this episode, we are reminded that….
….even W didn’t make the so-called War on Terror a religious war,
….since 9/11, 94 Americans have been killed in 10 terrorist crimes perpetrated by 12 people who were either American citizens or permanent residents of this country, not immigrants and not refugees,
….his Muslim travel ban is being criticized even by former Bush officials because it doesn’t address an actual threat.

There’s much more. Give a listen. It’s a thought-provoking 18 minutes you won’t regret.

http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/political-scene/terrified-states-of-america

Trump’s threat-tweet about funding to Berkeley is a dog whistle to distract his base

Trump’s threat to cut funding is either more evidence of how ignorant he is of the facts, or it’s evidence of him blowing a dog whistle to his base as part of a leadership style that is predicated on intimidation, misinformation, misdirection, and bullying even when he has no power to do what he threatens to do.

I think it’s the latter.

trump-voters-by-education-sex-and-race
Source: http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls/national/president

First, the data. The facts. They show to whom he appealed in the campaign, and for whom the whistle is being blown.

He won 61% of white, non-college educated, women. They made up just 17% of the electorate.

He won 71% of non-college educated, white, men. They were the smallest block in this category at just 16% of the electorate.

He just barely won more than one-half, 53%, of white, college educated, men. They were a voter block that was just 17% of the total voters.

Add it up. He won impressively with non-college educated voters, especially men, but even when you add in the narrow majority of educated white men, this is a voting block that totals 50% of the voters.

He pretty decisively lost white, college educated, women. Alone, they were 20% of total voters.

He was crushed in the non-white block of voters regardless of education levels. Together with educated white women, they make up the other one-half of voters.

I think these facts tells us a lot.

I think they tell us that the people who are white and who have less formal education – and who, I’m guessing, would confirm themselves to being avid consumers of information from sources like Fox, Limbaugh, Breitbart, InfoWars, and countless others – love Trump for, once again, being bombastic and making threats.

What makes no sense is why anyone, including his supporters, should applaud his threats to funding higher education.

How is it even possible that education becomes a target for Trump, and how is it even remotely possible that his supporters could join him and cheer him on in that?

Let me be clear. This isn’t about whether or not everyone should go to college. This isn’t about colleges somehow threatening free speech. That’s ridiculous.

What this is about is a president who threatens the very idea of education. And, yes, DeVos is a clear example of this threat, too.

I’m issuing this plea to his supporters. Please look at the question of education, what Trump and DeVos are saying about it, and understand that you are working against yourselves, your kids, their future, and the future of this country by attacking education, especially as is the case this time, when there’s no justification for the criticism.

Trump is blowing a dog whistle to make it seem like higher education – any education – is, what, another liberal conspiracy to silence dissenting voices??? Anyone who has spent any time on a college campus knows that to be completely untrue, and that is the case again with Berkeley and the protests.

I’m asking Trump supporters to do one other thing. Forget Berkeley for now.

What I’m asking instead is for Trump supporters to realize that if America’s taxpayer-funded public education system was extended to apprenticeship programs and to 2-year and 4-year programs and degrees of all kinds, they and their children could get the education they need to be more competitive in a global economy and to have good paying jobs.

Here are the facts.

Companies are going begging for people to hire, but only people with the necessary education.

With the right post-secondary education, Trump supporters (and those who aren’t) and their kids would have the knowledge and skills to be hired into good paying middle class (and now called middle-skilled) jobs because they’d have the education those jobs demand.

Don’t believe it?

When the German engineering company Siemens Energy opened a gas turbine production plant in Charlotte, N.C., some 10,000 people showed up at a job fair for 800 positions. But fewer than 15 percent of the applicants were able to pass a reading, writing and math screening test geared toward a ninth-grade education.
(“Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required“; New York Times, Jan 30, 2017)

Want more evidence?

“In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, who recently retired as president and chief executive of Siemens U.S.A. “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.”

Good paying jobs with a future now require more than a high school education. People like my father who worked in manufacturing his whole life with nothing more than a high school diploma – and who then retired with dignity thanks to a union who ensured their workers reaped some of the rewards from their labor through a defined benefit pension – cannot and should not expect to find anything even close to that now.

Anything even resembling a decent paying job in the 21st century requires more knowledge than high school can provide. And, unless Trump supporters are ready to join the fight for a federally imposed living wage, the only way to make a living wage will be to have the knowledge and skills employers want.

That’s why it’s so obvious that when it comes to workers and wages, there’s only more bad news for Trump supporters.

trump-and-labor-secretary-andrew-puzder
Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/01/27/trumps-choice-for-labor-secretary-outsourced-jobs.html

It’s sad to see Trump supporters believing his rhetoric about bringing back good paying jobs. I hope someday they realize that not only is he not even talking about bringing back the jobs he’s created overseas himself from his own businesses, his choice of Andrew Puzder to lead the Department of Labor is a slap across every American worker’s face.

President Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary outsourced his fast-food company’s technology department to the Philippines, a move that contradicts Trump’s vow to keep American jobs in the U.S.
(“Trump’s choice for labor secretary outsourced jobs”; Fox (yes, Fox) Business News, Jan 27, 2017.)

There are lots of ways to grow an economy, but there aren’t many ways other than education to be part of it.

I can’t encourage Trump supporters enough to read the above NYT article, and to join the fight to both modernize and properly fund education in America, as well as to force corporations to more equitably share in the wealth they create for their senior managers and shareholders. That is not what Puzder is about.

And, when it comes to education, DeVos wants to privatize public education and turn it into a for-profit venture for private companies. If you Trump supporters thought you were being left behind before, you won’t even be able to see the tail lights of the economy speeding away from you if she gets her way because you and your kids won’t be able to afford to be educated.

Free-market ed reformers deny or dismiss the inevitable outcome of vouchers: an even more unequal K-12 system than we have today. Middle-class parents will add as much money as they can to their vouchers in order to get their kids into the best possible schools. The wealthy will spend whatever it takes to create an elite strata of schools that insure their kids’ advantages. Lower-middle-class families will scour the system for decent schools they can afford; they’ll find that the more decent the school, the higher the demand for it, and the higher the price. And the poor? They will go to “government schools”—a term that market ed reformers have long used to describe what everyone else calls public schools.
(“Milton Friedman, Betsy DeVos, and the Privatization of Public Education”; Common Dreams, Jan 17, 2017

This is a sincere appeal to Trump supporters. I sincerely hope that they will start to give this idea of what a post-secondary education means, and what it can mean economically for them and their kids.

The root issue I hope they’ll understand is this. Trump and people like him don’t really care about them and don’t really want them to be educated.

Why not?

Because educated people tend to be very hard to manipulate

Nice going, Trump voters and Hillary haters

It’s not a matter of if pipelines will leak, it’s only a matter of when.

dakota-access-pipeline-protestPipeline spills 176,000 gallons of crude into creek about 150 miles from Dakota Access protest camp
“It’s not yet clear why electronic monitoring equipment didn’t detect the leak, Owen told the Associated Press.”
– Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche pipeline
 
Yes, I’m a full-throated supporter for the need to never drill another hole, lay another foot of pipe to carry fossil fuels, and to put everyone now working in the fossil fuel industry out of work. Permanently.
 
Their paychecks and shareholder dividends don’t “trump” the planet and our lives.
 
Oh. Wait.
 
The new Secretary of State and Energy Secretary will be……………………..never mind.
 
Thanks to an archaic electoral process put in place by a small cadre of wealthy, white, slave-owning men, and the minority of American voters who, in 2016, were comprised almost exclusively by the block of 57% of the white voters who voted for Trump, we’re about to start living inside an actual existential disaster.
 
The entire federal government and far too many states are about to fall under the control of the corporatist Republican party.
 
Worse, the White House will be occupied by a president whose voters (still?) believe is someone who isn’t corrupt, isn’t an insider, and isn’t intent on rigging our economy and our society to benefit himself, his fragile ego, and his fellow wealthy plutocrats.
 
Nice going, Trump voters.
 
And, all you Hillary haters who were too holier-than-thou to do what was necessary to avoid this imbecilic man-child from becoming our 45th president? It’s on you, too.
 
You both will have to answer to history and to future generations for Trump and for the times we’re about to live in.
 

I honestly don’t know how you will look them in the eye and defend what you did.