Archive for May, 2012
Many people keep demanding the state step in to make healthcare more affordable. As it turns out healthcare becomes more affordable when you cut out the middle man:
A Long Beach hospital charged Jo Ann Snyder $6,707 for a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis after colon surgery. But because she had health insurance with Blue Shield of California, her share was much less: $2,336.
Then Snyder tripped across one of the little-known secrets of healthcare: If she hadn’t used her insurance, her bill would have been even lower, just $1,054.
Unknown to most consumers, many hospitals and physicians offer steep discounts for cash-paying patients regardless of income. But there’s a catch: Typically you can get the lowest price only if you don’t use your health insurance.
Who would have guessed that cutting out the middle man could reduce prices? Insurance is a headache for everybody but the insurance company. It’s in the best interests of insurance companies to weasel out of paying a claim so they try to find every excuse in the book to avoiding paying a claim. This takes time, while you’re fighting the insurance company the hospital you visited is waiting to get paid. Everybody loses, except the insurance company.
One of the biggest flaws in our current health system, besides the state’s involvement, is the reliance on insurance to pay for everything. Insurance is supposed to be a method of reducing risk, you pay a small amount of money into a pool at fixed time increments and if something horrible should happen you can access the pool to recover your costs. The system work well when risks are low and payouts are few, which is why renters insurance is so cheap. On the other hand when everybody is pulling from the pool constantly the system falls apart and the costs have to be jacked up to make things work, which is why health insurance costs so much now.
Since dealing with insurance companies is such a headache it’s not surprise hospitals want more money when they get involved. If you have to wait months before you get paid then you’re going to want more, it’s basic time preference. Time is money, if you pay in full now you can generally get a better price than paying later or in increments over time. There is also the added risk involved if the insurance company denies the claim. If the claim is denies the hospital has to collect the money from you, and there is a risk in the fact that you may not be willing or able to pay the bill. Therefore hospitals also have to cover their potential losses when dealing with insurance, another increase in the price.
Read the following excerpt and try to guess what the convicted man did:
The government seized both cars and charged Beno with a spate of offenses, including two felony counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, one felony count of owning a vehicle without a vehicle identification number tag and two misdemeanors tied to those missing VIN tags.
If you guessed the man tried to run drugs with those vehicles you would be… wrong. The crime committed by this most dastardly of individuals, this man charged with several felony crimes, was owning cars that were not approved by the state for importation:
Authorities in Wisconsin are bound and determined to crack down on gray market vehicles. According to Stevens Point Journal, In 2010, the state government orchestrated a sting to catch Justin Beno selling two Nissan Skyline models, one of which played a role in the Fast and Furious franchise. A Wisconsin Department of Transportation investigator spotted both a 1995 and a 1996 Skyline up for sale and pretended to be a buyer. The investigator asked if it were possible to get the cars titled, and Beno said he believed the vehicles could be titled in Florida, then retitled in Wisconsin.
This story demonstrates a number of things I hate about our
justice punishment system. First, it demonstrates how controlled the markets are, one can’t even own an imported car unless it is on a state-approved list. Second, it demonstrates the absurdity of stripping somebody of their rights merely because they’ve been convicted of a felony. Felons aren’t allowed to own guns or vote in this country and I can think of no logical reasons a man charged with owning a vehicle that didn’t have a vehicle identification number tag shouldn’t be allowed to do either. Third, this story also demonstrates that the system is all about punishment:
Brown County Deputy District Attorney Dana Johnson offered Beno a plea deal wherein he would accept the misdemeanor charges and give up both fully restored Skylines. After offering to pay the fines and help the authorities find buyers for both machines overseas, the prosecutor declined. Instead, both cars will be crushed and sold for scrap. That’s particularly heartbreaking after Beno spent years assembling both from parts bought from all over the world.
Two perfectly good automobiles are going to be destroyed just so the state can get its jollies off by throwing around its authority. They might as well just say, “If you disobey our decrees we will do whatever it takes to hurt you as much as possible.” Beno put years of his life into restoring those two automobiles and then offered to help the state find foreign buyers for the illicit machines. This didn’t satisfy the state’s bloodlust though, if the cars were sold it wouldn’t have completely crushed Beno’s spirit, he wouldn’t be hurt enough. After all, the state needs to inflict the maximum amount of pain possible on any slave who steps out of line otherwise they may get the crazy idea they can step out of line again.
Anybody who believes the United States is the land of the free isn’t paying any attention.
Yesterday I mentioned a long New York Times article that tried to make Obama look like a man who can make the tough decision. It was eight pages so I didn’t read it word for word but I did miss a rather interesting fact:
To avoid counting civilian deaths, Obama re-defined “militant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone”
From the article:
Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
Wow… I’m really at a loss for words. This is absolutely twisted. In order to make people think the war is going better and America holds some kind of moral high ground Obama is counting any military-age males in a strike zone as militants. If a hellfire missile is launched from a drone and kills five 18 year-old males who were entirely uninvolved in hostilities with out country Obama will strut around and brag about the five militants he put in the ground.
Read the last line of the excerpt, any military-age male is considered guilty until proven innocent. What kind of double standard is that? Haven’t we always been told people are assume innocent until proven guilty in America? Isn’t that supposed to be one of the pillars of our so-called justice system? Suddenly the rules are changed simply because a person was blown up by a hellfire missile instead of arrested by police and tried?
This is the kind of twisted shit the state does to propagandize its people into supporting war. The current administration isn’t stupid, they remember how things went once word got out about the number of civilian casualties during the Vietnam War. People stopped believing the bullshit being fed to them by the state and started demanding the war end.
We were never at war with Eurasia, we were always at war with Eastasia.
There is no option this election, it’s either Obama or Other Obama:
Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in Texas and the remaining delegates needed to secure the party’s nomination.
With 1,086 delegates, Mr Romney only needed 58 to pass the 1,144 mark for the nomination. Texas awards 152 delegates proportionally.
There was never much of a question in who the nominee was going to be. If
suckers members of the Republican Party didn’t vote enough delegates to get Romney the nomination the Republican National Convention (RNC) and local state parties were just going to rig the game to remove the Paul supporters anyways. I do hope this nomination process has been educational though, it demonstrated the fact that the people don’t have a voice in the Republican Party. When the higher ups said the nomination was going to go to Romney the deal was sealed.
Selfishly I must admit this news isn’t entirely bad in my opinion, it allows me to entirely remove myself from participating in politics. I can sit comfortably from the side lines and watch this country self-destruct because of the very political process people use to demonstrate how great this country is.
For those of you who are going to support Romney have fun. I know the hole you’re digging seems innocuous and you believe you won’t be forced to dig it as quickly under Romney. What you’re not seeing is the end game, that hole you’re digging is your grave, once it’s dug Romney is going to line you up in front of it and gun you down just as Obama will. You can still choose to throw down your shovels, climb out of the hole, and run like hell. Your chances of survival won’t be high but they will be above zero, which is more than they will be if you keep digging.
Today is a dark day indeed, or at least it is unless we’re being trolled:
Russian singer Eduard Khil who became an internet sensation two years ago is in a coma after a stroke. The 77-year-old stage star is in intensive care as he has suffered irreversible brain damage.
The Soviet stage legend who rose to international fame in 2010 when his I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home scooped the attention of millions around the world, is in St. Petersburg Polenov Scientific Research Institute of Neurosurgery. Medics fighting for Khil’s life say several important functions of the singer’s brain are irreversibly damaged.
Doctors suggest Trololo man’s life could be saved, but he would need urgent surgery, Gazeta.ru reports. Even if the singer survives the operation, there are no guarantees of recovery.
As a man who prides himself on practicing the ancient art of trolling this news saddens me. My only hope is that Trololo Guy is merely trolling us and is actually sitting on a beach in the Bahamas sipping vodka.
Woman are the fastest growing demographics for firearm sales in the United States and more are getting their carry permits every day. It’s nice to see the United States doesn’t hold a monopoly on armed women, women in India are arming themselves as well:
When Dr Harveen Kaur Sidhu travels from her home in an upmarket neighbourhood of the north-western Indian city of Chandigarh, she always slips her lightweight .22 revolver in her bag. The gun is a new purchase – Sidhu got her licence only a year ago – but now the 33-year-old dentist won’t travel without it.
“I don’t have faith in the police to protect me. There are so many attacks on women these days. It’s everybody’s right to defend themselves. I think all women who are vulnerable should be carrying guns,” Sidhu said. She is not alone. A growing number of well-off, educated Indian women are turning to firearms for protection.
The trend is part of a broader growth of gun culture in the land once known for the non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi.
Stories like this put a smile on my face. Gun control advocates will obviously take that quote, twist it, and use it as irrefutable proof that I support women being attacked to push my agenda but that’s entirely false. The reason stories like this make me smile is because there are now more people out there who are armed and thus the risk involved in perpetrating violent crime has increased.
Robert Heinlein once wrote, “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” Perpetrating a crime, like anything else, is done after determining the risks compared to the rewards and finding the rewards worth the risk. When a mugger robs somebody on the street that mugger had determined the act of armed robbery was worth the risk of the victim defending him or herself. When you increase the number of armed individuals you also increase the risk of perpetrating a crime. As the risks associating with perpetrating a crime increases the number of crimes committed decreases.
Another part of this story I want to address is the following:
There are estimated to be 40m guns in India, the second highest number in the world after the US. Licences are hard to obtain and most are illegal weapons, many manufactured in backstreet workshops. Ownership levels per capita remain low – three guns for every 100 people in India – but there is strong anecdotal evidence that middle-class interest in firearms is rising fast.
Many who promote gun rights are careful to clarify they only mean for law-abiding citizens. Paragraphs like the above make them squirm because they see so many people arming themselves illegally yet want to support those peoples’ actions. I’ve mostly given up tossing the “law-abiding citizen” caveat on my statements regarding gun rights. The bottom line is states often place numerous restrictions between individuals and their right of self-defense meaning the only way one can defend themselves is unlawfully. For example, the paragraph above states that a majority of firearms in India are illegally owned. Illegal by what regards? The state’s regards.
To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Laws prohibiting individuals from exercising their right of self-defense are unjust and should not be obeyed. When a woman in India arms herself against the wishes of the state she should be cheered. According to the state she may be unlawful but according to any decent person she is performing a just act.
I spend a great deal of time bitching about the current president, mostly because he is yet another person in a long line of assholes who have been made the figurehead of the country. I’m not sure if there will every be a president I don’t hate but Obama is a very special case because he actively campaigned on closing Gitmo, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the government more transparent, and ending the drug war only to do a 180 degree spin after his election. He hasn’t shutdown Gitmo, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are still being waged, the government is less transparent, the war on drugs is still being waged, and he has even found time to order the assassination of two American citizens.
What happened? In my opinion, power happened. The New York Times has a long article that appears to have been written specifically to inflate Obama’s ego. It tries to make him out to be a great leader by explaining all the hard decisions he’s had to make since becoming the president. Desperately it attempts to explain Obama’s actions in a way that makes it appear as though he never deviated from his campaign promises. Eight pages are used in an attempt to address this concern:
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
How could a liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture end up ordering the death of so many individuals without a trial? According to the New York Times article Obama is a messiah who swooped down from the heavens to personally ensure only the wicked received the wrath of the United States. Gone are the days of Bush’s tyranny, smitten by the wholesome nature of the great angel Obama! He has delivered this country from evil, he has given it a conscious, he is making the difficult decisions all good leaders must make!
While the New York Times attempts to take eight pages to explain Obama’s actions are due to the difficult decisions he’s had to make as president the truth is Obama tosses his campaign promises to the wind because he got a taste of power, and he liked it.
The Lord of the Rings is really a story about the corrupting nature of power, something that shouldn’t be surprising coming from a man who expressed his political views as being more and more towards anarchy. In the story the One Ring is a magical entity that can give its wearer a great deal of power but that power comes at a price, it eventually corrupts its wearer no matter how noble they are. There is little difference between the One Ring and the presidency.
I’m not aware of one president who has entered the White House and kept his campaign promises. Most presidential hopefuls have grand campaign promises that would expand individual liberty and reduce the power of the state but once they get into office they try to destroy individual liberty and expand the state’s power. Some would say this is merely because politicians are liars, a sentiment I partially agree with, although I feel there are more pieces to this puzzle. Power is another piece.
You can see the corrupting nature of power in most people. Watch a random powerless schmuck suddenly feel the need to reign power viciously over unsuspecting air travelers when you pin a badge to his chest that reads Transportation Security Administration. Suddenly that meek individual is happily shouting orders at air travelers demanding that they remove their shoes, empty their pockets, and submit to either a radiating naked body scanner or sexual molestation. Your best friend in high school can suddenly become an insufferable dick because he caught you driving faster than the posted speed limit after being issued a costume and badge by the local police department. Even the neighborhood dog catcher can go from a kind man to a rabid bastard who is screaming at you to keep better control over your dog (even when your dog is on a leash and you’re holding it).
I have no doubt many people enter politics with good intentions. They believe they can change things or make them better. Is your local school allowing children to purchase soft drinks from a vending machine? Those bastards! Don’t they understand that soft drinks are making children obese? Obviously you must run for a position on the school board to correct this monstrous failure. Once seated on the school board though the soft drinks become a minor annoyance, you now have power over everybody in the school district after all. You can do so many things, you can stop bullying by demanding any offense speech be squashed and the speaker be suspended. Children who are missing school, regardless of their grades, can also be punished, you have the power to make it so. Teachers who teach material you don’t approve of, such as evolution, can be sacked and the classroom will once again be safe for God fearing christians.
Obama may have very well entered the White House with the plan to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he may have been ready to bring a new wave of transparency to the United States government, he may have even had a bill written up that legalized medical marijuana. Unfortunately for us something happened, Obama suddenly had access to executive orders, armed drones, the military, and the entire law enforcement arm of the federal government. Suddenly he had to tools to right all of the world’s wrongs. He could stop the terrorists from performing another attack by taking out terrorist leaders, he could prevent crime by sicking the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on dissidents, the options were limitless.
What Obama never stopped to consider was the fact that every tool at the state’s disposal requires the use of violence. To a socially well-adjusted individual the idea of using violence is to be reserved as a last resort, and only as a response to initiated violence. Once you succumb to the idea that violence can be used for the “greater good” you’re soon to be entirely corrupted. Any act of aggression is justifiable when it’s for the “greater good.” Sure, some innocent people may die when a hellfire missile is launched at a terrorist leader at a wedding party but that terrorist leader won’t be able to hurt anybody else! By killing that handful of people many more lives were saved! The ends justify the means!
This is why power scares me and why I avoid it at all costs. I don’t want power over others because I know what that can lead to. Politics is a game I won’t play, I’ve seen what happens to those who do. Some of the most liberty-minded individuals I know decided to play the political game only to turn into authoritarians. They justified supporting neocons by claiming that politician had his toe in the liberty lake and with enough coaxing would dive in entirely. Sometimes they claimed the neocon was better than the alternative and that we must suffer through his or her reign because it was a babystep in the right direction. The justifications becomes endless, they were given access to the One Ring and believed they could shake the curse, they were better than those who previously held it, they could use it for good. They were wrong.
From what I’ve witnessed there are really only two outcomes for those entering politics: you either realize what it is and exit as quickly as possible or you succumb to the power and descend into a world of darkness. I played the political game for a short while and recognized it for what it was and got the hell out as fast as I could. Obama on the other hand played the political game and was seduced by the power. Did he have good intentions? That I don’t know, psychopaths are attracted to power and have no qualm with using it. Obama may have had good intentions or he may have been a psychopath before entering politics. The only important part is the outcome, he is now a power hungry creature who has been entirely corrupted. He is part of a legacy of such people who we have called presidents.
What can we do? Elect Romney? Hardly. I hope you take away from this post my warning against the seeking power. I also hope you see the underlying lesson, the corrupting nature of power means no good can come from its use. Romney could be the “lesser” or two evils but the second he gets in the White House he will become entirely corrupted and end up being no less evil than Obama. I even worry that Paul could be corrupted if he won the presidency, it’s just so much power to hold. So long as we continue to grant individuals power over us we cannot “fix” this country. No man can wear the One Ring without being corrupted just as no man can win the presidency without being corrupted. We can’t “fix” this country by electing the “right people” because the right people will quickly turn into the wrong people once they are granted presidential power.
Let me end this post by quoting Frank Herbert:
This, then, was one of my themes for Dune: Don’t give over all of your critical faculties to people in power, no matter how admirable those people may appear to be. Beneath the hero’s facade you will find a human being who makes human mistakes. Enormous problems arise when human mistakes are made on the grand scale available to a superhero. And sometimes you run into another problem.
It is demonstrable that power structures tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power and that a significant proportion of such people are imbalanced-in a word, insane.
That was the beginning. Heroes are painful, superheroes are a catastrophe. The mistakes of superheroes involve too many of us in disaster.
Unions are an interesting beast. They claim to fight for the working man while demanding large tributes that end up lining the pockets of union bosses. I don’t oppose all unions, just the public ones that I’m forced to pay for. Unions, at a very basic level, are nothing more than groups of workers who come together to fight for better wages, benefits, and less hours. In this sense they are a form of voluntary association that I support.
Then there is the other side of unions, the side that tries to use the state’s gun to enforce their desires. They demand the state force employers to pay a minimum wage, provide mandatory benefits, and only allow employees to work a fixed number of hours. What these unions don’t realize is that the state is a vicious monster that lashes out against anybody and everybody. One moment the state will be your best friend, the next moment it will move against you because you no longer serve its desires:
Talks between Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and the union representing 4,800 striking locomotive engineers have broken down, paving the way for the government to bring in legislation forcing them back to work, the company said on Sunday.
The Canadian government, concerned that a rail strike could hurt an economy still struggling with the aftermath of the last recession, had said it was prepared to introduce the legislation.
Railroad employees in Canada have gone on strike and talks between the union and employer have broken down. In a free society this part of negotiation could take several directions: the union could negotiate for less than they previously wanted, the union could except the current conditions, the employer could meet the union’s current demands, the employer could put forward a better deal that doesn’t meet the union’s current demands, or the employer could fire all the striking employees and hire people willing to work under current conditions. Unfortunately for the employees and union Canada isn’t a free society. Because of this either side can attempt to use the state’s gun to force the other party to comply. At times the unions benefit the state and they will provide the unions with benefits and protections, and at other times the unions are not useful to the state so they are struck down. In this case Canadian Pacific are more useful to the state so the state is going to enter the debate on their side and force the railroad employees to return to work.
The state is like the One Ring, it can’t be used for good. It is an entity of violence that can only perpetuate violence. While you may feel it’s doing an act of good when supporting your interests it will eventually attack your interests, devastating them.
The Republican Party wants Romney and they’re going to rather sickening extents to get the man nominated. First we had the Republican National Convention (RNC) outright threaten to disallow any delegates from Nevada to be seated if they sent “too many” Paul delegates and now local Republican Party shills are working to invalidate caucus results in Massachusetts:
A month after Mitt Romney’s loyalists were trounced by supporters of Ron Paul in the former governor’s home state caucuses, the Massachusetts Republican Party is trying to invalidate some ballots.
The move, some say, could oust Paul backers and send more Romney representatives to the GOP nominating convention in Tampa in August. It has infuriated rank-and-file Republicans who accuse establishment insiders of bending the rules to their own benefit.
“Just because you didn’t like the outcome of an election doesn’t mean you overturn it because you have the power to,’’ said a state committeeman, Stephen Zykofsky.
Notebook: Giuliani, Gingrich come to Romney’s defense
Much of the ire is directed at a challenge in the Fifth Congressional District – where Romney lives and where all six of his selected delegates and alternates lost. A member of Romney’s slate contends the results should be thrown out because the caucus chairman failed to get all the participants to sign in.
A 14-member GOP committee is expected to consider whether the results should be counted this week.
Romney is so worthless he could even win a delegate seat in his own district. This fact has irked members of the Republican Party who are now moving the fix team in in an attempt to prevent Paul from getting any chance at the nomination.
If you pay attention to the political process, and I mean really pay attention to it, you learn pretty quickly that we don’t live in a democracy, republic, or any other form of government of the people. The United States system is just as corrupt as any other political system, we just manage to brainwash people into believing otherwise more effectively than most other countries.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tasked with securing airplanes from those evil terrorists. In order to accomplish this they need good men and woman to sexually molest every air traveler before allowing them to board planes, which is why this man was more than qualified for the job:
The security checkpoint between Terminals D and E is a busy place where thousands of people – including lots of kids – pass through every day. But you might not believe who the I-Team observed working as a TSA supervisor at that checkpoint this week: Thomas Harkins.
Until 2002, Harkins was a Catholic priest working at churches across South Jersey. But the Diocese of Camden removed him from ministry because it found he sexually abused two young girls. Now, in a new lawsuit, a third woman is claiming she also is one of Harkins’ victims
Who better to work as a TSA agent? He’s obviously has previous experience at sexually abusing young girls, which is a necessary job requirement in the TSA.