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RLC rant 09 11 08

RLC rant 09 11 08

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Published by: rlchristie on Nov 15, 2009
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11/14/2009

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Richard Lance Christie 08 Nov 09 rant, page 1November 1-8, 2009Dear Friends and Family,[Three pages of personal biographic narrative deleted]Now for this installment of my rant,
Field Notes from the Handbasket 
, about issues and eventsthat I thought worth sharing. These rants do not contain most of the additions I have made to my107 chapters in proto-books and essays-in-progress (08 Nov = 1393 pages); or the organicinspection reports, E-mail correspondence about water and sewer, environmental, housing andplanning issues, the Relocalization Network Coordinators’, International Organic InspectorsAssociation, Moab Progressive Area Network, Canyonlands Sustainable Solutions Forums, et al,some of which have also been produced during a typical month. The 36 planks and chapters of 
The Renewable Deal
, plus my paper on global warming, can be accessed at<earthrestoration.net>.Local columnist Ollie Harris says that after retirement he has slid ever deeper into“decraptitude.”MIKHAIL GORBACHEV ON U.S. CORPORATE CAPITALISM: “The current model does notneed adjusting, it needs replacing.”“The time has come to strike the right balance between the government and the market, forintegrating social and environmental factors and demilitarising the economy.”“...a new model will emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public good, such as acleaner environment, well-functioning infrastructure and public transport, sound education andhealth systems and affordable housing.”Man who run ahead of car get tired.Man who run behind car get exhausted.-Contemporary ConfusciousECONOMICS WATCH: (1) HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGES: A FAILEDEXPERIMENT: Texas, Florida, North Carolina and California have already tried providinghealth insurance to all citizens through establishing health insurance exchanges, which someCongresscritters have been touting as an alternative to a national health insurance public option.All failed and closed up due to cherry-picking of lower risk customers by health insurors outsidethe exchanges, leaving a high-risk pool of people as customers for the exchanges.EW(2): UNEMPLOYMENT: As of October, 2009, 14 states and the District of Colombia haveunemployment rates near or over 10%. Unemployment statistics are steady or worse among 31states compared to prior months, while 19 states enjoy improvement as of October.
 
Richard Lance Christie 08 Nov 09 rant, page 2While in Oklahoma I read that state revenues for the fiscal year that started 1 Jul 09 are 26%below budget projections, even though Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is the 5
th
lowest amongthe 50 states as of October.EW(3): CRUDE OIL INVENTORIES V. PRICE: Crude oil inventories hit 339 million barrelsworldwide as of October 16, up 31 million barrels from October of 2008. Oil was trading atabove $80 a barrel on 21 Oct due to the weak dollar, which is now at 1.5 Euros to one dollar onexchanges - reportedly the worst ratio ever. Not so long ago the dollar and Euro were at par invalue, and before that the Euro was worth less than a dollar in exchange.EW(4): The 2008 Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s 2008“Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries” found that the United States had thehighest income inequality among all OECD member nations (38 industrialized countries).OECD’s report says U.S. wealth inequality is even more extreme than income inequality. Noother nation moved more towards inequality in income from 2000-2008 than the U.S.EW(5): ‘TOO LITTLE OF A GOOD THING” is the title of Paul Krugman’s 2 Nov 09 Op-Ed inthe
 New York Times
. “The good news is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a. the Obama stimulus plan, is working just about the way textbook macroeconomics said itwould. But that’s also the bad news - because the same textbook analysis says that the stimuluswas far too small given the scale of our economic problems. Unless something changesdrastically, we’re looking at many years of high unemployment.”Krugman says the stimulus did “break the vicious circle of economic decline.” “Last week’sG.D.P. report showed the economy growing again, at a better-than-expected annual rate of 3.5percent. As Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com put it in recent testimony, ‘The stimulus isdoing what it was supposed to do: short-circuit the recession and spur recovery.’” Krugmanobserves that G.D.P. grew an average of 3.7% during Clinton’s eight years in office; and at thecurrent rate of growth, unemployment is projected to fall at only one half a percent a year.“What I keep hearing from Washington is one of two arguments: either (1) the stimulus hasfailed, unemployment is still rising, so we shouldn’t do any more, or (2) the stimulus hassucceeded, G.D.P. is growing, so we don’t need to do any more. The truth, which is that thestimulus was too little of a good thing - that it helped, but it wasn’t big enough - seems to be toocomplicated for an era of sound-bite politics.” Krugman points out that a continuation of adepressed economy causes businesses to slash investment spending: in physical infrastructuresuch as plants and equipment, and in “intangibles” such as product development and workertraining. “This will hurt the economy’s potential for years to come.”“Deficit hawks like to complain that today’s young people will end up having to pay higher taxesto service the debt we’re running up right now. But anyone who really cared about the prospectsof young Americans would be pushing for much more job creation, since the burden of highunemployment falls disproportionately on young workers - and those who enter the work forcein years of high unemployment suffer permanent career damage, never catching up with those
 
Richard Lance Christie 08 Nov 09 rant, page 3who graduated in better times.”EW(6): HEALTH “INSURANCE”: A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE is the title by BioethicistJacob M. Appel, M.D., in the 6 Nov 09
 Huffington Post 
. Dr. Appel begins by agreeing thatguaranteeing health care to uninsured Americans is a “moral imperative.” “However, relying onprivate insurers to serve these individuals is about as prudent as hiring a band of pedophiles torun a national childcare program. Anyone who has worked as a healthcare provider longenough, and has been paying attention, eventually comes to recognize private health ‘insurance’is a large-scale criminal endeavor - part Ponzi scheme, part extortion racket - that consistentlyexploits patients at their most vulnerable moments. In short, private health insurance is the sortof predatory enterprise, like payday lending and loan-sharking, that should be criminalized.”“Health insurance, as the late political historian Edward Beiser pointed out in his seminal 1994article “The Emperor’s New Scrubs,” is a misnomer. The principle behind traditional insuranceis the distribution of risk. For example, the odds of my home burning down are quite low. Theodds of any other home burning in my community are similarly low. However, the odds of somehome in our community burning are reasonably high, so we all pay into a reserve fund - ‘fireinsurance’ - and whoever suffers the misfortune of a home-burning collects the pot. This‘pooling of risk’ is a staple of most high school economics classes.However, health ‘insurance’ does not follow this model, because, over the course of time, nearlyall of us will suffer bodily ills that cause us to draw funds from the collective till. So what weare doing, by paying for private insurance, is having a third party manage our healthcare dollarsfor us until we’re ready to use them. In return, this third party banks the interest and skims aprofit off the top, employing an army of paper-pushing middlemen to manage our contributions.The very act of calling these healthcare middlemen ‘insurers’ buys into the false belief thatAetna and Oxford are protecting us against rare occurrences, rather than merely serving asmoney-managers for our healthcare dollars....once consumers view these corporations merely asmoney managers, few sane people would ever invest at interest rates of zero for such lowpayouts at term.”“Most people in this country who do have private health insurance are happy with their coverage- until they actually attempt to use it. Once they face a medical emergency, however, they soondiscover that the unspoken policy of many insurers is to deny as many claims as possible, oftenon legally or medically implausible grounds, until the patient or his family give up.”“Opponents of a national health care insurance plan often lambaste the straw-man of havingpublic officials determine which procedures will be available to the sick and dying. In contrast,they would have us believe that those determinations are presently made by individual doctorsserving the needs of their patients. As a physician, I can assure them that those decisions areactually rendered by low-level employees at large healthcare conglomerates. None of these ‘nomen’ have medical degrees; many lack a college education or even a basic understanding of human biology. Their sole job in the world is to deny coverage until pressured into doingotherwise.” The ability of insured people to sue their insurance company over coverage “isabout as realistic as telling the passengers aboard the Titanic that they have a right to sue for

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