Friday, February 24, 2017

The Real Problem is Congress

Just when the world can’t get any stranger; Congress decides to allow mentally ill people to purchase firearms.  The strange part of this piece of news is that we don’t have any details about what it actually means.  The media is only interested in clicks and sales, and will do anything to get our attention.  Like most of us, I started out as outraged that such a thing could happen.  Then I realize that this was the desired effect.  If I am outraged, I don’t have the calmness required to question the reality of this piece  of news, I’m supposed to get angry and react.  Our leaders are using outrage as a tool to maintain their power.  While we are outraged at either the Democrats or Republicans, (it doesn’t really matter), they are able to legislate in favor of those that pay them the most.  Looking at the Center for Responsive Politics report on 2016 spending by industry groups shows that Pharmaceuticals/Health Products and Insurance are to two top lobbyists spending a combined $390 million dollars.  Is there any question as to how our drug prices have not only increased dramatically, but also we have laws that say the government can’t bargain over the prices they pay!  Not to mention the health insurers complaining about huge losses that force them to raise ACA rates while somehow having war chests large enough to propose the largest mergers in US business history!

The cold truth is that our Congress now represents our special interest groups rather than our voters.  When we wish to accomplish something that requires Congress’s approval, we contact our Congressperson but more importantly we contact our special interest group.  Our Congressperson will verify that we can vote for them, and then do what they can.  If they are not on the right committee there is very little they can do.  Our lobbyist will determine  which committee handles the question, they already have a relationship with the leaders, and then they will get it handled.  Of course there were campaign contributions made, within the framework of the law, prior to and after the desired effects are realized. It’s no wonder then that those special interests giving the most money will have the most control over Congress public be damned.  Is it any wonder that our Veterans are given such short shrift when they don’t have a group in the top 20 of political donors? 

I am surprised that the current fuss about Russia meddling in our campaign is as large as it is.  There is no fuss at all about Washington DC meddling in our Minnesota campaigns.  The campaign of Nolan versus Mills was particularly dirty.  We have two decent Minnesotans with differing views, wanting to improve our state.  The ads that they approved were quite informational.  The ads that came out of Washington DC cast both as monsters.  I was outraged that someone from out of state could come in and trash our good citizens with a dose of hate.

Unfortunately our leaders, media included, see campaign finance as the goose that lays the golden egg and will do nothing to slay it.  We need a grass roots movement to promote a Constitutional Amendment reading:

Notwithstanding the First Amendment, efforts to influence elections to public office in the United States and its’ subdivisions shall be limited to those who are able to vote in said election.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

I am hopeful that this might even bring the Tea Party supporters to agree with the Bernie supporters.  Please consider the consequences.   

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Christian "Sharia" Law in the U.S.?

As seems typical in today’s marketplace of ideas, the pro-lifers and pro-choicers are talking past each other with neither side listening to the other.  As a male, the abortion question isn’t about my body, it’s about my religion!  Murder is about taking some one’s life away from them.  The abortion question then is: when does a fetus have a life?  While I would never try to denigrate the believe that each sperm and egg has a life prior to combining, I do not hold to that belief or of the heartbeat belief.  My personal belief follows the bibles Genesis 2.7 “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” 

The thing that confuses me the most about the pro-lifers is their opposition to Sharia Law, without their realizing that what they want is their version of religious law.  I feel that they want to continue on with their anger and hate of pro-choicers eliminating the possibility of joining forces to reduce abortions, (part of what Planned Parenthood is all about).  Abortions are at an all time measured low and unlikely to go much lower, whether legal or not.  I think we can all agree that abortion is the worst form of birth control,    Why can’t we defer our judgments to our higher power?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Minnesota Health Insurance "Crisis"

After being licensed to sell health insurance for 45 years, I am totally convinced of the old saw that it is easier to con people than to convince them that they have been conned.  The fact that America’s Health Insurance Plans assisted in the writing of Obamacare while they funded a $83 million campaign against it through the Chamber of Commerce assured that they couldn’t lose.  When they first offered plans through the ACA they offered much lower premiums than  were called for, to remain competitive, because they felt the Federal Government would bail them out with the excess risk portions of the law.  Now that Congress wouldn’t authorize these funds, they decide they must raise premiums to cover the losses they knew they were going to have without the governments help.  Rather than requiring Health Insurers in Minnesota to operate in the entire State and base their premiums on statewide experience, or to cough up and cover the losses they knew were coming, we are bailing them out with taxpayers funds.  We must realize that “for profit healthcare” is an oxymoron.  We can have highly paid medical professionals without paying dividends to shareholders.  With Medicare operating at 4% of premiums, the 20% that these “highly efficient private business’s” are allowed to charge is exorbitant. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

National Blame Someone Else Day

 This Friday should be the most celebrated day in America.  National Blame Someone Else day should be hailed by all of our politicians.  Blame, hypocrisy, and a little bit of hate are what motivates our Parties  and it should disturb all of us as they spread this disease over our country.  The Republicans are all out of joint because the Democrats are behaving exactly as they did after Obama was elected. Meanwhile the Democrats are out of joint because the Republicans are trying to steamroll over them, just like in 2009. We are disturbed about Russia tampering with our elections but show no problem at all when we meddle in elections in the next state that we can’t vote in.  We have to realize that those embedded in power, in this country, are mainly concerned with holding on to that power by using divide and conquer tactics.  We have to stop blindly believing what “our” side says about the “other” side, and find out the truth for ourselves.  Can we please get back to talking about issues and ignore this bashing of individuals, even if the other guy started it first?  This country has demonstrated many times that there is nothing we can’t accomplish if we work together at it.  Why do we insist that the other guy is something other than a decent human being?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

"Let's see how negative we can get"

I am trying to see the difference between Donald Trump’s appointment to Secretary of State and John Kennedy’s appointment of Robert McNamara for Defense Secretary.  Neither had prior government experience and both had run one of the world’s largest corporations.  While I am not a fan of either man, or Mr. Trump, I am outraged by the hypocritical treatment the media has made of this uncomfortable transition.  Having a Secretary of State that has actually negotiated with world leaders can only be beneficial to future negotiations.  The tenure of all your transition articles has been negative, positing a world of winners and losers.  We are all on the same team, isn’t it about time to recognize that synergy is much stronger than division?  It’s obvious that we cannot be guided by what Mr. Trump says.  Can we just keep our negativity within ourselves and let the new administration, actually do something before calling foul.  Let’s not fall into Mitch McConnell’s call to screw America in favor of the Party.

Regulations do need reworking!

I may be a wild optimist, but I do believe that if we can overcome our hatred, anger, and one sided view of the world we may be able to accomplish some good in the coming years.  The issue of government regulation needs a cooler head:  When the liberals hear of reforming regulation they think of smog, rivers catching fire, and poison in our foods among other things.  When conservatives think of reforming regulations they think of: The size of compliance departments, additional paperwork that no-one reads, and procedures that slow everything down.

My career in the financial services industry has shown me the current regime of regulation is more concerned with its’ self preservation than with stopping wrongdoing.  When a company is caught breaking the law they are usually allowed to pay a fine along with a promise to “sin no more”.  The people responsible for breaking the law (or regulation) suffer no consequences.  The company’s shareholders are the ones to suffer, even though their sin was only inadequate due diligence.  The government entity that caught them frequently gets the amount of the settlement.  There is no detriment to doing wrong for the management!

While I’m generally against jailing non-violent offenders, I feel it is the only way we will see integrity coming back to our business world.  When a company hurts people, people should go to jail.  Regulations that require filling out numerous forms will not keep people honest.  We need principal based prosecution, not rule based paperwork.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Democrats won't get it!

While I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump, I feel that many Democrats still “just don’t get it”.  I have no doubt that most of his voters could not stand the thought of the Lincoln bedroom and pardons going up for sale again, along with another four years of stupid high profile congressional investigations into questionable actions on the Clintons’ part.  Thanks to the press coverage, many of those that voted for Mr. Trump didn’t think he had a chance of winning.  I am hoping that as people wake up to the fact that Mr. Trump has conned us with the standard con: “I’ll screw the other guy to give you a great deal” they will realize it isn’t just Mr. Trump who has conned us.  By turning the electoral process into a personality contest, those in power are desperate to not only hold onto the power they have but to gain more.   They do this by name calling and focusing on emotional issues that aren’t going to be solved by anyone.  Meanwhile, the banks are able to rip off people and get paid big bonus’s to do it,  the health insurance companies can continue to rip us off, and the earth continues to heat up.  Could it possibly be due to campaign contributions?  The media won’t touch campaign finance reform because they may go broke without all those campaign dollars flowing in. 

We need to stop putting Democrat/Republican first and begin to think of what’s best for America.   To do this we need to put ideas ahead of personalities.  Good people have bad ideas as well as bad people having good ideas.  To move forward we have to discuss the ideas, not the people.