Monday, April 30, 2018

Media makes things worse.

When the state of our political discourse appears to be “Your guy is more corrupt than our guy”,  I can’t help but wonder how we got this way.  I believe the “Media” in all its’ forms have caused much of our angst.  The effort to capture readers with their attendant profits has lead to; misleading headlines, opinions appearing as news items (often on the front page),  pictures that don’t have to do with the action being cited, (usually unflattering), as well as making the impossible seem a realistic goal (taking away guns or eliminating abortion).  One of the worst things the media does is to name the deranged shooters that continue to crop up.  We have no need to know their names and the only result that comes from publishing the names is to glorify the idiot that picks up a gun because he can’t get attention any other way.  I can’t help but wonder how many mass shootings wouldn’t have occurred if the shooter knew they would only be referred to as negative adjectives.  Putting dates on photos, as well as statements as to whether or not they have been altered would also do a lot to let us know what is fake and what is not.  Fear and anger lead to hate and all three leave reason in the dust.  I can only hope the media will take some responsibility to tamp down the hate that permeates our society.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

We all lose when there are "winners"

Watching the Vikings win Sunday night made me realize that our political process has transformed itself into an athletic contest.   Our parties have adopted an attitude of “win at all costs” and “If you’re not with us on everything, you are against us”.  I am reminded of sailboat racing where the designer will make a boat go one knot slower because that will make the handicap two knots slower thus winning on corrected time. It’s called “designing to the rule”, and it’s exactly what our politicians have become very good at. 

 It’s common knowledge that our representatives vote on measures they haven’t read and many couldn’t understand if they did read.  We have become so obsessed with “winning” and “losing” that we have forgotten that synergy in interactions can lead to gains for both parties.  We are told that business transactions have winners and losers.  In my experience deals don’t get done when there are losers.  If you are going to lose on a transaction you walk away from it prior to it being done.  Both parties have adopted divide and conquer strategies, when what we really need is a unite and prosper strategy.


Friday, November 3, 2017

Parties of Hate, Anger and Blame cry for a new party

Our current political parties are both heavily involved with the spreading of hatred, anger, lies, and personal attacks.  The Parties lack of faith in Democracy is best exemplified by the sources of money running our elections.  Money decides the candidates and then we get to vote for the richest ones. Those that give the money are only concerned about their own specific issues, that are frequently at odds with those doing the actual voting

I would suggest a new party embracing the values of honesty, transparency, personal integrity and compromise. The platform would be flexible and allow votes on either side of the isle.  Issues to hold dear would be:

1.      Acting in the interests of our children and grandchildren, to not saddle them with huge
amounts of debt in the form of the deficit and college loans.
2.  Actually fixing Social Security and Medicare now before it gets more expensive.
3.   Taking climate change as a serious matter.

4.      Providing quality health care to everyone, (not necessarily insurance). 

5      Taking campaign contributions only from voters that have registered and are able to vote for the candidate.

6      Refraining from negative personal attacks on their opponents.  Attacks should only  be on the issues.

7.      Remembering that taxing, spending, and compromise are what politicians are supposed to do.

8.      Focus on uniting the county by embracing diversity.

We will only be able to affect change when we stop blaming others for our situation and accept the responsibility that we are making matters worse by enjoying the hatred and anger that permeates our society.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Terrorists have won

It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that the terrorists have won their game.  The object of most terrorists is to take down a government.  Ours hasn’t been a functioning democracy for some time.  Both political parties are so wrapped up in building and maintaining their power that they have forgotten what power is supposed to be used for.  Small groups of activists in power in each party are convinced that a divide and conquer strategy is the best one to use.  By spreading fear,  hate, anger and blame to the other party they think they can consolidate their power.  I haven’t voted for a candidate for a long time and I bet you haven’t either.  We vote against the candidate we think will do the most harm.  We have equated money with power and believe you need one to get the other.  We have stopped listening to the “horse’s mouth” and instead listen to the pundits misinterpretation of what was said.  Instead of discussing ideas, we bad mouth people.  One group blindly agrees with what they are told to believe and another group thinks they know what is right for everyone and that everyone should agree with them without discussion.  We are  told to see things as good or evil with no in-between.  We are led to believe that all relationships fall in the category of winner or loser and the thought that a transaction could benefit both sides and even result in synergy is not a possibility.  We are taught to believe that if the other party gets its’ way, the country as we know it will implode.

As an old white man who wears a feed hat, I am tired as being portrayed as a racist, and I am sure that black people are more tired at being told their lives don’t matter.  When Archie Bunker came on the scene we all thought it was funny when he said things that people thought but didn’t say out loud. Now it seems people just want to say the most outrageous things they can to be noticed. People rant against “political correctness” when it is really just being polite.  We used to be taught that “if you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all”. 

The media has found that using outrageous headlines is what garners them the most attention and money and have turned to using opinions as headlines.  We are left not knowing what to believe as we are told that truth has two sides now.  Even the most reputational media provides opinions when they decide to report only the bad things, (or good) that a politician does.  With all the cacophony going on I would suggest that no one knows what the country wants, and anyone that says they do is only pushing their own agenda.  We no longer provide any importance to a politicians’ integrity and many even think the best liar makes the best politician.  This championing of mistrust is perhaps the most harmful aspect of our current climate as all business and politics require trust for anything good to happen.  It’s gotten to the point that when I hear one party accusing the other of distasteful actions, I know that the accusing party has already taken part in those same actions.  The names politicians give their bills always seem to describe what the bill will not do.

The phony stories about entitlements, income redistribution and takers really gets my craw.  I am entitled to many benefits because I have paid for them!  Income redistribution is seen as awful when the rich are to give to the poor, but the recent past shows the largest income redistribution in over a hundred years going from the poor to the rich.  Being accused of being a taker when the accusers are usually promoting tax cuts is the largest folly.  When one politician gets taxes cut, politicians in other governmental units end up raising taxes in order to keep the services that government provides.  I would suggest that the tax cutters are the biggest takers in the way they pass on larger and larger debt to future generations while continuing to spend. It’s the same story I heard in corporate life: We get some good benefit now, and when the it hits the fan it won’t be on my watch!

As long as we let the drug, finance, insurance and other fat cats finance our electoral system we will see no change.  It is in their interest to keep everything as it is.  Lawmakers have made it illegal for Medicare to negotiate drug prices while we are flooded with opiates,  Bankers can continue to rip off their clients without facing jail, and the Federal government will continue to subsidize health insurance premiums.  Meanwhile all our Congress people stay the same, arguing that government is either the only problem or the solution to all our problems.  Voters have to realize that when you elect clowns you end up with a circus.  We must unite to prosper.




Monday, June 5, 2017

Buggy Whips forever

It looks like the “Buggy Whip” lobby has taken over this country.  Just as the buggy whip manufacturers put all their effort against the auto industry, the status quo lobbies have won.  Leaving the Paris accords works for coal and petroleum companies.  Funding the health insurance companies keeps them profitable while they cry to Congress. It’s been said that if we had today’s healthcare in the 1950’s we’d have designer iron lungs as a major industry.  We have to stop overlooking the lies that our lobbyists tell, while ranting against the lies the other guys lobbyists are telling.  Hypocrisy seems to be a virtue in that we all seem to support our politicians that continue to lie and change positions.  It’s ok for me in Minnesota to influence an election in Montana, but not ok for the Russians to influence elections in the US.  I fail to see the difference.  Each action takes power away from the voters and gives it to the lobbyists. Until we get campaign finance reform, I’m afraid we are going to forestall the future and maybe go to a past of robber barons, rip offs, and pollution. The corruption of power is in how it spends more time keeping power then using it for the public good.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Personal Bubbles

As we retreat into our safe bubbles of beliefs and world views we have to remember that our bubble is relatively small and not as all encompassing as reflected by our personal media.  By portraying the stupidity of those in other bubbles, our media can make us feel good by denigrating those in other bubbles without even attempting to see their viewpoint.  We have become a nation that chooses to not accept responsibility but ready to blame others.  We don’t argue about  concepts that can better the nation, we call each other names and denigrate people. We revel in getting in other people’s business and telling them what they should do.   The only visions that I can identify from our politicians are that either: we should totally get rid of government, or that government can solve all our problems.  The view I get from my bubble is that we believe in: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Money”. 

 Of course, I don’t really know what this country believes, because the media is run by money and each organization willing to give the money to the media has a special interest in mind.  The media, just like our politicians, have to be circumspect in how they perform their duties or they won’t have any money to operate with.  Power comes with money, so it is no surprise that the two largest campaign donors are the two industries screwing us the most: the pharmaceutical  and  insurance industries.  It’s always been a political trick to cause fear among the citizenry.  Fear of loss is one of the greatest motivators known to man.  Pulling this card has become more and more common as we make individuals (that entered public service to do what they thought was good) into evil people. 

Our politicians don’t have the time to both govern and raise campaign funds from thousands of donors so they raise funds from special interests who now “HAVE ACCESS”.  This is all perfectly legal and perfectly corrupt.  As a Nation we are disgusted with Russia’s meddling with our election.  I wonder why there is no disgust with the calls for all of us non voters to meddle in Georgia’s and Montana's congressional elections?  Shouldn’t the voters in that district be able to decide for themselves about who is best to represent them without our interference?

Politically we have become a nation of critics afraid to innovate or suggest solutions because we know the ‘trolls’ will come down hard and/or someone will lose money.  I will counter this trend and suggest a solution, that if passed four years ago, could have left us in a much better place.  The amendment to our Constitution would read: 

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.”

 It would have far reaching consequences and need real grass roots support, as most of our power brokers will need substantial readjustment of how they operate, and will oppose it.  The only effect that we can be sure this would have is to return us to a real Democratic Republic.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Health Insurers are getting rich

Retiring after 45 years of insuring human lives, I am still amazed to see how the insurance industry has bought and paid for most of our Congress; Democrat and Republican.  AARP generates over half of its’ revenue from insurance sales and isn’t likely to harm the industry or represent us.  Now our State government wants to hand over a half a billion dollars in additional subsidies!  The insurance industry has always relied on being both boring and “complicated” in order to carry out their scams and it is time to call them on this nonsense.  Many conservatives are still saying we don’t have a mandate for universal coverage in this country,  even though, decades ago, all 50 states have passed laws making the most expensive universal coverage, emergency room care, mandatory.  Private insurance is the managing of risks through underwriting, spreading of risk, and claims management.  Traditionally, health insurers divided their business into individual (fully underwritten) and group. With the introduction of Obamacare the ability to underwrite the individual market went away, which should have eliminated this differentiation of group and individual and thus spreading the risk better.  Because the states regulate insurance, and the insurance lobby is very effective, no one seems to care to force the insurers to price their business on all the risk that they assume, group and individual. 

While the insurers are complaining about their individual block of business the politicians are freely giving them our money.  The top seven health insurers net income for 2016 was over: 17 billion dollars.

1. Unitedhealth Group
2. Wellpoint Inc. Group (Anthem)                            
3. Kaiser Foundation Group
4. Humana Group 
5. Aetna Group
6. HCSC Group
7. Cigna Health Group 

While the insurance lobby was very effective in both writing and fighting Obamacare, they have lead misinformation campaigns such as: The government bureaucrat deciding your health care is worse than the insurance company bureaucrat deciding your healthcare.  Think for a minute, who gets the bonus for denying your claim.  Another is that you should be able to buy coverage that doesn’t cover everything.  Young people aren’t likely to have a problem so why should they pay for coverage?  One because they aren’t likely to have claims, the coverage is likely to be very inexpensive and two, when the claim does come in: it’s us taxpayers who are going to pay it.  The thought that “private industry” is more efficient than government doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: Medicare operates on about 4% of premiums, while private insurers are operating on between 15% and 20% of premiums (it would have been more except for Senator Franken).  The very idea of “For Profit Healthcare” is an oxymoron.  You can only increase profits by: more sick people, more expensive drugs and treatments, less cures, and more treatments.

If the pursuit of money isn’t taken into account healthcare is relatively simple.  You want to be able to see the doctor of your choice and your doctor wants to be able to charge what he/she wants.  This can be easily be done with a single payer system like Medicare, where a schedule of payments for procedures is set and the more the doctor charges over the schedule, the less the single payer will pay, leaving the difference up to the patient or private insurance.  Employer deductions for health insurance, from form 5500, can be the base for the tax that would pay for the single payer since employers would no longer have that obligation.

Unfortunately, I see little hope of change happening until we can limit campaign contributions to those able to vote in the elections.  The corruption of our political process is getting worse and until we can weed out the money from outside our constituencies, (including Russia) it isn’t likely to improve.