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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 10:31 AM        While Oil companies post highest profits ever...
"WASHINGTON - Wages and benefits paid to civilian workers rose last year by the smallest amount in nine years, the government reported Tuesday."
-AP Wire

Think that will make the stte of the Union?
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Cosmo Electrolux Cosmo Electrolux is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 10:46 AM       
the rich keep getting richer....
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 11:20 AM       
And the poor keep getting poorer
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 11:53 AM       
*gags*

...and logical thinking people with ANY understanding of economics moon the people posting this kind of crap.
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 12:15 PM       
I don't think anyone has any understanding of economics. Here's what I know and what I keep saying. Every year the increase in my health care costs outpaces my raise. The last two years, heating costs outpaced my raise. If it weren't for freelancing and sleeping less, I'd be making significantly less take home than I was four years ago.

f you're in the same boat as I am, and I know a lot of folks are, you don't give a crap about what economists say. I hear consumer confidence went up. Swell. I hear the economoy is doing great. Swell. My take home pay gets smaller, I have to work longer hours just to stay in the same place. That's my economics.
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 02:54 PM       
Your health care costs, or the price of your health insurance? Assuming you meant the latter, why don't you go get a Health Savings Account and manage your own health care finances instead of allowing your employer to do it? If you're like me and rarely go to the doctor, the money you save will be significant. As long as you stay in an old fashioned PPO/HMO/Copay plan, you are only going to see increases in prices, cutbacks in services and more and more out of pocket expenses whenever you actually do use it.

Do that, and then write Dubya a letter thanking him for the tax and savings benefits you'll also be getting from your new HSA...

Next, contact your local elected officials and express your interest in the Fair Tax proposal. That is the single most important issue facing our country today. You want a better government? Fair Tax. You want more money? Fair Tax. You want a better economy? How about one that attracts foreign business instead of repelling our own corporations? How about setting the tax standard for a globalized economy that actually benefits emerging economies instead of allowing your country to retain it's destructive, regressive system that only keeps it's economic power through backhanded manipulation of... well, everybody on the planet.

Wait... skip that last suggestion. You live in Massachussetts.

Well, if everybody else does that, maybe it will help you even though you live in such a screwed up place.

Economics isn't that difficult to understand as long as you can accept that truly free markets and empowerment of individual choices are good things. It gets complicated when you try to factor in for everybody's viewpoints, regardless of their flaws and misconceptions. You can't say you want free markets but only if we can guarantee that nobody from our country ever loses their job or that some other uncomfortable thing happens. It's life. Uncomfortable things happen. We learn from them and grow.

Instead of waiting around for someone to fix the economy, you have made other arrangements to increase your income. Unfortunately, your net increase has only helped stabilize your financial picture at the expense of your sleep. You need to maximize your income while increasing your sleepy time now, right? But, it sounds as if you are saying the only way that's gonna happen is if somebody fixes the economy for you... You are a riddle wrapped in a contradiction. Drizzled with chipotle mustard and dipped in wild honey.

Money is not a religion. Stop listening to economists and figure it out for yourself. Pick up "The Lexus and the Olive Tree." It's a quick read and pretty informative. It was written before 9/11, so it's likely a purer picture of globalization than anything written since the WOT began.

The main thing to remember is that no government can make you strong if you are not willing to do the majority of the work yourself. I know that you were just trying to be a cynical bastard with your initial post, and please understand this "advice" isn't meant in any way other than an argumentative one... just in a nice way. See, I figure while you are distracted with your new toy, I might be able to talk some sense to you...[/url]
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 04:13 PM       
Preech, you got kids? I have two. Even at the current rate, Insurance is still a far better deal than putting the same amount into a health savings plan.

And the government would at least be in a position to serve me (and the many people way worse off than I am) if the wealth gap weren't so fucking huge. I know you think I'm nuts, especially concidering how cuynical I am about human nature. Keep in mind I don't expect success. I expect mostly failure. But to me the goal of government should be the betterment of all citizens through collective effort. Not that we don't do a fair amount of this compared to lots of other places. But we could do a damn site better protecting our weakest from our strongest.

I'm not waiting. I vote, I raise money for the poor and donate time, I'm active in my community, la, la, la. Small beans, but all I've got. Oh, and I complain and mouth off at every opportunity, enough so that should we lapse into totalitarianism it should be very easy to find me, but only worth it after you've alredy jailed all the more effective people.

AND I think economics is a soft soft soft science greased with so much snake oil it guarantess anal leakage.
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 05:05 PM       
What is your perfect government if not totalitarian, max?

Nope, no kids for me. I have two dogs that are almost entirely self-sufficient, and they are still almost too much of a committment for me.

With your last post, this conversation just got way too complicated for me to work on during work hours. If you'll PM me your address, I will mail you a copy of Atlas Shrugged... even on CD if you don't read. We're gonna have to start from scratch on you, man...
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 07:19 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Preechr
What is your perfect government if not totalitarian, max?
Not unless you generalize everyone with slightly liberal views as being psycho socialists that had gorbechav posters in there dorm rooms..
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 07:31 PM       
first, free market economies only work when the people making the money pay fairly for the work from their labor force.

that was pretty much the point ian rand missed in that shitty book.

you can go into all that bullshit about market forces, and having choice and all that, but when my choices are shop at fucking wal mart, or boycott them and pretty much not eat, well there is no free market.

too many companies are making too much money. they dont give a fuck if I don't like them, there are 10,000 retards right behind me who don't give a shit, or have no real choice, so they get what they want anyway.

as for thanking bush for the 100 dollars or so of my own fucking money the government did not rape me for, he can go fuck himself and you can too. we now have over a hundred billion dollars of wasted money in iraq, and sooner or later the bill will come due, and you can bet my already broke ass will have to bear way more of than bush is "giving" me now.
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 07:34 PM       
ugh.

health savings plans are totally stupid for people who have kids. even when we didn't have a child, opening one of those wouldn't have worked for us because ALL OF OUR MONEY WAS GOING TO PAY BILLS. not to mention that children are always, always sick orrr they need shots.

wanna hear something f'd up? i'm happy because we are going to get a huge tax return this year. the down side of this is that we are getting it because we are under the poverty level. there are weeks where i don't know how in the hell we pay all our bills. we don't live an extravagent lifestyle, either. the only thing that we have that is a luxary (to us) is highspeed internet and i'm really close to cancelling it once my husband's health insurance costs go up AGAIN.

i could very easily go and get public assistance for baby stuff (wic, food stamps, etc...). i won't do it because we are surviving on what we have. at the end of any given week we have about $25-$75 in our checking account. that's a scary fucking situation for someone who has a kid.

yup. so. yeah. just venting, really.
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ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 08:36 PM       
You should make your baby a model and become one of those moms..
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El Blanco El Blanco is offline
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 08:52 PM       
Just out of curiosity:

Why do healthcare costs keep rising?

Anybody have any ideas how to fix it?
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 05:25 PM       
Preech, I can't get past the fact that Ayn Rand is a shitty writer. I have a strong sense that past that she's a shitty philosipher, but I just can't get past the shitty writing.
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 06:03 PM       
GB, Yep... HSAs are generally best for those without kids. The main thing I was suggesting to max was that he should at least investigate obtaining his own insurance instead of relying on his employer. I'd either forgotten or did not know his current paternal status.

Please keep in mind that HSAs are a very new concept, but the represent a revolution in insurance. There were only 2 or 3 companies offering the trial version up until 1/1/1, but once the restrictions were removed tons of companies figured them out and began to market them. Sure, they are not currently best for everybody, but they are a much healthier model of insurance than the old copay/major medical plans. Competition will make them stronger and more flexible. While the old plans will cover less and less at increasing prices, HSAs are going to get cheaper while expanding their benefits. Keep an open mind. You might yet find a better option in future HSA plans...

A Dubya benefit update: The main roadblock to individual ownership of health insurance has been that COBRA continuation does not apply unless the policy was purchased by your employer. From what I've heard, in last night's SOTU (I cannot watch... too much freaking clapping) it was promised that this little oddity will end, affording the same protections to individual policies as have been available to group setups.

This will likely revitalize the struggling individual health market. God knows there's sufficient demand at this point... Let's hope removing the financial roadblocks will help the supply side kick in. Our healthcare crisis might yet have a private solution!

I've run out of time...

Blanco: I can answer your questions... but it'll have to wait until the weekend...

Max: Give it a shot, man. You could call Pablo Neruda a shitty writer if you were biased against what you thought he was trying to express. You don't think Pablo Neruda's a shitty writer, do you max? Shitty writing or not, and I happen to disagree, I think you'll get a kick out of it even if you don't like what she has to say.

Scru: You're reading too much into my question. Max is advocating a forceful government style. Just because it does what you want does not make it soemthing other than totalitarian.

george: Not only do I not know you, but your comments are retarded and you told me to fuck myself. Feel free to take your own advice. If I saw you on the street I would SO beat your ass and such.
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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MLE MLE is offline
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 06:50 PM       
he didn't tell you to fuck yourself. he said bush can fuck himself. are you our current president?

EDIT: oh, "and you can too" sorry. i still don't think his main intention was anger towards you, but in fact anger towards the dire financial situation he's in.
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 08:32 PM       
"your comments are retarded" "I would SO beat your ass and such"

come on preech, you can do better.
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 10:38 PM       
Aw... I was just trying to be funny again.

I guess I'm gonna have to work on that.
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:09 AM       
Ok, so the question was "Why do healthcare costs keep rising?"

I couldn't possibly explain that completely, but I can at least attempt to make a half-assed pass at it. Insurance companies, in general, have established a pretty bad habit of selling themselves into various holes for various reasons on a regular basis. The insurance market operates in hot and cold cycles. Currently, one of these cycles takes about seven years, and we're in the profitable part of this cycle.

During the hard market portion of each cycle, the less profitable part, the total cost of claims paid by the companies rises. This is linked to downturns in the larger economy, which raises the somewhat sad prospect that people generally make more insurance claims when money is tight. I say that's sad because of the more plausible of the two explanations for this non-coincedence: either when people are fat with cash they don't worry so much about turning in valid claims... not likely... or people find it easier to commit fraud when the chips are down. That's sad.

Anyhoo, we're not talking about tragically flawed people so much here as we are insurance companies. When claim costs go up, prices follow. The competition is fierce, so we are talking about delicate adjustments here that make or break companies that have been around forever. Generally speaking, the peak of the claim/price upturn includes at least a little bit of time where the companies lose money. Right after the peak, however, claims go down and everybody breathes out with relief, wiping the sweat from their brows.

What happens next is what screws the whole thing up. There is a period of time when claim costs have fallen and the companies recoup and reload. Advertising budgets are recharged, and new marketing ploys come out of the woodwork...

Let me back up a minute. Let's talk about the basics of insurance. The soft chewy center of insurance is the concept of indemnity: Since insurance is all about unexpected accidents, one should never expect to be made more than whole, financially, by whatever financial catastrophy has been experienced. If I wreck my $2k car, I should not be paid a penny more than $2k for my loss, right? That's an over-simplification (and not that good of an example,) but the principle is a very important thing to understand, as the violation of it is what has really done the bulk of the work behind our "Health Care Crisis."

At least as I'm gonna tell it to you, anyways. A lot of folks might explain the whole thing as something the government caused by legislating mandates on policies, such as the ever popular "My insurance policy covers me for pregnancy even though I'm a single guy because those idiots in my state legislature stuck their noses where they didn't belong!" There's some truth to that, but being a person that has already been caught railing against the inherent and incredible inefficiency of government, I couldn't very well sit here and say government somehow became good at something, even if it was wrecking a private industry, could I?

While there is a lot of culpability for government interference, even a bit of conspiratorial jibber-jabber to be mumble-mouthed, let's look at what the industry big-wigs... the fat-cats... did to make their own beds...

We were right where the money faucet turned itself back on in any given insurance profit cycle. The war-drums of competition reaches a feverish pitch as the roller coaster car edges up to the upcoming fall in prices. Got that? Prices fall, but more and more profit is made by those that cut their prices at exactly the right moments. Remember all this the next time you hear an insurance company claim they ALWAYS have the lowest prices. It's much more likely that somebody somewhere is always cheaper.

The problem arises out of the marketing department. Some jerk unfailingly pushes through some stupid new "feature" for a perfectly good policy that violates the principle of indemnity. Some of you that have recently been involved in the repair of a car covered under "full-coverage" insurance might have heard somewhere in this process of a new thing called "Diminished Value" or something like that. This is the little extra the company pays you for the decrease in price your fully repaired vehicle will fetch were you to sell it. That's not the kind of thing I'm talking about. Diminished Value squares pretty well with indemnity, as you get paid for something you actually lost.

Think about your own health insurance policy if you have one. It is, just like the more familiar policy I keep using as an example, based in the principle of indemnity. You should never get paid back for more than you lost in a financial accident. Right off, I bet you can see how these two policies, that for your car and that for your health, don't seem very similar at all with respect to indemnity. In reality, they are twigs off the same branch of the larger tree... They both cover high frequency claims that we all know are gonna happen. Your house may never burn down and you might never get robbed, but you will get sick and chances are you will someday experience a car accident.

If you made it this far, you might be wondering how all this meandering and tangential insurance talk might somehow be explaining rising healthcare costs. Generally speaking, how do you figure the vast majority of healthcare costs are paid? Health insurance claims, right? We have been conditioned to believe that paying a $20 copay for a check up is something entirely different than a car wreck, but it really isn't.

See, I'm really trying very hard to distill this down as much as possible. I hope the things I'm leaving un-typed are obvious to those still following along. Marketing folk at the company level, flush with fresh budgets and driven to sell more policies, work very hard to give customers more than indemnity allows, sometimes succeeding in each soft market cycle. Each cycle leaves the core principle of insurance more tattered.

Add to that the regular influence of outside pressures on indemnity, and the industry becomes more and more fucked. For example, you may have heard of asbestos. The power of the legal system was brought to bear on insurance companies when asbestos was found to cause cancer. Asbestos was everywhere at the time. Laws were changed and suits were won and then asbestos claims became very expensive. Then there was lead paint, followed by polybutylene pipe, now mold.

Again, I'm using a different type of insurance to explain health insurance. It's a bit easier that way. I hope it's not harder to understand. See, were I to explain all this using examples from health insurance, I would be talking about entitlements you all have been conditioned to believe are yours by right. When we discuss car accidents, we think about faked neck pain... and we're only talking about a material possession, right? Not a life. Suppose I brought up coverage for a normal, healthy pregnancy. I would be attacked for suggesting that this should not be covered under an insurance policy. Should it? Is a pregnancy a financial accident? Should it be considered to always be so?

Again, I'm leaving a lot out. I'm assuming we are all already familiar with the standard excuses for rising healthcare costs, such as pharmaceutical R&D costs and malpractice suits. Despite my avoidance of the government interference angle so far, there's also a lot to be said about the need of Socialized Medicine being a self fulfilling prophecy that's been actively helped along at the expense of our health and wallets.

I've said a lot to start answering a simple question. I'm not even sure if Blanco was just fishing for the left-side of the excuse engine, so I'll back off and open the floor now.

HAVE A NICE DAY.
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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ziggytrix ziggytrix is offline
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:41 AM       
Cliff notes version:

It's the fucking Insurance companies' fault. Burn them to the ground and stir the ashses. If we all paid for our own health care, hospitals couldn't charge a million dollars for emergency treatment. The downside is if something really bad happens to you, you're kinda fucked. Sorry.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:12 AM       
Oh, man, Preech. A.) I'm not that big on Neruda. and B.) Now I'm going to have to go back and see if my recollection that Ayn Rand is an AMAZINGLY shitty writer is as correct as I think.

A Winter's Tale is a hell of a book, because Halperin is a hell of a writer. He also worked for Reagan and Bush I.

While I care about ideas in fiction, I care more about the writing. It's been a Looooooong time, but my recollection is the only way to trick yourself into thinking Ms. Rand writes at more than a fifth grade level is to be totally in awe of her ideas. I shall find examples.
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VinceZeb VinceZeb is offline
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 11:52 AM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by mburbank
Preech, I can't get past the fact that Ayn Rand is a shitty writer. I have a strong sense that past that she's a shitty philosipher, but I just can't get past the shitty writing.
Wow. We find something that we can agree on.
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 08:11 PM       
Kewl. Now he'll DEFINTELY have to read it...
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 11:31 AM       
Uh-Uh. If I agree with Vinth about Thith, I have to take some book I already KNOW I love, paste a paperback ATLAS SHRUGGED cover over the exitsing cover and pretend really, really hard. No way can I take the risk that I might end up agreeing with Vinth about something. It could cause the universe to implode.
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 10:30 PM       
That's why you HAVE TO read it.

Read it or jump in the shower with Vince.

Checkmate, baby.
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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