Links 3/21/12

More internet woes. I think the blog gods want me to stay chained to my desk in New York. Lambert was a good sport and pitched in.

Spring Arrives with Equinox Tuesday, Earliest in More Than a Century Scientific American

$1.5 billion: The cost of cutting London-Toyko latency by 60ms ExtremeTech. And guess who the big beneficiaries are? Algos.

Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords Associated Press (hat tip reader Martha R)

Generic Drugs Prove Resistant to Damage Suits New York Times

EU defies carbon trade war threats Financial Times

How Much Longer Can Transaction Tax Be Delayed? Der Spiegel

IMF sees $160 oil risk despite Libyan boost Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Conflict in Syria is a Civil War Real News Network

U.S. Exempts Japan, 10 EU Nations From Iran Oil Sanctions Bloomberg (hat tip Joe Costello)

Philippines says no to drone strikes Bangkok Post

US Lawmakers Reject Pakistani Calls to End Drone Strikes VOA

The Japan debt disaster and China’s (non)rebalancing Michael Pettis

A rumour concerning €1 trillion in German bad debt Golem XIV

Santorum’s blunt talk is proving troublesome Washington Post. You think?

Just $47B from Buffett rule tax on rich Associated Press. Over 11 years.

Masters of finance and war will fall together Bangkok Post (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

“Too Smart to Fail” Thomas Frank, The Baffler (hat tip reader Mark S)

Central banks and gold puzzles VoxEU. It basically says gold is a status symbol for central banks.

Mitt Romney declares victory in Illinois Chicago Tribune

Health Insurers: We’ll Deny Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions if Health Mandate Is Repealed Truthout (hat tip reader 1 SK). There is more to this than meets the eye. First, insurers really want Obamacare, since it fattens their bottom lines by bringing more people into the pool and allowing them margins wider than they enjoy now. Second, Obamacare preserves the “fraud” out for coverage, which insurers use now to deny coverage for costly procedures, and “fraud” includes not telling the insurer about pre-existing conditions, even super trivial ones.

Sources of health system (in)efficiency, in one chart The Incidental Economist (hat tip reader 1 SK)

The Summers of Our Discontent Forget Larry (hat tip reader 1 SK)

JOBS Bill Vote Postponed in Senate New York Times

Fed may fine SunTrust, other banks over foreclosure issues AJC. Even if this takes place, it will be more regulatory theater.

Inequality Undermines Democracy New York Times

Transforming Occupy’s challenge into transformation and innovative self-organization – Random Communications from an Evolutionary Edge (MR).

Antidote du jour via twig:

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  1. scott

    The top tax rate in the ’50s was 90%. God, what a horrible time that was. You only needed on wage earner per household, and you could earn enough working over a summer to pay tuition for a state school. No one was bankrupted by medical costs. Profits from business were put back into plant and equipment instead of the pockets of the executive class.

    1. CB

      From some businesses. Steel, for one, was a lifestyle support system for the oligarchical families who controlled the stocks and the boardrooms.

    2. aet

      “…in the ’50s … No one was bankrupted by medical costs.”

      Are you quite sure about that?

      1. Wendy

        I don’t know if the statement is literally true, but it is true that health insurance was in early stages at that time, and most people didn’t have it, or need it.
        Here’s but one timeline, describing invention of prepaid health care in the 40’s, and describes its reception as “seen as radical.” Too bad that point of view died out.
        Funny, this chart also states that the cost of hospital care doubled during the 50’s… funnily enough, at the very same time group health insurance was gathering steam (and enrollees).

      2. Westcoastliberal

        Sure it’s true. Office visits were $5 and unless it was something “exotic” the doc usually provided you with whatever meds you needed right at the office for a couple of bucks.
        Unions mandated Blue Cross for hospital & Blue Shield for specialists/surgeons. In most cases, you didn’t even need to file insurance.
        What screwed the system up is Reagan introducing “Health Maintenence Organizations” (HMO’s). That separated the doc from his patients, and costs have skyrocketed ever since.
        What we need in the U.S. is single-payer healthcare (as is the case in every other democracy).

        1. CB

          The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-222 codified as 42 U.S.C. §300e) is a United States statute enacted on December 29, 1973….President Richard Nixon signed bill S.14 into law on December 29, 1973.


          Not Reagan. Reagan committed many sins but HMOs weren’t his invention. HMOs were thought to be a good thing, until the profit genie got out of the cost containment bottle.

    3. Bill C

      Uh oh, the old “those were the good old days” for the 50s:

      “No one was bankrupted by medical costs”

      right, most people couldn’t afford expensive medical treatment, they just died.

      We only needed one wage earner working (if you were white) because we still had a virtual slave class (or a couple) as black, hispanic and some asian people were not paid a living wage.

      White people who pine for the “good old days” always forget about those little points.

      1. CB

        Um, but…. When I graduated from HS, 1961, a male HS grad could get a job that would keep him, then him and a wife, then him and a family in a house. Lots of familes did it and lots of “breadwinners” were of single paycheck families. It started to change in the early/mid seventies. By the eighties, the squeeze had become painful for lower income earners, particularly because their incomes hadn’t been rising to match inflation and the negative compounding was biting huge holes in their finances. The middle class seems largely to have not noticed, it was the lower class that was affected, after all, but it was only a matter of time until the backup in the basement rose to the first floor. We who never made much money have been daily aware of the “issues” for decades.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One paycheck families in the ’50s and ’60s.

          Now, we have two-paycheck families.

          Next, three-paycheck families — polygamy and polyandry will be legal soon, I think.

          It will not be hard to go from there to 4 or more paycheck families.

          1. scraping_by

            More likely a return to multigenerational households, common in certain regions and among certain immigrant groups all the way up to WWII. Three generations of paychecks, just to run one house.

          2. CB

            Just personally, I whole heartedly support polyamory. But that’s another subject, for another blog, probably.

      2. Neo-Realist

        White People for the most part weren’t in cutthroat economic competition with those blacks, latins, and asians for those paying jobs thanks to the lack of any serious institutional civil rights support.

        No wonder Richie Cunningham and Potsie were smiling all the time.

      3. Lidia

        My father was a surgeon, and I know that in the early 1960s, an appendectomy cost a few thousand dollars. A 4-bedroom house in a good neighborhood cost about $20-$30k. The average wage was around $8k.

        Today an appendectomy costs over $65k or 1.25x the median income, rather than .5x the median income, like in the early 1960s.

        These are very rough figures, but you get the point…

      4. James Sterling

        The existence of an underclass of non-white cheap workers doesn’t help working class whites. On the contrary, it lowers their wages and raises their rents. So that can’t be an explanation for fifties working class prosperity.

  2. miguelito

    Re: Generic Drugs Prove Resistant to Damage Suits.

    I remember taking two courses of Accutane about 3 years apart when I was younger. Luckily I didn’t have any of the severe side effects mentioned in the article. However, during the second course the pharmacy started providing a generic version and I could tell a difference within a week of taking it (2 pills everyday) – the difference being issues with my GI. My next refill I had to ask for the non generic and my issues disappeared. The article makes me wonder if I should start asking for non-generic again if/when I have to get a prescription filled.

    1. Name

      It should not matter whether a medication is generic or ‘name brand’, given they have the same active & inactive ingredients and are held to the same standards as far as regulations are concerned. If it does, then perhaps FDA standards need to be changed. I would say in your case either there was a supposedly ‘inactive’ ingredient that was the culprit or else placebo effect from knowing that you were taking ‘generic’ medication.

      1. juneau

        Generics should be the same indeed. However, the measure of “the same” by FDA guidelines is something called bioequivalence:

        Per the FDA (source, FDA via Wikipedia on bioequivalence)

        “The FDA considers two products bioequivalent if the 90% CI of the relative mean Cmax, AUC(0-t) and AUC(0-∞) of the test (e.g. generic formulation) to reference (e.g. innovator brand formulation) should be within 80.00% to 125.00% in the fasting state…”

        That means that the generic equivalent can be 80 percent to 125 percent as potent to get FDA approval.

        If I can put 20 percent less product vs 25 percent more product in my generic, which is better for my profit margins?

        1. aet

          If it’s a “generic”, then by definition the compound in question has ceased to “enjoy” patent protection…therefore, the compound would have already been in use for some period of time, usually a couple of decades.

          Would that period of time under patent protection be sufficient, for most compounds, to reveal any problems which may arise from their use as prescribed by the population?

          Could that circumstance help to explain some portion of the lack of litigation “success”, experienced by those people suing for compensation for damage which they allege was caused by their use of these compounds?

      2. FormerInvestigator

        While generics do have the same active ingredient, they often do NOT have the same inactive ingredients. It is the latter which often cause side effects not associated with the non-gneric version.

  3. Name

    The links are particularly compelling today. #1 aggre-gator.

    Salmon Counterparties fell off my radar when his co-contributor took over…Now it appears they have disappeared completely.

    MR is still rather good, not nearly the volume, though. Today you made me open 11 tabs.

    1. yeast confection

      Seconded. That last link was fantastic, a great antidote to the urgency and anxiety injected into Occupy by the party co-optation forces. Just milling around and fermenting, that’s yeoman work.

  4. Richard Kline

    Re: Obamacare and embedded ‘fraudout,’ in other words, you can be compelled to buy coverage but the nominal insurer has complete discretion to deny your claim on specious or no grounds. This is ‘protection money’ in all the most despicable senses. Health insurance it’s not—but then the whole grotesque scheme was the Permanent Profit Act for the health mediation industry.

    We’ll get single payer. The question is how many dead bodies and whose we’ll have to climb over to get there. Our government, regardless of extractional faction in power, are suits serving thugs and vice versa.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      So Richard, how long will you go on with this sham medicine? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), one of Mao’s legacies, in the hands of a well-trained Chinese native, is superior in all respects. And it’s dirt cheap. Even with the Feds jacking around the Chinese pharmacies, forcing them to raise prices on their herbs.

      Competent TCM practitioners exist in all the major cities. No, they can’t possibly handle the volume, and, yes, there are a lot of western TCM wannabes that can’t quite get it right, but shifting the focus from the crap that clearly no longer works and cannot be afforded, to a system that both works and is affordable, is overdue.

      Faced with the American embargo, Castro turned to the Chinese and invented “barefoot doctors”. Remember them? He trained his own people, and then set about training doctors for Central and South America as well as Africa. The barefoots are still the basis of Cuban medicine.

      Stop whining. Stop bitching. Stop feeling sorry for yourselves, it’s sickening. Research. Study. Act.

      1. Susan the other

        We as a country do not regulate herbal medicines and remedies. That industry is allowed to scam us to its heart’s content. Just like politicians. But not only China does good herbal medicine. THey do it in Germany; control it carefully, and provide many excellent preparations over the counter. The US used to have a pharmacopeia (sp?) based on centuries of trial and error using herbal remedies. The Native Americans; Native Everyone had/has medical treatments based on effective use of herbs and natural compounds. But it would be better if the remedies were standardized and quality controlled because as it is they do not seem to be very effective. Maybe I’m wrong.

    2. Igor

      Fun blog here:

      “…Meanwhile back at the Castle, things are not going so well for Doctor Franken-Ryan and Count Boner (only his orange SPF-500 allows him out in the daylight). A crowd of tea bag Igors have them cornered and are demanding the evil creation be rebuilt to their liking. It seems the monster is not vile enough, not cruel enough, and not sufficiently mad enough for their liking. They believe they control the Castle and know what terror is best for the village.

      Even though the proposed budget will totally screw the middleclass, taking an axe to food stamps, college education, Medicaid and Medicare, this is not enough for the hard right. You didn’t think there could be a right more hard-hearted than Ryan, did you?

      The current plan features a 35% tax cut for the rich and is “revenue neutral” by cutting deductions. Deductions that favor the middle-class whose tax rate won’t go down. Medicaid will be under-funded via block grants to the states who will be cut loose to provide for their poor, or let them die in the streets. The majority of Medicaid now goes to nursing home residents who will find their Medicare drying up as well. Medicare will be converted to a voucher system with fixed government payments to pay toward private insurance. This will simply make it unavailable to seniors without the means to make up the difference…”

    3. bob

      The local HI monopoly announced record profits this year, up over 300%. They gave the CEO of this non-profit a 5 million dollar retention bonus. Non-profit company

      I called and emailed the state AG, no response yet. Called the US DOJ, anti-trust division. I was told that this was a tax issue.

      One IG at treasury returned my email, saying that he didn’t care, but one of the other might.

      Called the state police. After talking to a very nice seargeant for quite a while, we both concluded that it was racketeering. But, he was not able to act without the state AG bringing charges.

      Nothing from the AG as of yet, going on 3 weeks now. He must be busy in DC.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        The industry is exempt from antitrust laws so there is little to be done. See the LA Times article I link to below . . . been the case since the 1940s or so and now there are 3 big players in the industry and premiums have gone up hella high the last decade or so.

        Also, the states are powerless to stop price gouging. Sure, there might be the impression of a panel or adivsory board or some other pretense of regulation. But there’s not. Obamacare isn’t reform or progress . . . . it’s throwing us to the sharks.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Yes indeed. This RT story is even more accurate than the other story reporting that Syria is in “civil war.” The war has been created and funded by the West. The Western media and complicit Gulf media, like Al Jazeera, have been rocked by media scandals but this has been hidden from even progressives because the media is completely corrupted so there is no one to tell us people at Al Jazeera are resiging and their internal emails have been leaked showing massive division within Al Jazeera.

      There have been other recent scandals showing that Al Jazeera is propaganda but Western liberals still love pretending Al Jazeera is legitimate local news that they have spiked the stories.

      Turkey and NATO are getting ready to invade (which really is the U.S./Isreal/the West).

      The media as a whole is complicit in these crimes.

      The Western media is an adjunct to the War Department. They are literal war criminals because they are knowingly passing off false information with the intention of fomenting war.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Sorry. I guess you linked to the “Real News” story and not a Russia Times story. In any case, good interview.

        It amazes me this story is not being reported in the U.S.–especially by liberals.

        1. G3

          Liberals loved Al Jazeera for its coverage of Egypt. And then they kept thinking it has the same standards during Libyan war. They are either wilfully/blissfully ignorant of the influence of geo-politics in it’s coverage.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      There are major fractures in the Western media regarding the reporting on Syria. The propaganda is becoming obvious and people are fighting back.

      Here is a description of censorship in the Huffington Post:

      And here is a fight between one of the few good reporters on Syria, Lizzie Phelan, who of course is getting attacked, and As’ad AbuKhalil, the “Angry Arab” professor and blogger:

      It is becoming apparent to me that Angry Arab is a Western stooge just like Juan Cole is. They both probably work for U.S. intelligence. Both pretend to be liberals that support more understanding of the Arab/Muslim world, but both are gatekeepers that are seeking to assist the West maintain control. Just like Michael Moore, George Clooney, Chris Hedges, and probably lots of other liberals.

      Also, CNN and Al Jazeera got caught showing faked videos. This has been a regular occurrence during the Libyan and Syrian wars and any honest reporter can figure it out by looking at the videos. I won’t link to them because that is a whole blog post in itself.

      The Guardian has released faked emails from Assad and other documents suppossedly stolen from the Syrians (these seem fake but hasn’t been good analysis either way that I’ve seen).

      There have been major media scandals, probably even bigger than the Iraq war reporting, and people in the West are oblivious. It’s because or media and blogs are almost completely run by fascist perps.

      I wonder what is being discussed in journalism departments around the country. Probably nothing because this industry is completely corrupted. Looked at the Columbia Journalism Review yesterday and I saw jack squat on Syria.

      1. just me

        What’s your beef with Michael Moore, George Clooney and Chris Hedges? I like them all. I wish Michael Moore was president. We wouldn’t be invading countries and making enemies, we’d all be taking a walk together and sharing tweets and pix among friends. I love that guy.!/search/%23MikeTakesaWalk

        1. just me

          Edit: “I wish Michael Moore was President.”

          (For him, I’d capitalize president again)

        2. Walter Wit Man

          They’re left wing gatekeepers. They work for the elite. They’re perps.

          All three support the basic premise of humanitarian war and U.S. imperialism even though they pretend to be opposing war. They control and misdirect any opposition to the fascists.

          They’re jedi mindfuckers.

          It’s complicated, so I won’t be able to do it justice here. It’s actually a fascinating line of inquiry that needs to be explored.

          But on Syria for instance, all three have supported the basic premise (actually . . . not so sure about Clooney); that Assad is committing atrocities and is a tyrant and there is an organic resistance popping up and he needs to go. So they are justifying yet another invasion, even though the are pretending to warn about war. Same thing with Iran, they repeat all the wild claims against the Iranian government, then claim they are against war and don’t want the U.S. to invade even though the Iranian government deserves it.

          Analyzing these three amigos in more detail would make a good story actually. They demonstrate the brilliance of American propaganda and show how the left wing in this country was neutralized.

          1. just me

            Well Clooney just got arrested for leading a demonstration against Sudan’s govt/war crimes outside the Sudanese embassy in DC on Saturday.

            (I totally do not get the Kurt Cobain ref in the url)

            George has been active investigating reports of war crimes by [Sudanese president] Bashir, reports that outspoken George says are true. George was sprung after posting $100 bail. Among the other 13 cuffed: Reps. Jim Moran (D., Va.), and Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), former Rep. Tom Andrews (D., Maine), NAACP prez Ben Jealous, and Martin Luther King III. Busy police!

            I see good guy.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            I see a bad guy pretending to be a good guy.

            He’s asking for the U.S. military to be sent into yet another country. He may be coordinating with the anti-Kony guy. They are connected to some of the same liberal backers.

            They are also distracting from U.S. war crimes/unjust wars.

            I suspect Clooney is a psy warrior in fact. He’s a perp.

            Clooney is fomenting war, not stopping it. He supports the biggest war criminal in the world! So don’t tell me he’s a human rights “activist”. . . .

      2. G3

        Juan Cole is a Western stooge at times (he is against meddling in Iran, but loves to meddle in Syria) but Angry Arab is anything but that. I used to like Lizzi Phelan but now I feel she is all thinking in black and white – “you are either with Ghaddafi/Asad or you are against them”. We can attack US imperialism without supporting Ghaddafi/Asad. Angry Arab, Vijay Prasad etc walk that fine line well.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          I’m not “supporting” Assad or Ghaddafi. I think Lizzie Phelan gets the gray areas better than almost all other journalists whereas it is Angry Arab that is black and white . . . he follows the conventional line and does not question the basic assumptions of CNN or Al Jazeera and uncritically passes this along. Of course he pretends to be critical of the U.S. and Israel, just like Juan Cole, but in the end he justifies almost ALL of their basic assumptions.

          Lizzie Phelan is grasping with the facts and trying to define words like police state and human rights abuses and is looking into the details of the revolt. Angry Arab only sticks to the pro-Western story! But he’s sneaky, like Juan Cole, and pretends to be something he’s not.

          Like I say, I suspect he is a perp.

          He is clearly passing along false information regarding Syria.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            Lizzie is grappling with the facts . . . . dammit. Although she grasps them as well.

  5. Ned Ludd

    I have a high-deductible health care plan. In the long run, this is the only type of plan that the middle class and poor will be able to afford because of the excise tax. Bob Herbert called it the “middle-class tax time bomb”.

    In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

    Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.[…]

    [B]ecause of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

    One year I went over my deductible; my insurance company started denying my claims as soon as I hit my deductible. My insurance company even rejected claims for treatment they had pre-approved – and I was in the middle of treatment. The claims submitted before I hit my deductible were all approved, the claims submitted after I hit my deductible were denied.

    The high deductible plan has trained me to never to go over my deductible, which saves the insurance company a lot of money. Unfortunately, where I live if you don’t have insurance and have to see a doctor, you pay exorbitant rates. I remember the price for an MRI being about four times as much if you were uninsured.

    I completely understand why people opt-out of the racket. Health care reform was a way to force middle class and poor people into junk insurance plans and punish anyone who tries to opt-out.

      1. CB

        As it was explained to me, and I believe the explanation is correct, med providers by law are required to bill you the full rate. They can not discount. Anyone here know the details on that?

        1. Cynthia

          I don’t know about medical care, CB, but when it comes to dental care, many dentists, at least the ones in my community, charge their uninsured patients at a higher rate than they do their insured patients. So after hearing this, I have chosen to carry dental insurance most of time, especially when I know I’ll need dental work above and beyond a routine exam and cleaning, despite the coverage being pretty lousy and the co-pays and premiums being ridiculously high! I find this a bit backwards because my dentist receives his payments from his uninsured patients much more quickly and far more efficiently than he does from his insured patients.

          1. alex

            There are even dental “networks” that provide no insurance but, if you join them, you get charged less by dentists. IIRC costs maybe $200/yr for family. It’s extortion, but worth it if you need anything other than basic cleanings and stuff.

          2. Lidia

            From my experience, it’s easier to get dental insurance than it is overall health insurance.

            Your advice is valid, but doesn’t scale to the more important and fraught issue of health coverage.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          They are trying to intimidate you by charging you an obscene amount. They know you will not have to pay all of it.

          Your doctor is probably sick and tired of getting jerked around by insurance companies so when the doctor and insurer have disputes the doctor’s office probably charges you the full price to get you involved and get you to fight with the insurance company. When the patient/insured gets involved they will eventually do the right thing if you fight. Some patients are probably tricked into overpaying.

          Similarly, the insurance companies deny payment for items they are required to cover because they are exempt from antitrust laws and because they are mostly exempt from bad faith torts. What that means is that our government has given this industry special treatment. They get to break the law others have to follow. Other insurers are required to pay out once you file a claim so they do it pretty quickly because if they don’t they can be sued and they have to pay a lot of damages (for instance, beneficiaries of military dead sued life insurance companies because they were holding on to payments a few weeks longer to save some extra money–this was bad faith and they got punished for it).

          Health insurance companies get special treatment because we live in a fascist society and Democrats like Obama take orders from these criminals. Instead of instituting a health care system that benefits the people–Obama and his criminal gang threw us in the already shark infested waters and then threw in some blood to make things really interesting.

          Fascism explains the current system. The insurance companies are above the law so they lie, cheat, and steal. They are actually terrorists because they are siphoning money away from healing Americans and giving it to fat rich white prick executives that run these companies.

    1. alex

      Why doesn’t the Mafia sell health insurance? I’d trust them a lot more than most health insurance companies.

          1. Aquifer

            Uh-oh, for my sake, i hope you are not. But you are right, i suppose, i shouldn’t insult the Mafia …

        1. Lidia

          The real Mafia still hesitates at taking its pound of flesh directly from the sick and the old, the women and the children.

          The “free market” makes those groups its first victims.

      1. lambert strether

        Since there’s no rule of law, the mafia does sell health insurance. Snow Crash:

        “The Mafia wouldn’t do that.”

        “Don’t be a sap,” Hiro says. “Of course they would.”

        Y.T. seems miffed at Hiro.

        “Look,” he says, “I’m sorry for reminding you of this, but if we still had laws, the Mafia would be a criminal organization.”

        “But we don’t have laws,” she says, “so it’s just another chain.”

    2. LucyLulu

      I suggest you read and understand your policy thoroughly. Insurance companies I have found will routinely deny claims for things that per the policy they cover. When I fight them they end up backing down and paying almost always, though sometimes it requires persistence (they’ll say they are taking care of it and won’t). I think they count on customers accepting the denials without complaint. If you require preauthorization for an expensive or lengthy course of treatment, get it in writing. They do later deny they made them otherwise. If you work for a large company, your HR dept can help sort out problems, as they will be the ones renewing the group policy. Finally, also know any applicable laws. I’ve had them violate COBRA law too, or try to, two supervisors told me that their policy said something different and that was that. If you aren’t with a self-insured plan, a good resource is also the state insurance commissioner (regulator, who generally actually regulates) where the company is domiciled. If self-insured, they are under the Dept. of Labor and you’re screwed on that avenue, they have no regulations and don’t regulate.

      Private health insurance is a real racket. Medicare is wonderful. They may not cover as much (though are improving) but everyone knows what they cover and there is no fighting to get them to pick up valid claims. Ryan and our lawmakers are clueless because they get cadillac coverage at bargain basement prices. We should all be able to get the same deal as they do.

      1. CB

        IMO, they’re not clueless, they’re greedy and amoral: they want more and ordinary pockets look like a good bet to pick. As they see it, whatever is less for us is more for them.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Yes. Health insurance companies routinely commit bad faith torts as a business model–they deny claims they know they are required to pay. Other insurance companies that engage in this behavior are punished severely. Say someone steal something from your home and you file a claim . . . your insurance company has to act quickly and has to honor your claim if everything seems to be in order.

        Health insurers are above the law so part of their business model is screwing people over. Heck, that is all corporations model to a certain extent–which is why a for profit system does not work for health care. But health insurers are not even normal corporations–they are given super predator status–they get to decide who lives or dies and they are above the law.

        And Obama and the Democrats just made them more powerful, more rapacious, and is requiring us to buy their predatory product on pain of government fine.

      3. Walter Wit Man

        ERISA preempts most state bad faith torts and provides the exclusive remedy if your health insurance company falsely denies a claim (if you get your health care as part of an employment benefit).

        ERISA effectively takes punitive damages away and severely limits the amount of money one could recover from a bad faith claim against an insurer. Many lawyers are not interested in these cases now because there is no money involved and often times people never sue because its not worth it.

        Plus, the insurance companies will eventually pay if you hound them so the companies have figured out how to game the system and never be sued even though their business model is a tortious business model.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            Actually, I’m a little unclear on some details. After reading this by Wendell Ptter:

            Did Obamacare EXPAND the federal preemption of state law found in ERISA? This was always obscure and I remember at the time of the Obamacare debate that this subject was always glossed over.

            Potter describes Obamacare as requiring Vermont to wait 5 years unless they successfully petition the Tsar for relief. So is this limited quasi preememption clause apply only to employer-based health insurance, like ERISA, or to all single payer laws?

            Did Obamacare secretly preempt single payer and I didn’t hear about it?

            It’s all very murky.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            And here’s an interesting case on federal preemption and Elena Kagan:

            San Francisco implemented its own version of single payer and a restaurant association sued based on the preemption in ERISA argument–that the feds have prohibited the states (including counties and cities) from experimenting with alternative health care systems.

            Kagan’s office wrote a brief asking the court not to hear the case because Obamacare may have changed the law on preemption . . . .

            Let me guess . . . Kagan will say Obamacare preempts any single payer initiatives by the states.


          3. LucyLulu

            If there’s a conflict of interest, I’m pretty confident that Kagan will recuse herself. She isn’t a Clarence Thomas, she gives the impression of being quite ethical. That means there will be one less vote likely cast in favor of keeping Obamacare, or the individual mandate, which is the cornerstone of Obamacare and makes it all work.

            And speaking of San Francisco healthcare, the Kaiser model would be worth a long look if we were to look at single payer. They’ve done a good job of providing comprehensive care and keeping costs down, in large part by paying salaries and thus eliminating the fee for service cost-inflation incentives.

            Lambert, if you read this……. (Sorry folks for going OT, couldn’t find Lambert’s email anywhere)
            How many layers of newspaper do you put down in your garden?

          4. Walter Wit Man

            Well, I’m not so interested in whether or not she recuses herself . . . that’s the right-wingers issue.

            I guess I was just predicting how she will rule–that she will interpret both ERISA and Obamacare as preempting any state or local alternatives, like Vermont’s single payer or Healthy San Francisco.

            But I do agree with the right-wingers that gutting Obamacare would be in our best interest.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Yeah, Democrats have successfully obscured just how bleak the big picture issues are.

          The health insurance industry has antitrust exemption, which may explain the huge explosion in premiums:

          ERISA protects the industry from lawsuits and bad faith insurance claims.

          Plus, as you point out, it’s hard for the states to regulate health insurance, even though states have traditionally regulated insurance in general–because of federal preemption in 1974 via ERISA. Obamacare is a weak substitution of state regulation. For instance, the feds could have regulated the premiums and services required to be delivered much more strictly. Obamacare is all about pretending that citizens have control via his panel, or meaningless state panels, or via giving Democrats more money to fight it out . . . but this is all cover for no real regulation.

          Plus, we may be providing business with a backdoor tax break by having them provide health care. (otherwise, why aren’t business groups advocating single payer?)

          It certainly helps condition the American worker to hustle and take less desirable work when a person’s whole family’s health care depends on it.

          Notice we just had a big “reform” of the system but none of these big picture injustices were remedies. In fact, we doubled down on the for profit insurance racket.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            And I guess the argument by the people that want single payer is that the state is providing an alternative health care payment system and is not “regulating” employer-sponsored health insurance, and is thus not violating ERISA’s preemption clauses. This is all above my pay grade and the linked articles don’t really do this very complicated subject justice (no pun intended because I’m pretty confident justice will not be done).

            But I don’t trust the Supremes to be impartial.

            Would be nicer to see more discussion of these issues but the Democrats are avoiding them.

    3. alex

      Ned Ludd,

      I agree. The whole high deductible plan idea is a scam. Been there, done that, and am glad that as of 2 days ago I was able to get away from it (at least for now).

      Of course some geniuses, even those who don’t have a vested interest, will tell you it’s a good cost control measure that we need because of soaring costs. Ok, then how do other countries provide universal coverage for a lot less than the US without high deductibles or co-pays? Oh, that’s right, America is different and we shouldn’t look to all those successful approaches used around the world.

      High deductibles may well lead to higher long term costs and poorer outcomes because people wait too long to have (what they think are) minor conditions treated and proper preventive care done. Yeah, supposedly most plans wave the deductible for preventive stuff, but exactly what preventive stuff is covered is impossible to figure out because it’s entirely at the insurer’s whim.

      High deductibles are exactly the opposite of what’s used for successful _lifetime_ health care cost containment by outfits like the VA. They know their patients are usually theirs for life, so there is every financial incentive to do things right (oh, and something about saving lives too, but most bean counters have no idea how to deal with that). The VA highly encourages their patients to get lots of preventative care and treat “minor” conditions early. And it works. Any actuary who rejected the VA approach on the basis of lifetime healthcare cost containment would be incompetent, crooked, or both.

      The bottom line though is that our private for-profit insurers don’t give a damn about lifetime costs. Anyone 65 or over becomes Medicare’s problem, and they do every scummy thing possible to dump younger people who get seriously ill.

      Ok, I just answered my own question about why the Mafia stays out of this business. Drugs, murder and extortion are one thing, but it’s hard to find a mafioso as unethical as a health insurance executive.

    4. Carla

      “Health care reform was a way to force middle class and poor people into junk insurance plans and punish anyone who tries to opt-out.”

      Yes. We call it health care DEFORM.

      And now the President and the Congress are busily going about gutting Medicare.

    5. Keith

      I had a similar experience with a high deductible plan. The particular plan covered 100% of pretty much everything after meeting the deductible, and with a family it was a great plan. In fact, it was such a great plan that the insurance company tripled the rate the following year to force everyone to drop it.

      Now the available high deductible plans are much more like you describe. They discourage you from using the insurance for anything other than protection in the case of something catastrophic.

    6. Aquifer

      Ned Ludd, (like your namem BTW :))

      I, too, had a high deductible (now just got on Medicare, yay!) and i realized that, seeing as how, as you say, the insurance companies don’t pay anything before deductible is met, and seeing as how folks avoid Rx as long as they have to pay deductible, just what are you paying them for? Catastrophe’s, I suppose – but actually you are paying them to be “bargaining” agents with providers – i.e. if you didn’t have them you would, theoretically, be paying higher fees, as testified to by the “uninsured”, but seeing as how they aren’t paying anything, it is all profit – so you are paying through the nose, every month so they will “bargain” for lower fees, which you can’t afford anyway, and which they pay only when they can’t wiggle out …. Sweet deal

      That being the case – seems to me if we are going to pay for bargaining power, we might better go single payer, who has better bargaining power, with lower overhead, than the gov? Providers may bitch, but where would they go?

      Improved, expanded, Medicare for all is the way to go – there is a bill HR 676 that has been sitting around for some time that would provide this. It is only 18, yes, eighteen, pages long, big type. Check it out ….

      This is one of the big reasons I keep pushing politics, in particular a certain candidate, Jill Stein – because the only way we will get this stuff, and a bunch of other things, is to put people in office who will deliver. It has been clear for some time now that neither the Dems nor Reps will do so, and in fact it is becoming more and more clear that they are running in the opposite direction, destroying what little we do have. So the only way that getting this stuff would be “inevitable” is for there to be an “inevitable” change in our politics. What better time than now to facilitate that “inevitability” before more disasters befall us …

  6. Cynthia

    According to the link below, severe and widespread shortages of IV methotrexate and doxorubicin are occurring throughout the US because these chemotherapy agents aren’t profitable enough for the pharmaceutical industry to justify manufacturing these as well as other IV generic drugs anymore:

    If this is the case, then why is IV methotrexate and doxorubicin still being manufactured in countries like Australia and India? Is it because pharmaceutical companies in Australia and India, unlike the ones in the US, are willing to forgo a few profits in order to save lives? Perhaps so, perhaps not.

    And why are we suddenly having a shortage of methotrexate and doxorubicin? Both of these drugs have been on the market for well over 50 years, so it’s not like they recently lost their patent, making them a money loser for the pharmaceutical industry.

    It’s hard to tell what is really going on here, but I’d put money on it that the pharmaceutical industry is intentionally creating shortages in the IV generic drug market. I suspect that they are doing this to order to strong-arm the US government into subsidizing IV methotrexate and doxorubicin and other IV generic drugs. Either that, or they are making plans to tweak the molecular structure of these and other unpatented drugs just enough so that they get a new patent on them and then sell them in the US market for enormous profits.

    Besides this serving as more proof to us that the free market doesn’t work in healthcare. we are also witnessing the greed factor hitting an all-time high in the pharmaceutical industry.

    1. John L

      Or to push their own newer, patent protected, and extremely lucrative extension of death chemotherapy drugs.

    2. CB

      If the article I just read about India’s class system is accurate, I can assure you it’s not a willingness to forego profits.

    3. Jeff

      Funny how when Big Pharma couldn’t waste their time
      creating and making new drugs for our returning
      “heroes” that had a nasty new rare disease they picked up
      in Operation Iraqi Liberation,
      oops, wrong acronym, make that Operation Iraqi Freedom…
      the V.A. used its own labs to create the new drug and manufacture it for pennies a dose.

  7. skippy

    Apocalypse sign post.

    Whilst helping wife in her medical upgrade at Uni, sociology component and its theory’s effects on patient care thingy. I’ve come to find out my jill-a-roo that went to finishing school, Uni and was raised in the liberal national party politics (soft right wing per American optics) at home.

    Is a raging Marxist Feminist when it comes to reproductive medicine, that broadly adheres to Functionalism with out a strict adherence to the normative application and cant stand Interactionist young drunk women lying on the streets.

    Skippy… Are marsupials Postmodernist Neo Marxists…. ha.

    1. René

      “The repression and revised imposition of September 11th and the attendant “war on terror” on the public mind have important implications not only for the integrity of public discourse, but also for the collective sanity of western culture and civilization.”

  8. Lilly

    I guess you didn’t read Greg Smith’s letter in the New York times, Yves…

    1. “Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets’, sometimes over internal e-mail.”

    2. “I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them.”

    3. “…the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.”

    4. “I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.”

    5. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about ‘muppets’, ‘ripping eyeballs out’ and ‘getting paid’ doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.”

    Via: the New York Times.

    1. craazyman

      I guess you must have been abducted by aliens for the past week. ;)

      Today is the 21st of March, just in case you have a “missing time” problem.

    1. alex

      Thanks for the link. One caveat. The US does _not_ provide more treatments, doctor visits, etc. on average than other countries, but we do pay much more for each service, prescriptions, etc. That’s the real reason US healthcare is insanely expensive.

      Not to say there aren’t problems with fee-for-service, and that there are cases of unnecessary treatment. However accepting that that’s the main reason for our excessive costs leads to things like high-deductible plans which only work by reducing the amount of care we get.

      1. John L

        Thanks for the caveat – true and the chart shows it, at least for doctor visits.

        Health insurance companies absorbing 15% is also part of it.

      2. John L

        There’s also a lot more screening tests, biopsies and the like which are not improving outcomes but are very expensive.

  9. Susan the other

    Golem XIV. Germany is the Pig. It has EU 1 trillion in bad debt. Now that I believe because it makes sense out of all the confusing behavior by the Germans.

    1. craazyman

      Yeah, it’s good doom & gloom stuff.

      And it even sounds believable. And I read (not for the first time) the link to the Target 2 fracas as well — which is so refined it’s like a sugary piece of gourmet German chocolate cake (no pun intended) after a dinner of comfort food.

      Well, it sure will be interesting to see how Europe muddles through. It will prove a lot of economic theorizing to be wrong. Not sure which theories yet and maybe all of them at once. That would be really interesting.

  10. Jeff

    When the U.S. cut Japan off from their oil in the 1940s
    they got real mad. So mad in fact that they bombed Pearl Harbor to destroy the ships that they thought would allow them to import oil.

    Maybe that was the plan?

  11. dearieme

    “Spring arrives…”: I’ve often seen Americans referring to the “official start” of the seasons. Do you chaps really have “official starts”? If so, why? What could they possibly mean for a continent-sized country? Indeed, why would anyone want them, irrespective of the size of a country?

  12. Mel

    “Jobseekers Get Asked for Facebook Passwords”

    Rife with comedic possibilities.

    Int: What are you doing? This profile is just a bunch of ads for our biggest competitor!

    App: I didn’t do that. They must have. I gave them my password when I interviewed with them on Monday.

    Int: Well, we’re going to fix that! Right now!

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    $1.5 billion to cut London-Tokyo latency.

    When much is needed for tiny gains, though lot of money can be made by exploiting those miniscule gains, you are better off in another field.

  14. Hugh

    Re China and Japan, I wonder if Pettis has ever heard of fiat currency.

    Re Syria, most rebellions are also civil wars. I don’t doubt that the media are spinning events in Syria. That is afterall what they do. But we should never forget that the Assads are and have always been thuggish dictators. In many conflicts, there are no white hats. What you have in Syria is an entrenched Alawite minority trying to hold on to power over a Sunni majority. It is sort of the opposite of the situation in Bahrain where a dictatorial Sunni power structure is lording it over a Shiite majority. Still even if the Sunnis come into power in Syria, there is no guarantee that their leadership will be better than the Assads. In that regard, just look what happened in Iraq with the Shia and Malaki or the anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      What sources do you get your information from? What evidence do you have of any crimes about Assad?

      Can you compare the justice systems of Syria and the U.S? How many people disappear in Syria vs. the U.S? How many are executed? How many in jail?

      The West are pushing Big Lies. Most of the well known assumptions are false . . . . just like with Saddam and Iraq in 2003.

      Why is Assad any more of a dictator than Obama, Sarkosy, or Cameron?

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Here’s Lizzie Phelan on Press T.V. talking about the outright media war going on and the outright fabrications made by the West.

      This is not both sides doing it . . . this is yet another war being fomented by the West and being propagated by the media.

      Look at the evidence right in front of you! There is conclusive evidence that the West is lying and the media is engaging in propaganda.

      Lizzie is talking about these leaked emails that conveniently claim Assad is getting advice from a journalist at Press TV. As Lizzie discusses with the interviewer, why would Assad need to seek advice this way? Wouldn’t he have separate advice?

      No, this is yet another example of fake news being reported by the West–in this case the Guardian. The Guardian is not only smearing Assad and Syria but also casting aspersions on the few reporters who are actually reporting the truth. These are not journalists–they are war criminals that know exactly what they are doing.

      And who does perps like Juan Cole and Angry Arab rely on for news? That’s right, known perp organizations like CNN and Al Jazeera and the Guardian.

      There is a media war going Hugh. Equivalency is not the truth. In this case one side is responsible for spreading lies and fomenting war.

      Why are you repeating these lies?

      1. Hugh

        You seem to have a “My way or the highway” view about a lot of things. A perspective is only good as long as it fits the facts, provides insights, and has predictive value. I, for instance, talk a lot about kleptocracy, wealth inequality, and class war. I do so because these give a perspective that so far is far superior to anything else out there. But I am not wedded to it. If a better one comes along, I will switch to it.

        But your perspective doesn’t fit the facts. It writes off decades of recent Syrian history. It commits what I call the Chomskyan fallacy of assuming that because US policy is wrong and the US is opposed to Assad, that the Assad regime must be right. But the world is not so black and white. US policy is wrong and Syria has been a police state for decades. It is afterall one of the places that we rendered individuals to to be tortured.

        I don’t expect to convince you about any of this, but then I don’t think the perspective you are using is going to convince anyone who does not already share your views.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          But Hugh you misread me. I am indeed open to evidence and other opinions and will change my mind.

          In fact, I agreed with you a mere 10 months ago (or so)!

          I too was fooled into thinking Assad and Ghaddafi were tyrants and ran “police states.” At least in a way that gives those terms any meaning unless we apply them to the Obama, Sarkozy, or Cameron.

          Check out this interview Of Lizzie Phelan by the New York Time’s Robert Mackey:

          I will quote a relevant portion below, but it’s worth checking out the whole thing.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            “Factually speaking Libya was a paradise for human rights and Muammar Gaddafi was due to receive a human rights award prior to the NATO onslaught. And of course Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa and much of the region, including a much higher standard of living than Saudi Arabia which hardly ever is in the spotlight in the mainstream western press.

            Nonetheless, you wouldn’t dream of implying that a journalist who works for the Sun or the Guardian in Britain, both of which take a position of supporting one way or another the Conservative party or the Labour Party, of supporting abuses on human rights because they work for papers which support parties that have committed some of the greatest injustices known to man throughout history all across the world and up until this present day. Injustices which far outstrip any injustices that have occurred at the hands of any leader of a developing country.

            So why the two-faces? This is all part of the prejudice in western media that western civilisation is superior to anything else and therefore those responsible for the injustices committed by the west need not be held accountable, and anyone who speaks out against that should have their name dragged through the mud.

            Malcolm X famously said “if you are not careful, the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the oppressor”, and that quote rings true more than ever today most recently in the way that the western and GCC media has covered events in Libya and Syria. But to respond to your question directly, as I have stated, what I support is respect for international law, and the most important principle in international law, and one of the main stated aims for the body that was set up to uphold international law, the now redundant UN, is respect for the sovereignty of nations and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

            Recent history shows that the root of the greatest injustices known to man is the violation of these principles and so anyone who violates these principles is a criminal and should be treated as such, and anyone who is a victim of such violations should be defended. Now not only these principles, but all relevant international laws and norms were violated in the case of Libya and the west’s treatment of Muammar Gaddafi, and this has been well documented. The same violations are playing out against the Syrian government.”

          2. Hugh

            So the US sent people like Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured because it was another human rights paradise?

            Much of the history we are taught is wrong or distorted. But not all of it. The idea that human rights were rigorously observed in either Syria or Libya is laughable. All you do is impugn your credibility. Yes, the media are little more than a propaganda tool of our elites. And yes, there are good cases for us to have steered clear of both Libya and Syria. But in no sense is there a connection between tortuous and often corrupt US policies and any kind of virtue inherently possessed by regimes targeted by those policies.

          3. Walter Wit Man

            Well, Syria denies that allegation. Now that I see the funny business going on with Wikileaks and other documents I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. the U.S. faked the allegation as well as the Libyan allegations to incriminate these two countries so they could be attacked later.

            Anyway, how many allegations of rendition/torture are we talking about in Syria or Libya? Do you have a number? Is it 1/100th of the total number that the U.S. has committed? How many have died in custody as have in the U.S. custody? How many other prisoners die in custody compared to the UK or U.S? What other measures are you using?

            Every NATO country and almost all countries in the Middle East engaged in torture/rendition and while I would prefer that all guilty parties be punished, if we are going to enforce these rules we should be proportional and start with the greatest abusers. Ghaddafi and Assad should be punished toward the end, and the U.S. and its main allies would be punished first.

            The human rights allegation is cover for ulterior purposes. If anything, as Lizzie Phelan noted, these societies were more open and liberal than most of the other governments in the area the U.S. supports.

            Also, the opponents of these governments have been lying repeatedly. They have made sensational claim after sensational claim and the real human rights abuses are those who repeat these lies.

          4. Walter Wit Man

            And actually, the “funny business” we’ve seen hasn’t been limited to just disinformation and faking documents. In the last few month alone, I have looked at many videos posted by “activists” in Syria, and I have found numerous examples of faked videos and people faking injuries and faking attack. It is surely possible the U.S. paid this man to make this claim. Canada even paid him C$11.5 million!

            After 10 months in prison in 2003, Syria admitted that Maher Arar was not guilty of any crimes and released him. The U.S. hasn’t been so willing to admit error in the case or in others.

          5. Walter Wit Man

            And another example in the news this week. Assad is said to be a dictator and Syria a bad state because of the emergency powers the government claimed decades before and still in effect . . .

            Well, Obama just reauthorized long-standing emergency powers of the U.S. president:!

            When the West invokes emergency powers, or spies on its people, or denies due process it is simply engaging in routine behavior and it’s no big deal and they are responding to a legitimate threat . . . . whereas the Syrian government is paranoid and has no outside threat and has no reason to enact emergency powers.

    3. Walter Wit Man

      I was imprecise: the Guardian released emails purportedly from Assad but CNN was reporting separately that Mr. Murtad, working for Al-Alam and Press TV, while advising Assad. I haven’t looked at the CNN report and don’t know if they are basing it on the emails though or other information.

      As Lizzie Phelan says though, I trust him over CNN and the Guardian. I have done my own research and I know CNN has lied.

  15. gatopeich

    Regarding the “$1.5 billion to cut latency for the sake of Algos”:

    That just makes no sense. Low latency “algos” run inside the exchange, in the same building, typically just meters away. They don’t care much about worldwide communications. The exchange could get disconnected from the whole world and that wouldn’t stop the algos from trading.

    I still would like to see who is putting the money for such operation, since it is not mentioned in the article or other mentions of the plan.

    Looks a bit like a PR campaign from those companies laying cables in mother Earth’s ass crack.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Not necessarily. London traders who want their trade data faster, or London based firms that trade on the Tokyo exchanges without having a server presence in Tokyo could desire such lower latency wiring. The article also mentions redundancy, which is important due to the possibility of cables being severed — in other words it serves more than just a 30% latency improvement. Sounds logical to me and I’m sure the bandwidth providers will more than make up the investment in fees for use.

  16. Capo Regime

    Rates are fine to repeat and people think that prior income was the same as today. Very, very few people were at the 90%. Very few people actually paid more that 10% and social security and medicaide did not exist in the 50’s. Taxes and government levies are higher today than ever, marginal rates notwithstanding, they are just a red herring and miss the point.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Umm, no they’re not. The wealthy pay less in taxes than they have since prior to the Great Depression. 15% capital gains? A thousand tax shelters and loopholes mean not just the wealthy individuals, but massive corporations pay little to no taxes. Sure they may pay their local real estate taxes, but that is mostly it. If corporate earnings were taxed progressively and high earners (say earning over $1 million a year) paid a 50+% real tax rate, they would be less likely to loot the companies they run, and instead reinvest and perhaps… OMG… give their workers a raise. Of course taxes aren’t the only answer, but they are a part of it.

  17. Capo Regime

    The great thing about living in an ahistoric society wedded to the idea of progress is that a lage bulk of the population think that this is the best of all possible times…..and all policies and institutions are the best ever. Fortunately, many NC readers and those of us who were around and aware and you bright people aware of the past know better……Odd, back in the 1960’s you could pay as a aveerage working man (yes man) the bill for the delivery of your child with a weeks pay. You can do that today if you work at Goldman Sachs, we could do it then as hispanic truck drivers/mechanics in LA. How times change…

  18. Jim

    Walter Wit Man:

    How would you critique your own perspective?

    Taken your stance, is any disagreement with your viewpoint legitimate?

    Is there any circular reasoning in your own perspective?

    What are you key assumptions?

    Do you consider any of your key assumptions as arbitrary?

    How did you come to such superior knowledge?

    1. Capo Regime

      Jim, I think wlater mitt man is not saying anything new or exciting. He is repeating what anyone who has read any chomsky, or who has been on the ground somewhere and then sees the same events seen first hand reported by mainstream media, or acutally knows a topic or field (or part of events) and then see the reporting. Also, people with a critical eye and well informed on a region or topic and who then see/read reporting will tell you the same thing that Walter Mitt man is saying here–mainstream media is a propaganda tool. So sorry this is news or inconcievable to you that those nice people you come to like and admire at CNN are lying screen reading propagandists. On this front the enlglish do better by calling people news readers–here in the u.s. the readers are inbued with veritas and expertise and thus I would argue making them more effective as propagandists

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Hey Jim, excellent questions. Here are my answers:

      1. How would you critique your own perspective?

      Hmm. I obviously like my perspective and have carefully chosen it so if there is anything lacking I would have already remedied it :) But, if I must, I would say I am may be too skeptical of people’s bad intentions and that sometimes I may assume bad faith when it is simply a difference of opinion (I think this bias is warranted–but that is a danger of this bias). There are other shortcomings to my perspective I’m sure . . . .

      2. Taken your stance, is any disagreement with your viewpoint legitimate?

      Of course. Do you get the sense I don’t like critical questions or disagreement? I actually like having my viewpoint challenged. Unlike a lot of people I do not take these discussions terribly personally. I do not have much ego built up in my opinions. Don’t get me wrong . . . I have strongly held beliefs and I get very worked up about these ideas. They are very important and I am very eager to debate. But I like the knowledge itself and I would rather be corrected than be able to pretend to everyone I’m right. So please correct any errors in my logic, etc.

      3. Is there any circular reasoning in your own perspective?

      I don’t think so. Maybe though. Sometimes, as in the case with Syria, I have a lot of information in my head and instead of writing even longer comments than I already write I skip over some of the reasoning and will simply state conclusions. I know it looks sloppy, but I guess I get excited about the information and prioritize sharing the information rather than making sure every statement is a complete self-contained argument. Again, I welcome corrections to my logic and if I’m being tautological please point it out (and often times I have the full logic chain in my head but left it out for brevity).

      4. What are you key assumptions?

      My major key assumption I’ve recently found is that most of our major media (including blogs) is corrupt and complicit in our secret fascist government. This is huge and has really changed my view of the world. I am much more cynical now. I believe the 9/11 attacks and most acts of terrorism against the West are contrived media event designed to support war and fascism. The media outright lies. Our political system is completely corrupt as well. This is a huge assumption and I acknowledge I could be wrong. This is the one assumption that leads me to most of my shocking conclusions.

      It is legitimate to disagree with me on this but I obviously have thought a lot about it of course leads to big disagreements with others.

      5. Do you consider any of your key assumptions as arbitrary?

      No. I like to evaluate all my assumptions–especially the key ones. If anything, I resisted the key assumption(s) listed above. I only held these assumptions after careful study and review of many pertinent facts over the years. I did not set out to be a conspiracy theorists or radical. I only want the truth and never considered myself out of the ordinary, but have been led there via the facts.

      How did you come to such superior knowledge?

      I’m interested in this stuff. Always been interested in history and politics and books. Read everything I could about the JFK assassination. My college and post graduate education are also in the liberal arts and while I was certainly indoctrinated there in many way, I was able to hone my investigative skills and learned to use the socratic method and learned about law and government and history. I claim no special skills other than an open mind and willingness to reevaluate all my assumptions. I have gotten rid of bad Western assumptions more than created new ones.

      In trust my instincts and try to learn as much as I can and try to remain humble and remember that I could be wrong. Plus, I abhor lies and dishonesty so I think I am quick to counterattack people I see engaging in this behavior.

  19. financial matters

    The Japan debt disaster and China’s (non)rebalancing Michael Pettis

    Referring to the surplus countries, China, Japan and Germany not wanting to rebalance toward domestic consumption and the peripheral EU and the US unable to continue running large deficits…

    “”Needless to say this isn’t going to work, and at least one of the above is going to be extremely disappointed.””

    The above statement from the last paragraph implies that a forced rebalancing will occur as there is not the political will to institute a responsible (but painful) soft landing. Somewhat similar in its narrow mindedness to excluding the Soviet Union and China from Bretton Woods

    1. Jim

      The Pettis piece was exceptional, especially the part relating to China.

      Will China significantly devalue the yuan? If so, how will the US/Germany react?

  20. Mike

    Re Insurance. Consider how much money is spent on advertising to gain market share.

    Consider negative publicity and therefore the equivalent of money spent on gaining the same amount of business that the negative ads cost.

    We had a warranty problem with our car. Dealer woudn’t do anything about it, claimed it was the manufactuer’s
    fault. Manufacturer wouldn’t do anything about it.
    We went to office depot got large signs printed up, laminated, and parked it across the street from the dealer.


    Ten minutes after parking our car there with the signs we got a call from Toyota USA telling us that they would make a “good will exemption” to our warranty problem and pay for everything.

    Use the back of your car to criticize your insurance company if you feel like you’re being cheated. It’s part of the First Amendment. Make sure to put a phone number on your carbillboard so that the public can call the new business line at the insurance company and ask about your case and whether they would be affected.

    1. aletheia33

      can you write an article in ehow on how to create a removable first amendment carbillboard–the easy, simple, effective nuts and bolts? for those who are useless in this practical area, a specific how-to should be spread.

  21. kevinearick

    Natural & Constitutional Law

    Universe bounty is a given, making supply-side economics, pulling demand forward to horde the future with exponential replication on the assumption of tax base control, a crime against nature, which the resulting majority will choose every time, to float currency downhill.

    The primary false assumption rests upon the nature of dissolving the connection between peoples to secure the blessings of liberty for future generations, and government as the means to provide what they cannot provide for themselves. We, The People doing the delegating does not describe the majority. It represents individual sovereignty, aggregated, and is measured implicitly, as preemption is expanded. The only question is timing, when you want the system to blow up, which is a function of easily measured agency intent. What is G as a percentage of economic activity?

    Agency always argues scarcity after the fiat, which is when the propaganda begins, as if the supply and demand curves are somehow magically unrelated, and only through its expertise may the problem be solved, because the so stupefied population is simply too ignorant to govern their own behavior. Direction of acceleration at the margin is what you care about. Speed is a derivative. First you see it; then you don’t.

    What is the speed of gravity at the time of the bang? Time buys money, not the other way around. Set yourself up to be patient and the empire’s impulse drive becomes inconsequential to your investment strategy. What you care about is the margin. They need a dynamic battery, but if they employ a dynamic system they lose control of energy distribution, which serves to moor the empire status quo, ensuring legacy supremacy through preemption.

    The key to fusion is installing delay devices quicker than the speed of current across the associated separation of charge, hence the speed of light, which simply reflects the measuring device. If you think about it, that will solve your battery problem, but it will not solve the tendency of the majority to short it out. Talking is one thing; doing is another. At no time is the universe not aware of your progress, but you may fool yourself at will. The result is fission.

    The price of energy enforces consumption patterns, leaving credit expansion ahead of income for disposable income as the root of preemption. Take a look at oil, the Apple channel, and monetary expansion. The scarcity model is playing chicken with itself. As a parent, government may not preempt your sovereignty unless you accept its value system, but you cannot choose your children. Ferry intelligent children to wherever they want to go, to balance the forces and provide for your own.

    The universe is a bomb of bombs. Surf the wave accordingly, by compiling the neutral. On the order of the universe, humanity is significant, but not yet substantial. Just leave everything a little better than you found it.

  22. Aquifer

    Also I have a question – how come some comments are posted “awaiting moderation” and some are just posted? Is it the length of the post? What triggers the “moderation” filter?

  23. scraping_by

    RE: Medical Insurance PR

    Thank you for noting the “fraud” loophole in the preexisting conditions clause that was supposed to be Barry’s big selling point.

    Remember, too, the ultimate preexisting condition is the patient’s genetics. One of the current big themes in biomedical research is to claim a region of a chromasone is responsible for physical conditions all the way from gallstones to halitosis. Every cancer has its genetics, as does the whole gamut of heart disease.

    Since people have the same lifestyle sometimes do and sometimes don’t fall ill, the difference must be hereditary. And the insurance companies have the legal right to feel cheated they weren’t warned of the sequence of your DNA.

  24. Lidia

    My question about the Facebook passwords is:

    Will NOT HAVING a Facebook page to rifle through -in itself- redound negatively on a candidate?

  25. Jim

    Walter Wit Man:

    Thanks for your generous response to my questions.

    For a significant portion of my life I identified with your type of passionate knowing.

    Now, I am no longer convinced that a belief in a superior knowledge offers a way out of our political corruption—in fact I’m beginning to think that such a belief simply duplicates the logic our own political/financial/cultural elites faith in the superiority of their own knowledge.

    Not knowing for sure, seems to me, a more promising starting point.

    We are then equal in our ignorance and have only each other to work our way out of this mess.

    Maybe doing precedes knowing and ethics trumps epistemology.

    1. aletheia33

      @ jim,
      beautifully put.
      i hope if we can find the way out you mention, there will be room in it for all approaches to bring their strengths and insights. that none will have to trump another.
      doing precedes knowing precedes doing.
      ethics trumps epistemology trumps ethics.
      we need everything.
      e.g., we need the epistemologist and the ethicist both to throw off their academic gowns, walk out of their safe bubble, and join us.
      let them learn from the regular people, and then let the regular people learn from them, and repeat.
      this is real creation and real growth, our only hope.

    2. Skippy

      The proverb I use is ” I know nothing and can prove it”, yet others know much and can not.

      Skippy… in a postmodernist way, do we even have a language concise enough… to think about some things… never mind opine.

      1. aletheia33

        yes and different cultures have much better concision of language for some areas than another, which tells a lot about what a culture/society focuses on and the wide range of what humans consider important to think and talk about.
        at least, so i’ve heard.
        i don’t know.

    3. Walter Wit Man

      Hey Jim,

      Thanks for your perspective.

      I guess I classify my motivation as a “quest” for knowledge–even though it sometimes seems I only want to share and not listen.

      I often start with provocative arguments because that’s what I find interesting and that’s what I want to explore. I do it to challenge the assumptions, in addition to sharing (e.g. “the western media is reporting fake news in Syria”). I am indeed proud that I am one of the few people that has rooted around and taken the time to get this information so I’m excited to share, but I also want to test it.

      And instead of simply sitting back and only taking information in I’m throwing my conclusions and theories out there to engage and spur further inquiry. And to test the theories out.

      Anyway, I agree with much of what you say and try to employ some of it my life. There is much I don’t know and I shouldn’t forget that fact. I’m sure there are many more people that are more knowledgeable and wiser than me on these subjects. I hope to learn from them.

  26. Benedict@Large

    RE: Health Insurers: We’ll Deny Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions if Health Mandate Is Repealed

    The insurers HAVE to do this. Insurance depends on the ability of the insurer to avoid anti-selection, and the mandate does this. No mandate, and the companies HAVE to exclude known bad risks. (BTW, one look at your credit report, and they’ll know half your medical history … the bad half.)

    As far as the insurers wanting ObamaCare, OF COURSE they do. They wrote it. In fact, without ObamaCare, insurers were rapidly approaching the point of simply pricing themselves out of existance (I did early work on this for a major group health company), and ObamaCare will insure this doesn’t happen … once they pass an amendment creating a high risk pool. (Yeah, wait for that one. It’s coming. Health insurance that looks just like auto insurance. Yippie!)

    There’s a reason this doesn’t kick in until after the election, and no, it’s not because anyone needed time to do it. Any insurer worth being in existance could knock this down in under 6 months. Most major corporate policies are more complicated, and they just slide them in. No, the reason is that this thing sucks, but folks will have to wait until Obama’s 2nd term to find out why.

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