Tuesday, February 28, 2006
If You Invest Expecting A Greater Fool To Come Along, Guess What. You're The Fool.
Investment Real Estate has the unfortunate stigma of being fungible without having a spot market. Houses are shelter. For the consumer there is little difference between one house and another. For the speculator there is even less. Sure you can say this house has two bedrooms, a wine cellar, is in a town with a nice school, antique marble bath fixtures, gingerbread moldings, a ham radio antenna and a view of the mountains. Someone might be looking for exactly that and nothing else will satisfy. Most buyers are satisfied with something affordable with enough bedrooms for the kids and a decent school nearby. Any house will do as long as the commute to work isn’t hellish. So for the greater part of the market, houses are fungible, interchangeable. Buyers know this.
Buyers don’t care what sellers have done to justify an asking price higher then the other 1100 square foot two bedroom ranch down the street. A new roof, great, $5000 spent on something that should be regular maintenance anyway. So why is the asking price $30,000 more then the neighbors house? Oh, a fresh coat of exterior paint and in colors I wouldn’t have chosen, again that’s maintenance. It should be done regularly, not just to get ready to sell the house. $3,000 there. New carpets? Carpets do wear out, maintenance again. OK that’s $3,000 more. You’re up to 11 grand. I’ll offer 20 grand less then I’d pay for the house down the street. No takers? OK have fun spending another 230 days on the market.
Sellers on the other hand are absolutely convinced the house is unique, irreplaceable and one of a kind. Their heads are full of stories about rising house prices, a half decade worth of stories. My advice is to get over it. The bubble has popped but since houses aren’t sold via spot market it will take months even years to fully see the trend. It’s easy to point at a bad day trading pig bellies to know when the market has turned against commodities. So the big news is that your house isn’t worth three times what you paid in 1989 simply because it’s a great house. You may have had an equity position that suggested your home tripled in value because outrageous speculation drove up the price of every house in New England. Good luck getting that price now. The fool has left the market place. The greater fool isn’t coming along. Your neighbors who got out last year lost all that equity buying their new house. Take what you can get for your house now. It will still beat riding the equity curve down when all those short term interest only ARMs that fueled most of the speculation call in the balloon payment. Unsold inventory will turn into foreclosures. You think the banks are going to want to sit on unsold inventory? They make their money on interest. Not owning houses. In some cases, their charter or local regulations forbid them from holding inventory too long.
We have high inventory and very soon some extremely motivated sellers. In the mean time, Gold is cheap. Shotguns are cheap too. You’ll need both when hordes of suddenly homeless Real Estate speculators figure out they’ve been made a fool of.
Monday, February 27, 2006
So That’s What Was Up With Jenny Picolo
Frankly, the only character on the show who isn’t a train wreck is Tino. How richly developed is this character. Never shown, never heard from, his total existence is defined by whispers and allegations. Everyone seems to know Tino. Everyone owes him a favor. But what do we really know about Tino for sure? Every thing is told second hand. Tino’s entire life is revealed to us in anecdote, one giant game of Telephone. Everything we learn about Tino is narrated to us.
What kind of guy is Tino? Tino drives you home for curfew. Tino holds your hair back when you drink to much. Tino can get you a fake ID. Tino moves through all circles orchestrating the party or protecting the social order. Tino initiated a campaign of targeted assassinations and immediately all enemy activity in his sector dropped off completely. Tino killed the three other assassins that Comsec sent before me.
Tino is Cornel Kurtz.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Ollie Ollie Ollie Get Yer Skateboard Here
It seems like yesterday we were just sitting in the Burger King next to The Paradise and The Dead Milkmen walked in, handed us bumper stickers and stole our french fries. I still have mine stuck to the bottom of my skateboard. I used to love my skateboard. Perfect ground transportation after riding the T. When I got my first apartment I would do tricks in the kitchen because there was nobody around to stop me. I would spend hours cleaning the bearings. When I moved onto the boat it got the boats name painted on the deck. A joke no one ever got but me. That's OK. I love jokes only I get.
I should ride more but there's nowhere to go. Beverly is even more uptight about the wholesale criminalization of skating then Marblehead ever was. There was a time when I wouldn't have cared. Now though, it would be pretty embarassing to be arrested for skating at 37. So my skateboard sits in the basement. A relic of my wreckless youth. Waiting for the day when I'll ride back over to Dave Who's house or Dylan's Dad's office with a bottle of grain alcohol and some cold pills. Perhaps those days are better left behind me. Maybe my poor skateboard will get used to retirement, occasionally coming out to move heavy furniture around. Dylan and the all of the Daves are fond memories. I may have given up skating and Everclear for sitting quietly and Tawney Port but I can still ollie in my kitchen if I want to.
Friday, February 24, 2006
So by request, here's a short film of Barney trying to figure out how to catch a spider on the ceiling.
Are they trying to tell me something?
Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Information wants to be free!
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Why can't we all just get along?
Here's my response to the story from an email sent this morning.
With respect to your humorous posting entitled "Oregon: A Paradise for the Mentally Incompetent" found at LewRockwell.com, I have to ask exactly how do you know the gas station attendant was abusing illegal drugs? Perhaps I'm insulated from the methamphetamine scourge by living here in New England. I find it curious that meth addiction is so common and easy to spot. I can almost picture in my head sleepy little logging towns in the Cascades inhabited by drug abusers. Lumbering around as if in some George Romero zombie film. Surely if that is the case then the question has to be asked, how is it that all these poor souls are falling out of polite society and submitting to debauchery. If this poor fellow has made the steps to stay employed in the face of his addiction shouldn't he be applauded for his efforts to stay out of jail. Could it be that perhaps, with six over privileged SUV driving yuppies who were in such a hurry to purchase gasoline and get away from the likes of him that in one short instance he cut his corners too close. An understandable mistake for any reasonable person to expect from someone suddenly placed in a hectic position. Perhaps he simply mirrored the animosity he sensed in you and purposely left off your gas cap knowing full well that your engine light would come on. Maybe it's something he does often when shown such contempt and disregard for his basic dignity.
Consider yourself lucky. Many Americans don't read the manual and simply bring their car in for a diagnostic check. Some shops around here charge $80 for the service. Perhaps he even brings in business to the shop this way. He may not be the ignorant animal that you are so quick to judge. Remember from his perspective, your MBA and SUV are meaningless if you don't know how to maintain a simple machine. Much in the same way that Chinese peasants viewed university professors during the Cultural Revolution as unfit for survival when they were forced to plough fields and could not spread fertilizer evenly enough to ensure a harvest.
Just to show I harbor no hard feelings, here's a tip for the next time your service light comes on. Pull over as soon as possible. Check your engine. Make sure you have oil and coolant. If you try to drive home with out either fluid your engine will seize and need a full overhaul. If you have proper fluid levels and the gas cap is secure, the most likely source of the service light is a blown sensor, probably an oxygen sensor in the exhaust system. They need replacing every 30-60 thousand miles depending on your vehicle. For many cars, when the service light comes on the computer switches to what mechanics call limp mode. The computer controls a valve that mixes fuel and air to provide the minimum amount of combustion to drive around with. You'll feel a sluggish pickup and the pitch and timber of the engine will change. Fuel economy is grossly compromised. This mode can be switched off by either having a mechanic reset the codes or pulling the battery terminals for 20 minutes. You'll lose your radio presets but the computer resets upon reboot.
For the record I agree with you that the average driver is perfectly capable of pumping their own gas.
And to be fair, his prompt response was: "Thank you for taking the time to write. Excellent information...and well written. Best regards,"
Monday, February 20, 2006
And Your Mother Too
Massachusetts is facing an open seat election for state governor. It seems like yesterday that Mitt Romney, fresh from his Olympic victories in Utah moved back and without properly re-establishing residency ran in the last open seat election for state governor. How much has the world changed since then? How healthy is our economy? What is our future going to look like?
For starters, houses cost twice what they did four years ago. Sure, some relatively reasonably priced condo’s are on the market but relative is the word. $150,000 is a lot for three rooms. It’s a good thing that during the same time average income increased from about $38k to $41k for individuals in 2004 (2005 numbers are not yet available.) While real estate prices took off wages barely covered inflation and certainly failed to cover the runaway inflation in housing costs.
Let’s further examine that per capita income rate. The median income tells a different story. At roughly $26k, half the population makes slightly more then half of what the average income is. The other half of the population must be doing significantly better. Factor in an 11% poverty rate and you start to see a dramatic swing in the income distributions. So for the per capita to be so much higher suggests that there really is a gap between incomes. The poor can’t possibly be making enough to survive. The middle class isn’t doing much better. The upper class is making the big bucks.
Some folks are poor and some are very wealthy and there is a big gap in between what the haves and the have-nots are earning. So what are the jobs in Massachusetts? There are about a half million jobs that involve producing goods. Unfortunately “goods” is a vague term. It could mean exportable commodities or houses. There are about two and three quarter million jobs in the service economy.
Let’s break down what those two job categories are, first producing goods. What do we manufacture in Massachusetts? Cars? No. Raw materials like timber, coal or oil? No. Houses? Yes, lots of them, one third of these jobs are construction. Unfortunately we can’t export houses. Then what does the commonwealth produce besides college students? About 300k jobs are in manufacturing and three quarters of those are management and R&D. Medical devices and biotechnology are the big industries, well not so much the devices or drugs themselves but the research behind the products and the technology to make them. So research and specialty scientific equipment are our exports. Those are pretty fragile eggs and a very tiny basket.
What about those service jobs. Education, transportation, finance, health care, leisure and the government are the biggest job categories. Those job categories further break down into sales and management being the top two. Food prep beats out nursing by a wide margin. Janitorial and secretarial follow closely behind.
Just to give you an idea of how lopsided the job market is, there are 144,000+ waiters in Massachusetts and 2,600 chemists. There are 125,000+ janitors and 2,700 pharmacists. It would be somewhat disingenuous for me to mention a 50:1 ratio for these two examples but it does illustrate the wide chasm between highly skilled professions and low paying service jobs. In actuality, the ratio is closer to 10:1.
Let’s get back to salary with our new understanding of what the job market looks like. There are ten low paying jobs for every high paying one. Half of the population makes about half as much money or less then the average paycheck and one tenth lives in poverty. There is no middle class left. It sure looks like every one is doing fine. There are so many new cars and McMansions with new granite countertops. Sadly those were mostly financed through cheap home equity loans, not high paying jobs.
What is the big issue that our gubernatorial candidates are debating today? Slot machines. It turns out that income taxes and property taxes on outrageousely over priced houses aren't enough to keep Massachusetts afloat. And I thought we were doing so well.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Is There An Ointment For That?
A lot of people, sick to death of the neverending spyware and virus battles switch to the Mac specifically to avoid that problem. For me that's just a bonus like not just having all wheel drive but being able to lock the differential so that the other three tires keep spinning when one wheel loses grip with the ground. So what does some scumbag do when he (it's always a male) notices a few sheep making a break from the herd? Some cyberthugs have written a program to mess with Apples reputation for near invulnerability. The virus protection racket (Norton) and the Microsoft sheeple are loving this. They're shouting loudly to anyone who'll listen "See Macintosh was only virus free because no one was writing virii for an OS that only a few people used." The problem with that is Oompa Loompa and it's cousin Leap are not virus programs. They're trojan horse programs. They're harmless unless they trick people into not just downloading them but running them and then getting the user to enter the master password for the operating system to allow the installer to make changes to the system. The Leap virus file comes in as an archive called "latestpics.gz". Any computer user (Mac or PC) should and probably would be suspicious of pictures that need the admin password to be viewed. If it gets that far it attempts to send itself to everyone on your iChat buddy list and infects the last three executables that were opened. At that point it dies out since it renders the last three programs inoperable. Oompa Loompa is similar but doesn't try to propigate.
In any case, they're trojan horses not virus programs and they still need to fool the user into taking an action that in this day screams 'don't open that' louder then a whole movie theator full of fat black women watching a horror film. It's sad that so many haters in Microsoft land are revelling in Apples misfortune rather then turning their attention to the real problem that virus and other malware writers are causing. In 2006 computers are no longer just hobby toys or specialized business machines. Computers have become crucial infrastructure for education, commerce, communications and simple everyday life for a majority of American households. They're as crucial as clean water, 911 service and smooth roads. Protecting computers has become a multibillion dollar industry and every attack causes downtime, causes data losses no less reprehensible then if some criminal parked a truck full of diesel and lawn fertalizer next to the cable company.
So does the FBI and DOJ use any of the immesurable powers of the NSA and CIA to track down the punk ass who wrote Ommpa Loompa or the Sasser Worm and charge them with crimes and mete out punishments commensurate with the costs their malicious creations have caused? No. The adult who wrote Sasser was ratted out by his friends and got 21 months probation. Instead, federal law enforcement is protecting the internet not from malware, spyware, worm, virus or trojan but from American Citizens who want to see titties.
Friday, February 17, 2006
There’s a pair of counters at the very bottom of the page that I put in last week for kicks. The first counter being unique hits and the second being total hits. The unique hits are somewhat unclear as to how unique they are. The counter ticks up for each new IP addresses that visits. That means if you have a dynamic address that changes every dialup or boot up it will count your return visit as a new one. (I think Comcast assigns dynamic addresses. My PSU fans will have static addresses.) I have no way of knowing exactly who has a static address verses a dynamic one but I believe that ratio is pretty high. The other counter is total hits so every page hit ticks that counter up. Between the two I get some idea of the traffic I’ve been getting.
The most notable change however, is the inclusion of advertising. Yes, I’ve sold out to Google’s Adsense. It shouldn’t be too garish unless your browser supports the blink tag. Just a simple box or two to click on if y’all are interested. Oh and my obnoxious blinking (if your browser supports it) plea for you to click on the ad.
How does Adsense work? Well, the little box dynamically feeds an advertisement based on the key words in my blog. As the blog is pretty much a stream of conscious free form my keywords are all over the map. So are the ads. I’ve seen adds for GM Roadside Assistance, job searching, veterinary medicine, blogging, increasing traffic to your site, RMV drivers license searches, Katrina Relief, spyware removal and my favorite ad so far; hydraulic lowrider conversions for any automobile. Now that I have those keywords in my blog I expect to see them in rotation even more.
So how’s the advertising doing? The jury is still out on that one. The first day it was up Google made $50.65 of which I will receive $1.47. Yesterday I had more hits, and click throughs but Google made nothing so I will receive nothing. I’m not expecting much out of today either. So we’ll see if my writing is worth reading in a financial sense or if it’s just some vanity project and I should get a real hobby.
So if you’re reading this and you know that you have a Static IP Address please let me know. I’d like to know if it’s the same 4 new IP’s racking up total hits every day or if I have more readers than I think.
Finally, if you’re the person who bought something on Wednesday through an ad on this site I’d love to know which ad worked.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Today's Episode Brought To You By The Letter H
Cheney's Got A Gun!
It bothers me that the ruling class is going on staged hunts to shoot at captive prey a few feet from their car. Cheney probably would have gotten the same rush by shooting at highway signs from the dirt shoulder. French Royalty used to hold staged hunts on the back lawn. Too fat and useless to hunt in the woods, French Nobility would have the servants go out and flush game. I hear sometimes the servants got shot too. Oh well. Pheasant... Peasant... What's one little h worth?
We need to storm the Bastille.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Now I'm not going to go into how much of a pussy load 28 gauge is. You might as well throw sand in the guy's face. Ten is the gauge for a real man like me. No. I'm not going to go into how drunk they all must have been. I wasn't there I don't really know.
I am disapointed in how little trouble the vice president is in. Hunting accidents are, if not manslaughter, at least a criminal misdemenor. Is Cheny in trouble? No, not with the local police or sheriffs office. They were prevented from making a full investigation by the Secret Service. So what is Cheney's crime here? The State of Texas is upset that Cheney failed to file a seven dollar hunting permit.
I leave you with a Weekend Update quote from Tina Fey in Season 29 Episode 18 featuring the ever delightful Lindsey Lohan with Usher as musical guest.
"Tina Fey: Yesterday, in a New Jersey courtroom, former NBA star Jason Williams was acquitted of manslaughter charges, although by all accounts he did pull the trigger in the shooting death of his limo driver. The verdict sends a clear message that no matter where you live retired sports stars are allowed to kill you. "
As it turns out anyone who's rich is allowed to kill you.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Let me help clarifiy something
GONZALES: "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale."
A lot of people don't understand the nature of the 'electronic surveillance' that Washington and Lincoln had access to. Let me explain how that was possible.
The Illuminati, with whom Washington was allied through The Masons, had a network of computers hidden in every home in the colonies. They were powered by transistors that were salvaged out of an ancient crashed UFO and maintained by operatives working for The Rand Corporation. It was called 'The Octopus' and it's this spy network that Danny Cassalaro was investigating at the time of his suicide. I believe the operating system was called Promis and it's main function was to alert the local sheriff to suspicious money laundering schemes. Shortly after the Civil War and during the early 20th century this covert military system was converted into home use under the guise of 'telephone service'. When the AT&T Bell Labs tried to get a patent for the 'transistor' the USTPO initially rejected it for failing to show prior art. Rather then admit the existence of the saucer people they faked a set of lab notebooks and resubmitted the application. Only after a few covert visits by a private cabal of mercenaries funded by Nelson Rockerfeller to the homes of the patent clerks was the patent granted.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I Don't Know Who Wrote This
For those who don't know, FEMA has built detention camps in every state. It's not a conspiracy theory if it's true. Again, I didn't write the rest of this. I don't know who did.
Boy! That's a lot of concentration camps! Do they intend to feed the people they put in there?
My considered answer: One of the main advantages tyrants have in establishing their dictatorship is that people over estimate the human spirit and the effects of their deadly, blind fanatical worship of nationalism. A healthy national pride is good and normal, but, a fanatical national pride is both dangerous and easily manipulated, as we saw with Hitler's manipulation of German nationalism AKA Nazism. Just as Satan's biggest lie is to convince us he doesn't exist, the tyrants biggest lie is to convince us everything he is doing is for our good and our countries good, while leading the lambs to the slaughter. While plans are being established to subjugate the masses most people respond by brave and boisterous talk, but little or no action. The majority simply say "It doesn't affect me, I am a patriot" as with Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under bloody Stalin. By the time a few would have the courage to resist the movement into a dictatorship it is already too late, the gates have closed. Tyranny begins in the inner circles of power, strategic steps are taken, alliances are established and the forces of control are carefully put in place, then with all the resources at their command the move to control the masses, either by intimidation (fear tactics) or by force (martial law). The sheep (masses) will do the bidding of the masters, they will follow any bell that rings, just as the churches (Christians) in the coming days will have their own brothers and sisters put to death and think they do God's service, having believed the lies and propaganda. We see this from the first grade of school, right on through life, the crowd follows whatever is popular at the moment. Only the few, the brave, the informed will dare stand alone and resist the enemy. Only after the fight is over and the danger has passed will the masses join the fray and attempt to take credit for the victory (historical fact). As far as depending on securing an "Army of resistance" from among those "angry souls" who have been cast into concentration camps, this would be another pipe dream. Feeding of the imprisoned would be the last priority of the dictatorial government. On the contrary, with holding food and medical treatment would quickly take the fight out of those in the camps. Daily torture and humiliation would be their lot in life now, this serves to dehumanize them and remove all thoughts of resistance. Trust in our fellow man soon breaks down and we do not know friend from foe. This move began with "Neighborhood Watch" a planned spy program and now causes neighbor to distrust neighbor. This has evolved in our own government spying on all of us as citizens. When hunger sets in poor health soon follows, sickness and disease are the copartners of hunger. When one is sick and hungry the will to fight quickly diminishes, a man then sells his soul for a piece of bread. Every well prepared Army fights on its stomach, this is a well documented and historical fact. If people are going to protect and defend their freedoms they are best equipped to do so while they are free and healthy and have the means to resist, not after being imprisoned and armed UN soldiers standing over them with weapons. No one has bothered to think about who will be guarding these concentration camps. It certainly wont be American soldiers, although most military personnel are now totally brain washed just as the Nazi military was and would kill American civilians at the command of their owners the "Corporate/Military complex." It will be UN soldiers who guard the concentration camps and enforce martial law, these wont think twice about placing a bullet in our heads because most have no love for Americans. I believe it is time for American's to start thinking logically and forgetting the dream that 250 million Americans would rise up and fight the coming terrorism of the present dictatorship, the present trend betrays that belief. As is evident, these "master minds" of our destruction already have the nation divided into two components of "red" and "blue" factions. Stalin had over seventy-million of his own Russian comrades murdered, most ordinary citizens and innocent of any wrong doing, in order to eliminate any resistance. Hitler had all of his opposition eliminated, yet the masses followed these bloody tyrants in patriotic fervor, out of fear and for bread (food). They both, Stalin and Hitler, hurriedly surrounded themselves with ultra loyalist (sound familiar)? Why would we expect Americans who can't even get along with each other and now have the entire world hating us to respond any differently? If the American people were concerned, the first thing they would do would be to eliminate every incumbent in Washington and continue on down to the State level until every self serving and special interest crook has been replaced and start all over with a new government slate, one who doesn't consider our constitution as "just a G-D piece of paper." I don't mean trust the false and illegal "voting system" I mean send those in power now back to their homes, or to jail and replace them all. Out of almost three-hundred million American citizens, why do we always end up with "only" two or three of the same candidates from the same rotten pot every election? Why do we always end up with a choice between an "Eastern Diamond Back rattler" and a "Western Diamond Back rattler?" That is like telling us we have two choices, they are, shut up or be quiet. America needs to wake up and get out of our dream world and face reality for a change, sadly, it is almost too late now. Surely there are enough capable leaders in this nation to provide a better choice than we've had, why do they all come from the Masonic order, the Skull and Bones, or the Illumnati? Why do we have to "settle" for the "Bush's" or the "Clinton's," or the "Kennedy's?" Why do they all somehow prove to be blood kin? Isn't there something very wrong with this picture when we leave the same crooks in office year after year after year, and place the same ilk up for election every four years? No, we Americans wont fight, we wont resist, that would mean risking our big homes and expensive cars and boats, that would mean taking a personal stand and risking pissing the boss off and losing our prestigious job or title, that would mean getting away from our pornography and materialism and actually committing to something important. We learned a valuable lesson by watching the masses fall for the official story of the attacks on 9/11, a story more full of holes than a block of Swiss cheese. Many Americans are on the government dole, such as military and government employee retirees and would in no way risk that lucrative retirement check. Loyalty is spelled m-o-n-e-y. Makes one wonder, and appreciate the early fighters for freedom who gave up homes, finances and personal wealth, and their very lives to fight for their freedoms, the freedoms we have enjoyed for over two hundred years now. They are no doubt turning over in their graves with shame at modern America. We will believe anything that comes over the one eyed (politically controlled) monster called television and sworn to by the propagandist of the evening news. We have (as Orwell put it) been assimilated. Prove me wrong America. I would love to believe I am wrong. By the way, the framers of our "G-D Constitution" (as our leaders dubbed it) were by definition "terrorist." They resisted and fought against the Empire of the original King George. Finally, I am totally incensed at an American politician, especially a pResident, calling our Constitution "just a G-D piece of paper." That is tantamount to calling our flag just a G-D piece of worthless cloth when millions of American men and women have shed their precious blood for both for that piece of cloth and are shedding their blood today in an illegal war in an attempt to serve our nation, albeit having been lied to. We shouldn't blame these young men and women, they too believe they are doing America a good service in obeying a questionable leadership and being loyal to their sworn duty. One day they will come to terms over what they are doing. Millions of vets sit in their homes, or on the streets, or in nursing homes cripple, both physically and mentally from defending that wonderful piece of paper and that wonderful piece of cloth of red white and blue which represents all that is good in America, that represents the common man and woman in every small and large city and town throughout this great land. The very stripes on that flag represents the blood shed for this nation and the sacrifice of Mom's and Dad's and grandparents who gave up their children that we may continue to resist people like those who now control our highest offices of government today, those who would steal our liberties and freedoms. This alone is enough to throw these gangsters out of the country as hostile enemies. Even with all of our faults in America, a land of people who have historically been the first to respond to the people of the world when disaster strikes with money, food and medical aid, when that flag passes in review it still brings tears to one's eyes and chills of pride up our spines (I am not ashamed to say it does this to me). This (tears and pride) is out of respect for all who have paid the price for the freedoms that are now being stolen away in Washington, not out of nationalistic fanaticism. Just who are these cretins who dare defame our nation and beliefs, or freedoms? Bottom line is, we resist while we have the means to resist, not after the fact when the enemy has control. It is easier to fight from the protection of woods and trees (with like minded friends/patriots and resources) than from behind barbed wire fences on empty stomachs and armed guards watching every move. The signs are hitting us all right in the face today, we will be without excuse. As the saying goes, we can't see the forest for the trees. Think people, think! I'm not advocating violence, I am suggesting we utilize our democratic weapons of government, by the people, of the people, and for the people, to make needed and drastic changes. I asked a guy if he thought ignorance and apathy were our biggest problems here in America, he said, I don't know and I don't care, as he slumped back in front of his computer with his beer and chips, sending cute little porno jokes and spiritual greetings to his Internet friends. Talk about Nero fiddling while Rome burned. That about sums it up.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Why Dede should wait before jumping off the Beverly Bridge.
This is in stark contrast to the treatment one can expect in veterinary medicine. New patient Barney was in the waiting room for barely ten minutes. He saw the vet tech as soon as we entered the exam room. The vet gave him a thorough exam and even educated us on preventative care procedures. He gave us medicine for Barney’s illness and treatments for fleas and hairballs, neither of which he suffers from but an ounce of prevention beats a stomach operation. The vet tech showed us how to give Barney his medicine and use the other treatments. We were in and out of there in a half hour, one stop shopping. We didn’t have to rush to make it to CVS to fill a prescription like we do when we see our own doctors. Total cost for a sick cat? $135 I’d say 100 times cheaper then similar treatment for a sick person.
I know you can’t compare people to pets but I will say this. Veterinary medicine is a bargain when you compare it to human medicine. Veterinary medicine is also much more streamlined and customer focused then the care people can expect to receive. In fact, right now we have a 2 tiered health care system. Those with insurance get crazy expensive procedures and those that don't get "Self Pay" on their charts and kicked out the door as soon as possible. Insurance has fostered a culture of consumer apathy on the part of the insured that has allowed the health care industry to jack up prices in this country far beyond what comparable care goes for in other industrialized countries. The procedures that the consumer can't get covered are very reasonably priced. Laser eye surgery for one. Claritin when it went OTC for another. The day insurance stopped paying for Claritin it went from $80 a month to $20 or roughly the equivalent of the out of pocket co-pay ie what the consumer and the market would bear.
Now I’m seeing rich weasels like Steve Forbes on TV pitching Health Savings Accounts in place of employer pays health insurance. I have to say given the current business climate that it sounds like and attractive offer. Basically instead of paying $8000 for my share of a pooled risk policy my employer deposits the money in an IRA style account. I’m free to use the money on any health care procedure or let it sit and compound interest tax free. When I was at Kidder, Peabody they paid close to $40,000 for an HMO plan that I didn’t use for 5 years. What I wouldn’t do for 40 grand so I can see a doctor today. That’s the beauty of this kind of plan, it doesn’t disappear if your employment changes. Use it now and lose it or let it sit and compound until you are older and will need it. It’s an instant incentive to take care of yourself as you’ll want to nest egg as much as possible rather then spend away. Do I need that cheesburger and carton of Lucky’s? Should I walk to work?
It also is an incentive to keep an eye on the medical bills you are racking up. Does that doctor really have to order all those tests or is he trying to get the insurance company to pay for his new MRI facility? When the consumer starts seeing the bills and prices you’ll see the free market spring into action to lower the price. Does junior really need all that Ritalin just because the teachers don’t know how to engage boys and interest them in the learning process? Not if it means I have to park in the city lot and walk through snow instead of parking in the company garage. Again, if the patient knows how much money is changing hands in the health care industry I'm certain prices would come down. Look at laser eye surgery. No insurance covers it so it's very affordable. Viagra is $10 a pill because it's covered on insurance. If it wasn't covered no one would pay $10 just to fuck their wife. Orthonovum or “the pill” would no longer be an additional expense. In fact I think it should be an acceptable expense out of any males health savings account too. I would gladly throw in on something that I may not be taking but am benefiting from.
The downside to this is that it will destroy the insurance industry overnight. How many employees would opt to stay in the old HMO Insurance racket knowing that they are likely to not stay at the job very long and would rather bank their healthcare spending for when they are out of work. Any employee who expects lifelong employment and retirement care at this point is deluded. I believe most employees will opt for a form of healthcare that will not leave them defenseless when they get laid off.
I believe only the currently sick or those taking care of dependents who need constant medical care will stay with the old system. The old system will crush under it's own weight rather quickly if they're no longer pooling risk with younger healthy employees who just want health insurance in case something bad goes wrong but generally never use their policy.
In any event, none of this stops people from purchasing insurance out of their HSA individually. It doesn't stop the insurance companies from selling policies. It might however bring the price of that policy down to where the many millions of uninsured Americans can afford it. In my case, my wife is an independent contractor in her field. We pay for her policy out of pocket so that we don't have to pay for the staggering cost of fertility treatments. I don't have insurance because the medical care I need monthly is less then the cost of a policy for me.
Now for the good news. Let the free market and the consumer take control of their healthcare spending and you’ll see a boom in cottage industries offering simple testing. Imagine the mall MRI and Sonogram facility where they do volume business in just taking the tests and having physicians in some boiler room interpret the tests. A quick $50 and you get a full body checkup that's just as good as sitting on that paper in the doctors office and being poked. Get an MRI every year and if something new starts to grow it shows up faster then a doctor would catch in his office with a flashlight and a stethoscope. Hey that spot wasn't on her MRI last year. Maybe she should go for further testing.
You'll see a new middle tier of healthcare technicians who are trained much like a pharmacist or dental hygienist to know what types of tests to recommend to certain types of people. I need a physical, I don't really need to pay a physician to run the tests. Tests interpretted as negative, no problem. Tests unclear or positive then it's off to see a physician. This means jobs, fulfilling and well paying jobs that don’t require 8 years and a quarter million dollars worth of tuition.
Is this the perfect solution? No but it’s a damn good place to start. Will there be some growing pains involved in rolling out this kind of plan? Yes. I’m willing to see public funding to start accounts for those most at risk of facing financial ruin while the economics are ironed out. Will this ever happen? Probably not. The Insurance Lobby will never roll over and let this one through.