Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions and the Constitution

There are a lot of people out there who think that insurance companies need to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. The thinking, if you can call it that, goes that if a person has insurance through his employer, gets sick and then loses his job, he also loses his insurance. Any new policy won’t take on his costs for his existing illness. Both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree that somewhere in the Constitution there is a “pre-existing conditions cannot be denied by private health insurance companies clause.” I have a copy of the Constitution and lately I have been dragging it out and pouring over it looking for all these new powers that the government has decided they have. I am still looking for the automobile bailout clause, the banker bonus control clause and the compensation czar clause.

Let’s say I was looking to start up an insurance business. I go out and raise the capital I need, hire some employees, rent some office space, buy some computers--then the government tells me I have to offer policies to people with pre-existing conditions. How do I stay in business? For the people who show up with diabetes, what are they buying and what am I selling and who makes a profit? Now I am going to assume that here in the United States I will still be allowed to make a profit in the coming years. Profits allow me to improve my business, hire more people and send my kids to college. I know that many on the political left think profits should be secondary to helping the community but reality says that making a profit is what keeps me in business and keeps the motor of the country running.

So is my new insurance company a business or a charity? It pays taxes like a business but signing someone up simply so that I can pay their medical bills is more like a charity isn’t it? This is the magic question that I am really looking to have answered. If I have to take on the medical payments for pre-existing conditions why would anyone pay me for a policy prior to getting sick? What is my motivation for simply raising capital to pay people’s medical expenses? If I go broke because I can’t be selective about who I insure, what happens to my employees and who pays the medical bills when you do get sick?

A more fundamental question is do I have the right to start a health insurance business in the United States of America and expect success? Is there a free market for health insurance? If so, how does it work if the government demands that I simply take on the payment of some portion of the population’s bills? In order for this to work and to support the insurance industry as it exists, the government will be required to force everyone to purchase insurance at a cost that covers everyone’s pre-existing conditions. Who will decide which insurance company will get the premiums? How will the balance of charity cases be divided among the existing companies and will new ones be allowed? If someone can’t pay the premium will they be jailed? Where, exactly, is this new right located in the Constitution?

Are we going to ditch the idea that this is a nation of laws or are we going to pretend that the supreme law of the land takes a backseat to what a particular political point of view wants the nation to be? The remarkable thing about the United States is that no matter what political party is in power, each is limited by the same set of rules laid down in the founding document. One cannot hold an election to negate the rule of law. That axiom seems to be lost on the current administration. They seem to think that if they can pass a law, the constitutionality of that law is moot.

I am not beholden to the government of the United States. We are not ruled by our government. The government exists solely to serve the people and protect the Constitution. It is the duty of all Americans to remove any government that ignores the rule of law and violates the Constitution. If we destroy the insurance industry, then the people in power will seize that service as an entitlement. It will destroy the healthcare delivery system of this country and depress our economy further. If you want to improve the health care delivery system then get government out of it. There is no “right” to healthcare as there is no right to any service or product someone else must provide.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Sitting at a Burger King the other day after having the person behind the counter correct my order for the third time I was struck by the level of incompetence people have reached just in my lifetime. It is now possible to arrive home with the wrong number of burgers, condiments and change, all presented to you in two languages. “CafĂ© Grande por favor”…ends up a diet coke, two packets of sugar, incorrect change with hash browns. Since we live in a society where no matter what happens, blame must be assigned, I started looking into the root causes of this national bout with stupidity and I think I have discovered the main culprit…the majority of the people will absolutely believe anything! All you have to do is present what can be astounding nonsense with an air of mystery and basic plausibility.

There used to be a radio talk show host in Dallas, Texas, named David Gold. He had a theory that 10% of the people had working engaged brains. The others, the 90 percent-ers were basically the reason People Magazine is in business, Paris Hilton is a celebrity and people listen to Sean Penn on foreign policy. I am certain that Mr. Gold missed the spread by quite a large margin. From what I see, those in the know are a fraction of 1% and the other 99.98% just barely make it through their lives managing to find their way to work each day by some miraculous stroke of pure luck. Full parking lots at businesses always surprise me.

Excluding me and an extremely small circle of peers, we, as a people, will not only believe pretty much anything anyone throws our way, we will act on it. This has always been true from the first snake oil salesman in the market square to the new global snake oil salesman on the internet. We are currently going through a spike in idiocy. Recently, in the last 5 years or so, stupidity has become the rule and intelligence the rare exception. It all comes down to what a person is willing to believe.

I have examples.

Here is a list of things that many people actually believe in:

UFOs and Aliens
Alien Ghosts – See Chapter 2
Good Luck Charms
Animal Rights
Moon landing conspiracies
Government conspiracies – 9/11, JFK, RFK, Etc…
Area 51 having alien technology
The intellectual prowess of actors
Global warming
Hope and Change
Winning the Lottery
Eternal rewards for killing people – Virgins, Etc
Power in inanimate objects, Magnets, Crystals
Barrack Obama’s qualifications to be President
Government Economic Stimulus
Corporate Taxes
Left wing intellectualism
Bigfoot, Yeti

If you fall into a group who believes in any one of these things, it is understandable that you would have trouble remembering to leave the pickles off that burger. Believing in silly crap like this leads to whole segments of the population becoming willing participants in absolutely ludicrous nonsense. For example, people believe that raising taxes on the prosperous will somehow make the poor prosperous someday. Or, that rewarding people for doing nothing will make them want to do something.

It isn’t that these goofy things are being presented to the people to distract them from what is really going on. It is that nothing is really going on. People believe there are aliens flying around in gravity defying vehicles and the government knows about it. There are people who believe that being born in March changes your personality based on the position of the planets in March, simply because they are gullible. The only physical effect that could remotely be affecting you from the planets is gravity and the girth of the delivery nurse has more of a gravitational effect on you than Mars. I know this because I used to do terrain corrections for gravity surveys for a geophysics company.

The government is not…repeat NOT, hiding bigfoot, aliens or secret conspiracies to bring down the Twin Towers. They aren’t competent enough for that. The thing that should worry you about the government is that it will get too big, trip and part of it might fall on you. The problem is not diabolical evil…but clumsy unstoppable inertia. Government is a monster but it is a dumb one….I mean look at who we elect to lead us. The trick to protect yourself from the monster is to stop feeding it. When you feed it, it gets excited and happy and wants to do stuff for you. Then it is time to head for the hills.

(This is a rewrite of part of a chapter from God's Motive.)

Monday, February 15, 2010


I have a short story to tell about an event that occurred on the social networking site Facebook. Facebook has a lot of pages set up by various individuals that cater to certain groups or interests in addition to those individual pages we can set up about ourselves. I have a Facebook page. I am also a member or a fan of other Facebook pages and until recently was a member of a page called “Writers.” I fancy myself something of a writer. I have written and published a couple of books, been published in a couple of newspapers, and have a blog. So when I noticed that there was a Facebook page titled “Writers” I stepped right up and requested to join. They let me.

Now a group of writers one would think would have a wide range of interests. I mean the title of the page was “writers” not religious writers, political writers, fiction writers, poetry writers, newspaper writers just “writers.” On this page was a tab that said “Discussions.” This was a place where people could create topics for discussion. Usually you can’t get any clearer than that, but perhaps these folks should have tried. I had posted in some of these discussions before and had enjoyed some back and forth discussion with other members of the page. One day, while visiting the page, I noticed that someone had put up a discussion that said “Favorite Quotes.” Well I have several favorite quotes after all I am a writer.
Back in 1992, I ran for the Texas State Senate as a Libertarian. One day, the Libertarian Presidential candidate came to Dallas for a visit and to be a guest on a radio talk show. I got to ride with him from the airport to where the interview was taking place. His name is Andre Marrou. He is a likeable sort and on the way he told us this joke about the origins of the word “politics.” He said it was from the Latin “poli” meaning “many” and tics which were blood sucking parasites. I remember saying something about my dog and parasites and the line that survived was; “If parasites are bad for my dog, what makes them good for my country.”

Nothing truer was ever said in my estimation and so that is what I typed into the “writers” Facebook discussion tab under favorite quote. I didn’t think another thought about it. Couple of days later I was back at the Writer’s page and went to see if someone had commented on my quote or put a quote in I might enjoy. My quote was gone…erased...deleted. It took me about two seconds to decide that I wasn’t happy about that at all. So I went back into the discussion group and posted my ire with the fact that the quote had been deleted and reposted it. I also sent a note to the keepers of the page letting them know my quote had been deleted and asking them why.

Next thing I knew I was deleted. I could no longer go to the Writers’ Facebook Page because I had been delisted a lot like my quote. Now there is another Facebook Page called Writers II which exists because some of the people from the first one, think that they are too heavy handed with their censoring of ideas they don’t like….well duh! On this new page there is a discussions tab and on this page was a discussion called, “tired of the heavy handed editing on the writers page?” Well I was so I went there and posted my ire with the first page and got a response from a fellow claiming to be the very one who deleted my quote from the first one, telling me how awful it was that I would say such a thing.

As a matter of fact I got responses from several people on this new page that were perfectly fine with me getting kicked off the first page, because they saw something terrible in my quote. One of them thought I must be talking about his unemployed father. Another though I must be talking about his Aunt who had to work two jobs. Another thought I must be talking about unwed mothers…and they were all mad at me for saying simply that “if parasites are bad for my dog, what makes them good for my country?”

I found this to be remarkable. None of these people knew the context of my quote or anything about me at all, but they all knew that I must be talking about someone they know. “Methinks perhaps thou doth protest too much.” WS. They wanted my blood. They weren’t going to stand idly by and allow me to disparage their particular victim. They were shouting that their relation or group were not parasites even though no one had accused them of being so. They weren’t reading what I was writing and they were using emotion instead of cognition to come to conclusions about facts not in evidence. It was sort of a mob mentality.

I don’t think I ever got them to go back to the origin of the controversy and that was the idea that if you ask me for my favorite quote, I am going to give you my favorite quote, and if you really want your favorite quote or one you agree with, that is what you should ask for. Am I the only one in this scenario who can follow directions? This was typical behavior for people who are insecure in their beliefs. If I don’t tell them what they want to hear…they demand that I do. And when I still don’t, they attack me personally.

I don’t think any of these people are in danger of becoming very good writers. They must first learn to read, comprehend and think critically.