Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

What Makes Printers Laugh Maniacally?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Got that Peter Lorre feeling?

I don’t know about everyone in the graphic arts industry, but I think the nightly national news is the funniest show on television. They call in their economic “experts” who solemnly tell us that the recession is over while the anchor sits and nods wisely in agreement. I can’t help but wonder what they do “off camera.” Do they high five each other and joke about how they are pulling the wool over our eyes? Maybe they think we can’t see the truth, but we can, all we have to do is look at our bank statements. The truth is there in the bottom line. The truth shows up in 1% or less passbook interest and 25% credit card interest. Wouldn’t printers love to have those margins?

I know of no printer who believes that the recession is over. Oh sure, we have moments when the market seems to be coming alive and we experience busy times here and there, but overall–overall there is trouble. Printers who haven’t gone out of business are largely hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

So if the recession is really over and the printers aren’t feeling it, maybe every other business is benefiting. Right? Wrong, everywhere I go I hear the same story of cutbacks, slow sales, and low expectations of recovery. Oh sure, the hope is there. We are, after all, Americans and Americans never say die, but aren’t you tired of the beatings we are taking? You go to work day-after-day hoping that the newscaster was right and things are going to pick up and they don’t–what do you do?

I read the other day that four mutual fund managers each got billion dollar bonuses. The recession is over for them, that’s for sure.  AARP magazine said that Corporate Executives are funding their bonuses by reducing health care and other benefits on the rank and file, so I guess the recession isn’t affecting them either. The insurance companies got congress to pass a health care law forcing everyone to buy private insurance. Happy days are here for them too.

So if you get blue and can’t pull yourself out of the fogs of gloom,  just shout with all the enthusiasm you can muster, “The recession is over!” If that doesn’t make you laugh, nothing will.


Note: The latest blog entry in Chicken Scratchings is “To e-Book, or Not to e-Book, That is the Question.” Just click on the underlined to take you there.

Defending Myself–Printing, Publishing, and Observations

Friday, December 18th, 2009

I was half-watching Stephen Colbert on television yesterday. It was his final show for this year. He spoke about the recession and at the top of his list of suffering industries was printing. Boing–he got my attention. Finally, the world has started to recognize how badly damaged we have been. In a way that is ironic, because printing created the Union and is the backbone of  history. And yet, when filling out a form or survey and the question is asked, “What industry are you in?” you won’t find printing. It’s like we no longer exist. I sometimes feel like Mr. Cellophane from the Broadway show Chicago. Hey world, printing is an industry. We do exist.

Printing, Publishing, and Observations

A friend called the other day. This is the same friend who introduced me to blogging almost a year ago. He said that my blog posts aren’t like other blogs. He finally figured out the difference, he says that I’m not writing traditional blogs, I’m more of a columnist.

Sometimes it is about the observations.

I’ve thought about it and believe he is on to something. My posts tend to be longer than what other bloggers do. I tackle subjects outside of my “stated purpose.” Maybe that is true, and perhaps the search engines get confused when they send out their crawly spider things, and they go back and report that my printing and publishing blog includes the economy, big business, and social injustice. It makes it hard to nail me down.

“Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
The last honest president?

The last honest president?

I can’t help it. Maybe it is my maturity–I am sliding into senior citizenship quicker than I want to admit. After a certain age, you start realizing what you knew before, but only philosophically. You have seen enough, and experienced enough, to know that life isn’t fair. In my case, I truly know that life isn’t fair, but I haven’t given in. I still believe that it isn’t too late. I believe that if people gather in large enough numbers they can make the government listen. Is that naive? I suppose so, because millions of citizens contacted their representatives and the White House begging them to withhold TARP funds from ailing banks. Those millions had zero impact. For those financial institutions, the recession is over, and they can double their executive compensations, but for the rest of the country the recession they created continues. Mortgage foreclosures are still happening at an incredible rate. Is this “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people?” —Abraham Lincoln

We want it, but the government denies us.

We are still in the throes of health care reform. In survey after survey, the American public proved we overwhelmingly  support  the public option. The percentages range from 61% to 77%. The public option is a no-brainer. We want it. Why then do our representatives continue to insist that the public option is dead?

Do you smell the stink of sellout?

Let’s think about it–the citizens want it, congress doesn’t. Where is the disconnect? It stinks of sellout. Someone owns the congress lock stock and barrel, and it isn’t the citizenry–is it? I’m willing to bet everything I own that the final health care reform bill will do more to benefit the health insurance companies than the people. It’s just like the prescription drug plan. The government said it was for the old folks and it is, a little bit anyway, but the real winners were the pharmaceutical companies. It has made it possible for Senior citizens to pay the high drug prices with public money. How do the drug companies benefit? People who couldn’t pay for their medicines before, are now able to. They hit the jackpot and the pharmaceutical executives are smiling all the way to the bank with their bonus money, perks, and lavish lifestyles, while the rest of us are destined to pay more taxes. What, you don’t think you pay more taxes, you do, it is just deferred. It is called the national debt. Someday the piper will come calling, and then we’ll find out what deficit spending has really cost us.

The lucky ones are those who are gone before the collapse.

Like I said, I’m sliding rapidly into senior citizenship, and maybe, just maybe I won’t be around to witness the final collapse because of all this selfishness, greed, and foolishness.


What’s Next–Debtor’s Prison?

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Okay posts on printing and Self-Publishing are going to have to wait once again. It seems that the last post, We Sure Swallowed the Health Care Lie, I seriously stirred the pot. If you go back and read my post and the attached comments, you will find that sentiments are all over the place. The truth is we don’t know what to do about the corporate Godzilla’s wreaking havoc in our lives. We know who they are, and there is plenty of finger pointing to go around, but our backs are against the wall and there isn’t a rescuer in sight.

Does this sound a tad dramatic? It is, but unless we see the monsters for what they really are we won’t muster the will to fight them. Tracy commented on my post, and I quote, “I emphatically agree with you regarding your views on health insurance…perhaps because I, too, am self-employed and have been for 31 years. My Blue Shield plan just increased about 3 months ago by 22% and is going up another 18% in December (when I enter a new age bracket). I worked in the housing industry and my income is down 90% while my health insurance will have increased 40%. I have been charging my health insurance premiums since January of this year because I am afraid to cancel it because, as you stated, it will be impossible to get health insurance then. Something has GOT to change!”

Tracy’s example is representative of the trouble many of us are finding ourselves in; let’s look at the the history of the unholy trio: US Congress, Health Insurance Companies, and the Financial Industry; and discover the careful step-by-step path that led us into this unconscionable position.

  • 1920’s Health Insurance created by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  • 1929 estimated annual average health care expense for American families totaled $108.00.
  • 1933 Federal Government passes Glass-Steagall Act wherein “banks, brokerages, and insurance companies were effectively barred from entering each others’ industries, and investment banking and commercial banking were separated.” Post by Kitty Wampus
  • 1940′s saw the entrance of commercial insurance companies into health insurance  after seeing the success of Blue Cross/Blue Shield (source EHNet).
  • 1960 Health Care expense rose to an average of 6.6% of a family’s annual income. It was no longer a luxury–it was now a necessity.
  • 1973 the last year middle-class and poor Americans saw an increase in real earnings–only the top 20% saw gain–the bottom 80% has been stagnant for 36 years.
  • 1980 congress passed Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control which broadened lending powers and banks rushed into real estate lending and speculative lending.
  • 1980 Ronald Reagan elected president, took office 1981 (note: Regan didn’t start banking deregulation).
  • 1981 Economic Recovery Act spurred a boom in real estate.
  • 1982 Garn-St.Germain Act authorized money market savings accounts in banks and savings and loans. Seriously undermining their security.
  • 1999 President Clinton, Republicans agree to deregulation of US financial system effectively nullifying all of the protections of Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
  • 2001 Health care insurance premiums risen three times more than wages. With company health care the average person paid $2,827.00 including premiums and deductibles. Health Reform.Gov
  • 2005 Bankruptcy laws changed to protect banks at the expense of customers. Banks who encouraged consumers to participate in reckless free-spending credit card lifestyles feared to face the results of their own actions.
  • 2006 Average spending on health care including premiums and deductibles rose 30% in five years to $3,744.00. For those without company sponsored group insurance the costs were even more.
  • 2008 ushered in the biggest financial failing since the Great Depression. US Government offers bailout money to head off economic collapse. Banks promise to renegotiate home mortgages, instead raise credit card interest rates by double or more

So here’s the bottom line as I see it:

  1. The way to unimaginable wealth is to create and market a product that becomes a necessity, like cigarettes and cocaine. The health insurance industry did just that. How? By allowing costs to spiral up. Since medical providers have had unrestrained ability to charge outrageous fees, i.e. the ten dollar dose of Tylenol, ancillary costs and services have skyrocketed too. Who now can afford treatment for even simple procedures without insurance? Furthermore, should a policyholder contract an illness or suffer an injury while covered, their options of changing insurance companies becomes impossible. Pre-existing condition clauses keep people stuck. Drop your insurance with a pre-existing condition and you may never qualify for coverage again.
  2. The financial industry has manipulated the government into lifting all of the protections that were implemented to prevent the collapse experienced during the Great Depression. What happened? Is it any surprise that the country is experiencing a deep recession? It is okay with the CEO’s because they take their bonuses whether the company makes money or not. It is the workforce and small businesses are hit hardest. Big banks are recovering nicely because of bailout money, higher credit card charges, and tougher bankruptcy laws.
  3. People like my commenter, Tracy, find themselves charging their rising
    New & Improved Card

    New & Improved Card

    health insurance costs on credit cards that can, and do, double interest and fees without restraint. If she can’t find another way to pay those usurious interest rates and outrageous policy premiums she will lose everything she has.

  4. Congress, the health insurance, and financial industries have us just where they want us. We have become slaves of the system just as surely as blacks were plantation slaves over 200 years ago. If you want proof, just try to get away without paying income taxes. Go to a hospital without an insurance card. Refuse to pay exorbitant credit card fees. Do all of those things and see what happens.

What’s next, debtor’s prison?

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