Thursday, April 27, 2017

Your Int'l Pundit, John Arra-son

CLICK HERE to view my appearance on the Tokyo News. Even if you don't understand a lick of Japanese you can see that I'm unhappy to be paying the premiums for the other fellow who is just delighted about it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

How to Save Obamacare.

While everyone's attention is on Syria, perhaps it's a good time to take another pass at considering rationally the Obamacare crisis.

The presumed purpose of Obamacare was to make sure every American has affordable access to health care. Obamacare has failed at this. Not only did it leave millions of Americans without insurance coverage, it has raised the cost of health insurance drastically for millions of others. Soon many millions more will go without coverage as insurance companies are bailing out of the market. Competition has dropped. The quality of health care is dropping commensurately.

The Freedom Caucus did Donald Trump (and the American people) a huge favor by killing Paul Ryan's wimpy version of "repeal and replace" of Obamacare. Though Trump criticizes them for blocking a "win" for him, he's just playing his version of Muhammed Ali's Rope-A-Dope. (They seem to be handling his gut jabs well, unlike John McCain who is still stomping around the ring consumed with bitterness. I think he got a concussion from his tete-a-tete with Trump.)

Anyway, the opportunity is now greater than ever to forge Obamacare into a force for good, to make sure Obamacare provides the greatest coverage to the greatest amount of people at the lowest cost. Here's how:

1. Preserve and protect the private insurance market.

  • Th quickest most effective way to do this is to remove all coverage mandates, not just Obamacare mandates, but state mandates as well. Let insurers sell the coverage that people want to pay for - don't force maternity coverage costs on old people, sex change coverage on straight people, or any kind of coverage on anybody. Insurers know what consumers want and will tailor plans to various populations that they will snap up. And they'll compete hard for the business, driving prices down, because any insurance business is really just selling money, and a premium payer is a cash cow.
  • Outlaw restrictions for buying insurance across state lines. This is a no brainer and is easily justified Constitutionally in the same manner that home state sales taxes are not allowed on out of state purchases.
  • Let anybody buy insurance for anybody else, as long as it's ok with the insurer, of course. Why in the world are "kids" allowed on their parents' policies until they are 26? If not 18, then why not 36? Why does it have to be a kid? Or a spouse? Heck, the definition of marriage and sex is quite fluid, apparently, so why have arbitrary barriers in the insurance world?
  • Mandate tort reform. A huge amount of health care cost is eaten up by liability insurance costs paid by doctors and medical institutions. Mistakes and negligence should be compensated but should not constitute a lottery.
2. Move anyone who does not have private insurance to Obamacare.
  • Establish a network of Obamacare health care providers which consist of existing federal institutions such as the V.A. hospitals and state and local institutions such as public university hospitals, certain non-profit health care providers (i.e., Planned Parenthood, which could finally morph from eugenics to actual care for the living), and community health clinics. If you don't have private insurance, you don't need to register for Medicaid or Tenncare or anything else, you simply make an appointment (or show up in an emergency) at one of these Obamacare network facilities.
  • Vest authority in the states to determine the mandates for their Obamacare health care providers. So California can mandate abortion coverage through its Obamacare network but Tennessee, say, does not have to.
  • Block grant ALL federal health care expenditures to the states for spending on their Obamacare health care network as they see fit, prorated according to the number of citizens residing in their borders. The exception to this policy would be, say, agencies like the CDC or the FDA which are legitimate national programs.
It's that simple. We don't need the Congressional Budget Office to figure it out. I wouldn't trust them anyway, because it just makes too much common sense. It's only a matter of setting up a private vs. a public system, not unlike education. The private system will work beautifully. Everyone will want to afford insurance, even if it means giving up cable or high speed internet, so the rolls will be full of willing customers. Those who do not have private insurance for whatever reason - bad luck (i.e., a major preexisting condition), personal choice, sloth, or being in between jobs - will always have somewhere to go, cared for by the state. Private donors, religious institutions, and other benefactors can make the Obamacare facilities and staff just as good as they're willing to contribute.

Given its demonization heretofore it seems a paradox, but preserving private healthcare insurance is exactly the way to save Obamacare. It will drive the maximum number of people off the public dole and for those really in need, public funding will provide excellent care.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

How to Save U.S. Health Care Insurance

Those of us with a conservative mindset really hated Obamacare. We mostly don't think the Republican "Obamacare Lite" is much of an improvement. But I for one will take it.

I'll take it for the simple reason of self-interest. As an independent business owner responsible for my own health insurance, I've related how the cost of Obamacare was bearing down on me (see BlueCross BlueShield BlueNopoly Part I / Part II / Part III).

Long story short: I had a company health plan with the usual bells and whistles in 2008. Then an HSA health plan for my nearing-26 son and me the next year with a high deductible for about three hundred bucks a month.

Then with Obamacare kicking in, that doubled. Then by January of this year, Obamacare mandated a version for which BlueCross wanted me to pay over a thousand bucks a month. Just for me. Healthy as a horse and young as a, well, a princess phone.

A funny thing happened on the way to the aforementioned. Donald Trump won the election and suddenly a plan appeared on Farm Bureau's site that only costs me $267 a month. It isn't Obamacare mandated, has a lower deductible and better benefits, still works with my HSA.

Why? I suspect with Trump's victory, the insurance company knew Obamacare would be repealed and replaced. The exorbitant penalties they were scheduled to face for offering non-compliant plans and that I would have to pay for choosing one would be eliminated. I was all set to pay the penalties because even with the penalty, I would come in at half the cost of the Obamacare plan that BlueCross was offering. I am tickled pink at how things have gone so far.

Not too pink. I still think it's bad policy for the government to try to make sure everybody has insurance as an entitlement and it's not insurance at all if "insurers" are forced to cover everybody equally regardless of pre-existing conditions. I actually have a pre-existing condition exclusion on my current policy involving kidney stones, having had an episode with those little buggers last year. Seems fair enough to me.

Of course, I would feel differently if I had a cancer or heart disease problem that was excluded. I understand that concern and I feel for those who cannot afford insurance. The backlash from those in both categories is why the Republicans including Donald Trump are proposing such a wimpy remedy in their new "American Health Care Act."  That's why I propose the following simple two-step plan as the next step in repealing and replacing Obamacare:

1. Mandate that current policies and coverages be left in place for, say, two years, as a safety net, but immediately remove all conditions on all newly written health care insurance policies, including pre-existing condition restrictions, state mandates, and the obstacles to purchasing across state lines. The resulting free market in health insurance coverage will drive prices WAY down and open the feasibility of health insurance coverage up to millions of new customers and small company corporate policies.

2. For those who choose not to buy insurance for whatever reason - expense, sloth, pre-existing conditions - set up an alternative health network that the non-insured must use for health care. This network would be made up of existing VA hospitals, community health clinics, even outfits like Planned Parenthood which could finally have a legitimate reason for being, and perhaps some mission clinics which serve the poor and nonprofits which serve clients with a specific disease. Care would be on a sliding scale, subsidized by the government to the extent the electorate is willing. The non-insured could still buy private health care if they could pay out of their own pockets. And philanthropies and state and local governments could assist as they see fit.

My proposal should satisfy both sides of the issue - those who want real, viable, market based health insurance, and those who want a single payer plan. Access would be free and easy. Everyone would be covered. And those who wish to pay for better benefits will have the freedom to do so.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Occupy Movement continues... the the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the N.S.A. and doubtless every other department and agency of the federal government.

Why? It's not the revenge of the loser Hillary Clinton. Despite an occasional tweet she's a dead duck. Instead it's the lame duck that won't die, Barack Obama. It's that Donald Trump represents the antithesis of Barack Obama. For Trump to succeed will be the undoing of every "accomplishment" of Obama's term in office:

  • Open borders.
  • A direct line to single-payer healthcare.
  • Chaos in the Middle East... and in America's streets.
  • A weakened military.
  • A strengthened police state.
  • The give-over of U.S. sovereignty to the U.N.
  • Control of capitalism via the global warming hoax.
  • Racial strife.
That's just a short list. Over eight years of blaming George W. Bush for everything "wrong" and straw men for any legitimate criticisms of his own policies, Barack Obama proved himself to be a passive aggressive huckster for every antagonistic remnant of the dope-smoking, baby-aborting, draft-dodging sixties.

Z.. he lives: Lead Occupier of the United States - LOOTUS. Even if the rest of the swamp is draining, he sits low in the deepest darkest hole resisting the legitimately elected new President.

But there is one big difference between himself and Trump that Obama cannot overcome: The people - the working and ambitious and post-racial people who actually prosper side by side - black and white, brown, yellow, and red - as Americans first and foremost, who don't just live in a smoke-filled bubble of sixties antagonism. The people are with Trump.

Trump is a winner, democracy and rule of law eventually will sustain him, and LOOTUS will eventually choke on the ever more concentrated swamp water he has left to live in.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Bunch of Screaming Mimis

I thought the Republican Party was DOA after the 2012 election. I still think it's just a shell of a party, reminding me of the Xipe Totec Indians who wore the skins of their dead to connect to the afterlife. Old hacks like John McCain and Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, have bellowed around the media for the past eight years representing the country club and hawkish vestiges of a once-proud Reagan coalition while younger legacy inductees like Paul Ryan and Marsha Blackburn pretended to be an opposition party but really did nothing to stop the Obama train. They are the skin. The only thing animating them is that Donald Trump has some real life in him and ran on their ticket, much to their horror.

But as bad as the Republican Party is, the Democrats have got it worse. Democrats once stood for something positive in America, though of course no more perfectly than what the Republicans stood for. They stood for the little guy. They were the anti-corporatists of their day. They were the champions of transparency and peace and justice and for the most part, meant it. No one exemplified this better than John F. Kennedy.

But in order to have a "modern" coalition they have tapped into the wackiest extremes of society. They promised hope and change to people who have serious problems that can't be fixed by society, but whose solutions need to come from within - aging sixties draft dodgers, abortion survivors, illegals, those with sexual and racial and substance abuse issues, the lazy, the whiners, and the chronically malcontent - and it has perverted the party's mission.

It must be hard to be a Democrat with common sense these days. It is practically an oxymoron given the fringe element that characterizes the party now, that goes around wearing sphincter hats supposedly marching for women's rights, that screams down the opinions of anyone they don't agree with, that works relentlessly to cram acceptance, not just tolerance, down the throats of people of conscience on the other side of an issue.

There has got to be a third way, a path between the moribund Republican establishment and the whacked-out fringe element leading the Democrats. That's why I am still and more than ever for Donald Trump. He may not be my alter ego but he's shaking it ALL up, on both sides of the aisle.

The clearest evidence of his success is the screaming Mimi's at the town hall meetings, in the progressive media, and in the sphincter-hat marches. These "not my president" folks are squealing because they're getting stuck with reality. And at some point when the screaming dies down and the dust settles, we're going to have a country that's better for it all. It won't be the Reagan coalition, it will be disaffected Republicans and fed up Democrats coming together for the "Great Again Coalition."

So you common-sense Democrats, you Tea Party Republicans, you folks who can't follow either of the two choices but call yourselves Independents: Do not lose faith. Churchill had it just right: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

We'll get there despite the Screaming Mimis.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For the history lover on your Christmas list...

Imagine... stepping back in time fifty years, a hundred, or in this case, nearly two hundred, and getting to sit down with your great grandfather and get to know him as a real person, not just a name followed by birth year and death year. Reading Col. John Amenas Fite's memoir is as close as any of us is ever likely to come to that.

Col. Fite was born in Alexandria, Tennessee, a few miles south of Lebanon, in 1824. He was one of a mess of Fites who settled in that area after migrating originally from Germany through Pennsylvania, then North Carolina, and finally over the Smokies into Middle Tennessee. His grandfather was a Revolutionary War veteran and took the land grant for his service and prospered as a farmer, passing his strong work ethic and winning personality along to his children, not the least of which was John Amenas Fite, a self described "rattling kind of boy'' full of mischief and having the run of the fields and towns all around his home.

After graduating from Cumberland College, Col. Fite settled in Carthage to start his career as a lawyer. When the Civil War broke out he answered the call of his state to come to arms and was elected Captain of his regiment, part of the Seventh Tennessee infantry which was assigned to General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. He was wounded several times in battle but always came back to lead his men, rising through the ranks to Colonel before being captured in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, spending the rest of the war in a Union prison, where he lost a hundred pounds and was released on exchange just before the war ended.

Col. Fite was a popular man, had a way with words and a great sense of humor and sentiment. His rich personality comes out beautifully in this memoir dictated in his later years (he lived well into his nineties despite his war wounds), full of interesting anecdotes about life in the antebellum South with slaves and horses and youthful adventures, as well as war stories which include encounters with Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate luminaries.

Col. Fite is my great great grand uncle (or thereabouts) and my namesake. I have transcribed his memoir from the original typed manuscript, shortening sentences and dividing it into chapters to make for easier reading, but the real gift is the encounter with Col. Fite's own words. I sent it to a friend who specializes in the history of Middle Tennessee and he reported that upon receipt, he thought he'd read into it a little and found it so compelling that he read it from beginning to end in one sitting. The two unsolicited reviews so far on Amazon give it five stars. It would be a great gift for that person on your Christmas list who loves history, or... for yourself if you'd like a few hours of hearing an entertaining and enlightening voice from our past. Just click on the picture of the book cover to order. If you'd like to see a little more about John Amenas Fite, including a letter he wrote home as a prisoner of war and a photo of him in his Confederate uniform, visit the site I've set up for him by clicking here.

While on the subject, for local Civil War history buffs I'd like also to mention a book I've just finished reading, The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War by William Thomas Venner. Mr. Venner has written a very readable, exciting, and thorough narrative of Col. Fite's regiment from war's outset to finish and he relies extensively on Col. Fite's memoir along the way, as well as records of his brother, Dr. James Fite, who was the regimental surgeon.

Finally, one last plug with the desperate Christmas shopper in mind, might I also recommend my novel In Measured Steps? Since it's a novel and that's a very subjective thing, I won't belabor the point with self-promotion on this one, but if you buy it and it turns out that you or your giftee don't like it, contact me and I'll personally refund your money!

All book cover pictures on this post link directly to Amazon. Thanks for your consideration and Merry Christmas to one and all!

Monday, October 31, 2016

BlueCross BlueShield BlueNopoly - Part III

Obamacare is delivering a knockout punch to working stiffs like me, aided and abetted by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee among other state "nonprofits." They are well on their way to the monopoly of health insurance they were booking for while the federal government is well on its way to being the single payer, thus owning another 20% of the economy.

I won't belabor the details. For that simply see my first post on the subject and my last post on the subject and know that this is the letter I got this week:

That's for one person (moi), not family coverage, with a Health Savings Account, a very high deductible, and zero health problems.

I hope all the folks on subsidy appreciate how hard I've worked all my life to subsidize them. Somehow I doubt that.

I'm voting for the candidate who says he's going to scrap this B.C.B.S.T.B.S.