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Monthly Archives: October 2017

With Harvey Weinstein’s career, social, and private life in shambles as a result of accusations coming from nearly 60 women (at the time of this writing), many people are wondering if recent events aren’t some kind of watershed moment for… well to tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what. A reckoning? Surely. The overall treatment of women in the work place and social life? Probably not, if we’re being honest. Once all the bad news dies down, some men will inevitably go back to being predatory and new ones will take their place from year to year.

But the reckoning – that moment where suddenly women feel empowered to speak out about their experiences – that may be coming for more people, and for those who have transgressed it’s going to be brutal. The question is, how long will the reckoning go on, and who’s fates will be sealed?

So far, names like Bush, Afleck, and Halerpin are making headlines along with a slew of others, but for some reason the damn has yet to break on Donald Trump. Trump, for his part, who’s name is back in the news this week along side the other accused has issued another declaration of innocence as he continues to weather the storm.

In today’s world, it takes a special set of circumstances for a celebrity to fall. Bill Cosby’s ignominious pursuits spanned decades according to accusers in spite of his outrageous conduct. It wasn’t until one special day where something about the conditions in the cosmos were just right that the public started paying attention to the news. And the same has been true for many other famous people, Weinstein among them where bad behavior in epic proportion goes unpunished over and again.

Well, ladies, if you’re reading this, let me give you some advice. The conditions to bring Trump’s conduct to light have never been better. The rich and powerful are currently vulnerable in a way heretofore unseen and any new accusers are going to get their moment. But if Donald is allowed to ride out this current wave of misconduct allegations, then you might as well just give up because there will never be another time this ripe for these stories to have an impact. And if Trump survives, he’ll be that much harder to touch in the future as any new allegations will begin to sound like the boy who cried wolf to his supporters.

This is why anyone who’s ever been the victim of Trump sexual misconduct should step up, and do so quickly. It’s going to take a lot of weight to move the mountain and there won’t be another chance like this again, ever.

Now that Weinstein’s career has officially fallen into the abyss, the stories have been coming out of the woodwork from those who were previously afraid to speak. And with every new allegation comes louder and louder criticism from the right aimed at anyone who’s been cozy with the movie mogul. But let’s not forget that during the campaign there were quite a few women who accused Donald Trump of such things as well, and it could be very difficult to ignore if a similar avalanche begins once again against the president.

It would be very difficult to continue to assault Democrats over the Weinstein affair while ignoring similar and multiple allegations against a man who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, even if that man is Donald Trump. Already, women are suing the campaign for information about how it handled and tracked allegations of sexual impropriety and the women who made them. Eventually, the chorus may become to loud to ignore.

The worse this situation gets for Harvey, the worse it will get for Trump. Even in today’s bizarre political climate where Trump can break every taboo without repercussion, every pot has a boiling point, and Weinstein is turning up the heat on Trump substantially as more and more people make comparisons between the two.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Right doesn’t understand their peril by calling out Weinstein backers. They dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump a year ago before the election and forgot all about it. But today they are accusing the Left of hypocrisy by ignoring the Weinstein story in the news and elsewhere, and that same accusation could well come back to haunt them sooner rather than later if more women come forward with their own Trump stories and more attention is spent comparing the behavior of the two.

Recently Samantha Bee joked about impeaching Harvey Weinstein in one such well aimed attempt to compare the two men. I would expect more to come as it becomes clear that this avenue would be an effective way to both diffuse the Weinstein story and attack the behavior of the President. The Right can’t have it both ways and they will soon find out why. Weinstein should go, sure, but so too should Trump.

While we all can find something to argue about on the topic of healthcare, most of lack a fundamental understanding of why we’re arguing and what’s truly important. People argue over the costs of the ACA, premiums, plan requirements, the individual mandate and various other aspects of the law, but we often haven’t decided what our healthcare policy ought to be philosophically speaking, and why. Even if we did, gaining consensus from a group of stubbornly uninformed people is like herding cats.

That being said, just because the other guy didn’t spend some quality time thinking about healthcare in the nation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

So, what are the real questions we should be asking ourselves about healthcare in the United States? Should we have healthcare laws at all? And if so, how far should the government go in legislating healthcare?

I think we can all agree on a few basic facts and principles:

  1. When paying for drugs or health related services, they should be safe to use.
  2. When we have an emergency, we can depend on access to emergency services like police, fire, ambulance, and the emergency room.
  3. There’s an inherent conflict of interest between those who provide healthcare goods and services for the well being of the patient, and the profits they make doing so.

Like it not, we’re all consumers.

All of us will need healthcare and related services at some point or another during our lives, and probably more than once. If we’re in an accident, a victim of crime, or if there’e a public emergency, we’re going to need help and in dire circumstances we may not even be able to ask or even refuse. Because emergency related healthcare costs are something we all benefit from, and cannot opt out of, establishing a mandatory health related tax to cover the costs would seem like a reasonable thing to do. This is why I think we should all be able to agree that, at least in principle, the individual mandate makes sense. Otherwise, some of us will be getting a free ride when services are needed.

Like it or not, there’s massive conflict of interest in the health insurance industry and you wouldn’t understand it anyway.

For better or worse, health insurance companies are run by capitalists. They’re in business to make money by selling insurance policies to the largest group of people available for as much money as they think they can get, and then by rationing resources during treatment to manage costs. Factored into this equation are what services to cover in treatment, limitations, customer and medical expectations, and more. Without some form of protection that negotiates for coverage from the consumer point of view, insures have been free to write policies that are very lopsided in their own favor with little or no repercussions. This is why insurance companies have historically price gouged sick individuals or simply turned them down for coverage due to a preexisting condition.

It would therefore make perfect sense for the people buying coverage to get together and form some kind of collective bargaining apparatus whereby they gain some leverage in negotiating policies. Without this apparatus to help negotiate what the insurance companies will provide, the typical consumer is forced to buy coverage that the vast majority of customers aren’t qualified to understand.

It therefore stands to reason that some form of government intervention to help ensure plans cover individuals fairly makes sense, as there is no other mechanism that grants consumers a voice over their health coverage.

Like it or not, the Obamacare mandate is good for everyone, even you.

Forcing everyone to join insurance markets or pay a fine is good for everyone, even people who insist they don’t need health insurance. First of all, yes, they do. And if they don’t have it, then they are getting a free ride when they really need help, or worse, they end up burdened with lifelong debt or can’t afford life extending treatments.

Also, forcing people to buy insurance brings prices down since more people paying into the system means there’s more money to go around when a few of us get sick. That’s basically what makes insurance companies work in the first place. In order for the concept of insurance to work, there needs to be enough subscribers to keep prices down in the marketplace. The more, the better. Since we all use the system, it seems quite reasonable that we should all pay into it one way or another.

In fact, the biggest irony of the healthcare debate is the my conservative friends complain that ‘mooches’ get a free ride from the ACA, but without the individual mandate, these same people who shun health insurance (for whatever reason) are the ones who get free services when first responders are necessary.

Like it or not, premiums were always out of control.

In September of 2009, Time Magazine reported that health insurance premiums had climbed 131% on average in the previous 10 years. Someone must have figured out that the majority of Americans were willing to pay whatever it took for health insurance. Without government to take up the collective bargaining position of the consumer, no one else will.

Like it or not, the free market will never insure poor people.

If you’re a in a job as a dishwasher, landscaper, or farm hand, you’re probably earning minimum wage. There’s no way you’re going to be able to afford coverage on your own. Forcing everyone to become part of a marketplace is the only way – short of a single payer option by the government – to ensure the lowest earners in society. The ACA is the only way for poor people to, in many cases, see a doctor. Unless we want to offer a government option, or just tell poor people to go suffer and die, we need to provide assistance in obtaining coverage. The ACA is the only mechanism that has done that.

Like it or not, giving money to the states is a stupid idea. 

The United States needs uniform healthcare. This isn’t something that is likely to vary from state to state. The people in Michigan suffer from the same types of cancer as those in Florida and California. All this plan would do is reshuffle the deck in a way that leaves some citizens with better coverage than others, often for purely philosophical reasons. Federal money should be used uniformly across the entire nation.

With President Trump’s executive order today allowing the creation of cheaper, less regulated insurance plan Donald Trump officially has sabotaged the nation’s healthcare system know as Obamacare. His order will take plan payers out of larger pools and put them into cheaper ones which will have the effect of driving up premiums for the people who are already sick or at higher risk of being sick, effectively hurting the vulnerable.

As more and more young healthy people choose these skimpier plans, this will have the effect of ruining the healthcare markets that had already achieved an equilibrium in the marketplace. Instead of costs coming down for, with the markets losing insured they will increase for many, many people who are the least likely to be able to pay higher prices and the whole system could collapse.

But we must make no mistake in assigning blame. This was sabotage by our leader of a marketplace that has run for years. There was no need to do take this action, and hurt these people. This was a political act designed to hurt a system that has helped millions of Americans obtain insurance and receive necessary treatment.

If and when Trump makes the system collapse, he’s the owner. He’s the guy who started signing orders and messing with the status quo. He’s the man who ruined the lives of those who will suffer under the harsh premium increases that will surely follow this action.

Trump alone will have blood on his hands.

On Sunday Mike Pence traveled to an NFL game where he knew there would be a protest by some of the players. (Seriously, didn’t we all know that?)  Then he left in mock disgust. He said he won’t tolerate disrespect of the flag.

But isn’t Mike Pence the VP to Donald Trump? The guy who

  • Dodged the draft refusing to fight for the same flag with 5 medical deferments
  • Insulted war veteran John McCain for being captured
  • Insulted a gold-star family who’s son gave his life in service to the country
  • Talked about sexually assaulting women with impunity due to his celebrity

I guess Mike Pence has slippery morals when it comes to his boss.

But let’s look at really what’s going on here. Pence believes that his voters are so incredibly stupid they won’t notice the hypocrisy. He’s right. But worse, he’s put that on display in what is probably the most obvious a political stunt so far this century. That is to say, who didn’t know that there would be a protest at Sunday’s game?

And the worst part of it all is that his voters will be outraged, not by his callous manipulation of their emotions, but by the protesters who really just want to bring attention to lingering racial injustice. Pence might as well just give minorities the finger. It’s more direct and less shady that his political games. Besides, his boss does it all the time.