Health Insurance

I learned today that our health insurance decided I can’t have Lipitor anymore. I’ve been taking it for years. It works, and I don’t have side-effects. But they know better than my doctor.
They also decided my wife can’t have one of her prescriptions, either.
And they raised our prescription co-pay to $40. We also have co-pays and deductibles for office visits as well.
The two of us pay between $1200 and $1300 a MONTH for health insurance, and now we will also pay about $200 a month more for prescription co-pays – if they let us have the drugs at all.
And if we DO get sick, will they decide not to cover us?
This is what private health insurance companies are about.
The ONLY solution is setting up a Medicare-for-all system, run by the people for the people.

Today’s Collapsing Economy Post – Jobs Down, Stocks Up

Do these headlines have anything to do with each other? U.S. first-time jobless claims rocket higher in latest week, U.S. Economy: Consumer Spending Slows, and finally, U.S. Stocks Rise.
For Wall Street everything, everything, everything is about the Federal Reserve bailing them out with interest rate cuts. So the worse the economic news, the more they expect the Fed to cut rates, and stocks go higher. Seriously, just listen to the talking heads on CNBC or the other networks – everything, everything is about what the Fed will do and about what the dealmaking companies will do and not about how well WE – you and I – are doing.
Just who IS our economy for, anyway?

The Public Interest

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
Whatever happened to the concept of “the public interest?” What about “the common good?”
In 1961 John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This statement inspired an entire generation to dedicate themselves to public service or other pursuits that helped the public-at-large ahead of narrower, selfish interests. And they thought that was a good thing to do with their lives, not a foolish waste of their time.
Many today would scoff at that notion. In the decades since JFK’s call to public service the idea of government as a force for good has been severely denigrated. For so many years conservatives and business interests have been getting their message out, trying to convince us that people should be selfish — that they shouldn’t care about others because it is up to each person to take care of themselves. They say that we are not our brother or sister’s keeper, that each person should be responsible only for themselves.
But there are some basic facts and realities that get in the way of conservative philosophy.

Continue reading

Bush On Social Security in SOTU

“I borrowed a ton of money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to my buddies. Now I’m supposed to start paying that money back in a few years. It is crucial that we reform Social Security so it doesn’t pay for people’s retirements, and therefore won’t need the money I owe.”

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – New Home Sales Fall by Record Amount

Yahoo: New Home Sales Fall by Record Amount:,

Sales of new homes plunged by a record amount in 2007 while prices posted the weakest showing in 16 years, demonstrating the troubles builders are facing with a huge backlog of unsold homes.

CNN: New home sales: Biggest drop ever,

New home sales posted the biggest drop on record in 2007, according to the government’s latest look at the battered housing market, as a year that saw a meltdown in the mortgage market and a drop in home values ended with yet more signs of weakness.
December sales came in at an annual rate of 604,000, the Census Bureau report showed, down from 634,000 in November, which was also revised lower.
The reading was well below the consensus forecast of 645,000, according to economists surveyed by
. . . No bottom yet Adam York, an economist with Wachovia, said the report confirms fears that the housing market won’t bounce back anytime soon.
“We’re expecting sales to decline into at least mid-2008,” he said. “We think housing still has a long way to go.” [emphasis added.

What is there to add to that? I keep hearing that “we’re at a bottom.” I got yer bottom, right here.

Right-Wing Blog Says Yes, Romney Wears Earpiece

During the recent Republican debate TV listeners heard a whisper that appeared to be prompting Mitt Romney with an answer.
A blogger at Red State says that on another occasion Romney’s staff said to him that Romney wears an earpiece that his staff uses to talk to him. Who Is Whispering in Romney’s Ear? | Redstate,

During Gov. Romney’s speech, one of his handlers mentioned to one of our staff people that any time Gov. Romney needed to wrap things up, he would be happy to let Gov. Romney know through the ear-piece that he wore.

Remember that Bush was caught wearing a device after he actually said “now, let me finish” to the earpiece!
We need to know if Romney was cheating in the debate.

Clinton and Obama WILL Vote Tomorrow To Support Constitution

Never mind what I wrote Thursday, there has been a new announcement. See Firedoglake – Hillary Clinton To Vote “No” On Cloture Tomorrow UPDATE: Barack Obama Will Be There Too

Hillary Clinton will be in the Senate tomorrow to vote “no” on cloture on the Intel version of the FISA bill. The vote is scheduled to take place at 4:30 pm tomorrow.
I’ve also been trying to confirm whether Barack Obama will be there. His campaign people have not gotten back to me, but Obama does have a 4pm fundraiser scheduled in Washington DC.
Bravo, Senator Clinton. Well done.
UPDATE: The Obama campaign confirms that Senator Obama will be there too, and voting “no.” Way to go, Senator.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – What Would A Big Corporation Do?

There is a discussion over at Calculated Risk on whether it is “smart” to just walk away from a house that is worth less than you owe. Many states allow you to do that, without owing the difference. In those states, giving the house back pays the loan in full if it is a first mortgage. (Yes, it ruins your credit rating, but you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.)
What about the moral question? Aside from whether it is smart or not, is it moral? I wonder if a better question is, when dealing with a big corporation, should you ask what the corporation would do if the shoe was on the other foot? I’m thinking about corporations that use the bankruptcy laws to get rid of union contracts and pension obligations, and that always do the “smart” thing at the expense of the employees, customers, public and even shareholders…
What do you think? Especially our conservative commenters?

What Does Corporate Control Of Media Mean?

Think about this: When was the last time you heard, read or saw anyone in the major media explain the benefits of joining a union?
Almost all of the outlets for news and information in the United States are now owned by five corporations. From The New Media Monopoly,

When the first edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 1983, critics called Ben Bagdikian’s warnings about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising on the nation’s news “alarmist.” Since then, the number of corporations controlling most of America’s daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies has dwindled from fifty to ten to five.

Think about that. Five corporations control almost everything that most people in the country “know.”
Again, think about this: When was the last time you heard, read or saw anyone in the major media explain the benefits of joining a union?
So, do you think these five corporations are using this near-total control of information for their own benefit, or not?

Today’s Anti-Government Propaganda E- mail

This one is also anti-Mexican, rather insulting, and has the obligatory anti-government message at the end as the oral of the story. It arrived on a “humor” e-mail list.

Neighborhood Trash
Wallace Lewis is the president of his homeowners association in the TOPEKA, KANSAS suburbs. They were having a terrible problem with litter near some of his association’s homes. The reason according to Wallace is that six very large, luxurious new houses are being built right next to their community.
The trash was coming from the Mexican laborers working at the construction sites and included bags from McDonald’s, Burger King and 7-11, plus coffee cups, napkins, cigarette butts, coke cans, empty bottles, etc. He went to see the site supervisor and even the general contractor, politely urging them to get their workers not to litter the neighborhood, to no avail. He called the city, county, and police and got no help there either.
So here’s what his community did. They organized about twenty folks, named themselves The ‘Inner Neighborhood Services’ group, and arranged to go out at lunch time and ‘police’ the trash themselves. It is what they did while picking up the trash that is so hilarious. They bought navy blue baseball caps and had the initials ‘INS’ embroidered in gold on the caps. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what they hoped people might mistakenly think the letters really stand for.
After the Inner Neighborhood Services group’s first lunch time pickup detail, with all of them wearing their caps and some carrying cameras, 46 out of the total of 68 construction workers did not show up for work the next morning — and haven’t come back yet.
It has been ten days now.
The General Contractor, I’m told, is very mad, but can’t say anything publicly because he could be busted for hiring illegal aliens.
Wallace and his bunch can’t be accused of impersonating federal personnel, because they have the official name of the group recorded in their homeowner association minutes along with a notation about the vote to approve formation of the new subcommittee — and besides, they informed the INS in advance of their plans and according to Wallace, the INS said basically, ‘Have at it!’
Reminder: Don’t forget to pay your taxes…….12 million illegal aliens are depending on you

Aside from the profoundly racist tone – Mexicans leave trash, are trash, are too stupid to know that the INS caps aren’t from the INS (which no longer exists) etc, it ends by saying your taxes are wasted by the stupid government, which gives the money to “illegal aliens.”