blueollie

Resentments, public policy and politics

Kathleen Parker wrote an interesting column about the Republican attempts to repeal the ACA and to replace. Yes, I know; this is more or less a Republican plan to begin with which is built around the three pillars of “community rating, mandate, and subsidies

The community rating means that high risk people get charged the same as low risk people. So here, the strong subsidize the weak. The mandate means that everyone has to get in, not just the sick who need it right now. So the healthy subsidize the sick.

Then subsidies means the financially strong subsidize the financially weak.

And yes, this can lead to resentment. We all seem to know (or even have in our family) some worthless goof off or person who engages in risky behavior (smoking, overeating, drugging, being lazy, drinking to excess) or the irresponsible who either mooches or blows all of their money and then expects others to keep them afloat.

So there is no denying that losers will be helped by the responsible:

Many Americans simply don’t see the fairness in a system that requires them to pay high premiums for others’ poor health, some of which is, let’s face it, earned. Not deserved, but sometimes resulting from poor lifestyle choices. Why, indeed, should a single, childless 30-year-old male who runs three miles a day, eats rationally, and doesn’t drink, smoke or take drugs be saddled with insurance premiums to cover pregnancy, abortion, alcoholism, addiction, or an abundance of health consequences resulting from obesity and inertia?

For that matter, why should women have to subsidize men’s sexual- dysfunction curatives when, by the way, men don’t have to pony up for women’s corresponding, post-menopausal, medically appropriate intercessions? Here you see one of the finer-print dilemmas. We’d rather force nuns to concede tacit approval of abortion than insist that insurance subsidies be tied to healthy behaviors.

I’m sorry if this sounds heartless; the brain calls it reality. No wonder Obamacare was so difficult to craft and a replacement equally so. There are simply too many moving parts to make the sucker float — and too many reasons not to sink it.

Since McConnell’s repeal-only idea seemed doomed Tuesday afternoon after GOP Sens. Collins, Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said they oppose immediate repeal, perhaps, finally, Republicans and Democrats can snap on their wizard hats and cobble something workable together. After all, it’s the only thing they haven’t tried yet.

On the other hand:

1. Most of us know, at least on some level, that we are just a disaster away from needing help ourselves. We have weather, accidents, bad genetics, untimely diseases, etc. I have had several responsible, physically fit friends die early due to cancer. One can really “do everything right” and get horribly unlucky.

2. The economy: taking away health insurance and/or Medicaid will lead to move poverty, more people going bankrupt and damage our economy. Businesses need customers to stay in business.

So, I think the right thing to do is to bite the bullet and live with some slackers getting help that they really don’t “deserve”; overall, all of us are better off.

Now when it comes to discussing the issues of the day, Trump is so hated that some of my friends will not even talk to a Trump supporter. My big beef with Trump is that he is a rank amateur who doesn’t know what he is doing.

Oh well…yes, I am friends with some Republicans and I even regularly socialize with one.

Workout notes: disgustingly humid outside (and rainy) so I took indoor for 6 miles: 1 warm up on the treadmill, 32 laps in lane 2 in 49:47, doing “2 laps on, 2 laps off”:
12:55, 12:37, 12:12, 12:01, then a 13:47 “1 minute froggy” cool down mile (raised either incline, or speed every minute).

July 21, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Why Republicans can’t repeal the ACA…

Bottom line: the ACA IS A REPUBLICAN IDEA. Yes, the statement is rated as “half true” but:

Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island was the point man. The bill he introduced, Health Equity and Access Reform Today, (yes, that spells HEART) had a list of 20 co-sponsors that was a who’s who of Republican leadership. There was Minority Leader Bob Dole, R- Kan., Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and many others. There also were two Democratic co-sponsors.

Among other features, the Chafee bill included:

An individual mandate;

Creation of purchasing pools;

Standardized benefits;

Vouchers for the poor to buy insurance;

A ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

“You would find a great deal of similarity to provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” Sheila Burke, Dole’s chief of staff in 1993, told PunditFact via email. “The guys were way ahead of the times!! Different crowd, different time, suffice it to say.”

That said, the Senate plan from 1993 was not identical to the health care law that passed in 2010. The Republican bill did not expand Medicaid as Obamacare does, and it did have medical malpractice tort reform, which the current law does not. In contrast to the current employer mandate, the Chafee bill required employers to offer insurance, but they were under no obligation to help pay for it.

So, it did have a great deal in common with the Heritage Foundation plan. And, as Paul Krugman points out, all three pillars: mandate, community ratings, subsidies, are necessary.

Workout notes: 41:55 for 4 treadmill miles: 5 minute froggy for the first 20 minutes, 2.5 minute froggy for the next 22. 11:45, 22:10, 32:25 or 30:10 for the final 3..about 1 minute slower than my last 2 5K “races”.

July 19, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics/social, running | Leave a comment

Why “across the aisle” dialog is so tough..often impossible…

Yes, we now know that at least elements of the Trump campaign attempted collusion with Russia. But do not expect this to change much.

Despite some noisy (and I think, disingenuous appeals for funding) rhetoric from Democrats:

And yes, one Democrat has filed an article of impeachment, we all know that is going nowhere. The R’s control the House. Nixon’s disapproval ratings were about 38 percent among Republicans whereas Trump’s approval rating among Republicans remains well in the 80’s (via Gallup)

So, these reports, which seem like “blockbuster” stuff to so many of us, will be “just politics” at best and “fake news” at worst to most of the rank and file Republicans.

It CAN help our political position though.

And trying to talk about issues; all too many think they know way more they do, and some of the loudest, most opinionated, know the least.
I’ve had people who rarely, if ever, step foot on a college campus tell me what is happening on them. I’ve even had people tell ME what I teach in the classroom…and such people get very offended when I tell them that I was unaware that there were “unAmerican” methods for integrating a function in calculus class. 🙂

But by Jove, they are SURE that they know.

There are times when I believe that those who know the least are the most sure about what they “know”.

Workout notes
4 mile walk after weights.

Weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, toe raises, pull ups (5 sets of 10, so-so), incline presses: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 7 x 150, military presses: 15 x 55 (seated, supported), 10 x 45 (standing), 10 x 100 (machine) rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55 dumbbell, 10 x 110 machine.

Not much.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics/social, social/political, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Wanted to be accepted without being acceptable …

I chuckled when a FB friend posted this:

The individual who posted this did so in a tongue-in-cheek way.

But it did get me to thinking about what I’ve actually seen. I teach college. And from time to time, a student will complain about flunking a class. But often their complaints will be “I needed this class and those credits to…” (insert “keep my scholarship”, “get my job”, etc.)

And, because I teach mathematics, their complaints are almost never “I did this correctly and didn’t receive proper credit” or “I knew the stuff and you flunked me anyway”. To them, the “grade” and “credit” is really a commodity that I have and that they want; “knowledge”, “learning”, and “performance” are almost always completely unrelated.

It would be like a prospective surgeon always botching the cadaver operation but wanting a pass, or a prospective pilot always crashing in the simulator but wanting a “pass” from pilot school.

It is the old “accept me” rather than “help me so I can work to meet the standards”.

Another note Needless to say, poor people are not the most popular people in our society and are often blamed for their fate. The article I linked to purports to ask “why”. It is a decent article, but I find it strange that the author doesn’t see the reaction to poor people as being natural.

The headline is: “Why do we think poor people are poor because of their own bad choices?” so I’ll give my answer:

1. Our own experience. Quick: what poor people to you actually KNOW? (not merely read about or have seen somewhere)

Chances are, it is the family mooch. In our case, this sibling of a family member had the same parents, the same educational opportunities, the same upbringing, the same inheritance (well into 6 figures), and managed to piss it all away.

Parents will often see some of their kids do well, while others become chronic underachievers.

So when we hear “poor people”, we think of the examples that we know, rather than someone who grew up devoid of realistic opportunities. We look at the negative outliers that we know and try to extrapolate.

2. Social pathology. Yes, poor people tend to share some very bad, self destructive habits. Of course, research tends to show that this behavior tends to stem from poverty rather than the other way around. “Being poor makes you stupid” as some might say. The direction of causation isn’t always clear.

3. Fear. Yes, though I am comfortable at the moment (and close to being “long term comfortable”), at mostly points of my life, I was really only a bad break away from personal disaster (untimely illness, injury, lay off, employer going out of business just when I become unemployable), etc. No one wants to think “I am one bad break away from being just like that poor person” so we conjure up reasons why “it can’t happen to us because we are so virtuous” or something.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | education, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

My ‘Merica Post…

Yeah, yesterday was 4’th of July, which is Independence Day.

I wondered: what makes the United States different? Yes, I know, most countries (all?) have some sort of identity; what is ours?

Two things come to mind.

When I was in the Navy, we made port calls. And before we visited a port in a foreign country, we got a briefing on the customs and on the culture of where we were visiting.

When we visited Italy, we were told this: when you visit a small shop, if the owner is having a conversation, they aren’t going to stop it to wait on you. Remember that the shop was probably the family shop, and that is all they are ever going to be; they aren’t worried about expanding, moving up, defeating the competition, etc. So just be patient.

And that goes to the lesson many Americans grow up with: The American Dream to “make it big” (I was going to be a professional athlete, you see).

One other: when I visited the Anne Frank House, they had a theater where they would show some situation and ask “what is more important, Factor X or Factor Y (e. g. they would show a newspaper article about a recent controversy). The Americans were all over FREEDOM OF SPEECH ahead of the other factors (say, protection from discrimination)…as was I.

Of course, at this time in our history, we are pretty divided, as this Horsey cartoon shows:

So, where does this divide come from? Well, for one, our history is complicated. Our past citizens DID take risks..they had guts. But they also did terrible things too:

So, what do we focus on?

And as far as the American Dream, well, where some do make it big, our social/economic mobility isn’t what we would like to think it is. And I think this is where the division comes from.

Some liberals push for a higher minimum wage (and too high of a minimum wage can cause problems) and for health care for the poor. That is great, but…newsflash: people do not want to be poor, and no one dreams of being stuck in poverty, even though..for many, that IS where they are going to be.

So measures that favor the poor…while they are effective, really aren’t that popular (until they are actually implemented and have been in place for a while)

So what wins out: dreaming (you are going to be rich one day), or practical reality (that you won’t be)?

What I did on the 4’th of July:

In the morning, I took Tracy to Galva to run a 5K (and did poorly: 30:05) and in the evening, baseball!

The Chiefs beat the Snappers and won 5-1 behind some good pitching, spectacular fielding (they robbed the Snappers of at least 3 hits) and 2 home runs.

I sat behind the 3’rd base dugout (visitor’s dugout at Chiefs games; home dugout at Bradley games)

there was a brief rain delay.

But it turned out to be a fun day:

And a decent crowd.

Other 4’th of July images

From a local parade (I did not see it)

And what is more “Merican” than yoga pants?

Workout notes
weights and a 5K walk (42:45, from intervals)

rotator cuff, hip hikes toe raises, pull ups (2 sets of 5-5-5, 2 sets of 10), goblet squats 50-75 (up very 5, sets of 5), incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 7 x 150 (good hips on last set, so so on second set), military: 15 x 55 dumbbell, seated, supported, 10 x 45 standing, 10 x 90 lifemachine, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55 (each arm), 10 x 110 machine, 2 sets of moving bridge, 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts, headstand (good).

July 5, 2017 Posted by | baseball, Friends, politics, politics/social, social/political, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Political People: why do you use social media?

I am asking: “why do you engage in political discussion on Twitter or Facebook?

Is it to vent?

Is it to try to change the mind of a political opponent?

Is it to persuade the undecided?

Is it to try to get moral support from similar people?

Is it to excite your fellow political allies (get inspired to give money, go to a protest/rally, do walk routes, etc.)

Is it to educate yourself and/or put out information?

I am curious. I know that I’ve lost friends (ok, no great loss, but still…) because I misread what they were about. And yeah, I understand that not every post is an invitation for discussion.

And yes, I understand that discussions can be non-productive, especially when the other person assumes that they know more than they do, or that they’ve thought of some aspect that you haven’t (when you have, a loooong time ago) or when they are just spouting off cliches and bumper stickers under the guise of argument.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Friends, politics, politics/social, social/political | 1 Comment

Are you angry? So what?

I keep seeing this as a theme: Trump says something stupid and Mitch McConnell tries to get a vote on a truly dreadful bill, and people get ANGRY. But so what?

I think that Trump speaks very clearly here:

Yes, on occasion, a Lindsey Graham might stroke his chin and say he is “troubled”…but ultimately he votes for the Trump policy in question.

Yes, there are protests ..

But that isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. How much power do these people have? And those who might feel compassion for them are already NOT voting for members of Congress that back this dreadful “wealthcare bill” (yes, the ACA has problems, but an upper end tax cut won’t fix them).

This strikes me as a situation similar to that of airline customer service. Yes, the airlines don’t care because, well, they don’t have to. Each airline has more or less a monopoly on certain routes, so if you are going to fly…well, you basically HAVE to fly them. (this is one reason I want high speed rail…for competition )

So what are we to do? I really don’t know, but here are my “off the cuff” ideas:

In the short term, how do we pressure the Republicans when we basically have zero leverage (Trump supporters won’t change their minds and Big Money is indifferent to the rest of us)

1. Target the most vulnerable Republicans (as we are doing in the Senate); the ones who will need votes beyond the Republican base.
2. Pressure big business. If we find some billionaire threatening to withhold campaign funds unless the Republicans fall into line, find their biggest investments and boycott them. Our money, put together collectively, does have some clout.

In the long term, we need to win back at least one chamber of Congress and win the 2020 Presidential election.

And even here, I’ve seen two different paths discussed.

1. Seek to win back that small percentage of Trump voters who voted for Obama in 2012. Though there aren’t that many of them, there were just enough of them to tip the scales in 2016.

See this thread:

or

2. Forget about them and focus about exciting our own people and getting them to show up.

Now how do we excite the base? Here is where the “Bernie” vs. “Hillary” war continues to rage.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

They don’t even try to hide it

Yes, the vote on the toxic Senate version of “Trumpcare” has been delayed. Of course, this bill fixes NONE of the problems with the ACA but instead cuts taxes on the wealthy. I am not sure how cutting Medicaid (on a percapita basis) and giving the wealthy a tax cut on investment income is supposed to be good for anyone except those who need it the least.

And yes, Big Money is pissed; they don’t even try to hide their contempt for the rest of us. But have the Republicans become so terrible that even they have to take a step back?

I honestly don’t know.

Right now, the Republicans say (with varying degrees of exaggeration) that the ACA needs improving. I agree with that. But their solution: kick people off of Medicaid and give tax cuts to the rich? Oh my goodness…

Can’t Mitch McConnell, for once in his life, say “no” to Big Money?

Workout notes: weights plus an easy 2 mile walk.

weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, toe raises, pull ups (5 sets of 10, went well), incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 7 x 150, military: 15 x 55 seated, supported (dumbbells), 10 x 45 standing, 10 x 90 (each arm) machine, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55 each arm, 10 x 110 machine.

Of note: when I was doing my 15 x 55 while seated, I noticed the pressure I put on my seat. I had 110 extra pounds..and that is more or less how it used to feel to sit when I was at my fattest.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Go ahead and pass the AHCA/BHCA…..

Ok, I’ll come clean. I am 7 years away from qualifying for Medicare, have great employer insurance (which was good even before the ACA), have some money in the bank, a job that is about as secure as they come, and expenses are about to drop quite a bit (daughter out of college, which is completely paid for).

I am pretty much on my own as far as genetic relatives (young adult daughter and wife..that’s about it).

So go right ahead, cut Medicaid by 800 billion dollars to fund a tax cut on investment income for those making 200K (250k for families) a year…that’s right, a tax on INVESTMENT INCOME. Go right ahead.

Now some of you might not ever need Medicaid. But guess what. Many (most?) have that indigent family member, sometimes a moocher, who depends on Medicaid..and maybe needs a Medicaid nursing home.

Guess where that relative moves to? That’s right: he/she moves in with YOU. Job that requires lots of time? Uh, not anymore. Retirement savings? Bye bye! Vacation or recreational spending? ROTFLMAO!!!!

Oh, business owner: you need customers. Now more people at the bottom end won’t have money to patronize your business. Sure, maybe they’ll sell a few more yachts, but remember tax cuts at the bottom stimulate the economy much more than tax cuts at the top.

So go right ahead and cheer Trump and the Republicans as they do this.

Hey, if it pisses off liberals and sticks it to the “lazy, entitled, shiftless” poor, there must be something good about it, right?

June 25, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

The Turtlecare bill (aka BCRA)

Yes, it is a dreadful bill; it hurts those with preexisting conditions and savages Medicaid, especially if the economy goes south. And all if it for a tax cut for the wealthiest among us.

What chance does it have? I COULD pass the Senate, though that is uncertain. I can recommend Nate Silver’s analysis. And there is a CHANCE that the Senate bill might fail in the House.

Yes, the bill is deeply unpopular. But will they get away with it?

My guess: “maybe”. And this is one huge issue in our country. Any bill that helps the poor more than anyone else is going to cause division since there is a perception that “the poor” consists mostly of people “not like us”; lazy, entitled, …ok, I’ll say it…people of a different race.

We need to realize that we are all in this together, and yes, while some of the poor ARE stupid, entitled and lazy, most who get help use it in a reasonably responsible manner. And that includes people who do not look “like us”.

And, well, think of it this way: if you own a business, wouldn’t it be nice if more people had money so they could patronize your business? Yes, a good health care plan will end up putting money in the pockets of the less well-to-do, and that will benefit businesses.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment