Archive | April, 2012

No Fury Greater Than A Prostitute Unpaid

A recent study, released this past Friday, conclusively proves the ancient theorem, “Hell hath no fury greater than a prostitute unpaid.”

The study, conducted by the United States Department of the Treasury, on behalf of the President of the United States, used a modified Richter scale to represent the emotional intensity of the response generated by various popuation segments to a spectrum of stimuli.

“We included numerous repetitions of fifty experiments,” said Dr Enid Krobyte, spokesperson for the Treasury. “Taking candy from a baby, for instance, incited reaction registering from 1.8, which is barely perceptible, up to 3.5.” The first value was when the baby was first grasping the candy, said Dr Krobyte. The second value was obtained when the candy was in the subject’s mouth.

Demanding that Workman’s Comp recipients return 5% of payment received generated a 7.8 response. “We were a litle surprised at that,” the researcher said. “After all, we explained that it was an ‘honest mistake’.” She attributed the subject’s fury to “survivor guilt.”

But the overwhelming response of the uncompensated prostitutes rocked the researchers. In fact, it seems, it might have destabilized the entire Department.

“We thought first that our graphic sensors had gone screwy,” said Dr Krobyte. “The needles were pinned to the max. The readings were literally off the chart.” Asked for a numerical value, she replied, “I have to say, 11.”

Echoes of the emotional blast were heard as far away as Connecticut and Ohio. More than three thousand female office workers in Hartford were sent home early with intestinal illnesses. Thirteen of the remaining forty-seven housewives of Columbus were reported as suffering severe headaches or stomach upset. And there was absolutely no sexual intercourse in Cleveland.

In comparison, women test subjects who were told, “I’ll call you,” registered 8.9 to 9.3, substantial but still well below the threshholds established by the prostitutes.

 

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The Medical Business

Once upon a time, there were only sick people and doctors. Doctors took an oath, which began, “First, do no harm.” Sick people moaned. The doctors said, “Hmmm”, and, “Where does it hurt?”, and, “Take two of these and let me know how you feel.”

Good doctors treated patients, and charged market rates. Mediocre doctors treated diseases, and charged the same. Bad doctors made up ‘treatments’ and sold them to suckers for what they could get

Bad doctors gave all doctors trouble. They were visible; in this environment, they stuck out like diseased thumbs. They were scandalous, and since scandal sells newspapers, they were built up and built up. Doctor Scandals became a business all their own. Thus was the American Medical Society born.

The AMA instituted Ethical Stndards in the teaching and practise of medicine. They created specialty societies, which held seminars that kept their membership up to date with the progress in their fields. They also regulated, through political pressure on the medical schools, the number of doctors there were in the country. Too many would spoil the broth, as it were. This kept the market rates up.

The business of medicine is as complicated as it gets. As with most service businesses, there are differing degrees of complexity for different procedures. Specific machines and supplies are utilized, some costing millions of dollars. The rates vary accordingly. And this is common in many industries. However, in medicine, there could be wide variation in procedure and cost between two instances of the same procedure, due to differences in the patient’s condition.

To balance things out in olden times (i.e. the Fifties), physicians often looked directly at the patient’s ability to pay. Frequently, the same procedure that cost the Social Security recipient $15, cost the corporate executive $125. It was the doctor’s call, and nobody bitched.

I know this for a fact. My father was one of the leading specialists in the city where I grew up. This was how he ran his office in those days.

He saw what was coming, though, and he dreaded it.

“It’s all got to be run by somebody,” he said. When I asked, “Why?”, he simply said, “Because it does.” I know now, the reason it has to be “run” was “greed”.  All that money!!

Payments needed to be structured. Procedures had to be standardized. The Industrial Revolution had to be fulfilled. Manifest Destiny, and all that, don’t you know?

It was at this point that the insurance industry went berserk.

All that freakin MONEY!!!

Goddamm FDR! Goddamm Medicare!! Goddamm doctors!! Get Outta My WAAAYY!! I WANT THAT MONEY!!!

You’re not gonna let The Government get their hands on it!! What Government Agency is run halfway decently? Socialized Medicine, the investment agencies whispered to the AMA: let it in, and you’ll all be worked to death and broke besides!! Nooo, put the money in the hands of those who can handle it: us. The Insurance Companies. We’ll take care of it all for you …

And so the medical business came under the control of those who had the least stake in the health of the population, but absolute control of the trillions of dollars people willingly pay for their “healthcare management”.

Of course it didn’t have to be. But it was, and now we’re stuck with it. Bad decisions are regularly framed as “inevitable”, and excused with, “Well we didn’t have a choice.” Bullshit, I say. We always have a choice.

In this case, the choice would have involved crossing a raging torrent. Even then, the leading business schools at Harvard and Penn and Columbia were preaching the docctrine, “Greed is Good”, thereby setting the table for Richard Nixon, the Great Communicator, the Bush Generations and the two greatest bank robberies in all of history.

All that lay far in the future when the Insurance Companies assumed control of the medical business.

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April 2 – Specific Fool’s Day

Perhaps predictably, I have chosen April Fool’s Day to unburden myself on What’s Really Wrong Here.

There’s really only one issue: profitable bullshit.

Here’s a low-level fly-by of two statements of that issue:

Problem: Gas Prices

The oil industry will set the price of regular gas around $5/gallon by summer. They don’t even lie any more about ‘why’. No one asks. Flush with a decade of obscene, barely comprehendible profits, they sit before Congressional comittees and say, “Because we charge that”. The Congressmen, refusing to indict their main sources of income, accept this.

Solution

This is called “price fixing”. There’s sufficient law on the books to put as many oil company executives in prison as are tried, and enough Congressmen for selling their offices..What’s the matter, the courts can’t touch Corruption by Direct Deposit?

<aside> There is enough technology to produce electric cars that go more than forty miles. Think about it. Diesel locomotives, the original “hybrids”, have been used exclusively by the railroads since 1950. What kind of alternators do they use to charge their batteries while on the road?</aside>

Problem: The National Debt

The US has faced this problem six times in its history, and solved it each time. Currently, the money source, the Government Printing Office, prints the amount of money Congress authorizes. It gives this money to the Federal Reserve Bank, a private organization, who passes it back to Congress to be spent according to the Federal budget. Currently, that budget calls for the spending of $4 for every $3 the Government takes in in taxes, more or less. So the Federal Reserve lends the Government that additional dollar, at agreee-upon interest. That loan is the National Debt.

It will never be made up through taxation, spending cuts, budget balanciing or any other economic measure.

Solution

The way this problem was solved the last six times it arose involved passing new laws removing the federally-chartered bank from the process. The Government Printing Office dealt directly with Congress: As now, it printed the amount of money Congress authorized. But instead of giving it to the Bank, it gave the whole amount to Congress. They paid it out according to the budget – including the interest accrued on previous loans. The debt was repaid in short order, and the economy thrived.

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Frankly, I don’t know much of anything. There are problems with both of these “solutions”.I can’t even imagine. I yearn for someone to bring them up.

I never lose track of the fact that any statement that begins with the phrase, “All you’ve got to do”, is a lie deliberately designed to distract you from the fact that it’s not all you’ve got to do. Reality needs attending to, here.

I’m really tired, though, of the only “Dose of Reality” being, “It stays this way because we’re going to beat you into accepting it.”

Come on. We know how that one turns out.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll talk about the the Third Issue: Health Care.  All I can promise is, I’ll be just as swift.

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