Category Archives: Business

Turning a Bad Health Care Plan Into a Total Wreck

I stole the title of this post from Kevin Drum who posted today [not today; I forgot to publish this on the day of Drum’s post] about theEssential Health Benefits (EHB) that the Republican health plan (ill-health plan would be a more apt term) would have taken away.  Here is what he says about EHBs:

Essential Health Benefits. These are things which every health care plan is required to cover, and Obamacare spells out ten of them:

  1. Doctor visits
  2. Emergency room visits
  3. Hospital visits
  4. Prescription drugs
  5. Pediatric care
  6. Lab services
  7. Preventive care
  8. Maternity care
  9. Mental health care
  10. Rehabilitation services

The Republican health care bill is still having trouble getting enough votes to pass, so Paul Ryan is thinking about placating conservatives by repealing all of these EHBs. This means that a health insurer could literally sell you a policy that didn’t cover doctor visits, hospital visits, ER visits, your children’s health care, or prescription drugs—and still be perfectly legal.

What it means to me is that conservatives and Republicans do not want you to have any health care at all if you can’t afford it on your own.  You can just die or go into bankruptcy.  Who cares?  You got cancer because you’re a bad person.

Harry Truman

Check out Kevin’s blog.  He is posting a storm about the farce that the Republicans are trying to foist upon us all.  Hopefully, they will fail miserably [they did!!!], thus preserving the status quo that is far, far better than anything the Republicans have been able to come up with even though they’ve had at least eight years.  More like 70 years if you go back to Harry Truman’s attempt to implement health care that was, of course, foiled by the Republicans.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Culture, Health Care, Politics

Too Big Too Fail, Jail, Or Bail

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth GapMost of us have heard of the idea that there are large corporations (Wall Street banks, General Motors . . .) that are too big to fail because their failure would seriously disrupt the world’s economy.  Matt Taibbi in The Divide:  American Injustice In the Age Of the Wealth Gap writes that the executives of such firms are too big to jail.  From his introduction:

. . . at the end of a long evolutionary process, in which the rule of law has been replaced by giant idiosyncratic bureaucracies that are designed to criminalize failure, poverty, and weakness on the one hand, and to immunize strength, wealth, and success on the other.

We still have real jury trials, honest judges, and free elections, all the superficial characteristics of a functional, free democracy.  But underneath that surface is a florid and malevolent bureaucracy that mostly (not absolutely, but mostly) keeps the rich and the poor separate through thousands of tiny, scarcely visible inequities.

If you grew up well off, you probably don’t know how easy it is for poor people to end up in jail, often for the same dumb things you yourself did as a kid.

And if you’re broke and have limited experience in the world, you probably have no idea of the sheer scale of the awesome criminal capers that the powerful and politically connected  can get away with, right under the  noses of the rich-people police.

Massive frauds and swindles by Wall Street executives that “cry out for jail terms” if investigated at all end up with “no-jail financial settlements in which the money doesn’t come out of any individual’s pockets”.  On the other hand, in neighborhoods of the poor and disadvantaged “failure to follow a police order, no matter how stupid or unreasonable, is cause for arrest or a summon [does this remind you of the goings on in Ferguson, Missouri?],  prosecutors can turn any misdemeanor case against almost anyone into a de facto  conviction simply by filing charges and following through long enough with  pre-trail pressure to wrest pleas out of the accused.”  In these neighborhoods, police use methods that rely “upon thousands of arrests for trivial offenses, real and imagined.”

The Bankers' New Clothes: What's Wrong with Banking and What to Do about ItWhat about too big to bail?  Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig in The Bankers’ New Clothes:  What’s Wrong With Banking and What To Do About It write that

The traumatic Lehman experience has scared most governments into believing that large global banks must not be allowed to fail.  Should any of these large banks get into serious difficulties, however, we may discover that they are not only too big to fail but also too big too save.  There will be no good options.

So, what is to be done? The  wisest course might be to break up the large banks, but I don’t think – given current politics – that will happen.  Tougher regulation?  Also politically unlikely.  Are we stuck with the risky status quo?  Afraid so!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Finance, Politics

The Market’s Rigged Continued

A few days ago I wrote about The Market’s Rigged by Michael Lewis.  Lewis describes how high-speed traders have rigged the market in their favor. The Justice Department seems to agree.The St. Paul Pioneer Press today printed an article from the New York Times that stated that “federal regulators are scrutinizing Goldman Sachs’ high-frequency trading operations, the latest crackdown on what the government sees as potential market manipulation by some of Wall Street’s biggest banks.”  Justice is investigating Goldman Sachs’  “to determine whether it [high-frequency trading] violates insider trading laws.”  The following is also from the New York Times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Finance