atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4067: Today we will find out if the Jeep's heater REALLY works.

Projected high: 20°, but it's going to be colder after night falls. Considering how I normally do things, today ought to make for a nice test.

* * *

So by now we've all heard about Phil Robertson, A&E, Duck Dynasty, and the rest of it.

Recap: Phil Robertson is a recovering alcoholic (in the sense that it's been years since he drank) and deeply religious. He gave an interview to GQ magazine in which he stated his opinions on homosexuality--opinions, by the way, shared by the Fungus--and because they weren't 100% approving and supportive the liberal-leftist axis came down on him like a ton of bricks.

A&E, being a liberal media outlet (BIRM), caved to the pressure immediately and said he was being placed on "indefinite hiatus".

The Robertson family--exactly as I expected--told A&E that if their patriarch is "on hiatus" the rest of them will join him.

Cracker Barrel stuck both feet in its mouth by pulling "Duck Dynasty" merchandise from its stores, only to learn that--gosh!--a hell of a lot of its customers are not GLAAD-supporting liberals, but instead are more inclined to be of a Phil Robertson type of person.

Having read Robertson's comments, I'm concluding that this is a perfect example of liberal-lefty hyperventilation about something which is a non-issue to at least 65% of the people of the United States. Robertson himself sums the issue up perfectly:
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
I've been called a homophobe for espousing opinions informed by the same sort of thought and morality as informs Robertson's statements.

You can tell that A&E had a very serious problem on their hands: they had come up with this program intending to show the owners of Duck Commander being hicks and hayseeds. They were expecting to present hillbilly pron: "Ha ha, look at these rubes from the hinterland with their religion and hunting and inbred idiocy!" That's certainly the way they cut the commercials for the show, trying to make the Robertsons look as stupid as possible.

Instead, the reality of the Robertson family comes through. You can't build a business like Duck Commander if you're a rube; it takes intelligence, drive, and dedication. The show proved to be immensely popular, in part because the Roberstons are a traditional family.

...a highly liberal network had a very popular show about traditional values that didn't portray them in a negative light, that couldn't without losing its viewership and killing off the major hit series.

To me it looks as if A&E jumped at the chance to modify the show, to make it more to their liking...and forgetting that the Robertsons don't need A&E at all...unlike how much A&E needs the Robertsons.


* * *

Oregon's Obamacare exchange is fail. Like that was so hard to predict....

I'm really of two minds about this, to be honest.

I'm glad that Obamacare is coming apart the way it is. It's a bad law, enacted and implemented stupidly, passed by a bare partisan majority using procedural tricks.

But I'm fearful over how much incompetence the government is displaying, here. A competent government doesn't muff something like this, and incompetent governments fail at stuff for which we rely on them.

...on the gripping hand, this is a pretty monumental task. 300,000,000 people in the United States--Canada has had socialized medicine for years but there are only 60,000,000 of them. What's the population of England? Germany? France?

Obamacare is not a new version of health care law but a patch to an existing program that was already a massive kludge. They didn't replace the existing system--they couldn't, not with a bare majority of Democrats in the Senate--but simply applied this massively faulty 21,000-page veneer to the existing system. Then, to disguise the true costs of implementation (because if those become general knowledge before it's in place, it'll all come tumbling down) they have to add layer after layer of obfuscation to the thing.

And it doesn't work.

If it were working--if it had a chance of working as designed--the White House would not have started talking about the costs of repeal. "Repealing this thing--" I am paraphrasing, but notice that they don't refer to it as "Obamacare" or even "Affordable Care Act" any longer "--will cost much more than seeing it through will, and we can't afford to spend that kind of money."

Yeah: in order to finish seizing control of 1/6th of the economy, the feds are poor-mouthing. As if our government wasn't already consuming some 22% of GDP.

Obamacare is founded on the "true believer" principle. That is to say, in order for it to work, the people in charge need to think that because the young crowd voted for them, they're ready to do anything to support the Democrats even if it's directly opposed to their self-interest. The theory goes that because the kids are such ardent Democrat supporters, they'll gladly buy health insurance they neither need nor can afford.

But the kids aren't buying it. They didn't sign on for that; they signed on for freebies and the good-time-party-rock-and-roll feelings that they get from being Democrats. Their support for Democrats goes only as far as their feelings: "Hey, I believe in the environment and gay rights and womens' rights, so I've done my part, brah." And anyone with a reasonable grasp of reality could look at this and predict it. (We did. QED.)

So we're stuck with two alternative, and mutually exclusive, interpretations.

First: Obamacare doesn't work because it was never meant to. It's a sham; it's not meant to fix anything, but to make things as bad as possible so that the feds have an excuse to implement single payer. This means that the Democrats and the Obama administration are evil.

Second: Obamacare doesn't work despite the best intentions of all involved because they simply can't handle the task. It's being run by people who have never run anything--not even a lemonade stand--and so they lack the experience required to successfully implement a new program. This falls largely on the Obama administration itself, and means they are incompetent.

Incompetence is always much more likely than evil.

To be fair, this is a monumental task. 300,000,000 people, 21,000 pages of regulations being added to an already enormous body of law--it's gigantic, and they are handicapped by a lack of cash flow; the government method for solving problems like this is to print another ten billion and hire another army of bureaucrats...but they can't do that, not when they're already running the presses at emergency maximum and federal spending is at an all-time high just when tax revenue has tanked.

The best thing to do with our health care system is to take the existing law and scrap all of it, and start over. Listing all the things that were wrong with the law--even before Obamacare!--is beyond the scope of this document, but most of it can be summed up and generalized simply by saying, bring competition back to the marketplace.

Doctors have long gotten a pass on business practices every other business is required to adhere to. You wouldn't take your car in for an oil change without knowing what it would cost; certainly you wouldn't expect this:
1) Make appointment for oil change. Next available slot is the week after next, Wednesday at 8:15 AM.
2) You arrive at 8:05 AM and must fill out forms before you can see the tech. You must provide a complete history of your car's issues. You pay your copay of $30.
3) At 8:45 you are ushered into a service bay where a sub-technician asks you why you're there and does basic checks on your car. (Tire pressure, coolant level, etc.)
4) You wait 15 minutes for the oil change tech, who then does the oil change.
5) You leave.
6) Oil change place bills your insurance agency for $439.50, of which materials cost about $215. (Said materials costing perhaps a tenth of that from the local auto parts store.)
7) Your insurer "negotiates" a lower payment of $85 for labor and $50 for materials and applies that figure towards your deductible.
8) You get a bill for $135.
How much does your doctor charge for a checkup? Do you know? I certainly do not. And you cannot call your doctor and ask him how much he charges and get a useful, unconditional answer.

I mean, a physical doesn't change, generally speaking. The doctor looks in your orofices and listens to your body with a stethoscope and looks you over. Perhaps he orders some tests which--again--are standardized. Why can't a doctor post a price for what a physical will cost? Why can't he post his hourly rate? Why is he exempt from the kind of business practices we expect everywhere else?

WTF, would you eat at a restaurant which didn't post its prices, but which charged whatever it wanted to after you'd eaten your meal?

There are circumstances where a doctor cannot predict what he will have to do, and yes, it's impossible to plan for those situations. But 95% of what practicing doctors do is routine, to one extent or another. Certainly the guy who did my appendectomy in 1999 was not breaking any new ground in the field of abdominal surgery. A lot of things can go wrong, even with a mature procedure like that, but nearly every time an uncomplicated appendectomy is performed those things don't happen.

So why can't they post prices? Doctors will come up with all sorts of high-minded reasons why posted prices aren't a good idea, but I'll tell you what it all boils down to: because if they did that, people might start shopping around, and then doctors would have to compete on price verses value received. That's hard, and you're too stupid to know what's good for you anyway not qualified to evaluate a doctor's skillset and decide for yourself whether you want to trust him. Trust us and our county-wide medical monopoly! We'll take care of you, and as long as you have good insurance it won't cost you more than half your life savings!

* * *

I kind of descended into snark at the end there, but it's a valid criticism. One company owns 90% of the medical industry in the Fungal Vale, and it is very difficult to get health care around here without dealing with that one company. They own both hospitals and most of the clinics, and even my new and improved doctor (to whom I switched after being dicked over by the clinic I'd gone to for most of my life) is a member of that network.

This might touch on something Og and I discussed last night. A family health insurance policy that costs $800 a month in Illinois costs $1,800 in Indiana. Og wasn't sure why that is, and I certainly wasn't able to come up with anything; we chalked it up to Illinois machine politics and corruption.

My thought was that Og lives in a region which includes Gary and the steel belt, now mostly shuttered (both the city and the smelters) and perhaps that skews the statistics--but to the tune of an extra grand per month? Actuarial science is 97% math, which is not my forte, so I don't know.

* * *

Anyway, today is the 23rd of December, and tomorrow is Christmas Eve...and so I am now emplacing the usual restrictions on politics. Fun stuff only for the next couple of days, assuming I post anything.

Merry Christmas!

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