Monthly Archives: August 2009

McCain sends healthcare reform protester to “time out”

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Senator John McCain kicked out a healthcare reform protester from his Townhall meeting today.

The anger being thrown at the health care debat baffles me. From my observations, the people protesting the loudest against the public/government option are the ones without health care. Talk about fighting against your own best interest!!  What I don’t understand is this idea that if the government offers a low cost health care plan, suddenly we’re all going to be in a socialist health care system like the one Great Britain has. This is not socialized medicine, it’s socialized insurance.

The big insurance companies have gotten so greedy, they have brought this on themselves. By colluding to charge higher rates to their subscribers and lower payouts to the medical centers they’ve taken a “5 for me, 1 for you” attitude. The government option would force insurance companies to compete on cost and payouts again.

Government insurance should be thought of like Amtrak. It’s government funded, and I make no illusion that it will break even. Still, for people who can’t afford to fly and don’t own a car, it’s the next best option.  Amtrak will get you from Pittsburgh to DC in relative comfort for an inexpensive price.

I’m in favor of a government option because it means that someday if I decide to become solely self employed, I’ll have an easier time getting health care. When I lost my job a few years back, my Cobra benefits were nearly $400 a month for a 25 year old, non-smoking male in good health. I ended up dropping the Cobra and got catastrophic insurance coverage but it still cost me $175 a month.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said yesterday  “the people are speaking and we should listen”. Let see. House – 256 dems to 178 reps, Senate – 57 dems to 40 reps, Whitehouse – Dem 1, Reps 0.

I agree Congressman. I agree.

GM bringing 1,350 back to work.

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Part of the point of the Cash for Clunkers program is that it would help the ailing automakers and thus their employees.

Yesterday, General Motors announced that it would be bringing 1,350 laid off employees back to work, 1,050 of them located at the Lordstown Assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Lordstown Assembly produces the Chevy Cobalt and HHR and will soon start production on the Chevy Cruze. The Chevy Cruze is a slight step up in size from the Cobalt, but reportedly can achieve 40mpg highway with a conventional engine. Initial reviews of the Cruze in foreign markets where the car is already being sold have been positive.

While I hate the way the Cash for Clunkers program works, at least it’s doing some good by bringing these people back to work.

Negotiation is Irrelevant

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That’s what the right wingers might as well be saying. First they were against the public option for healthcare insurance. When the Whitehouse made it known that they were open to debate, the Private Insurance Co-Op idea was created. The Republican are against that also even though it addresses their two (claimed) biggest concerns, cost and government interference. Privately run insurance co-ops would not have to answer to the federal government in terms of coverage for individual patients and the start up cost is only around $10 billion. A pittance when you look in the context of the bailout money AIG, GM, Chrysler, and a host of banks got.

By also being against this plan, the Republicans are simply proving they don’t actually care about healthcare reform, or the uninsured, or even the costs. All the Republicans care about is trying to make Obama and the Democrats look bad.

If I were Obama, I’d tell the Republicans to go climb a tree.

Twist of the Double Edged Sword

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Forgive me, I’m still catching up on my reading.

This one jumped out at me:  The Wall Street Journal reports U.S. Consumers Reduce Debt for Fifth Month in a Row

That headline taken in a vacuum should be good news right? Well… sorta. It was consumer debt that both drove the economy for the last 30 years and yet at the same time contributed to it’s implosion.

People drastically reducing spending and (hopefully) living within their means don’t help an economy that depends on consumer spending for 70% of it’s activity.  These people (including myself) are putting as much of their resources into reducing their debt and freeing themselves from the usurious practices of the banks.  But this is a case where we have too much of a good thing. If debt reduction happens too fast, the corresponding consumer spending reduction could extend this recession far longer than normal.

About the only good thing I can see coming from this either way is that if enough people relieve themselves of credit card debt, it will hurt the banks since they will no longer be able to make money from their usury. They might actually have to compete a little and put their interest rates at a reasonable level.

Anything that hurts the banks makes me smile a little inside. It’s not like they don’t deserve it.

Just back from Germany

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I just got back from a week long vacation in Germany. I stayed with friends in Cologne and visited a few of the surrounding cites. On Friday, we rented a BMW 320i and made our own tour of castles south of Cologne.  My autobahn top speed was 210kph or 130mph. The thing I will miss most is the food. I wish we had a bakery on every corner like they do.

If the current recession has hit Germany, it doesn’t show. Walking around Cologne there is construction everywhere. New shops going up everywhere. The stores are busy and bustling. Germany has been careful to not outsource it’s labor force to foreign markets as much as we have in the US. If German companies need cheap labor, they set up shop in the former East German territories. This way, at least the GDP stays local to Germany’s economy.

Why can’t we do the same thing here? Sure, we couldn’t pay the minimal wages we pay Chinese prison laborers to sew soccer balls with their teeth, but I’m sure there are willing laborers in states like West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, etc. The cost to ship thing from Alabama factories to stores in the US would have to be a LOT cheaper than shipping it from Shanghai. At the same time, we would have an easier time making sure those workers are treated ethically and there are better safety standards in the products they produce. Just ask any Mattel executive about lead in toys and see what kind of reaction you get.

Yes some prices will go up. Do you really think $30 for a DVD player is reasonable? It’s time that we start demanding some real quality in the products we purchase.