Thursday, March 9, 2017

Is it about Health Insurance...or Health Care?

Even as "Obamacare" is imploding from costs that are not covered, young people who are not signing up, and premiums that are sky-rocketing, the Media, Ideological Right and Ideological Left point fingers at each other, and talk past each other.  And it is so obvious that one cannot escape the strong suspicion, if not certainty, that they are doing it on purpose to mislead the vast majority of the public.

First, a review of the facts shows that Obamacare has apparently increased the number that is covered by healthcare of some kind.

The difficulty with this claim arises when we ask ourselves if it is insurance, regardless of scope, that we want to extend to people...or is it increased paid-for actual medical coverage that all of us see as the goal.

Healthcare Insurance comes in various least it used come in many forms.  You could chose to select catastrophic insurance plans, where the costs were low because you had no benefit until medical costs exceeded a selected limit...often more than $5,000 for an illness...because you budgeted for normal and ordinary Doctor's visits and accidents.

Then there were the normal, what I used to think of as the Blue Cross/Blue Shield, plans.  These covered normal costs of doctors and hospitals in a variety of ways.  You could chose a network of doctors and hospitals, out of network providers and select any number of co-pay limits and/or drug coverage.

The point of these offerings was to enable any person or family unit to balance cost of premiums against their medical coverage preferences.  Those who had the choice of insurance provided by their employers usually benefited from the employer's negotiating good premium terms, and often had portions of those premiums actually paid by the employer.  But if you left that job, every person had the option of continuing that coverage, albeit at a higher rate.  But you wanted to continue coverage so that you didn't trigger a non-covered period (usually a year or 18 months) for any discovered pre-existing condition.

The motivation for getting, paying for, and continuing Medical Insurance coverage was to protect against preexisting conditions which might or might not develop.  It wasn't enough to have just any policy; you needed to have coverage that was useful.

Obamacare was and remains the equivalent of a con, because it claims to offer a benefit that turns out to be non-existent; the premiums are increasingly exorbitant while the deductibles are so high as to turn the policies into catastrophic only coverage that isn't what most purchasers had before and expected to continue under the promises made by President Obama regarding Obamacare.

And now the Congress is repeating the same mistake.  The only motivation that will cause younger people (and families) to chose to purchase Medical-care Insurance is the fear of discovery of preexisting conditions.  Obamacare proved that a financial penalty wasn't enough if there were no prohibition of coverage due to preexisting conditions.  Besides, without that exception of coverage, what you are trying to provide is NOT insurance at all, but socialized medical coverage.  Without making citizens responsible for the consequences of their planning and their actions, you are socializing the medical costs of everyone.  And that is exorbitantly expensive.

If the government wants to provide ability and incentive for all citizens to have USEFUL medical coverage, provide a limited period (perhaps 18 months) for everyone to select, sign up for, and begin to pay for medical coverage of their choice with coverage for preexisting conditions.  But upon expiration of that period, reinstate the preexisting condition exclusion.

Additionally, for the poor (and there needs to be a certain definition of what that is) set up a means for catastrophic coverage costs to be reimbursed to the purchaser by the government, with the government also picking up any intervening hospital and practitioners' costs upon their supplying factual and audited data.

The key, though, is to mandate that the people themselves have to be responsible for selecting, and processing the necessary applications for coverage and, where appropriate, reimbursement.  If that is done, truly everyone will have the opportunity to access meaningful medical insurance coverage.  But it is opportunity that needs to be provided...not a guarantee.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Are the "Hate Crime" statutes attempts to by-pass the Constitutional guarantee of free Speech?

For three quarters of a century I have been angered by many events that centered around the exercise of free speech as guaranteed by the American Constitution.  Most were personal events that occurred after I had gotten to voting age and had to endure what I considered bad language that not only was often physically impossible but also un-civil.  These offended my perception of what communication should be in any civilized society.

Then there were general public exercises of offensive behavior and speech that seemed to violate existing social norms.  Included in this list, was the burning of the American Flag and the behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church, of Topeka, Kansas, at the funerals of fallen servicemen.

I admit to a visceral anger at such behavior, and the wish for the power to put such activities to an end.

On reflection, while there was great danger in any preemptive prohibition on speech and/or action that did not encourage actual physical harm to others, it seemed that in cases where a case could clearly be made for damage being inflicted on innocents or others those who were injured should have the right to restitution.

Logic suggests that the courts, SCOTUS included, have wrongly and carelessly expanded the definition of "free" in free speech to include freedom from consequences of that exercise.  A careful consideration of the concept of free speech seems to clearly mean that the founding fathers wished to prevent the preemptive prohibition of any person from stating a case on any subject that they found compelling.

There is no action in this world that does not have consequences for those committing actions...or speaking words.  ONLY in America are people allowed to insult others, call them vile names and, in the case of politics, actually lie about accusations and behavior.

In any moral sense, this is wrong.  Certainly any person can comment or accuse, but isn't it just common sense that there needs to be truthfulness in the comment or accusation?  Absent truthfulness, shouldn't any, famous, poor, able to call any such commenter or accuser to make the victim whole?  What social, moral or governmental purpose is served by allowing reprehensible language.

Note that I see such action as being in civil courts, and never as being based on statutory laws.  This should never be in the criminal realm.  Why?  Because then the government is given control of determining what is acceptable or not.

I abhor the passing of "Hate Crime" and "Hate Speech" legislation.  The activities specified are already against the law and the courts have jurisdiction and those engaging in such actions can be punished for their actions.  Frankly, the motivation for abhorrent behavior is not of importance and certainly should not the subject of governmental definition and intuition.  As far as speech is concerned, the Constitution is clear on it being allowed.  I certainly would allow action to recover provable injury from such long as it was in civil court and the judgment made by a jury.

Hate Speech statutes seem only to be a means for the Federal Government to "pile on" for largely political purposes when some crimes are committed.  That is not reason to create more power and put it in the hands of the level of government most removed from the people.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Possible Solution to our Education deficit

The degradation of the educational system in America is the result of many factors: the erosion of the family unit, the unionization of teachers that focuses on protecting the welfare of teachers instead of the education of children, and the Prussian Model used as a basis of our educational system through twelfth grade which is better designed for indoctrination than for learning and independent problem solving, among others.  The focus on the family cannot be recreated by any government.  It must come from the people.  Likewise, a desire to change our educational system from one of standardization to one of maximizing individual learning must also develop from the people and the teaching community working together.

But perhaps if the educational professionals themselves considered a radical change in their way of organizing, they might lead the way to improvements in the other two areas.  Here is one possible approach for consideration.

This involves a great deal of spending up front and that will turn many people off.  But if we look at how much money has already been appropriated only to fail to improve education in this country, perhaps we could at least try something a bit different.

How much more respectful and empowering would it be if all educators ruled themselves through a Professional Association matrix instead of a union matrix?  If administrators and teachers ruled their own membership in a manor designed to mandate good teaching methods as well as results, with awards and raises given by their own judgment and standards based on the achievements of their students, they would achieve three things:
     1, They would insure that all of them were dedicated to educational achievement, with the ability to set and demand high standards of each of their members based on their own self-interest;
     2.  they would have professional respect from parents as well as the general public; and
     3.  they would have the self-satisfaction of knowing that their students would be productive citizens. to implement this?  One idea would be to approach the teachers and their unions with the concept that ALL salaries for three years would be tripled.  Yes, tripled!  In return, the teachers would create their own Professional Organization empowered to rule itself, set minimum requirements and methods for self-evaluation based on student achievement as well as the teachers' Organization evaluations, and give up all tenure.

During those three years the teachers would themselves select those who's performance on behalf of the students qualified them for terms of tenure...which would be for a set number of years (perhaps 8 years), upon the expiration of which the Teachers Professional Association would do a review evaluation, the satisfactory finding of which would provide for an additional 8 year tenure.  At the same time, the Teachers Professional Association would be tasked with reviewing the educational program for learning efficacy, seeking improvement in the learning matrix and experimenting to improve the educational system with the goal of enabling and insuring that all students reach a certain minimum standard of reading, math and general knowledge while those with exceptional or advanced abilities are nurtured to maximize their educational growth.  But the key would be to put the responsibility AND the rewards for achieving that goal in the hands of the teachers themselves.

When Teachers and the general public come to see that Teachers are dedicated professionals exercising professional ability to regulate themselves to excel every bit as much as Doctors and other professionals and demonstrably requiring that all their members perform at the same high standards, they will:
   a. receive the admiration of the public and parents;
   b. which will give them greater authority to enable changes in education that will provide better results for all students;
   c. which in turn will demonstrate value that will provide for remuneration that all excellent teachers deserve; and
   d. the increased status will draw highly motivated and able new recruits into the profession.

At the end of the three year period of adjustment, re-selection of teachers deserving tenure and the creation of the basis for self-regulation and self-evaluation, the salary level would initially go to double the original (or, decrease one-third from the then effective level).  As time passes, the Teachers Professional Association can develop payment rates.  Perhaps they will decide to create a hierarchy of teaching ability (level 1, 2,3, Masters) either generally or by subject that would stay with the teacher and set the level of pay regardless of where or at what school he or she worked.  And/or there might be set adjustments based on cost of living when a teacher moved from one area of the country to another.  And, if a teacher moved during a tenure period, that tenure would continue until the expiration of the current term, with the usual re-evaluation to be conducted by representatives of the Teachers' Professional Association.

Just one idea to consider.  It seems wrong to criticize without attempting to come up with a way of improving or changing what seems currently not to be working.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Were the Russians Really helping Trump win?

I have not seen one argument or suggestion that Russia or those directed by Russia were not trying to help Trump win the election.  But I would suggest that in fact they had no idea that Trump might win, regardless of any Russian-backed activities.

Consider that there were no countries, residents, governments or leaders throughout the world that expected Mr. Trump to be elected.  You can safely bet that that was the view throughout Russia too...including Mr. Putin and the leadership of Russia.

So...what was really going on?  I suggest that it not only possible but probable that, with the success they had in hacking into various American sources a year or more earlier, that they decided to test the American Public's reaction to some of the politically indefensible and embarrassing information they had acquired.  It is likely that they discovered far more than was leaked during the campaign season.  To reveal what they did release was arguably a signal of proof that they had "stuff" that the DNC AND Ms. Hillary would find not only embarrassing, but possibly grounds for impeachment; that not-so-subtle message would have made influencing a President Hillary Clinton easier and perhaps even more effective.Governments usually go to great lengths to hide their hacking operations...and do so quite effectively.  The DNC hacks were not particularly well hidden, as known cut-outs were employed.  Arguably, they wanted the government, expected to be headed by a President Clinton, to know.

Whether all of this is true or only true in part is not something I can prove.  But when you consider that the entire world, in addition to the Democrat party and its adherents, expected the election of Ms. Hillary Clinton to the American Presidency, what other use did the leaks serve?  Most of America knew about the leaked data and that didn't move the polls...and  neither did Trump's other promises and claims.

Think about it.