Critical Ignorance of How Things Work

Whar Money?

On this news, one highly-upvoted person at 9gag had this to say:

Critical Ignorance

“The only person screwed was insurance companies.”


Where does this person think that insurance companies get their money? How do they not understand that people pay what-are-called premiums for that coverage? How do they not understand that the insurance companies will pass increased prices on to their customers in the form of increased premiums? Even if they are employed with insurance, and never look at their pay stub, how do they not understand that employers covering only some of the costs of these premiums eventually pass increases on to employees, both in terms of raising their contribution, and by paying people less?

And lest you think this was brutally-ignorant take was isolated, there’s another, even more highly-upvoted post further down the comment section, with lots of replies, none of which correct this fundamental disconnect with the basic, underlying mechanism of good, old fashioned capitalism. Apparently everyone on 9gag is content with the explanation that the insurance companies were the only ones getting screwed by Shkreli, and they view his move as some sort of inverse, anarcho-capitalist Robin Hood maneuver. It’s almost insane.

I guess the question is: What did I expect from a post titled “Justice Served?” as if there were a popular misunderstanding of what was actually happening here. One comment gets at the truth: Shkreli is being made an example of, in order to send a signal to other people who make waves for Big Pharma. Yes, of course, every other pharma CEO wants to do what he did, but you have to do it quietly. Slowly. Like a frog being boiled alive. You can’t make moves so big or fast that they cannot be ignored.

It’s little wonder how we can’t find common ground in our politics today. People can post a critical misunderstanding of how something works to a top-10 web site, find validation from scores of like-minded people, and come away thinking that they’ve really got a handle on how the world works.

These are the people that political operatives are targeting with disinformation campaigns. The rubes that got snookered by the Cambridge Analytica election campaign for Trump? This is them. And they vote, thinking that they have “done their research,” and have insight into how the world really works.

I weep for the future. If there is one.

Health and Insurance

Anthem Loves Me

The last 7 months of my life, from Anthem’s viewpoint, and I’m still not out of the woods. At least I’ve hit the out-of-pocket cap for the year. Bring it on, I guess.

A few of years ago, I had taken a job that was basically a bait-and-switch. It only lasted 4 months, and I got diverticulitis, most likely due to the stress. We both knew it wasn’t working. I called a friend. He got me a job within 2 days. I gave 2-weeks notice.

SGS fired me on the spot, in the middle of tests and procedures. I wound up with $3,000 of uncovered medical expenses. I could have retroactively paid for COBRA insurance, but the premiums to cover those months were… about $3,000, so I just dropped it. Luckily, I could afford it.

Thank goodness for health insurance. However, it’s a fundamentally broken part of our system that it’s tied to employment, and a good job at that. An awful lot of people aren’t so lucky.

In a free market, we could buy health insurance like car insurance, but we don’t have a free market in health insurance. Anything but. We need to be able to buy plans nationwide, and un-couple it from our employment. If Congress won’t fix that, then we will eventually wind up with socialized health care.

Stunning new report ranks US dead last in health care among richest countries—despite spending the most | TheHill

“The U.S. has two health care systems. For Americans with the means and insurance to have a regular doctor and reported experiences with their day-to-day care are relatively good, but for those who lack access, the consequences are stark,” Schneider said.

Source: Stunning new report ranks US dead last in health care among richest countries—despite spending the most | TheHill

As I’ve mentioned here before, half of America — the poor and retirees — are already on Medicare/Medicaid. The private system is held afloat by the middle and upper class. The emerging problem is that the middle class is being squeezed out of existence by wealth inequality. Not too long from now, the split between private and government insurance will tip to 40/60, and the 60% is going to vote people into Congress to get access to what the 40% still have.

The poor performance is nothing new, as the U.S. has landed in last place in all seven studies the Commonwealth Fund has released since 2004.

The really stupid thing about this situation is that we’ve known this bad system has been producing bad outcomes for decades, and the one thing we’ve thrown at it (the Affordable Care Act) only seems to have worsened the disparity.

Maybe there’s no fixing it. Besides Bernie Sanders and maybe AOC, no one is talking seriously about reform. Maybe there’s so much money being thrown at Congress by Big Pharma and Big Insurance that they’ll never be able to mount a voting block large enough to do something about it.

Big Pharma

But how will new medicines and treatments get approved if we force American health insurance companies to sell at reasonable prices? </SpongeBob mocking> I don’t know, but maybe the hundreds of millions the insurance companies pay their executives would be a good place to find a little funding.

The only reason I can think of that this is not being sold in the US is to preserve cash flows for the testing being done at clinics, doctors offices, and CVS.

‘My Wife Has Cancer’ Reddit Comment Spreads Virally, Prompts…


A screenshot of a months-old Reddit comment about the cost of cancer care spread across social media platforms.

Source: ‘My Wife Has Cancer’ Reddit Comment Spreads Virally, Prompts…

Whether the original post is true or not, most of us know someone who has been wracked with medical expenses. I, myself, have had around $15K of uncovered medical expenses in the past few years, not counting the out-of-pocket limits before “benefits” kick in. I can afford this, if only barely. However, the larger and inescapable truth in this country is that the vast majority of us are one cancer diagnosis away from total financial ruin.

I still think that the right way to fix the health care industry in a “capitalistic” system is to regulate the health insurance industry the same way we do car insurance. But the health insurance companies aren’t going to allow themselves to be pressured by the market, and will make sure that Congress does not change the status quo. They are quite content to let the current system continue its decline until it becomes impossible NOT to nationalize it. In my estimation, Big Insurance (like Anthem, Centene, United, and Humana) are all jockeying to get a bigger slice of the pie when the government finally steps in and makes them a department of the Executive branch.

Smart Pipe | Infomercials | Adult Swim – YouTube

Everything in our lives is connected to the internet, so why not our toilets? Take a tour of Smart Pipe, the hot new tech startup that turns your waste into valuable information and fun social connectivity.

This is no longer a joke, proving, once again, that humor is dying, as there is nothing left to parody.

Behold, an actual incarnation of the joke, just 7 years later.

Scientists believe that a new groundbreaking loo, dubbed Smart Toilet, that takes photos of your poo will be a gamechanger for millions and their health.

It will be able to examine your poo with an algorithm and warn your doctor of any problems that could help keep the nation healthy.

Source: Groundbreaking smart toilet takes photos of poo to send to doctors for analysis

I did a double take to check the date, and make sure it wasn’t April 1st. No doubt, the monetization plan for this product is not only to provide a service, but become the de facto monopoly player in poo analysis, and then? I don’t know. Probably put a screen on the back of the toilet, and sell advertising, tied to your stool analysis, as well as everything else. Imagine the investor pitch: “More people have toilets than even have cell phones! The market is truly unlimited!”


Google Is Saving Over $1 Billion a Year by Working From Home

With Covid-19 restrictions lifting, more people are booking trips and hotels online, which is very good for Google’s advertising business. Google’s employees, however, are working from home and not traveling as much on the company dime — and that’s also good for its business.

Source: Google Is Saving Over $1 Billion a Year by Working From Home

As I said before, homeshoring™ — my word; my trademark — is saving companies a lot of money. I want to see a note in the annual report about how much Cummins has saved.

PhRMA sues to stop state’s new insulin affordability program –

“A state cannot simply commandeer private property to achieve its public policy goals,” said PhRMA’s complaint, filed Tuesday in district court. “The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from attempting to solve societal problems in this draconian manner.”

Source: PhRMA sues to stop state’s new insulin affordability program –

If their “alternatives” were working, people wouldn’t be dying from rationing insulin. The only thing “draconian” about this situation is the feudalistic caste system we seem to have recreated in modern America.

This country was started so that we wouldn’t have to live under the regime of a bunch of wealthy landowners who controlled the lives of those who worked their land. The large corporations — who don’t just control the means of production — but use the courts to prevent competition — get to unilaterally dictate their will to us serfs. This move is a complete abrogation of the implied social contract of a corporation. We wouldn’t even be in this position if they hadn’t been so greedy, and extracted so much from society for the past 5 decades.

Go ahead, I dare you to read up on how much money pharmaceutical companies have taken from the US government to develop all those medicines they advertise constantly on television, how much it costs to make them, and then how much they charge for them. The insurance companies have allowed this situation to develop, and get so bad that society cannot bear the weight of it any longer.

When the US finally adopts socialized medicine, the capitalism-lovers who wring their hands and call it communism will have nothing to blame except the corporatocracy that made it inevitable, and no one to blame except themselves for continuing to support a system that is leaving more and more people to fall through the cracks, and fend for themselves when they are the most vulnerable, until they become the majority, and vote with their pocketbooks to rebalance the equation.

Don’t tell me horror stories about health care systems in Canada or England. I hear horror stories from our own stupid system every single week, from rich and poor alike, and you do too, even if you ignore them.

Drug Company Set to Pay $15 Million to DOJ Over Doctor Bribery Scandal

Two whistleblowers came forward in April to accuse Questcor of trying to boost profits for Acthar, a medication primarily for infants with seizures. Questcor raised the price of the medication by almost 100,000 percent (not a typo) from just $40 in 2000 to $38,892 today, despite the fact that Acthar has been on the market since 1952. Mallinckrodt currently rakes in about $1 billion per year from Acthar, according to CNN.

Source: Drug Company Set to Pay $15 Million to DOJ Over Doctor Bribery Scandal

Today, in Medicare-For-All-is-inevitable news: One company jacked up the price of a drug for newborns from $40 to FORTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, even though it has been around since 1952, and THEN they were caught bribing doctors to prescribe it!

There’s only so much of this our system can take before enough people get affected by it and vote for a nationalized health care system — despite whatever negatives they might fear — because surely nothing can be as bad as what they’re dealing with.