Would You Die to Save Your Family? – Extraordinary Measures Ruin Families

Most people say yes, when asked if they would die to save even one member of their family.  There are different kinds of saving.  The medical costs of extraordinary measures to preserve vestiges of life in terminal patients are also extraordinary.  Who wants their family members to die?  Anyone?  Of course not.  WE don’t want to die either, but we will die, even though we don’t want to think about it or admit it will happen to us.

The emotional storm which comes with the prospect of death of a loved one more than fogs intellect and reason.  The brain chemistry alone prevents most people from thinking clearly.  People die despite our wishes to the contrary.  The fear, hysteria, anger, confusion, and grief renders any normal person witless.

Historically, death, by itself, did no direct harm to the survivors outside of losing the income that person produced.  But things are vastly different in 2017, when death, especially delaying inevitable death can kill the surviving family financially.  And what is life without money in our society?

But, no one thinks of this when they rush to the hospital, or hear the pronouncement that their loved one has a terminal condition. Doctors do not describe anything as terminal any more.  They use euphemisms provided by insurance companies and lawyers to give doubt and hope to the family, even though the doctors are pretty sure of the outcome.

Family members ask, “what is the prognosis?”  The only answer that is forthcoming comes when the patient is dead.  Cannot get around that one.  That is the least threatening to the families’ financial welfare.

The threat arises when “extraordinary measures” keep the body warm, even though the soul has moved on.  This penchant to “heat the meat” is driven by at least four factors: 1. Doctors do not like patients to die; 2. Families do not like family members to die; 3.  Medical technology can sustain the semblance of life with heart and lung supplements; 4.  The billings are huge.

The other side of “billings are huge” is medical bills are staggering, devastating, unpayable, and strangely enough, not the obligations of the patient, but of his “estate,” which means his family.  How many families have an extra million dollars lying around to cover giant bills?  Except for exempted items, most families lose everything and have to declare bankruptcy.  Sad but true, what the insurance company will skillfully avoid paying lands on the grieving spouse, children, parents, or whoever would be a beneficiary of his estate.

The only approaches I have heard to dealing with this threat are:

  1. Amazing, triple-source, health insurance
  2. Multi-million-dollar life insurance
  3. Planning and legal documents

I can only point you to the issues.  It is up to you to do the research and planning.  If you have not considered this issue, consider yourself warned.

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Millions of Americans Install Russian “Spyware” on PC’s

Update 9/15/17:  https://goo.gl/b1shvx

At last, DHS decided to plug a possibly benign hole in our info-armor, by requiring removal of Kaspersky software from government computers.

They only have authority in the executive branch of government, but “the cat is out of the bag,” and NOBODY in the other branches dares defend the cat.  I wonder what CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the rest of the media will do?  The “Russia” thing has grown so prevalent, toxic, and taboo, that I bet vodka sales are down, at least vodka made by Russia and it’s satellites.  Fortunately, with the exception of borscht, cossacks, and the nested wooden dolls, I cannot think of any other “things” in American society that are possibly associated with Moscow, except maybe Hillary.

Update 7/2/17: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article159342929.html

In the 21st century, anyone in America, without awareness and knowledge of computers, is as vulnerable as a “babe in the woods.”  The information age has vaulted into predominance of American’s attention without the benefit of requisite education, warnings, and orientation.  And this extends to all the people who, together, run our government.

Unfortunately, computers have become easy to use too quickly, and recklessly; it is like giving a hammer to a baby.  Americans can send and receive emails, visit on Skype, download free “stuff,” shop til their fingers or credit cards give out, bare their most intimate and inane secrets and weaknesses, seek love, watch videos, etc.

Americans are as ignorant about “hacking,” as they are about “fracking.”  “Hacking” sounds like chopping away at something like wood, or meat.  The concepts of computer hacking are not too different, except computer hackers are trying to log in to computer networks by trying to identify an administrative  user account; otherwise they test countless combinations of usernames and passwords.  They are burglars trying to steal valuable information, such as Ms Clinton-related emails, or damage, or hijack your system for ransom.  They look for anyone who has access to everything interesting and “hack” their account.

Hackers count on users being careless and simple in choosing their log in credentials. Sometimes users use their home computers or laptops to connect to their work computers. That means a “hacker” can find out how to connect to other network computers through your computer using your credentials.

How do they get into your system?  Through the internet, mostly through email links or attachments, otherwise they use multiple login attempts.  Sometimes, seemingly innocent emails or downloads can install software that gives a hacker the keys to everything on your computer, including your identity information, accounts, and financial information.

So, we take steps to protect ourselves with anti-virus, and anti-malware programs.  These programs learn and have access to every intimate detail about your computer and its connections to the internet.  They are supposed to detect, deter, and destroy any harmful files that come your way.  But wait; what if this software is turned against you?

How asleep at the switch, clueless, and careless can we be?  Millions of Americans have blithely installed Russian software on our own computers, supposedly, to protect us from malicious intrusions, and we are surprised when we are violated?  Really?  This software holds the keys to access everything on any computer that uses it, and any computer that connects to it or its networks.

We could have, should have looked beyond the advertising, (even ads on public radio,) and no cost downloads to the company that offers it; but we have not.  Even if you uninstalled the software, did it really remove every trace of itself?  Or, could it have left some tiny, hidden, latent elements designed to give itself a “back door” to your computer?  How would you know?

Anti-virus and anti-malware software is supposed to guard our computers from harm; it has access to everything on our computers and everything from other computers that communicate with; email, surfing, contacts, documents, programs, firewalls, passwords, yes, everything.  It is supposed to identify and neutralize threats from people and programs that seek to ransom, destroy, and steal our most valuable, sensitive information.  How carefully have we researched the sources of the programs and data we have on our computers?

Did you know that Kaspersky Labs, renowned for its anti-virus/malware powers, is owned by Russians and headquartered in Moscow?  Check out this link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspersky_Lab

I wonder, how many Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens have Kaspersky software on their computers?  I wonder how many other programs we might have downloaded that could be secret agents for our enemies?

 

Warnings in the News

Warnings in the News

The Great Recession has lasted so long that people do not remember inflation.  But, three recent statements, one from the meeting of the world’s central bankers, and two from the G20 Summit in China, ring the alarm bells warning us that inflation is on the way:

August 28, 2016 – JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (Reuters) – Central bankers in charge of the vast bulk of the world’s economy delved deep into the weeds of money markets and interest rates over a three-day conference here, and emerged with a common plea to their colleagues in the rest of government: please help.

 In a lunch address by Princeton University economist Christopher Sims, policymakers were told that it may take a massive program, large enough even to shock taxpayers into a different, inflationary view of the future.

“Fiscal expansion can replace ineffective monetary policy at the zero lower bound,” Sims said. “It requires deficits aimed at, and conditioned on, generating inflation. The deficits must be seen as financed by future inflation, not future taxes or spending cuts.”

Translation:  We are going to spend our way to prosperity with inflation.

 September 4, 2016: U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that both countries would “refrain from competitive devaluations and not target exchange rates for competitive purposes. at the G20 Summit held at the Hangzhou International Expo Center.

Translation:  We are going to lower the value of our currencies through inflation.

September 6, 2016: Leaders of the Group of 20 economies meeting at the Hangzhou International Expo Center pledged to use spending to improve infrastructure and the global economy.

Translation:  We are going to spend our way to prosperity with inflation.

In plain language, global economies are weak and weakening.  Governments can no longer stimulate their economies with lower interest rates, because they at or near zero.  They cannot afford to raise interest rates for fear of pushing us back into recession.  What can they do?

Inflation.  They are going to make money out of thin air and spend it to mollify their people.  At the same time, we will wiggle out of our mounting debts & Social Security obligations because inflation will let us pay in cheaper and cheaper dollars.

How will they do that?  Borrow money from themselves and spend it under the guise of “rebuilding infrastructure,” “investing in our future,” and “making America great again.”  So what if prices go up a year from now, and the year after that, etc.

Tax Reform will be like Robin Hood; tax the rich, give to the poor; “equality” and redistribution.  But it will not tax enough, or cut spending enough to balance the budget, or reduce the national debt.

Globally, it will be about which countries can inflate their currency faster to gain trade advantages, and reduce any debts they have from other nations.

Domestic inflation example:  You earn $100,000 per year and a house costs $250,000.  You borrow $200,000 to buy the house, and pay 25% of your income ($25,000) per year for your mortgage.

Suppose inflation doubles prices and wages.  Your salary might have to increase to $200,000 just to buy the same amount of food, gasoline, clothes etc. because prices have doubled.  You would be no better off in lifestyle, but your $250,000 house would be valued at $500,000.

However, your mortgage would still be $200,000.  You used to pay 25% of your $100,000 salary to cover the mortgage ($25,000 per year).  Now, $25,000 is only 12.5% of your $200,000 salary.  Inflation has cut your debt in half, as a percentage of your income.  And just look at the $300,000 of equity you have in your house!

Inflation would also lighten the government’s $1 trillion annual deficit s and $19 trillion national debt load and allow government to continue to borrow even more.

Think it cannot happen?  When I came to Texas in 1977, house prices were going up so fast that people were “flipping” homes like pancakes.  Of course, mortgage interest rates were double digit, and CD’s rates were too.  And federal debt jumped 17% that year.

Just look at the inflation we have experienced in the past.

The chart below shows 100 years of history.  The Consumer Price index (CPI-U) for January 1913 was 9.8.  The CPI-U for September 2013 was 234.149.  This means that something that cost $9.80 in January of 1913 would cost $234.15 today!

http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation/Cumulative_Inflation_by_Decade.asp

The average annual inflation rate in the 1940’s was 4.86% in the 1970’s it was 6.5% and the 1980’s was 13.5%. Each of those decades were especially hard economically for people trying to make ends meet while prices increased and wages didn’t keep up.

Perspective on Inflation

Inflation Unemployment Average Income Average House Multiple of Income 4yr College Multiple of Income
1960 1.4% 5.50% 5,200 16,500 3.17 8,000 1.5
1970 6.5% 3.50% 7,700 23,400 3.04 16,000 2.08
1980 13.5% 6.00% 16,700 64,600 3.87 30,000 1.80
1990 5.4% 5.60% 28,700 122,900 4.28 38,000 1.32
2000 3.4% 4.00% 41,500 169,000 4.07 47,000 1.13
2010 1.6% 9.60% 48,700 221,800 4.55 69,000 1.42
2015 0.5% 5.30% 53,700 296,200 5.52 78,000 1.45

 

This time, it looks like inflation could really hurt most people because wage increases and inflation adjustments for fixed income Social Security retirees probably will not keep up with rising prices.  That will make buying a home even more difficult, in that prices are already a bigger multiple of income than they have ever been.

Doctors & Hospitals Reject Pre-existing Fedicare

Health care providers are rejecting people with Obamacare policies, Medicare, and Medicaid because of reimbursement rates, and the financial inabilities of Obamacare patients to pay their share.

Context

Insurance spreads large financial risks over a pool of people who face that risk.  Only some of the people will actually experience the losses.  Members of the pool pay “premiums” to pay the losses, administer the process, and provide a profit to the owners of the insurance company.

Insurance companies use “underwriters” to:

  • Measure the potential financial risks of issuing policies
  • Set the conditions included and excluded
  • Set the premiums and duration of coverage

The idea is to:

  • Keep premiums low for normal risk people
  • Set higher premiums for people with higher risks
  • Limit coverage for conditions that already exist
  • Decline people who are high risk

Obamacare Reality

Obamacare health insurance plans cannot decline people with pre-existing conditions, by law.  The medical costs are not a risk for these people, they are an enormous, financial certainty.  These high costs must be covered by premiums paid by other insured policy holders, or absorbed by the insurance company.

Obamacare prohibits “marketplace” insurers from rejecting high-risk applicants, and people with preexisting conditions.  However, not all policies are created equal.  The variables are:

  • Premiums
  • Government premium subsidies
  • Patient co-payments
  • Patient and family deductibles
  • Reimbursement rates (the amounts insurers pay the doctors, laboratories, imaging clinics, and hospitals)

Service providers need to get paid an acceptable amount, in an acceptable amount of time.  Insurers offer reimbursement levels, but providers do not have to accept them.  Providers can set the minimum for their services, but the insurers do not have to include them in their “network.”

The medical community now does what insurance companies used to do – when in doubt, decline Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid patients.

The top quality insurance companies are withdrawing from the marketplaces to avoid the losses they experience from the pre-existing condition patients.  The insurers are limiting the types of plans to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) which only use selected providers.  They are eliminating Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s) which give the insured choices of providers within a selected “Network,” and “Out of Network” for higher copays.

People are dropping their health insurance because the combined costs of premiums, co-pays, deductibles; the lack of providers who accept their insurance contributes to this attrition.

Picture Perfect – What Is the Answer to the Problem of Photo IDs?

Why not fix the Texas photo ID problem?  Why use the problem to prevent the real solution to the problem?

I suggest that those who object should harness the energy and money they are spending in opposition to get the photo IDs in the hands of these voters.

An estimated, $13.3 million plus the efforts of concerned volunteers could get the job done. I am sure the interested parties could manage to raise the money to enfranchise the voters about whose rights they are so deeply concerned.  If election time approaches before all the voters get their IDs, they can request and submit absentee ballots without meeting the photo ID requirement.

The Attorney General of Texas submitted data to the U. S. Department of Justice showing that 605,000 eligible Texas voters may not have qualified photo IDs.

In federal court, the Department of Justice asserts that a disproportionate number of these voters are Hispanic & members of racial minorities; they claim that the photo ID requirement places “significant burdens” on minority voters, in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Texas counters that photo IDs are available free of charge, and that anyone who does not have an ID with them on election day can vote via provisional ballot, and return within a few days after the election with the ID to validate their vote.

Opponents to the requirements point to the costs of transportation to the DPS driver’s license office and the possible costs of providing proof of identity, (requirements are the same as for a driver’s license,) which could include $22 to get a certified copy of their Texas birth certificate.

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/03/14/fox-ignores-significant-costs-that-come-with-fr/184318

Even if every one of the 605,000 “photo-less” voters had to get a birth certificate, the total cost would be $13.3 million at $22 each.

Acceptable identification documents include:

  1. One piece of “Primary Identification,” OR
  2. Two pieces of “Secondary Identification,” OR
  3. One piece of “Secondary Identification” plus two pieces of “Supporting Identification.”

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/identificationrequirements.htm

For non-drivers, a certified copy of a birth certificate costs $22 dollars from the state of Texas; (other states charge various rates for certified copies in the range of $28 – 72.)

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/vs/reqproc/certified_copy.shtm

As with driver’s licenses, holders of the Texas election identification card must get a replacement card when they move to a new residence, and must renew the card every 6 years for $16.

These requirements are no more onerous than requirements for a US passport.

http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html#step4first

Federal Requirements for State Issued IDs

Ironically, the Federal Government enacted the REAL ID Act in 2005 with these requirements for state driver’s licenses.

“Documentation required before issuing a license or ID card

Before a card can be issued, the applicant must provide the following documentation: [20]

  • A photo ID or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birthdate.
  • Documentation of birth date.
  • Documentation of legal status and Social Security number
  • Documentation showing name and principal residence address.

Digital images of each identity document will be stored in each state DMV database.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REAL_ID_Act

Summary of the New Law Compared to the Previous Law:

Texas

Election Code §63.001 et seq.

NOTE:  TX’s new photo ID law takes effect after preclearance by the USDOJ. Pre-clearance was denied on March 13, 2012, and the state is expected to apply for reconsideration from the Federal District Court of Washington, D.C.

Existing law:

On offering to vote, a voter must present the voter’s voter registration certificate to an election officer at the polling place.

New law:

On offering to vote, a voter must present to an election officer at the polling place one form of identification.

Existing law:

Voter registration certificate

  • Driver’s license
  • Department of Public Safety ID card
  • A form of ID containing the person’s photo that establishes the person’s identity
  • A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person’s identity
  • U.S. citizenship papers
  • A U.S. passport
  • Official mail addressed to the person, by name, from a governmental entity
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the person’s name and address
  • Any other form of ID prescribed by the secretary of state

New law:

  • Driver’s license
  • Election identification certificate
  • Dept. of Public Safety personal ID card
  • U.S. military ID
  • U.S. citizenship certificate
  • U.S. passport
  • License to carry a concealed handgun issued by the Dept. of Public Safety

All of the above must include a photo of the voter. With the exception of the certificate of citizenship, these forms of ID cannot be expired, or cannot have expired more than 60 days before the election.

Existing law:

A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate when offering to vote, but whose name is on the list of registered voters for the precinct in which the voter is offering to vote, shall be accepted for voting if the voter executes an affidavit stating that the voter does not have the voter’s voter registration certificate in the voter’s possession and the voter presents other proof of identification. A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate and cannot present other identification may vote a provisional ballot. A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate and whose name is not on the list of registered voters may vote a provisional ballot.

New law:

A voter who fails to present the required identification may cast a provisional ballot.  The voter must present, not later than the sixth day after the date of the election, the required form of identification to the voter registrar for examination OR the voter may execute, in the presence of the voter registrar, an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating that the voter has a religious objection to being photographed or that the voter does not have identification as a result of a natural disaster declared by the president or the governor which occurred not earlier than 45 days before the date the ballot was cast.

http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx

Ideological “Racism” is Rampant – Epic Polarization Infects American Democracy

Racism casts a group of people with some common, innate, intrinsic traits into a moral cesspool of evil, weakness, and inferiority.  The last decade has witnessed Americans from all walks of life creating ideological “races” based on gender, religion, class, origin, attitude and belief.

The growing prejudice among these “races” flourishes in the content-hungry media, and the “yellow press” internet.  Blanket characterizations cover both platforms like rancorous kudzu.  Redefined “loaded & coded” terms replace accurate neutral vocabulary.  Smug assertions and attributions garnish baskets full of hatred.  Facebook pages bulge with “New Age,” lofty, pseudo-aphorisms of love and peace, adjacent to vitriol-laced propaganda.  Bumper/window stickers are the new armbands of superiority over, and condemnation of “the others,” we deprecate.

For me, these growing expressions of helplessness and hopelessness reveal a citizenry’s weakened faith, and fear-fed anger.  We have become the paranoid, intolerant “house divided against itself…” to which Jesus and Abraham Lincoln referred.

Both Jesus and Abraham Lincoln were murdered for their efforts to bring peace out of hatred.  In our case, I fear American pride, unity, and national identity will succumb to senseless fratricide.

What will it take to bring us together again looking to our future shoulder-to-shoulder instead of nose-to-nose?