roots.lab :: seeds

squibs, finds, unprocessed thoughts

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Why genuine, card-carrying socialists say “the ACA is not a government health insurance program and has absolutely nothing in common with socialized medicine”:

While media attention has focused on snags in the implementation of health care overhaul, the fundamental problem with Obamacare is the character of the legislation itself.

The plans being offered through Obamacare demonstrate that, in their rapacious drive to increase profits, private insurance companies are not only charging steep premiums—some 30 percent higher than in the present individual market—but are peddling cut-rate policies with staggering out-of-pocket costs, which also limit access to doctors and hospitals. Despite Obama’s claim that the legislation heralds a new era in access to “near universal, quality health care,” the plans people are mandated by law to purchase will actually have the effect of rationing access to medical care.

[The less-expensive] “bronze” plans on the Obamacare exchanges [often] require the full deductible to be paid before [they] will cover many doctor visits. As the majority of these “affordable” plans carry deductibles in excess of $5,000, this means that this amount must be spent out of pocket before any coverage even kicks in…. these plans are fully compliant with Obamacare, which requires that bronze plans only cover 60 percent of the costs of a typical policyholder.

Preventive services mandated by the ACA to be fully covered, with no co-pay, do not include treatment for an illness such as the flu, or for a minor injury such as a broken bone. Charges could also apply if such medical conditions are discovered and treated during a routine check-up. Many plans also offer limited coverage for some prescription drugs, and it is often next to impossible to determine which medications are included in a plan’s drug formulary.

The end result is that people may either self-ration care out of economic necessity, or could pay out thousands of dollars without receiving a penny in compensation from the private insurers for uncovered visits. In other words, people will pay out of pocket for the privilege of having bare-bones coverage, and may come to the end of 2014 shy of meeting their deductible—when the process begins all over again.

The ACA is, in fact, a counter-reform aimed at reducing and rationing care for the vast majority of ordinary Americans while boosting the profits of the private insurance companies and health care industry…. [The ACA] is of a piece with the entire pro-corporate agenda of the Obama administration.

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What “Citizens United” Wrought

Happy as I am with the themes and execution of Norm Ornstein’s important new book and gratifyingly direct WaPo op-ed, there’s just no forgiving him for his long association with AEI. Nonetheless, here’s an excellent summation of how Citizens United absolutely screwed our already debilitated democracy on January 21, 2008:

By giving corporations free rein to meddle in politics without any accountability required, just like in the robber baron days, and by defining money as speech, the court dealt a body blow to American democracy. Candidates no longer can focus simply on raising money for their campaigns against other candidates. Because corporations have almost unlimited sums they can put in with no notice, candidates have to raise protection money in advance just in case such a campaign is waged against them.

And in many cases, as I have written before, they will pay for protection by quietly giving companies or other interests what they want legislatively to avoid a multimillion-dollar slime campaign against them. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, said there could be no corruption in independent spending. What planet does he live on?

As for money being speech, imagine if your next-door neighbor puts up 50-foot speakers in his yard and blares music at ear-splitting levels and tells you that this is his speech; he is happy to let you listen to your own music on your iPod. The fact that you cannot hear your own music, much less share it with anyone else because you are drowned out is not material to Kennedy or Chief Justice John Roberts.

Filed under citizen's united plutocracy politics campaign finance reform super PACs

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Paul’s vision reveals—with candor and specificity—what the G.O.P.’s rhetorical hostility to government would mean if it were rigorously put into practice. A minimal state, without welfare provisions for the unemployed. A quarter of a million federal workers—as a first installment—joining those unemployed. Foreign policy and national defense reduced to a few ballistic-missile submarines. The civil-rights legislation of the nineteen-sixties repealed as so much unwarranted government intrusion. As for the financial crisis, Paul would have countenanced no regulation that might have prevented it, no government stabilization of the financial system after it happened, and no special help for working people hurt by it. This is where the logic of government-shrinking leads.
Enemy of the State — www.newyorker.com — Readability

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LA Times: Massachusetts Senate race tests feelings about Wall Street

Damn, I want her to win next fall in the worst way.

Warren’s campaign rhetoric wasn’t dreamed up by a political consultant.

The Harvard University law professor has spent years researching the financial struggles of average Americans and said she’s been “protesting Wall Street for a very long time.”

"I think after three years with no accountability, people across this country are madder than ever," Warren said after a Democratic debate at Stonehill College on Dec. 6.

"They’ve watched the people who brought us the financial crisis walk away, and walk away with their pockets stuffed with money. They know that’s not right," she said. "I think it’s a key part of the protests."

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

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Yipe!

Jobs, we learn, was a bully. “He had the uncanny capacity to know exactly what your weak point is, know what will make you feel small, to make you cringe,” a friend of his tells Isaacson. Jobs gets his girlfriend pregnant, and then denies that the child is his. He parks in handicapped spaces. He screams at subordinates. He cries like a small child when he does not get his way. He gets stopped for driving a hundred miles an hour, honks angrily at the officer for taking too long to write up the ticket, and then resumes his journey at a hundred miles an hour. He sits in a restaurant and sends his food back three times. He arrives at his hotel suite in New York for press interviews and decides, at 10 P.M., that the piano needs to be repositioned, the strawberries are inadequate, and the flowers are all wrong: he wanted calla lilies. (When his public-relations assistant returns, at midnight, with the right flowers, he tells her that her suit is “disgusting.”) “Machines and robots were painted and repainted as he compulsively revised his color scheme,” Isaacson writes, of the factory Jobs built, after founding NeXT, in the late nineteen-eighties. “The walls were museum white, as they had been at the Macintosh factory, and there were $20,000 black leather chairs and a custom-made staircase… . He insisted that the machinery on the 165-foot assembly line be configured to move the circuit boards from right to left as they got built, so that the process would look better to visitors who watched from the viewing gallery.”

(Source: newyorker.com)