Saturday, September 19, 2009


First a little update on cost cutting -- this story about insurance's refusal to treat an underlying problem is a good example of what I was talking about in yesterday's post, as is this mea culpa from an insurance industry middle-manager. Pull-out quote: "...while your readers are being charged $50 for asprin; my company employs an entire department just to shuffle bills around while they decide what they will pay the hospital for that asprin." Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Dakota, which has an over 90% market share for the entire state, effectively making it the state's only insurer, was audited today, and predictably found to be paying out huge bonuses, sponsoring vacation travel for employees, and throwing lavish parties with customers' health care dollars. The CEO's reaction: "We will correct areas that need to be corrected." If a government employee did this, they'd be in jail. Postal worker steals less than $1000? Jail. Steal $100,000? More jail.

As it turns out, the pants-on-fire-false estimate of 1 to 1.5 million protesters at the Tea Party protest was made on stage at the protests by FreedomWorks chair Matt Kibbe. ABC News, which Kibbe had claimed was his source, ran an article the next day pointing out that they had never said such a thing, and in fact their estimates were in the "tens of thousands". The comment we got here ten minutes after the article was published makes me feel like there was something more at work than bad math or a Tea Partier reading the paper without his bifocals. I know I reneged on my promise to do an article on Dick Armey, but Bill Moyers did it for me, and he used pictures instead of word-pictures.

In other tea party news, the fine folks of the Objectivist organization FIRM were out at the Tea Party rallies, handing out flyers, giving speeches and trying to swim in the sea of the anti-government, anti-tax demonstrators. As you can see further down the page in the comments to that link, though, this is causing some significant division among the Objectivist ranks -- because Ayn Rand and most real Objectivists are atheist (one might even say ideologically anti-Christian), rationalist (by which I mean to say they consider themselves rationalists), anti-war, and anti-Patriot Act types, all of which they pretty much have to hide when they go to right-wing libertarian/neoconservative/fundamentalist organizations to speak.

Joe Lieberman's election chances aren't looking so good -- he's polling third in his district after a flash poll of possible opposition. This makes a lot of sense, considering that Connecticut favors the public option 68% to 21%, and Lieberman basically opposes it on the strength of insurance industry donations. Eyes on the prize, buddy -- which enormous corporation will you land in after your voters send you home?

Finally, did an overview of the numbers on public support for health care reform, and it's practically tied -- with a small decrease in the 'strongly oppose' and a small increase in the 'strongly support' columns over the last few weeks.

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