Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 02:04 PM
Number of posts: 71,172
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 02:04 PM
Number of posts: 71,172
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The National Security Agency routinely intercepts children’s letters to Santa, internal agency documents have revealed.
The documents describe an operation known as MILK COOKIES, based out of Fort Meade and run in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service. COOKIES is the interception of the letters while MILK feeds them through a complex series of algorithms to spot any hidden messages.
Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander had previously testified to Congress in 2011 that the NSA would occasionally collect letters addressed to Santa, but insisted that it was totally accidental and that no one was actually reading or storing them.
The NSA is prohibited from directly monitoring American citizens under both Executive Order 12333 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. However, because the letters are addressed to the North Pole, which falls outside of U.S. territory, they are considered potential foreign intelligence signals which the NSA is authorized to intercept.
Read more: http://www.duffelblog.com/2013/12/nsa-letters-to-santa/#ixzz2pH26EHT1
I THINK THIS IS TONGUE-IN-CHEEK SATIRE, BUT WHO CAN TELL, NOWADAYS?
Posted by Demeter | Thu Jan 2, 2014, 03:10 PM (3 replies)
My Christmas holiday frequently includes a series of reunions with other former CIA people, often grouped by the overseas stations that we served in. This year the Istanbul gathering preceded Spain and the Rome Station ca. 1980 soon followed. Some of the retirees are still working for the government as contractors so I try to keep a low profile at such functions, rarely asking questions about what anyone might be doing and seldom venturing into any detailed critiques of current government policy. But sometimes my wife and I find the occasional gung ho expressions of solidarity with torturers and drone operators to be just a bit too much and we are forced to react.
My former colleagues are politically a mixed bag, mostly Republicans but with a considerable number of Democrats, some of whom are fairly progressive regarding domestic politics and social programs. Working overseas for some bosses who would kill their own mothers to get promoted has made most of them quite cynical about how CIA operates and how policy is shaped, but they nevertheless regard their time in harness as a dirty job that someone had to do and they take pride in that fact. They are also fairly monolithic in their views of "traitors" like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, not because they support NSA spying (they do not) but because in their reckoning both would-be whistleblowers far exceeded any reasonable limits in their exposures of classified information.
This all sometimes translates into fairly hardline views regarding what is going on in the world. This Christmas I was informed that drones are the only good mechanism for offing those terrorists hiding in the mountains of Pakistan and I heard no less than three times that "We are the good guys," which must be the latest last line of defense when all other arguments have failed. When I commented that it is hard to be a good guy when you are killing American citizens without any trial and wiping out wedding parties the response was vague, as if I were suggesting something that has not really been established or for which there is some other back story that might explain the activity. When I asked the Sarah Palinesque wife of a former case officer how a guy in a beard and turban hiding in a cave along the Pakistan frontier could conceivably threaten the United States the response was something like a shrug.
What bothers me particularly is that the former intelligence officers are, generally speaking, not only well-educated but also experienced in living overseas and dealing with foreign languages and cultures. Many of them are practicing Catholics, some of whom take their religion very seriously indeed. So they are not Michelle Bachmann type ignorant bigots, which means that they should know better. I asked one, "Why do we have a constitution if the president can kill whomever he wants?" There was no response as if the question itself were irrelevant...
Posted by Demeter | Thu Jan 2, 2014, 03:07 PM (0 replies)
Posted by Demeter | Thu Jan 2, 2014, 02:47 PM (8 replies)
Unless something goes unexpectedly wrong in 2014, the level of real per capita GDP in the United States will match and exceed its 2007 level. That is not good news. To see why, consider that, during the two business cycles that preceded the 2007 downturn, the US economy’s real per capita GDP grew at a 2% average annual pace; indeed, for a century or so, the US economy’s real per capita GDP grew at that rate. So US output is now seven years – 14% – below the level that was reasonably expected back in 2007. And there is nothing on the horizon that would return the US economy to – or even near – its growth path before the 2008 financial crisis erupted. The only consolation – and it is a bleak consolation indeed – is that Europe and Japan are doing considerably worse relative to the 2007 benchmark.
The US economy’s annual per capita underperformance in 2014 will thus amount to $9,000. That means $9,000 per person per year in consumer durables not purchased, vacations not taken, investments not made, and so forth. By the end of 2014, the cumulative per capita waste from the crisis and its aftermath will total roughly $60,000. If we project that forward – with nothing visible to restore the US to its pre-2008 growth path – at the annual real discount rate of 6% that we apply to equity earnings, the future costs are $150,000 per capita. If we use the 1.6% annual real discount rate at which the US Treasury can borrow via 30-year inflation-protected Treasuries, the future per capita costs are $550,000. And if we combine the costs of idle workers and capital during the downturn and the harm done to the US economy’s future growth path, the losses reach 3.5-10 years of total output.
That is a higher share of America’s productive capabilities than the Great Depression subtracted – and the US economy is 16 times larger than it was in 1928 (5.5 times larger in per capita terms). So, unless something – and it will need to be something major – returns the US to its pre-2008 growth trajectory, future economic historians will not regard the Great Depression as the worst business-cycle disaster of the industrial age. It is we who are living in their worst case. One would think that such a macroeconomic disaster – one that robs the average American family of four of $36,000 per year in useful goods and services, and that threatens to keep Americans poorer than they might have been for decades, if not longer – would focus policymakers’ minds. One would think that America’s leaders would be clambering to formulate policies aimed at returning the economy to its pre-2008 growth path: putting people back to work, cleaning up underwater mortgages, restoring financial markets’ risk-bearing capacity, and boosting investment. But no. Part of the reason is that, at the top, there is no crisis. According to the best estimates, the income share of America’s top 10% probably crossed 50% in 2012 for the first time ever, and the 22% income share that went to the top 1% was exceeded only in 2007, 2006, and 1928. The incomes of America’s top 10% are two-thirds higher than those of their counterparts 20 years ago, while the incomes of the top 1% have more than doubled.
Those who fall into the top strata thus regard themselves as doing well in the current US economy. And indeed they are. Only those who spend more time talking to competent macroeconomists than is healthy know that they could be doing even better if the economy were rebalanced at full employment. So the absence of distress among America’s top 10% and its top 1% – and hence political pressure for measures to return the economy to its pre-2008 growth path – is understandable. But, for everyone else – roughly 90% of the US population – there has been no jump in income share relative to ten or 20 years ago to offset what now looks to be a permanent lost decade. On the contrary, the bottom 90% has continued to lose ground.
When income inequality began to rise in the 1980’s and 1990’s, those of us who cut our teeth on the long march of North Atlantic history expected to see a political reaction. Democratic politics, we thought, would check the rising power of a largely parasitic economic over-class, especially if its influence caused governments to fail to live up to their commitments to provide full employment with increasing – and increasingly shared – prosperity. After all, in early-nineteenth-century Britain, growing inequality caused by the Industrial Revolution gave rise to movements for government regulation in the interests of the middle and working classes, and for a rebalancing of real incomes away from rich landlords. Similarly, the Great Depression produced enormous political pressure for reform and change (often for destructive and dangerous change, to be sure, but pressure nonetheless). Why can’t America launch similar movements today? To the extent that this has become a valid question, most Americans should be as worried today about the quality of their democracy as they are about the inequality of their incomes.
Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/j--bradford-delong-asks-why-americans-are-not-clamoring-for-polices-that-would-leave-90--of-them-better-off#Dvtd0oRG3jo6VZzp.99
Posted by Demeter | Wed Jan 1, 2014, 11:22 AM (0 replies)
I'LL BET THEY ARE! BET THEY FEEL LIKE REAL DOOFUSES, TOO.
Security researcher Jacob Appelbaum dropped a bombshell of sorts earlier this week when he accused American tech companies of placing government-friendly backdoors in their devices. Now Texas-based Dell Computers is offering an apology.
Or to put it more accurately, Dell told an irate customer on Monday that they “regret the inconvenience” caused by selling to the public for years a number of products that the intelligence community has been able to fully compromise in complete silence up until this week.
Dell, Apple, Western Digital and an array of other Silicon Valley-firms were all name-checked during Appelbaum’s hour-long presentation Monday at the thirtieth annual Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany. As RT reported then, the 30-year-old hacker-cum-activist unveiled before the audience at the annual expo a collection of never-before published National Security Agency documents detailing how the NSA goes to great lengths to compromise the computers and systems of groups on its long list of adversaries.
Spreading viruses and malware to infect targets and eavesdrop on their communications is just one of the ways the United States’ spy firm conducts surveillance, Appelbaum said. Along with those exploits, he added, the NSA has been manually inserting microscopic computer chips into commercially available products and using custom-made devices like hacked USB cables to silently collect intelligence. One of the most alarming methods of attack discussed during his address, however, comes as a result of all but certain collusion on the part of major United States tech companies. The NSA has information about vulnerabilities in products sold by the biggest names in the US computer industry, Appelbaum said, and at the drop off a hat the agency has the ability of launching any which type of attack to exploit the flaws in publically available products. The NSA has knowledge pertaining to vulnerabilities in computer servers made by Dell and even Apple’s highly popular iPhone, among other devices, Appelbaum told his audience.
“Hey Dell, why is that?” Appelbaum asked. “Love to hear your statement about that.”
MORE, AN ENDLESS SUPPLY...
Posted by Demeter | Tue Dec 31, 2013, 07:46 PM (1 replies)
It's the time of the social calendar, when we kick back, let down our hair (if we have any), and tell the recent past to "get lost" while we look forward to rescue, redemption, and validation in the coming 365.
What will the New Year bring? More than you can stand, so just take it one day at a time, please!
We are featuring Bernie Green and his orchestra. He was MY introduction to jazz, Bernie Green Plays More Than You Can Stand. I may even have the vinyl in my garage, as my inheritance...It will have to get a lot warmer before I go looking for it!
A NOTE ON OTHER ASPECTS:
I've just had a brick wall experience in another group...evidently, we have "valid" and "Invalid" news sources....even when you are posting a OPINION COLUMN.
I may, in the fashion of Crocodile Dundee, go walkabout...for 18 months or so. I do not suffer fools. And I think there are too many of them, lately. I cannot imagine what the next election cycle will be like, when this kind of proto-fascist idiocy is already running riot around here.
On the other hand, since the topic was the poisonous effects of Fukushima, I will AGAIN have the dubious pleasure of "I TOLD YOU SO", when "mainstream" MSM ever catches up to those who fixate on something that doesn't involve "twerking" or "number of gullible souls enrolled in rapacious insurance scams by the ACA".
To the New Year, I say:
I love saying I told you so. It's my favorite phrase. But for some reason people don't seem to appreciate it when I say it to them. I haven't figured out why. Anything that gives me that much pleasure must give other people pleasure too, right?
Posted by Demeter | Tue Dec 31, 2013, 04:04 PM (68 replies)
Radiation? Seals, Sea Lions, Polar Bears, Bald Eagles, Sea Stars, Turtles, King & Sockeye Salmon, Herring, Anchovies and Sardines In The Western Part of North America All Suffering Mysterious Diseases At the Same Time
Is Fukushima Decimating Wildlife in the Western Portion of North America?
We’ve previous documented that seals, sea lions, polar bears, sea stars, turtles, sockeye salmon, herring, anchovies and sardines on the West Coast of North America are all suffering mysterious diseases … which are killing many.
We’ve asked whether this is related to massive releases of radiation from Fukushima. Update at link.
Sadly, we can now add other wildlife to the list.
Los Angeles Times, Dec. 29, 2013: Bald eagles are dying in Utah — 20 in the past few weeks alone — and nobody can figure out why. Many suffered from seizures, head tremors and paralysis Many of the eagles were brought to the mammoth Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah Within 48 hours, most were dead. State wildlife specialists are baffled. For weeks, officials have sent birds for necropsies At first, the agency’s disease scientists guessed the illness could be encephalitis, which is caused by the West Nile virus, but later ruled out that possibility. Officials suggest the die-off is possibly connected to the deaths of thousands of eared grebes that began in Utah in November. Officials still don’t know why the shore birds became sick. Officials at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center have their own theories. Some point to radiation from Japan after the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. A call from Idaho shed new light: A wildlife official said bald eagles there were also getting sick, suggesting the birds were arriving in Utah already in bad health.
Buz Marthaler, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah co-founder: “It’s just hard to have your national bird in your arms, going through seizures in a way it can’t control — when you can see it’s pain but don’t know what’s happening to it. As a human being, you just have problems with that. And when you lose one, it just grabs your heart. In an average year, we might get one or two, but we’ve received nine so far, and five of those have died. The other four are still in our care. We aren’t ruling out anything.”
Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2013: “This is really concerning to us,” says . She has been program coordinator for 10 years and describes the recent deaths as “very unusual.” The symptoms noted in the recent spate of deaths—and the broad geographical area in which they have cropped up—are what has officials concerned.
Listen to the public news service report here: LINK AT OP
In a second article, EneNews notes:
Juneau Empire, Dec. 29, 2013: the king salmon — has fallen from its throne. Alaska has seen unprecedented declines in recent years scientists like Joe Orsi and Jim Murphy, both fisheries research biologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are digging deeper into the cause of the startling downward trend. When asked about the potential impact Fukushima may be having on king salmon stocks in the Gulf of Alaska and elsewhere in the state, Orsi would not comment. “I’ve been told to refer you to the (Environmental Protection Agency),” he said, “Because I’m not an expert on the topic.” Calls and emails to the EPA were not returned in time and digging on the federal agency’s site revealed no current information on radiation from the Fukushima disaster. The last posted monitoring results occurred in June of 2011.
Unfortunately, the American and Japanese governments are doing everything they can to cover up the severity of the Fukushima disaster. Indeed, anytime government or big corporations screw up, the government works to cover it up … instead of actually fixing the problem. And see this AT LINK.
Bellingham Herald, Dec. 5, 2013: “ we see from test fisheries that the Chinook numbers returning to the Fraser River system were at a record low,” explained Ken Balcomb, executive director and principal investigator for The Center for Research and a science advisor to the whale watch association. alarming decrease of an important identified food resource
Islander Sound, Dec. 25, 2013: dismal return of Chinook salmon to the Fraser River.
Salmon Fishing in British Columbia, Canada: There are two major salmon runs of Chinook that are targeted by anglers; the Fraser river Harrison River.
December 2013: Previously unpublished map from gov’t scientists shows Fukushima plume already at Alaska coast (PHOTO)
November 2013: CBC Headline: Radiation from Fukushima arrives on Alaska coast — University scientists concerned — “Is the food supply safe?… I don’t think anyone can really answer that”
September 2013: US Gov’t: Alaska island “appears to show impacts from Fukushima” — “Significant cesium isotope signature” detected — Scientists anticipate more marine life to be impacted as ocean plume arrives (VIDEO)
CORROBORATING LINKS AT OP
Posted by Demeter | Tue Dec 31, 2013, 10:40 AM (18 replies)
Whose ignorance? Well, mine, for one.
There's a quiet joy spreading the nation, as news of the failure of UPS and FedEx to deliver Xmas on time is contrasted with the US Postal Service's steady, reliable, unionized service. The postal workers came through, just like the unofficial motto says--there's no official motto, but there's an inscription on the James Farley Post Office at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street in New York City that reads:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Here's how the official Web site of the U.S. Postal Service describes the origin of the inscription:
This inscription was supplied by William Mitchell Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the architects who designed the New York General Post Office. Kendall said the sentence appears in the works of Herodotus and describes the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers, and the sentence describes the fidelity with which their work was done. Professor George H. Palmer of Harvard University supplied the translation, which he considered the most poetical of about seven translations from the Greek.
The James A. Farley Post Office Building is the main post office building in New York City. Its ZIP code designation is 10001, and it is commonly addressed on letters as JAF Station. Built in 1912, the building is famous for bearing the inscription: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." In 1982, the post office was officially designated The James A. Farley Building, as a monument and testament to the political career of the nation's 53rd Postmaster General. The Farley Post Office is home to "Operation Santa", made famous in the classic 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street and it is the inspiration for the post office in Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, with its "Glom of nit" legend.
The Farley Building consists of the old general post office building and its western annex. The Farley building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and occupies two full city blocks, an 8-acre (32,000 m2) footprint straddling the tracks of the Northeast Corridor and the Farley Corridor (sub-district B) in western Midtown Manhattan. The building fronts on the west side of Eighth Avenue, across from Pennsylvania Station and Madison Square Garden. It is located at 421 Eighth Avenue, between 31st Street and 33rd Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan.
The Farley Post Office once held the distinction of being the only Post Office in New York City open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But in 2009, due to the economic downturn, its windows began to close at 10:00 p.m.
This building has a great and unique history.
But, so does the Institution! We shall learn more about the USPS this Weekend, along with the usual economic claptrap...
Posted by Demeter | Fri Dec 27, 2013, 05:43 PM (85 replies)
... On another, saner planet, you might expect the strategists of a major political party to hear out a proposal to make the most popular spending program of the past century or so available to more people. You’d also think that said strategists would understand, on a purely political calculus, that it’s a good idea to reinforce the honorable Democratic origins of Social Security in the minds of voters who have precious little else to induce them to vote their pocketbooks in coming election cycles. But you would, of course, be wrong. That’s because the Democratic establishment is an all-but wholly owned subsidiary of Washington’s interlocking lobbying, consulting and pundit classes. These operators are devotees of the catechism that entitlement spending simply must be reined in at every conceivable other cost—and that making the difficult, grown-up decision to do just that renders one a Responsible Political Leader with the bona fides to lounge about in David Gregory’s Green Room.
So it was with the brio of genuine Democratic Grown-ups that Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler, respectively the president and senior policy executive for the center-right Democratic think tank Third Way, took to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal to hammer away at the refrain that the principles of economic populism, as embodied in Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s modest plan to increase Social Security benefits to keep better pace with inflation, are simply “disastrous.” Warren would pay for the increase by raising taxes on the wealthy, they wail. Worse, they argue, increasing federal spending on dread “entitlements” would beggar other progressive Democratic causes, like more robust spending on the nation’s aging infrastructure...But wonder of wonders, Cowen and Kessler’s faux-adult posturing—which was but the latest entry in Washington’s never-ending pageant of fiscal-restraint display, from the Gramm-Rudman balanced-budget act of 1985 to 2011’s imbecilic Simpson-Bowles “grand bargain” on spending—was called out with unusual vigor by actual economic populists. Progressives United, the political action committee founded by former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, sent out a heated round of donor appeals, with subject headings like “Who Do These People Think They Are?”—and then supplied the impolitic answer: “Third Way is a corporate-funded ‘Democratic’ organization that took to the Wall Street Journal to attack Elizabeth Warren and progressives for fighting to expand Social Security and make the wealthy pay their fair share.” Warren, for her part, threatened to fully expose the corporate donors behind Third Way via a call for Wall Street titans to disclose their expenditures on think tanks—a proposition that would likely be more than a little embarrassing to the group. As Lee Fang has reported at The Nation, Third Way counts two big-ticket Romney donors on its board, Daniel Loeb and Derek Kaufman, and has contracted out consulting work to the corporate lobbying behemoth Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart, which has a vast range of boodlers on its client roster, from the health-care giant Humana to the PhRMA trade association to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. It’s a galactic understatement to say that these organizations are none too keen on seeing tax hikes fund a wide swath of income benefits to the nation’s hard-pressed middle and working classes.
It’s too much to hope, of course, that this glimpse into D.C.’s standard-issue policy-racketeering could serve as a teachable moment, driving home for a genuine populist Democratic constituency the disgraceful folly of self-enamored Beltway centrism. That’s particularly regrettable these days, since more impartial assessments of the impact of Great Society liberalism show that its central income guarantees not only remain quite popular politically but have proven quite successful as social policy. This view flies in the face of a whole generation’s worth of Reaganite propaganda seeking to discredit the many vital legacies of the New Deal—but the record, as reported by a team of Columbia University researchers, shows that safety net programs caused the actual rate of poverty in the United States to decrease from 26 percent in 1967 to 12 percent in 2012 and, strikingly, that the expansion of protections like unemployment insurance after the 2008 economic meltdown prevented a significant uptick in poverty despite our job-starved, austerity-addled “recovery.”
Indeed, on closer inspection, the entire centrist Democrat campaign of scaremongering about social spending pales into little more than a pipsqueak’s tantrum. In one bite-sized bit of budget alarmism, Cowen and Kessler complain that in the balmier economic conditions of the 1960s, Washington spent $3 on infrastructure for every dollar it laid out for income benefits like Social Security—and that ratio has now more than reversed, with $5 spent on entitlements for each lousy dollar on infrastructure improvements. But this disparity, which Cowen and Kessler trumpet as a sign of approaching Armageddon, turns out, like so many sky-is-falling spending laments, to be nothing of the sort. The “flipped” ratios here look so startling mainly because two of the main drivers of entitlement spending, Medicare and Medicaid, were not up and running until the late 1960s—i.e. the decade that serves as the baseline of optimal spending comparison for our Third Way shills. The Social Security trust fund, which reliably shows surpluses based on tax receipts and bond revenues, is in precisely no imminent fiscal danger. And Medicare spending, the program most battered by revenue shortfalls, has lately trended below projected outlays by, oh, a half-a-trillion dollars. What’s more, such cost reductions in the program should gain additional momentum as this country finally adopts something like universal health coverage, however slowly and oafishly it elects to do so. In short, the only livelihoods credibly threatened by expanded spending on income supports are those enjoyed by the likes of Cowan, Kessler and other professional alarmists of the punditocracy. They don’t need to worry much, though, by the looks of things. In the recent ballyhooed bipartisan deal on the federal budget, Congress is gearing up to slash some $25 billion in benefits for the long-term unemployed. Call it the Third Way agenda, or the One Percenters’ rule—it’s all just business as usual on Planet Washington.
Chris Lehmann, a contributing editor of In These Times, is an editor of Book Forum and the Baffler and the author of Rich People Things (Haymarket, 2011). He is now working on a book about American religion and the money culture.
Posted by Demeter | Thu Dec 26, 2013, 11:48 PM (0 replies)
Did you know that if you never get sick, you'll pay more in premiums than you'll get in benefits? Damn those lucky duckies with cancer!...The only people who come out ahead in dollars and cents on insurance are those people who have had terrible things happen to them. What the rest of us are buying, as any insurance salesman will tell you, is peace of mind....
It's been said to the point of becoming cliche that once Democrats passed significant health-care reform, they'd "own" everything about the American health-care system for good or ill. For some time to come, people will blame Barack Obama for health-care problems he had absolutely nothing to do with. But there's a corollary to that truism we're seeing play out now, which is that what used to be just "a sucky thing that happened to me" or "something about the way insurance works that I don't particularly like"—things that have existed forever—are now changing into issues, matters that become worthy of media attention and are attributed to policy choices, accurately or not. Before now, millions of Americans had health insurance horror stories. But they didn't have an organizing narrative around them, particularly one the news media would use as a reason to tell them.
The latest has to do with the provider networks that insurance companies put together. This is something insurance companies have done for a long time, because it enables them to limit costs. If an insurer has a lot of customers in an area, it can say to doctors, "We'll put you in our provider network, giving you access to all our customers. But we only pay $50 for an office visit. Take it or leave it." An individual doctor might think that it's less than she'd like to be paid, but she needs those patients, so she'll say yes. Or she might decide that she has enough loyal patients to keep her business running, and she wants to charge $100 for an office visit, so she'll say no. So every year, doctors move in and out of those private-provider networks, and the insurers adjust what they pay for various visits and procedures, and inevitably some people find that their old doctor is no longer in their network. Or they change jobs and find the same thing when they get new insurance. And that can be a hassle.
But now they have someone new to blame: not the insurance company that established the network, and not the doctor that chose not to be a part of it, but Barack Obama. It's not just my hassle, it's a national issue. As Politico reported, "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said to reporters on Tuesday that the 'fundamentally flawed' health care law is 'causing people to lose the doctor of their choice.' Chief GOP investigator Darrell Issa has launched a House probe into the doctor claim. And House Republicans have highlighted the physician predicament in their weekly GOP addresses." So to reiterate: Your insurance company set terms for its network that your doctor didn't like. Your doctor decided not to be in that network. And that, of course, is Barack Obama's fault.
Before we move on, there's something we should note. You know who never loses their doctor? People who have single-payer insurance, that's who. If you live in pretty much any other industrialized country in the world, you don't have to worry whether your doctor accepts the national health plan that insures you and everyone else, because every doctor accepts it. Even here in America, there are people who almost never have to worry about losing their doctor: the elderly people who benefit from America's single-payer plan, Medicare. Despite their constant gripes about payment levels, 90 percent of doctors accept Medicare, because there are just too many Medicare patients and doctors don't want to be shut out of that business.
To get back to the place we started, it can seem now that people are saying for the first time, "Wait a minute! Insurance is a raw deal! I mean, Obamacare is a raw deal!" And the media are doing their part by running stories that characterize the side effects of the private insurance market, like limited networks of doctors or the fact that less expensive plans have higher deductibles, as something new that's occurring only because of the Affordable Care Act. But they aren't. If you want to have a system of private health insurers, that's how it has worked in the past, and that's how it will continue to work. If you really want to be free of those problems, you'll have to wait until you're 65 and can join the big-government, socialist plan called Medicare.
Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.
Posted by Demeter | Thu Dec 26, 2013, 11:41 PM (0 replies)