Real News; Fake News

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Sadly, Free Market Health Care May be Impossible

Despite being a “grumpy sort of libertarian” I’m not entirely unsympathetic to the concept of some sort of single payer system in some form. Free market health care would be ideal. It also seems impossible. The vast weight of state and corporate interests pushing against a true free market system seems impenetrable.

Free market health care can’t work when the prices for everything are hidden from end consumers behind co-pays, insurance policies, medicare, etc. The only way to possibly introduce real free market reforms into healthcare is to force prominent upfront disclosure of prices of drugs and services to consumers so they can actually know what they are paying instead of hiding costs behind impenetrable walls of health insurance payments, medicare billing, co-pays unrelated to real costs, and drug prices that are never posted anywhere for consumers to see.

Even that would likely not be enough. Being able to pick from just a handful of insurance plans (or having to take or leave what one’s employer provides) does not give consumers enough power to really drive the free market’s power. Due to Medicare, Medicaid, military and the VA health care, Federal and State employee heath care—not to mention numerous state and municipal health care programs—government influence already dominates the health care market. Add to that millions of people who’s choice of health care is dictated by their employer with no input from them, save for the choice to change jobs.

I’ve often thought a national single-payer major medical/catastrophic insurance plan might be something that could fly politically. A national plan that takes over when total expenses exceed 10,000 USD or something. (I define “major medical/catastrophic” as expenses relating to a single medical condition and its sequelae.) Is this the answer? I don’t know. There does not seem to be the will to make real free market reforms, and the current situation with the Republicans are trying to patch Obamacare to make it palatable to the various interest groups who have paid them off over the years, is no fix.

As it stands, the current US health care system (with Obamacare and everything else) stacks the deck in favor of people who are connected to the government/corporate insurance programs, leaving small businesses and their employees, the self-employeed, and entrepreneurs out in the cold. They are stuck with vastly overpriced health insurance—or even worse, no health insurance—and a government ready to fine (sorry, “tax”, thank you John Roberts) them for the crime of being too poor to afford a crappy Obamacare Bronze plan. The type of health care which is precisely the sort of “fake insurance” that the Democrats railed against in their campaign for Obamacare—and insurance that costs most families nearly as much as their rent or house payment each month.

CNN Continues to Beclown Itself

The good news is no one at CNN has eaten bits of human brain this week. However, they did run the following story:

As usual, watch this quickly before CNN uses the DMCA to have it yanked off YouTube because it makes them look like idiots. If you are too late, here’s a screen capture from the story:

CNN, don’t ever change…

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

In US politics, a constant refrain from the political left (and often the right, as well) is why can’t the US government provide services and benefits that even right-of-center governments offer their citizens in other nations. Things like single payer healthcare, longer unemployment benefits, free or reduced cost college tuition and fees, shorter work weeks, more holidays, paid family leave, economic development incentives, lower national debt, tax breaks, etc.

Part of the answer is that the US government is limited by the Constitution to a set of Enumerated Powers. But that’s only a small part of it. Thanks to the power of Interstate Commerce Clause Magic Pixie Dust, those Enumerated Powers are routinely ignored by politicians of all parties.

The real reason is this:

Above is a map from Mental Floss based on this table:

These are 67 nations in the world that the United States has committed
to go to war

to defend. There are around 195 counties in the world, and the US has pledged to stand behind over one-third of them. Keep in mind this list does not include a good number of nations that we don’t have defense pacts with, but would defend due to our national interest (like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia).

So the next time you see a chart like this:

…and wonder why the hell we spend so damn much money on the military, compared to everyone else, remember the map and table above, and you will have your answer.

But don’t dare question our national priorities, or why some nations might think of the US as a threat. If you do that, you are clearly working for Vladimir Putin. And if you should suggest that some of the nations we have pledged to defend should shoulder more of the burden, well then… you are just an unsophisticated idiot like Donald Trump, ignorant of the history and nuances of American foreign policy.

Democracy Dies in Georgia Italic

Unless CNN has produces another cannibal reporter, I promise the next post will not be about the media.

The Washington Post recently added a new slogan to their masthead:

Presumably prompted by all those stupid voters who elected the wrong person President, the Post is now proudly proclaiming themselves the protector of American Democracy.

Couldn’t hurt, I suppose.

A company needs a mission statement, after all. I liked Google’s original “Don’t Be Evil” before they updated it to “Evil Is Relative” and then most recently to “Build Skynet”.

However the sheer pretentiousness of the Post’s new slogan makes it eminently mockable. And mocked it was—both on the right and the left. Below are my small contributions to the pointing and laughing:

If you want to join in the fun (though belatedly) just screen capture the Post’s logo from their home page, bring it into Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, or Gimp, erase “Democracy Dies in Darkness” and set your font to: Georgia Italic; Text Width: 101%; Tracking: -5%; Anti-Alias Setting: Windows.

CNN Cannibal Apocalypse!

This was supposed to
be a blog post about Fox News. A friend on Twitter (Hi @veggie64_leslie) had suggested I do
one of my media critique posts about how brain-dead stupid Fox can be. I’d been gathering examples along with lots of blog-friendly
photos and then…

A CNN correspondent
ate a piece of a human brain on TV.

I am not making this 
up.

In a recent episode
of CNN’s series “Believer with Reza Aslan”, CNN correspondent
Reza Aslan, visits a bizarre, extreme (and very tiny) sect of Hindus, the
Aghori, and joins them in the ritual consumption of the cooked human
brain of a deceased sect member. Which was videoed and broadcast.

Then
Reza Aslan

went on social 
media
(of course)

to boast about it:

image
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There are a lot of
different Hindu groups made of of perfectly reasonable people Reza Aslan could have visited. He did not
feature any of those. The Aghori are in no way normal Hindus. They
are considered freaks and heretics by Hindus. They are as far from
the mainstream of Hinduism as ISIS is from normal Sunni Islam.

Later during filming, the
Aghori guru grew angry with
Reza Aslan, threw feces at him, and threatened to cut off his head, thereby demonstrating that there are thing that even cannibal freaks will not put up with—such as CNN.

It occurs to me that the next time
anyone asks President Trump why he refuses to treat CNN like a real news
organization, all he has to say is “remember when one of their
reporters ate a piece of a dead person’s brain on TV?”, and
most sensible people will forced to nod their heads and agree that
CNN isn’t really a news organization, after all.

Meanwhile, some dumb things Fox News has done:

image

Romney was looking quite tanned in that photo, wasn’t he?

image

All those Nordic types look the same, right?

image

Fox News is also famously bad at math

image

Really bad at math.

Fox news is also bad at geography.

Bad enough at geography to mislabel Iraq (a country we’ve invaded two times in twenty years) as Egypt (a country on a completely different continent).

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And sometimes just kind of dumb.

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Really dumb.

On the other hand, I’m certain zero Fox News correspondents have ever eaten a piece of human brain on the air. They do have that going for them.