Beyond the Cusp

June 5, 2014

Only a Puppy Can Save the World

Well, maybe a puppy would not save the world everywhere, but it sure would help in my little corner of the world. We have a world which just a few weeks ago was issuing warnings to Palestinian Chairman Abbas that such an alliance would force them to ostracize him as they would any terrorist leader if he allowed a merger to include Hamas within the Palestinian Authority as Hamas is recognized nearly universally as one of the most serious terror threats. Needless to say, Abbas smiled and continued on to bring not only Hamas into the Palestinian governance but Islamic Jihad as well and it took the world almost all of forty-eight hours to almost universally accept, recognize, agree to work with, continue to fully fund, and start to demand that Israel simply eat their vegetables and also recognize and plan to begin new peace talks with the newly crowned and recognized by a world blind to terrorist if they only attack Israel and that this world that is so ready to recognize a group including Hamas that they will countenance no complaints or protestations from Israel about this small item. Reading about how convinced the European Union is that Hamas had changed despite their strong condemnations of any claim that they now accept Israel or have mitigated their desire to destroy Israel and murder every Jew, the United Nations who claim that since Hamas represents a portion of the Palestinian society that Israel must recognize and take steps to be more inclusive of all portions of Palestinian society, and the United States marveling that the people who have been named to the new interim Palestinian government contain none with names that the United States recognizes as being members of Hamas, as the United States likely has a complete list of members of Hamas and thus can feel assured of this wild speculation, thus American aid can continue and working with the new Palestinian leadership can continue as if nothing has changed and all take this united stand in demanding Israel be just as open and accepting as these stalwarts of all that is civil and acceptable in the world have chosen to be. Times like this is when I used to go sit on the living room floor and make a soft whimper and wait for the puppy to come and assure me everything in the world was simply the way it should be and it still worships me.

 

Then you go on to read more news and it reports that President Putin, Vlad the Invader, has called for another multilateral conference in order to issue another declaration which will facilitate peace in the Ukraine and an end to the civil unrest, actually civil war, and perhaps he will recommend another one of those referendums where the result is often known before the ink dries on the ballots, let alone the voting being held. The problem is that the usual suspects, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations will all put on their happy optimism faces and declare the seriousness and forthright candor expressed by President Putin and declare their oneness with him in the pursuit of peace. The media will cheer this great stride of renewed multilateral efforts to solve this problematic situation and laud the sacrifice and willingness of the leaders of the major powers of the world to find a solution to this difficult problem. Nobody will mention that one from among these leaders, the one also known in some parts as Vlad the Invader, is actually the person most responsible for much of the unrest and violence and the sole individual from the group who has designs and schemes for the future of the Ukraine and has already annexed a large portion of the Ukraine known as the Crimean Peninsula by what were at the time denounced and blatant aggressions that went beyond acceptable behavior. What one might be unable to figure out is whether Putin is the dog and the rest the tail wagging or is this a case of Putin as the tail wagging the dog. Either way, having one’s faithful puppy meet them even after a short trip to get milk at the store taking at most ten minutes but there the puppy is not only wagging its tail but wriggling half its body as well with those bright eyes and the tongue just lazily hanging out the side of its mouth all in a declaration of I am so glad you made it back, I was worried as you were gone longer than I know how to count, pant, pant.

 

There is no news that a puppy cannot provide the necessary soothing of one’s nerves and no depressing reports that a puppy cannot commiserate by laying its head on your lap and tilting it a little to one side just so it can look at you with total devotion. If you are reading about the slow economy and the threat of increasing energy costs which will drive up every other commodities’ price including food, the puppy just seems to be saying that it looks forward to the increased time you will spend with it while the two of you go hunt for tonight’s dinner. No matter the sadness, ridiculousness, insanity, inanity, or any other quality in the news which might cause distress, your puppy provides the necessary amount of affection and appearance of commiseration and understanding that is required to lift one’s spirits and renew one’s faith that really everything has to turn out for the best, after all, the puppy is not worried. I miss my puppy and now just have the memories from that deer in the headlight look to the body wriggles saying you’re home at last, I do miss my old dog. In Memory of Brutus, a pure bred lovable mutt.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 10, 2014

Obamacare has not yet Begun to Strike

We seem to hear of a new calamity attributed to the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, every week if not every few days. One of the latest is from the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) which predicted that there will be two-million fewer full-time workers by 2017 and 2-million-five-hundred-thousand fewer full-time workers by 2024. What has been even more disturbing than the CBO’s reported bad news has been the attempts to soften the impact of the report by the Obama administration and Democrat Party leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The main underlying explanation that this large number of full-time job loss is that it will free people to pursue their other interests since they will no longer be required to hold a job in order to have healthcare. Also on the jobs front, a report from the retail sector found that the average hours worked weekly fell dramatically more and faster than had been expected. This report also predicted that the average retail position will be a twenty-eight hour a week job in order for retail employers to avoid the requirement to provide health insurance for their employees. This is expected to be an epidemic problem most prevalent at the lowest end of scale of hourly workers such as in retail, food service, hospitality industry and other positions which normally pay the minimum wage or slightly above the minimum wage as these employers feel they will be unable to afford to provide health insurance while making a profit without needing to drastically raise prices as higher prices would make their enterprise no longer competitive.

 

The known big lie which President Obama claimed almost incessantly when selling the public his healthcare plan was, “If you like your doctor/health insurance, then you can keep your doctor/health insurance, period.” Less stressed was the other big lie repeated almost as frequently when President Obama exclaimed first made during a State of the Union speech when referring to his healthcare initiatives he stated, “Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.” President Obama was actually correct but not in any manner that could be framed as a good thing as Obamacare was predicted by the GAO (Government Accounting Office), a nonpartisan agency tasked to be the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress, to cause a six-trillion-two-hundred-billion dollar addition to the national deficit. That is definitively not a single dime; it is over sixty-trillion dimes. Then there was President Obama’s promise that insurance premiums would be decreased by his healthcare initiative by two-thousand-five-hundred dollars per family per year. The unfortunate truth has been estimated that the average family healthcare premiums have increased by at least three-thousand dollars. When both the Obama prediction and the reality are combined, the result is that healthcare premiums missed the President’s predictions by a mere five-thousand dollars per family per year, a full two-hundred percent under actual cost error for the President. No matter which way one looks at the costs of Obamacare it has been nothing short of a disaster which promises to make the initial problems appear insignificant when the entirety of the law has been allowed to be implemented.

 

That brings us to another problem, implementation of the legislation which was approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President and then it has been selectively applied with some of the most damning requirements and implementations being put on hold or even repealed due to the financial consequences of allowing them to go into effect as demanded by the law. President Obama has deferred the application of some aspects of the Affordable Care Act such as the employers’ mandate, passed out exemptions to unions and certain other groups who have special access to the President including Congressional staffers if their Representative or Senator saw fit to exempt them, or outright cancelled such as the section which pertained to extended care coverage which proved to be so fiscally demanding that it had to be dropped using a clause injected in the bill by some republicans that demanded that the extended or long time care insurance had to be proven to be deficit neutral or it had to be eliminated from the legislation. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tried every which way she could find and was unable to make this provision come even close to deficit neutral thus it was quashed. It really is a shame that such a clause was not placed in the Obamacare legislation covering the entirety being rescinded if it proved not to be deficit neutral.

 

There is another time bomb ticking away in Obamacare that is also being spun as the opposite of what will inevitably be the result of the clause. Insurance companies supported Obamacare for one very good reason; it provides them with a win-win situation. There is a reimbursement clause which sets up a situation where the insurance providers make an estimate within certain relatively liberal criteria of their expected payout each year. Should their actual payouts exceed their estimates by a certain percentage, then the government will compensate the insurance company for eighty percent of these losses. The clause also has stipulations that should the insurance companies have payouts sufficiently below their estimation, then the government applies an excess profits tax and this is intended to mitigate the payouts. The extended predictions through 2024 show that the government will pay out eight-billion dollars while over the same period the government will take in sixteen-billion dollars which results in an eight-billion dollar profit for the treasury. Excuse my serious reservations but I always get suspect of figures that fit so nicely together that they balance so perfectly and results show multiples of one-hundred percent as this prediction does. Also, does anybody really believe that the insurance companies have accountants, some of the most meticulous and exacting people in the universe, who would produce estimates of expenditures to insured parties knowing that their company will receive an eighty percent reimbursement for any payouts over their estimate and a penalty should payouts fall short of their estimate set their estimate at the higher? Of course not; they would low ball their estimates by as close to ninety-nine and ninety-nine-one-hundredths percent towards the low end. For an example, if the range under the guidelines provided in the Obamacare legislation calculated that their annual payouts could be estimated to be between a low end of five-hundred-billion dollars and a high end of ten-trillion dollars, where would you as an accountant for the insurance company place your estimate, at nine-trillion dollars risking an overestimate and penalty or closer to five-hundred-fifty-billion dollars and most probably receive a bailout reimbursement for excess payments to insured account holders. My suspicions is that there will be very few if any insurance company financial predictions of expected payouts that will be an overestimation rather than an underestimation. Expect the Federal Government to be reimbursing health insurance companies by very significant amounts year after year without ever bothering to investigate how such a situation could have come into being. They set this in the legislation knowing full well what the end results were going to be and honestly expected to use this as exactly what it is, a bribe to get the insurance companies on board. We can also expect at some point the government to withdraw this safety net leading to numerous health insurance companies either going out of business or nearly doubling already higher premiums in order to assure they do not go broke any faster than avoidable. That is not to claim their health is expected to be good enough for them to survive in the long run as the real aim of Obamacare is to destroy sufficient amounts of the healthcare industries as to make a government run, single-payer healthcare system appear desirable to the majority of the American population.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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