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Suicide Is NOT Painless

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I've not written much the last few months due to having to deal with the medical issues of various family members and friends. Being involved with these cases has brought me face to face with two of Obama's most egregious failures to date. How? Which ones? There ARE so many!

Read on. I have to set the table first.

Over twenty years ago, a friend was audited by the IRS. Settling that debt required his selling everything he owned, including his home. He couldn't face up to that responsibility, telling us that he was going to kill himself because he couldn't take the pressure (from the shame of losing status in a consumer society?) anymore. It took two tries but he succeeded, dumping his federal financial fiasco on his poor parents, who were grief-stricken that they let their son talk them into releasing him from a locked facility after the first attempt so he could die by his own hand.

Just recently, another friend began making very similar statements (I take these remarks very seriously after my experience cited above, and am an active part of an attempt to rescue her from her personal depression). In her case, she had re-mortgaged her home every time one of her alcoholic siblings got into tight financial straits and needed a bailout, until they owed her about twice what her home is now worth. That's the thanks you get for rescuing the unraisable! Her last lender was Countrywide, which is now a division of B of A (a major recipient of Obama's TARP gift monies intended to help folks like her). B of A is giving her the runaround instead of discussing what they might do for her. First the excuse was she wasn't late on her payments – until she was just this last month. Then the excuse became she hadn't missed a payment – which is coming soon. They also tell her that once this happens, she will be on a waiting list until they can get to her, as much as 45-180 days. This bait-and-evade-until-foreclosure game is killing her.

And for this Obama squandered the national treasure? For this, Obama obligated all of the American taxpayers to cover the debts of those rash greedheads who created this mess in the first place? What justifies making them even wealthier in trade for them NOT dealing with the mortgage problems of those like my friend, whose desperate needs drove them to make poor economic decisions? We should have let the banks jump off the ledge for all the good such extended indenture has produced! We as a nation would probably be much better off! There would then be huge government credits not wasted in the latest round of executive bonuses available to redeem the bad mortgages, a beneficial effect which would have eased the national economic distress according to yet another friend who is in real estate.

But getting back to my distressed and inverted friend, let's say she did make an attempt to die (she hasn't as of post time) and failed. She would have to be hospitalized, at least for mental if not physical injuries. The prospects for her wouldn't be good from what I've seen. I've now spent extended periods of time in four different hospitals in various places in the nation so far this year. Every one of these hospitals had a good, if short-handed, staff waging a losing battle against a growing need for services while being stabbed in the back by insurance companies keeping larger portions of declining revenue to boost their own profitability.

Yet it isn't that the insurance companies are going as broke as those they claim to cover. Assurant Inc. just posted a "disappointing" profit, AFLAC managed to show more money came in than went out as well (more than the quacks who analyze stocks expected, yet not enough to inspire their future confidence). Industry monster WellPoint extracted more profit than predicted, but still got slapped by investors for not doing more to block expenditures on policy holders instead of on shareholders. Conseco showed a rather healthy increase in earnings after dumping its unprofitable long-term care policies on a Pennsylvania state-supervised nonprofit trust back in December.

I guess the public option is OK as long as the company – and ONLY the company – benefits.

Former CIGNA exec Wendell Potter is generating some news with his expose of the practices of the industry, even in the Fawning Corporate Lapdog Media. The value of paying for the medical care you contract for is balanced against the company's profitability – and generally your life isn't worth a plugged nickel compared to that. Bill Moyers' interview with Potter is being rebroadcast by PBS. All of the usual Internet suspects also have their versions of Moyers and Potter, so finding a way to see this important report from an industry insider should be fairly easy. It will open your eyes to the scam that is the modern medical insurance racket, aided and abetted by a government that wants to make your "coverage" mandatory.

Want some other testimonial examples of insurance abuses? You got 'em! Want something more official? How about Congressional testimony from industry executives! And if those items don't make you concerned, you might want to peruse the musings of a Wisconsin environmentalist social progressive liberal who believes that conservatism has a place in our society. He wonders:

This April my wife slipped down are stairs and she fractured her left ankle…the cost of her injury is in the low 5 digit range…through my work I am able to pay for a very good healthcare plan…Then I ask myself, what if we didn’t have this insurance?

What, indeed! As Potter points out in his report, a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study noted the "medical loss ratio" – the share of total premiums paid to doctors and hospitals – dropped from more than 95 percent in 1993 to around 80 percent in 2008, mostly through denial of care. One has to wonder what effect a well-designed plan – instead of that crappy Hillarycare fiasco – would have had on these numbers as this practice took hold in the industry early in the Clinton term.

But that now is merely tainted blood spilled in the polluted water to attract the dwindling sharks. In my latest hospital experience, I saw clearly uninsured people stacked like merchandise at a WalMart in the hallway of the ER of the Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, CA. It was almost impossible to walk through there, and eventually all non-patients had to leave so that there would be room for those waiting to be treated. This facility might as well be in Baghdad, CA – if not Baghdad, Iraq – as it is surrounded by a lot of nothing. There aren't too many places to go for healthcare, especially if one is not able to pay (as our covered Wisconsin friend fearfully ponders). The ER is the only option for too many, and the staff there was overheard stating that they took pay cuts to keep the facility open due to the growing need. But the available federal money which could help this effort went to the Wall Street Executive Bonus Compensation Fund, along with the TARP funds intended to repair the mortgage collapse their self-destructive fiscal insanity brought about. AS IF! Gag me with a Gold Doubloon!

But let's not disturb the pipe dreams of Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who are promoting a coverage convolution which makes Hillarycare seem like a kindergarten recess activity. No one looking at the details contained within that proposal has much good to say about it, and yet it would definitely protect the insurance companies at a time when the public is behind a movement to promote real reform of a corrupt industry. I guess that would be the real profit motive contained in that distractive slight-of-legality legerdemain masquerading as a riddle wrapped up in an enigma presented as reform!

And just when is the pain going to end for Main Street? Not soon enough. No matter what comes of Obama's initiatives, or even those of Baucus and Grassley, a day I have long predicted is at hand. Our anxiety levels should be rising over this story, but it hasn't generated the attention that the loss of Michael Jackson's nose has. I guess we know what is important, don't we Fawning Corporate Lapdog Media?

But here is the bad news whether you can deal with it or not. The Chinese assistant finance minister dropped in at the White House the other day for a "friendly chat" regarding the stability of their $1.5 TRILLION investment in our economy (yes, that is a 'T' at the beginning of the value!). They would be "most distressed" if they lost confidence in the American economic management, and thus decided not to buy more Treasury bills at the next Federal Reserve auction. If that confidence in our fiscal prudence is lost, they just might want to begin reclaiming their funds, which would put the nation into the insolvent straits experienced by my deceased friend over twenty years ago and by my currently-troubled friend today.

Our national leaders are already not seeing the national forest for us citizen trees, so what will happen to us when they have to squeeze the dry lemon until the dusty seeds run down their slimy legs? We might find ourselves wondering if ending it all might not be the better choice.

It has to be like the terminal decisions made by many Indian farmers who borrowed heavily to plant a crop which failed, leaving them at the mercy of creditors: "Farmers' suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death." Substitute a few words, and you have the current American National Depression in a nutshell.

Why should we think that things won't go the same way as in India? The Fawning Corporate Lapdog Media would love it! It's got Thrills! Spills! Excitement Galore! International ratings would shoot through the roof! It would be colossal! It would be stupendous! It would make people forget Masada! It would make The Fawning Corporate Lapdog Media major money running insurance ads during the breaks! It would end the national misery quickly, before we could remember what luxurious conditions the Misery Index used to represent (ask your grandparents, kids)!

Heck of a job, Barry! Enjoy your retirement as a corporate lobbyist in a nation with a dead economy once you depart the Oval Office. You've done it the old-fashioned way — you EARNED it!

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About pessimist

  • I think you’ve outdone yourself. Chills, thrills and spills. Oh, and suicide.

    I tell people the only good thing about the future is that I’ll be dead for it. One way or another.

  • Great article, Realist, I think the best I’m seen so far on the perils of Obamacare and the ugly aspects of the health insurance industry.

    As to the suicide aspect, we created the society of consumers: it’s the inevitable consequence of capitalism. Material values rule. They in fact define us and our sense of self-worth. That’s the saddest thing.

  • scout

    I hope the personal problems are well.

    Thanks for the great thinking.

    Really, the ‘healthcare’ nonsense is just another corp welfare policy.

    We are ruled by political gangstas that work for even more powerful gangstas, nothing less.

    If we really wanted general healthcare, we would simply slightly expand medicare, and make the pharmaceuticals pay for it with donated medicine.

    Simultaneously, we would renounce our constant overt and covert war system, which is simply another form of corp welfare under patriotic cover.

    Look how little bush constantly connected Saddam to his 9/11, and we go in, hang him, and take Iraqi oil. Afghan’s had the oil connection to India and the opium market to be controlled. We take the opium profit and take control of India’s economic growth.

    We are ruled by gangstas, NOTHING MORE.

  • Bliffle

    Mad spenders? But the Bushies are gone.

    The Obamas have only spent a fraction of the Bushies. The TARP may turn out to be a wash. The $800billion stimulus is less than the Iraq Invasion, and it seems to be working.

    Even if the healthcare bill costs $900billion over 10 years, that’s less than the Bush tax cuts and Medicare D plan.

    Also, the Obama spending goes to the US citizens rather than the Ruling Class, so the multiplier will be high and may produce a big economic gain generally.

  • Why would I have an investment in a government which I was working to oppose from the very start? Makes no sense.

    I don’t care if the Chinese thrash Obama, all I care about is that something inspire the mad spenders to fiscal sanity.


  • Bliffle

    Ego investment. You seem to have a bigger ego investment in the current (i.e., as of jan 1, 2009) system, which you have done a lot to bring about, than I do.

    You seem annoyed that Obama is president, and you seem to wish for the Chinese to administer him a thrashing.

    But I think that Obama may have outflanked you and similarly-minded fellows on the right.

    Whereas rightists may have thought that leaving the treasury broke, the financial system collapsing, and two expensive quagmire wars in distant foreign lands would hobble any succeeding democrat administration in 2009 and render them powerless, Obama has simply upped the ante and thus outflanked the reps.

    As I’ve said many times before, Bush and his cohorts are poor strategists. They are good tacticians, witness the Iraq Invasion hokum, the Kerry swiftboat truthers, the Obama birthers, etc., but they can’t put tactics together into a strategy.

    The reps ‘scorched earth’ strategy is vulnerable to a flanking attack, which is what Obama is doing.

    The reps need another Eisenhower or Nixon (this time could we please have a non-psycho, please?).

  • Bliffle, how have I invested any more in the “system” than you or anyone else in America?


  • In a famous line from the brilliant play “Boys in the Band“, “Give me librium, or give me death.”

  • Bliffle

    That’s just Daves “Hail Mary” pass, now that the system he invested so much ego in is crashing around him.

  • You know, the Chinese refusing to buy more debt might be the best thing that could happen to us. It would be a wakeup call for these insane spenders.