October 26, 2009

"MAKING SOMEONE ELSE PAY"

My husband and I have paid for car insurance for over seven years.  We have never once filed a claim.

My dental insurance costs about $140 per year.  I have never had any dental work done besides cleanings, twice a year at $70 each.

These two insurances work in remarkably different ways.  The dental insurance covers every time I walk in the door, even just to have some nice lady floss my teeth for me.  The car insurance doesn't cover anything routine and doesn't even cover some big things, like when my windshield broke last year. 

And yet, I think about the dental insurance so much more often, for some reason.  I am always irritated about breaking even.  I keep telling myself that it will pay off once we have kids, or once I need a root canal or something.  In the meantime, I get annoyed every time I break even.  I start to think that I could get by with one cleaning per year and save the remaining $70.  I want to feel more in control of that money, as if I am paying directly for a service instead of paying for insurance.

Maybe, with the car insurance, it's the fact that I don't have a choice to cancel it.  I don't often imagine all the money we threw down that hole, but it's a lot.  What if we could have it all back?

And don't even bring up all the money we've spent in life insurance...

But that's what insurance is: paying small amounts up front so that you will be eligible for the windfall payment at the end if bad luck strikes.  It's a gamble.  In the case of our vehicles, we have lost the gamble so far.  All the money we've paid in has gone to fix other people's cars for the past seven years.

Such is life.

Health insurance seems to be a misnomer then, because it doesn't seem to work like other insurances, at least not car or life insurance.  People seem to want to pay a small amount every month but get a large amount of benefit out every month too.  They want to pay $100 and get $300 worth of prescriptions.  That's not insurance, that's just redistribution.  That's just "making someone else pay", as Patrick McIlheran titled his recent article.  He explains why the proposed Obamacare system won't work:

Some companies noted last week that Congress' plans to mandate that everyone buy health insurance include only weak penalties. The plans also make insurers take on customers who are already sick. If you're young and daring, you pay the low penalty and go insurance-free until your doctor says you've got cancer. You then apply and pay $800-a-month premiums for $10,000-a-month care. Sweet, until the industry inevitably collapses, say insurers.

When stated so succinctly, it should be obvious that this system cannot work.  You cannot pay $800 for $10,000 worth of benefit without having someone else paying $800 for zero, for a long time.  That's how the gamble works in life insurance.

And while we all hate the stories of people who lose their jobs and then get cancer -- and trust me, I hate them pretty bad right now -- the solution, in my opinion, is not that insurers need to cover pre-existing conditions.  The solution is to have health insurance that is independent from your job, just as your car or life insurance is.  Then it doesn't matter when you get cancer; if you've paid in, you have "won" the gamble.

Mandatory insurance coverage is not, by definition, a gamble.  If you can wait to apply until after you have cancer, then why would you ever pay in beforehand?

It seems obvious to me that that system can't work.  So why are we trying to implement it?

Posted by: Sarah at 09:23 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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October 23, 2009

OBAMA VS D'ANCONIA

Lawrence Auster postulates:

As for the stunning laziness he has showed in certain matters such as the stimulus and Guantanamo, here's another theory: that Obama is like Francisco D'Anconia in Atlas Shrugged. That is, he keeps screwing up, because he doesn't give a damn if things get fouled up or not. He's not putting his intelligence into the system, because he doesn't care about the system, even if his failures make him look bad as well. In other words, in some instance he causes damage deliberately, as with his healthcare plan, and in other instance he causes damage by simply not putting his mind into what he's doing.

Via Amritas, that has kept me thinking all day.  Because you know I'm always up for comparing Atlas to real life.

First, I am not sure I agree with Auster's summary of D'Anconia's strategy.  I do indeed think he "gave a damn."  His actions were deliberate and his method was calculating.  He lost everything to bring about the collapse of the system, including the woman he loved.  His sabotage was intensely personal and heartbreaking.  But it was a deliberate choice because he DID give a damn.  And yes, his failures made him look bad, but the trashing of his reputation was deliberate as well.  He sacrificed everything he was in order to stop participating in a system he abhorred.  At least that's the way I remember D'Anconia. 

Conversely, I don't think Pres Obama would ruin his reputation to achieve his ends the way D'Anconia did.  I think all Obama has is his reputation.  I don't think he would give up money and power and his good name to bring about...whatever it is he is working towards (and there is much debate about that.)  In short, I don't think he has half the integrity or fortitude as D'Anconia did.  What Obama wants is wealth redistribution, which is the moral equivalent of stealing from one man and giving it to another, and then patting yourself on the back for helping, as CVG once said.  He's not sacrificing anything of his own for his goals.  Hell, how many times have people pointed out that he could start by helping his aunt and brother if he cares so much about all people living equally?

My opinion is that Pres Obama doesn't have the moral conviction that Francisco D'Anconia did, and that he wouldn't sacrifice one iota of his own wealth or reputation for his worldview.

Posted by: Sarah at 01:31 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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October 19, 2009

YAY, GIVE HIM ANOTHER PEACE PRIZE!

Finally, an Obama move I can applaud:

Federal drug agents won't pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

It makes no sense to have a state law that makes something legal and a federal law that trumps it.  For me, it's a simple Tenth Amendment issue and a fight or flee issue: if you need medicinal marijuana, move to a state that offers it; if it offends you, move away.  I don't think it should be a federal law at all.

So good job, for now, of clarifying a ridiculous conflict in laws.  Let the states decide.

Now to work on teasing apart inter- and intra-state commerce...starting in Montana...

UPDATE:

But a very good point is made by Wesley Smith...

Posted by: Sarah at 08:05 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 18, 2009

HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO A WORD HE'S SAID?

David Frum is absolutely wrong.  I would bet anything you'd ask of me that Glenn Beck would rather be penniless than to sell out on his values and principles.  I would guarantee it.  Frum is dead wrong, which makes me wonder if he's ever even listened to Beck in the first place.

Posted by: Sarah at 02:40 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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October 03, 2009

ROOSEVELT'S WAGER

A great paragraph from my book The Forgotten Man.  I think it applies to today just as easily, and I think it captures my frustration with why the system is not what I believe it should be:

But the critics had another reason to be loud -- their own frustration at the genius of Roosevelt's wager.  Roosevelt, they saw, had understood something that the Republicans had not.  The contest now was not Democrat versus Republican but rather this classical republic versus the classical democracy.  Government was less a representative republic than it had once been, more directly controlled by the people.  The change had started back in the 1910s with the constitutional amendment to permit the electorate to pick senators directly, rather than through their state legislatures.  Suffrage for women had accelerated it.  And the Depression had accelerated it again -- people who might not have had an interest in government before now found that hunger concentrated their minds.  Instead of asking what government was doing on behalf of the general welfare, voters were asking in a very democratic way what Roosevelt was doing for them.

Posted by: Sarah at 06:32 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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