Jonathan Alter pretty much nails it on health care debate

Speaking of fair, it seems fair to me that cost-cutting bureaucrats at the insurance companies—not doctors—decide what’s reimbursable. After all, the insurance companies know best.

Yes, the insurance company status quo rocks. I learned recently about something called the “loading fees” of insurance companies. That’s how much of every health-care dollar gets spent by insurance companies on things other than the medical care—paperwork, marketing, profits, etc. According to a University of Minnesota study, up to 47 percent of all the money going into the health-insurance system is consumed in “loading fees.” Even good insurance companies spend close to 30 percent on nonmedical stuff. Sweet.

The good news is that the $8,000 a year per family that Americans pay for their employer-based health insurance is heading up! According to the Council of Economic Advisers, it will hit $25,000 per family by 2025. The sourpusses who want health-care reform say that’s “unsustainable.” Au contraire.

And how could the supporters of these reform bills believe in anything as stupid as a “public option”? Do they really believe that the health-insurance cartel deserves a little competition to keep them honest? Back in the day, they had a word for competition. A bad word. They called it capitalism. FedEx versus the U.S. Postal Service, CNN versus PBS—just because it’s government-backed doesn’t mean you can’t compete against it. If they believed in capitalism, the insurance companies would join the fray and compete.

I’m glad they don’t. I prefer the status quo, where the for-profit insurance companies suck at the teat of the federal government. Corporate welfare’s what we’ve got, and it’s a damn good system. Through a wonderful program called Medicare Advantage, the insurance companies receive hundreds of billions of dollars in fees to administer a program that the government is already running. Don’t touch that baby. You’d be messing with the handiwork of some fine lobbyists.

It’s worth reading the whole thing. What I like best about this is that he’s not going after the “greedy doctors.” Are there greedy doctors? I’m sure there are because any arbitrary set of humans will contain greedy ones.

But they’re not the problem.

The problem is the whole concept that health care is something that should be for profit — something that generates money for shareholders who only throw money into the pot because they have the expectation that they’ll get more back. Without giving a damn about why they get more money back than they put in.

I think that’s immoral. I don’t think it’s immoral for someone who’s been through the hell of medical school to expect to be paid well. That doesn’t bother me one bit. They have skin in the game. I just wish the other caregivers — the nurses, the techs, the transport teams — were able to get a piece of the pie.

And don’t even get me started on big pharma. But the insurance scam we have in this country is an excellent place to start.

It’s a shame we don’t have a president and congress with the balls to do something about it. I expect we’ll be getting screwed on this, just like we’ve been screwed on civil liberties and the save-Goldman-Sachs-at-all-costs bailouts.

I don’t doubt Obama was born in Hawaii. I doubt he was born on this planet. This guy has the tools to be a transformative force in history, and he’s pissing it away.

That’s pathetic.

Imagine Pot Was Legal. How Would You Brand It? | Design & Innovation | Fast Company

Woeful state budgets have relit the long-burning debate about pot legalization—couldn’t California rescue itself by making weed legal, then taxing it? Meanwhile, more than 40% of Americans now favor legalization–which is the highest portion since the 1980s; Nate Silver, at FiveThirtyEight, has watched the trends and estimates that popular support will become overwhelming in 15 years time.

So Print, the hoary graphic-design magazine, posed a challenge to four top designers: How should the package of legal weed actually look? Each of them took a radically different approach.

Personally, I’d try to do a co-branding deal with Oreos just as fast as I could.

Skype could be cut off for good over dispute – Times Online

Skype might have to shut down because of a dispute over the core technology used to make the internet telephone system work.

EBay, which paid $2.6 billion (??1.6 billion) for the voice-over-the-internet system in 2005, is facing a court battle with the original founders of the company who retained the rights to the technology at the heart of the system.

EBay admitted in a regulatory filing that it might have to close down the company. It said it was trying to develop alternative software but if that did not work, or if eBay lost the right to the original software: “Skype would be severely and adversely affected and the continued operation of Skype’s business as currently conducted would likely not be possible.”

The dispute also threatens eBay’s plan to spin off Skype, scheduled for next year.

I’ve got mixed feelings about this. I”m an occasional Skype user, but the main reason I went ahead and put out for a number and voicemail is that I use it when I teach online classes and I don’t want to give out my home or cell number. Google Voice makes that a bit of a moot point. So I’m not sure I know what I’m going to do.