“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ask yourself this: "who bails out Government after they have bailed out everyone?"

Whit, once, as is his wont, wryly quipped, "the always cheery Ambrose Evans-Pritchard."

Well Whit, this one is for you, Ambrose in full Ursa Major.


RBS uber-bear issues fresh alert on global stock markets

Three-month slide could hit record lows, Royal Bank of Scotland chief credit strategist Bob Janjuah predicts.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor Telegraph
Published: 8:26PM BST 12 Aug 200

Britain's Uber-bear is growling again. After predicting a torrid "relief rally" over the early summer, Bob Janjuah at Royal Bank of Scotland is advising clients to take profits in global equity and commodity markets and prepare for another storm as winter nears.

"We are now in the middle of a parabolic spike up," he said in his latest confidential note to clients.

"I expect this risk rally to continue into – and maybe through – a large part of August. What happens after that? The next ugly leg of the bear market begins as we get into the July through September 'tipping zone', driven by the failure of the data to validate the V (shaped recovery) that is now fully priced into markets."

The key indicators to watch are business spending on equipment (Capex), incomes, jobs, and profits. Only a "surge higher" in these gauges can justify current asset prices. Results that are merely "less bad" will not suffice.

He expects global stock markets to test their March lows, and probably worse. The slide could last three months. "A move to new lows is highly likely," he said.

Mr Janjuah, RBS's chief credit strategist, has a loyal following in the City. He was one of the very few analysts to speak out early about the dangerous excesses of the credit bubble. He then made waves in the summer of 2008 by issuing a global crash alert, giving warning that a "very nasty period is soon to be upon us" as – indeed it was. Lehman Brothers and AIG imploded weeks later.

This time he expects the S&P 500 index of US equities to reach the "mid 500s", almost halving from current levels near 1000. Such a fall would take London's FTSE 100 to around 2,500. The iTraxx Crossover index measuring spreads on low-grade European debt will double to 1250.

Mr Janjuah advises investors to seek safety in 10-year German bonds in late August or early September.

While media headlines have played up the short-term bounce of corporate earnings, Mr Janjuah said this is a statistical illusion. Profits were in reality down 20pc in the second quarter from the year before. They cannot rise much as the West slowly purges debt and adjusts to record over-capacity. "Investors are again being sucked back into the game where 'markets make opinions', where 'excess liquidity' is the driving investment rationale.

"The last two Augusts proved to be pivotal turning points: August 2007 being the proverbial 'head-fake' when everyone wanted to believe that policy-makers had seen off the credit disaster at the pass, and August 2008 being the calm before the utter collapse of Sept/Oct/Nov… 3rd time lucky anyone?"

The elephant in the room is the spiralling public debt as private losses are shifted on to the taxpayer, especially in Britain and America. "Ask yourself this: who bails out Government after they have bailed out everyone?"

Mr Janjuah said governments might put off the day of reckoning into the middle of next year if they resort to another shot of stimulus, but that would store yet further problems. "If what I fear plays out then I will have to concede that the lunatics who ran the asylum pretty much into the ground last year are back in control."

Over at Morgan Stanley, equity guru Teun Draaisma thinks we are through the worst. "We were on course for a Great Depression in February, but Armageddon was avoided. Governments did not repeat the policy errors of the 1930s."
"We have seen the lows of this crisis. This is a genuine rebound rally, and it has been short by historical standards so far," he said.

Mr Draaisma, who called the top of the bull market almost to the day in mid-2007, has crunched the worldwide data on 19 major stock market crashes over the last century. They show that the typical rebound rally (as opposed to bear trap rallies, when markets later plunge to new lows) lasts 17 months and stocks rise 71pc. The 1993 rally in the US was 170pc over 13 months. Finland's rally in 1994 was 295pc. Hong Kong rallied 159pc in 2000. This rebound is only five months old. The key indexes have risen 49pc in the US and 42pc in Europe. Mr Draaisma advises clients to stay in the stocks for now, but stick to telecom companies, utilities, and oil.

Yet he too expects a nasty correction once this rally falters. The usual trigger at this stage of the cycle is when central bankers start to make hawkish noises, typically a couple of months before the first turn of the screw (normally a rate rise, but in this case an end to "quantitative easing". "As long as policy-makers are talking about how fragile the recovery is, equities are unlikely to go down much."

This moment can be hard to judge. There has already been rumbling from some governors at the US Federal Reserve and from the European Central Bank's Jean-Claude Trichet. Markets are pricing in rates rises by early next year.

The pattern after major financial bust-ups is that the rebound rally gives way to another fall of 25pc or so, lasting a year, followed by five years of hard slog as stocks bounce up and down in a trading range, going nowhere. Mr Draaisma suggests taking a close look at the chart of Japan's Nikkei index from 1991 to 1999. Gains were zero.

We are in uncharted waters, however. Monetary and fiscal stimulus has been unprecedented. Russell Napier at Hong Kong brokers CLSA says a powerful bull market is already taking shape as the American giant reawakens. Perma-bears will be left behind. He said: "It is dangerous to be in cash."

When the finest minds in the business disagree so starkly, the rest of us can only shake our heads in confusion.


  1. Confused like Ambrose-Evans-Pritchard?

    After hearing a never-ending parade of experts espousing diametrically opposed opinion, I know I am.

    My advice:

    1. Hedge your bets.
    2. Don't gamble more than you can afford to lose.
    3. Walk away with the House's money.

    Limit your exposure.
    Live inconspicuously.
    Get off the grid.

  2. Own a high-mileage/flexfuel car, and obtain a couple years supply of valium.

  3. Submit.
    Big Brother is only here to help.

  4. Beautiful interview of 94 year young Les Paul on
    the front page of The New York Times.
    (scroll down to video box)
    Genius inventor and musician.

  5. Who is funding the Afghan Taliban?
    You don't want to know

    KABUL — It is the open secret no one wants to talk about, the unwelcome truth that most prefer to hide. In Afghanistan, one of the richest sources of Taliban funding is the foreign assistance coming into the country.

    Virtually every major project includes a healthy cut for the insurgents. Call it protection money, call it extortion, or, as the Taliban themselves prefer to term it, “spoils of war,” the fact remains that international donors, primarily the United States, are to a large extent financing their own enemy.

    “Everyone knows this is going on,” said one U.S. Embassy official, speaking privately.
    One Afghan contractor, speaking privately, told friends of one project he was overseeing in the volatile south. The province cannot be mentioned, nor the particular project.

    I was building a bridge,” he said, one evening over drinks. “The local Taliban commander called and said ‘don’t build a bridge there, we’ll have to blow it up.’ I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money — then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project.”

    It all adds up, of course.
    But all things are relative:
    if the Taliban are able to raise and spend say $1 billion per year — the outside limit of what anyone has been able to predict — that accounts for what the United States is now spending on 10 days of the war to defeat them.

  6. Oh, doug, so full of apocalypso, so early in the day.

    Not only should we repeal the Federal stimulous package, but Medicare, too.

    Just think of the money we'd save, not providing subsidized Medical Care, for Seniors.

  7. The Taliban man, being reasonable let that contractor finish the bridge.

    All we have to do, it seems, is ask the natives to cooperate, politiely.

    There is certainly a lesson in that tale.

  8. By VOA News
    Lawyers for the Libyan man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing say he has applied to drop his appeal against his conviction, following reports he is to be freed on compassionate grounds.

  9. I always figured me, and my 500,000 Buddies financed the VC. We spent a significant amount of our money "in the ville" during the "day," and come nightfall the Cong came in and took "their cut."

    500,000 Troops? Pretty big "cut."

  10. You've all known 2nd Leiutenants, right. Okay, this guy comes by, during the day, once a year, or so, and drinks a cup'a tea with you, and tells you how he's going to protect you.

    Then, that bat-shit, crazy killer from the next village over drops by your house That Night, and informs you that you WILL give his "Fighters" a place to hide, and that you WILL feed them, and share your wealth with those "fighting for Allah,"

    What're YOU going to do?

  11. doug, got your ears on?

    geeez, the wingnuts of america are batshit crazy. Sarah Palin, my god, what piece of work.

    "Right now, the charge that’s gaining the most traction is the claim that health care reform will create “death panels” (in Sarah Palin’s words) that will shuffle the elderly and others off to an early grave. It’s a complete fabrication, of course. The provision requiring that Medicare pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican — yes, Republican — of Georgia, who says that it’s “nuts” to claim that it has anything to do with euthanasia.

    And not long ago, some of the most enthusiastic peddlers of the euthanasia smear, including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, and Mrs. Palin herself, were all for “advance directives” for medical care in the event that you are incapacitated or comatose. That’s exactly what was being proposed — and has now, in the face of all the hysteria, been dropped from the bill.

    Yet the smear continues to spread. And as the example of Mr. Gingrich shows, it’s not a fringe phenomenon: Senior G.O.P. figures, including so-called moderates, have endorsed the lie."

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I see Ash has had his usual "quiet time" this morning with his Bible, the NYT.

  14. No, No, No, This:

    The provision requiring that Medicare pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican — yes, Republican — of Georgia,

    Is NOT Correct.

    He did NO such thing.

    Oh, that clause that didn't exist? They took it out this morning.

    Gateway Pundit has a good article on Dr. Ezekial Emmanuel (Obamadinejad's "Ethics" Advisor,) and his theories on the relative value the lives of young children, old people, those with "disabilities," etc. Palin was Right.

    Now that the Right is bringing up articles he has written as recently as This Year, he's Squalling like a cat with it's tail on fire. I've "Advanced" in my Thinking, Says He.

    Pretty damned quick advancement, I'd say. Less than a Year.

  15. Ash: For your consideration.

    Dr. Ezekial Emanuel, President Obama’s White House Health Care Policy Adviser, first published his ideas of merit-based healthcare in the 1996 Hastings Center Report (Volume 26, No. 6). In his own words:

    “This civic republican or deliberative democratic conception of the good provides both procedural and substantive insights for developing a just allocation of health care resources.

    Conversely, services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

    From: January, 2009 issue (Volume 373, Issue 9661) of The Lancet.

    "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not."

    The Complete Lives System
    In Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel’s Own Words:

    [Why?]Because none of the currently used systems satisfy all ethical requirements for just allocation, we propose an alternative:

    The Complete Lives System:

    "This system incorporates five principles: youngest-first, prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value. As such, it prioritizes younger people who have not yet lived a complete life and will be unlikely to do so without aid. Many thinkers have accepted complete lives as the appropriate focus of distributive justice.

    Consideration of the importance of complete lives also supports modifying the youngest-first principle by prioritizing adolescents and young adults over infants.

    Poor adolescents should be treated the same as wealthy ones, even though they may have received less investment owing to social injustice.

    Considering prognosis forestalls the concern that disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognoses. When the worst-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly, allocating to the better-off is often justifiable.

    Additionally, the complete lives system assumes that, although life-years are equally valuable to all, justice requires the fair distribution of them.

    Finally, the complete lives system is least vulnerable to corruption. Age can be established quickly and accurately from identity documents."

    Now, the term "death Panels" may be melodramatic but Dr. Emanuel thinks that panels should be used to allocate medical resources. In fact, this is the central tenet of Dr. Manuel's Complete Lives System which he considers to be essential to "distributive justice."

    What is your considered opinion, Ash?

    Do you know what I see here, Ash? I see "Social Justice" via the redistribution of medical services being promoted as the main objective of health care. In other words: the medical system is being politicized.

  16. victor,

    Health care must be prioritized, it is already. On the battlefield the military do through triage.

    The relevant question is HOW you choose to prioritize care and allocate resources. Do you believe that the free market allocates the use of health care resources better than an informed health professionals? You can spend a load of money keeping a brain dead patient alive for many years, decades even. Do you think this would be a rational allocation of your health care dollars?

  17. ash,

    "On the battlefield", the military does no such thing.

  18. no? I guess it depends on where you draw the lines as to the area a battlefield exists but the medical units in the military certainly do triage patients.

  19. tri·age (tr-äzh, träzh)
    1. A process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for or likely benefit from immediate medical treatment. Triage is used in hospital emergency rooms, on battlefields, and at disaster sites when limited medical resources must be allocated.
    2. A system used to allocate a scarce commodity, such as food, only to those capable of deriving the greatest benefit from it.
    3. A process in which things are ranked in terms of importance or priority: "For millions of Americans, each week becomes a stressful triage between work and home that leaves them feeling guilty, exhausted and angry" (Jill Smolowe).
    tr.v. tri·aged, tri·ag·ing, tri·ag·es
    To sort or allocate by triage: triaged the patients according to their symptoms.

  20. ash,

    With no disrespect intended, the difference between the battlefield and a medical triage area is the difference between Hell and a tanning booth.

  21. Ash

    You do concede that medical treatment will be proritized.

    Do you concede that Dr. Emanual wants to do it on the basis of age. According the good doctor, those first in line are between 15 and 40.

    "When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated."

    So the very young and the very old are near the bottom of the list. And the weakest of them will be at the bottom of the priority list.

    Panels would be empowered to determine who would get medical treatment in difficult cases. At the extreme edge, they will be making decisions about whether to administer life saving intervention or not.

    Do you agree so far?

    If you do (and I don't see how you logically disagree) then these panels have the power of life or death based on the remaining social utility of the patient in question.

    It would not be hard to guess where a Down's syndrome baby would be on the priority scale.

    This is what makes Sarah Palin nervous and a heck of a lot others.

    Do you still think Palin's description of these panels as "death panels" is out of line?

    You're description of Sarah Palin as "batshit crazy wingnut" is completely uncalled for. It is a cheap libel.

    By calling her "batshit crazy" you are calling many of the regulars here, me included, "batshit crazy" too.

    You can get away with this because no-one really knows who you are. But someday, Ash, you are going to run into the wrong person and your trash talking is going to get you into serious trouble.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. no, what is bat shit crazy wingnuttery is the leap from the inescapable fact that health care necessarily must be rationed to the "death panels" and other assorted 'logical conclusions' of which you seem to be indulging.

  24. take the brain dead person on life support example - do you believe that every brain dead person should sit on life support for as long as possible funded by either health insurance or public funding?

  25. Ash said...
    "no, what is bat shit crazy wingnuttery is the leap from the inescapable fact that health care necessarily must be rationed to the "death panels" and other assorted 'logical conclusions' of which you seem to be indulging."

    Tell me why my conclusions are wrong. Are my facts in error? If my logic is faulty show me where.

    You're blowing smoke, Ash.

    You're more than just a troll, Ash. You and people like you, are a new species: internet hoodlums, political street gangsters, who trade in lies and intimidation.

    People on this site are wise to you. More importantly, people at large are wise to all the people like you and that is why you guys are going to get your just desserts in 2010.

  26. ...take the brain dead person on life support example...

    No, Ash. You take that tired example. File it.

    It's a red herring.

  27. look it is really quite simple:

    There is not unlimited money to pay for unlimited health care and thus you need to make decisions on what and to whom various forms of health care is provided. Private Health insurers do this and so do Public suppliers. This does not limit any individual from pursuing whatever health care remedy they so choose as long as they pay for it themselves.

    In order to determine what an insurer pays for they form panels of experts who decide upon qualified treatments and expenses. To start squawking about "death panels" in this context is batshit wingnuttery - it may be effective politics but it is what it is.

  28. and linear, if you want an example a little more complicated take a look at medical testing criteria. Try Colonoscopy as an example. It is pretty well accepted that early Colon cancer detection is instrumental in successfully battling the disease. How early and how frequently should one start testing apparently healthy indiviudals (doing the ole scope) and how frequently? Obviously scoping every year from birth through death would be an expensive option. Currently in Canada they start scoping at age 50 and every 5 years after that UNLESS there are other factors -i.e. family history or other symptoms.

  29. Ash

    You still have not answered Viktor at Fri Aug 14, 02:38:00 PM EDT.

  30. yes, I do think Sarah Palin's depiction of them is out of line. There is nothing that would compel her to kill her child. It is valid to debate whether the State, or Private Insurers, should be compelled to pay for the care of a Down's child. To the best of my understanding there is a wide variety between US States as to what support they offer parents of Down's syndrome children. Pennsylvania, I believe, offers extensive support.

  31. does the above answer his question in your eyes linear?

  32. to be very explicit:

    the error in his logic is:
    an entity refusing to pay for a medical procedure is the equivalent of ordering the death of the patient.

  33. and sorry if "batshit crazy wingnuttery" offends, but hey, it is the internet and hyperbole and colorful language abounds. Suffice it to say "Palin is mistaken in her understanding of the issue".

    Besides I don't think I referred to her specifically as a "batshit crazy wingnut" just that she was a "piece of work". You might have guessed I don't hold her in high esteem.

  34. yes, I do think Sarah Palin's depiction of them is out of line. There is nothing that would compel her to kill her child.

    If that's your answer, Ash, you're the one who's batshit crazy.

    The rest of that comment trails off into your la-la land equivocations.

  35. Ash:

    Add "evasions" to your sins.

    I'm not unsympathetic to your grudge against the current medical system after what they did to you.

    For those of you who do know: Ash's Lament

  36. sign of losers - ad hominem attacks.

  37. Will Electric Cars Wreck The Grid?

    In California, they have to import electricity. Where are they going to get the extra juice?

    British Columbia exports a lot of electricity to California. But BC is already overextended

  38. Ash said...
    sign of losers - ad hominem attacks.


    Who said irony is dead?

  39. I haven't called you bat shit crazy Viktor, not yet anyway.

  40. From Viktor's link:

    He added that GM engineers had just returned from a trip to the desert, where they tested a liquid-cooled battery with positive results.

    Now the Volt needs a radiator to cool it's battery?

    Kludge tacked to kludge piled upon kludge.

    Soon we'll learn Government Motors is announcing an enhanced power standby motor for the Volt in order to drive the water pump needed to cool the overheating batteries?

    Maybe two standby motors? Don't forget the battery condition sensing circuitry needed to avoid the embarrassing meltdowns.

    Which raises another question. What happens when the sensing circuitry detects impending meltdown temperatures? I hope you're not in a hurry.

  41. From Linear's Dictionary:

    Kludge--Any device, construction, or practice, typically inelegant, designed to solve a problem temporarily or expediently. Such devices are often subsidized by government grants, rebates and tax advantages, as in the case of the Chevy Volt.

  42. By the way, here's the "Rufus Health Care Plan," as posted at Carpe Diem.

    I've probably given some people that read this blog the idea that I would be in favor of a "Government Option." Let me state, unequivocably, that I Am Not.

    I do, however, think we need to get all Americans covered with Health Insurance. Here's how I propose to do it:

    1) Insurance Companies must cover All pre-existing conditions, in all policies. Patients with pre-existing conditions Cannot be charged extra. Period.

    2) All American Citizens (only citizens are covered) will be "Required," under penalty of "Criminal" Law to carry Health Insurance. This is absolutely vital in order to avoid "adverse selection," and to make the plan affordable.

    3) Assistance (Means-Tested) will be provided to those who cannot afford coverage.

    4) ALL coverages will be provided by PRIVATE Companies.

    5) 80% of Premiums will be "Tax Deductible." 20% of the Cost of Employer Paid Premiums will be "Taxable Income" to the employee.

    6) There Is NO (6.) Anyone trying to come up with a (6) will be vigorously Waterboarded.

  43. Ash
    I haven't called you bat shit crazy Viktor, not yet anyway.

    No, Ash, but you have called other people that. Have you forgotten? It's how you opened the debate today.

    And now read what your glorious leader has to say:

    From the NYT

    THE PRESIDENT: So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?
    I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

    LEONHARDT: So how do you — how do we deal with it?

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It’s not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that’s part of what I suspect you’ll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.

    Ok. That's enough healthcare for now.

  44. Re: "very difficult democratic conversation"

    Pass the hemlock.

  45. I did say the wingnuts were batshit crazy.

  46. The bs crazy must be catching. I know that it's been pandemic in the left wing-nut whirled since 2000 and before. During Clinton, the left went crazy over criticism of Clinton. Then, in late 2000-early 2001 Al Gore went off the deep-end triggering a psychosis which should have been enough to Baker Act about half the country.

    So, I felt some schadenfreude when I read of Ash's distress over Palin. What goes around, comes around.

    The wheel in the sky keeps on turning.

  47. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels.

    You betcha;

    you put this fascism up to a "Vote," and it won't see the light of the following day.

    This has to be accomplished, secretly, deep in the bowels of the faceless bureaucracy.

  48. whit,

    Re: Wheel in the Sky


  49. whit,

    Re: Your Turn to Cry


  50. Thanks, Linear.

    It's just what we need to get In The Mood

  51. Allen and Whit...

    The Glenn Miller post was made without reference to your fine taste in music.

    Keep 'em comin'...

  52. If anybody out there has a link to a good reproduction of the Glenn Miller Orchestra doing "Midnight in Moscow", please share it. Preferably the original orchestra with Glenn leading. It was out in the 60s on a two disk LP package, one with Glenn Miller leading the original orchestra, a matching disk with the reconstituted orchestra and another leader doing the same songs. Miller's mastery was clearly evident.

    Words like "a nuanced instinct for the subtleties of swing" come to mind, but they stick in my throat. Once you've heard it, you'll know what I mean.

  53. Today, the Death Panels are private corporate affairs, totally contolled by the Insurance companies. The cases where the Insurance Company has denied treatments are legend.

    Here is just one.

    To gain access to the medical treatments necessary to adequately fight the ravages of this disease, I have had to provide information to insurance companies and disability companies. Insurance companies, including my own, routinely disallow recommended treatment protocols, thereby ensuring continued illness and inevitable work-related disabilities. There is a wealth of information concerning these topics on the Internet at

    I have also had an article published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram decrying the persecution of doctors who dare diagnose and treat Lyme disease. (The newspaper titled my article "Journalistic Malpractice." ) I intend to publish additional articles focusing on the discrimination perpetrated by insurance companies for not providing adequate care for this disease and to promote insurance reform. The persecution is escalating rapidly

    Can't even call her Congressman for assistance with the bureaucracy, as they are not part of the political system, those health insurance companies.

    Reform is required, what that reform consists of, well we'll just wait and see.

    The miltary does not do battlefield triage, about the same way they do summary executions under the auspices of the Geneva Conventions.

    The source for both information sets has been proven false many, many times.

  54. More information about the Corporate Death Panels and how to try to get the insurance money owed for medical services rendered

    "I want to work with an out-of-network provider, how much will you reimburse me?"

    The only way to know for sure what your insurance company will pay is to ask them directly, or better yet, get it in writing via fax or email.

    Quickest way is still using Medicare website: .

    Please be aware that should you choose to submit a super bill, you are releasing medical information that is protected by law. This means you are waiving some of your rights to privacy and confidentiality. Your insurance company will have and keep a record of your diagnosis as part of your permanent medical file. These files can be used by insurance companies to set your rates and to allow or disallow further treatment

    The quickest way to find out what "Private Insurance" covers, a ".gov" website.

    Fancy that.


  56. Who could support "Corporate Death Panels" making medical decisions that are best left to Doctors and Patients!

    Corporate Death Panels deciding which treatments are "proven" and which are "experiments", who supports that?

  57. Lives are at stake, those Insurance Companies should be forced to abandon their Death Panels, and just pay the medical bills.

    Doctors and Patients must have total control of treatments, or it's just tantamount to murder.

    Justifiable homicide, at least.

  58. Over at The Health Care Blog, Matthew Holt has spotlighted a nauseatingly shocking story about Mega Life and Health, a case that deserves as much visibility as we can give it. Mega is one of several insurance companies poised to exploit the erosion of group coverage through the relatively less-watched individual coverage market. It sends freshly recruited insurance sales people, often with little training in or understanding of insurance, door-to-door in middle and low-income neighborhoods. They sell policies that have high deductibles and severe restrictions on the amounts they will pay out.


    One former Mega salesperson, Jay Norris, posted a comment about his experience on his blog. He and I spoke, and he gave me permission to reprint that comment here.

    "I started out in the health insurance business with MEGA. I watched how all the successful agents sold policies, and that was by not mentioning what all wasn’t covered.
    They just made it sound like a simple plan with a co-pay, deductible, and 80/20 coinsurance.
    That’s the only way somebody would spend so much money on a policy that doesn’t cover anything, is if the agent lied to them.

    Once I understood what I was selling, I had to quit and become an independent broker

    The Doctor Weighs In.

    Corporate Criminals in the Health Insurance business!
    Complete with their own Death Panel.

    Mega Life and Health, complaints.

    What Mega life and Health sat about themselves.

    What the State of Texas reports, sure looks like these Health Insurance professionals are scoundrals of the first order.

  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. It's enough to make you sick.

    The way Dana Christensen sees it, she and her husband got scammed. In early 2001, seven years after Doug had successfully battled bone cancer, the couple needed new health insurance. So they were all ears when a representative from a group called the National Association for the Self-Employed knocked on the door of Doug's boat repair business in Marina del Rey, Calif. The rep offered what sounded like a great deal: For just $434 a month, MEGA Life & Health Insurance Co. would cover them both. The policy even carried a chemotherapy rider in case Doug's cancer came back.

    But when the cancer did return later that year, they received a shock: A few months after Doug started chemotherapy, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center refused to treat him anymore, saying he had already used up the MEGA coverage. The problem: It capped chemo coverage at $1,000 a day, even though Doug's cost up to $18,000 -- fine print Dana says they were never told about. The doctor got Doug transferred to another hospital. But after he died in October, 2002, at the age of 48, Dana was stuck with almost $500,000 in medical bills that MEGA refused to cover, and now lives on her boat to save money on rent. "He said to me one day, 'I know it's too late for me, but this should not happen to people,"

  61. The Mega Death Panel, that passes moral muster, but to have end of life consultations as part of the Federally mandated covered treatments is beyond the pale?

  62. It is hust not Mega that operates Corporate Death Panels, not by a long shot.

    Insurance Won't Pay NorCal Mom's Cancer Treatment -

    May 12, 2009 ... Other insurance companies do cover the procedure. Just a week after Andrews-Buta's treatment was denied by Blue Shield, a patient with similar cancers had her gamma knife treatment approved by a different ...

    A story relating to United Health Care:

    Holly Bailey says in the video that United Health Care refused to pay for medicine she couldn't live without.

    "They kept telling my local pharmacy...'Oh we're just waiting for one more letter, or we're just waiting for one more script, and then we'll start paying,'" Bailey said. "This went on for six months, and December 4th both the pharmacy and I received a letter from United Health Care saying they deemed it medically unnecessary and that they were not going to pay any of it.

    "I tried to explain to them that if I do not have this, I will die. And the only response she gave me was, 'OK.'"

    The stories are legend!

  63. Obamacare Amputation Estimation by Doctor Obama himself:

    "$30 thousand, 40, $50,000 dollars..."

    ACTUAL billing allowed by Medicare:$600

    Certainly, Doctor Obama should be given a pass for accuracy when his figure is only (slightly) off by a factor of less than 100!

    ...and medicare billing is 7 percent below cost, so hospitals make it up billing insurance companies and individuals.

  64. It's a crappy business, Rat. That's why I quit writing anything smaller than State Governments.

    Only, in the True "Large Group" do you not have these policies. That is why any "Reform" HAS to include 100% participation.

    Also, there, actually, is a Number (6.)

    6) No "Qualified" plan can be solt that doesn't meet certain criteria. ie. at least, %1,000,000.00 Total Coverage. All "Accepted" Treatments must, after meeting of co-pays, be covered. etc.

    In other words, there HAVE TO BE Standards.

    Actually, the plan I'm describing is, "Basically," the "Swiss" Model. It works very well for them.

    It would cost us some; but, if we keep the Government Option, out, it probably won't be as expensive as many fear.

  65. As a society we pay twice what the Canadians pay, per head.

    And leave medical decisions in the hands of corporate beancounters, who are not publicly accountable.

  66. And, the fact is, No Plan is Nirvana. There will, always, be horror stories. You just can't get away from it. You'll get them with "private" companies, and with Government run health care.

    In the longer run, the "Regulated" private system will work out best. But, you're dealing with "life or death" for millions of individuals. There Will be problems.

    So, we're not trying to get "perfect" healthcare. We're just trying to get healthcare for the ten, or twenty millions that don't, Now, have it.

  67. We've got to cap those private payments, too, doug.
    One way or another.

    The US cannot be spending upwards of the projected 21%, nor the current 17%, of GDP and be competitive in the whirled markets.

    The over all economic effects will be worse than the McMansion boom and bust, if this level of unprecedented spending continues.

    Paying twice what the Canadians pay, per capita. With only a 9% increase in survivability. That level of opulent living cannot be sustained, no more than 6 mpg dually trucks powered by 460 cubic inches of Ford engineering can be justified as daily drivers for insurance salesmen, anymore.

    It is an affront to our long term National Security, such misappropriation of assets on a national level. Outdated and inefficent benefit systems that are aided and abetted by our Federal tax policies and our tort system.

    All of which combine to make US less than effective on the whirled stage.

  68. HMO Trauma: Denied Treatment

    Special Report By Jamie Court, Consumer Health Care Advocate

    Corporate medicine is intent on shackling health care expenses by doctors and other medical profes-sionals against the interests of patients. For the patient denied treatment, this is an adversarial system.

    How can patients or their allies help themselves in a system that is set up not to help them get treatment?

    Your tactics must be those of negotiation. Everything is negotiableÅwith the HMO, the HMO doctor, and the HMO hospital. In a negotiation, establishing what is reasonable is the goal. What should a reasonable person have to do in order to document his or her need for treatment? What should a reasonable cooperation have to provide and how long should it take? Is the company reasonably living up to the letter and spirit of state law? Reasonableness always includes a reasonable timetable. When will a decision be made to approve care? Who is the decision-maker? How long will it take to schedule the procedure? What is the longest it will take before this doctor sees me? These are the types of standards someone negotiating with their HMO or HMO doctor must require.

    HMOs have time on their side. They will delay as a tactic of denial. Because most patients cannot sue HMOs for a denial or delay of treatment and receive damages if they prevail, the company has an incentive to stonewall. A seriously ill patient may not have the energy for a struggle and others close to them must take on that role. So what can a patient or their allies do?

    There are some general rules one can follow in dealing with HMOs, but there are no panaceas, simply precautionary measures


  69. But I would bet an Amero against a donut that the boys at Pogust Braslow & Millrood LLC., are on your side, doug.

    The stories sound like nightmares. A cancer patient is denied chemotherapy because it is "not covered" under the policy. A heart patient cannot obtain her medication because it is "experimental" or "not covered" under the policy. A patient cannot go to the best specialist for his condition because the doctor does not "participate" in the insurance plan.

    These stories are real, and they happen every day as a result of health insurance companies that put their profits ahead of their insureds' need for the finest medical care possible. At Pogust Braslow & Millrood, we recognize how unjust this situation is, and we fight the medical insurance companies to insure that our clients receive all of the treatment they are entitled to, so that they can remain healthy or recover from their illnesses and live many years.

  70. We can always import Doctors from India and Pakistan, if there is a real shortage of trained staff, here in the US.

  71. There are Always "tradeoffs." When the patent ran out on Prilosec, the company tweeked a molecule, and called it "Nexium." The consumer now had a choice. Omeprazole, the generic of Prilosec, or Nexium.

    The VA said, "No Contest, Omeprazole it is." That was fine with me, because Prilosec/omeprazole works just fine. Savings to VA: About $120.00/mo.

    Same with Crestor. They would start you out with Simvastatin (generic Zocor,) and then move you up to 80 mg if the 10, or 20 wasn't doing it. Made sense to me (but, since heart attacks are a bit more serious than heartburn, it seemed, maybe, a Bit less inconsequential.

    Then there is "last year's" Cancer Drug, and "This Year's" Cancer Drug. Now, we're getting even more serious. NOW, even the "Big Boys" (Blue Cross, Humana, etc) start making "tradeoffs."

    This will, ALWAYS, be a "Messy" business.

  72. rufus, as I've pointed out before, what concerns me about your "plan" is that there is nothing to contain costs. If everyone must be insured (good idea) and there is no mechanism to contain costs then "everyone" must pay whatever the "bill" is.

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  74. and the "bill" will be what they choose to submit.

  75. ... India, where well-educated doctors are plentiful ... India has a huge pool of talented doctors. 20,000 new doctors graduate every year in India. ...

  76. ... the AMA and the government-appointed Council on Graduate Medical Education have recommended that US medical schools maintain a near-steady supply of 16,000 new doctors a year, despite a population increase of 24 percent between 1980 and 2000.

    The medical industry has created a Doctor shortage in the US, while foreign competition could drive down costs, here at home.

    But the Federals will not let the qualified Doctors into the country. Yet another subsidy to the high cost status que. We'll let low cost goods into the country, to undercut the US labor market, but not let educated doctors in to compete with our over paid Doctors.

    The medical industry has limited supply, to increase demand.

    YaleGolbal Online.

  77. If there are a thousand insurance companies selling a "qualified" policy then you can bet "premiums" will be competitive.

    However, it just occurred to me that you are not talking about that. You're saying, "Who is going to control the Drug Costs, or the type of MRI machine used, etc.?

    I guess costs will be controlled the same way they are in the rest of our "free market" system. In a raucous, haphazard, hit-or-miss, chaotic manner. Just like buying a car, I suppose.

    Now, a standardized "minimum" policy would have one very large advantage. It would be easily compared, and the institutions that provide that care will be to a large part "calculable."

    But, again, Ash, you run into the Big Buggaboo. You don't want to cut costs to the point that you're not getting innovation, or service. No offense to Canada, but if the whole worl was on the Canadian System, a lot of our advancements would not have been made. The Same thing would have to be said about the VA.

  78. One thing, "Complexity" is the "Enemy" of the Consumer when it comes to Insurance/Healthcare. A "Simple" minimum policy will have coverages "delineated."

    The Hospital, or Clinic will know what the "Limits" of the Coverages are.

  79. Advancement to what, rufus?

    Everyone will still die. No matter the advancements made, here.

    How much should the US budget to Health Care and medical science?
    I'd submit that 17% is unsustainable.

    Analogous to the McMansion expansion:
    In 2001 about 1 in 8 homes exceeded 3,500 square feet, which was more than triple the average new home in 1950 (983 square feet). We have gone beyond shelter and comfort.

    Again, as in Health Care, it was Federal subsidies that drove the housing market forward in its' misappropriation of US capital, booming into a bust of an unprecedented nature.

    Another cause of this relentless upsizing is that the government unwisely promotes it. In 2005, about 80% of the estimated $200 billion of federal housing subsidies consists of tax breaks (mainly deductions for mortgage interest payments and preferential treatment for profits on home sales), reports an Urban Institute study. These tax breaks go heavily to upscale Americans, who are thereby encouraged to buy bigger homes. Federal housing benefits average $8,268 for those with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000, estimates the study; by contrast, they're only $365 for those with incomes of $40,000 to $50,000. It's nutty for government to subsidise bigger homes for the well-to-do.

    Then of course, there's Energy Independence to think of:

    Homes exceeding 3,500 square feet use about 40 percent more energy than those between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet, says the Energy Information Administration. Suppose electricity or natural gas prices rise because (for example) new power plants or terminals for liquefied natural gas aren't approved.

    Just as Federal tax policies helped to fuel the housing bubble, so to does it fuel the current inflation in Health Care expenses.

    The third party payer system has not delivered value, even if consumer acceptance of it is high. It is an accetance of the status que, based upon real ignorance of any alternatives.

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  81. As for valuing lives at different worths, that has been done by government for time immemorial.

    So the Obama Doctor places more societal value on young workers than on the aged or incompetent.

    Nothing new or groundbreaking, that. As the mortality chart indicated, there is almost a flatline mortality until fifty.
    Almost no one dies.

    So taking care of those few, first, makes societal sense.

    As to the children, he may be referencing those that rufus talks of, those children left to die in foreign lands. That the doctors there do not even try to save, because of the long term societal costs.

    Remember the "300", if only we could emulate those ancient mores, today, was the oft heard lament.

    If only we could be Spartanesque.

    They held a Death Panel, at birth.
    And we hold them in high esteem.

  82. Ahh, I don't know, RAt. Them Spartans were pretty much, Ippso, Nuttso.

    We admire the fighting ability of the Honey Badger, but no one wants to take one home. Eventually, their "society" fed upon, itself, till it just curled up and died.

    We can probably sustain 17%, or thereabouts. We have the highest (admittedly, depending on how you measure it) productivity in the world. A large part of that has to be that our people are "fit" enough to work long hours. A part of that has to be "healthcare."

    Both, liberal/socialists, and conservative/reactionaries are flogging their own agendas. I feel like I'm proposing a "third way."

    Socialism/Communism is Death, Economically. Conservatism/Reactionarianism is Death, Socially.

    We figured out awhile, ago, that we do better with a "mix" of the two. It would be horrific to put the Socialists in charge of healthcare. It's almost as bad to leave Millions of fellow Americans without adequate healthcare. We don't Need to do either.

    I'm afraid, though, that a "middle" way might not be possible this time around. The battle lines are firmly drawn, and the Troops are itching for a fight. Too bad.