Massachusetts

Massachusetts! Yes, Massachusetts gave you Scott Brown to defeat Obamacare, President Obama, Harry Reid, et al. It was a clear indicator from a state often called “the bluest of blue” (which I might contest) that people Did Not Want the so-called “Affordable” Care Act.

Instead of “passing” the law as was, in a manner that at least bordered on fraudulent, don’t you wish now, Dems, that you had gone for that “oh man, we BARELY lost by ONE vote, maybe next time” loss?

Massachusetts Did Not Want the law passed, enough to muster the people’s votes against it then. Massachusetts! And you blew it.

Talking About Basic Nonsense

The often sensible if excessively socially conservative John Hawkins has a bizarre piece at Townhall.com that I just can’t resist going through. It’s long, twenty points, and that may be part of its problem. When you’re trying to come up with that much in the face of a deadline…

(Update: I will update this when I have a chance, to show the gist of each original point, so it will not be imperative to read the original to make sense of this. OK, paraphrase, condensed version or copy of point being addressed is indented above each numbered response.)

People who wish to change sexes should see a shrink. Apparently rather than being allowed to, on a reread of the source.

1. People who wish to change genders were not, last I knew, allowed to do so without the advice of a psychologist. That doesn’t mean it’s good advice. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an industry of enablers, as might also be the case with convincing people they have conditions that allow them not to work, or never to grow up, or to live as professionally needful whiners. “OMG I am crazy and always wanted to be a girl” is no excuse for not having a life and taking some responsibility. Nor is it anyone’s business if you want to invert or extend your parts, even if you will never look feminine, or masculine, so long as you are not a societal leech. You have the right to do it. Others have the right to mock it. Nobody but you has any obligation to pay for it, or your general support.

“Most people who remain poor over the long haul in America stay that way because of their own poor life choices.”

2. That sounds like something one of the Lucky Few Generation might believe, having hit everything just right. It sure helps to make good decisions, but conservatives who dismiss timing and luck as factors and are holier than thou just come acorss as low-credibility cretins. It also helps to learn the skills and principles associated with success and good decisions, which makes parenting a rather overlooked factor.

“Most black Americans are good and decent people, but percentage wise there are more black Americans in jail because percentage wise, black Americans commit a lot more crimes than white Americans.”

3. Maybe. Or maybe the pointless drug war goes after them disproportionately. Driving while black? How about toking while black. In any event, most blacks are good and decent people, some of the best, so no disagreement there. It is unfortunate that the fascist left since FDR has used them as a permanent underclass to gain and maintain power, though I perceive that to be eroding. For that matter, referring back to item 2, poor is the new black.

“As often as not in America, the people claiming to be “victims” are the real bullies and they don’t deserve anyone’s sympathy.”

4. No real comment here, since it only purports to be common, not absolute, and strikes me as true enough. There is an element of bludgeoning the rest of us with need, with a claim to being maligned if the sense of entitlement is denied.

Politicians are shameless liars because people vote what they want to hear, not truths.

5. An actual truth, as I perceive it, though given enough chance and impetus, voters might just surprise you.

We owe less to illegal aliens even than to foreign nationals, because they broke the law.

6. Essentially correct, if you operate on the basis of closed borders, and even if you subscribe to the “two hands, one mouth” theory of what immigrants, legal or not, bring. Since Mexico has an economy and we don’t, these days, it’s less of an issue, and it’s not an inverse issue, since Americans are less inclined to leave their family and walk a thousand miles in search of work most people wouldn’t want to do, out of desparation. Or they could stay home and make good life choices!

“Life begins at conception and having an abortion is no morally different than strangling your baby in the crib.”

7. Do we really want to go there? Having kids made me both more willing to accept abortion, and more appreciative of the little parasites developing to the point of intelligence and personality at some point while still in the womb. Until they are viably separate enough to be raised by someone not the biological mother, though, they are indeed parasites, and about as welcome as illegal aliens are to some folks.

“Most liberals aren’t patriotic and they don’t love their country.”

8. Maybe. Not all, but I certainly know some. Yet they would be first to have the schools use instilled patriotism as doublespeak indoctrination and a mind control tool. (Added thoughts…) It is far more important to love freedom than a given country. The same might be said of hardcore libertarians, who are loyal to positive principles more than to place or political status quo.

Avoid civilian casualties but ultimately lives of our soldiers rank higher.

9. Damn straight. Except we should not be involved in conflicts that make civilian foreign casualties a factor without incredibly good reason, none of which currently exist, even if they did in the last dozen years.

Ignorant, ill-informed rabble shouldn’t vote.

10. Arguably, perhaps, but the same sort of class superiority that makes you look down on the poor, and gives you more in common with the left than with real people. This statement is up there with “if you didn’t vote, you lost the right to complain,” which is one of the most shallowly ignorant sentiments I’ve seen. It never fails to make me see red. So are you going to be the one to decide, Mr. Dictator-in-Waiting? That’s where the sentiment leads.

“The only practical way to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is for the Israelis to transfer the Palestinians and take their land.”

11. Ah, Israel. Land that leftist American Jews refuse to support, at least as indicated by voting patterns, if not universally otherwise. Israel, and its annexed lands that the owning countries gave up on and didn’t want the residents back from. The ones who are Jordanians or whatever, but call themselves “Palestinians.” Yeah, keep the land. Evict the people. Even though Arabs live peacefully in Israel proper, and it’s probably the best place for them to be in the greater Middle East and Persia. A friend once told me, probably about 1978, that the solution would be for Israel to become an American state. Never happen, but amusing idea that’s never lost its charm for me.

This is a christian nation dammit!

12. This is a nation of religious freedom and open arms, which has something of a Judeo-Christian tone without being overtly religious. I wouldn’t say that makes it a “Christian nation” with “Christian principles.” I consider those who keep harping otherwise to be somewhere between looney and dangerous. Nor is the presence of “in God we trust” or a national Christmas tree worthy of concern to your average atheist, agnositic or pagan. Especially the latter to the latter, since it’s pagan borrowing.

“Men are just generally better at some things than women, just as women are just generally better at some things than men are.”

13. The most accurate thing yet. Men and women. We are not the same. Nobody is saying women should stay barefoot and pregnant, simply by observing reality. Duh.

Racism was once big deal, now a tool of phonies et al.

14. Another accurate item! “Racism” of late has become a cudgel, even as it’s fading away to nothing in reality.

“Long term, the only way our country can pay its bills is by asking everyone who’s not dirt poor to pay as much in taxes to the government as they’re given in services if they want to continue to receive those services.”

15. And hey, why not make the dirt poor pay and pay too, since that’ll teach ‘em not to make bad decisions. But seriously, this is too brief to be analyzed well, though it’s on the right track. Except… at this point, even that is not going to be enough to pay the bills, assuming we’re not talking about repudiating some or all the national debt that cannot ever be repaid without an explosion of productivity and fiscal sanity. Which, yes, would include people paying for services or not getting them. The more of them privately provided and not within the government sphere at all, the better.

Mother and father better at raising children than singles, gradparents or gay parents.

16. Two parental units are always better than one, unless that “village” is awfully responsive, and not too busy helping with someone else’s much older kids who are far more able to take care of themselves than yours. But… they can’t be gay parents? Seriously? Are you a fucktard? An asshat? Or grandparents?! What’s this, ageism? Does this apply to parents who are old enough to be grandparents? Why mess with the point of “single parents have it harder and are less likely to have great results” by bringing in extraneous prejudices?

Boy Scouts can’t survuve gay scoutmasters because lust trumps all, gay male to young male just as straight to young female.

17. But it’s OK to have a lesbian Girl Scout leader alone with your daughter? I know! Let’s make all Boy Scout leaders lesbians, and all Girl Scout leaders gay men. Problem solved! Or we could try our best simply to have responsible, trustworthy adults who are good examples and would protect and defend but never harm their charges. Naw, never work.

Homeless = mentally ill. Contain or help them in spite of themselves.

18. I missed this one on my original reading, perhaps because my head was spinning with WTF by this point. Not actually out of line, since the homeless problem originated with Reagan’s well-intentioned reduction of the former system for handling the mentally ill. On the other hand, where do we stop with the involuntary “help,” and ho decides “mentally ill”? Didn’t the Soviets used to lock up their “mentally ill”? When I was a kid, this was the stuff of nightmares for me.

“If you have good character, you should feel ashamed of taking food stamps, taking welfare, or being on a school lunch program.”

19. I daresay most people are, but it’s bad when that deters you from bothering at all. Further, what is meant by “school lunch program”? In our town, school lunches are $2.50 and do not serve $2.50 worth of food, and yet it has always been my understanding that even this is subsidized, which is why the feds exert so much control over it and have made it so kids throw so much away as unpalatable. If you are poor for your family size, actually the same guideline as SNAP (food stamps), school lunch is 40 cents, while milk alone is 50 cents either way. That is actually a worthwhile discount, since it costs us somewhat more than that to make a lunch. However, we make lunches half or more of the time, since so much of it is food the kids won’t eat, or can’t due to allergies. As far as I have ever been able to determine, free lunch only goes to kids whose parents are on food stamps. Ironic, since we would qualify, and could use the little bit it would provide, but I gave up on applying after the local food stamp office blacklisted me for rudely expecting them to respond to a renewal application after the one year we received benefits. Luckily, the year we most needed it. Of course, we probably made bad decisions that made us poor, which probably means we have bad character, so why would we have any shame? Glad you feel so superior.

Most immigrants should be well-educated Europeans, not losers from rest of world.

20. Racist! Well, maybe not, but think about it… doesn’t that sound like it? Except it’s not that so much as classism, which has been what much of the list was about.

ITYM 2003

I was amused by this lament, even as I can relate to it. I forget that Jacobson is a relative blogging newbie. Thus for me it’s not 2008 that was the heyday, similar to what he described, of conservative – and liberarian and just plain interesting personal/general – small bloggers, but 2003. Thus the blog title tagline here about 2003 (until I change it, which I will sometime).

2008? At that point we’d been betrayed by Bush, and McCain of all people was the nominee. Obama won, to carry out something all too closely resembling a third Bush term. It’s hard to say McCain wouldn’t have been worse, or certainly as bad. The only thing positive I can say about Bush 2004 is President Kerry. Ugh. I mean, seriously, how could he even get nominated, let alone elected to the senate, even from Massachusetts? Then again, the idiots in Massachusetts just elected Elizabeth Warren. Then again, she has more brain cells to rub togeher than Kerry ever did. But I digress.

Anyway, the original blogs gave way to corporatization, going big or going away, and to social media having supplanted aspects of what blogging was circa 2003. I still have many online friends (and Deb) as a result of that, but there are people who are big names now whom I don’t know the same way, or who have changed beyond recognition, or perhaps whom I don’t really want to know. Either there have not been smaller upstarts to fill the void, or I have not come across them. Then again, I stopped blogging almost entirely for a while, or got muddled at it. Things change.

Yeah

Picking through the rubble.

 

Yeah, I feel like an ass for not voting Gary Johnson. Especially in Massachusetts, where it doesn’t matter either way. I had a notion that the vote for Romney would be closer in this state than anyone would expect, and thought I’d contribute to that end. Especially since Gary Johnson was arguably the best Liberarian candidate ever.

The candidate we really needed was Bill Weld.

He got no traction with the Republican party, though, because he was a libertarian. He was what I think of it meaning to be a Republican. After him, Cellucci was close, but not quite. Jane Swift was kind of a joke by comparison, but more in an in over her head competence thing. I still thought it was rude the way Romney shoved her out of the way to start his presidential run in the form of being a governor. I disliked that before I disliked RomneyCare. Then he became presidential and outshone all the others this time. There is probably nobody who has run for President who would be a viable future candidate. Not sure who is a viable candidate. It’s possible Ryan is too socially conservative, and that part must go. But I digress.

Question One

I’m still torn on Massachusetts ballot question 1, which involves access to onboard diagnostic data from your car.

On the one hand, “there otta be a law” is one of the most evil phrases and reactions out there, and that seems to be what this is. That gives it to the status quo, but often the status is not quo. Rather, it’s warped, by all the cumulative otta-be laws, and all the existing assumptions and regulations. Put another way, the tabula is not rasa.

On the other hand, and the one I lean toward, especially after thinking through the above paragraph, you buy it, you own it, and you own your data. Period. If your car tracks information about its condition, that information is yours, to be able to access freely and use as you please.

The other two questions are no brainers, barring any qualms one may have over either of them being poorly written and thus flawed in some way.

Insurance Games

I work at a large company that provides a health insurance benefit for part time employees who have worked there over 1000 hours, or about a year. We’re drawing toward the end of the second year of that.

There are two plans. Let’s say that one costs $10 a month and has pathetic coverage, a catastrophic plan that is marginal until you have been personally responsible for $5250, after which it pays everything that it covers. That’s over 1/3 of my gross income there, and could easily be half of someone’s income, depending on location and seniority. That’s equivalent to an out of pocket maximum closer to $25,000 on the income I’d need in order to be out the other side of the donut hole. I am up over $3000 of that so far this year. That’s a lot of years of making sure the providers get at least $10 a month to avoid having it sent to collections.

The other plan, which I was on last year, costs five times as much, and covers much more. That year, I only saw a doctor a few times, and for whatever reason I never saw a bill. I’m pretty sure I should have seen bills for a portion of each office visit. I was supposed to have been on the same plan, but the company defaults your choice to the bottom plan, and in a tricksy accident I was not allowed to select the one I wanted. You know that’s a guarantee I’d actually need the coverage for that year. In six more days, I will get to select again, which is a relief.

I am also covered, into the beginning of next year, by the part of RomneyCare called Health Safety Net, which is backstop coverage for people who are poor, but not so poor, and have crappy insurance that they can’t actually afford to use but that satisfies the mandate. I had thought that covered all the things, and that was why I never saw one bill from the doctor last year. However, it covers stuff at hospitals and “community health centers” (what are those? where? who designates them? couldn’t tell you!), but not at regular practices. That would encourage one to hit the ER for something relatively mundane, which makes no sense, given the alleged overuse of ERs by poor people was the driving force behind RomneyCare. I have never done that in my life, and it would never occur to me, unless I had an emergency. The practice I use has after-hours urgent care that’s pretty easy to get into, and they have people on-call for emergency visits. Usually seeing a nurse practitioner, but no need for more for most things. Heck, when middle child broke her arm, we went there, not ER. NP saw her and then our family doctor, who is her boss, stepped in to help put on a cast. We didn’t even have to see the orthopedic people.

As an aside, the wife is on separate insurance, through her employer, and the kids are fully covered by RomneyCare, but we pay a monthly premium for that. Not sure how we’d do it if kids were on an employer plan for probably more additional premium than the state charges, but were not as well covered. I know! We’d magically up our income tens of thousands of dollars to get to the other side of the donut hole. Can I digress like a fiend, or what?

Where was I? The point of this was to discuss my EOB (explanation of benefits) for the 34 hours I spent at the hospital, getting a cardiac catheterization that resulted in two stents, followed by time in a room for observation – otherwise I’d have been home same day.

The cath and stent procedure was free as part of a large study I agreed to participate in for the privilege of it being free, and not having to be transferred to another hospital if they found blockage that could be treated with stents. (Bypass would have required transfer, since there is not a full cardiac unit there – thus the study showing the efficacy of hospitals being able to do stents without full cardiac units.) I thought that was cool, and a worthy goal. Cost didn’t matter so much, since RomneyCare would backstop the hospital charges.

On the EOB, there is no indication that anything about the event was “free.” It may be that there is some tiny portion of the charges that is what they actually meant that is not noticeable in its absence. The hospital billed over $60,000 for the 34 hour stay, plus another $2500 for the hospitalist in charge of me for most of that time. Great guy. Chatted with him twice, briefly. He even gave me his cell number in case I needed anything after I got home and couldn’t reach anyone. Even in the middle of the night… call. Except… his number was nowhere on any of the paperwork. Oops.

About $40,000 of the total on the main bill was “physician” charges. Since the hospitalist was covered elsewhere (and the insurance actually covered all but around $400, after discounting it to about $1600 they’d actually cover), that was all for the excellent cardiologist who did the “free” procedure and presumably the anesthesiologist. I expected the retail on the procedure not to be cheap. Specialized room, team of people, special prep and recovery area, special skills and equipment… but, yeah, don’t think so, especially “free.” The room overnight, amazing nurses, meals, whatever… those were apparently around $4000-5000 of the total charges.

Anyway, insurance denied most of it, either not covered or separately billed items already included elsewhere not being allowed. I maybe should have called this “hospital games,” since the culprit here appears to be the hospital, but I suspect this is what they have been trained to do by the government and insurers, as self-defense. If my old business could only have collected 30% of what we billed our clients, our prices would have gone up accordingly, and every scrap of any billable time or expense would have been included. Like when I’d go to four people to solve minor problems in 15 minutes, that was our minimum increment of .25 hours (which was too low), it could instead have been four minimum charges for four incidents, making it 1 hour.

The part they didn’t deny, but discounted deeply, was the physician charges, implying that those are so large because they already incorporate all the supplies, labs, etc. Net result is almost as low an insurance payment for the 60k as for the 2.5k. The other thing they paid is a tiny indigent care surcharge the state collects.

I was pretty amused by the whole thing. I’d never be able to pay my share of it regardless, so as well for them it’s backstopped. But it makes me wonder what they bill RomneyCare now, and what that coverage allows them to get paid for. Is the 60k thing a ploy to get a ton of state money? Or will the state pay only what the insurer left me for a balance? No idea. What should happen is I will either never see a bill from the hospital, or I will remind them of HSN if I do, and will never see anything else about it.

I was opposed to RomneyCare, and can’t believe I am supporting Mitt for President, not that there’s a choice, but with actual enthusiasm. It has been good to us, though. Not that times should have been this rough. I call myself “pragmatic libertarian, because I’d love to see that pure society, but we have to get there from here. You can’t just snap fingers and make it so. You have to backtrack through the bramble maze. People can’t be left in the lurch as if there is and has always been a free market economy. It’s an interesting question, then, how you backtrack to FDR, undo the effects of wage controls that made health insurance a free perk of employment that could differentiate employers, undo the effects of insurance being for maintenance, not “insurance,” and undo the effects of later adding Medicare/caid in part because of the effects of FDR on the market, making matters vastly worse. You can’t just press Ctrl-Z on entrenched policies and their aftermaths. I hope we can make a start, though, before it gets out of hand.

Elizabeth Warren

By now you’ve probably seen the news that Elizabeth Warren has been practicing law in Massachusetts without a license. I just wanted to note that I hope it’s the final straw that causes any slim hope she might have had of winning to collapse. She’s an absurd candidate. Democrats can do better. Not sure what they’re thinking, first with Coakley and now with Warren. And that doesn’t even get out of the state level, to what they must have been smoking to nominate Kerry. Especially when Bush was so potentially beatable that Kerry came surprisingly close.

Personally, I don’t believe in occupational licensing. If I thought she were a champion against the evils of government regulation of earning a living and freedom of commercial association, I might say more power to her for getting away with it. However, we all kwow there is no possible way that is the case, and instead it is a reflection of monuental hubris and/or stupidity. With Obama we have seen that you can be cunning or clever, yet stupid, sloppy or ignorant.

The Democrats are probably best off if she loses. Scott Brown is a Republican they can work with easily, which made it easier for him to be elected here. That gives six years for him to get more entrenched, sure, but also six years to find or groom someone with some principles, even if they are wrong in their conclusions and thus affiliation, and the ability to be competetive.

American Commodus

I love this!

I should really post about the 47% thing, which I saw somewhere corrected anyway, as far as who is not paying taxes and such, and how it’s not entirely a fair characterization. Thing is, Romney is allowed to use hyperbole and oversimplification in a fundraising speech to supporters. How scary does it sound to people who want Obama defeated and have the bucks to contribute, pointing out that there is a base that will automatically vote for him and that it’s large?

In reality, here in Massachusetts there is much disgust and dismay with Obama and ObamaCare among the working poor. If you could sever Boston and Cambridge from the state, I have little doubt Romney would carry Massachusetts. From here on the ground, I see him having a closer shot at it than you might expect. And not because he was much beloved as a governor, or RomneyCare is such a beloved accomplishment, whoever crossed and dotted the details once he’d padded his wannabepresident credentials with a single term.

So let’s get over the 47% thing already. I know that’s not the job of the press. The job of the press is to get Chavez Obama reelected, even if it’s not in their best interests.

Let’s try this again:

Romney, And The GOP, Still Haunted By The Legacy Of George W. Bush: I quit voting after that election, because having 43 on my conscience was more than I could take. Also, philosophical objections that are looking less and less applicable to the current climate. Romney may have his very, very bad points (and remember, I live in Mass so I’m suffering the consequences of some of them right now), but I’m really feel like this election may make or break any chance we have of a recovery, not just in terms of re-obtaining some of the America that was but in terms of getting the hell out of this depression. So I’ll probably vote for the son of a bitch, because it’s the last thing I can think of to do, short of getting ready for the revolution.

We should probably be prepping anyway, but it’s hard to put the money into it when you’re busy trying to just make sure that you have enough money to get to work so that you can buy more gas to get to work. We’ve been operating without a buffer for years, and all it has taken is a medical bill or two to sink us almost completely again. I just got a huge raise that is GONE with a new set of bills. Every time I think of how hard I worked for that and how much I was looking forward to buying a decent pair of shoes, I cry. But there are some things in life that are not optional. Food, shelter, and medical care come to mind.

My major beef with Romney is, of course, Romneycare. That’s a whole ‘nother post, and one I will no doubt get to soon. I do wonder, however, how well it might have worked if he had been involved in the implementation of the thing, rather than having to leave it to Deval Patrick.

The other reason I’m going to have to break down and vote is because Elizabeth Warren absolutely MUST NOT reach the Senate under any circumstances. And that election is absolutely winnable for Scott Brown. Thank God!

Town census this year still had me listed as registered, but I think I might double-check with the town clerk, just in case.

Formative Tree Killing

Yesterday I prepared the federal 1065 form and associated K-1 schedules for the business, which kept me up nice and late.  Since I had promised my partner it would be done for today, I had a deadline urging me on; something I find helpful.

Then I moved on to the Massachusetts Form 3 and schedules 3K-1 that are sort of the equivalent of their federal counterparts, but brief and largely reliant on attachment of the federal return to be completely informative.  As with the federal return, I rely on the forms being essentially the same year to year.  Between familiarity and comparability to the previous year’s return, it makes filling things out relatively painless.  Less painless than a root canal, for instance.

There is less to the state forms, making them even easier.  For 2002 and before, the main return was a single page.  The 3K-1 for each partner was a single page.  This still made what I sent the state thicker than what I sent the IRS, since I also had to include the seven pages plus two pages for each K-1, but the state form itself was a breeze.

So late last night I move on to the state forms, figuring to whip them together in no time and be done except maybe a bit of photocopying and stapling.

I did a double take.  As in having to look closely and make sure it was the correct form.

Massachusetts now has a four page form replacing the old one, asking all kinds of bizarre questions, and looking like a standardized test.  Why do they have to ask all these things now, yet they didn’t in the past?

Each 3K-1 is two pages now, instead of one page.

If the state forms had not changed, Massachusetts would be getting 20 pages of tax forms from me for the business.  Instead they will be getting 27 pages.  Why?  It’s just silly.  Most of the difference is more invasive questions that ought not matter.

Instead of trying so hard to squeeze businesses for as much as they can get of their worldwide earnings, which is the apparent point of many of the new, probing questions, they should work on making the state a magnet for businesses to locate and start in.  Tax revenue will follow.

Another thing they changed was to make all the numbers rounded.  In the balance reconciliation for each partner, you aren’t allowed to show that you are at 12,249.63, because they would much rather you say that you are at 12,250 instead.  Maybe I’m silly, but that just irks me not to be precise.  Oh well.

I’m just glad it’s over with for the year.  I still have to do my personal return, but that’s comparatively easy.

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