Category Archives: Insurance

This is one of the Reasons the RINOs were hounded out of the GOP

To prevent them, our Senator David Durenberger and a host of others included, from introducing a law like the one President Obama got passed.

They will pass laws forcing a woman to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan but they’ll let her child die without insurance after it is born. I guess that’s their idea of God’s will.

Cheap money makes us stupid

Eleven PM, Saturday. I should be going to bed. Feeling hot and sweaty. Just clicked a link to a blog post Vic sent me. This one is by the Atlantic’s Meg McCardle.

Meg predicts that we are in for a series of new financial shocks this time in the commercial real estate world. A quarter trillion of possible defaults could take place each year for the next couple of years. It may not be the end of the world but its not got to be good.

This passage comes near the end of her post:

The best explanation for the calamity that has overtaken us may simply be that cheap money makes us all stupid. The massive inflows of international capital, which Ben Bernanke has called the “global savings glut,” poured into our loan markets, driving interest rates lower and, since most real estate is purchased with borrowed funds, pushing up the price of property in both the commercial and residential sectors. Rising prices, in turn, disguised any potential problems with the borrowers, because if they ran into cash-flow problems, they could always refinance, or sell. Everyone was getting bad signals from the market, and outlandish purchases looked almost rational.

That answer isn’t quite satisfying, especially in the face of another financial meltdown. We don’t want ambiguity and complex systems; we want heroes, villains, and a happy ending. But by now we should all know that real-estate markets are rarely the stuff of fairy tales.

Read the whole thing but if you are not an economist or a commercial landlord you may have a hard time following it.

So having read it I’m all hot and sweaty. Why? Well, I wanted to be something of a political sage, like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mocking Bird. I might be trapped in insane times but I’d personally stand up to the foolishness and do what was right. Well, I’ve not been very successful at that.

This notion of easy “cheap” money is much on my mind. Early on in my fight against the denial of a referendum on the Red Plan I ran across a UM Law Professor who was telling me about a book he’d been reading. The upshot was that bankers loved to have government borrow money because government in the US never goes bankrupt. All the state constitutions with the exception of one require that state’s never go into default. In Minnesota’s case ( and probably most other state’s cases) subdivisions like Cities that get into financial trouble can tell banks and bond companies to have the state pay up should they go into default.

Under these circumstances what banker wouldn’t lend government more than it could easily handle? And so Duluth’s school board got the biggest single school construction project in state history. It won’t save money on energy. It will cost double what the District told voters. The banks will be paid back by the taxpayers because that’s how it works. Easy money and everybody who is part of the project can hide behind school children and say Its for our city’s future.

I’ve been fighting two battles over the past three years having to do with the foolishness easy money provokes. The Red Plan is the first and its taken up three quarters of my energy. The other has been very personal and I’ve only alluded to it occasionally in the most veiled way. Continue reading

Cure for Health Insurance – Capitalism

Barrons has a provocative review about a new book which suggests that there is nothing wrong with American health care that a little capitalism can’t cure. Here’s a sample.

“Imagine the expense of car insurance if it covered oil changes and routine maintenance, the way health insurance covers annual check-ups and routine medication. Imagine, further, the cost of car insurance if there were no insurance adjusters, so that people could take their car to any body shop or mechanic without inquiring about the price in advance.

The 46 million uninsured Americans turn out to include considerably fewer seriously afflicted people than we usually hear: Their numbers are not growing any faster than the total population. About half who don’t have insurance at any particular time get it within five months. One-third of the 46 million earn more than $50,000 in the year in which they are counted. Many are in good health and simply don’t need medical care. If they do get sick and are poor they can sign up for Medicaid at the hospital emergency room.”

Duluth Solutions – Noon to 1 today

My campaign Manager, Chris Correia, is holding an online discussion with Duluth City Councilor, Don Ness, today at noon on his forum  Its open to anyone who logs in. I’ll probably lay low because I’m challenging Don’s employer Congressman Oberstar and Chris is my campaign manager.

Don is given lots of grief about being such a friendly, smiley guy but he’s genuine. When Don saw me gathering petitions to run against his boss last July in downtown Duluth, he gave me a pained but friendly smile and asked: “Harry, What are you doing to me!”

I don’t envy the task Don and the other city councilors face in Duluth with a looming $300 million liability to cover retiree’s healthcare benefits. It’s reportedly growing by $40,000 every day that the city does nothing. I have strong opinions about the failure of the City to limit its liabilities starting from the moment it self-insured itself decades ago when health care seemed a cheap trade off. I’m sure that the topic will come up as it has been hashed out in the media for the past two years.

Anyone wishing to bone up on the story before typing in some questions for Ness might check here or here.

After thinking about the partisan nastiness in Washington D.C. over the past decade I can’t help but admire anyone as cheery as Ness. Its too bad cheeriness can’t will away problems like the ones Duluth faces.

Those interested in taking part in the conversation or keeping their options open for doing so are advised to register at the site in advance. If they don’t they will only be able to watch it unfold online.

186 grand for Grams from Insurance

My son took a call for me yesterday from a Grand Rapids pharmacist. I called him back this morning and he told me a tale of woe; how the insurance industry monopoly was nailing him and his industry to the wall. After I’ve researched the anti-monopoly Fair Trade Act of 1941 and set up a travel itinerary we’ll have coffee to talk about it.

Coincidentally my manager sent me a link to Open Secrets which lists Rod Grams’ major contributors for the years he was in the Senate. Coincidentally, the Insurance industry was number two on the list at $186,000.

I asked the fellow how it happened that he’d heard of me and he told me he’d read about me after picking up a Reader Weekly in Grand Rapids. I had no idea they were distributed that far away.