Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Fall of the GOP

So the GOP can add Rep Duncan Hunter and Paul Manafort (Not just Trumps campaign manager but also the RNC Treasurer) to the growing list of  Republican leadership indicted, convicted, or just having to resign due to scandals.
With the dual hit of Manafort and Cohen further implicating Trump in criminal matters the GOP needs to decide their fate, if its not already too late.
The last two years have seen a record number of disgraced politicians, most of them Republicans and a rise in white nationalists running for office under the GOP banner.

The GOP was discgraced under President Nixon but they did step up.  The modern GOP has yet to do so, choosing to hitch thier wagon to Trump and as each new scandal occurs they keep doubling down.
President Trump is..

  • Guilty of violating the emoluments clause of the US Constitution.
  • Lining his pockets at taxpayer expense by funneling money into his properties
  • Guilty of having the highest turnover and corruption in any Administration.
  • Dividing the country and promoting hatred and fear, rising hate crimes and mass shootings.
  • Alienating our allies and sucking up to our enemies.
  • Encouraging jobs being sent overseas and setting up a trade war that costs more jobs and may send us into a recession.
  • Attacking US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
  • Trampling on the Constitution, including vital rights such as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press.
  • Campaign finance violations and probably working with a hostile foreign power to ensure his victory.
That's just the highlights!
Some people do not believe or see all those things, but the number that do is growing as more and more examples and evidence emerges. At some point it will be obvious to even his most devoted supporters and then they will be angry at being lied to for so long. The GOP needs to decide do they ride the Trump train over the cliff or do they step up and put party over country and show some loyalty to the United States of America.
The longer they take the worse they look and the more of them like Jordan, Nunes, and Gowdy will go down in history as traitors to the country.
We are beyond appealing to their patriotism, now we need to hope they will start looking after their own survival and legacies.
And the ones that claim they do it for thier conservative agenda? They lie to you.  Pence would be far more effective at pushing it. The only reason they hold back is cowardice and greed.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Fantasy Trip

So Steve Jackson Games has launched a kickstarter for one of his earliest games.
The Fantasy Trip was one of the earliest roleplaying games, coming out in 1977 and it was incredibly easy to play. Steve Jackson wrote it when he was working for a company called Metagaming and has finally gotten the copyrights back to it.
So now they are making a revised edition that has already funded at over $230,000 with a $20,000 goal! Beyond this kickstarter they are doing another one next year, and already hired a line editor for the system.
$25 gets you ALL the PDFs and $30 gets you a box plus those PDFs, of course there is more stuff at higher levels.
If you like roleplaying this is a great opportunity.
GURPS is my favorite system but it is front loaded and this makes it appear more complex than other systems where you every first level character of a class is pretty much the same.
TFT gets you a simple fast playing game with 3 attributes that can be played as a simple arena game, more complex dungeon crawl or even a world setting.
It is ideal for teaching new players, especially kids about RPGs and the fun of face to face gaming over the dinner table or during lunch at school.
However it is still a solid game for long term play as well, so we get a good entry game and a good campaign capable game as well.

The Kickstarter is almost over so I wanted to spread the word even more.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Single Payer Week: Stay the same or change?

We have looked over a lot of material this week.
Do we want to continue the same procedures and hope things change for the better? Or do we change course and try for something that works better?

Single Payer is proven to be a cheaper and more effective solution than private insurance based health care. Given that its seems pretty strange anyone wants to keep doing it the old way.
One thing is certain, Health Care is on the minds of millions of Americans and we need to vote for those who are serious about working on this issue.

Thank you for reading through this series with me.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Single Payer Week: But Socialism!

Labels are handy tools for keeping a conversation short or weapons that work well as propaganda. The trouble is people forget labels are just shortcuts and often misleading.
Lets briefly hit some terminology first.Four types of economies Traditional, Command, Market, Hybrid.
Republicans want a Market system, Democrats want a more mixed system.
America is currently a mixed system and always has been, though ratios vary from year to year.
Communism, Socialism, Capitalism a fairly short explanation

Capitalism is great for a growing economy and encourages research, competitiveness but those left behind tend to get further and further behind and eventually you get a sort of generic lottery where your success is based on to whom you were born to more than how hard are effectively you work.

Socialism gives everyone an equal chance and opportunity but removes a lot of the incentives to work hard since your not bettering your personal situation as much.

Socialism is definitely a more humanitarian and Christian system but there is no doubt human nature makes capitalism more efficient at long term survivability and growth.
But like most things in life the answer to what is best lies not at the extremes but somewhere in the middle.
America was founded by reformers and liberals, though over time the definition has changed with the country moving further to the left.
Public Education started in Boston in 1821 and spread throughout the country. One side says the wealthy should pay for their own education and the poor can remain uneducated. Another side says the rich should share so that others have a chance to better themselves.
If your being honest you can see both sides but probably either argument is unconvincing in getting you to switch.
How about looking at it from a larger picture, one of patriotism?
 A better educated population is better prepared for the modern world and able to do jobs that require more education. Companies improve their products without having to import foreign talent. Those companies will make better products that more effectively compete in the world marketplace, bringing more wealth to the country.
Higher wages mean more money in the hands of consumers which means more demand for product which means companies make more money. Even better they have to higher more people to make and sell things so its a replenishing cycle.

I thought this was Health Care week?

Sorry, I just wanted to lay the foundation.
As above, one side says if you want health care you need to pay the costs yourself and one way to do that is through health insurance. Either you pay it all or your employer pays part as a benefit to attract workers. The other side says get the insurance companies out of it as they just increase costs and cut care to make higher profits.
But wait! If my taxes go to health care I am paying for other people to get medicare, is that fair?
How do you think insurance works? Get a lot of healthy people paying in and as few sick or likely to get sick people as possible so you have fewer payouts.
If your working for an insurance company you want to continue that system, anyone else though should take a serious look at Single Payer. It cuts costs dramatically by removing profits, marketing, lobbyists and bureaucratic systems put in place to make it harder for people to get coverage.
Government medical coverage is a social system, just like public education, military, law enforcement, and the fire department. However some things just make more sense as government programs than as private ones.
We do need to monitor it and talk out the details, those are important debates. But the current insurance based system is hurting the country so we need to change it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Single Payer Week: Paying for it

So how much will a single payer system cost us?
Different sources give different numbers, please research several sources before making a decision on it. Also some studies take into account current costs and others don't, which makes a difference in the results.
In 2016 the government spent 1.38 trillion on healthcare, including CHIP, Medicare, Medicaid and VA care, as well as tax deductions and subsidies.
Adding those who are uninsured or have private insurance will obviously increase that cost.
Where does the government get that money?
If my taxes have to go up to cover that dont I lose? Not likely.
Look at how much you spend on medical costs each year, include your insurance cost, deductibles and co-pays. Before I retired I paid as a single person about $80 a check and rarely went to the doctor until the last few years. This was about 6% of my paycheck towards private insurance.
What percentage do you pay? And if you or your family see a doctor that year add those costs to your total.
In my case if I paid 6% in taxes instead of to the insurance company, I broke even. If I actually used a doctor I came out ahead. The Sanders plan would cost 6.2% so I would pay more, most of my coworkers would pay less under his system.
Is that a good deal for me?

  • I pay a little more in years I dont use it but likely save money if I do use it, and save a lot if I used it several times.
  • I save a lot of hassle dealing with choosing a plan each year and if I do get sick a lot of hassle with paperwork and aggravation dealing with the insurance company.
  • Even if I don't use it I get the piece of mind my money is helping other people, including friends, family and coworkers rather than to the profit of an insurance company.
What about my employer? Will they save money or spend more?
According to most estimates employers would pay less than half what they pay now. One example we can see is that our major auto companies pay a lot less in Canada and eagerly embraced their single payer system over the cost of private insurance. 

Wait, if employees pay less and companies pay less, how can this work?

That question is what tripped me up for years and made me leery of this idea. However after some research I changed my mind and now embrace it.
Americans pay more than other countries for the same care. On average we pay twice as much for health care and a LOT higher prices on prescription drug costs.
Medicare pays about 3% on overhead, where insurance companies pay 15% to 25%. Why do they have so much overhead? Aren't private industries supposed to be more efficient? That money is spent on advertising, lobbying, marketing (to companies and doctors) and a complex system designed to make it harder for doctors to get paid. Government health care is aimed at treating patients as efficiently as possible and leave much of that to the doctor. Insurance companies do not want to pay for care so they can keep more of that money. think about your auto or homeowner insurance, they raise your rates if you use it to discourage you from using it.
So single payer will cut the actual money spent on health care in half! Imagine what we could do with all that extra money...

This is America, one of the greatest if not THE greatest countries in the world. Why d we pay more for less than everyone else? Are those who tell you single payer wont work saying our country is not up to the task of doing what almost every other country has been doing successfully for years? Sounds unpatriotic to me.

Some Sources

The Sanders Plan
Politifact review
Physicains for Single Payer Myths and Facts
Health Care Spending per Capita by Country or what your insurance company does not want you to know!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Single Payer Week: Follow the Money

The Republican party was paid over $5 million by insurance companies and over $4 million by pharmaceutical companies in the 2018 cycle. And remember this is a midterm, lobbyists usually pay more during presidential elections as more people vote.
How much did your rep take in?
My congressman Frank Lucas was given $44,000 by insurance companies, his largest contributor was of course security and investment companies at $97,500 and he has a safe seat so no real competition.
My Senators of course get most of thier money from energy and utility companies, though Senator Lankford received $301,000 from healthcare and $240,000 from commercial banks.
I just looked at the top 5 contributor industries for this election cycle. is easy to use for you to see who lines your representatives pockets.
Its possible to dig deeper using the FEC or other sites but all we need to know here is how much money they get from companies who want to fight single payer.
Insurance and drug companies like the current system, not many other industries do.  How about you?
The thing is we must consider when our representatives take in that kind of money will they ignore it when working on legislation or will they work with your interests in mind instead?
Those companies are not spending that money for nothing, they expect a return on that investment. Maybe its just tax breaks and lower regulations so that the lobbying costs pay for themselves. But there are going to want as much as they can buy for their money.

Follow the Money, always.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Single Payer Week: Advantage to employees and business

So we defined our terms and went over common scare tactics, now lets get into the detailsof will it work for America and how?
Today lets look at the possible advantages.


A big cost of business is employee wages and benefits. If a company can save money on health care it will be able to put that money elsewhere. Either in the pockets of shareholders or reinvest it in company growth.  Even if companies pay the exact same amount towards a healthcare tax they will save considerable money in HR costs and not dealing with insurance companies.  Also employees with access to affordable health care are healthier which saves lost work time and worse new hire expenses in replacing those that leave the work force.
If the company can actually pay lower costs in taxes than they do towards their current costs such as insurance and emergency sick programs they come out even farther ahead.


How much do you pay for your insurance out of each check? What are your copay's and deductibles? Do you know what your caps are? What if your a new hire and not eligible for insurance yet? What happens if you get laid off work? Do you have preexisting conditions? What if you see the doctor and then it turns out your not covered for that visit? Maybe they were out of network, a form was not filled out properly, or the procedure is just not covered even though they told you it would be?
Ever had any of that happen to you? Most Americans have, and it can be a crushing blow.
Now imagine if you just go in when you need to, no deductibles or copay's and your doctors office knew exactly what was covered because everyone has the same rules.
Ever been hurt on the job and have your work and insurance company fighting over who will cover the bill? Meantime, the doctor and bill collectors come after you.
What if your a contract, temp or part time employee? A lot of companies hire that way to avoid dealing with insurance costs. Can you make ends meet?

Medical Facilities and Doctors Offices

Ask your doctor the next time your in for a visit how much time and money they waste dealing with insurance companies. With the new junk insurance the GOP is pushing it will get even worse. Ask them if they would prefer a single set of understandable rules and coding. Ask them if they would prefer to prescribe the medication you need rather than what the insurance and drug companies push for?
To be fair they may not like what medicare pays but at least its predictable. And if everyone is on it, they can probably lobby for better pricing.

Single Payer Week: Scare Tactics

Single Payer opponents rarely use facts to counter it as those are easily refuted. Instead they try to overwhelm with scare tactics and shout their opponents down. Watch them and you'll see.

Common Scare Tactics

  • Its Socialism: While socialism can go to far the concept is not inherently bad. Other things that can be attributed to socialism, police, fire departments, Non profits that get tax breaks, including churches, FEMA and the National Guard going in for disaster relief, charitable contributions being tax deductible, Social Security, National Parks, and other ideas where the government helps the American people rather that let everything go wild.
  • Long wait times for care: Ask your friends from Canada or European countries about it, I have. ERs are based on Triage so see the ones at greatest risk first then everyone else. Other visits you call your doctor and make an appointment. In the USA you may have to wait to have the doctors office check with your insurance company but otherwise your delay is comparable to most other countries.
  • Its expensive!: The most conservative estimate (Koch brothers) says it will save $500 billion over the next ten years! Some say as much as $17 trillion, though most estimates come in around saving $2 trillion. Our current system means average medical costs are at least twice that of most countries, and drug prices even more than that.
  • Healthy people will have to pay the costs of sick people! Really Mr. Ryan? This should not even need to be addressed but that is exactly how it works now. Insurance companies charge people and hope they are low risk so they make a bigger profit.
  • Privatized Healthcare is anti capitalism! Doctors and hospitals will still be privately owned and run, all that changes is you pay the government instead of an insurance company. How well do you like your insurance company anyhow?
  • Government run programs are as efficient because they are not trying to make a profit. This IS true for some things. And is a strength of capitalism vs. say communism. However you need to look at the details. If a company produces a product and you dont have to buy it they need to sell it at a desirable price or you wont buy it. Health care does not work this way for most things. If your sick you need care and will pay anything you can to get better. Companies know this which is why prices are so high and the number one people go bankrupt in the USA is medical bankruptcy. Medicare is the most effecnt system in the USA because it has a low overhead and does not spend money lobbying or trying to create complicated policies to avoid covering you when you get sick.
  • But Venezuela! A popular Fox talking point. Venezuela like almost every other country in the world has socialist health care and the country is in sad shape. But so does Canada, England, Finland, Sweden, and again just about every other country in the world. They have it so bad because the government is corrupt. Are you really saying that America is so pathetic that instead of doing it better than everyone else we would do it worse?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Single Payer Week

Single payer, Medicare for all, universal health care, what do these things really mean?
In the upcoming week I will be posting an entry a day to explain the concept and what it means for Americans and business, and I look forward to comments and questions.
Starting off lets break down some of the words above.

Medicare For All

The idea here is that we already have a federal health care system for the elderly. Signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat) in 1965 as an amendment to the Social Security Act (Created by Franklin Roosevelt (D)). He also signed Medicaid into law at the same for the disabled. President Truman was actually issued the first Medicare card as part of the ceremony.
It was created because private health insurance was virtually unavailable to those over 65.  Health insurance companies make their profits by charging the healthy and avoiding paying the sick as much as they can. So if they can exclude people based on preexisting conditions or being to old they will in order to increase profits. The reason this has so much traction is it already exists and has a proven track record of low administration costs and overhead so its more efficient per medical dollar than any other system in the USA. The idea here is instead of creating a new thing we just expand it.

Universal Health Care

This is a less specific idea that seems to have less traction but the goal is the same. Create a new agency or process to provide funding for health care. Possibly funded by SSI, possibly another tax.

Single Payer

Really it all boils down to this. The idea is that instead of paying for insurance through your health insurance and its maze of deductibles, co-pays, and caps you use a government issued medical card and its covered by the government. See posts later in the week for plans on how its paid for.
It is important to note that this is not a take over of private medical care, anymore than Medicare or Medicaid uses government doctors instead of private doctors. It wont even completely abolish medical insurance, though they will have stiff competition and be used to cover specialized care such as elective surgery.

Friday, August 3, 2018

I am Pro-American

Listening to some of the news pundits and I found some agreeing with the goals but hating the term of Democratic socialism. They are right, there is a lot of baggage associated with the term as we have seen. I mean most people d not even understand what the term means so its easy for those opposed to it to misconstrue it. Some are even confusing it with communism, either deliberately or through ignorance.

So how about a new term?

Its hard but so far Pro-American is the best I have. When someone attacks the platform by name calling turn it around (Pull a GOP tactic).
  • I'm Pro-American, Americans should have good health care at affordable prices not ones inflated by insurance or drug companies. #Singlepayer
  • I'm Pro-American, I dont want my taxes wasted on corporate welfare and donor subsidies, single payer will save at least 2 TRILLION dollars in overall health care costs compared to the current system over the next ten years.
  • I'm Pro-American, I believe our kids should have access to quality education so that ALL Americans have the best chance at a better life and good paying careers.
  • I'm Pro-American, I believe Americans should decide who our representatives are and have them be accountable to US, not corporations, special interests, or foreign governments. #NoPACMoney
  • I'm Pro-American, I believe we should all have the right and opportunity to financial dignity and good paying jobs. Not struggling at 2 or even 3 part time jobs, or afraid of the next lay off.
  • I'm Pro-American, Veterans deserve to be taken care of and helped back into the work force. Active duty service members should protect our country, not be used as fodder for corporate interests.
  • I'm Pro-American, I want us to keep our national parks, have clean air and water, and curb the ever worsening weather due to out dated technologies.
  • I'm Pro-American, I want Anerica to be the world leader in renewable energy sources and the job growth and other benefits that will give the country.