Universal Catastrophic Coverage

Political Post (run while you can)—I’m not posting this to stir the pot or start a heated argument (yeah, good luck with that, B), and I’m not going to tolerate any comments ranting about “OBAMA!” or whatever boogeyman you perceive that hijacks what this post is actually about…but I’ve been meaning to comment on the whole health care thing for a while now. And in light of the apparent crash and burn of the Republicans health care plan this week, and the fact I seem to have more than five minutes of time on my hands to spare at this moment, here goes:
Everybody needs health care. Rich or poor, young or old, we are all susceptible and at risk of needing lots of health care at various points of our lives. You can eat right, you can exercise daily…but you can randomly develop a long term illness through absolutely no fault of your own. Or, you can always drive carefully, look both ways at an intersection before moving on a green light, don’t text while driving, and never drink and drive…but you can randomly be the victim of another such driver who is careless or some other freak scenario that is simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, the medical bills that come from the kind of care needed to help you recover can bankrupt nearly anyone who is not in the so-called One Percent. We all need health care, and based on what I’ve just said, everybody should be willing to help pay for a system that enables everyone to have access to it. It’s “just” figuring out the best way to do that that’s the trick.
I know there are problems with ObamaCare, and I know people who are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to cover their families. If you make too much to qualify for subsidies, you’re basically f****d. But I hardly think the legislation the Republicans were offering was going to make a single thing any better, and I say good riddance to their bill collapsing (well, for now, anyway). But what can be done to make things better?
I don’t think there’s a perfect system that works flawlessly, and I think what may work in another country may not be feasible here in America, for various reasons. But I do think a step in the right direction would be to start with giving everyone universal catastrophic coverage: If your medical bills in a given year exceed a set portion of your annual income, the government covers it, whether it be through some kind of expanded Medicare or Medicaid or whatever. Whether that portion is ten percent of your income, or 15 or 20 is a matter of taste. That would help relieve most people’s fears of debilitating medical expenses ruining them financially. Taxes would have to be adjusted accordingly to finance such a system, but I’ve read articles stating it would actually save money versus Obamacare. In addition, people would still be able to buy supplemental private insurance to cover routine medical expenses, and those plans would ostensibly be cheaper, since insurers would no longer have to allow for covering major illnesses or injuries since that would be spotted by the government.
I also think everybody should be able to write off their premiums (as of now, only self-employed people can do that), as well as all of their medical expenses (as of now, you can only do that if you itemize your tax deductions, and even then only the amount above ten percent of your income).
I don’t know that this would fix everything, or even be affordable without raising taxes beyond what people would tolerate. But I tend to think that simplest is best, and that universal catastrophic coverage is a good conversation for us to start having.
BONUS: Before people on the Right who think I’m a liberal just because I don’t like Trump start blasting my idea as some kind of “socialist” hand out simply because I, an alleged liberal, am advocating it…Universal Catastrophic Coverage has been championed by various conservative think tanks for years. This is a conservative proposal, and I can link to several conservative articles (even f-ing BREITBART; no shit, one came up during my Google search on the topic) that go into greater detail on it. As a moderate, I don’t look at an idea and say, “Oh, the Republicans came up with this, it must be BAAAAAAAAAD!! BOOOO!!! HISSSSSS!!!”, and I don’t look at a Democratic proposal and assume it must wonderful and good. I just look at an idea and ask, “Will it fucking work?”. (And for the record, I didn’t think what the Republicans were offering in their health care alternative would work at all, so I was against it.) The Republicans would do well consider Universal Catastrophic Coverage when they revisit health care.

Netflix new series “Dear White People”

Not really sure why people are so upset over Dear White People, or at least its title, that they’d cancel their Netflix subscription because of it. I mean, I’m reading the comments and there’s a lot of stupid outrage basically whining about how “unfair” it is that there’s a show that might be critical of white people…and of course the go-to “If there was a show called Dear Black People there’d be riots!” blather (and how the people making that argument can’t see the racism in that very quote is astounding). 

(Funny, I wrote a blog entry last summer on the same subject: White People: Things You Need to Hear.)

I saw the movie of the same name that this series is based on, and if anything the title is a misdirect, meant to get your attention, but boil it down and it ends up being just as critical of black people as it is of white people. But some of the characterizations the alt-Right websites are affixing to it, that it promotes “white genocide”(huh? wha—???) are ridiculous, pathetic, and sad because it since feeds their narrative, they won’t listen to reason.

I could go on about why this is much ado about nothing, but the people who are upset over this are CHOOSING to be upset about it, and no argument I could make will change their minds. But I find it ironic that the very people who condemn so-called “political correctness” and applaud our new President’s alleged penchant for defying said correctness are perfectly fine with imposing their own version of political correctness on others when the subject matter doesn’t suit them.

Maybe actually TRY watching the show when it’s released—or go watch the movie which is already available—to see if it warrants the criticism it’s receiving and judge it on its own merits? Nah…too much effort. Much easier to wrap oneself up in the cozy blanket of self-victimization.

EDIT: The movie version is actually on Hulu, so…I guess they’re going to boycott BOTH Netflix and Hulu???



Why are Trump followers still so ANGRY?

POLITICAL POST; RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN…I just witnessed the most epic FB meltdown on a friend’s wall by a Trump follower. It was so over-the-top that I started to wonder if the guy was actually joking around, but evidently not. It was the most needlessly belligerent, aggressive, profanity-laced tirade befitting the “stereotypical” Trump fan that went on and on and on before my friend finally deleted the whole thing. It was, by turns, baffling and hilarious…but ultimately it was one of the most disturbing displays I’ve yet come across. I mean, if there’s a mass shooting at a synagogue or a mosque in the KC area in the near future, I’m calling the cops and giving them this guy’s name. And I’ve also seen similar displays recently of overly macho aggression by Trump supporters on other friends’ posts.
Now, I know many Trump voters who are NOT like this, so I am NOT painting every Trump voter with this brush, but I’ve seen enough examples of the above paragraph that I just have to ask: Why are so many Trump voters still SO ANGRY?
I mean…you’ve WON. You got Trump into the Oval Office. You have a Republican Congress. You’ve got Bannon in there and he ain’t leaving despite any protests. That immigration ban (or “pause” or whatever you want to call it) isn’t going to be rescinded. Trump’s going to get his Supreme Court justice confirmed. Trump pulled out of the TPP, is restarting the pipelines up north. Trump to this point has gotten EVERYTHING he’s wanted, and he’s probably going to keep getting what he wants going forward.
So why are you still so ANGRY???
I’m no fan of Trump, although I am doing my best to be fair towards him (as I’ve said before, your mileage will vary as to whether I actually am). I don’t like a lot of things he’s doing and I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT like Bannon. But yet I’m not even REMOTELY as angry as some of these Trump people I’m seeing here on Facebook.
Are you angry that the so-called “liberal” media allegedly isn’t treating your boy fairly? I got news for you: get over it because the media has always been tougher on Republicans. It’s just the way it is. Stop worrying about it and focus more on enjoying the spoils of victory; you don’t need the media’s validation and besides, you’ve got Fox and Breitbart, right?
So stop being so angry; you’ve WON. You should be walking with a bounce in your step, flashing a smile that’s ear to ear and high-fiving everybody you see. BE HAPPY. It’s your world, now. (Or should I say it’s your world “again”? Nah…)

Being Fair to Trump

(Because what the internet sorely needs is another political post…)

Hopefully I’m winding down from making political posts for a while; I’m seeing a lot of posts the past couple of days lamenting all the politics on social media like Facebook and Itend to agree…but man, is it hard.

I said this before, but I’ll repeat: we are all pretty much committed to our “team” by this point, and all arguments and counterpoints are inevitably going to be made to back “our guy”. It’s outrageous when “their guy” does it, but when “our guy” does it…well, that’s different. 

I hear a lot about giving Trump “a chance”. I’m not really sure what that means. That we should just “shut up” and “get over it” and fall in line? I don’t think so. No matter the president, that person should be held accountable and be able to take criticism (and don’t bother countering with some false equivalence about how it’s the media needs to be held accountable because I’ll just delete it; I disagree that the media lies about Trump and I’m not in the mood to waste time arguing it).

What I do think is that we should treat him with basic fairness. If his policies, such as they are, do turn out to be beneficial, I’ll acknowledge it. But that’s a big “if”. Yesterday’s press conference whining about the attendance figures at his inauguration being wrongly reported and countering with “alternative facts” isn’t the best start. (I say they are just trying to muck up the waters on what the “truth” is to the point where we won’t know what to believe, and therefore allow them to get away with more serious bullshit later.)

So that’s all you’re going to get from me: I’ll be fair and I’ll be as objective as I can be. Your mileage will vary as to whether I live up to that.

Tribute to Obama

POLITICAL POST—I didn’t vote for Obama in ’08; I was skeptical of him and did not buy into the notion that he was some sort of demigod who was any different from every other politician. So I voted for McCain, because I liked him and felt he was a moderate whose views more closely aligned with my own. (That and I had yet to fully appreciate the sheer batshit crazy that is Sarah Palin.)

But I welcomed Obama and saw he was somebody who comported himself with dignity, class, and sincerity. I could see he was temperamentally suited for the job, although he was probably naive in thinking he was going to effect the wholesale change of our political culture he envisioned; and well into his second term, I could tell he was becoming worn down and is probably a bit relieved to be leaving office tomorrow. 

And this is the first time I’ve revealed this publicly, but I did vote for Obama in 2012 (cue the unfriending!). Not that I had an issue with Mitt Romney; even though he was another moderate, I’ve long felt the conservative/Tea Party wing of that party has been hamstringing it for years, and my reasoning was that the Republican Party needed to get their asses kicked badly enough that they’d reorganize behind more centrist policies (though Romney in my view was a moderate, like McCain before him, he had to kow-tow to “proper” conservative dogma).

Whoops. So that totally didn’t work out for me, did it?

Anyway, I’ve come to like and respect Obama more and more over the years, and especially in view of his successor, who I view with great trepidation, to put it diplomatically. I’m sad to see Obama leave office. This post isn’t about any particular policy or decision he made, although I tend to see the merit in all he tried to achieve, even if they weren’t perfect or have had varying degrees of success (i.e., Obamacare and the Iran deal, among others). Most of the time, the President is just doing the best he can, and I’ve felt that way about just about every President, from Obama to George W., to Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, etc. As much as I’d like to apply that to our incoming President…well…all I’ll say for now is that I hope the realities of governing somehow temper that person’s impulses.

For the final time, Godspeed, Mister President. Thank you for your service this country.


NOTE: This is a tribute and not meant to spur a debate, so please keep any attacks to your own page. You know who you are.

Politics and Social Media (or, an exercise in futility)

Perhaps I’ll designate Tuesdays as being the time of the week that I’ll make political posts, considering this is when I’ve felt like posting something political recently…

It’s kind of sad seeing the same arguments being made by the same people in favor of their designated side of the aisle; talking in circles at each other and nobody walks away satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing people who share my point of view speak up (often eloquently), so I’m not saying stop it, but this post is just exasperation that it’s essentially the same argument at its roots that everybody’s been having since about June of 2015. I see a post that’s political, then I see the names of people commenting and I immediately guess (correctly, every time) what they’re going to say. It’s safe to say we are all pretty deeply entrenched in our professed point of view.

What’s my point? Knock yourself out, speak up for what you believe in…but don’t expect to change anybody’s mind who disagrees with you. At best, you might encourage those who do agree with you but are too circumspect to speak up (you know who you are out there 😉 ).

Trying to take a sabbatical from the political posts…

A couple of thoughts before I (attempt to) take a break from the political posts (HOPEFULLY; fingers crossed) for what I’m intending to be a good long while; I’m not getting off FB completely, just steering away from the politics:

I’ve always tried to be fair with my political posts and in my interactions with people who comment on them. Key word, “try”; I know I’ve been abrasive and terse from time to time, but not often and never outright malicious, and certainly not “hateful” like I was accused of being just this morning; you’re mileage on that statement may vary, probably depending on your political point of view. But I’ve ALWAYS accepted everybody’s sincerity when it comes to their beliefs. I just realize there comes a point where you reach an impasse with somebody on a given subject to where it’s useless to continue talking about it, because then you’re just talking in circles.

I get enough people who tell me publicly, or privately via Messenger, and quite often when they see me in person, how much they like and enjoy reading what I write…even when they disagree with me. And I get that last a lot more often then you’d expect. That tells me that I AM being fair and respectful with what I’m saying. And I take that very much to heart.

Finally, try a little empathy. It’s easy to demonize people who don’t share your point of view and to make them into this monolithic “Other” to be despised and disdained, as I KNOW I have friends that tend to do this. Accept other people’s sincerity. I have black friends, gay friends, Jewish friends, and Hispanic friends among others who are genuinely scared about what the forthcoming Trump presidency means for them and their families. They are NOT being sore losers who need to just “get over it”. Assuming that you’re a white voter who supported Trump, understand that while it’s tempting for you to just chuckle and hand wave away their concerns and to say that they’re just being silly about it all, this is a very real concern for them. YOU as a white person are generally not going to be subject to these same fears, so it’s not “real” to you and it’s easy to dismiss it. We’d all be wise to stop seeing the world as Us versus THEM and to see it as being that we’re all just trying to make our way in the world.

Post-Election 2016, cont.

My biggest fears about the forthcoming Trump presidency, Part One: What impact will his actions have on our First Amendment rights. I worry very much about the press, which he’s so vilified and which many of his followers have become hostile towards, and how they’ll be able to cover his administration effectively. Will journalists be intimidated, threatened, and brow-beaten into treating him with kid gloves? And how soon will his followers start calling his critics like me “traitors” who should be jailed for “treason”? I’m calling it right now. It’s disturbing that his followers who are oh-so-dedicated to the Second Amendment might have absolutely no problem trampling on the First.

And what does it even mean when people say we all need to “come together” now? Does that mean we can’t question the new President? Does that mean that those of us who didn’t vote for him—and who outnumbered those who did nationwide, never forget—need to shut up and go to the back of the room? Just seems like a hollow thing to say. I’m willing to give Trump a chance, but I’m not willing to fall in line if I think what he’s doing is detrimental.

Post-Election Musings

I was told recently by someone that if they see “Continue Reading” at the end of one of my Facebook posts that they ignore it and scroll on…so this week I’ve started posting paragraph sized snippets in order to retain readers on FB…so what you see below are those chunks in order. 

I unfollowed the majority of Trump supporters a long time ago, so I’ve been blissfully sheltered from what I imagine to be all the gloating right now. But you’re all entitled to be happy today, because you earned it. I don’t believe you’re stupid, or racist, or sexist for supporting him, the way most liberals are lamenting right now. I’ve always accepted the majority of Trump supporters’ sincerity in their beliefs about this campaign. I do want to say, however, that there is no “making America great again”, because America has ALWAYS been great.

And I never unfollowed Trump supporters out of spite or simply because I disagreed with them; it was just that so many have been obnoxious and would post the same old shit and stupid memes over and over that it got predictable and old. I’m tempted to name drop some of the Trump supporters who I have kept on my feed, because I always felt they were thoughtful and sincere, and have tended to have a more insightful commentary that made me think.

I made no secret of my opposition to Donald Trump. I think he has enabled and emboldened a new generation of racists and white nationalists in a way that’s very disturbing to me, and I maintain they permeate the Right in a larger proportion than those sincere Trump supporters I mentioned previously should be comfortable with. And don’t pull Black Lives Matter on me as your trump card (no pun intended); I’m not talking about the Left here; I’m talking about the Right.

And before you go crazy at my last post, I am NOT calling all Trump supporters racists; I’m saying that white nationalists make up a larger portion of his support than you should be cool with.

Having said all that, I was heartened by the graciousness of Trump’s victory speech last night. It’s true that’s considered the norm at the end of a presidential campaign, but he could easily have gloated and played to his base, but instead chose the high road. I think perhaps now he’s beginning to realize what he’s gotten himself into.

And remember, the President is not a king (despite the Right’s accusations of Obama allegedly abusing his power with all of his Executive Orders), and Trump by himself cannot turn back the clock on minority, LGBT, and women’s rights; not and expect to be re-elected in four years. It’s true with a Republican House and Senate for at least the first two years he’ll be able to affect things like Obamacare and the Supreme Court, but Justices have been known to buck expectations. This Republic was designed with checks and balances that still hold, even today.

I didn’t realize that the vote totals still aren’t completed, and that there is a solid chance that Hillary may actually still win the national popular vote; she leads by over 200,000 votes right now with 92% of the total vote tallied; the bulk of her votes are probably coming from California. Liberals, don’t turn this into a rallying cry for Trump’s supposed illegitimacy; our Electoral system is designed with the States being the ultimate electors of the President; our country’s very name demonstrates that, the United STATES of America.

And conservatives, temper your elation with the knowledge that your guy might not win the popular vote and understand how that shows just how divided this country is, and that while you will have full control of the government for the next two years, if you overreach you could easily lose it starting with the 2018 mid-term elections.

My main hope going forward, is that Trump ends up governing closer to the middle than he’s let on during the campaign; he was admittedly a Democrat for much of his life before this. I fully accept him as my next President, and I hope my previous worries that he’d be a disaster get proved wrong.

Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff

This is going to be a long post, but it concludes with my Official Endorsement for 2016, so before you move on once you see the “Continue Reading” button (I’m looking at you, Pat) please take the time to at least click the link below to read up about Ranked Choice Voting and find out how it can potentially change the way our elections are ran.
I was thinking about writing one last epistle tonight about why I’m opposing Donald Trump. But while I’m not sure I’ve made my actual reasons completely clear already, it won’t change anybody’s minds and would only serve to alienate people and risk starting a flame war (namely with my brother, heh). Instead what I want to write about this Election Eve is something I’ve already mentioned the past couple of days. Something that I’ve become convinced can be a force for positive change in our political discourse. It’s this voting method called Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Run-off.
The gist of it is as follows: Instead of voting for just one person, you would rank the candidates in order of preference, or omit somebody you really don’t like completely. Say you were agonizing under the current system about voting your conscience and voting third party, but you don’t want to “waste” your vote and you really don’t want Trump to win so you feel compelled to vote for Clinton (or vice versa). Under RCV, you could go ahead and vote third party as your first choice, then the so-called “lesser of two evils” as your second, and if there was yet another third party candidate maybe them, and if there’s that one guy you absolutely DO NOT WANT to see win, just leave them out.
So what happens next is that everybody’s First Place votes get tallied up, and if nobody gets at least 50% for a definitive majority, then the vote goes into an Instant Runoff; the candidate with the fewest First Place votes is eliminated, and that person’s SECOND PLACE votes get divvied up among their designated recipients; i.e., say the ousted candidate’s Second Place votes went 60/40 for the top two, for example; those votes then get added to the remaining candidate’s current totals. If there were more than three candidates and the second round still didn’t produce a 50% winner, then the next candidate with the fewest votes is out and THEIR Second Place votes get divvied up. Eventually you’ll see a candidate reach the 50% threshold and win.
How does this benefit the process? Think about it: you’re not only campaigning for voters’ FIRST PLACE VOTES…you’re campaigning for the SECOND PLACE VOTES of those you know are likely to give their First Place vote to someone else. You’re not going to be as obnoxious or negative in your campaigning. You’re going to make an effort to reach out to as many people as you can, and you’re going to have to tailor your policies to be as broad as possible; being the proud moderate that I am, in my admittedly idealized vision of this scenario, our political discourse would no longer be about two extremes that turn off the majority of voters who are traditionally moderates, and it would serve to moderate and alleviate the polarizing nature of our current poisonous political culture.
This is a system already in place in parts of the country, usually localized city elections like the Mayor of Minneapolis; there’s a really good video clip on the website linked below where the current mayor discusses exactly what I wrote about in the paragraph above. It’s a real thing with support from prominent personalities including President Obama from back when he was a Senator, as well as John McCain, and Bernie Sanders among others. I’m sure there are drawbacks to this method, but it certainly can’t be any worse than what we have now.
While I realize that as a whole, both Democrats and Republicans on the national level would be opposed to this in a Presidential election as it would potentially empower third parties and give them greater prominence, I believe this is a worthy cause to get behind for the sake of improving our contentious electoral process. So if you want to know my Official Endorsement for 2016…it is for Ranked Choice Voting.