Link

I just wanted to give a small shout out to Jesse and Alyssia over at Pure Living for Life. This couple is building an off the grid homestead lifestyle and documenting it as they go. Homesteading isn’t for me but I can relate to trying to achieve the efficiency in living that they are striving for. And they are pretty good story tellers in their videos.

Medicare for all is not a good idea.

Bernie Sanders has come up with a health care plan, actually the same one he has promoted for a while now, that he wants to introduce to congress. This plan is for a single payer plan funded by a payroll tax. He calls it Medicare for all.

Let me first say that I really do like Bernie. I voted for him in the Democratic primary in Georgia. I think he has a lot of good ideas but, honestly, his implementation of these ideas into working solutions basically suck. Medicare for all falls right in there with the rest of his half-baked ideas.

Medicare is funded by a payroll tax just like Social Security. And just like Social Security it looks to the people working and having an income to pay for those people who have reached a particular age and (mostly) retired and quit having an income. It’s health insurance that we pay for on the front end of our lives to have coverage on the back-end. It isn’t set up to be a pay as you go system like every other insurance policy out there. Trying to force it into that model will only break it and it’s somewhat fractured as it is today.

What I’d really like to see in trying to insure medical care for the most possible people in the U.S. is for us to continue to use the health insurance companies that we use today and a trick from the ACA, mandate that everyone have a “high deductible” health care policy with the “high deductible” and the premiums being relative to income. The lower your income the lower the deductible and the lower the premiums, the higher the income the higher the deductible and premiums. Yeah, the rich ends up subsidizing the poor under this system but that’s how our tax system works and it seems that we are stuck with this model. Besides this model seems to be the moral and ethical standard for us.

With this system you would pick your approved policy from the company of your choosing but it would be paid for with a payroll tax. The unemployed would be picked up by a standard unemployment policy that would be as generous as the budget would allow with no choice of who supplies it. If the unemployed person is independently wealthy and doesn’t need an income some special case can be worked out for them.

Now let me be clear, this would be for catastrophic coverage and most people would want to supplement it with a private or some sort of group policy and they would be able to. The personal policy would have a deductible of your choosing but would also have a ceiling of coverage based on the deductible of your government-funded policy. This policy could be personally funded or employer funded and the policy could easily be written to be seamless with your government-funded coverage. Remember, when I say government-funded I’m talking about that payroll tax that the government is going to withhold from your paycheck for your insurance.

This is a general framework in what I see could work for everyone. There are details that need to be worked on even in the abstract of what I’m suggesting but overall I can’t see a problem with this. It keeps government out of totally controlling our healthcare solutions while protecting people from catastrophic health issues having to declare bankruptcy.

This plan also keeps the patient in the loop as the customer and gives the patient an incentive to keep costs low. They are on the hook for some of the bill too.

Rule 10b5-1

Have you ever considered rule 10b5-1? You haven’t? Neither have I until today. So you know I’ve looked it up:

Rule 10b5-1 is established by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow insiders of publicly traded corporations to set up a trading plan for selling stocks they own. Rule 10b5-1 allows major holders to sell a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time. Many corporate executives use 10b5-1 plans to avoid accusations of insider trading.

Source: Rule 10b5-1

Now why is that important you ask? Well considering that Equifax is claiming that it got hacked and, well, let me let you read what they are claiming:

The credit-reporting service said earlier in a statement that it discovered the intrusion on July 29. Regulatory filings show that on Aug. 1, Chief Financial Officer John Gamble sold shares worth $946,374 and Joseph Loughran, president of U.S. information solutions, exercised options to dispose of stock worth $584,099. Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $250,458 of stock on Aug. 2. None of the filings lists the transactions as being part of 10b5-1 scheduled trading plans.

Source: Three Equifax Managers Sold Stock Before Cyber Hack Revealed – Bloomberg

It’s got to make you wonder. Also look at the date of the intrusion, July 29th. Folks, the first I heard of this intrusion was yesterday, September 7th, forty days after the fact! What all kinds of mischief could these hackers have gotten into in those forty days?

Okay, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for a year to anyone who may possibly been a victim of this hack but when I checked it out I was told it would be four more days before I could apply for the free credit monitoring. So I thought, let me freeze my credit with them right now. They want to charge me $3 to do that.

Also, I use Credit Karma for free credit monitoring of my Equifax and Transunion credit reports and FICA scores. it doesn’t work if your credit is frozen with those reporting agencies.

So, what’s my point you are now asking. My point is that three Equifax executives, not just one, have made trades that most likely were unethical, insider deals. These aren’t middle managers, this is the CFO and two presidents in the company. I have reason to be suspicious of at least these three executives but why would I stop there? This isn’t one possible bad apple but three possible bad apples. What other unethical dealings could be going on within the company?

Well, as I mentioned above, Credit Karma is giving away both Equifax and Transunion credit reports and credit scores. All I have to do is put up with advertisements for some credit cards. The price Equifax and Transunion will charge you for this type of monitoring capabilities is around $20 per month. If you put a freeze on your credit, like you should do if there is a possibility your identity has been stolen, Credit Karma don’t work no more. Credit monitoring is something else you should do when you think there is a possibility that your ID has been stolen.

Yeah, I know, Equifax is suppose to be giving you free credit monitoring but only for a year and after that they will start charging you the ~$20 a month. I have more than enough reason to be suspicious of Equifax’s motives so what’s to prevent me from going into conspiracy theory territory and suspect that Equifax hacked themselves in order to enhance their credit monitoring business?

No, I really don’t believe that but this is what happens when you have possibly corrupt executives running the company. Had these three guys just followed their 10b5-1 scheduled trading plans I would have never had reason to let my mind go cynical and put together this conspiracy theory.

Cynicism is a real problem in society these days. I’ve heard the problem blamed on fake news and the Russians. That isn’t where our cynicism is coming from, though, it’s the real news that is causing it. And I guess that’s my point.

It only makes sense.

We run into this every year, congress okays spending more money than we have knowing we can borrow the money but they have this ceiling on how much money can be borrowed and they know this. They spend the money anyway and then act surprised when the debt ceiling needs to be raised again.

It’s a stupid process and it keeps things from getting done. The time to worry about the debt ceiling is before the money is spent, not when we open up the credit card statement and see that we are over the limit.

There’s a much better way:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has suggested scrapping the existing debt-limit process and replacing it with one that automatically lifts the borrowing limit every time Congress appropriates future spending.

Source: Trump, Schumer agree to pursue plan to repeal the debt ceiling – The Washington Post

And it looks like President Trump is throwing in with the Democrats to get this accomplished. Good luck with that but this is a good plan. Rep. Ryan had best agree to it but he won’t.

DACA wasn’t the answer.

President Trump has rescinded former President Obama’s DACA executive order with a six month phase out period. This executive order was supposed to protect undocumented immigrant children who had been brought to this country at a young age and grown up here as knowing nothing but the United States as their home from being deported while they were still attending school. DACA’s biggest problem is that it didn’t offer any pathway to citizenship. An executive order can’t give that, only Congress can.

I really feel for these young people who DACA was protecting. A lot of them have no memory of their home country and many of them can’t even speak their parents’ native language. These kids are American in every way but they aren’t citizens.

What President Trump did by rescinding DACA could be the best thing that could happen to these young people who it affects. As I pointed out above, DACA could not give these young people with a pathway to citizenship, which is what they really need. This puts pressure on Congress to pass legislative protection for them. This could allow for a pathway to citizenship.

But what I would really like to see is our whole immigration laws to change to allow for anyone who is not a danger to the health and safety of anyone residing in the U.S. to enter this country on a two-year provisional work visa. A background check and a blood test would be all that would need to be passed for this visa. At the end of that two-year period if their has been no problem and they have earned a legal income in the U.S. for 80% of the time they have been in the country the provisional visa would be changed to give the immigrant resident alien status. Any problems during that two-year period would result in deportation.

I would also allow anyone residing in this country illegally to apply for the provisional visa but no time spent here illegally would count for anything. Children brought here illegally could apply for the provisional visa and those under eighteen would not be required to meet the 80% income requirement as long as their sponsoring parent or guardian was either meeting the requirement or are U.S. citizens. Completion of honorable military service would allow for immediate application for citizenship on honorable discharge.

The background check would look for any violent misdemeanors or any felonies in the applicants background with any of those being grounds for denying the visa. The blood test would look for any communicable diseases, including STDs, that could pose a health risk to those that come in contact with the applicant. The blood test would also look for the presence of illegal drugs.

I know the U.S. State Department would also have a list of people not to allow in, and that’s fine, but I can’t see a reason to make immigrating into the U.S. any more difficult than I have outlined.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on this topic.

I think I’ve been silent too long.

I thought it would all wind down but it’s been two weeks since the problem in Charlottesville and the noise is still out there. I don’t think anyone is willing to let it die down. The core issues shouldn’t die down but the specifics of what is being discussed, these dime store confederate monuments, are distracting from the main issues of racial equality and free speech.

So let me start by saying, since this seems to be made clear from the beginning rather than assume people understand it, I am against all forms of racism, antisemitism, misogyny, and hate. It seems silly that I would need to make that declaration but it seems I do. Secondly, I’m against all forms of repression of free speech. I have no problem with a person being ostracized over anything they say but you do not stop that person from saying it and I don’t care how despicable that speech may be. You and I are free to think and express any idea, and I mean ANY idea, that we might have and we are free to rebut any ideas we find reprehensible or just disagree with but we do not silence any idea from being expressed. If we can’t express our most hateful and evil thoughts then we don’t have free speech.

In case you didn’t get that I condemn the ideas and hatred expressed by the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, the Alt-Right and the White Supremacist marching in Charlottesville, VA. I especially condemn the violence and mourn the loss of life they caused by their actions. I also condemn the counter protesters for their lack of respect for the 1st amendment of the constitution and the violence they wrought in attempting to silence the hate.

“What,” you ask, “Do I not think that the counter-protester’s sentiments were admirable?”

Yes, their sentiments were admirable but their execution was as despicable as the sentiments of the protesters. Charlottesville is full of parks. Rather than confront the hate and give it a platform why didn’t the counter-protesters go to one of the other parks in much larger numbers and steal the publicity with a message of love and cooperation?

As much as I cherish the idea of loving everyone and bringing equality to everyone I’m also very protective of the right to speak my mind even if others don’t like it. I cannot  expect for that to be honored for me if I don’t honor and protect it for others. If you don’t like what someone is saying don’t listen or give a rebuttal that will destroy their argument. Counter protesting at their event just gives their ideas more publicity.

Also, confrontations often will ramp up to violence and make martyrs out of your enemies.

Besides, it is just as horrible to dampen free speech as it is to subjugate a group based on race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. In Charlottesville both sides were my enemies just for different reasons.

Good for the goose….

Leaks are serious. A leaking air conditioning or heating duct can cost you a ton of money, a leaking pipe can destroy your house and a leak in information can destroy the credibility of congressional committees and entire administrations. The Washington Post points that out in an editorial column just this past March:

“His committee’s investigation should be halted immediately — and Mr. Nunes deserves to be subject to the same leaking probe he demanded for the previous disclosures.”

The newspaper said Nunes’s decision to openly discuss the information has compromised Congress’s ability to probe Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Source: Washington Post: Investigate Nunes for leaks | TheHill

Greg Miller, also with the Washington Post, talks about his numerous sources supporting his story that President Trump himself leaked confidential information to the Russians in this CBS News interview. So it seems that the Washington Post is very concerned about leaks, or at least leaks coming out of this administration or from its allies.

So I’m sort of disconcerted about this report where the Washington Post seems to have encouraged a leak just to embarrass the Republican leadership and further disparage Donald Trump. Of course when Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the comment, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” he was cracking a joke. But a joke can tell you a lot about a person’s true feelings and the Post goes to great lengths to emphasis that.

See, I think leaks do cause a great problem. The above “joke” came about in a private conversation between congressional Republican leaders and the conversation should have remained confidential. Making every conversation public is not conducive to a free flow of ideas which is needed if we are going to have good legislation.

So, shame on the Post for encouraging the very same type of leaks that it has rallied against in recent articles.

Singing them Impeachment Blues

Things are getting serious. There are charges of obstruction of justice being thrown around and even suggestions of treason. Deserved or not I think we can all see that our future consists of louder and louder demands to impeach Donald Trump.

There’s a web site with more than 976,000 signed onto a petition encouraging Congress to impeach Trump. There’s even an “Impeach Donald Trump” Twitter handle.

It is highly unlikely — there’s almost zero chance — Trump would be impeached by a Republican Congress.

Source: Trump Impeachment Talk Grows From Conspiracy Theory To Mainstream : NPR

I’m not sure that a Republican Congress can prevent it. More and more Republicans seem to be positioning themselves away from Donald Trump than are coming to his defense.

With apologies to Warren Zevon

The FBI Director
Got into a little stew.
How was he to know
The Russians would get him too.

Standing in an L.A. office
Building morale among his staff
Send lawyers, guns and money
He just got the shaft.

He’s an innocent appointee
Just following the clues.
But the president just dismissed him
and he found out on the news!

WHAT! He found out on the news?

Yeah, he found out on the news!

Now he’s being sought out by the Senate
He has a little plan
Send lawyers, guns and money
Trump may wish he’d never ran.

 

Pelosi: Democratic candidates should not be forced to toe party line on abortion – The Washington Post

Even when I agree with her I generally am shaking my head over the partisanship she is exuding. This time it’s different. I’m agreeing with her and applauding her acknowledgement that we don’t have to agree on everything to be a party member.

“This is the Democratic Party. This is not a rubber-stamp party,” Pelosi said in an interview with Washington Post reporters.

“I grew up Nancy D’Alesandro, in Baltimore, Maryland; in Little Italy; in a very devout Catholic family; fiercely patriotic; proud of our town and heritage, and staunchly Democratic,” she added, referring to the fact that she is the daughter and sister of former mayors of that city. “Most of those people — my family, extended family — are not pro-choice. You think I’m kicking them o

Source: Pelosi: Democratic candidates should not be forced to toe party line on abortion – The Washington Post

The Democratic Party could do very well among moderates if some of these litmus tests for candidacies were done away with. A candidate who supports 90% of the Democratic Party’s platform but balks at some of the hard stands on reproductive rights or gun control should be welcomed into the fold, not disqualified as a candidate because very few people honestly hold on as sacred every plank in the platform.

Now if Paul Ryan would only come out with a similar statement for Republicans.

Lawrenceville Homeowner Discovers One Simple Trick To Avoid Foreclosure

Sam Armemtrage saved his money for a down payment on a new home, negotiated a  fifteen year mortgage loan on the remainder of the purchase price and moved into his Lawrenceville dream home. After fifteen years his mortgage company quit sending him a bill.

How did he do this? He paid his mortgage payment on time every month without fail. Not once in those fifteen years did he face foreclosure.