Friday, July 31

House of Cards Insurance (HCI), ShellGame Inc. (SGI), and Ponzi Scheme Assurance Company (PSAC) are three lesser known companies of the 4,000 business units that make up American International Group (AIG). Apparently, whenever the greedy geniuses at one AIG unit needed to find financial guarantees for whatever brilliant business deal they were making, they just went to another AIG unit to cover their liabilities. Unfortunately, the AIG units that provided those guarantees are similarly leveraged with other AIG units. This might not be a problem if the parent company had all the money in the world to cover the debts of its spoiled children. But we all know that isn't the case. If it was then they could pay back $182 billion to taxpayers. As it is, even with the enormous federal bailout, it appears a light breeze could structurally damage their house of cards.

(Crossposted at MyPorch.)

Tuesday, July 28

What's the world coming to when an Urban Planner finds himself explaining derivatives to a Cabby? Then again, if both the Urban Planner and the Cabby (and millions of more people) knew about derivatives years ago perhaps they would have been regulated, and we wouldn't be propping up the firms who made billions selling the junk.

Monday, July 27

Freedom to choose what's in your health plan, Freedom for insurance companies to reward you for healthy living with lower prices, Freedom to choose high-deductible low-premium coverage, Freedom to keep your existing plan as it is now, Freedom to choose your doctors - according to House and Senate Democrats’ Health Care bills, these freedoms are not free.   

Thursday, July 23

The Atlantic’s Virginia Postrel described her own personal odyssey with expensive cancer treatments and how, under one instance of nationalized medicine, she’d have a lot lower odds of being alive today. She then took the time to respond to a number readers’ letters about her article and the result are two pieces that illustrate a lot of the contradictions in health care, and highlight some of the less discussed points, such as the fact the United States, for all it’s unsystematic and “costly” nature, tends to produce the great majority of innovation in medical service and technology.

Which ever “side” of the healthcare debate you are on, whether you think healthcare is a right or a privilege, or something else,  in practice, “healthcare” is an amalgamation of products (drugs, devices, etc) and services (diagnoses, surgeries, etc), and the economic principles of goods and services apply to healthcare just as they do with other goods and services.

Read her original article first and then her response to readers.    
My wife recently had a baby, this is the bill....

Wednesday, July 22

In the documentary film Garbage, writer and director Andrew Nisker takes an average urban family, the McDonalds, and asks them to keep every scrap of garbage that they create for three months.

Tuesday, July 21

My grasp of economics is remedial at best. But it seems to me that we are in a collective state of denial about the short term future of the housing market. Too often, the "experts" called upon by the media to expatiate on the state of the market are from organizations like the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Homebuilders, and have the most to gain from an up market and an upbeat consumer.

As someone who is planning on purchasing a home in early 2010 and is stunned by the still huge prices on some really crappy real estate, it is extremely satisfying to finally find a truth talker on TV. One of my favorite new shows, Real Estate Intervention, features Mike Aubrey, a shaved-headed, straight talking real estate agent in Maryland who does not suffer fools gladly--and he has a lot of fools to choose from. The show follows him around the Washington-Baltimore metro area while he schools home sellers on the reality of the current market. And comps be damned, the sellers never want to believe that the white hot market is lukewarm at the moment and has the potential to keep getting cooler over the next year or so. So far there hasn't been an episode where the clueless and intransigent sellers have been right and Mike has been wrong.

But then maybe I shouldn't be too hard on the sellers. They have been told for too long that the market would never go down. When faced with an ARM reset and home foreclosure this season on The Simpsons, Homer complained to his mortgage lender that he was told he wouldn't have to make any payments until the future and goes on to say "this isn't the future, it's the lousy stinkin' now." Should we really expect the average American to be smarter than Homer Simpson?

(Crossposted at MyPorch)
I'd like to welcome myself to Opensewer. Thanks to Jason, John & Rose for letting me share my two cents.

Friday, July 17

It’s kind of a give-and-take, quid pro quo kind of environment,” said Tom Daschle, President Obama’s first choice for health secretary, who remains in touch with the White House on health care issues. “I think that the stakeholders wouldn’t do this if they didn’t think there was something in it for them.”  

Tuesday, July 14

If you haven't seen this yet, please watch: Bill Moyers interviews former health insurance industry executive Wendell Potter (CIGNA), who left the field after almost 20 years to become a health reform advocate.

Monday, July 13

"Late last month, Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo took the unusual step of filing a civil rights lawsuit against the police department of his own county. The suit stems from a 2008 SWAT team raid on Calvo's house that resulted in the shooting deaths of his two black Labrador retrievers. In pushing back against the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Prince George's County police department, the mayor is helping expose a more widespread pattern of law enforcement carelessness and callousness throughout the state of Maryland."

Thursday, July 9

"What bothers me is that they seem to be saying, 'Some people we have good enough evidence against, so we'll give them a fair trial. Some people the evidence is not so good, so we'll give them a less fair trial. We'll give them just enough due process to ensure a conviction because we know they're guilty. That's not a fair trial, that's a show trial," Mr. Nadler said.

Tuesday, July 7

Wal-Mart comes out for government mandated employer health insurance. Why? Because it will benefit them. Costly mandate = (another legislated) advantage for bigger, more established and more connected corporations.

Monday, July 6

Well said: Batshit-insane American Quitter Sarah Palin ended her own special “Independence Day” by posting a series of desperate grammar-challenged nonsense and vicious threats on her Facebook and Twitter pages.

Saturday, July 4

True freedom is always free; no killing required.

Wednesday, July 1

This is an unusually warm October day in Daytona Beach, the sun baked white sand beaches and the sea came from the ups and downs. David Braymer, who lean muscular body, men younger than his four or five years, is suffering the strong glare of the sun. This is the day today, he hoped that teaching children can be less restrictive dress code. However, this is a price that he is willing to pay what he loved, science and education are relatively new, until recently considered the pseudo-science, astrology. In some cases, long-term he would work to return to his day more exciting for a secret government departments involved in the study of additional land, but as long as these days behind him. In his five years of teaching, he has fully adapted to and become a significant emphasis on living a suburban secondary school teachers more concerned about little more than lesson plans and school dance partner. And even a new love interest in his life. State-owned local water Cheral Baskel side restaurant town, the famous views It is a very good space shuttle launch - which Cheral are smart enough to become very profitable from happening. David is a regular sponsor Cherals, he stopped in for breakfast every morning on the way to work, it is not only to her (not often, but he will not be mentioned) hash browns. It was exciting Cherals occurred this morning, as the next space shuttle launch just three days, it is on Halloween. She tried to decorate two events at the same time, leading to more confusion. David was puzzled to see that the astronauts will be a function of zombies. There is a clear sense of foreboding in the small town community in recent days, with the launch of the last two being singular technical difficulties, has not yet been explained. In fact, some of the more Seoul citizens have begun to spread the bad luck of signs on a sign, they claimed not bode well for the introduction of the night of Halloween ...
--translated from Moon People.