Obama - Resurrector and
(2010 Jun blog post)
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--- and killer of hope
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OPEN (hyper-text) LETTER TO OBAMA
Obama and Executive Agencies,
You are about 50 days late (and counting) ... and a few hundred million dollars short ... in responding to the BP-rig oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
You have been a big disappointment in so many ways :
We need a big buildup of skimmer/vacuum/separator ships --- not just for this disaster, but for the constant oil spills and future blow-outs that are, no doubt, to come. After all, the offshore drilling will, no doubt, continue.
You and your administration seem to be fiddling around with public opinion moves while doing nothing to counter the flow of thousands of gallons of oil per hour.
Hint: The best way to deal with public opinion is to take action. REAL action. Action in the Gulf, not in D.C. Not action by PR consultants, but action by workers and engineers and boat captains and so on.
My views on the BP disaster ('the Chernobyl of the Gulf') are at this blog post. This on-going disaster requires IMMEDIATE response --- comparable to the building of Liberty ships for World War II.
This disaster is not like a tornado or a hurricane or river flooding. They are over in an hour or a day or a few days. THIS disaster is going on for MONTHS. Some aspects of the Gulf will NEVER recover.
This disaster will probably be more devastating than the two atom bombs that were dropped on Japan. It is a disaster of volcanic proportions --- and of longer duration.
In my blog post on the BP disaster, besides the plea for more skimmer/vacuum/separator ships, see the sections on 'Dispersants', 'The Arctic', 'Doomed to repeat history', 'Similarity to Challenger disaster', 'Who is this BP guy?', 'A clueless BP executive', 'I grew up on the Gulf coast', and 'Short-sighted state tourism hawkers'.
Also see an open letter to Jim Cramer on tar-balls and some comments he repeatedly made in 2008 (concerning the infallibility of oil well technology) on his Mad Money program --- comments which I am sure he will not want to remind his viewers that he made --- not after this BP disaster.
Health care mess :
The health care bill that was passed was the Senate health care bill, which was a compromise with Republicans and faux-Democrats such as Senator Max Baucus and Senator Harry Reid who managed to insert items that pharma and the health insurance companies wanted.
Furthermore, the Senate managed to gut most of the features that would really have reduced health care costs, such as the public option.
Then the Republicans fought the bill because their lobbyist friends really preferred to let things stand as they are. Some of the House bills were probably much better.
And through this all, there were Democrats who were saying this was a good bill because it (1) closed the 'donut hole' and (2) covered 34 million Americans --- as if these were good things.
Utter bullsh*t and subterfuge.
To claim that closing the 'donut hole' in drug coverage is a good thing is a cover-up that is obious to many of us.
The 'dounut hole' was orginally wanted by the drug companies, because they did not want a 'deductible'.
An up-front 'deductible' would have meant many people would not have started on an expensive course of drugs (or they would have looked for less expensive alternatives, such as generics).
The 'donut hole' amounted to moving the 'deductible' toward the middle of a course of treatment instead of the start of treatment.
The proper (and cost-reducing) legislative action would have been to REPLACE the 'donut hole' with a 'deductible' --- like the coverage should have been in the first place.
'Closing' the donut hole is simply doing what the pharmaceutical companies wanted in the first place --- total coverage of ALL drug prescriptions.
There is no motivation built into this system to encourage lower drug costs. There is no 'skin in the game' any more, by the clients/patients.
On the subject of covering 34 million people with insurance ... look at how that is being done: by requiring people to take out insurance whether they can afford it or not.
In the past we had medical bankruptcies of sick people. Now we are going to have medical bankruptcies of well people --- people who can't afford to keep up their insurance premiums.
There are many people in this country who are willing to wait until they are sick, and pay as they go.
Note that people who take this option really only need catastrophic coverage --- the kind of coverage they can't depend on from private insurance companies.
This is why a public option was needed --- a public option for DEPENDABLE catastrophic health coverage.
We citizens should all have this right --- a right to 'catastrophic' insured care --- but not comprehensive care for every little sniffle and splinter in a finger.
That ('everything health care') would REALLY be expensive --- i.e. require huge tax increases --- especially if the patients had no 'skin in the game' (significant deductibles).
The requirement to buy health insurance smacks of coercion and unconstitutionality --- especially if there are not a wide variety of plans available and if there are no DEPENDABLE catastrophic coverage options available.
The only kind of required coverage that might be justified is catastrophic coverage. And, in that case, there should be several levels of higher-deductible/lower-premiums coverage --- so that there is some choice allowed. Then the required coverage would not seem so oppressive.
What's next? Requiring everyone to take drugs of doubtful benefit just because drug lobbyists managed to get Congress to require everyone to fill their prescriptions whether they wanted to or not?
This coersion smacks of Congress pulling our wallets out of our pocket and handing our money over to insurance companies and drug companies. This smacks of totalitarianism.
As much as I hate Glenn Beck's insane rants, he might be on to something with his rants about incipient Fascism. (But I fear the fascism of the FoxNews people and their lobbyist friends and legislative friends and Supreme Court friends --- more than I fear fascism from Obama.)
Bottom line: The 2010 health care bill is nothing like what is needed. It will surely increase medical costs, maybe even faster than before.
All we really need is DEPENDABLE catatrophic coverage.
Energy mess :
The Republicans are salivating over the prospect of cap-AND-TRADE. Witness Senator Corker at the Senate hearing at which Gore pointed out that China has a cap-or-imprison policy, not a cap-and-trade policy.
Corker was almost salivating at the prospect of being able to make a business out of trading in pollution.
cap-AND-TRADE is no cap at all. I explain why in my 'cap-OR-JAIL, NOT cap-AND-TRADE' blog post.
If we are really going to make a dent in pollution (and at the same time stop exporting our money to foreign oil exporters) :
Where is the smart grid? Where is the build out of electrical power lines to gather energy from wind turbines? Where is the use of stimulus money to fund renewable energy?
Even a company as big as Google is not big enough to fund developments of the size of the 'Rural Electrification Project' of the 1930's. They are willing to help, but they cannot do it all. There is no huge private institution or consortium that is willing to take the up-front risk.
Over 99% of the volume of the earth is made up of hot or molten or solid rock. There is a huge source of energy in hot rocks. Why is there so little research in this area --- geothermal energy?
There are plenty of dry oil well shafts that might offer ways to tap that energy at a lower drilling/development expense.
Actually, I hesitate to point out this huge source of energy because it may contribute to more global warming --- bringing heat from within the earth out into the atmosphere. But, at least, it is ostensibly a non-polluting source of energy.
On the plus side, if we tap such heat sources, say near volcanoes, we might reduce the likelihood of volcanic eruptions.
Between wind and (relatively constant) geothermal energy sources, not to mention solar energy sources, we could be on our way to true energy independence. Not just energy independence for about 20 years, but energy independence until the next big meteor strike wipes out most mammals (and probably all humans).
On the subject of recent reports that NASA is researching biofuel generation via algae ---- in big bags of sewage floating in the ocean, I just have this comment. What could go wrong? [Do NOT put BP in charge of the bags!!]
Financial mess :
The mistakes of the Obama administration in the financial area started with the appointment of Geithner as Treasury Secretary.
Geithner was just recovering from tax problems over a housekeeper issue --- problems he certainly should have known about as a Goldman Sachs and Federal Reserve person. And Obama appoints HIM ????
Watching Geithner testify before Congress, I am not surprised that many Senators got really irked by his many obviously evasive and time-wasting replies.
Geithner looked like a weasel, weaseling his way around the questions. I sure would not want him managing my portfolio.
Most responsible-behaving economists and legislators have been pointing out for years now that it is just asking for trouble to combine depositors assets under the same roof as a risk-taking operation such as a brokerage firm that gambles on stocks, options, futures contracts, 'derivatives', and other risky, 'innovative' instruments of wealth destruction.
I personally had a Bank of America account before the acquisition of Merril Lynch. I now consider my account at risk and I will definitely not keep more than a month's worth of living expenses in my Bank of America account --- even though Bank of America is 'too big to fail' --- i.e. will get a taxpayer bailout the next time it gets into trouble (and it will).
The temptation to use deposits to cover brokerage losses is just too great. Hopefully big banks, like the Bank of America, won't take the FDIC down with it.
The term 'too big to fail' brings up another problem with the direction of financial regulation legislation.
It appears the legislation will not adequately address 'too big too fail' institutions. This is just utter madness.
The main things (in particular, the people) that caused this melt-down are not being addressed.
For example, it's quite apparent that Goldman Sachs was a major player in putting together 'toxic' bundles of subprime mortgages, marketing them, and then 'shorting' those toxic bundles after any institution (such as Lehman Brothers) was dumb enough to buy those 'innovative' bundles of crap.
It should be a red flag whenever Republicans or Democrats (or Larry Kudlow and his ilk) object to some legislation because it might 'kill innovation'.
The kind of innovation they are talking about is not the Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell or General Electric kind of innovation.
They are talking late-night-TV-ads types of innovation.
They are talking about get-rich-quick schemes type of innovation.
They are talking bundles of subprime mortgages types of innovation.
If that's the kind of innovation that Congressional legislation is going to continue to protect and coddle and encourage, then China is going to absolutely overwhelm the U.S. financially AND technologically in less than a decade (before 2020).
We need a fleet of oil-spill response ships.
There are just too many oil companies --- small and large --- who cannot or will not clean up after themselves --- especially because 'business-friendly' Congress people keep passing laws that make them immune from responsibilities.
We need a glimmer of hope with respect to the BP oil spill --- and for future spills and blow-outs.
Obama administration, you have failed us too many times now --- with
Where there was Hope, there is now Nope (short for No-hope).
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Page was posted 2010 Jun 22.