This is What Affordable Care Looks Like

When my insurance kicked in at my company I was met with one of the biggest cases of sticker shock I’ve ever had. Yes, my affordable care act insurance premium is over $1,000 per month. For that amazingly low price, I get $60 co-pays for each doctor visit, and the added bonus of a $5,000 deductible. Isn’t that something? That affordable care act really is aptly named, isn’t it?

Well, actually, no. It’s not aptly named at all. I called our doctor. We’ve been with her for a good 15 or 16 years. Any one of us can go and see her for $50. Lab work, x-rays and other standard diagnostics are $90 to about $150 depending on what it is. Total penalties from the IRSS will come to about $380 per year. So that’s my choice. Pay for what we use and then pay the penalty, or pay $12,000 per year, $60 per office visit, and still have to pay $5000 out of pocket before the insurance even kicks in.

My family is basically pretty healthy. The kids are fine, no health problems worth mentioning. The wife has her thyroid problem, but total cost to manage that is about $500 per year including her medicine. My health? Not really a factor. I got a letter from the VA saying that I’m covered and don’t have to do anything with regard to the ACA. Still, after forty years of fairly heavy smoking you’d think I’d have some serious problems. Nope. Hate to disappoint you leftys out there, but I can still sing really well, and I can still kick your ass. In fact, since I switched from regular cigarettes to e-cigs, I’ve gotten gotten even better. I still can’t hit those high notes in More Than a Feeling any more, but it’s getting closer. The point is, we’ll NEVER get to that $5000 deductible, so I would essentially be paying $1,000 per month for nothing.

So thanks Barack, thanks Nancy and Harry. Thanks AARP and AMA. Thanks for making a law so idiotically designed as to be a complete failure even when it works as it is supposed to. But then, you already knew that, didn’t you? I can’t wait to see the look on your stupid faces when you realize the price of your treachery.

Why “Gay Marriage” is an Oxymoron

My opposition to this idea is not religious. It is not even legal or constitutional, at least not directly. In fact, it is more basic than that. The problem is I haven’t heard anyone in opposition to “gay marriage” bring any of this up. Chief Justice Roberts touched on it ever so briefly in his questions and comments during the arguments in the Prop 8 case, but he barely skimmed the surface. My opposition to “gay marriage” is based on two fundamental questions that no one seems to be asking: 1. What is the true definition of the word “marriage?” 2. Does anyone have authority to change that definition?

So, what is the true definition of marriage? Actually, it is quite simple. A marriage is the joining of two parts that are compatible and completely different, but which fit together by design to form a whole. This is true regardless of the source of the design. This is a very basic definition that is true throughout the universe. It is not limited to the context of human relations. Men and women are different, and those differences are not limited to the obvious physical differences. We are different in every way. We are different physically, psychologically, emotionally, and even spiritually. In the past several decades political forces have used these differences to drive a wedge between men and women. The same political forces that have taken any opportunity to drive a wedge between people wherever they could, including this “gay marriage” wedge. Divide and conquer, the oldest trick in the book, they are very good at it, and are enjoying a lot of success with it at the moment.

We are now at a place where those inherent differences are thought by many to be antagonistic. This view is fomented in our media and education systems to the point that it has become a cancer in our culture and on our society. This is why most marriages end in divorce these days. Both sides are taught to expect something from the marriage that is not, and never was, going to happen. The differences between us are not antagonistic. They are, in fact, complimentary and even sympathetic. We are supposed to be different. It is those differences that make it possible for us to be married. Those differences allow a man and a woman to have a relationship that is intimate on every level and in ways that two people of the same gender can never achieve.

Now that we have something of an accurate definition of marriage, we can ask the second question: Who has authority to change it? The answer is simple: No one. Only one who has the power to change the inherent design of a man and a woman can change the definition of marriage. Well, I suppose God could do it, but that would be silly. He already knows he got it right the first time. Since there is no one else who can do it, it follows that no one has authority to change that definition.

Marriage is not inherently a legal term. If you take a look at laws which have attended the institution of marriage since the concept of law first appeared in history, you’ll find that those laws were defined by the institution, not the other way around. This is true even of laws designed to damage or destroy the institution like those we are debating now. For the most part though, such laws were designed to protect and encourage the institution because those making the laws understood that the institution of marriage is the foundational element of all civilization. If this institution is severely damaged or destroyed everything the human race has achieved will fall. It seems to me we are in the midst of that fall right now.

As to the matter of legal rights, I don’t have a problem. As society has seen fit, and rightly so, to codify the status of marriage into law, it is not necessary to preclude legal codification to other relationships be they homosexual or whatever. For a gay couple to be able to avail themselves of the same type of legal protections, such as are possible, as a married couple is not detrimental to a free society. What is detrimental is causing the law to recognize such a relationship as something it is not and can never be. Further, there is no law that prevents gays from being married, they just can’t be married to each other. This is true regardless of what the law says. If a gay man wants to get married he has to do the same thing the rest of us have to do: find a willing woman. This is the only way to do it, and there is no one anywhere on this earth with authority to change it.

As the Stars Realign

I haven’t posted here in a while. It seems that every few months I get sidetracked for a few months. This time is different. I actually wasn’t here to post. Within the next three or four weeks I should be able to get my hands on a laptop, at which point I should be able to start posting from the road. Being a trucker is as cool as I thought it would be. Still, being away from home is really problematic sometimes. Now that all of my training is over, I should be getting in my own truck here shortly, and then things will really start to roll! (Pun intended.) Until then, I’ll see you out there…

Filthy Capitalist Pigs

I’ve been hearing a lot of questions from members of the Occupy movement, media, and other progressives asking “how do we deal with these greedy rich people and evil corporations?” After giving it some thought I came up with some ideas I think will be helpful. Just a few tried and true methodologies that can help most anyone deal effectively with these greedy rich people and evil corporations.

One must remember that while effective, these methods usually take time to bare fruit. In fact, it is likely to take at least a year or more of hard word before you start seeing any gains. Still, once you start making real headway, you’ll notice you’ll be able to expand your operations into other areas.

  1. Talk to those rich people and corporations to find out what kinds of products and/or services they are in need of.
  2. Identify which of those products or services you feel comfortable working with.
  3. Provide those products or services to those rich people and corporations at a competitive price.

These are some very general guidelines. You’ll have to refer to your own experience and expertise to decide what is best for you, but if you apply this simple steps, you can deal effectively with those nasty rich people and corporations.

Independence

In 1980 I was in the Army stationed in Mainz Germany. I was with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 8th Infantry Division. It was a sore time for the Army. We were out manned and, in several areas, out gunned by the Warsaw Pact forces just across the fence. For our unit though, it was particularly anxious. Our forward deployment area, the place we would defend if they attacked, was smack in the middle of the Fulda Gap. In other words, dead center ground zero.

I remember sitting in my barracks room one weekend with my roommate drinking beer and watching our newly acquired 13 inch B&W TV. It was AFN news. They were showing a clip from one of the presidential candidates that year. It was a pretty great speech. At times it seemed like he was talking to me. Other times it seemed he was talking about me. I remember telling my roommate, “that guy sounds like my dad.” At the end of the video clip I took a swig of my beer and exclaimed, “whatever side you’re on, you gotta love that guy.” My roommate agreed.

I knew who the guy speaking was, he had been the governor of my home state when I was a kid. I already loved my country, and was proud to serve it, but this man spoke in a way that magnified that and brought it to the fore. He spoke with passion and conviction. There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this man believed, and believed in, everything he said. It was inspirational.

If, on the day before the 1980 general election, you asked any of our troops: “what will happen if the soviets invade?” You would get the standard answer: “We’ll hold the line until reinforcements can be brought in from the states.” We believed it, and if it had come down to it we believed that is exactly what would happen. Now, fast forward a couple of months to the day after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. If you asked that same questions, you would get a very different answer: “Well kick their ass all the way back to Moscow.”

I can tell you truthfully that when Ronald Reagan became President, my uniform fit better. The colors on the flag we saluted every morning were brighter. Being “in the Army” was no longer a tedious chore, but an honor and a privilege. A lot of people think I’m embellishing when I talk about this, but it sure felt true at the time. The questions is, why? What did Ronald Reagan have that Jimmy Carter didn’t? His first budget wouldn’t be effective until October of the following year. We’d received none of the new training and equipment. No new tanks or personnel carriers. No updated rifles and medical training. No new camouflage uniforms. None of that had happened yet, so what was it? What made everything different?

Actually, it is not hard to figure out. The one thing President Reagan had in spades that President Carter did not, the one thing that radiated from him and changed everything, is also the one thing that a soldier, and a nation, responds to most positively. It’s the one thing that any President needs in order to be truly effective: Leadership. Couple real leadership with a brilliant vision and a patriotic zeal and you’ve got a one in a million President. Ronald Reagan is gone, but his inspiration and vision are not.

This year we’re faced with the most important Presidential election since 1860. We can’t afford to mess this up. The next Ronald Reagan isn’t running for President, but he or she may be running for the house or senate, or in some state legislative race. We can’t afford to drop the ball anywhere. Every election, on every ballot, in every state and district, for every level of office, is critical in 2012. Let’s not blow it.

Obamacaretaxthing Ruling

I was going to write an actual post about the SCOTUS Obamacare decision, but that’s not really necessary because Red State has a post here that pretty much covers most of what I had to say, and they’re way better at it than I am. I just want to hit a few points that a lot of people still don’t seem to be getting:

  • This decision effectively delimits the commerce clause. We now have a very good idea of how far it goes.
  • It also effectively strengthens and reenforces states rights.
  • Election results now matter more than ever, and the vast majority are against this.
  • Repeal of the 16th amendment now more possible than ever.
  • Conservative and traditional Americans are more motivated and animated than ever.

I think we actually have an opportunity here to deal a fatal blow to progressiveness in the United States. Yes, support Mitt Romney for President, this is critical, but don’t forget your House, Senate and state legislative races. Those races are now more important than ever.

Defining Interstate Commerce

The commerce clause of the constitution is not nearly as big a grey area as politicians, especially progressives, would have us believe. Whatever it really means, it’s going to be affected in a major way by the SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare. Once we’re past that, and it should happen tomorrow, we need to have a national debate about what exactly constitutes “interstate commerce.”

I have experience in several industries where that definition plays a major role. Filmed entertainment, retail, trucking and logistics, and even information technology all have major components involved in interstate commerce. In order to get a grip on where the line is between what is currently considered interstate commerce and what is not I’ve developed a couple of scenarios. Just be advised, these are fairly simple examples, but that proverbial line goes all over the place.

First, let’s just take a look at that clause so we’re all on the same page:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

The context of this is “the congress has authority.” For our purposes here, we will focus on the phrase, “and among the several States.” Keep that idea in mind as you read on, and see if you can figure out a simple definition of what really constitutes interstate commerce.

Tylenol is made by McNeil Laboratories in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Walgreen’s is headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois. I’m in Los Angeles California. Now, here’s the question: If I go to the Walgreen’s just down the street from my house and purchase a bottle of Tylenol, am I engaged in interstate commerce? I happen to know that the answer is no, I am not. If I didn’t know that, and only had, say, my trucking experience to go on, and had to decide the questions based on that experience, I’d have to say yes, that is interstate commerce. More on that later. For now, let’s drill down into this transaction a bit and see where it takes us.

How about this: When Walgreen’s purchased the Tylenol from McNiel, was that interstate commerce? Yes, actually, that one is simple. Now, let’s say the financial transaction is complete, and a truck, owned and operated by Walgreen’s, shows up at the McNiel factory to pick up the load of Tylenol and carry it to the distribution center in Moreno Valley, California. Is that part, the shipment of the Tylenol to California, interstate commerce? Remember, it’s Walgreen’s property, in a Walgreen’s truck, going to a Walgreen’s distribution center. The answer is yes, that is considered interstate commerce. In this scenario, all of this actually makes sense, and for several reasons.

The above scenario actually demonstrates the very reason the commerce clause was included in the constitution in the first place. Here you have stuff going all over the country, moving back and forth across several state lines from one end of the country to the other. If any part of this transaction is not considered interstate commerce, a whole lot of states have to get involved individually to figure out how to regulate from one state to the next. It would be easy for one state to make life very difficult, not to mention expensive, for the parties of the transaction, and even for the other states involved. The advantage of the commerce clause is pretty clearly demonstrated in this scenario.

Interestingly, when the workers at the Morena Valley distribution center load the Tylenol on the distribution truck to deliver to my local store here about 70 miles away, that is still interstate commerce. Does that make sense? Well, kind of, but what about this next scenario, this one is really strange.

Lets say I have a truck. Nothing fancy, just a standard class 6 cargo truck not unlike one of those Budget or Ryder rental trucks. Then let’s say I have a client in Chatsworth California that makes BBQ Grills. Now, these guys have sold several dozen of these grills to a company in Houston, Texas. My part of the operation is to pick up six pallets of BBQ Grills and deliver them to a distribution warehouse in Fontana California some 60 miles away. I’m not leaving the state, and I’m only being paid to go from Chatsworth to Fontana. Am I participating in interstate commerce? Keep in mind that I am being paid by the manufacturer in Chatsworth to carry stuff from there to the warehouse. I have no interaction at all with the customer in Texas. Everything about the transaction that I am engaged in is happening entirely in the state of California. Still, the answer is yes, according to federal regulations, in this instance I am engaged in interstate commerce and am subject to federal regulations. This ads a lot to my cost of doing business. Is it me, or does this not make a lot of sense?

Now, for the real hard, or perhaps not so hard, question: How does the concept of healthcare fit into interstate commerce? Well, that depends on how you want to look at it. If you look at healthcare as the interaction between you and your doctor, nurse, lab tech, pharmacist, etc. then no, it can’t be considered interstate commerce, unless you use these services in several different states, which is not likely enough for consideration. If you consider health care as the transaction between you and your health insurance company, then maybe it’s different. Or is it? In the current market, just like it was before Obamacare, you can only buy insurance from within your state. You can not purchase health insurance from a company in another state!

The question now becomes, how the hell can this possibly considered interstate commerce? Well, in my opinion, it can’t. There’s no way in hell healthcare is interstate commerce. Now, if you’re a major medical corporation and California and you purchase an MRI machine built in Texas, then yes, that’s interstate commerce. When you bring that thing online and use it to diagnose a patient who lives three miles away and pays for it with an in-state insurance policy? No, that can not in any way be construed as interstate commerce. According to the Obama administration though, it is. If we’re not careful, he’ll find a way to make everything “interstate commerce” and then take the opportunity to take full and complete control of it. If Barack Obama is anything, he’s a control freak, and I’m being very generous in that comment, very generous indeed.