Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good day to you all on this sunny Thursday.  The temperature was only in the low 40s last night and only 40F when we woke this morning.  The weather people predict mid 70s for today and 80s for the next four days.  The gardens are beginning to look like my usual jungle.  But I already have to water more.  We haven't had any rain yet this month in my area.  What looked like a good chance a couple of days ago passed us by with no more than a couple of lightning flashes and rumbles of thunder.  Our next chance for rain comes Sunday.  I have a few seedlings to put in and a few seeds to plant directly in the beds but nothing much to do.

I noticed the Huffington Post story this morning that the $2billion loss for JP Morgan has ballooned to $3billion and there is every indication the loss might go higher.  I recalled the old saying popularly attributed to Everett Dirksen "A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money.'  He may or may not have said it but it seems apt.  I have seen two varieties of opinion on the losses and on the demand for Congressional hearings and Federal investigations.  The first dismisses the event because the loss is minuscule compared to the profits JP Morgan generates.  Though true it is fascinating to hear  a couple of billion dollars being dismissed as trivial.  Unnerving but fascinating.  The other opinion supports the call for hearings and investigations not because the loss itself is so bad but because of 'what might have been'--if it had been bad enough to cause the government to initiate a new bailout.  One of the idiotic talking heads was incensed that the government would investigate JP Morgan when he thought the government's own out-of-balance balance sheets needed scrutiny.  I guess he forgot how much of the deficit came because the government bailed out the banks--not all of which have paid back the 'loans.'

I noticed last night the news story concerning the new, reduced levels defining lead poisoning in children. The Huffington Post story this morning adds some details--five times more children now at risk while the money allotted for prevention of childhood lead poisoning in the Federal budget proposals have been cut drastically.  I was somewhat curious about how long we have used lead in paint and how long we have known about the dangers of lead.  I found this article at Toxipedia.  The first sentence of the section on lead in paint surprised me.  I would never have thought that lead would impart a sweetness to the paint that kids really liked.  Mom recalled babies teething on the rails of the cribs when she was young.  What didn't surprise me was how long it took the U.S. to act after the evidence of lead's detrimental effects became generally known.

We saw a brief mention of this story on the evening news within the last couple of days.  It is absolutely incomprehensible to me (far more incomprehensible that the $3billion loss at JP Morgan) that the cost for 'health care' for a family has been estimated at $20k for this year.  But we noticed a couple of things here that caused a bit of discussion.  This figure is not for actual medical treatment.  It is for health insurance.  We started discussing just how much we actually spend on medical treatment each year.  For me the calculation is fairly easy--less than $500.  This year has been expensive but for dental not medical which most insurance plans don't cover.  The next most expensive year was the year I was treated for a really nasty stomach bug--$200 for one antibiotic, one nausea prescription and 2 office visits.  Mom's calculations are complicated because she has Medicare and a very good health plan thanks to her late husband's long employment at U.S. Steel.  Also she needs several medications daily for ongoing conditions and has at least 2 appointments with two doctors each year each requiring extensive blood tests.  But even so I doubt her normal yearly expenditures equal the $20k estimated in the article.  It wouldn't even reach the $8K that is the employee's portion much less the $12K of the employer's part.  I saw an article recently (sorry, I don't remember where) which said it would be far more sensible (economically speaking) for older Americans to buy catastrophic health coverage (if they can afford it) rather than buy the regular health care insurance.  What is currently peddled to us as health insurance is really a scam and most of the proposals for fixing the problem are really just insurance for industry profits.

Barbara Ehrenreich posted an interesting piece on tomdispatch this morning.  Her account of the fleecing of the poor by both public and private entities is sickening.

This cartoon I found on Direct ezine expresses the case perfectly.  They give us haircuts to support their obscene profits and incomes.

Or this cartoon:

Both express the situation perfectly.

No comments: