Friday, December 13, 2013

Frosty Friday. Insurance?

With snow coming in.  How much is always a question here.  Temperature at this time is 11F.  Oh, well.  The seed catalogs are coming in.  Baker Creek came yesterday and three others came earlier in the week.  This is perfect weather for staying in and dreaming/planning of the spring.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism has an interesting post on "Why Obamacare Cannot 'Insure' for pre-existing conditions."  She is right on both of her main points.  First, the insurance companies will make every effort to reduce their costs by writing the policies to shift as much of those costs as possible onto the insured.  Second, insurance companies are in the business of defraying the costs of an unknown risk for a premium payment which is adjusted based on their assessment of how likely the catastrophe is to occur.  I have always said that insurance is basically legal gambling.  The company is betting you won't suffer the loss you are paying them to "insure" you against.  You are betting it will.  Further, they also are betting that, if the conditions they are "insuring against" happen, the costs of the payout will be more than covered by the premiums.  The fact that what we are calling "insurance" for pre-existing conditions is really a socialization of the costs of illness makes it plain that as a society we should have instituted a system of universal, single-payer system.  And told the insurance companies to take a hike.

A couple of days ago I linked to another story about a meat recall and wrote a few comments on how interesting it was that no story discussed such incidents in terms of the waste.  However, yesterday we had an episode here that brings in another problem with the whole food waste in an industrial food manufacturing system.  Mom decided to try a new brand of frozen spinach.  We have been repeatedly disappointed by frozen spinach over the last few years.  Yesterday provided yet another disappointment.  Straw would have tasted better and I can't even begin to describe the smell.  Most of it went down the disposal.  I didn't even want it in my compost bin.  Once again we asked what the hell have they done to the spinach.  We have found an increasing number of totally unpalatable veggies over the last few years especially among once trusted brands.  Too bad because we really like veggies.

Firedoglake posted these comments on a power outage in Portland, Oregon a bit ago.  I don't live in Portland but I have a few comments of my own.  I have watched as power companies in my area have lobbied the regulating boards for hefty rate increases citing the need to upgrade their infrastructure.  Usually that story appears along with reports of shareholder payouts.  What customers paid went to pay shareholder bonuses and, barely, to keep the company going with not much left for maintenance or upgrades.  To do that the company wanted even more from customers.  Rationally one would think that shareholders would get their payout after expenses and after some reserve was put aside for maintenance, expansion and upgrades.  Evidently, that isn't how the executives of our utility companies think.

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