Election Tag

There’s been a facebook game of tag going around encouraging early voting. My pal Tad Leeper tagged me and I’m supposed to keep the chain going by tagging five others. There are so many interesting contests happening around the country I don’t know who to bug about this. In fact, I’m not much of tagger, so if you’re so inclined, post a pix of your early vote and tag others in you are so inclined.

Take a pix of yourself with your early voting ballot and scrawl "I voted" on your arm. Tag five of your pals.

Take a pix of yourself with your early voting ballot and scrawl “I voted” on your arm. Tag five of your pals.

 

Take a pix of yourself getting your early voting ballots ready to be cast and then tag five more. This isn’t catching on like the ALS ice bucket challenge.

I filed out my ballot but won’t vote until election day. It’s cheaper and more convenient to mail it, but for me, at least, there’s something about going down to the polls and casting my vote that gets my serotonin rising. The postage stamp is a de facto “poll tax” but probably cheaper than hopping in the car, driving to the polls and voting.

I haven’t missed an election since my first one in 1972. I voted for Nixon.  I’ve not been a very good party man. I remember when I was in grad school at the University of Wyoming. I volunteered with the College Republicans. I did what I could to help out Larry Hart who was running for Congress in 1976, but voted for Teno Roncalio.

In 1980 I supported John Anderson, the third party guy from Illinois, in 1984 I voted for political criminal Lyndon Larouche because he was the initial whistle blower on Iran Contra.  I was drummed out of the Republican Party for supporting John Vinich for US Senate in 1988. Even though I voted for Ross Perot in 1992, I attended Clinton’s inauguration.

Theoretically, a person’s vote is secret, but in reality, there are no secrets.

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Are you honest with yourself and with others ALL THE TIME or blame everything on Obama?

I was at the Conference on World Affairs today and the topic of one of the lecture panels was about spin doctoring and little lies and artful truth-stretching. I think that spin doctoring is most closely associated with politicians and public relations strategies, but the panel discussants made the topic more personal through their own stories and experiences.

The guy on the right is a columnist for the Chicago Sun and gave examples on how his outlandish claims were actually true. The next speaker from Down Under had rationalized working for Shell Environmental after knowing Shell Oil was a major polluter in Nigeria. The third panelist is a rock musician who told the story about his father who finally fessed up that he was a co-pilot and not a pilot during WWII. The final speaker from Hollywood is a show runner for reality TV in LA and explained that everyone in Tinseltown are liars.

The guy on the right is a columnist for the Chicago Sun and gave examples on how his outlandish claims were actually true. The next speaker from Down Under had rationalized working for Shell Environmental after knowing Shell Oil was a major polluter in Nigeria. The third panelist is a rock musician who told the story about his father who finally fessed up that he was a co-pilot and not a pilot during WWII. The final speaker from Hollywood is a show runner for reality TV in LA and explained that everyone in Tinseltown are liars.

 

For most of you out there, you’ve probably never heard of CWA.

This is a week-long conclave with a bunch of talking heads of various academic disciplines who come together to lecture to an audience about current topics. The topics are mundane in nature, but the panels can get very heady.

I tend to go to the sessions that have some practical applications in my day-to-day world. I suppose it’s because I still work and try to gain some new insight into how to conduct my business.

There are lots of retired people who seem to go for the more heady sessions about war and peace in the middle east, etc. etc.

Stuff that I think the average Joe or Joette, really have no control over, but are interesting to talk about and there’s little personal risk in doing so.

Anyway, this spin doctoring panel about the art of rationalized lying fit in with one I heard earlier in the day about the future of communication. I was also interested since my recent illness, I’ve started to get a lot off my mind to relieve stress.

Turns out, being frank and honest may add more to my stress, than I imagined, which I’ll explain later.

What did I learn?

Like Jack Nicholson says in “A Few Good Men” – “You can’t handle the truth.”

In our daily lives as we meet our neighbors, go to work, interact with friends of various ilks, I’ve learned that people can’t handle the truth, unless they’ve concocted their rationalizations or come to grips with their truths.

The session earlier in the day I attended about the future of communication had a big discussion about the “filter bubble” of internet searches.

As the search engines become better at “dialing in” the words and phrases of our searches, if a person relies too heavily on the search results, the narrow results put us in our own artificial realities that only reinforce what we think, rather than providing a broader perspective.

The example used by one of the presenters, if a political extremist only googles obama, guns, 2nd amendment, the only results that will come up will be those that have come up time and time again, thereby leading the activist to think that “everyone” holds the same views.

Since my flirt with death, I’ve had a big attitude adjustment that life is too short to “beat around the bush” and have become more forthright in my comments and approach to people. Based on reactions I get from people, this isn’t an acceptable cultural norm.

People aren’t interested in hearing frank and unfiltered opinions, especially if they concern them. So far, folks get defensive, push back, and jump to conclusions. I may have to return to my wicked ways and join the crowd, since others aren’t willing to face their big and little demons openly.

I’ll be more selective in my battles, for sure.

I’m figuring out that most people like telling the little lies and concocting stories backing them up; rationalizing their questionable actions as being positive choices.

By the way, if anyone posts that Obama is a liar or Congress members are liars, your comments will be nixed. Those targets are too easy.

This is about you and I coming to grips with our own behaviors before knocking anyone for theirs. Now that I think about it, if we only surround ourselves with people and media accounts that only bolster our own perspectives, we are enabling the status quo liars in Washington D.C.

My Experience with the Affordable Care Act

I’ve had health insurance since my first “real job” in Gillette, Wyoming back when Sen. Ted Kennedy was touting universal health care and had Richard Nixon not screwed up with Watergate, would have joined forces with Kennedy and we wouldn’t be having this Obamacare fight today.

Nonetheless, back in 2010, I received a letter from my insurance carrier – Kaiser Permanente – that since I had coverage before ACA went into effect, my policy was “grandfathered” and could keep it or change it with no repercussions from any “pre-existing conditions” that I had or may develop in the future.

I just heard several thousand Kaiser Permanente policy holders got their pink slips that their coverage doesn’t meet the minimum requirements of ACA? What kind of coverage is that? Like a barbecue grill warranty at Walmart? The ACA naysayers have been finding stories about us self employed people who have had their policies handled. What’s the big deal? For the past 10 years, my plan has been cancelled like clockwork on December 31st. If I want to reup, the policies are similar, but the price has always gone up. I’ve had to increase my deductible over the years to keep a reasonable price. ACA or not, my carrier will be cancelling my policy December 14, 2014 as usual and every year after. But at least they can’t kick me out for some medical reason.

When ACA was in its infancy, my premium price dropped, not a lot, but a few bucks. Meanwhile, there was no national health care exchange, but many private ones out there. Since I couldn’t be denied coverage, I did shop around on a private exchange and ended up finding a less expensive plan that had a little better coverage from my existing carrier – it’s a medium deductible co-pay plan – and the plan I’ve had for three years or so. Over the past couple years, my prescription prices dropped to grocery store levels ($5 or buy 2 get one free).

Private healthcare exchanges

On October 1, I signed up with the Colorado healthcare exchange. On day one, I had a few problems getting my account set up – I was bumped off the site a few times, timed out a few times, but eventually was able to get a good connection. After all that and to my surprise, there were no plans offered with coverage even close to what I purchased on the private market.  They all had very high deductibles and premiums that were nearly double what I was currently paying. Apparently, the income-based tax credits would lower the costs dramatically, but the coverage is still terrible, at best. The Connect for Colorado Health support has been great. I’ve been called a couple times to help me get finally through the process which has been goo.

I imagine it has something to do with the actuarial tables that show that low-income people tend to have bigger health problems than the general population, which is why all sorts of people are necessary in the risk pool. These “low-end” policies end up costing less with the tax credits applied. If you’ve been denied coverage all these years, this type of policy is probably considered “gold”. The premiums are likely based on the probability that mostly uninsured, ergo unhealthy, and low income folks will be the ones who apply. I also surmise that places like Wyoming that chose to opt out of the Medicaid expansion plopped all those “high risk” people into the general risk pool, which was a contributing factor to higher premiums.

The Mississippi experience

Rural areas lack competition

There are dental plans offered, but none from my current dentist, which is one of the publicly-traded dentists, Perfect Teeth. I may switch over to Delta Dental if after comparing my Perfect Teeth discount program, it turns out to be way better. Kaiser doesn’t offer dental coverage.

I looked around on the Kaiser Permanente site for plans and found one that had a lower deductible than I currently have and the cost was a third less and called about it and found out that I could switch over, but it would expire for me at the end of 2013 and if i kept it, the price would jump up to the Colorado Health Exchange price, which was over double what I currently spend.

The Kaiser Permanente member service representative on the phone said that they figure out ACA tax credit eligibility too. They have an entire staff designated to Medicaid and Medicare paperwork and I would imagine is very good at working through each state to figure out any ACA red tape.

The upshot?

In my case:

– ACA saves me a few bucks on premiums and lots of bucks on prescriptions

– ACA gives me peace of mind about the future because my insurance won’t get cancelled

– ACA covers a whole bunch of people who won’t be using the emergency room staff as their primary care physicians which, in the long, run will keep my premiums lower by putting their risk in their own pool and not mine.

ACA has caught on and will only improve as more people previously uninsured participate. I think that the national health care exchange is good if you don’t already have coverage and income eligible for tax credits. I heard the dead-beat states that let the federal government run their exchanges are missing the boat and the can-do states that tailored their own are having pretty good success.

State run exchanges more successful

Most people have coverage and If you do, I suggest sticking with learning information from your carrier and not mess around with the national exchange. If you’re in the market or curious as to what choices are out there, also check out the private health care exchanges. You’ll be asked for the same personal information as the Obamacare website asks. Like all other internet commerce, be careful!