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Demeter's Journal
Demeter's Journal
December 1, 2014

My Insurance Company Killed Me, Despite Obamacare


Malcolm MacDougall, a prominent speechwriter and creative director, was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year. Even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, his insurance company delayed and denied cancer treatments despite MacDougall paying his premiums. This is his story, in his own words, written five days before he died.

How far will a health-insurance company go to deny coverage when you are really sick? How willing are they to risk their customers’ health and possibly their lives? Well let me tell you my experience with Health Republic and its affiliate MagnaCare.

For five months—ever since I was diagnosed with stage-four metastasized prostate cancer—they refused to pay my medical bills. On Oct. 20, a nurse with Health Republic overruled my oncologist and my primary-care physician and declared that a critical test to determine the progress of my cancer was unnecessary.

It seems she was wrong. As a result, I am writing this from Lenox Hill Hospital, where I am undergoing emergency tests and treatments ordered by three prominent New York doctors who didn’t agree with that health-insurance nurse.

This latest fiasco is not at all surprising. I have been fighting to get Health Republic and MagnaCare to explain why they suddenly and inexplicably refused to pay for my doctors and my treatments even though I followed their rules for members, went to their online list of providers, and actually received two form letters stating the treatments the doctors had ordered were legitimate...

November 30, 2014

It has become the paradox of a nation that doesn't live up to itself

A nation that cannot meet its dreams, plans, expectations, nor even face its citizens with the truth.

A nation which preys upon its citizens, when it was supposed to be in league with them: of, by and FOR THE PEOPLE.

a nation which betrays every principle it stood for, every promise it ever made.

November 29, 2014

Weekend Economists Thanksgiving Leftovers November 29-30, 2014

Hard to believe another month is over. Even with my drastically reduced workload, the time flies by. Of course, I've only had a couple of weeks, so far, on the new schedule; not even enough to get the bugs out. And it is the season of rehearsals, performances and spectacles.

I actually did shop one store (at dinner time) on Black Friday. They reported steady, but not overwhelming traffic. And it snowed enough to make life interesting and slippery when we went to the movies:

We went to see "White Christmas", with Crosby, Kaye, Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Our local Michigan Theater, a 1927 Picture Palace lovingly restored, likes to host fun-filled singalong spectacles. We had goody bags, with Santa hats, a blue feather (for the fan dance) a horse for the knight-on-a theme, and these clever slapstick clappers and a candy cane, and sang a bunch of commercial Christmas songs (not carols) before the show with organ accompaniment on the recently restored Barton's pipe organ, which is original to the theater. It even has the tweeting bird feature from the silent film time...

The film itself, released 60 years ago, is creaky...it starts in WWII and lumbers forward. The acting is uneven, the plot ridiculous, and we had fun. It was rather like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, without the toast. The Kid enjoyed it, which is what was important.

One of the plot twists is that the unseasonable weather (in the 60F region) has left Vermont green and snowless....proving that New England weather has been capricious for some time...I spent one Thanksgiving in a convertible with the top down, and no coat...and another shovelling out that completely buried convertible...

The Kid also enjoyed "The Penguins of Madagascar", which I felt didn't live up to the previous Madagascar films. You have been warned...

This is the sequel to the earlier WEE thread, which got too long...keep on posting!

November 28, 2014

Why The Democrats Lost The Election: Obamacare

The third-ranking Democrat in the US Senate shocked fellow Democrats and reporters this week when he placed the blame for the Democrat’s disastrous defeat in this fall’s election squarely at the feet of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). New York Senator Charles Schumer, speaking at the National Press Club, said that whatever the merits or demerits of health reform, it was bad politics. About 95 percent of all voters have health insurance, Schumer said, and the vast majority of those like the insurance they have. By contrast, most of the uninsured don’t vote. Only a third of them are even registered to vote.

Although Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic insiders expressed surprise and disagreement with Schumer’s observations, the underlying facts have been well known (if only intuitively) by Democratic candidates for decades. How else can you explain the odd history of health care and the Democratic Party? National health insurance has been in the national Democratic Party platform forever – okay, at least since the 1930s. Yet there have been only a few instances when Democrats in office made any serious effort to deliver on that promise. For most of that time, congressional Democrats made no serious effort to insure the middle class uninsured. They even voted against Republican proposals to give tax deductions or tax credits to people who buy their own health insurance. The exception to this pattern is the ability of the self-employed to deduct their own health insurance costs. Congressional Democrats supported this exception, or at least didn’t block it, although the self-employed are overwhelmingly Republican. But when it came to proposals to extend the same tax relief to people who ordinarily vote Democrat, Congressional Democrats had no interest whatsoever.

There have been only a few occasions when Democrats have made any serious effort to reform the entire health care system. Prior to Obamacare, the last effort was Hillarycare. And that was when Democrats discovered something some of them may not have already known: The uninsured do not lobby. They do not make campaign contributions. In fact, they don’t even vote! And although those who have health insurance are not indifferent to the plight of the uninsured, polls show that the amount of taxes they are willing to pay to insure the uninsured is generally less than $100.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, the Democratic Party has been a collection of special interest groups. What Democrats do when they are in office is legislate favors for the interest groups who support them at the polls. But once in a while Democrats do something that is purely ideological and for which there is virtually no special interest support. In the first two years of the Obama presidency, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and they had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. It was a perfect opportunity to satisfy the ideological goals of their left wing base. But no reform is possible without the support of the core special interest constituencies. So we got national health reform completely designed by special interests! I can’t emphasize this enough. The people being helped by Obamacare (the uninsured) had absolutely no input into the design of the Affordable Care Act. The health reform bill was completely and totally designed by people who were already insured and who had an economic interest in making sure health reform was good for them...The result, of course, has been a big mess. Such a mess that Democratic candidates in this last election were on the defensive about Obamacare from the get go. Hardly any were bragging about the fact that about 10 million people have been newly insured. Instead, they were more apt to say, “Mend it don’t end it.”

Even that message didn’t seem to help.

November 26, 2014

Weekend Economists Celebrate Turkeys We Have Known Thanksgiving, 2014

This economics stuff is for the birds.

First we have the chickens, who would like nothing better than to stick their savings in safe, secure, interest-bearing accounts: http://thumb9.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/641824/641824,1283510005,2/stock-photo-chicken-with-golden-eggs-60270979.jpg

Then we have the turkeys, who concoct all sorts of crazy policies and plots ostensibly for the "public welfare":

And then, there are the vultures, and their cousins, the crows: carrion eaters...

So, while you are enjoying a quiet, lavish Thanksgiving, try not to be a total turkey about it. Get stuffed, but keep your head!

I'll run this thread through Sunday, and if it gets too long, add a sequel...

November 25, 2014

Email Hacked? 7 Things You Need to do NOW


Email account theft is rampant. If it happens to you, there are several steps that you need to take not only to recover your account, but to prevent it from being easily hacked again.

It seems like not a day goes by where I don’t get a question from someone that boils down to their email account having been hacked. Someone, somewhere has gained access to their account and has started using it to send spam. Sometimes passwords are changed, sometimes not. Sometimes traces are left, sometimes not. Sometimes everything in the account is erased, both contacts and saved email, and sometimes not. But the one thing that all of these events share is that suddenly several people, usually those on your contact list, start getting email from “you” that you didn’t send at all.

Your email account has been hacked.

Here’s what you need to do next…

1. Recover Your Account

2. Change Your Password

3. Change Your Recovery Information

4. Check Related Accounts

5. Let Your Contacts Know

6. Start Backing Up

7. Learn From the Experience

8. If You’re Not Sure, Get Help

9. Share This Article

As I said, email account theft is rampant.

Share this article with friends and family – statistically, you or they will encounter someone who’s account has been hacked and who will need this information.

Use the Share buttons included with this article.
Share this short-URL: http://askleo.com/hacked to go directly to this article online.
A stand-alone PDF of this article is available for offline viewing: right click here and “Save Target As…” (or equivalent) to save a copy on your PC. Feel free to share this document with others. (Adobe Reader, FoxIt Reader, or equivalent PDF reading application required to view the document.)



Is it on my PC or not?

When faced with this situation, most people immediately believe that some form of malware has entered their computer and is responsible for email being sent out from their account.

That is rarely the case.

In the vast majority of these situations, your computer was never involved.

The problem is not on your PC. The problem is simply that someone else knows your account password and is logging into your account online.

They could very well be on the other side of the planet from you and your PC (and often, they are).

Yes, it’s possible that a key-logger on your PC was used to sniff your password. Yes, it’s possible that your PC was used in a non-secure way at an open WiFi hotspots. So, yes, absolutely, scan it for malware and use it safely, but don’t think for a moment that once you’re malware free, you’ve resolved the problem. You have not.

You need to follow the steps outlined to the left to regain access to your online account and protect your online account from further compromise.

You’ll use your PC, but your PC is not the problem.
November 24, 2014

I'm not sure that's English, but

The Fed Reserve is trying to maintain the status quo: all for the 1%, nothing for the trash under their feet (us, the 99%).

The fact that this is the path to the guillotine doesn't seem to disturb them in the slightest, BECAUSE IT'S DIFFERENT THIS TIME, OF COURSE!

After all, we have the NSA, CIA, all those alphabet agencies, working for us, and the military is bogged down in foreign wars for our benefit, including the National Guard, so we can bring in mercenaries if the plebes get restless, and mow them down. We've got FEMA camps for the dissidents, we've stolen everything that isn't nailed down, including the jobs and shipped it all overseas out of harm's way. Yep. we've got this.

And thus we see the stupidity, corruption, greed, and all the other Sins played out for us, once again, in a nation that tried from the beginning to overcome these temptations, but failed rather spectacularly because it needed the resources of the Obscenely Wealthy, and was too timid (and incestuous) to kill them off and just take them.
November 22, 2014

How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization MUST READ



Roughly 9,000 years ago, humans had mastered farming to the point where food was plentiful. Populations boomed, and people began moving into large settlements full of thousands of people. And then, abruptly, these proto-cities were abandoned for millennia. It's one of the greatest mysteries of early human civilization....As people accumulated more food stores, women began giving birth to more children. Nomadic groups of 20 or 30 people became villages of 200. And some of those villages, like Çatalhöyük in the region today known as central Turkey, grew to a few thousand people....There were no palaces, no massive ziggurats or pyramids dedicated to the gods, and no signs of class distinction. Every family had a small, slightly rectangular one-room home with a hearth. Each home was roughly the same size. Streets didn't exist in Çatalhöyük — homes were erected next to each other, honeycomb-style, and people just walked over each other's roofs to get home through doors in their ceilings. Though there was art, there was no writing. And there was little in the way of specialized labor. Unlike in ancient Uruk or Mohenjo-Daro, there were no cottage industries in bead-making or weapons production. Families lived by hunting, but mostly by keeping farms and small herds of animals like goats in the nearby hills.

...Maybe Çatalhöyük didn't look much like cities as we know them, but it and other mega-sites were the most developed forms of settlement anywhere in the world at that time. They were the urban developments of their age, sheltering huge populations and fostering technological progress like cooking with dairy and making fired pottery (both were major high tech inventions in the Neolithic).

Here's where things get weird. In the mid-5000s BCE, Çatalhöyük was suddenly abandoned. The same thing happened to several other outsized village-cities in the Levant. Their populations drained away, and people returned to small village life for thousands of years. Below, you can see a graph showing how the size of settlements dropped dramatically about 7,000 years ago (5000 BCE)....Even more mysterious is the fact that we see a similar pattern — intensification of farming, booming population, growing settlements, and abandonment — elsewhere in the world. Farming came later to Western Europe and England, so we see this cycle starting roughly 5,000 years ago (around 3,000 BCE) in many European regions and in England.



In a sense, agriculture was a technology that came before human civilization was ready. It gave humans the means to grow into large settlements and proto-cities. But we'd spent tens of thousands of years as nomads before that, and weren't yet ready to abandon our ancient beliefs that no family should ever accumulate more than its neighbors. As a result, our earliest experiment with urbanism ended in failure. When the going got rough, with bad harvests and disease, humans preferred to abandon their nascent urban creations because we had not yet developed a social structure that would allow us to cope with the difficulties of city life.

It was a near miss. We almost didn't have the world of cities that we have today. If we hadn't come to terms with the agricultural revolution, it's possible that humans would never have been able to sustain communities larger than a village.

November 21, 2014

Weekend Economists' Variety Show! November 21-23, 2014

Variety is the spice of life, it is said. As one who has experienced more variety than I can even remember, I have to think there is a limit to how much any one person can take.

But spices! Now there's something that makes all that variety bearable! A pinch of this, a shake of that, and the dullest, most mismatched meal becomes a harmonious feast for all the senses.

Among other things, I cook for a living. I'm rather conservative with spices, since burning out my taste buds with horseradish, chilis, curry and wasabi does not improve my dining experience. But take away my spices, and I'll starve!

One of the greatest failings of our shredded safety net of food stamps, food pantries, and free meals for the hungry is that no one offers spices. Or cooking lessons.

I learned to cook from Fanny Farmer. Her famous Boston Cooking School series of cook books, updated regularly to go with the trends and times in food fashion, is a primary source for all the basics. She includes a list of spices and which foods they enhance.

Spice up your life (and ours). Tell us how you make raw food into a meal!

And we can discuss economics as we go, since economics determines if there is any food at all...


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Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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