Friday, February 27, 2009

Maine government commits massive theft of services from private Hospitals

The State of Maine owes various Maine hospitals 450 million dollars for services supplied to MaineCare recipients between 2003 and 2007. They don't dispute they owe the money, they don't dispute the amount. They just aren't paying.

Isn't that a crime? If I take a service, and then don't pay for it, wouldn't I be breaking the law? Hello? Augusta? Will someone with some backbone and integrity in the legislature, the judiciary, or the executive branch please step up to the plate and tell the rest of the state government they have to pay their bills!

The State of Maine owes various Maine hospitals 450 million dollars!

If the state can contract for the services and then not pay for them, then I propose we call this what it is-- socialized medicine. You can have it one way, or you can have it the other. Either we have state supplied healthcare, or we have privately owned healthcare. If it's socialized medicine, let's stop pretending it's not. But if we're going to have private healthcare, let's stop allowing the state to steal services from the private sector. Let's have one or the other, because trying to blend them only gets the worst characteristics of both.

And please, oh please, make the State pay its bills! It's ridiculous if it doesn't.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Crimes for which there is no appropriate punishment

I was shocked when I first heard about this, and I'm still shocked by the story now that they've gotten a guilty plea. Apparently two judges in Pennsylvania were paid to send youthful offenders to several private youth detention centers in order to keep their populations full, so the centers would collect more money.

They sent children to jail for profit! The judges have pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, but charges related to actually sending the kids to juvenile detention were deemed too complicated to prosecute, and hence were left out of the guilty plea. The consequences for the judges will be harsh-- 87 months in jail (though I think on the Paris Hilton model, they're only going to serve half of that), and they lose their pensions because they are now felons.

The punishment is not harsh enough by a long shot. They have made a mockery of juvenile justice, in order to net them a bigger home, a sleeker car, a bigger TV. They've scarred some kids-- a lot of them-- for the rest of their lives. Over several years, five thousand kids went from their courtrooms to lockup, many for their first offense. Some are still there. And nothing has been done to the owners of the private detention centers who actually arranged the deals, and paid the money. The definition of a pedophile is someone who preys on children for their own gain. These men are pedophiles, and worse, because they did so from a position of public trust and responsibility. And they did it in public, in front of lawyers and police and other judges! Despicable! Contemptible! They should be turned loose naked in a room with just the parents of the teenagers they locked up, and if they survive that, then they should be forced to answer to the teens themselves.

And in case they're forgotten in the shocking revelations, the businesses which enabled them are no less craven and low. It's time for a gut check, America. Do we really want the welfare of our children to be in the hands of a detention system run by private businesses for profit? I'm furious and I want more heads to roll. Those judges spoke with and interacted with real humans to arrange their deal. High level decisions were made, payments were processed and approved and checks were cut and funds were transferred. Several million dollars in payments to two judges showed up on the companies' books. Boards of Directors knew about them, or should have. Those people must all be brought to justice, or our justice system is a sham. These are perpetrators of crimes against children, even though they wear suits to work.

These people hurt children and ruined lives. They must be brought to justice.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thank you Paul Krugman

The 2009 Nobel laureate in economics Paul Krugman said today in his NY times column:
In both the House and the Senate, the vast majority of Republicans rallied behind the idea that the appropriate response to the abject failure of the Bush administration’s tax cuts is more Bush-style tax cuts.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Spooks Spin Terrror Story So Far It Loses All Meaning and Context

There's a story in this morning's New York Times, Saudis Issue List of 85 Terrorism Suspects, which is an example of a story sourced from who-knows-who, posted for some unknown reasons, and which is so full of spin, innuendo, strange grey sources, and so bereft of story or point it resembles one of those coded want ads in a spy novel.

I believe there's about to be a showdown about setting free the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo (except the top three--- KSM and his two cronies will never see the light of day again, and I have no problem with that), and it seems there are some people who want to influence that outcome in some way. They've recently been claiming that the freed Guantanamo prisoners have been reverting right back to terrorism, as if terrorism is some kind of addictive drug. "Yup, Khalid just can't seem to stay away from the stuff," thinks some sargent-major from KY in charge of the jail.

The problem is, terrorism isn't an addictive drug, and the men we are holding in Guantanamo aren't addicts. They're Muslims. They're brown. They're mostly young. They're angry. And they've been deeply wronged. A few might revert to allegiance to terrorist groups, especially in Saudi Arabia, where the opportunities for expression of political ideas are quite limited.

But read this story from the Times. I can't understand it-- I challenge you to make sense of it. It's a story made of information that's been spun by spooks. There could be a coded message in there, but probably not. But it may be used later on, perhaps in hearings about whether and when to close Guantanamo and release the rest of the prisoners.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Greed, no longer shameful...

Some time along in the last 40 years greed stopped being shameful. It's no longer a cardinal (or was it venial, I forgot) sin. It may not even be counted among the seven deadly sins anymore.

Greed is no longer shameful, and in fact in our society it's honored and worshipped. People treat greedy rich suckers like some kind of royalty. Think about it-- why else did Bernie Madoff get away with 20 years of malfeasance? Because people, even federal securities regulators, are too afraid and timid in the august presence of the rabidly greedy to even do their job. Lawyers, courts, and legislators fawn in their presence. If I point at Bill Gates and holler, "He robbed me!" will anyone listen. How about if Bernie Madoff howls that I robbed him? Who would be believed?

Our laws are aimed at protecting the fattest and hungriest leeches in our midst from anyone among the common who would interfere. It's ugly. And true.

Monday, February 02, 2009

When economy tanks, America's best minds suggest pulling out the credit card!

It's not a comforting thought, but the next time you hear some Washington blow-hard telling you they know how to fix the economy, think about this-- it's never happened before, ever, in the history of the world. That blowhard is guessing, and he's probably got a vested interest in his own suggested solution. When someone tells you we have to spend all the money there is in our economy for the next 20 years-- basically mortgaging our children's and grandchildren's futures-- in order to "solve" the economic crisis, listen closely. They're making it up as they go along.

Washington watched while all the money in the economy was flushed down the toilet of Wall Street (and Main Street) greed. And now the people who engineered that big flush are telling us we've got to fix it with credit. Americans as individuals can't get any more credit, so now they want the government to pull out the biiiigg MasterCard. Spend us out of a depression using credit.

They say only more free money will stimulate the banks to make loans! What? That's utter crap! Banks make money making loans. If they won't make loans, let them go out of business and rot. Our government has to stop spending to fix the problems caused by over spending in the first place. The banks want us to borrow money to give to them so they can lend us more money at interest! That's Bush logic. Say no! Let a few banks get flushed down. Let some multi-nationals move away. It's going to be tough, but not as tough as it will be when China comes to foreclose.

It's time to say no, people! Wealth is crack! Credit is the basis of the crack economy. The people at the top are going to keep sucking on the pipe until there's nothing left, because that's how addiction works. Deficit spending is borrowing. The Bush administration spent all the money, and now everyone wants the Obama administration to run up the credit card more. Think about it! It's a horrible idea. And exactly who is going to benefit? The rich-- business owners, bankers, Wall Street-- are going to harvest any fruits, right? See how this is working?

They're saying their best advisors told them we have to spend to recover. Ask for the advisors' names. Paulsen? Bernanke? Summers? Who got us into this mess? Wow!

Will someone please say "You can't handle the truth"?

The following story churned up out of the public relations cesspool over this weekend, "Phelps Apologizes for Marijuana Pipe Photo" which appears to express the amazed reaction that, OMG, American young people smoke pot!

There is somehow a complete disconnect between the money that runs things and the rest of society. Hello, America! Your kids smoke dope. If you check, and can afford to be honest about it, you smoke dope. Hypocrisy doesn't change it.

And one more thing-- if you're at the doctor and lie about your symptoms, it's unlikely you'll get a correct diagnosis. Society is the same. A huge percentage of people engage in behavior that's illegal and sanctioned by the state. It's impossible for the society or the state to admit to that, and hence everyone has to act as if it wasn't the case. Bad idea.

Here's a link to the highbrow British journal that broke the story. And, uhhh... kids? Don't take photos of your friends, buds, and homies smoking. M'Kay? It's just giving a hand to some very creepy people. Ugly story, just ugly!