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Small Businesses Don't Side with Big Greed on Healthcare

It's a vicious lie when behemoth corporations and their minions claim small businesses side with them in opposition to healthcare reform. Here's why small businesses share no common ground with the medical and insurance cartel.

As a small business owner I am sick of being counted as on the side of Big Greed every time these behemoth corporations oppose policies that might pinch their profits, even the playing field, or give workers a fair wage for their labors.


I hate Big Greed, the bully corporations that borrow immense sums of money with no intent of repayment; the “too-big-to-fail” criminal enterprises that would make us all into surfs; and “economies-of-scale” low-price scams that shirk the real costs of their products onto people via deceitful means.


Regarding medical insurance reform, small businesses share no common ground with any of the Big Greed healthcare cartels: hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies and, especially, the insurance companies. And, we would be idiots to side with our bigger corporate competition that can manipulate the current medical care crisis in their favor.


Small businesses currently pay through the nose for medical insurance. We are small groups. Ours is currently nine people from the age of newborn to fifty-five years old.


The average cost per year per person is $4,000 for coverage that excludes pre-existing conditions, hearing aids, certain hospital services (we won't what these are until we get there), immunizations for travel or work, vision, fertility, contraception that doesn't come in the form of a pill, safe and legal abortion, dental care, which BTW is a big contributor to overall health or the lack there of, and who knows what else.


Our plan has a $2,000 per person deductible and up to a $5,000 annual out-of-pocket co-payment. We pay $60 per month for brand name prescriptions, $100 if we have a true emergency (?) and go to the emergency room, even over the weekend when our primary care physician is not available. And that ambulance ride? It better have been a necessity or it's not covered.


In other words, our middle-of-the-road, in network (HMO) plan is basically medical catastrophe insurance that will still bankruptcy us or our workers with a minimum cost of at least $9,000 every calendar year should the worst happen. None of us make over $50,000 per year. Do the math, if any of us have a medical catastrophe, we're sunk.


If the premiums on our policy continue their 15% per year increases, that's what they've been over the past three years, we will be at $6,000 per person by 2012, a 50% increase over this year. In just six years our medical insurance costs will double. Considering our business model and revenues, we will soon be catapulted off the medical insurance ship without a life preserver.


If you're a small business, less than 25 employees with an annual payroll of half a million dollars or less, you should be shouting down anyone and everyone standing in the way of health care reform (as that seems to be the only communications style that works in our current polarize us vs. Big Greed world). Small businesses, such as mine, will be exempt from any penalty for not providing insurance, and our insurance costs will most likely decrease. Hallelujah if they just stay where they are now and the coverage is the same or better.


Personally, I look forward to having everyone we employ covered by reasonably priced healthcare insurance, competition created from the current take-it-if-you-can-afford-it non-marketplace, and an everyone in the pool system that will spread the risk and cost.


Unlike Big Greed corporations, I face my employees every day I go to work with them. I value them. I see them as human beings, not payrolls to be slashed. I bet most businesses the size of mine feel the same way about their workers. We are tired of being exploited by the high costs and feeble coverage of the current non-system.


Here's my message to fellow small business owners, hardworking Americans, the main stream media, my representatives in Washington D.C. and President Obama:


Stop Assuming Small Business Sides with Corporate Big Greed.




Stop Saying Small Business is Against Healthcare Reform.


The industry associations, even those we may belong to for very practical reasons, public relations campaigns, lobbyists and politicians that oppose healthcare reform don't speak for us, period!



It's a vicious lie when behemoth corporations and their minions claim small businesses side with them in opposition to healthcare reform. Here's why small businesses share no common ground with the medical and insurance cartel.


What wasn't said at the Gates/Crowley/Obama Beer

I know a cop in Jersey. This particular police officer was dating a woman who was in the employ of my common law wife. Let’s call him Jerry, and since I’m about to spell the beans, that’s not his real name. He’s on the force of a small nearby municipality. There are over 560 such police forces in geographically tiny New Jersey.

One night he gave me the straight poop on dealing with officers of the law. In fact, since I was nice enough to buy him and his girlfriend dinner and beers, I was later rewarded with a New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) card as a birthday present. Yes, the infamous “get out of jail free card” that Professor Gates obviously lacked, at least momentarily. And I was told exactly how to use it.

According to Professor Harvey A. Silvergate, Gates' Unconstitutional Arrest ( 7/28/09) “There's a First Amendment right to be rude to a cop.” To that I reply, yes and no. Professor Silvergate lays out the legal case expertly. You have an indisputably right to dis a cop but, no you don’t. It will just end badly and it’s never been tested in court. Professor Gates missed his and our opportunity to establish a court precedent when the clever district attorney dropped the charges.

As I chatted with Officer Jerry, one thing became very clear. If there was anything he wanted in his dealings with the common citizenry it was R-E-S-P-E-C-T! To him this should be signified in various ways. To exude fear is good. Using the title Officer is good. Asking permission to do things, like take your wallet out of you glove box, is good. Telling the truth is good. Being a good little boy or girl is good. That means no lip, no questioning authority.

In another recent commentary America the Great … Police State , ( 7/28/09) Gore Vidal makes the salient argument that the Gates affair had nothing to do with race. That it was, like most run-ins with the authorities at this juncture, about class and power. In this case, I agree, but DWB – Driving  While being Black – and other racially motivated police actions are well-documented phenomenon not to be dismissed. I will not make the case here that the police are out-of-control. Mr. Vidal does that nicely.

Instead, let me illustrate the fallacy of thinking “you’ve got nothing to worry about as long as you are on the right side of the law.” Here’s a story I recounted for Officer Jerry to challenge this notion.

I was given a summons for Obstructing Traffic, which is a vehicular violation. But, in fact, I was on foot. What I did was cross Main Street in Asbury Park, NJ on my way to catch the New York City train at six o’clock on a September 2001 morning in the intersection crosswalk with the green light. A car, signaling to make a left turn, waved me to cross as I waited for him to clear the intersection. And, in New Jersey, pedestrians always have the right-of-way in a crosswalk. The full story can be read at Crossing Main, originally published in the Tri-City News on September 6, 2001.

Jerry dismissed this slight injustice that cost me $44 and made me jump through hoops to avoid an increase in my auto insurance. Could I have fought it? Sure, but I didn’t and still don’t have the time or money for such skirmishes with the law, few of us do.

“Yeah, it sounds like he had a bad day,” was Jerry’s only retort. Gee, I was hoping for “he had to make his quota.” Jerry told me that there are no quotas per se, but the system is designed to “make you a ticket writer.”

When I got the PBA card on my birthday I was told exactly how to use it. If I was pulled over I was to hand the police person my drivers license, registration, insurance card and the PBA card in a stack. The PBA card was not to be on top. When the officer asked where I got the card I was to say, “A good friend of mine, Jerry [lastname] who is a [rank] on the [name of town] police department gave it to me.”

Why is this legal? I don’t really know, but on the back of the card, where you sign it, you agree to drive safely, obey the traffic laws, etcetera. I don’t believe it should be legal. I believe it’s a form of corruption pure and simple. But, hey, who’s going to sue the cops? Who wants to be on the wrong side of the law? That said…

Yes, I did use the card. Over a year later, the card already expired; I got pulled over for an expired registration. I did the PBA card script with the police officer. He took the card away and gave me a ticket, but he could have impounded my truck as well.

That same night, on the way home, I was pulled over again by the New Jersey State Police, again for expired registration.

I was having a bad day. At that point, I couldn’t even find my wallet and driver’s license. It had fallen between the door and the passenger seat. I showed the State Trooper the sealed envelop that had the original ticket and a check for the fine, all addressed and stamped and ready to be mailed. He had me open it and show it to him. Then, he took pity on me and let me go.

That’s right, no PBA card necessary, I just followed the police encounter “be a good boy” script the cop I know in Jersey told me about.

Read the comments to any blog on the Gates incident and those who take Officer Crowley’s side basically say the same thing: Professor Gates was “stupid” for not following the police encounter script and that alone made him a criminal.

It’s no crime to not follow “the script” but it could get you arrested. And, if you aren’t a national figure, or in the top 10% of wage earners, at minimum it will be a big hassle.

“So, bottom line, how does one avoid getting a ticket?” I asked.

Officer Jerry had a simple reply, “It’s easy. Don’t get stopped.”

Amen to that and good luck to us all.

I wonder, will Officer Crowley will be as candid with Professor Gates and President Obama?


9 Things You Can Do to Stop Big Greed

We’ve been sold a bill of goods. Big Greed has convinced us they are the only game in town. In some cases that might be true, but where we do have options let’s use them. Must we always eat Big Greed’s bad food? Or loan Big Greed money? Or buy Big Greed’s sweatshop products from Big Greed Box stores that are miles away?

In Big Greed’s Dream I suggest Three Rules for Ending Big Greed's Tyranny:

1) Recognize the actions of Big Greed in your life.

2) Minimize and/or eliminate your transactions with Big Greed.

3) Repeat.

The scourge of Big Greed is now obvious, but let’s review just to get your blood pumping, for it’s your lifeblood Big Greed is sucking out of you. Nothing the government is doing or plans to do will stop Big Greed.

As you read this, Big Insurance lobbyists are working hard to derail any substantive health care reform or, at minimum, make it as favorable to them as possible.

Big Finance is changing the terms on tens of millions of credit cards from fixed rate to variable rate in order to skirt the rate hike protection supposed gained in recently enacted “reform.”

Big Energy will continue to obstruct any efforts that might circumvent their control of power production and delivery.

And, Big Food will continue its price pressure on small farmers and independent retailers & restaurants to assure their strangle hold on the food supply.

According to the Wall Street Journal (July 21, 2009), based on an analysis of the Social Security Administration data, “highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all the pay in the U.S...” And get this, that doesn’t count billions of $$$ in compensation that is not included in the federal wages and salaries number, like stock options.

Big Greed continues to ship jobs overseas where it can dodge costs, use inferior materials and exploit workers. Mike Elk documents just such a case in “GE Promotes Manufacturing Jobs in US… Then Ships ‘Em Overseas.” (July 21, 2009). 

Elk reports on ATI, an American company, which invested $30M in a Michigan plant to supply wind turbine parts to General Electric. GE backed out of the deal when a Chinese firm underbid ATI’s price. Even after offering to match the Chinese manufacturer’s price, GE refused to return the business stateside. Three-hundred and two union workers were laid off and the modernized plant shuttered.

The June figures from the government put unemployment at 9.5%. Shadow Government Statistics  and its economist John Williams who takes the time to adjust a number of government issued indicators to more accurately measure the real situation, puts the June unemployment rate a 20.6%.

What can you do…? If you want jobs to be created here again? Or to stop the race to the bottom of worker wages? Or to crimp the siphon of profits that are sucked up and out of your community, your state and your country by Big Greed into some netherworld of corporate excess?

Buy an American car? Okay, but a typical car is now made from parts and assemblies sourced from all over the world.

Grow you own food? The percentage of Americans in a position to be sustenance farmers and/or hunters is minuscule.

Don’t pay taxes? Sure, you go first.

Let’s understand who Big Greed is: large corporations that have all the rights of a person, but never die. This gives them one huge advantage over us mere mortals. Because they never die they never intend to pay back one cent of the money they have borrowed or that has been invested in them. They get by with paying only interest on their debt. And when they can no longer make those meager payments they will file for bankruptcy protection without compunction.

The recent government bailouts took Big Greed favoritism to a surreal advantage. Several firm were picked for immunity from all consequences for failed business practices. Some received taxpayer loans even though their actions were, in fact, criminal fraud.

I don’t know if we can bring Big Greed down, in fact, I rather doubt it.

What I’m suggesting is we begin by slapping a tiny hurt on it. Kick it in the shins and run if you will. Then, come back later to do some more damage. No, it’s not a magic bullet approach. It’s only revolutionary in its grassroots, guerrilla warfare style. But I believe we must start somewhere.

Let’s think baby steps. Let’s think things that may be a small sacrifice now but will pay off in changes down the road. Things all of us can do to some degree.

Here are some ways to begin to deprive Big Greed of a little bit of the lifeblood that keeps it so damn strong. Please, please, please contribute more ideas and/or amend these to be more doable and effective:

1) Buy local. Buy food raised and grown here, not abroad, and if local produce is available buy that. Buy as close to home as possible. Not just food, everything. I’ve found this is easier said than done, but we must take back what we can and keep our money as close to home. The global market, products shipped anywhere, anytime plays a role in both obfuscating true costs and makes us dependent on distant suppliers for necessities that should always be available locally.

2) Do buy Made-in-America whenever you can. Consider the entire cost of your purchase in terms of value, environmental and economic impact, not just the price. Low prices do not necessarily mean low cost. Big Greed has a hundred ways to pass costs onto you later, including out-sourcing your job, wasting your gas, polluting the earth and limiting your choices, allowing them to charge you more another day.

3) Minimize purchases at Big Box Stores, a.k.a. Category Killers. Sad but true, we are now to the point where many things can only be purchased at these community wreckers. Do what you can. Don’t drive miles to the home center when the local hardware store, if you still have one, has what you need. If there’s a locally owned market, give them your local business.

4) Get out of debt. Pay off your credit cards. If you can’t, pay down your credit cards. Do whatever it takes to divest Big Finance of those interest payments and fees. If you are in a dire financial situation do consider bankruptcy protection. Don’t feel bad about it, Big Greed corporations use it again and again.

5) Bank local. Big Banking offers a lot of convenience, but we’re feeding the machine. Find a local FDIC insured bank or credit union that will appreciate your deposits and where they have a chance of being invested locally.

6) Weatherize your home. This is a great way to thumb your nose at Big Energy. Green advocates report this low-tech approach to residential energy savings is a big winner. Under $1,000 can cut your energy bill by an average 20%. You’ll be creating local jobs and most of the materials will be made in the United States. Many homeowners are eligible for DOE grants for these improvements. See: National Low Income Housing Coalition website for more information.

7) Stop driving. You know you can drive less, you just don’t want to. This is important. Leave the car whenever you can. This action will save you money.

8) Don’t invest in stocks and bonds. Don’t lend Big Greed money, as we’ve seen without the proper regulation of these markets the risk is just too high it will be stolen from you. Right now, with U.S. Treasury Series I Bonds are paying 0.0%. So, perhaps the best place to put your money is an FDIC insured savings account even though they don’t pay much more. I’m sure someone will recommend a safe way to bank some cash in gold or silver, but I won’t propose this option because I haven’t found it.

9) Don’t buy unnecessary insurance. Review all your insurance contracts now. What you’ll find is your buying options and features that are ridiculous or aren’t right for you. Shop around for insurance that covers only what you need or you must have as mandated by law.

Yes, some of the above will cost us more in the short-term. The prices we pay at the checkout will be higher, but if you consider the other costs of doing business with Big Greed it’s a long-term bargain.


Obama’s trickle down stimulus is failing

Less than six months in office and President Obama is already simmering in public opinion hot water, down 7% in Rasmussen Reports’ “is the country on the right track” poll released July 16, 2009 among Democrats!

The natives are beating the drums. Some angry dancing has commenced. The detritus thrown out the windows of passing Caddies, Lexi and Daimlers, on their way to pick up yet another unearned megabucks bonus, is being pitched into the fire.

If the Republicans and conservatives thought rank and file progressives were going to go easy on President Obama, stand back, lives are at stake. Oh, and you guys with your laissez-faire free market (which isn’t fair or free) opposition to any change or help for those not in the top 10% of wage earners are just plain history; take a hike.

Earlier this year, the President delivered the same old kneejerk trickle down through the proper political money laundering channels action: Washington to the Federal Reserve, Washington to the States, Washington to Federal Projects, Washington to Wall Street, Washing to Big Greed, with the exception of the “Obama $50 Bill” which comes in the form of a check from your state unemployment dole master every two weeks. Unemployment increases were to stop at 9%.

Trickle down still doesn’t work.

The June figures from the government put unemployment at 9.5%. Shadow Government Statistics – – and it’s economist John Williams who takes the time to adjust a number of government issued indicators to more accurately measure the real situation, puts the June unemployment rate a 20.6%.

Spin wisdom from the establishment left: the top-down stimulus package has not had enough time to work. Only a small fraction of the money has been spent. True, but it doesn’t matter. No matter who you believe unemployment is way high and there can be no economic recovery at these depths of employment.

On July 16, 2009, the Associated Press using data from RealtyTrac Inc reported the following:

  • A 15% increase in the number of U.S. households on the verge of foreclosure
  • Foreclosure filings rose 33% in June compared with June 2008
  • Foreclosures jumped 5% from May to June 2009
  • And, 1.5 millions homes were foreclosed in the last six month

Trickle-down fix: The $50 billion program of subsides offered to Big Mortgage in an attempt to stem the foreclosure tsunami didn’t work.

The President needs to take quick actions now to stop foreclosures and evictions, and create jobs.

First, he will need to declare and enforce a total moratorium on primary residence foreclosures and rent evictions to be lifted when the situation permits.

And, he will need to create a bottom up, government guaranteed loan program for residential energy conservation and renewable energy production.

Loan money directly to any home or commercial residential property owner to weatherize or install renewable energy systems. These bottom up projects will pay for themselves in the long-term.

These two simple actions will provide a humane housing stopgap, create only local, domestic jobs quickly, and be a long-term investment in our energy independence.

Bottom up, Mr. President, bottom up. Quick!


Big Greed's Dream

To Big Greed you are a consumer. A consumer is a human person that needs things to live and can be forced to pay Big Greed for part of that privilege. Big Greed thinks nothing more of you.

Even should a human persona be affixed upon your entity, i.e. the television machine depicts your plight of being chewed up by Big Greed and spit out onto the thoroughfare, any compensation you may receive is a financial calculation weighted against potential sales to other consumers.

Big Greed loves the fact that the aggregate noun for the U.S. population of all ages is consumers. Babies are consumers, showered with a swag bag of offers for goods and services at the moment of birth. The dying are the best consumers of medical services, for example.

The term consumer makes you into nothing more than a machine that devours goods and services. It’s dehumanizing. It implies that you are indiscriminate and insatiable, a glutton with little redeeming value and you deserve the rawest of raw deals. The consumer as parasite.

Under the capitalist system every potential trade begins with a conflict between buyers and sellers over the value of goods and services. Every completed transaction is the resolution of that conflict. Don’t be fooled, Big Greed does not succeed by complying with such win-win fairness of a negotiated trade when it comes to consumers.

Corporate persons ( corporations current are endowed with the rights of personhood via a fluke in the U.S. law, see: ) would never disparage fellow corporate persons by labeling them consumers. They are business-to-business customers or clients. Together corporate persons forge supply chain alliances.

Suppliers, notice how sellers in the business-to-business transaction set themselves up as subordinate to buyers with the idiom supplier, pride themselves on being the single source or the preferred source to the team that is creating this or that service or product at their client/customer.

“Microsoft consumes our computer servers.” “Merck is a consumer of our feed stock #86.” No, I don’t think those are phrases you will ever hear uttered in the corridors business. It’s more like, “We supply Wal*Mart’s __________,” this sentence now usually spoken in Chinese.

Businesses treat other businesses like persons. Businesses recognize that fellow businesses must to be treated fairly otherwise they won’t survive, and they must survive because they're all in it together.

Many businesses do treat you the human person like a client or customer, with respect and transparent offers of good value, but usually their prices are higher then those offered by Big Greed. Why is this?

These businesses are usually owned and operated by persons of the human type. This doesn't mean that all human persons in business are fair, but they generally don’t have the means to manipulate the market or the luxury of living cloistered safely away from the consumer rabble. Notice how the market does operate more fairly within a smaller human community.

Big Greed, on the other hand, cons consumers into believing that Big Greed brands are better, cheaper and faster. We've all fell for this scam when we refuse to pay a nickel more than Big Greed's price for a given product or service.

Big Greed Box stores, known among themselves as “category killers,” are an excellent example. This is Big Greed’s strategy to eliminated “Mom & Pop” businesses in entire retail groups by promising lower prices and better selection. This con has worked. What consumers don’t get is service and quality, even though both are excessively promised. And, until recently, we consumers have rarely factored the cost of fuel, wear and tear on our vehicles and our own time in transit into the cost/price bottom line.

The real price also increases when Big Greed emporiums surreptitiously persuade us to purchase impulse items, both large and small, that we didn’t need or want previously. And, finally, after the local competition has be neutralized, category killers raise their prices, especially on the necessities, i.e. your choice four wood screws $1.59 or fifty for $7.59, while the local hardware store charges ten cents each, any quantity.

To keep this myth strong and unchallenged, Big Greed does a song and dance about how highly they value your business. They shout it from the television machine constantly.

In reality, Big Greed has a number of advantages, all to your determent, which they neglect to mention.  In the world of economics these sloughed-off costs are called an externalities. For example, they pollute legally in foreign countries where they have a low labor cost because they can exploit workers there in a way they can't here and their materials are cheaper because they are inferior, sometimes dangerous. Think lead paint on children’s toys and melamine plastic in baby formula.

But Big Greed knows "perception is reality" and if you believe they are cheaper and better, they are!

Or, just the opposite, Big Greed is expensive. In fact, the entire industry is expensive because all the competitor corporations are part of Big Greed, which has formed an industry association and paid millions of dollars to lobbyists to get laws passed so they alone can provide a regulated service. The $$$ spent on the lobbyists comes back to Big Greed hundreds and thousands fold in the form of extraordinary profits. For human person consumers: Think medical insurance, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, credit cards. For self-employed human person businesses: Think business insurance and business services required by law.

Once we look beyond the myth that Big Greed loves you, and is treating you like gold, the truth is clear. Big Greed treats human persons as the inhuman abstraction consumers. If you live, get hurt or die, Big Greed doesn’t care. There will always be another you to exploit. But finding another original equipment manufacturer that appreciates their premium widgets, that's another story.

When Big Greed dumps us all into the kettle labeled consumers it makes us faceless chattel to be exploited. Yes, Big Greed owns the consumer. It can and does manipulate the rules of trade. Everyday it creates false desires and sells products that promise more than they can ever deliver. They don’t call it deceptive trade practices; they call it advertising. But that’s the least of it.

Big Greed wants, and currently gets, a disproportionate share of the wealth, wealth created by you the consumer.

Consumer? Wait a second, that doesn’t sound quite right because no consumer creates wealth, only workers can do that. Consumers can’t spend us into a thriving economy, only workers can add value, and with their hard work create a thriving economy, one where human persons earn and spend.

You remember now. You’re not just a consumer. You’re much more.

Only workers can find, extract and refine raw materials. Only workers can take materials and make them into useful products. Only workers can build the shelter and machines. Only workers can operate the machines. It’s the workers that clean up the mess, direct the traffic, grow the food, transport the goods, prepare the food, draw the plans, educate the young, care for the ill, keep others safe, provide the art and entertainment, do the research, conduct the experiments, purify the waste water, care for the live stock, butcher the meat, and install and maintain the conduits for the basic utilities.

Why is it, right now, in the United States of America, we reward workers less than ever before? And why have we abandoned the economic engines, that formerly employed millions of American workers, to other less developed countries? (See answer above: externalities.)

Why is it that policy wonks, straight faced, state an obvious oxymoron: the way to fix the economy is for consumers to spend? Why is it that while Big Greed grabs the lion’s share of the wealth derived from those who performed the labor, workers continue to be called consumers?

The answer is it’s Big Greed’s Dream.

In Big Greed’s Dream there are no workers. There are only consumers. And in Big Greed’s Dream, Big Greed sucks up all the wealth it can by stealing it in unregulated financial markets, by flinching on coverage promised for insurance bought and paid for, by letting consumers pay for the environmental clean-up, by pillaging the spoils of war, by creating entities called corporations that never die and, therefore, need never return money borrowed and equity invested, and by manipulating markets that drive “self-employed” workers out of business all but Big Greed’s “national brand” options available.

How’s Big Greed’s Dream working for you Mr.& Ms. Consumer?

Yes, there are things you can do if you don’t care for Big Greed’s Dream. Unfortunately, believing that President Obama is going to do them for you is not one of them.

Human people can start by considering these Three Rules for Ending Big Greed’s Tyranny:

1) Recognize the actions of Big Greed in your life.

2) Minimize and/or eliminate your transactions with Big Greed.

3) Repeat as necessary.