“I don’t know who he is,” said Nancy Pelosi, recently.
“You meant to say Hans Gruber,” someone said.
“No. Jonathan Gruber, not Hans Gruber. Hans Gruber is the bad guy, John McClain’s nemesis, in the movie Diehard,” someone offered.
“Well, they seem a lot alike to me,” was the reply, “Only Hans knew he was a bad guy, unlike Jonathan.”
Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor who was perhaps the foremost architect (the vogue description) of the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare/The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), is one of those people like you occasionally read of in your newspaper’s section B page three headlines: “Man Mauled While Feeding Bear in Local Park.” He is the type most likely to accidentally kill himself while handling an unloaded firearm. His mouth opens when it would have been better kept shut. Before Grubergate is over, the architect will likely have been the one to initiate the demolition of his deviously crafted vision, all for the sake of his own vanity.
This is the way of intellectuals who are proud of how they manipulated their lessers. There is a name for them. They are called “elitists.” They have to make sure in addition to knowing more about your business than you are smart enough to know, everyone has to know how smart they are in smartly knowing for you what you are not smart enough to know for yourself. Since no one is apparently telling them how smart they are often enough, they must declare it themselves. While I am not implying that Mr. Gruber is stupid, as he has done of the American people whom he manipulated into supporting what he wanted them to support, I am declaring with more than a little certainty that he has repeatedly done a stupid thing, which puts him solidly in the camp of idiots.
“Hey, Jon!,” the park ranger shouted from a safe distance, “That is not a tame bear. It is not a pet.”
Jon, though, ignored the propaganda from the park ranger, knowing full well that the government would not allow wild animals anywhere near a place a person as important as he might visit, and turned and said to his friends, “Hey, y’all. Watch this!”
Bear maulings happened to other people, not to people like him. He could see that this bear was a friendly circus pet as all 800 pounds of it waddled up to him, all cuddly and making purring noises, drooling as it looked first at the Twinkie Jon held out in his left hand, and then to the whole box he held in his right. Approaching the smiling and as yet unflappable Jon, the bear ignored the proffered Twinkie, choosing instead the whole box. The bear could not even see the single Twinkie, it being transparent; it saw only the box.
The saying “he has gone clear” to refer to one who has passed from this earthly arena came to my mind as I watched Jon’s own transparency become complete as the bear tossed him like a rag doll between paws, claws, and teeth, ripping and shredding everything between it and the box of Twinkies. Jon tried to call for help, but a single swipe from a clawed paw, meant to knock the box of Twinkies out of his hand nearly sent Jon into low earth orbit. Sweet-toothed bears were never known for their finesse or delicate table manners.
Jon never did care much for signs that seemed to warn him not to do whatever it was that he wanted to do at the time, such as the one posted at the park entrance that said, “Do not feed the bears. It creates dependency and is dangerous for the bears and for those who feed them.” Jon was above the rules. So was the bear. Regrettably, both of them met their demise for having ignored the rules. If only the bear could read.
So, how does one become so smart only to do a stupid thing several times? Does ones misplaced chutzpah swell because friendly ears do not warn them of the danger of their loose lips? Or does the john think that syphilis is something that only happens to others? Maybe the bear knows. Maybe not. Maybe the bear knows that it just wants all the Twinkies. I don’t know what the bear was actually thinking. Unlike Mr. Gruber, the bear doesn’t waste time in explaining itself.
Do not underestimate Mr. Gruber, nor overestimate him. He has made it transparent that the language of the ACA had to be cloaked in convolution to garner support from the American people (and Congress). Mr. Gruber confirmed that it was necessary because if the people knew what the bill really contained, they would be against it. Mr. Gruber, apparently you were not as successful as you thought, as lots of people were not for the bill. In fact, Gruber confirms on separate occasions, that the people who supported the bill were the stupid ones, not the people who were against it. Thus, Gruber and his ilk betrayed the people they counted on to support the bill. Sound familiar?
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
“This will save families $2,500 per year on their health insurance costs.”
“You lie!” said Congressman Joe Wilson on September 9, 2009, as the President addressed a joint session of Congress. This statement was made when the President said that Illegal Immigrants (Undocumented Immigrants) would not have any benefits under the ACA. While that is true, Joe Wilson was perhaps very prescient in his remarks since the President, in a unique work around, is actively seeking to simply document the formerly undocumented. Wilson’s tact may be questionable, but the veracity of his remark is not. See the above quotes and refer to Mr. Gruber’s analysis if you think not.
Too many things are linked to claim that the President’s political opponents have taken things out of context, or that these were merely a slip of the tongue, or perhaps, if you prefer, mis-speakings. “Speak-O” is the term being used, I believe. Gruber offered his comments with accompanying explanations confirming their import too many times to claim out of context Speak-Os. The President? Well, how many times does one have to utter something that is patently false before others begin to think that you have taken prevarication to new levels, even approaching that of an outright lie?
Perhaps the worst display of stupidity, in encouraging the public to sip from Socrate’s cup, our former House Speaker rallied us with the call, “Let’s pass this bill so we can see what’s in it.” The Democrats joined her in its passage. Not a single Republican did so. Perhaps, Mr. Gruber, the Republicans are not so stupid as you think, or at least, not so manipulative as the elitists who know best what we want and need.
We are too stupid to know that. Or not.
The following things have been a great benefit to many Americans under the ACA
1. Allowing children to stay on their parent’s insurance until they are 26
2. The removal of annual limitations
3. The removal of lifetime limitations
4. Requiring insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions
Any insurance actuary can tell you that each one of those things brings additional costs. Nothing is free, though the least expensive of these is number 1, since young people are mostly healthy. Couple number 4 with number 2 and 3, and there are massive additional costs, particularly for those who necessarily decide to purchase insurance during an open-enrollment period after receiving an unfavorable medical diagnosis. Perhaps we have failed to educate our children enough so that they understand the working of business enough that they have some idea as to how insurance works. Banks perfectly understand the risks of ownership and how insurance works, seeing as it is a legitimate cause for default on your loan if you let your insurance policies lapse on your car or home. Unfortunately, you have to purchase the insurance and keep it in force. You cannot wait until you need it, else, no one would purchase it until that time. Perhaps that’s why they label the entire business as “risk management”. Perhaps that is why insurance is the private business world’s first wealth transfer program since it provides for shared risks among the pool of those who buy it. Each increased risk brings with it an increased cost. If the pool is large enough, the risk is spread out wide enough so that the whole compensate the few who have suffered loss.
Even insurance companies know that there are risks that are too great for them to bear. Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, nuclear incidents, or acts of war bring with them risks of loss too prohibitive to manage. In order to help those who own developed property in flood zones, the government came up with the national flood insurance program. In effect, this allowed many wealthy people to purchase subsidized insurance on their beachfront vacation homes, which they got to rebuild at pennies on the dollar for their investment in the subsidized insurance. Some have done so repeatedly. Eventually, the government got wise to this and told those who suffered repeated loss, “Rebuild here and you’re on your own.” This is a prudent response to those who would victimize government.
What insurance company in its right mind would insure San Francisco against losses from earthquakes? The potential claims are simply too enormous for an actuary to consider.
Who would write an insurance policy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast south of Interstate 10 that did not exclude hurricane storm surge damage?
What life insurance company would sell a policy to someone who had just been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer? Or any cancer?
What health insurance company would sell a policy to the person diagnosed as immediately above?
Life is full of risks to the unique problem we are facing in this modern world with modern medicine. In the old days, you got sick, gave the doctor a couple of chickens to have him scratch his head and say, “There’s not much I can do”, as he administered palliative care and watched as your body healed itself, or not, over the course of days, weeks, or months. Back then, there was no health insurance, but there were also no $10,000 MRIs to peer inside your body, and robotic surgery in the hands of highly trained specialists, and wonder drugs synthesized that target only the malignant cells in our bodies. Everything costs money. Nothing is free….not even the motorized scooters touted as such in two-minute infomercials. The next thing you know, those scooters will come in four-wheel drive, ground-lifted, camouflaged units, complete with gun rack and game hoisting winch on the back, especially for the disabled.
Aristotle lived in the times of modern medicine, just as we do today. I am often struck with the imperturbable idea that there is only modern times. There were never any times but modern, and all problems are modern problems. And modern problems have ancient remedies. The lies of snake oil salesmen will cure anything and everything.
Gruber has parted the curtain for us to finally have a glimpse, and there is no wizard inside. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. Having come full circle, we arrive back at where we started. We un-insure six million so six million others can have insurance.
We relied on our insurance companies to pay for our health care, which resulted in other people spending other people’s money. How did we ever expect it to work?
Are you comfortable when someone starts spending your money? Did you earn it? Is it yours? Remember, when you are authorizing other hands to attach other people’s money that your money is likely to be next.
The late Christopher Hitchens had this brilliant remark: The standing joke about Mensa people is that if you didn’t know they were so all-get-out brilliant you would never guess.
I don’t know about your IQ, Mr. Gruber, but you have demonstrated a proclivity for letting everyone else know how smart you are. Perhaps a MENSA certificate is in your future if you are not already a member. Maybe the President will let you use the reset button he seems to have in the oval office: the one with the illuminated photo of Vladimir Putin, which he has used to great effect. Perhaps you will find it as useful as you continue explaining your previously explained comments, redefining them as Speak-Os.
Who’s stupid now?
By the way, Chief Justice John Roberts cannot be listed among Gruber’s masses of stupidity. The administration, arguing that the mandate was not a tax but a penalty, trying to invoke the commerce clause, did not persuade the Court. “It looks like a tax. It walks like a tax. It quacks like a tax,” the Chief Justice may have said to himself. He even went on to explain that if Congress duly passed a law that was signed by the President that was not unconstitutional, it was not the job of the Supreme Court to re-write it simply because it was bad law…rather the court’s duty was to find every legitimate reason for the law to stand, thus his majority opinion that the mandate was indeed a tax.
Now, the case King v. Burwell is set to be decided by the Supreme Court. The language of the Affordable Care Act is clear…Federal subsidies for insurance are only available to those who sign up on state exchanges. By Gruber’s own admission, explained to us by Gruber on more than one occasion, this was a carrot and stick approach designed to have the stupid masses demand their states set up their own exchanges. Based on the results and Gruber’s definition of stupid, only fourteen states were stupid enough to do so, which was not the result the ACA architects assumed would be the case. It is likely that Gruber’s arguments will be used in an attempt to thwart the very thing Gruber hoped to accomplish. That Gruber has been so forthright as of late will not be helpful since he admits his intention to deceive a stupid electorate, even stupid Democrats in congress. There are only three categories of people as defined by Gruber: the deceivers, the opponents, and the stupid. The administration will deceptively argue what the not-so-obvious intentions of the bill are, but the intentions are indeed obvious, according to Gruber, and the language clearly says what it says.
It could be that the Court rules the Affordable Care Act is so capriciously enforced, interpreted, waived and delayed, that the entire thing be stuck down. If that happens, many will rejoice. Many will cry foul. The Republican majority congress that will be seated in January must have some answers and ideas to put forth, other than just an, “I told you so.”
Can it be fixed? I don’t know. I hope so. But the idea that thirty million people can be added to the rolls of insurance by government fiat and this be budget neutral is ludicrous. So is the idea that bringing thirty million people into the fold will not result in medical services rationing, for all practical purposes. Documenting eleven million undocumented people will bring even more people into the fold. It is all a terrible mess.
As messy as it is, I am thankful for what exists. As much as I love ol’ Doc Adams on Gunsmoke, I’d hate to see him hovering over me, peering down through his Windsor spectacles, me lying comatose and feverish, shaking his head and saying, “If there were only something more I could do.”
Not to worry. Doc Adams is alive and well. Every day in this world of modern medicine, doctors hover over patients, shining their pen-lights into unresponsive eyes and sadly whisper to themselves, “If there were only something more I could do.”
Hopefully, they will never say, “If there were only something more their insurance could do….”
No doctor wants to say that. Ever!
©2014 Mississippi Chris Sharp
I make no claim for any copyright of the images here. They are all by others.