Saturday, November 21, 2009

Government Failout, Part II

In case you haven't heard, 15 million American taxpayers probably owe money to the U.S. government. No, they are not tax evaders, but rather victims yet again of government oversight through no fault of their own. Apparently, the Internal Revenue Service incorrectly established the new tax tables in implementing President Obama's economic stimulus tax "break." Consequently, many taxpayers received too much in their paychecks - and the government wants “their” money back. Alas, taxation with recompensation. 

Let's be honest though. Even though elected by the people, government – and Congress specifically – is not looking out for the people as it should. Never really has, probably never really will. And though you may think otherwise – wanting not to be “pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered” – you are nothing more than a (Social Security) number to them. 

As example among the most recent, lawmakers could have made changes to credit card practices effective immediately instead of next year. How are credit card companies responding to that legislation? Incrementally increasing percentage rates and fees before the legislation takes effect, thereby continuing their manipulative practices toward the very taxpayers Congress supposedly aimed to protect. The same ones whose tax money helped bail out these companies. Of course, you have the option to "opt out" of the increase as a cardholder - the downside being that your account will be closed and you will no longer be a cardholder. As such, it is a Catch-22:  either you agree to the increase, enslaving yourself further to the gluttonous corporate juggernaut, or are forced to lower your credit standing, and by consequence, your credit rating, due to their strong-arm tactics.

Indeed, by hook or by crook.

©2009 Steve Sagarra

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scare Tactic Prescription?

A so-called "troubling" new healthcare study allegedly shows that uninsured patients are more likely to die in the emergency room than their insured counterparts. For one, I call the study into question for the simple fact that Dr. Atul Gawande, a senior author of the study, is both a reform-minded critic of the current system and a pro-universal healthcare advocate who has worked as a policy advisor to a host of Democrats, including Al Gore and the Clinton Administration. That its publication comes as Congress debates a sweeping healthcare reform bill geared toward the uninsured is convenient, giving even greater weight to a political agenda presented as objective research. Even more, the study's conclusions cannot even correlate patient care to a specific mitigating circumstance such as medical insurance; as the researchers concede, it is conceivable that patient outcome had just as much to do with the treatment received, or lack thereof, regardless of any of other factors.

As far as equitable treatment in the emergency room, I myself was an uninsured car accident victim 2½ years ago. Needless to say, despite my own reservations concerning the medical field, I received some of the best treatment from the staff at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. They treated me as any other, never once asking if I had insurance. In fact, a few days passed before that discussion even took place, and even then I continued receiving exceptional care until discharged a week and a half later. Whatever the case, I highly doubt it had anything to do with my insurance situation.

Maybe I just got lucky, but I prefer to think that those in medicine are moved more by their Hippocratic Oath to provide treatment to a patient than by any other motivation. Unlike the politicians - who also take an oath - trying to force-feed constituents the supposed cure for our ills, through such measures as ostensibly partisan studies aimed at scaring millions of uninsured Americans. 

©2009 Steve Sagarra