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Duct Tape Politics

     The ObamaCare website rollout fiasco, joined by the bait-and-switch “You can keep your current insurance (not)” tempest, obscure the fundamental quandary about so-called health-care in America: that it is a gigantic racket structured to allow countless layers of grift and counter-grift. The end product of all that artifice is that medical care costs twice as much in America as any other civilized country, and that it has to be operated by a cruel and despotic matrix of poorly coordinated bureaucracies that commonly leave people more disabled financially than the diseases that brought them into the system.

     ObamaCare was designed to work like a giant roll of duct tape that would allow the current cast of characters in charge (Democratic Progressives) to pretend that the system could keep going a few years longer. But it looks like it has already blown out the patch on the manifold and is getting ready to throw a rod — which duct tape will not avail to fix.

    I had three major surgeries (hip, open heart, spine) the past year and paid attention to the statements that rolled in from my then-insurer, Blue Shield (the policy was cancelled in October). These documents were always advertised as “this is not a bill” and that was technically true, but it deflected attention from what it really was, a record of negotiated scams between the “providers” (doctors and hospitals) and the insurance company.

      There was never any discussion (or offer of discussion) of the cost of care before a procedure. When asked, doctors commonly pretend not to know what their work costs. Why is that? It’s not to spare the patient’s feelings. It’s because sick people are hostages and both the doctors and the hospital management know they will agree to anything that will get them through the crisis of illness. This sets up a situation that allows the “providers” to blindside the patient with charges after the fact.

     My hip “revision” operation was necessary because my original implant was a defective (“innovative” circa 2003) metal-on-metal joint that released metal fragments into my system and it had to be removed. The stated charge for replacement part — a simple two piece bearing made of metal and plastic, about the size of tangerine — was $14,000. Blue Shield “negotiated” the price down to about $7,000. If you go to the websites of any of the manufacturers of these things, you will not see any suggested retail or wholesale price. The markup on these things must be out of this world. Cars come with four ball joints that carry roughly the same time warrantee, and they come with a staggering array of “extras”— engines, transmissions, air-conditioning, seats, air-bags, and radios. The pattern was similar for the other surgeries and what they entailed. I ended up paying five-figures out-of-pocket. Lucky for me that I saved some money before this all happened. I don’t have kids so I haven’t been paying extortionate college tuitions during my peak income years.

     All the surgeries I had required hospital stays. For the hip op, I was in for a day and a half in a non-special bed (no fancy hookups). The charge was $23,000 per day. For what? They took my blood pressure nine times. I got about six bad meals. The line charge on the Blue Shield statement said “room and board.” It would be a joke if this extortion wasn’t multiplied millions of times a day across the nation. Citizen-hostages obviously don’t know where to begin to unravel this skein of dreadful rackets. If you think it’s possible to have a productive conversation with an insurance company rep at the other end of the phone line, then you’re going to be disappointed. You might as well be talking to a third-sub-deputy under-commissar in the Soviet motor vehicle bureau.

     This ghastly matrix of corruption really only has two ways to go. It can completely implode in a fairly short time frame (say, five years, tops), or we can, by some miracle of political will, get our priorities straight and sweep away all the layers of racketeering with a single-payer system. The evidence in other civilized countries is not so encouraging. England’s National Health Service has degenerated into a two layer system of half-assed soviet-style medicine for the proles and concierge service for the rich. France’s system works more democratically, but the nation is going bankrupt and eventually their health care network will fall apart. The Scandinavian countries have relatively tiny populations. I don’t know, frankly, how the Germans are doing.

     Here in the USA, you can make arguments for putting a greater share of public money into a single-payer system. For instance, if we redirected the money spent on our stupid military adventures and closed some of the countless redundant bases we run overseas. That would be a biggie. Given the current choke-hold of the military-industrial complex on our politicians, I wouldn’t expect much traction there.

     You can argue that nobody complains about government spending on the highway system, so why should “the people” complain about organizing a medical system that really works? Obviously, there’s no consensus to make that happen. Too many doctors want to drive BMWs. Too many insurance executives and hospital administrators want to make multi-million dollar salaries. Too many lobbyist parasites and lawyers are feeding off that revenue stream. Too many politicians with gold-plated health insurance coverage don’t want to change the current distribution of goodies. End-of-story, as the late Tony Soprano used to say.

       It’s the old quandary of fire or ice… which way do you want to go? Since I’m interested in reality-based outcomes, my bet would be on implosion. In any case, several of the other systems that currently support the activities of our society are scheduled for near-term implosion, too. That would be the banking-finance system, the energy supply system, and the industrial agriculture system. As those things wind down or crash, you can be sure that everything connected with them will be affected, so the chance that we could mount a real national health care system is, in my opinion, zero.

      The ObamaCare duct-taped system will go down. The big hospitals, HMOs, insurers, pharma companies will all starve and shrivel. Like all things in the emergent new paradigm, they will reorganize on a small and much simpler basis. Everyone will make less money and high-tech medicine will probably dwindle for all but a very few… and for them, only for a while. Eventually, we’ll re-set to local clinic style medicine with far fewer resources, specialties, and miracle cures. There will be a whole lot less aggravation, though, and people may die more peacefully.

     Finally, there’s the pathetic American lumpen-public of our day itself, steadily committing suicide en masse by corn byproducts, the three-hundred pounders lumbering down the Wal-Mart aisles in search of the latest designer nacho. What can you do about such a people, except let fate take them where it will?

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

308 Responses to “Duct Tape Politics” Subscribe

  1. nsa November 9, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    We here in Langley have always used our asset Faber to innoculate the public against a financial “schwarz swan”. We have achieved full financial dominance along with full spectrum dominance……the present economic order is quite stable and will remain so well into the future. We are now running about 5% actual inflation while building into our economic statistics 1%. This means that savers and creditors are being wiped out (according to the rule of 72) about 50% of their purchasing power every 18 years. Why pay debt back when you can just inflate it away?

  2. Pucker November 10, 2013 at 3:17 am #

    Someone said that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to re-inflate the flaccid economy are part of the “Holmesian School of Economics”. Has anyone heard of this branch of Economics? Thanks.

    Holmes’ main asset in the porn business was his exceptionally large penis. No definitive measurement or documentation verifying this exists, leaving its exact size unknown. Holmes was also one of the first uncircumcised actors who became popular in American porn.[citation needed]
    Veteran porn actress Dorothea “Seka” Patton has stated that Holmes’ penis was the biggest in the industry.[21] Holmes’ first wife recalled him claiming to be 10 inches (25 cm) when he first measured himself.[22] Holmes himself once claimed his penis to be 35 inches (89 cm) long and 22 inches (56 cm) in circumference.[22] Holmes’ long-time friend and industry associate, Bill Amerson, said that “I saw John measure himself several times, it was 13 and a half inches” (34.3 cm).[1] (In contrast, medical studies of human penis size have consistently found erections average between about 5 and 6 inches.[23][24][25])
    At the height of his career, Holmes had his penis insured by Lloyd’s of London for $14 million. Holmes reveled in claiming he was insured “for $1 million an inch”. [26]
    Another controversy regards whether Holmes ever achieved a full erection although much of his early work clearly reveals he was able to achieve a substantial erection. A popular joke in the 1970s porn industry held that Holmes was incapable of achieving a full erection because the blood flow from his head into his penis would cause him to pass out.[27] Annette Haven stated that his penis was never particularly hard during intercourse, likening it to “doing it with a big, soft kind-of loofah.”[27]

    • Janos Skorenzy November 10, 2013 at 3:53 am #

      You go too far funny man. This is still an English speaking country. Do you want to get banished to France where they fight with their feet and fuck with their face? Well were our boys warned, “Don’t come home from France with the enemy in your pants.”

  3. Janos Skorenzy November 10, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    Public Service Announcement: Kdog still likes and believes in Obama. He would vote for him again.

    • K-Dog November 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      What’s up with this. You testing to see how often I stop in here to check if the dogs been kicked or what? The answer is now and then. I’m preparing for a white board test for a potential employer right now and taking a break. Since I am taking a break I’ll answer this though I seriously question the need to respond at all.

      The answer is Herr Lederhosen no way would I do that.

      Seems Mr Obama gets personally involved in the war on terror. He loves his drones and even targets 16 year old boys. He has all his priorities in the wrong place. He is the Manchurian candidate for the 1%.

      I found about the murder of Al-Awlaki 16 year old son the day before yesterday watching this.

      I’ve serious misgivings about answering your government trolldom but what the hell. I’m not planning on being in Yemen any time soon.

      The buck stops where?

      Crocodile Tears

      • K-Dog November 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

        That got messed up. There are two links the ‘this’ is the first and the second is ‘Crocodile Tears’.

      • K-Dog November 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

        Al-Awlaki‘s 16 year old son

      • Janos Skorenzy November 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

        I am not a troll. I am a not a number. I am a Man. You make me feel like the Prisoner. Stop gas lite attack. Look, you seemed to be defending him on Nov 7 at 8:37 am when you said he would have delivered if asked. I’m glad I was wrong – if I am wrong.

        Remember what they say in the Village: Questions are a burden to others. Answers, a prison for oneself. But that is discipline of real community – as opposed to the Hillary’s village. I will continue to press for real dialogue even if such Sunlight makes you, Arn, Zipdic, UFCIA, and Zone uncomfortable. Join me in the Light. You’ll learn to like it once your eyes get accustomed.

      • ozone November 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

        This just gets more hilarious as it goes along!
        The perpetual bloviating bully now whines and pules for understanding and [heaven forefend!] co-operation in his “VISION”?? WTF?

        Unless not true to his stated belief in the niggerless utopia and the endless erotic potentials of fine patent leather (crafted from jewskin), he should have attended this in support of his fellow travelers:


        Ps. “Dirty Wars” from Jeremy Scahill is excellent in its’ truly disturbing and disgusting revelations. Sure, we knew these things, but Scahill punches you right in the face with ‘em.

        • Janos Skorenzy November 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

          You really are a relic, more of an anachronism than an anarchist. Even Jews now admit Nazis didn’t kill Jews and then use their skin for lampshades. No soap either – sorry you poor fool.

  4. themisanthrope November 10, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    The solution to our health care system (and many of our other broken systems) is relatively simple. It is the execution thereof that is impossible.

    • Janos Skorenzy November 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Bill Ayers said the answer is mass execution – 25 million or so in fact.

  5. Deblonay November 10, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    The terrible storm in the Phillipines may be the biggest in all recorded history…it follows on from a similar hurricane a few moinths back in India,,,and is like the huge hurricane a year ago the the East Coast USA

    These storms are much greater and more destrucive with each passing year
    The experts have warned that this will be a feature of Global Warming…not more Hurricanes but much bigger and devestating ones
    and what unfortunate community will be next,,and what can we do ?
    seed prof Cole’s comments


    • stelmosfire November 10, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      And I still have apples on the tree!!!!! Strange days indeed!!!

      • Neon Vincent November 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

        Speaking of hurricanes/typhoons and climate change, I was surprised that the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy didn’t make more of an impression here. Now that the topic has come up, I have the latest climate research from Rutgers, Columbia, and NYU, places that experienced Sandy first hand, along with an expert from Columbia speaking to PBS about the connection between climate change and the ferocity and frequency of hurricanes. PBS at least acknowledged the role of climate change. Media Matters pointed out that Fox News and CNN didn’t. Only MSNBC out of the three major U.S. cable news outfits did.


        • K-Dog November 11, 2013 at 12:43 am #

          Your video with Klaus Jacob was very good. I hope general consciousness is soon raised enough so people pay attention to dogs like him. Reality will not be ignored.

    • Janos Skorenzy November 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Looks like Art Bell was right in his potboiler “The Coming Global Superstorm”. The global warming actually trigger the next ice age in this scenario. The storms turn into blizzards in much of Europe and America leaving tens of feet of snow than never melts.

  6. nsa November 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    We here in Langley have been toasting each other with a delightful abreu vineyard cabernet sauvignon ($500/bottle in quantity)……the ACA has been such a wonderful success accomplishing all our objectives. What remains of the independent small biz private sector will be further strangled by 400% rate increases……while tens of millions (eventually) of government mendicants will be added to the rolls…..very reliable voters indeed making it unnecessary to continue rigging the voting machines…… And gainful productive employment gains have been realized by hiring on 50,000 new IRS agents to harass all those whining small biz types….high fives all the way around…need a refill of abreu?

  7. Q. Shtik November 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    “Holmes’ long-time friend and industry associate, Bill Amerson, said that “I saw John measure himself several times, it was 13 and a half inches” (34.3 cm)” – Pucker

    The worst thing a straight male can do in the gym locker room is to be caught checking out some nearby guy’s equipment…..but sometimes you just can’t help noticing things.

    There was a tall slender older black man who I saw dressing/undressing on a number of occasions. His penis was the thing of cartoons. Soft, it hung to his knee. You would think he’d be proud of it and maybe swing it or flourish it around in the showers, but no, I think he was embarrassed by it. I think he had to coil it up in his pants as a sailor “flemishes” a line on a ships deck.

    And then there was the short old Italian man I dubbed Geppetto when I told my wife about his (estimated) 9″ flaccid schlong which included an ugly dangling foreskin.

    • Pucker November 10, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Q: I didn’t write that about the actor John Holmes. I should have put that quotation in quotation marks and referenced the quote to Wikipedia. Sorry….

      John Holmes’ penis is just a metaphor for problems with the Too-Big-To-Fail economic model, and how it may be inherently problematic via money-printing to keep trying to re-inflate the economy under the Too-Big-To-Fail model.

      It’s also a metaphor illustrating problems and the difficulty of trying to support and grow a large, complex economic system (penis) without increasing the size and complexity of underlying system (person) supporting such system (penis).

      Thank you.

  8. Pucker November 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    It’s Oil that makes complex energy systems (and other complex systems such as the financial system) possible, right?

    So, in other words, Wall Street’s got it ass-backwards: It isn’t money (or throwing money at a problem) that makes complexity (.e.g. a nuclear power plant) possible, but rather Oil, right? Oil is Real; Money is an illusion.

    In other words, it’s Oil that makes the nuclear power plant possible, rather than Finance, even though it’s true that the nuclear power plant can’t be built without Finance. It’s just that Finance alone isn’t the necessary pre-condition for the existence and maintenance of the nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant needs constant infusions of finance (money) but also water (to make steam), highly specialized manpower, land, natural resources, etc. Right?

    So this hubris of Wall Street that Finance (i.e., Money) solves all problems is fundamentally flawed. Right?

  9. Pucker November 10, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Actually, what the Actor John Holmes probably should have done is to have surgery to reduce the size and complexity of his penis and revert to a simpler less complex life style? Of course, he didn’t do this since he didn’t want to face Reality. Unfortunately, most men are Holmesian Economists who want bigger more complex systems as it makes them feel better about themselves and feel more powerful.

  10. joomlabliss November 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Some info in relation to the hope of a doctor who posted comments to this blog post for having antibiotics in the future: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/09/antibiotic-drugs.aspx?e_cid=20131109Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20131109Z1&et_cid=DM33171&et_rid=331366035

    For non-life threatening infections antibiotics do much more harm than good, especially if not followed by a probiotics course. This is a common practice in Europe and in South Africa, but here in Canada, GPs are not even aware of it and readily dismiss any suggestions for probiotics.

    The same goes for most modern vaccines, those after 1980s.

    I am sorry to hear that Jim had to go through three surgeries this past year. This must have been awfully difficult, and yet, he still kept up with his blog! I am glad you are fine now, Jim. I wish you feel good in the years to come.


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