Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Education Speeches, Viaticals & Other Outrages (If You're Not Paying Attention . . .)

**Please contribute to my PayPal account if you possibly can. I am in dire financial circumstances and need help now. Thank you in advance for your kindness!** Faux Snooze is so busy every day doing good, spreading peace and light (as well as the faux-snooze pretenders - all the rest of the mainstream media) . . . and if you wondered about the subconscious suggestion that "death panels" embody, read on. One site I've become attached to reading recently (check out the cute, subtly funny analogies on the About page) has a logical, compelling explication of exactly what the furor about Obama's education speech to the nation's schoolchildren portends. She also has hundreds of commenters I recommend that you read for your greater enjoyment.

Seriously, read this whole speech. It’s inspiring, wonderful, and designed to inspire kids to stay in school, accept the responsibility of the education, learn things, and then go and and do good for the world.

Of course, there is a lunatic fringe in this country who will go ballistic about Obama no matter what he does; these are the ones saying the speech is indoctrinating children into accepting his socialist health care plan that will mutilate puppies and convert our elderly into Soylent Green. These people may be rabid racists, or simply mentally unbalanced, but we know for a rock solid fact that these people are utterly, completely wrong. Whatever you want to call them, it’s clear they are so far from the norm of the American people that they can’t even see the horizon from where they are. Simply reading the speech transcript shows that simply and clearly. But it’s also a fact that this subset of the population will always be with us.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean we have to give them a voice in the mainstream press. They have a right to their speech, but that doesn’t obligate anyone to pay attention to them, especially on the platform of national TV. I’m looking you right in the eye, Fox News. Not only do you give these people — factually wrong and provably so — a voice, you reiterate their comments and use your own voice to back them up.

This sort of thing mainstreams a view that is charitably called crazy. Again, I urge you to read Obama’s actual speech. It’s awesome, and something every kid should see and hear.

From our well-informed sources at FireDogLake we learn about the latest abomination from Wall Street: Securitized Viaticals. (And, yes, it's not surprising or even new that they have a death casino operating at full speed now. I guess no one on Wall Street gets sick or dies horribly anymore as they all have that great insurance that we keep hearing that people will lose under Obama's plan.) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

The geniuses of Wall Street have decided that the next big thing is betting on death. Yes, Wall Street will be rooting for sick people to die right away, at least as soon as the dying sell them their life insurance policies. It’s the latest version of a Death Panel: it gives investors a reason to stop health care reform.

Here’s how it works. Sick people need money. Most folks have term policies that aren’t worth anything to them while they live. They can’t pay for health care with money that won’t be there until they die. So, they sell their policies to Wall Street firms for something less than the face value but a good bit more than nothing. Wall Street wizards package them into bonds.

They found a rating agency ready to assign them AAA ratings. Of course, DBRS, and its math whiz with a degree in nuclear physics, have figured out that one needs to diversify to spread the risk:

A bond made up of life settlements would ideally have policies from people with a range of diseases — leukemia, lung cancer, heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s. That is because if too many people with leukemia are in the securitization portfolio, and a cure is developed, the value of the bond would plummet.

That’s right; diversity is the spice of Vulture Bonds.

Once rated, brokers have a new product to market, just like those collateralized mortgages that were so successful at pouring fees into the pockets of the rich. Then they wait like the Himalayan Vultures they are for the sick to die, as soon as possible, thank you. The earlier they die, the more money investors make. Heaven forbid people should linger for a long life, that would reduce their profits.

And just like with CMOs, investors don’t even have to own the bonds to bet on death:

Goldman Sachs has developed a tradable index of life settlements, enabling investors to bet on whether people will live longer than expected or die sooner than planned.

Does anyone think we should give those creeps an incentive to stop health care reform? When investors have a financial stake in people dying, they sure don’t want their subjects to have health care. Even more of the rich will have a reason to kill reform so people will die immediately. It even gives rich investors a reason to demand the right to euthanasia.

This is Wall Street's idea of innovation. Aren’t we lucky to have carrion birds roosting high on Wall Street? Aren’t they really worth the billions they take out of our pockets?

And gems found in the comments:

PriscillaQOB :Well hey now, they’ve pretty much maxed out the profits on sickness itself. People who don’t own houses or make a good living or have affordable credit available anymore are not a good pool of suckers to rob. You can’t milk much more out of utilities and goods either, what with the falling incomes and high unemployment. What else is there to capitalize but death?

Give ‘em an A+ for creativity. And an A+ for chutzpah for being able to find yet another way to take advantage of desperate, dying Americans who probably won’t realize that they are signing away the last little bit of economic power they own in order to buy that pain medication. And then there’s the possibility of losing money if enough of the dying don’t really die but actually recover to live another few years.

It’s a plan that only sane human beings with an ounce of compassion would object to and we all know that kind has no clout in today’s America. And just think, if the health care reform bill is really crappy then that will cause these things to skyrocket in value since more and more Americans will be guaranteed death instead of recovery. It’s a win-win for every investor and congress critter!

tinman 1967: Viatical investments have been around for a number of years but they tended to focus on just one policy (person) at a time. That wasn’t really all that efficient plus you were putting all your eggs in one basket. If the person ended up being healthier than originally believed you had to wait a long time for a return.

The bundling of many life policies is the key to viaticals new popularity. It’s a great investment as long as someone doesn’t come along and find a cure for cancer or something (or someone doesn’t come along and pass a major health care reform bill).

Mommybrain: Does anyone else see how this might lead to a lack of private funding for, oh, say, cancer research or hypertension cures?

Dakine01: Are we setting up the scenes for the dark sci-fi? What will they call this era? The Crazy Years? The Idiot Interregnum?

Sharkbabe: We’re all Afghans at a wedding now.

Frank 33: Gol(d)man Sachs is buying Pharmaceuticals and Health Insurance companies. These predators want a centralized, health care system, run by corporations. Medical care givers will be required to give the treatments approved by Goldman Sachs.

. . . A “public option” would be very costly to Green Soylent. But we know Paulson and Blankfein were on the phone to each other more than teenagers in puppy love. That got GS 700000000000000 or so.

So I am thinking that GS will not allow a Public Option or national health care under any circumstances.

Hugh: I saw this story when it came out and at the time I thought it showed how unreformed the financial system remains. The old and sick, and the rest of us too, should not have to sell off our wealth, our estates and legacies just to purchase healthcare or medicines. But it is typical that Wall Street would seek to profit from it. I can see already how they will spin this as some form of altruism on their part.

Solerso: And now the market has a vested interest in NOT finding a cure for lukemia, or aids, or whatever.

Margot @ 15: It is my understanding this was being done on a smaller scale during the beginning years of AIDS, but then the prognosis changed and not so many people were dying. Ha, they lost money. This time around they’ll include many more diseases to spread the risk. I hope someone in DC picks up on this and NIXES it ASAP, if they can.

Gitcheegumee: Electronic medical records and Goldman Sachs:

. . . Emdeon latest to jump after IPO Deals IPOs ReutersAug 12, 2009 … N), Goldman Sachs & Co, (GS.N) UBS Investment Bank (UBSN. … by two private equity firms, General Atlantic Partners and Hellman & Friedman, ………..9220090812

Emdeon IPO Rises 6.6%, Ending Off Day’s High - WSJ.comAug 13, 2009 … Investors flocked to the IPO of Emdeon Inc., driving up shares of the medical-billing … added to the deal — were sold by private-equity firm General Atlantic LLC. … Goldman Sachs Group Inc.( GS ). 162.97, 1.31, 9/4

Emdeon IPO: Healthcare Reform Beneficiary (EM) – 24/7 Wall St.Aug 12, 2009 … If Emdeon sounds familiar, that is because General Atlantic Partners … Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Barclays Capital are listed ……/emdeon-ipo-healthcare-reform-beneficiary-em/

Incidentally, General Atlantic Partners had extensive investments in United Health Care at one time, and one of the GAP execs on the West Coast had previously worked at Goldman Sachs.

Nathan Aschbacher: This creates a OMGFINGXBOX-HUGE problem in the propensity for self-dealing and bad faith investment; doesn’t it? Where somebody’s actual health insurance policy is the original asset, and the life insurance policy becomes tantamount to credit default swap to hedge against the payouts on the health policy? If there is ever a situation where there isn’t impossibly strict separation of interests between those two policy providers, these won’t be “death panels;” what you’ll have would be tantamount to private for-profit death squads. Literally hunting people down to capitalize on their death.

zarf@37: People need health insurance to maintain their good health. The(y) may need ‘life insurance’ policies as part of their financial planning, but no one needs to enable a system whereby it is profitable for Wall Street to make more money through ‘more, more frequent deaths’ than by helping people remain healthy and productive.

This is one of those milestones, in which it is clear that the system of debt capitalism is not working. After all, any economy that finds itself in such desperate straits that it creates ‘financial instruments’ to bet on the early deaths of people is not sustainable over time.

Phylter: I’ve got a name for them . . . Soylent Investment Corp. Were Josef Mengele alive, he could have been the CEO. The Nazis made one mistake, they didn’t send the murdered Jews to meat packing plants.

What a nightmare world we live in, I wanna get off.

I agree. Taste the whole enchilada here. And finally, on the winning of the Iraq war (yes, we won) and why don't we come home like George Will has newly discovered that we should (as William Rivers Pitt sees clearly in With Friends Like These): The commenter "asb" notes:

From one important perspective, the war is won: it will be a long time before Iraq's vast oil reserves will again threaten Saudi oil prices. We are on the downhill slope in terms of supply but on a ride to the stratosphere in terms of profits -- and the game in oil is not to own it, but to control it; and if that's impossible, to deny its control to its owners. It is time to prosecute those individuals and interest groups who initiated and prosecuted this war - and look into their actions in the years leading up to it.

David Brookbank (not verified) What is truly dangerous about Will's arguments, which is being forwarded around the world and to U.S. congressman to convince them to get the U.S. out of these two genocidal, illegal, criminal invasions and occupations, is what it also advocates. Will argues that "America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters." As Rivers sums it up, "This should be done ... so no more valorous American soldiers die over there." As I see it, Will sees the U.S. having created unsalvageable fiascoes (which they are) and advocating getting out while the getting is good so that we can be prepared to use these other methods wherever necessary in the world. Wash our hands of blood and turn death, genocide, collateral damage and war crimes over to the covert action boys, special forces, and remote computer and satellite controlled gunners. And this would not just happen at the Pakistan border, as Will suggests, but anywhere on the planet (Venezuela, Iran, Palestine, North Korea, Nicaragua, Cuba, Somolia, etc, etc., etc, ) that the likes of a Wolfowitz, or Gates, or Rumsfeld, or McChrystal, or other warmongers decided. Beware the Trojan horse named George Will. Lee Veal (not verified) If the right is for it, then Will is for it. If the left is for it, then Will is against it, unless he's for it for different reasons. 'It' can be whatever issue you want to plug in. rjt (not verified) Now, that Obama has gotten America bogged down in Afghanistan and is sticking to Bush’s Iraqi withdrawal schedule; Will's switch to supporting immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, is simply a magnification of the inner workings of the of right-wing ideology mindset we see on every issue. If democrats do it, “it's bad”, if republicans do it, “It's good". Will is just blazing the trail for the gullible right-wing sheep to follow. Stay tuned for more republican war critics. Anonymous Will's sudden change of opinion is clearly a tactic, and his sanctimonious expressions about not losing any more "valorous Americans" (innocent people on the other side of the world can die as a result of our bombs, however) are immoral. Why is it we cannot call him on the immorality of his new call for withdrawal? Pathetic.
To say the least. Suzan _______________

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