Saturday, May 23, 2009

New prayer request

Why there is no car insurance crisis

I heard a talk show host recently express that there was really not a healthcare crisis, but there was actually a healthcare insurance problem. He then went to illustrate the way to solve many of the problems by comparing our healthcare insurance with car insurance. This is a paraphrase of that.

Consider the most recent car insurance commercial you've seen(the gecko of Geiko, the Progressive commercials, etc.). Consider what they talk about in those commercials. Good coverage AND good rate quotes or bargains are what they claim. Now consider any health insurance commercials you've seen. First, there aren't as many, and when they show up on the TV, they only talk about one side of the equation, good coverage/care. That is because the majority of folks don't shop around for health insurance and compare prices and specifics of the policy like they do with car, home owners, and life insurance. This is because most of us think only of getting our healthcare insurance through our employer, and much like the taxes withheld by our employer, we don't even think of the cost of this to us. We only care about our co-pays and the percentage of our coverage.

There are two primary things that I believe if changed about how we structure healthcare would have a huge impact in the right direction of making healthcare insurance affordable AND would keep and improve the current quality of the healthcare we receive.

1. Begin creating incentives for people to get their medical insurance independant from their employment. This will shift the awareness of "bang for their buck" to the consumer and will not cause people to slip into having no insurance when switching jobs.

2. Allow any persons from any states to purchase medical insurance from health insurance companies from any other state. This will free people from the heavy handed regulatory environment of many states and keep them from having to subsidize the costs of coverage that they themselves don't need. This is a more involved angle to healthcare costs that I don't have time to get into in this post. But for more info, click on the link on the post a couple of posts down.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Market Disciplines

I usually leave the economic posts to my friend Kirk at his random acts of economics blog, but I heard this explained recently and felt it was expressed so clearly and made such a great point that I should share it with whomever might dare to be interested in economics.

Market discipline, as I understand it, is an economic principle that states that individual businesses in the private sector(non-government) must constantly adjust their business by what money remains after all expenses have been paid out. When this shrinks, they either must invest less in their business or cut the number of employees or raise prices for their product or service that they provide. When the profits increase, the business can grow by perhaps buying more needed large equipment for the business or hiring more people or many other possibilities. The point is that there is a natural force in place to create a check and balance to how quickly the business does or does not grow. The good news for businesses is that many of the general circumstances that usually influence their growth or shrinkage are also being experienced by the other businesses they are competing against.

Now, let's change this to bring government into the mix. Let's say that the U.S. government decides to get into the home mortgage business just for example(not that they would ever do that) :). The government is not subject to the same market forces that the normal business is subject to. They get their money from taxpayers. This in turn keeps them from being subjected to market disciplines AND it forces the other players in the home mortgage business to compete with them while they ARE still handicapped by market disciplines. Not only is the government not subject to market disciplines. It seems to encourage the management of their resources to move in the opposite direction, recklessness and a complete lack of discipline. In the backs of everyone's mind who works within the government funded businesses is the awareness that government will always be able to bail them out if they fail with more tax money. Perhaps one of the ultimate ironies is that the taxes that pay for these government funded journeys into the market are funded by taxes from the very businesses they are unfairly competing against.

We've all seen the absolute mess that resulted at least partially from this practice of government involvement in the housing market. What else is the government going to become involved in??
Can you say healthcare?

There are so many reasons I'm for limited government involvement and regulation in our economy. These are just a few. In regards to ideas about healthcare, visit the link below to see current ideas about free market solutions to healthcare instead of government dictated solutions.

"Those who tell stories rule society." -- Plato

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Secular Saturation

What is secular? The most common use of this word is non-religious. In other words, most people when they use the word secular are referring to their life in the "secular" world like their job or sports. Recently, I was listening to an interview of a contributor to a book called Faith, Film, and Philosophy. This book allows leading Christian thinkers to pick a movie or two and write about the bigger message and issues raised and give some Christian response to it. The guest was asked if he had to pick one bigger agenda being pushed either consciously or unconscioiusly by Hollywood, what would that be. He didn't speak about permiscuous sex or overt slams on Christianity or attitudes about violence or many social issues. Instead, he spoke of an all consuming secular way of looking at life all the time. He clarifies the way in which he means secular. Secularism is basically an attitude that states, "even if God exists, He is irrelevant to how we live our lives on a daily basis." Certainly, most of the films that receive high praise from Hollywood elites show this man-centered view as being THE relevant way to consider the human condition(think Oscar nominations). However, most people I know don't think such films are in touch with the way they view the world anyway. The shows and films I'm concerned with are the biggest popular hits for TV and film. The characters never seem to consult God for their ethical choices, turn to him in their hour of need, profess any devotion to God, or discuss any matters about their faith in God and how that influences their lives.

In the words of the guest being interviewed, "if you truly take the existence of God seriously in regard to His influence and meaningfulness in daily life, it is inevitable that God Himself becomes a character in the show or film if even only indirectly."

The key issue about this to me is NOT that most people who are in power in Hollywood don't consider God to truly be relevant, but that those people saturate our most popular films with this conclusion in a thousand subtle ways. This, in turn, creates a perception in people's minds about how people in general view the world and the way things truly are. Perhaps worst of all, it creates thousands of specific ways on "how-to" live your life without God. The key to appreciating the seriousness of this trend is in grasping the subtlety AND the complete saturation of it. Whether it is Jack Ryan, Jack Bauer, or Jack Shepherd, not a single one has ever uttered a single prayer in all the times I've watched them.

One last point,
1. How often do you consult God about your ethical choices?
2.Do you turn to Him in your hour of need?
3.Do you profess your devotion to Him?
4.Do you discuss the impact of your faith in Him with others?

We are not called to be Jack-like. We're called to be Christlike.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

New prayer requests

Thoughts and questions from Genesis

I'm trying to be more interactive as I listen to the Bible on CD. One of the ways that I'm doing that is keeping a pen and pad with me as I listen to write and journal thoughts or questions that occur to me as I listen. The following are examples of some of those thoughts and questions. Please, please feel free to share your thoughts and responses. That's kind of the whole reason I'm posting these.

1.Paying attention to the order of creation and what happened on what day causes me to question even more the idea that each day was a literal 24 hour day. It doesn't seem likely.

2. Eve-mother of all who live according to Adam

3. Sons of God married the daughters of men??

4. Apparently they did not eat meat before the flood(read Gen. 9), why did God institute the consumption of meat at that time?

5. Why does it tell us about Enoch?

6. Why did God chastise Pharoah and Abimilech instead of Abraham about lying about Sarah being his sister?

7. Why is Lot called righteous in the New Testament?

Thoughts from talk radio...

I've discovered a host in Nashville that I'm a big fan of named Michael Delgiorno(not sure on the spelling). Anyhoo, the following is a segment from his show that expresses something we've all sort of sensed but it does so pretty clearly and concisely....

How to create bias when you are a journalist....

1.How you choose the stories that you do cover and how you choose the stories you don't cover.

2.Which angles you choose to explore on the stories that you do cover.

3.Which people you choose to talk to and which people you choose NOT to talk to.

4.Which quotes you choose to use from interviews and which quotes you choose NOT to use.

With these simple four considerations, you too can be an activist or, ummm...... I mean journalist and use the news to manipulate the masses in whichever direction you see fit.

Great new political watchdog website link

The Sunlight Foundation

This site is a collection of a whole list of different ways to learn more about our government from many different angles. Govtrack, my old political watchdog link, is just one of the links you'll find on this much more comprehensive site. Click on the investigative resources tab to see an amazing number of useful links. I will be replacing my govtrack link with a link to sunlight foundation on my links section for future reference. Hope it is as useful for us all. I still need to explore the site a bit more to discover what other features it has to offer.

Pics from the road

Be sure to click on the bottom pic to get the full impact of the joke that is the sign in the parking lot in a frozen over parking lot in Illinois.