Shopping for health insurance on

Our government has decided that it is okay for a doctor or hospital to charge an uninsured customer 10X what an insurance company would pay for a service. Thus, an American who doesn’t want to pay 10X the fair price and risk bankruptcy has no choice but to sign up for health insurance. He/she/ze/they cannot pay the $25,000 that an insurance company would pay for a serious issue and defer the purchase of a new car. Instead, he/she/ze/they must deal with a bill for $200,000 and aggressive bill collectors and lawyers from the hospital.

I recently decided to see if it would make sense to get a policy from for our family. There are three big providers in eastern Florida: Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and University of Miami. The site has a way to enter these providers and see if they’re in the network for the plan. Here are some of the quotes:

The consumer is supposed to evaluate 174 alternatives, build a spreadsheet and run a Monte Carlo experiment to figure out which is likely to result in minimum spending? You’d be a fool to have insurance that didn’t cover these three networks, as we discovered to our chagrin last year with Humana. offers to help you register to vote, but it doesn’t offer to limit results to insurance policies that will pay these essential providers.

I thought that Blue Cross had deals with everyone and yet this $66,000+/year policy ($72,000 including the out-of-pocket maximum) is presented as not covering any of the places that you’d want to go if you needed a specialized specialist:

Perhaps we could work it from the other side? Here’s what Mayo Jacksonville says they’ll take:

The consumer is supposed to recognize, therefore, that Mayo takes “Aetna” and “Blue Cross Blue Shield” but not the versions of “Aetna” and “Blue Cross” that are sold on How many people are this sophisticated? Mayo Jacksonville takes “Cigna EPO”, but, according to, not “Cigna Connect 900 EPO”:

As Obama said, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor so long as your doctor doesn’t work at any of the good clinics or hospitals in the nation’s third largest state. I scrolled through all of the 174 plans and never found one that covered more than University of Miami (and that was rare).

Maybe this is peculiar to Florida? Friends in Maskachusetts who had been paying $30,000 per year to Blue Cross (in pre-Biden dollars) switched to MassHealth (Medicaid; there was an income test, but no asset test on the MA signup web site) and found that their choice of doctors was much wider. That seems to be the case in Florida as well. Mayo Clinic is happy to accept Medicaid. Cleveland Clinic says they take Medicaid. University of Miami takes Medicaid. In other words, Americans have voted to set up a system in which a person who works and pays $72,000 per year for health insurance has inferior access to health care compared to what someone who has never worked enjoys.

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If student loan forgiveness is illegal, can it still be accomplished via an infinite payment pause?

Continuing with our Thanksgiving theme, we can give thanks to the most generous members of our society. The most praiseworthy generosity is, of course, giving away money that other people earned. If we accept that stealing a neighbor’s car and donating it to charity makes me a more charitable person, Washington, D.C., is home to the world’s most generous humans. As we try to chew our dried leftover turkey, let’s look at a notable example of generosity from the central planners… “Biden extends student loan payment pause as debt relief plan remains on hold” (NBC):

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it would extend the payment pause on federal student loans, as President Joe Biden’s debt cancellation plan remains blocked in court.

The payment pause, which was previously set to expire in January, will be extended until June 30 or until the litigation is resolved — whichever comes first. If the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, payments will resume 60 days after that.

“I’m completely confident that my plan is legal,” Biden said in a video announcement. “But it isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit.”

Federal student loan holders have not been required to make payments since March 2020, when President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, which paused payments through September 2020 and stopped interest from accruing to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In theory it is Congress that sets the budget. So it might be illegal for a president to forgive loans, such that the borrowers don’t have to pay for their gender studies degrees and the cost can instead be shifted onto the working class. And, since Congress can spend money and transfer costs from the working class to the laptop class, the original payment/interest pause in 2020 was definitely legal. But maybe it is also legal for a charitable president with a big heart to keep extending the pauses via executive order. The loan isn’t “forgiven” (illegal unless Congress does it and more accurately described as “transferred to the working class”), but it never has to be paid so long as a great humanitarian/philanthropist is in the White House. The original value of the loan eventually becomes insignificant due to inflation.


  • “Student Loan Pause Could Cost $275 Billion” (CRB): The pause costs over $5 billion per month and extending it through the end of 2024 would cost at least $120 billion. This would bring the total cost since Spring of 2020 to $275 billion. This represents about 70 percent of the cost of the President’s announced debt cancellation plan and is higher than the ten-year cost of President Biden’s proposal to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029.
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The Lost Bank lesson: Make sure you have a lot of friends in Washington, D.C.

I hope that each of you did his/her/zir/their reading assignment from a month ago, i.e., The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual – The Biggest Bank Failure in American History.

Now that I have finished the book myself and have given folks a chance to avoid spoilers, a brief post about the end of the book.

It turns out that it wasn’t clear that WaMu had actually failed. Even when it was seized by the FDIC, wiping out shareholders and bondholders, and then sold for almost nothing to politically connected and savvy JPMorgan Chase, the bank may well have had sufficient liquidity under Federal rules. A quiet bank run, in which billions of dollars left WaMu daily, was precipitated by the following factors: (1) leaks from Washington, D.C., (2) the FDIC insurance limit of $100,000 per depositor (almost enough to buy a car today!), (3) consumer ignorance regarding the practicalities of FDIC insurance, (4) consumer reluctance to become embroiled in a process of getting money from the FDIC. If not for the leaks about the regulators’ concerns, the bank run probably wouldn’t have happened and the regulators wouldn’t have been able to seize WaMu’s assets.

We may never know the answer to whether the bank actually met the relevant criteria for being shut down. Kirsten Grind, the Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the book, gives various estimates for the bank’s liquidity on the day of shutdown but is unable to say which one is correct.

Why is it that 5 banks enjoy roughly half of U.S. commercial bank assets?

Partly this is due to the reasons discussed in the previous post regarding this book. But it is also due to the fact that the government treated some of the biggest New York banks differently than WaMu, only slightly smaller. The NY banks, donors to Senator Charles Schumer, had similar liquidity issues to what WaMu suffered. But they were deemed “systemic risks” a.k.a. “too big to fail” and, therefore, were showered with government money (taxed, borrowed, or printed) that was denied to WaMu. A handful of political appointees and government workers at the Fed, the US Treasury, the FDIC, and the OTS had a tremendous amount of discretion regarding which banks would get bigger and which would be seized.

So in addition to the topics mentioned in my previous post, the book serves as a good example of the importance of lobbying and political donations!


  • “A Champion of Wall Street Reaps Benefits” (NYT, 12/13/2008): Senator Schumer plays an unrivaled role in Washington as beneficiary, advocate and overseer of an industry that is his hometown’s most important business. Mr. Schumer led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the last four years, raising a record $240 million while increasing donations from Wall Street by 50 percent. That money helped the Democrats gain power in Congress, elevated Mr. Schumer’s standing in his party and increased the industry’s clout in the capital. Calling himself “an almost obsessive defender of New York jobs,” Mr. Schumer has often talked of the need to avoid excessive regulation of an industry that is increasingly threatened by global competition.
  • Is LGBTQIA the most popular social justice cause because it does not require giving money? (includes photos of Seattle from August 2019, including one in which the truth of the Rainbow Flag religion is proven mathematically)
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Tax Day for procrastinators: big increases due to inflation

Happy Tax Day if you filed for an extension.

What’s different this year? Inflation means that ordinary schlubs can pay tax rates that were sold as applying only to the elite. The Obamacare “Net Investment Income Tax” of 3.8 percent on top of ordinary income and capital gains taxes, for example, wasn’t supposed to hit Joe Average. But what if Joe Average tried to escape the lockdowns and school closures in California by selling a house and moving to Texas? Adjusted for inflation in the real estate market, his house might not have gone up in value at all. In other words, his purchasing power from selling the house to buy a different house wouldn’t have changed (probably reduced, actually, in terms of how big a house in Austin can be purchased with the proceeds from selling a house in California). But almost surely he will have more than $250,000 in nominal gains. This is all an illusory inflation-driven “gain” and the tax code recognizes that to a small extent by excluding the first $250,000 of house price inflation. But on the rest of it, Joe will have to pay California capital gains tax, Federal capital gains tax, and an additional 3.8 percent for Obamacare. From the IRS:

The Net Investment Income Tax does not apply to any amount of gain that is excluded from gross income for regular income tax purposes. The pre-existing statutory exclusion in section 121 exempts the first $250,000 ($500,000 in the case of a married couple) of gain recognized on the sale of a principal residence from gross income for regular income tax purposes and, thus, from the NIIT.

How about a wage slave? If he/she/ze/they was earning $170,000 in 2019 and got bumped to $210,000 in 2021, his/her/zir/their spending power is actually lower due to raging inflation. Yet now he/she/ze/they is subject to the 0.9 percent Obamacare “Additional Medicare Tax” due to having income over a fixed threshold of $200,000 (soon to be the price of a Diet Coke?).

From Delray Beach, Levy and Associates:

What kind of people are paying the bill for all of the great work done by Congress and Joe Biden? From the haters at Heritage Foundation:

In 2018, due to the cruel policies of the dictator Donald Trump, the rich Americans who earned 21 percent of all income paid only 40 percent of income taxes. Separately, keep in mind that the above chart relates to cash income. A person could be in the “Bottom 50%” with $0 in W-2 income and still have a spending power and lifestyle better than someone earning $50,000 per year (in the “25%-50%” column) due to means-tested public housing, health care, SNAP/EBT, smartphone, and broadband. See “The Work versus Welfare Trade‐​Off: 2013” (CATO) for the states where being on welfare leads to a larger spending power than working at the median wage. Maskachusetts is #3 in Table 4, with welfare being worth 118% of median salary.

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Can our government generate its own inflation spiral?

Earlier here I wondered Could our epic deficits drive inflation no matter how high the Fed raises rates? (the answer is “yes” according to one of the smartest economists in the world: Economist answers my question about high interest rates and high deficits). Regarding the latest rounds of interest rate hikes, a Democrat-voting university professor friend posted on Facebook:

If you tried to put out a fire with water, and the fire got no smaller even after 3 attempts, you’d hopefully realize this is no normal water and/or this is no normal fire. And if you were able to come to this conclusion, you would not be the Fed.

My response was “I think the government may itself be the inflation spiral. Government is nearly half the economy and everything the government pays money for is indexed to inflation. Medicare, military and similar contracts, Social Security, pensions, employee salaries, etc.”

(This was a few days before “Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will be 8.7% in 2023, highest increase in 40 years” (CNBC, today))

If everything that is part of the local/state/federal government sector is indexed to inflation, doesn’t that mean that inflation goes down only if horrific pain is being inflicted on those dumb enough to be in the private sector? If government workers are getting cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), their spending power by definition cannot change (assuming that the BLS is calculating the CPI correctly). If the CPI says prices went up by 10 percent, the government workers will have 10 percent more in salary to go chasing after a mostly fixed supply of goods. This is the classic wage-price spiral.

Government is not 100 percent of the U.S. economy, so maybe the wage-price spiral can be broken if significant spending power reductions are imposed on non-union non-government workers. But at some level of government control of the economy, the spiral should be unbreakable regardless of interest rates and regardless of how poor the private sector chumps become.

(Why “non-union”? Union workers typically would have an automatic COLA increase and we could also consider union workers part of the government sector because they depend on the government to sustain their union power.)

Loosely related… prices and government worker wages go around in the Bois de Boulogne:


  • “Inflation Is Unrelenting, Bad News for the Fed and White House” (New York Times, today): “This is a self-inflicted wound that will impact the most vulnerable members of our society the most,[” said Mohamed El-Erian] (I think that El-Erian is saying what I say above, but more succinctly; everyone involved with the government will be 100 percent protected from inflation, which means that the peasants are going to be destroyed to keep those affiliated with the government from feeling any pain)
  • “Retirees Catch a Break With the Social Security COLA” (WSJ): On Thursday, the Social Security Administration said recipients will get an 8.7% increase in their payments next year and, for the second year in a row, that actually exceeds estimates of how much their costs increased. That is according to a 35-year-old initiative to measure the true rate of inflation facing those over 62, via an experimental consumer-price index produced by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, known as the CPI-E; the E stands for “elderly.” … This year, the COLA was 8.7%, more than the 8% rise in the CPI-E.
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Hurricane lies from state media (NPR)

“Some don’t evacuate, despite repeated hurricane warnings, because they can’t” (state-sponsored NPR):

Depending on a family’s financial situation, evacuating away from a storm can be costly.

“Many modest- to low-income households simply don’t have the cash or credit,” said Joshua Behr, research professor at Old Dominion University, in a 2018 interview with NPR.

Behr emphasized that the poorest may often wait until the last minute to evacuate, resulting in little to no availability for affordable hotel rooms.

The tragedy of inequality yet again and the obvious remedy is an expansion of the government that funds NPR so that enhanced transferism can be implemented.

As discussed in Practicalities of evacuation from Florida’s west coast, however, all of the quoted material from the NPR article is a lie. The county-run shelters near Fort Myers are (1) free, (2) pet-friendly, (3) equipped with backup generators, (4) stocked with free food and water, and (5) accessible via free transportation (Uber or government-run; summon via taxpayer-funded Obamaphone or wait for the flood and the knock on the door from the public safety crews). A poor person would actually save money by going to the shelter because he/her/zir/their food would be paid for. (The information regarding hotel rooms is also a lie; plenty were available starting at about $60 per night as of the day before the storm made landfall.)

Aside from lack of funds, what other obstacles could a person face in getting to safety?

And while many emergency warnings and notices are now printed in both English and Spanish, there’s still a gap when for those who speak other languages.

More than 400,000 households in Florida speak Haitian as their primary shared language, according to the Census Bureau. Tens of thousands of Floridians speak Portuguese, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Arabic, German, Russian, Italian or another language as their primary shared language at home.

“While looking at an evacuation map at a county in Florida, I saw they have it in both English and Spanish and thought ‘OK, that’s great.’ But also there are people there who may not speak either language,” said Cuite.

Cuite says alongside the language barrier being an issue for people, there are also different levels of literacy to account for.

Some people may not be able to read, which makes things like finding their evacuation zone a challenge,” she said.

NPR has previously informed us that low-skill immigrants make a country rich. Today, NPR informs us that a substantial number of migrants can’t speak English or Spanish, are illiterate in all languages, and live in households in which all members are illiterate in all languages. Putting these two together, we can infer that this Army of the Illiterate will boost what we are told is the world’s most advanced economy.

Our neighborhood came through the overnight thunderstorms, which Mindy the Crippler did not appreciate. The phone shrieked a couple of times with a tornado warning and the federal government’s advice to Floridians to take shelter in basements (the nearest of which is in Atlanta?). There was heavy rain at times and some branches had come down from the palm trees. The neighborhood teenagers played football on the green (I also removed my shirt and a nice young lady paid me $100 to put it back on).

There have been no power glitches so far and no wind gusts above about 30 mph.

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Artemis launch subjected to abortion care to “protect NASA employees”

The Artemis rocket was supposed to be launched right now (3rd attempt), but was once again subjected to abortion care. What’s the principal reason given for the abortion care? “to protect our employees”:

From “NASA to Roll Artemis I Rocket and Spacecraft Back to VAB Tonight” (

The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families

I.e., employees who live and work on Florida’s east coast have to address the needs of their families who live on Florida’s east coast… because a(n admittedly potentially severe) hurricane is forecast to hit Florida’s west coast, more than 100 miles away, roughly 48 hours after the previously scheduled launch.

In case Minitrue deletes the above, a screen shot:

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New York Times inadvertently makes my point about inflation being driven by government spending

Back in June, I wondered Could our epic deficits drive inflation no matter how high the Fed raises rates? and this question was followed up Economist answers my question about high interest rates and high deficits. Here’s the NYT front page, September 22:

The government has been shoveling out cash to people who don’t do anything to earn it while at the same time trying to stanch the inflation bleeding with high interest rates charged to those who might have a productive purchase for money. Our best and brightest can’t figure out why inflation persists.


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Our government pays out $250 million to cafeterias without ever doing a drive-by

Aside from immigration, the big political question in the U.S. is what percentage of GDP should be consumed and directed by government. In the old days, the Federal government was limited to some extent by the Constitution, but today the only limit on the great things that the Federal government can do is our imagination.

What could be bad about having the government take over what had been a private function? “U.S. Attorney Announces Federal Charges Against 47 Defendants in $250 Million Feeding Our Future Fraud Scheme” ( is a good example.

The Federal Child Nutrition Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a federally-funded program designed to provide free meals to children in need. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers the program throughout the nation by distributing federal funds to state governments. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) administers and oversees the Federal Child Nutrition Program. Meals funded by the Federal Child Nutrition Program are served by “sites.” Each site participating in the program must be sponsored by an authorized sponsoring organization. Sponsors must submit an application to MDE for each site. Sponsors are also responsible for monitoring each of their sites and preparing reimbursement claims for their sites. The USDA then provides MDE federal reimbursement funds on a per-meal basis. MDE provides those funds to the sponsoring agency who, in turn, pays the reimbursements to the sites under its sponsorship. The sponsoring agency retains 10 to 15 percent of the funds as an administrative fee.

As part of the charged scheme, Feeding Our Future employees recruited individuals and entities to open Federal Child Nutrition Program sites throughout the state of Minnesota. These sites, created and operated by the defendants and others, fraudulently claimed to be serving meals to thousands of children a day within just days or weeks of being formed. The defendants created dozens of shell companies to enroll in the program as Federal Child Nutrition Program sites. The defendants also created shell companies to receive and launder the proceeds of their fraudulent scheme.

To carry out the scheme, the defendants also created and submitted false documentation. They submitted fraudulent meal count sheets purporting to document the number of children and meals served at each site. The defendants submitted false invoices purporting to document the purchase of food to be served to children at the sites. The defendants also submitted fake attendance rosters purporting to list the names and ages of the children receiving meals at the sites each day. These rosters were fabricated and created using fake names. For example, one roster was created using names from a website called “” Because the program only reimbursed for meals served to children, other defendants used an Excel formula to insert a random age between seven and 17 into the age column of the rosters.

In total, Feeding Our Future opened more than 250 sites throughout the state of Minnesota and fraudulently obtained and disbursed more than $240 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds.

In other words, the Minnesota and Federal governments spent $250 million that Americans had paid in taxes without ever simply driving to any of the fictitious cafeteria/restaurant sites to see if there anyone was being fed.

Who is indicted?

  • Abdi Nur Salah
  • Abdiaziz Shafii Farah
  • Abdihakim Ali Ahmed
  • Abdikadir Ainanshe Mohamud
  • Abdikerm Abdelahi Eidleh
  • Abdimajid Mohamed Nur
  • Abdinasir Mahamed Abshir
  • Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed
  • Abdiwahab Ahmed Mohamud
  • Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin
  • Abdul Abubakar Ali
  • Abdulkadir Nur Salah
  • Abdullahe Nur Jesow
  • Ahmed Abdullahi Ghedi
  • Ahmed Mohamed Artan
  • Ahmed Sharif Omar-Hashim
  • Ahmed Yasin Ali
  • Aimee Marie Bock
  • Anab Artan Awad
  • Asad Mohamed Abshir
  • Asha Jama
  • Ayan Jama
  • Bekam Addissu Merdassa
  • Fahad Nur
  • Farhiya Mohamud
  • Fartun Jama
  • Filsan Mumin Hassan
  • Guhaad Hashi Said
  • Hadith Yusuf Ahmed
  • Haji Osman Salad
  • Hamdi Hussein Omar
  • Hanna Marekegn
  • Hayat Mohamed Nur
  • Khadar Jigre Adan
  • Liban Yasin Alishire
  • Mahad Ibrahim
  • Mohamed Jama Ismail
  • Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff
  • Mustafa Jama
  • Qamar Ahmed Hassan
  • Sahra Mohamed Nur
  • Said Shafii Farah
  • Salim Ahmed Said
  • Sharmarke Issa
  • Sharmake Jama
  • Yusuf Bashir Ali
  • Zamzam Jama

The Federales note “An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” but we know that this isn’t true with respect to Donald Trump, whose guilt may be established even prior to any indictment.

Why couldn’t Federal or state officials, at some point during the three years in which payments were made, have made an in-person visit to see what was being served for $250 million in tax money? Weren’t they curious to check out the menu and food?

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I need to get COVID-19 within the next three weeks (the government tests arrived today)

On May 1, 2022 I ordered my “free” (i.e., taxpayer-funded) COVID-19 tests. They arrived in today’s mail. They expire 22 days from now, on September 9, 2022.

For these to be useful, in other words, I need to copy the Pfizer CEO and add COVID-19 to my vaccinated-and-boosted body… within the next three weeks.


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