The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

i spit in the general direction of your Benefits

February5

For a solid reference point, please see one of my earlier posts: healthcare is not for You.

On Tuesday the 20th of November 2009, the Senate health committee voted 12-11 in favor of a two-page amendment courtesy of Republican Tom Coburn that would require all Members and their staffs to enroll in any new government-run health plan. Generally speaking the details mean Congress would have U.S. Citizens accept a watered-down healthcare platform that offers limited benefits.

However, what is not easily deciphered in the language of the amendment is that, under proposed legislation, they, as a body, are contemptuously curiously exempt from the national plan.  instead, they would be entitled to platinum healthcare on par with the President of the United States and his executive Staff.

However, Congressman John Fleming (he’s a Louisiana physician) has proposed an amendment that would require Congressmen and Senators to take the same healthcare plan they force on us .

Having read my prior Blog posts around this topic, you know that I feel Members of Congress and the Senate should have access to only the same healthcare used by their constituents. Otherwise, how can they claim to represent us with a straight face?

Congressman Fleming is encouraging people to go on his Website and sign his petition. It’s quite simple. Do it!

I have immediately done just that by visiting:

http://fleming.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=55&sectiontree=29,55

We need to make up some Thomas Jefferson tee-shirts, and march.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

obama's grandma isn't driving Healthcare

January21

Yesterday, Marc Kutter came by for a visit. He’s always such a breath of fresh air. We shared some good things. For me, the best was the reminder that I have good men like that as friends.

Marc is in the Healthcare-oriented business, and legislation is going to be pivotal to his company’s success. And, we talked about how life and work should be fun. Meaningful.

This got me to thinking of a fairly recent press conference President Obama lobbed in our general direction. Ironically, he’s fighting with the House over a viable healthcare plan for American citizens. But, they’ve already exempted themselves from having to suffer it themselves. So, I think Obama is fighting a losing battle here (and, we’re going to pay dearly for it). I’ve made this point in an earlier post. You can read it here: healthcare is not for You.

Nonetheless, Marc has inspired me. You should meet him. I suspect he’ll have the same affect on you. So, I’ve crafted and sent a letter to President Obama. I was, in part, also inspired by a not-quite-similar effort, that, in fact, had significant results in it’s own right. You can read here: Berkeley’s Contribution To Terrorism.

In any event, here is my letter. You should feel free to do the same. Cut and paste if you must.

Dear Mr. President,

I watched your recent press conference with great interest – but also dismay. So, perhaps that makes it morbid fascination. But, a direct result of my own agonizing efforts must now include me making a few observations on the healthcare debacle debate that is currently raging in Washington. There’s obviously a lot of limp-writed hanky waving concern over to make healthcare affordable. And, for very good reason. This nation of ours is arguably the wealthiest on the planet, but almost a third of it’s citizens can’t afford decent healthcare that could, at least, be on-par with second-world countries (like Canada or Sweden).

One metaphor you leveraged over the course of your speech, in comparing what we have now, to what some of our allies (Sweden, Great Britain, for example) have, was to talk about how, if my neighbor bought a car and I bought a similar car, and then found out my neighbor’s car cost $6,000.00 less, I’d want to know how I could get that deal.

…wait… Before I get too far down this road, I have to wonder why you don’t compare the average citizens healthcare options as they relate to your own, and those of the House and Senate?

In any event, that analogy got me thinking about the cars that I’ve owned, and why and how I came to own them. From there, I started thinking about my Dad, and the cars we had when I was growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. My Dad always used to say that his mother, my Grandma (not to be confused with my Nana 0n Mom’s side), apparently always knew the precise moment to get rid of her car and buy a new one;  just before every major system in the car needed to be repaired or replaced. He knew this from personal experience, because as a young man in a large family he was the “beneficiary” of the old car, and those expensive repairs ended up being his headache.

Dad had some interesting stories about some of Grandma’s older cars. There was the car with the hole in the floor of the back seat, through which he and siblings liked to drop pebbles through as they drove. There was another that didn’t make left turns, so they had to plan all of their shopping trips very carefully so they could get home. And, there was another car that had no reverse gear, so that he had to leave a note on the car windshield politely asking to be given an exemption from tickets due to this extenuating circumstance.

That type of experience had a profound experience on my Dad. When he first entered the Air Force he bought a brand new sports car. But, it broke down a lot. So, he sorted out it made more sense to buy used cars, of certain makes and models, after someone proved they were reliable.

In listening to those stories – and, I really listened carefully, I worked hard to not have my own “Grandma’s Old Car” experience. I always had a job. In fact, I’ve an entrepreneur most of my life, starting when I was twelve, with my own lawn care company. That makes for great experience. You should have tried that yourself – having a real job (before you were handed the Presidency), I mean. It probably would have come in useful in terms of being able to make solid decision, based upon example. So, I’ve always save my money and learned to appreciate it’s best uses. I bought all of my own cars, including an 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. And, I took care of them.

My Dad was one of the highest decorated Air Force Officers of his era. Military officers in the 1970’s did not make a lot of money, by any measure. Dad decided to retire from the Air Force in 1980, mostly because Mom was on her last legs (so, we thought), and dying of cancer. She managed to hang-on for awhile (no thanks to our insurance company). However, Grandma did decide to pass away around that time… and, left us a car. I did not care (about the car, Grandma was cool enough). But, Dad would no longer have access to his Command Staff vehicle, so he needed a new (or different) car. My brother Greg, did not like to work, and college for him would be looming soon. So, Dad had to save money. He asked me for my beloved Karmann Ghia. In return, I became the “lucky” recipient of Grandma’s old car. I was just  in college at Radford University the time (on a Cross Country scholarship), and the only thing lucky about that car was that my dorm was across across the street from a kind and extremely honest auto mechanic, who very quickly became one of my newer best friend. By the way… Freshmen at Radford were not supposed to have cars. But, never mind that. That was only a rule. In any event, the the car was a 1966 Cadillac that got about 5 miles to a gallon of gasoline, and required a major repair approximately every 100 miles. After about ten months (and countless adventures I’ll never dare recount in writing), I came to the same realization that my Dad had come to years earlier: a free car is not necessarily a bargain.

Even my auto mechanic was thrilled when I bought a Fiat X-19 (but, for different reasons).

Mr. President, you’re a busy man. Keeping Oprah entertained and Michelle and her own Mom out of the Oval Office is distracting, I’m sure. So I’ll just cut to the chase here… When you became President of the United States (or, “POTUS”), you became the proud owner of responsible for the “Grandma’s Old Car” of healthcare systems. No matter how you try to fix it, it’ll be a broken-down, worn out, more dangerous than useful, and more costly to fix than a useful replace system. It will cost us buckets full of money. It will cost you boat-loads of political capital. It won’t get you – or more importantly, United States citizens – where we need to go in terms of improving the health. And, you’ll end up having to replace it anyway.  Or – it could very well kill your Presidency, and you’ll be the guy who didn’t get healthcare for the American people because you and the Congress were just too attached to the old system. Or, worse, you could not lead by example, and were followed by the House and Senate.

In a way, I actually understand. I see things in ways others don’t want to look. Oddly, I loved Grandma’s Old Car (I loathe what our healthcare system is killing people around me I’ve protected all of my life), but it was killing me financially, and quite frankly, it could have gotten me killed literally if it had broken down in the wrong place at the wrong time (well… It did do that a number of times. But, each time was another road to a great adventure. But, most citizens don’t need that sort of drama in their lives). So I did what was necessary. I gritted my teeth; did my homework; junked the old car (and, the Fiat); and, allowed me to stop living my life as an indentured servant to my car.

Mr. President, the American people can learn to work with a new system. You and Congress need to drive the same car we do. And, we need to stop living our lives as indentured servants to our insurance companies. We need you and the Congress to grit your teeth, do your homework, and get rid of our old, broken-down, worn out, more dangerous than useful, and more costly to fix than replace healthcare system, and introduce something entirely new. The old system with a few cosmetic changes just isn’t going to get us where we need to go as a country. Yet, as I prepare this letter, the headlines are screaming: Democrates begin discussing smaller health Bill.

COME ON!

The picture of you that I’m including says a lot. You’re not having any fun. This isn’t pick-up basketball or social work, is it.

You are not leading us. Certainly not by example. By the way… The next letter you get from me is around the way you are letting veterans (and, their families) be treated by the Veterans Administration.

You know it, Congress knows it, and the American people surely know it. We elected you because we wanted that “Change We Can Believe In” you thumped your chest over. Look… If the Republicans and the Blue Dogs want to moan and cry about the cost of a public option Mr. President, then call their bluff and give us a single payer system like my Canadian friends, for example, and cousins have. It works (certainly better than what you have on the table for us), they love it – actually no, they don’t love it, they take it for granted. It’s something they feel they are entitled to as Canadians. And everyone is covered for what you already know is a very reasonable and affordable cost. It might help if we we weren’t financially bailing our criminal bankers and a scandal-wracked financial system. How about re-directing a lot of those funds into quality of life systems.

Once people experience health CARE as opposed to health INSURANCE, the debate will be over and the people who made healthcare for all a reality for the American people will be national heroes.

Lead us. First by example. Then by executive decision. It’s what Thomas Jefferson designed the Constitution around.

You can do it Mr. President. “Yes You Can”.

Patriotically – and, on behalf of my Brothers and Sisters. Because this is what Prudent but Optimistic Gentlemen do.

Brian Patrick Cork

does the fed work for Goldman?

December30

This depends on how we might define work.

There’s a perspective, to be sure.

It can be argued that the Fed is intentionally holding rates at zero in the hopes of forcing investors, concerned about long-term challenges that include retirement, to invest in longer-term riskier assets instead of collecting “little or nothing (Bernarke)” on money market or CD’s.

Worse now for the Fed is the impression that monetary authorities work first and foremost for Wall Street.

Of course, Fed officials see this a bit differently… They see supporting Wall Street as their mechanism for supporting Main Street.

Ultimately, without the former, the latter is locked out of capital markets, and economic chaos could follow.

The purpose of Wall Street is supposed to be, or was designed to be (when it was founded in 1913) channeling investment funds into Main Street.

But most Americans no longer view Wall Street as ultimately working in their best interests – and, I believe they are mostly correct. This is the same Wall Street that aggressively pushed garbage loans onto the American people as policymakers praised the wonders of financial innovation. When did the purpose of finance evolve into simply a mechanism to enrich the relative few at the expense of many? And when did policymakers embrace this view? As Paul Krugman has noted, the Fed cannot envision a world not dominated by the magic of structured finance. Yet this is a world that failed us completely.

Look for my forthcoming post outlining the federally funded Goldman Scam that almost took AIG to it’s knees.

But, here’s the pattern outline, because I know you can’t wait:

1. Goldman creates or sells $23 billion (or more) of CDOs and stuffs them into AIG.

2. Goldman proclaims to the world they have no exposure to CDOs and warns that banks and insurers with CDO exposure will get downgraded.

3. Goldman initiates the mark downs of CDOs with AIG and others, acelerating the market’s downward spiral.

4. Huge mark to market losses lead insurer and bank credit to freeze, short term markets to lock up, ABCP to collapse.

5. AIG posts as much collateral as it has to Goldman, who has more aggressively marked down the exposure.

6. Bond insurers are downgraded, banks begin commutations with them.

7. AIG fails, Fed steps in, Goldman gets bailed out at par.

Come on! This is no accident. And no one in authority wants to find out where the truth lies.

Meanwhile…

The House has passed a bill to audit the Federal Reserve. However, we find ourselves hands-on-knees with a fast-action response from the the Fed claiming that an audit would interfere with its “independence”.

Sing me the song of irony.

Even though the Bill was buried, word got out, and  79% of the American people support at least the notion of a full audit.

NOTE: The Constitution does not empower what is becoming a central bank. And Congress, which created the Federal Reserve in 1913 (and, it coincided, oddly, somehow with the creation of Wall Street) which has the power to create credit and money (rather like Wall Street), and, certainly has the power to audit, dissolve, or do whatever it likes with the central bank (including stripping it of the power to create credit).

Point of reference: Can we agree that the Fed has bungled efforts to manage the economy, keeping unemployment low, and regulating banks?

Just in cases that white van finds me soon, the the independence argument is a red herring./1

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

______________________

1/ Something that draws attention away from the central issue.

extortion: credit card companies caught in the Act

October31

There’s a story floating around, and it’s a true one, that credit card companies are racing to raise interest rates before a new law designed to protect us from that very thing goes into effect February 22nd. You can read more about it here, for more ugly details.

Congress had actually been moving quickly themselves to form probably insipid meaningful legislation around the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, or CARD Act. But, and I have to add the word oddly, and should also add disappointingly, let’s also consider outrageously, allowed themselves to be lobbied by the credit card companies and approve a “grace period” that would enable the credit card companies to “prepare” for the change in predatory practices.

So, they’re using that grace period to gouge credit card users as hard, deep and quickly as they can.

Thank you, our ever vigilant, inspiring representatives.

The same representatives, mind you, that are voting in a healthcare package that they, themselves, are not required to participate in. Read about that in my post: healthcare is not for You.

The Act actually offers some fairly meaningful protection for credit card users. You can or should research those details elsewhere; it’s worth the time and effort. A meaningful issue at hand, however, is this grace period is going to create a lot of harm and financial chaos in the interim. It’s also going to cause, in many cases the very thing the Act was meant to forestall, if not eliminate.

I’m skeptical Congress could not have seen this coming. And, so, I feel set-up by them again.

We don’t use credit cards much in our household, or in my businesses. We prefer American Express (I certainly have issues with American Express), but when we need to use a credit card we prefer to pay it off. Apparently most Americans can’t or aren’t doing that, for the moment.

Nonetheless, I have a letter from Citibank informing me that they are doubling the interest rate on cards.

Right there in my hands I had written proof that the credit card companies; certainly Citibank, were attempting to extort the American people – and, Congress are their unwitting accomplice. /1

Where’s Aaron Burr when we really need him?

This is all a lot more insidious than the media are letting on, Congress will own up to, and, what most people might understand.

The letter I received from Citibank said, in effect, that I had an option to decline the higher interest rate. But, if I do so, they will cancel the credit card. For me, that’s not an issue. But, apparently for 63% of Americans, it just might be. If the credit card companies cancel the credit card, you are still, obviously, responsible for paying down the balance. Maybe that, unto itself, is not such a big deal, but the fact that your credit score will drop precipitously, is. Your credit score is driven by many factors (I suspect many of them subjective). But, an obvious factor is amount of credit card balance against available credit (your credit limit on the card). If you’ve maxed out your card, but are paying, at least the minimum required each month, your credit score will likely stay intact. But, if you have a credit ratio where your balances outweigh the available or potential available credit, your score drops up to 99 points in only one reporting cycle. NOTE: It comes down to algorithms (more profiling) designed by the credit industry exist to punish users if they tried to cancel their own cards.

It’s true; and, you better get pissed! I don’t mean inebriated here, but, that might help some of you that continue to numb yourselves against being bent over your own “American dreams” as they collapse around you.

I wish I had good news today. Maybe a fun story. And, I am trying to come up with a solution – if not a course of action. I honestly don’t know if writing, calling or visiting your Congressman does any good. We could go to Oprah, I suppose. But, she won’t make any move that might shed unfavorable light on Barack Obama. I don’t know if she’s his bitch, or the other way around.

Maybe we should try something like a “Don’t use your credit card for a week” campaign. What do you think?

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

1/ From: West’s Law:

  1. The act or an instance of extorting.
  2. Illegal use of one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.
  3. An excessive or exorbitant charge.
  4. Something extorted.

extortionary ex·tortion·ar’y (-shə-nĕr’ē) adj.
extortionist ex·tortion·ist or ex·tortion·er n.

or,

From the Columbia Dictionary:

“extortion, in law, unlawful demanding or receiving by an officer, in his official capacity, of any property or money not legally due to him. Examples include requesting and accepting fees in excess of those allowed to him by statute or arresting a person and, with corrupt motives, demanding money or property unlawfully under pretense of duty. The taking of money or property is generally an essential element of the crime. In most states of the United States, extortion is more widely defined to include the obtaining of money or property of another by inducing his consent through wrongful use of fear, force, or authority of office; blackmailransom, and threat of force are included under this definition.”

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