Poor Insurance Companies

by bicyclemark

Seems like with every year that goes buy, there are more and more things you can buy insurance for. Travelling, living, playing, borrowing… hell the city of New York is even hoping someday soon you’ll have to buy insurance just to record video of it.

On the other hand, whenever there comes a time when people look to their insurance companies, which they’ve been paying for years without ever receiving a dime, the companies work hard at finding a way not to pay. You probably saw that scene in Sicko, where it is right there in black and white, Nixon’s advisor explaining how medical insurance and HMO’s will work, make money by providing as little as possible. It has always been a big part of the insurance business, but it seems like now its the only part of the insurance business…. collect money and do everything in your power NEVER to pay out to a client.

So recently we see the appeal in New Orleans, where the judge has ruled against the citizens who have lost their livelihoods; their homes. They were insured in case of the dangers that come with owning a home in New Orleans. However the insurance companies, panicking at the idea that they will actually have to pay out a huge sum of money from the even larger sum of money they’ve collected over the years…. they have fought tooth and nail in order to stop their customers from being allowed to collect the insurance they thought they had.

I heard a few news reports that talked of the difficult position insurance companies are in. They’d risk huge loses by having to pay for the flood damage caused by hurricane katrina. Once again I repeat in slightly different words: they’d risk huge financial loses by actually providing insurance payments to their paying customers. For them its more honorable and necessary to find a loophole… its not their fault bad things happen, they’re only the insurance company, working hard to hang on to their record profits.

Congressional Pork Crimes

by bicyclemark

All the critics are up-in-arms at the shocking development last week, that congress voted to give the GWBush his war money. Obviously they’re outraged because the party they were convinced would represent their opposition to the war, did not do what they were elected to do.

Yet the disappointment doesn’t end there. Because this was all part of “making a deal”. According to this deal, if congress votes to give billions to kill more Iraqi’s, in exchange, they will get their minimum wage increase (though I don’t know many adults who can actually live on 7.25 an hour). They also secure alot of money to finally fund the Road Home Program which was supposed to help post Katrina recovery until the program ran out of money. Oh and there’s even a little help for small businesses in the form of tax breaks. All lovely and necessary things I suppose, and I’m sure many good intentioned people will point to that and say; well at least we got that!

But my rhetorical question is: what does one have to do with the other? And what kind of sick government attaches essential money for sufferring citizens in places like New Orleans, to the money needed to fund the occupation and subjugation of another country? Those two projects have nothing to do with each other, and their funding should not be used as some kind of leverage or bargaining chip.

Reading through the texts of these bills, all included in this shameful “deal”, I again return to the conclusion that the US government and the political system in general are broken in the most fundamental way and these two parties are responsible.

Building Bridges in Mississippi

by bicyclemark

Took the journey to Amsterdam Noord today, to say hello to a visitor from Long Beach Mississippi. Yup, one half of the wonderful couple that I stayed with on the gulf coast, is here in Amsterdam for a few weeks.

As we sat down and started to run down all the updates about people, places, and anything under the sun, she mentioned that the famous bridge between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian was just re-opened. (if you’ve never seen images of the bridge in ruins like fallen dominoes, it is pretty amazing)

I was pretty excited to hear the news. While so much of what I saw in Louisiana and Mississippi, seemed so hopeless, and so completely frozen in time when it comes to rebuilding… it is great to hear that such a vital bridge has been reopened.

not my photo, but a good one

As I drove from New Orleans to Long Beach, I of course, couldn’t take that bridge as it was still being rebuilt. I didn’t even get near enough to look at the construction work. But when I eventually make my return to the Gulf Coast, I have definitely made myself a promise to not only go see what rebuilding is taking place in Bay St. Louis, but also, I intend to drive along the bridge and hopefully feel some sense of excitement that rebuilding can and is taking place somewhere.

bm203 Door to Door in New Orleans

by bicyclemark

In an effort to shed more light on the situation that people are living in New Orleans today, this program focuses on the survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. By going door to door in some of New Orleans hardest hit parishes, they found out what issues and problems are the most troubling for people. If you don’t take the time to read the survey (which I recommend) this podcast will hopefully give you an overview.

Audio, text, and charts all available at KFF.org
Excerpt from Free Speech Radio News

Issues Covered include:
-The survey process
-door to door versus phone
-reception by residents
-Healthcare access
-Employment
-Housing
-Finances
-The Future
-Statements by PRes and Vice Pres of KFF
-The return to normal?