September 8th, 2009

Epic Fail

Freedom Isn't Free -- It'd Cost You $3,800

The Obamacare debate just took a nasty turn, and showed why it is so important for us to know exactly what is in the proposal they are trying to pass and not let us in on.

Today, a proposal circulated through Congress that would fine anyone who didn't buy health insurance $3,800.

Those of us watching this closely knew there was one group in Congress that hadn't weighed in with an Obamacare proposal.  That was one from the Finance Committee, which had been cooking something up (or, perhaps more accurately, ginning something up) for a while.  The head of the FC is Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana who is described as a moderate.  Here's the bullet points:

*  It is a 10 year, $900 bil package
*  It would require insurance companies to take ALL applicants, period.  Smokers would be charged a higher premium, and estimates are that a 60 year old would be paying five times as much as a 20 year old.
*  Paying for the plan would require fees on insurance companies, drug companies, and the health care industry.  You know, the people who contribute tons of money to these peoples' campaigns.  Yeah, I'll just bet they'll foot the bill and we won't.  Keep in mind, Americans already spend $2.5 tril a year on health care.
*  What if you don't want insurance or can't afford the prices you're going to be charged?  Two words:  surprise buttsecks!  Penalties start at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families.  And that's to start.  If your household is over three times the federal poverty level ($66,000 for a family of four), you're looking at $3,800 for families and $950 for individuals.
* The plan includes tax credits to households below that "3X's the poverty line" mark to help offset the cost and also for small employers paying about average middle-class wages (so if you are running a gas station or a franchise store, you're out of luck).

It should be noted that an 18-page summary of this proposal was leaked to the press before it was ever sent to Congress and Obama.

Through his spokespeople, Obama has been changing his tune on mandatory enrollment.  Originally, he only wanted kids to be mandatoried.  He's been including more and more people lately.  He has stopped short of fines, however, and we're waiting to see who gets thrown under the bus to see how he stands on this.

Meanwhile, the government-run health care that competes with private business might finally be ready to sink.  Mike Ross is a key moderate Democrat in the House from Arkansas.  After the town hall meetings made his constituents' position clear ("Push this through and we'll vote your ass out next year"), he has abandoned support for Obamacare.  With the loss of Ross, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, told reporters that a Medicare-style plan for middle class Americans is not an essential part of the legislation to him.  Boom boom, out go the lights.

The D's are still clinging to the hope that they can revive health care in a few years by threatening to enact it if health care costs haven't gone down (without tort reform and restrictions on venue shopping?  Remember, lots of lawyers in Congress seeking to make work for their bretheren).  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada and Nancy Pelosi from California are still insisting this will pass, and they're starting to sound like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House -- "Remain calm!  Everything's under control!  All is well!"

This basically puts Obama between the nutcrackers.  He's due to give a speech Wednesday night.  I still say Obama is going to say he's open to compromise, take suggestions, put the proposal in committee to see if everything can be incorporated, and it will basically die there.  Proponents of health care can say, "Hey, we tried, but politicking sank it," while those looking to appear compromising can say, "We took your suggestions and kept you from getting nailed."  It's win-win for everyone coming up for election next year.

As the seventh Doctor said, "Time will tell.  It always does."
Kermit And Piggy

It's So Ironic, I Need A Tetanus Shot!

M$ has been threatening Linux with patents, claiming infringement without providing any proof.  Most of us believe that SCO was specifically financed to test M$' theories in court without them being involved -- hey, M$ isn't suing IBM and everyone, SCO is!  Don't look at us!

M$ learned the hard way that the FOSS community doesn't take kindly to threats.  They tried suing TomTom over their use of Linux.  Not only did the open source community rise up again, but Red Hat and a bunch of others are trying to get the FAT32 patent, one of the swords M$ loves to rattle, overturned.  Also, there's those pesky regulations, antitrust, counterclaims, and so on to deal with.

M$ decided to auction off some patents recently, 22 of them to be precise.  And they were patents for things Linux potentially infringes on.  It was invitation only, Linux companies weren't invited.  Just lots of companies with access to litigators and no real product.

The patents were bought up by Allied Security Trust.

Once AST completed purchase of the patents, they sold them to the Open Invention Network, the group that uses patents to protect Linux against things like what M$ is trying to pull.  The OIN forced M$ to abandon the TomTom lawsuit within a week with what they had.  Now, they have TomTom's patents.  And also these 22 that M$ is so sure Linux was infringing on.

Now you know why I put the Kermit And Piggy icon up instead of Tux.  This is just too hilarious.  You mess with one of us?  YOU MESS WITH ALL OF US!
Sound Waves

Sound Waves -- And Now For Something Completely Different

Back in July, my buddy mornblade decided to write a fanfic based on my characters from Sound Waves and mixing it with Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.  He told me that, if I wanted to reprint it here on my blog, I was more than welcome to.  I originally wanted to wait until the season premiere of Dollhouse, but Sound Waves #2 will be available next week, and thought I would do this now.  So here, with a tip of the hat, take it away, buddy!

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snap snap snap snap snap.....


At work today, one of my office mates informed me that, if I wanted bottled water, this is the time to buy.

I told her I appreciated the heads up, but I never really wanted to buy bottled water.

I knew, long before Penn And Teller took on bottled water, that bottled water was basically tap water.  The first time I tried bottled water, I remember thinking it tasted nothing like distilled water (I am very familiar with distilled water.  Back in science lab, I used it recreationally, just as a little pick-me-up to get me through the day....).  The price didn't seem worth it to me.

Turns out, with the downturn in the economy, people are simply refilling their water bottles at home or from water coolers at work instead of buying tap water that costs more per gallon than gasoline.  Dealers are looking to move merch, and have marked down the water.

So, if you hear about a rising tide lifting all boats, it's coming from stores emptying the water bottles....