WTF… August 27, 2014… Medicare, Big Finance & Who’s Running the Store…

 

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joe11) People wanna know why folks get all pissed off at the government? Frustrated? Feeling bamboozled? And, left saying WTF!? 

Check this out… In June I paid my Medicare premium for July, August & September, which is a little over $300. 

The State of Connecticut, in the meantime, had granted my application for assistance with that payment and said they would take over the payments… which, I will add I was very grateful for as it’s a big help in these difficult financial times.

But, I had already sent in that $300 plus check. So now since Medicare had been paid twice for my premium…once by me and once by Connecticut… I called to see how I could get my payment returned.

I was told I would receive a refund of my personal payment to Medicare. I was told to expect a refund sometime in September. Perfecto good news/bad news scenario… I’ma getting my money back but I’ma gonna have to wait for it to happen. 

I just called, today (8/21) to check on the status of that refund check From Medicare. 191831_1_

After being bounced around from one government agency to another, and, given this number and that number to call, I wound up back at Social Security. 

Social Security then told me they saw nothing being processed, and, regardless, the earliest I would see a refund would be October.

Over three plus freaking months????

redtape_2011-01-21-digest-235x300Why, if, I gave a government agency my money in good faith, can’t I receive that money back as fast as I originally provided it? 

A refund that, obviously, I could use since according to the State of Connecticut I need, and I am receiving, help paying my Medicare premiums. 

Why can’t anyone give me a straight answer and tell when is my refund for the extra Medicare premium to be processed and when can I reasonably expect to receive that refund? 

And, three months is not a good answer. It may be the answer I get, but, it is not a good answer and is absurd.

Like I said…then some folks have the temerity and audacity to ask why we us citizens get all pissed off at the government.

I meannn… even big financial institutions or corporations could process a refund check faster than these jamokes. 

2) Thom Hartmann, from “Truthout”, recently published these thoughts…

  • Our economy has been struggling since the 2009 financial crash, but the banksters who caused that crash are raking in record wsj-bankprofits2013-638x271profits.
  • In the second quarter of 2013, American banks reported a combined profit of $40.24 billion.
  • That figure was only slightly lower than the $40.36 billion in profits reported during the first quarter of last year, which was the largest quarterly profit in the 23 years that SNL Financial has been keeping records.
  • The median American household earns less than $32,000 a year, and millions are still out of work.

Simply put, what Thom is saying is that the jamokes… gonna be a lot o jamokes getting wrote up about today, folks, because I am righteously pissed and on a soapbox… who fucked up our economy and our lives are raking it in bigger and better than ever. 

And, all due to the fact that the government… really meaning us… who pay the taxes… bailed their asses out in the first place. 

I am gonna say this bluntly and in words that I believe am factual… government of, for, and by the people is a farce… it is Big Business and Big Finance that runs the county and makes the laws/rules and they just allow us to think we have a say in anything. 

Oh, maybe on small government levels we can have some influence… ya know… an ordinance here or there. And maybe, if, an issue gets really big and peeps really make a big enough stink about it then maybe we can “effect” some sort of change… even on a ntional level… but… it’s all window dressing and the stuff that really matters… who controls the wealth… is out of our hands and decided by Big Business and Big Finance.

Been to the supermarket lately? Been pricing any big market stuff lately? Buying any goods or services whatsoever? Everything costs more than it did just a year or so ago… a lot more.

How your paycheck looking? Go up much during that same time period?

Mine sure as hell didn’t… and… I’m guessing a lot others reading this have not either.

bailout-bonus-2Or… as Thom says on “Truthout”… “The billionaires and Wall Street gamblers rigged the system to benefit themselves at the expense of our nation… their greed is all around us. The banksters gambled with the security of our housing market, and when they lost, Americans lost their homes and the degenerate gamblers got a bail out. The corporate elite have demanded higher and higher executive pay while helping to shrink the size and value of Americans’ paychecks. The billionaires rail against government handouts… they benefit from some of the largest tax breaks and subsidies in our nation. And, now, the too-big-to-jail banks are reporting record profits while they screw the rest of us with ridiculous fees and exorbitant interest rates. It doesn’t have to be this way. Only decades ago, we had regulations in place to prevent all of this, and Americans stood together to demand the salaries, protections, and services they deserved. We can do it again. Let’s make our economy work for us by organizing, unionizing, and standing up to banksters once again.”

Here’s my take on this… things gonna get a lot worse before they even come close to getting better because us folks… American citizens… don’t ever seem to get our shit together enough to demand stuff change.

And… I think it’s gonna take some excrement hitting the fan… and some folks taking it to the streets… before the government even comes close to doing what Thom suggests…. 

Now… having said all that… read this morsel, my dear young and old MacDuffs… 

DOJSettlement-300x213

3) The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) announced on Thursday (8/21) that Bank of America (BOA) has agreed to pay $16.65 billion to settle an investigation into its practices… aka, allegations it sold toxic mortgage-Deptofjustice-020912backed securities and other financial products in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. BOA will pay out $9.65 billion in cash and another $7 billion in direct consumer relief, according to sources familiar with the deal. 

This is the largest civil settlement ever between a single firm and the U.S. government. 

For BOA this makes it more than $60 billion has spent to resolve legal issues stemming from the financial crisis… the most by any U.S. bank.

BOA said this DOJ settlement is expected to reduce its third-quarter pre-tax earnings by $5.3 billion and negatively affect earnings per share by approximately 43 cents per share after taxes. 

The agreement marks the latest in a series of Department of Justice legal actions focused on financial institutions whose marketing and sale of risky mortgage-backed securities contributed to a real estate market collapse amid the 2008 financial crisis.economy

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a national consumer group, noted that a portion of the Bank of America settlement was expected to be tax-deductible. A senior analyst with the consumer group said, “To understand how significant the BOA settlement really is, people need to ask how many billions the bank is allowed to write off as tax deductions, and how much of the announced figure includes ‘fake costs’ … costs the bank would have incurred anyway to protect its bottom line.”

In other words how much do these fines really punish the institution and how much do they really hurt their profit margin?financial-crisis-2008

For your perusal… in July 2014, Bank of America reported a profit of $2.29 billion, compared with $4.01 billion a year earlier.

In November 2013, JP Morgan agreed to a $13 billion settlement to resolve similar charges by the DOJ. That fine came right after a $4.5 billion settlement with institutional investors who suffered losses on mortgage securities purchased from JP Morgan in the run-up to the 2009 financial crisis.

JP Morgan earned $5.3 billion in the final three months of 2013… after it adjusted for the monetary penalties it was assessed.

In July 2014, DOJ and Citigroup reached a $7 billion settlement for its involvement in the 2008 financial crisis.

In 2014 1Q Citigroup’s net profit was $3.9 billion.

In 2014 Q2 profits fell 96% but when you exclude the $7 billion mortgage settlement with the Justice Department and other charges it topped analysts’ estimates for Q2.

In English… they still made about $156 million in the second quarter of 2014. 

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Now… let me suggest that if these institutions… as well as other large financial institutions never face any penalties that hurt their bottom line… their profits… so much so that it makes them rethink how they do business then what is there to stop them for taking another chance to continue doing business in a shady, unethical and shoddy manner?

If, they don’t get caught? The rewards are astounding.

If, they do get caught? It makes them no never mind… they still rake in some nifty profits.

As for the argument that if they fail then it’s “Katy bar the door” because it will be hell to pay as the economy goes totally into the toilet.

Have you looked around the county lately… been seeing the lines at the food banks? If, not personally, then, at least in the newspapers or the nightly news? article-0-1B9A3E1500000578-666_634x385

As I have mentioned previously… the cost of goods and services?

Your bank accounts?

How much worse can it get?

If the penalties don’t fit the crime then the crimes will never stop.

But, maybe the problem is not so much the size of the fines against the institutions but of the accountability… as in not what is being held accountable… but… who is being held accountable.

BOA… JP Morgan… Citigroup… money doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot of diddlysquat. Institutions don’t do the unethical behavior. It’s conducted by people and those people need to be held accountable…

They need to face serious jail time.

If, they don’t? Then, why expect anything to change?

If, some folks are not held accountable for conducting their business in an unethical manner then who will be? Who will answer for the wrong doing? And… again… why would anyone expect anything to change going forward?

Orange jumpsuits and chains and cuffs time. 

Okay, maybe not for corporate crime but it should would look nice for three or four of the bigwig SOBs to appear on the 6 o’clock news being transported to prison that way, eh?

3) Hedy Epstein has been protesting against injustice since she was a teenager. Hedy has been taken away by cops during some of those protests. 

On August 18 (Monday), in downtown St. Louis, during a rally against Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to send the National Guard into Ferguson she got cuffed and hauled off to pokey one more time. 

Hedy Epstein being arrested
Hedy Epstein being arrested

Hedy added… “The police officers weren’t violent or anything like that, but they put the handcuffs on me pretty tight. “I have been arrested before. The bruises will go away.” 

Hedy is now 90. 

Hedy Epstein is a German Jew who fled to England as a child before World War II started. Why is sort of damn obvious to anyone who has ever listened to a basic history lesson about WWII. 

In fact, her parents and other relatives were murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz. 

Some of the protests she has been involved with might also raise an eyebrow or two… before St. Louis… Epstein has taken part in protests against the Israeli bombing of Palestinians in Gaza.

I take it Hedy is her own woman and she can think for herself.  

Epstein, who adopted NYC… the Big Apple… as her home since 1948 said she has protested against what she sees as injustice since I was a teenager. She said, “I didn’t think I would still be doing this when I was 90. But we have to stand up for what’s right.”

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”Martin Luther King  

Dr. King would be proud.

4) I’m gonna make this real clear from the get go… when it comes to cops I got a real love/hate thing about them.

I have had my bad times… been subjected to police brutality… without getting into any detail trust me when I say some LAPD kicked my ass for no other reason because they felt like it and they could do it with impunity… and I have been, during the same LAPD incident, falsely arrested. 

But, who the hell is gonna take the word of a (1969) homeless, hippie, street kid over some self respecting jailLA cops? 

Long story short… after being threatened further in an interrogation room I was tossed into a community cell with about 48 other guys… one of only two white guys by the way… and, that’s another story entirely… (Let’s just say my time spent in LA was life changing to say the least… I began to see things a lot differently than I had previously)… and, was released the next day… no charges… no explanation … just “…you’re free to go; sign here for your stuff.” 

And, then in NYC… ’bout 5 or 6 years later… in Alphabet City… East Village… doing something kinda illegal… let’s just say I was engaging in some inner city commerce… when things turned bad and some blood got spilled… I booked… holding my bloody arm… out into the street and smack dab into a fortuitously passing NYPD patrol car. 

NYPD blasé attitude… rolls down window and looks at me… “Problem?” 

“I been stabbed…” 

Sleepily and sorta dubiously, cop says… “Where?”

I raise my arm, remove my hand and blood is streaming down my arm… He gets out of the car… opens rear door and says “Get in…” bellevue_ER_sign

The rest is a blur until we get to Bellevue and the cop, and his partner, rush me through emergency to get immediate attention. One very deep puncture wound and a few superficial slices on my knuckles. 

Now, I don’t know if these cops saved my sorry little punk-ass butt but they certainly took me from a bad situation to one that was a lot better and they did it without asking just what in the hell I was doing in that part of the woods… young white dude from Connecticut and all. 

So… again… I am conflicted about cops and how I feel.

Now… Let’s understand this, also… when peeps get together and decide to live in communities… social structures… some rules are needed and a way to enforce them rules is also needed. 

Enter police forces. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the folks who wear the unis of some of them police forces don’t always understand the real job cops are to do… preserve the peace and make sure folks follow the agreed upon rules with a minimum of grief. 

That principle of being a police office… aka peace officer… sometimes escapes some of the boys in blue and as a result there are just some bad cops… lot fewer cops that way now than there was before, to my way of thinking, but they still be out there. Just pick up any newspaper on any given day. 

Latest case in point… article in the NYDN on Thursday (8/21) said that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) suspended an officer who straddled a woman on a freeway shoulder and punched her lights out… repeatedly in the head. 390-chp-0820

Daniel Andrew is the idiot’s name. 

And, yep… he was videotaped… on July 1 he got taped beating on a 51-year-old woman. The victim is seen at one point being hit over and over and over by the dude’s flailing fists as she screams and fights to get free. 

And, yeppers… it went viral on YouTube and the expected furor was soon heard and seen and addressed to the LA authorities. 

The CHP’s criminal investigation of the videotaped beating was given to the LA County DA and charges are probably gonna be filed but at the time of the article… nothing yet. 

Andrew was asked by someone, most likely internal affairs… WTF??? Why? 

He claimed he was trying to protect the woman, who was wandering into traffic lanes. 

God help me but the only thing that entered my brain when I read those words was… the Monty Python Dead

Monty Python
Monty Python

Parrot routine… 

His words are as absurd as that routine is. 

If that tape is real… and, it appears it is… then, the LA DA’s office better damn well throw the book at the sorry assed idjit… 

Police peeps are necessary but they can’t be going around indiscriminately putting ass whompings on folks… especially folks like a 51-year old woman. 

We got bad guys doing enough of that. We need some good guys to protect us from them there bad guys. If cops gonna be bad guys, too, then, how we gonna tell one from the other and who gonna protect us from them bad guys? 

When cops get caught being bad guys… I mean real bad guys doing really criminal type shit… they need to be held to a higher standard and scrutiny and excoriated from the police force so the good cops can be doing their jobs and protecting the peace.  

Please follow this link for this writer’s op-ed companion piece on police forces… http://7poundbag.com/2014/08/27/wtf-op-ed-august-27-2014-police-needs/

5) A South Carolina high school kid, Steve Stone, fulfilled an assignment by writing a story about killing his neighbor’s pet dinosaur with a gun. 

School officials took him aside and said WTF… and called the cops. 

Here’s the skinny… Stone’s class was given an assignment to write a few sentences about themselves, and to list a “status” as lf they were doing up something on Facebook.

The kid wrote “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur.” And, then in his status said… “I bought the gun to take care of the business.” alex-stone

I know folks are real damn sensitive anytime guns are mentioned… especially when school kids are involved. And, I understand that once the word was used it was a teacher’s responsibility to flag it and check the stuff for any possible trouble brewing… but… come on this really does seem like a kid’s wry sardonic sense of humor being exposed here. 

I mean dinos are sort of… well dead… expired… extinct… so… a neighbor wouldn’t have one in the first place. And… maybe he shouldn’t brought the gun into the entire thing but… seriously…how the hell else ya’ll gonna go about killing a big mean assed JP-Velociraptorsvelociraptor or some other gnarly old dinosaur if you ain’t packing some sort of heat?

His mom said… “I could understand if they made him rewrite it because he did have ‘gun’ in it…” Then she said… “I mean first of all we don’t have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he’s not even old enough to buy a gun.” 

Well… ok… I go with the first piece of logic… I said the same myself… 

Butttt… there are ways, even for a sixteen-year-old, to get a gun… so that part of her logic don’t wash.

Again, I understand once the word appeared the teacher needed to do due diligence but after they checked it out and it was obvious it was just somebody taking an assignment and running with it a little over the top… I mean… come on… the cops… ya’ll go get the cops involved? 

Now, of course, I wasn’t privy to what all went down before and after the cops got there, but, it appears one thing led to another and young Alex… all 16-years-old Alex… suffers a little from a predilection a lot kids his age have… smartmouthitis… and… he got his ass pinched for disorderly conduct after he argued with the officers. 

So, maybe Alex was a little sarcastic and he ran with his assignment a little further than school peeps liked and they really overreacted by calling in the police. 

And, maybe Alex has a bit of wise ass in him that he should think about corralling depending on certain situations. 

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Comments

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5 Comments

  1. Great stuff as always. Chanel Iman is hot.

    That Square Knight guy is an idiot.

    Great as always.

  2. Even when Obama does the right thing, it doesn’t look like the right thing, or folks (Repubs) say it took him long enough to do the right thing. I can’t stand it.
    And that stuff about the Banks and their profits? If they’re doing this under a Dem President, can you imagine what they’d be getting away with under a Repub President?
    Good luck with your Medicare refund. Pardon me if I feel you’ll be waiting longer than 3 months…more like a you should live so long time frame..

  3. Like I alluded to in the column… if the check takes longer than 3 months then it just proves the point that the government is incompetent and run by bureaucratic idiots.

  4. So I send an email to my congressman, Jim Himes, explaining the situation with my money and Medicare problem. Wanna know what happened?
    He send’s me an email back and says he would love to check into my problem, blah, blah, blah… just fill out the attached form which says you (meaning me) authorize his office to look into my records.
    Ummmm…. right another form to take up more time and create more paperwork.
    Anyone seeing a connection here and one reason why government can’t get shit done and why they seem to piss money down the toilet?

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