It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe…
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance.
I’m still recovering from my recent trip to FINCON13 in St. Louis this past weekend, so I’m a bit behind the 8-ball. Yes, again.
By the way, while I was there, yours truly won the Plutus Award for Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog! Hard to believe, I know.
Anyway, thank you to everyone who voted for me. Your checks are in the mail.
OK, off we go …
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From May 2009:
How to Avoid Neighbor Conflicts When It’s Time to Build a New Fence – The true test of any neighbor-to-neighbor relationship comes when it’s time to build or replace a fence.
Last Week’s Poll Results
How old were you when you got your first ticket for a driving infraction?
- 19 or younger. (35%)
- I’ve never gotten a ticket! (27%)
- Twentysomething (24%)
- Thirtysomething (9%)
- 40 or older. (5%)
More than 300 people responded to last week’s question. Like the plurality of readers who took the time to answer my poIl, I got my first moving violation (for speeding) when I was 19 years old. As for those of you who haven’t gotten a ticket yet, don’t get too smug. For most of you, it just means you haven’t been caught yet!
The Question of the Week
Credits and Debits
Credit: Insurance regulators are warning Americans that this month’s Obamacare roll-out has opened the door for so-called “bad actors.” Too bad they didn’t warn Americans about the bad actors in Washington DC who were pushing all of Obamacare’s “benefits” before it became the law of the land.
Debit: How bad has the Obamacare roll out been? For their part, Consumer Reports was urging people to stay away from the snake-bitten federal Obamacare exchange until the software gets fixed. Don’t hold your breath.
Credit: And government officials say they’re now initiating a “tech surge” that will consist of the “best and brightest” who, they seem to think, will fix in two months what couldn’t be correctly built after three years of effort. Right.
Debit: Then again, I guess “fixed” is in the eye of the beholder. After all, if you ask the usual Obamacare cheerleaders, most will still tell you that the President’s signature law “fixed” our old healthcare system — despite the pathetic slow-motion train wreck that continues to unfold before our eyes.
Credit: If the government can’t even handle a simple website release, how can anyone say they will improve something as complex as our national healthcare system, which currently constitutes 17% of the US economy — and is expected to top 20% by 2020?
Credit: Heck, things are so bad that real-life Obamacare enrollees are now considered an “urban legend” by some. For example, as of Thursday, there were still zero Obamacare enrollees in Oregon. And you thought Bigfoot was tough to find.
Credit: That’s not to say Obamacare enrollees don’t exist; they do. There just aren’t a lot of them. Despite government requests to ix-nay the Obamacare-way igures-fay, North Dakota reported that, after three weeks, they had, drum roll please … 14 Obamacare enrollments. Obviously, the good folks in the Flickertail State don’t understand Pig Latin.
Debit: There are plenty of other dismal numbers to report. For example, under Obamacare, premiums for young healthy people will jump in 45 of the 50 states. Apparently, nobody told the President this, because he told everyone Obamacare would lower premiums by an average of $2500.
Debit: Meanwhile, thanks to Obamacare, more than a million Americans who purchase their own health insurance have already received cancellation notices — and 16 million more are at risk. Ironically, more people have lost insurance under Obamacare than have acquired it.
Credit: So much for the President’s promise — repeated over and over and over and over again for Obamacare — that, “If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”
Debit: This is what happens, folks, when a partisan majority of Congress foolishly decides to approve a 2500-page healthcare bill — in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, under politically ugly circumstances — so we could all, um, see what’s in it. I know.
Debit: Some prominent Obamacare defenders are so desperate that they’ve resorted to retweeting any morsels of good news they can find on Twitter — even though they’re misleading and provide false impressions that the healthcare exchange is actually working.
Debit: Incredibly, when it comes to the bungled Obamacare exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is confidently telling everyone, “Don’t believe what you heard.” Apparently, she’s learned a few tricks from Baghdad Bob.
Credit: Perhaps the Secretary’s claim would have been more believable if she had said, “Don’t believe what you heard. Period.” Hey, it worked for the President.
Debit: Speaking of Baghdad Bob, CNN reports that Obamacare is “not the driving factor” behind higher healthcare premiums. The “real” reason: “Health care costs are rising because the economy is improving so people are going to the doctor more.” How about that.
Debit: In fact, the economy is doing so well that the government has spent $3.7 trillion on means-tested welfare programs over the past five years, the number of Americans NOT in the labor force is at an all-time high, and the Fed is afraid to begin tapering — let alone quit outright — its $85 billion per month quantitative easing program.
Debit: Unfortunately, Obamacare was a bait and switch scam and Americans are now stuck with lots of broken promises. Only the most committed ideologues continue to deny the obvious: Your current healthcare plan isn’t sacrosanct; you may lose your doctor; it isn’t cheaper; it won’t reduce our budget deficits … and it probably won’t reduce the number of uninsured.
Debit: Now that we finally know what’s really in it, it’s safe to say that the so-called Affordable Care Act is neither affordable or caring. In fact, for almost everyone who previously had insurance, Obamacare is bad medicine. Period.
By the Numbers
More on the debacle that is Obamacare:
$44,680 Annual income where individuals are not eligible for federal subsidies.
30 million Number of Americans, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who will remain uninsured under Obamacare in 2021.
20 million Number of Americans who the CBO projects could lose their employer-based coverage by 2019.
11,588,500 Number of words in Obamacare’s 109 regulations. In all, the regulations are spread out over 10,535 pages.
62% Average cost increase for the least expensive Obamacare plan for women, compared to the cheapest plan offered in a given state under the old system.
99% Average cost increase for the least expensive Obamacare plan for men, compared to the cheapest plan offered in a given state under the old system.
15 The number of unelected officials that will be in charge of cutting Medicare payments for millions of seniors under Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.
$8000 Average annual deductible for 21 of the 22 lowest-priced Obamacare family-coverage plans offered for Cook County, Illinois residents. (That’s on top of the annual premiums.)
Other Useless News
Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 5318 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):
- Tired of Airport Hassles? Try a Private Jet! (No, Really.)
- My Dumbest Money Mistakes, Part 1
- My Dumbest Money Mistakes, Part 2
- How Cheaper Gas Ultimately Costs You More
- How I Live on Less Than $40,000 Annually: Lynsey from Minnesota
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Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not! You can reach out to me at: Len@LenPenzo.com
I get a lot of spam in my inbox. Usually, it’s the product of folks who aren’t very fluent in English. Here’s one I got from Breast Actives:
“Whoah. This blog is excellent!! Stay up the great work!”
There’s no need to patronize. You had me at “Breast Actives.”
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.