By on August 4, 2017

2007 2008 Nissan Altima (public domain)

A few years ago I heard the phrase “future time orientation” and in that moment the scales, as they say, dropped from my eyes. I’d always known the concept but I didn’t realize it had an actual name. Well, it does, and that phrase is “future time orientation.” Put simply, it’s how real the future is to you, and how much thoughts of the future affect your present behavior.

The more I’ve read about future time orientation, the more I realize it is pretty much the defining characteristic of a human being. The more real the future is to you, the harder you will work, the more you will save, and the more you will moderate your behavior. Lack of future time orientation damn near qualifies as a mental illness and it turns you into a loser in any case. I can speak personally about that.

When my grandfather was 45 years old, he was just eight years from a fully-funded retirement that would see him driving Cadillacs and enjoying life without reservations until he died well into his nineties. When my father was 45, he had practiced 20 years of fiscal discipline. After twenty further years of fiscal discipline he retired to a plantation where he aimlessly steers a Benz between the gym and the golf course every day.

I, on the other hand, have more than one hundred pairs of dress shoes and I’ve spent enough money on racing to pay off my house three times over. I will have to work until the day I die because every time I’ve had money in my pocket it’s turned into a Porsche or a Kawasaki or a Savile Row suit or a massive house party with free liquor and steaks for 150 people. I have almost zero future time orientation. The only reason I pay my bills is because I’ve always managed to have a woman in the house to remind me to pay my bills. Otherwise, they wouldn’t get paid and I would just buy a bunch of ZX-10RR Winter Livery Snowflake Editions. Actually, as of this writing I think my son has more money in the bank than I do, and he is eight years old. He will be retired at 54. He can come visit me at the Wal-Mart, where I will be a greeter.

As low as my future time orientation is, however, there are people out there who are even worse. And you can actually identify them from a distance on the freeway.


Here’s an unpleasant question: Did your last employer demand a credit check before he would hire you? More and more employers are doing that. Does it make you nervous? It should — even if you have outstanding credit. I’ve spent 20 years actively battling credit bureaus for one reason and one reason only: medical collections.

I haven’t paid a loan, credit card, or any other financial agreement late since 1995 — but every one of the dozen-plus times I’ve been in the hospital for impact trauma of one type or another, I’ve had “balance billers” come after me for mystery medical bills of dubious provenance. When I refuse to pay them, they report me to the credit bureau. In part, this is why I’m not a big fan of so-called Obamacare, which has cost me nearly $30,000 of additional cash outlays at hospitals compared to my employer-provided health plans prior to 2010.

But that’s not really the issue. The issue is that it’s very possible to come out of the hospital owing thousands of dollars to people who don’t even bother to contact you until six months after the fact, long after your insurance company has decided that the window for payment has closed. They do this on purpose, because that way they can charge you the full rate for the services instead of the insurance rate. And if you have high future time orientation — if you can accurately gauge the effect that a lower credit report will have on your life in three, five, or seven years — you will pay. Most people don’t. And it affects their Equifax.

As my brother likes to say, in 2017 the average American has below-average credit. And it’s costing him opportunities in life. The problem is that understanding your credit and your credit rating is simply too hard for people with low future time orientation. In fact, my experience working with the poor in several different jobs — check cashing, subprime auto credit, drug counseling and rehab — suggests many of them are no more able to understand the future than I am to speak ancient Provencal. They are really only able to plan one or two weeks ahead. They like to budget on a weekly basis, because the numbers and the agreements are easier to grasp. There’s a reason that buy-here-pay-here lots and rent-to-own furniture places take weekly payments. A monthly payment is too hard for people to understand. Some months are four weeks and some are five and some are halfway.

Which leads me to a conclusion that is faintly horrifying, but which has been proven out in my personal observation as well as in formal surveys: Low-income people have worse driving records, are more likely to have a suspended license, and are more likely to engage in risky behavior on the roads. Some of it is no doubt due to institutional bigotry or whatever, but a lot of it is simply due to low future time orientation. I’ll use myself as an example.

Until my son was conceived nine years ago, I regularly drove at speeds exceeding 150 mph on public roads. Some of the B&B got very agitated with me for talking about it. I ran from the police when they tried to pull me over. I pulled some of the dumbest stunts you can imagine on motorcycles, behind the wheel of (my own) performance cars, and in vehicles owned by the dealerships that employed me. I did this because I was hugely indifferent to whether I lived to see the next sunrise, and consequently I was hugely indifferent as to whether you, my fellow motorist, lived to see the next sunrise.

Now that I have a child who depends on me for a square meal and four years at Yale, I drive like the proverbial old lady. I look both ways before I cross the street. I don’t lose my temper with people, even when they provoke me. Two weeks ago, I was the third car in a three-car lineup on a German autobahn. When the de-restricted section appeared, my companions accelerated to 185 mph immediately. I got up to about 90 and I was like, “eh, what’s the point?” At which point I slowed back down to 75. I don’t want to die on the autobahn. Even if that’s a cool way to die. I want to watch my son graduate from high school. A few weeks ago I was riding my ZX-14R down an open freeway and I saw a cop with his radar gun at which point I dropped three gears, started to roll the throttle for a bit of the old ultra-piggy-ducking… and then I realized I was doing 68 in a 65. That’s the unwelcome impact of additional future time orientation.

Not everybody feels that way. There are still people out there doing outrageously stupid things on the road. And although stereotypical rich boys in Dad’s AMG E63 account for some percentage of those people, let’s face it: the vast majority of cars you see absolutely shitting all over the traffic laws tend to have worn-out shocks, a bunch of bumper stickers, and at least two previous owners. Even when the cars are new, there’s a pattern. Last weekend, I decided to note the make and model of every car I saw driving aggressively or dangerously during a 680-mile road trip. Anybody want to guess which make and model of car was far and away the most recent “late model” seen tailgating, speeding in the right lane, and swerving without signals?

It was the Nissan Altima.

Make of that what you will, but ask anybody in the business what mid-size sedan is most consistently sold to people with poor credit, and chances are they’ll tell you it’s the Altima. Is there a real correlation here? I can’t say for sure. Somebody should do the math. I wonder if the insurance companies have already done the math. I can tell you this: if your credit score drops, your insurance will go up. The people who deal in future payments are allergic to people who think the future will never come.

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306 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Criminal Minds of Traffic and Credit...”


  • avatar
    mikey

    Great read Jack …I haven’t the time to comment..I’ll check in later the comments here will be priceless.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Great piece. As someone who enjoyed single life longer than most of my peers, I’ve comfortably resigned myself to the slow lane to enjoy it.
    Part of it was premature death of my own father, I tend to take minimal things for granted, and probably way over-insured . As a Gen-Xer ,I tend to be more fiscally conservative, having seen 2 big recessions in my lifetime.
    I’d have to say the Altima observation is spot -on as this has to be followed by Kia sedans. Can you really lease a new car for 100.00/month?
    These would be the newer cars poorly driven, but older variants of 2000 era Montes, Grand Prix, etc. and any Taurus are a close 3rd.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      “…but older variants of GM A bodies, and any Taurus are a close 3rd.”

      Here in Eastern Kentucky, I would say the jacked up 4 wheel drive trucks tends to be the *sshole driver’s vehicle of choice.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Can you really lease a new car for 100.00/month?”

      Yes, if you want to get ripped off. Otherwise, you’re in for around two-fity, including taxes.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      While I can agree about low-cost-of-entry vehicles being the most common violators of standard driving practices like maintaining safe following distance and proper use of turn signals, I find that the worst behaviors are usually committed by drivers of more expensive vehicles like BMWs and luxury SUVs. These are the vehicles most likely to be weaving across all lanes at high speeds, squeezing into tiny gaps in traffic that force other drivers to hit their brakes, or flying past traffic that’s already doing a solid 10-15 mph over the posted limit like it’s standing still. The craziest stunt that I ever saw was a BMW 5-series pass heavy traffic that was already doing 80-85 mph in a 55 mph zone, on the left shoulder, on a hill, on a sweeping left curve, at what must have been 100 mph or more. I suspect that these drivers believe that their pricey vehicles entitle them to more of the road than the rabble that is interfering with their desires, or that the high price tag on their vehicles means that they are less bound by the laws of man and physics.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Selfishness is absolutely the main cause of this kind of reckless behavior. You are more important, your time is more important, you should be able to do what you want, others be damned.

        • 0 avatar
          No Nickname Required

          By my observation it’s the drivers of large suvs, Tahoes, Suburbans, Expeditions, etc, who drive like dingbats. They pass illegally, they don’t bother to use their turn signals, and they are just generally terrible drivers.

          (This is not to say that I never drive like a dingbat, but at least when I do I’m not driving a large SUV.)

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “I suspect that these drivers believe that … the high price tag on their vehicles means that they are less bound by the laws of man and physics”

        In a very real way, it does.

        Having money and credibility goes a long way with mitigating the degree to which “the laws of man” apply to a person.

        And a late-model luxury car would likely have safety technology that would insulate the passengers from the laws of physics if the worst should happen.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Guilty as charged of using the right shoulder a few times in my driving career!

        But in my case, in Northwest Ohio, the traffic most certainly wasn’t going OVER the limit! (For the Ohio Highway Patrol, speed traps are a waste of time! The underposted speed limits are the only law anyone follows! Bonus points for clogging the left lane! Hat trick for entering the freeway at 50mph! Aaaaasnnnd the best one of all: making said sloth like entrance where the onramp dumps into the HIGH-SPEED lane!)

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        And goddamn near murdering pedestrains. I’m not your Range Rover’s speed bump, lady: use that ride height to see if anyone’s stepping off the curb before making that high-speed left-hander through the intersection, m’kay?

    • 0 avatar
      delow48

      I would add the Gen 3 and 4 Honda Accord to the crazy hooptie list.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “future time orientation” – That explains why my wife and I are splitting. I see retirement with zero bills and 2 sons to help get through college and she sees a trip to Jamaica, New York, Mexico et cetera any time the bank account has 3 consecutive digits in the black.

    I’ve been on a few trips where all the douche bags I encountered were in dually pickups. As a rule, the most aggressive drivers I encounter are in vehicles with aftermarket exhaust.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yep. probably some coal-roller named “Cody,” about 22 years old, just needing to p!ss in everyone’s faces with clouds of black smoke.

      nothing worse than a young wannabe alpha male.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      @LouBC – sounds like my ex.

      That’s why I voluntarily took on every dime of debt that she had racked up in my name. I didn’t trust her to payoff anything that was split 50/50.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @PrincipalDan – I’m going that route too. I get all the debt but there is an up side. It severely limits any access she has to any of my pension contributions and assuming the debt load is cheaper than going 50/50 and having to buy a new house.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      She wants to go to Jamaica, New York? In Queens?
      Heh.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “As a rule, the most aggressive drivers I encounter are in vehicles with aftermarket exhaust.”

      Good point. Although it’s possible we notice them because they make it impossible not too, while more stealthy crappy drivers may get ignored. That said, yeah, whenever there’s a loud exhaust it’s a pretty safe bet the driver is driving like a douche.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        It’s pretty much a requirement at that point. I’ve driven friend’s vehicles with loud exhausts and it’s embarrassing making all that noise just to slowly accelerate with the Civics and Corollas surrounding you.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      “That explains why my wife and I are splitting. I see retirement with zero bills and 2 sons to help get through college and she sees a trip to Jamaica, New York, Mexico et cetera any time the bank account has 3 consecutive digits in the black.”

      I had one of those for nearly three years. She seemed to think that a hard-working man was also a sugar-daddy. Ain’t the case. I gave her the house – which she lost in six months, having no idea what a house costs to own and run – and got my truck back after the cops gave her 24 hours to do so. Everything else I owned ‘didn’t ever exist’, apparently, but five years later she’s living in her sister’s basement; unemployed and unemployable; no car, as she doesn’t understand maintenance; and will be forever childless.

      I have a beautiful three-year-old boy with my girlfriend; a house on a golf course ( no access but no rear neighbours ); 19 Litres of motive displacement ( plus a company truck ); and a few bucks in the bank that the ex cannot touch.

      I think I won this round of life.

      Moral: Get shot of her soonest.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I dated this breed of woman in my younger years. Once I got a good look at her behavior after college, I knew we would never last. Priorities for her were entirely different than the woman I eventually married.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Aggressive driving is a type of bad driving, it is not the only type. For aggressive drivers I think aftermarket exhaust is a one-to-one correlation. For other types of bad driving, you have inattentive young people, immigrants who literally had a “translator” give them the answers to the test, and little old ladies (and men!) with their hands at 10 and 2 staring intently ahead, oblivious to everything else around them.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        Before I was able to afford new; I always put a nice sounding aftermarket exhaust on my vehicles; but I was far from aggressive behind the wheel. Of course I was more concerned with damaging the vehicle than myself, but what else would a 19yr old kid think?

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Lou_BC, A trip to Jamaica, New York isn’t such a treat…it means you’ve barely left the NYC airport! ;-)

      Yes. Aftermarket exhaust in my area inevitably involves removal of cats. Japanese car enthusiasts are by miles the biggest a*holes in this regard: every slammed WRX, bespoilered Mitsubishi, and ancient VTEC Honda I see is spewing pollution like a ’53 Studebaker with bad points. Drive an hour north into the ag region, and the equivalent is lifted brodozers–old gas pickups shorn of cats, and newer dually diesels rolling coal.

      Which leads to another theory: for every inch that someone alters their vehicle’s ride height, their douchiness doubles.

  • avatar
    alexrcp

    This was a fantastic read. Thank you. Your comment about “I, on the other hand, have more than one hundred pairs of dress shoes and I’ve spent enough money on racing to pay off my house three times over. I will have to work until the day I die ” made me literally LOL.

    Thank you.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Can confirm the Altima = needlessly aggressive driver with poor credit stereotype. Used to see it again and again on the drive home to our rental in the ‘hood. Fantastic article, Jack.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      Can’t argue the Altima, but here in the SF Bay Area it’s pretty much any small/micro Japanese/Korean sedan; esp. those with a V6. They can give my ’08 Mustang GT a run for the money (but I usually let them go so they can find the speed traps).

  • avatar
    JimZ

    IME a lot of it is by people who are accustomed to living and driving around in, shall we say, less than desirable areas. if you’ve grown up around the whole “when driving inside Detroit, you never stop at red lights and blow through there as quickly as possible” thing, then that’s how you drive everywhere.

    “In part, this is why I’m not a big fan of so-called Obamacare, which has cost me nearly $30,000 of additional cash outlays at hospitals compared to my employer-provided health plans prior to 2010.”

    consider that without the ACA you might not have been able to get insurance at all. You’re pretty good at busting up your body in expensive ways.

    “Now that I have a child who depends on me for a square meal and four years at Yale, I drive like the proverbial old lady. I look both ways before I cross the street. I don’t lose my temper with people, even when they provoke me.”

    which is why it’s my feeling that what “emasculates” a man isn’t women or “feminists.”

    it’s *kids.*

    also why the stereotypical “mid-life” crisis isn’t about feeling old, it’s that now that the kids are gone a guy can afford more of the stuff he wanted when he was younger.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “consider that without the ACA you might not have been able to get insurance at all. You’re pretty good at busting up your body in expensive ways.”

      LOL

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I’ve been on the same employer sponsored plan for the last 19 years, and it’s gotten a lot more expensive over the years, but the worst of benefit cuts and increased out of pocket amounts were in the early and middle 00’s.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        This.

        And this is also the beginning of the…ahem…”consumer driven” plans. Translation: the “consumer” better not get seriously ill or he’s gonna have to cough up five figures in deductibles.

        To deal with healthcare, we have to deal with cost. Insurance is just a bandaid, really.

        • 0 avatar

          I lost my employer provided plan when the “employer mandate” kicked in. I went from $36/month to $78/month subsidized. It then jumped to $118/month and then $249/month subsidized. I’ve come to the conclusion that one should buy their own insurance. That way if your employer changes things, you are unaffected. If you change employers, you are unaffected.

          The ACA did not make health care affordable for anyone I know – it just made it more expensive as it did not deal with the real issue: cutting the cost of healthcare (IE: hospitalization costs, office visit costs, prescription costs, etc.)

          A doctor (orthopedic surgeon) that was interviewed on a show I produce said that $65 of what her office charges is for “paperwork costs”. She suggested everyone go to paying cash. You would cut that office visit cost – in her office anyway – by $65 immediately. She felt a person would see significant saving by letting any provider – hospital, doctor, specialist – know that one was going to pay cash and demanding that the “cost of paperwork” be deducted from any bill for services rendered. Seems to make sense to me. The only caveat I can think of is you, the “customer/patient”, have to do a bit more work when dealing with the issue itself.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            That only helps if you can afford to pay cash.

            With a single-payer system, EVERYONE gets the benefit of eliminating paperwork costs: there’s only one insurer and one set of billing codes. Hospitals no longer have to hire a building full of billing specialists to navigate the intricacies of every damn insurance plan.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      JimZ – you nailed it, especially the last line. I adapted to behavior that ensured max income, max stability and least physical risk after my kids were born. Sold my motorcycle and everything. Am considering buying another motorcycle soon as they approach HS graduation.

      It wasn’t just income I needed to provide but alot of guidance in life topics. How to put up with life, how to prioritize, bracing them a bit for the tough moments in life, etc.

      I’m glad wife and I could be here to help them make decent choices so they don’t stumble into adulthood as clueless as I was.

  • avatar
    ajla

    How much future time orientation should a 30-45 year old freeter actually have?

    Might as well let that 2003 Mustang V6 go wild.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Hell if your 45 you better damn well be getting your retirement in order. You’ve got maybe one or two more flips in there (for the average schmuck) depending on how the market goes and what you can personally afford to invest before your either doomed till you slump over the desk/counter at work, get lucky (stumble on a profitable business venture, marry into money, get lucky with the death benefit or hit the lottery if your extremely lucky) or take the Smith & Wesson retirement option.

      Hell if you have kids I’d say “that talk” shouldn’t be about the consequences of the birds and the bees but Jack’s “future time orientation” – I never had kids myself but I’ve got a nephew a little behind the curve with his first job at 18 but I hammer him constantly about starting his retirement now and planning for the future in that regard.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great piece, and you’re very right. I’ve always been highly protective of my credit score, even to the point that my spouse and I maintain separate finances.

    You’re right about the Altima as well, though I pose this question – when and how did Nissan cross over from being a pretty cool, hip car maker (’80s & ’90s) to catering to the LCD? I was pretty impressed with our rental Rogue last week, but now am waiting for the ’18 CR-Vs to hit the lots even though the deals on Rogues are very enticing. Maybe that’s the problem….

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      LCD=lowest common denominator? If so, good acronym usage.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Nissan came pretty close to dying before they latched up with Renault. I think they just stopped wanting to take risks after that. the early ’90s 300ZX was bonkers (for the time,) yet its replacement was much more sedate and has been more or less neglected.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      It started about the time of their marriage to Renault. Don’t get me wrong, the ship as sinking and the Alliance saved it, but Ghosen cut costs and gave the public what they want en masse: The next evolution of a cheap car, replacing older W/N bodies, 00s Taurus, then those truly awful Mitsubishi-based cars like Avenger, and the like as the “just give me a car” choice. The trick is they’re treading on the name that had previously built itself a decent reputation.

      My brothers 2001 Altima, although having issues now (leaks coolant, needs a distributor but does run and move), is not too far off from 300k. It looks like hell outside, the paint is toast. But the inside has held up well, and still looks decently put together. Its a GLE model, fully loaded, its still runs smoothly.

      He disliked the car, but there is no denying it lasted a long time. Nothing major has been rebuilt or replaced. I wouldn’t trust a newer model with half that mileage.

      I see CVT Altimas all the time with “transmission whines” for cheap. Those, DCX-era FWD as well as V-6 LX cars, and Hyundai/Kia cars are very common with major issues at a younger age/mileage.

      Something could be said of those having poor credit not maintaining their vehicle as well, and that’s true in many cases, but the cars aren’t excessively high in miles, they don’t always look like they were abused or subjected to a horrible life. They actually still look nice in many cases.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    bad drivers: ’round here it used to be the Pontiac Grand Am and the Grand Prix. With those vehicles losing the race against rust, it seems to be mostly jacked up trucks. Also the regular WRX and just about any beaten older Audi seems to have a special amount of extra derp.

  • avatar
    MatadorX

    In Cali, the Altima driver is to be feared, avoided at all cost. I spend more time checking my rear-view than anything while driving, as many times I would have lost the corner of my rear bumper were I not the one to move out the way for the swerving Altima attempting to cut into a patch of empty freeway.

    Their not getting in an accident depends entirely upon YOU being a good driver and noting the signs of someone who truly DGAF. And should they hit you, the first words out of their mouth is “eyy no insurencia”

    Yet moonbeam decreed they should all have drivers licenses without citizenship.

    One slight tweak here, is that the very worst drivers here are also likely to have at least 1 doughnut spare, and are evenly distributed between Nissan Altima and 2nd gen Prius

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Not having a license wasn’t going to stop them from driving. At least with a license insurance is possible (though still unlikely).

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I see a car every so often on the drive home from work with expired plates, April 2017.

        You know when he’s going to get his registration renewed? When he finally gets pulled over.

        My next door neighbor hasn’t had a license in nearly a decade (he said it would cost over 2 grand to get his license back, and that was a few years/offenses ago). He still drives. If he gets pulled over, it’s just another night in jail. He doesn’t even care.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    A lot of this might just mean that the “no future orientation” crowd might have a ride of choice that varies by region. Last week, I did a Denver-St. Louis road trip, and and every single a-hole driver was piloting a newer Chevy Silverado. One got about three feet from my back bumper doing 85 and did that to every car on I-70…and he had two kids in booster seats in the back seat. Paging Charles Darwin…

    Does that mean Chevy Silverado drivers have bad credit and no future orientation? Probably not. It just means that Chevy Silverados are very, very popular in Kansas and Missouri, and thus you get more of them driven by idiots. Call it “generalization sabremetrics.”

    Altimas aren’t all that popular here in Denver, so you don’t usually see them driven that poorly. Subarus, on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      silentsod

      The amount of tailgating I encounter weekly commuting in CO drives me nuts! Pickup trucks generally are the worst offenders, followed by SUVs. They’ll even tailgate you approaching a red light…

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        You may or may not have lived in the Southeast area of Virginia but I can assure you that whatever you encounter in Colorado can be easily outdone here.

        Although to be fair you almost have to since turn signals are merely a rarely used courtesy. Case in point (and it solidified my opinion that drivers in the Chesapeake Va area are the mother f’n worst!) a bastard in a blue Dodge Dakota cut across three lanes of traffic damn near skinning the rear bumper off the car in front of me and my own front bumper to get onto an off ramp next to our lane (btw if your here you bastard I haven’t forgotten about you it was the white Mustang about two years ago when you were getting off at Battlefield)

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          At this point I just assume the driver of any Dodge truck or SUV is a giant rectal orifice. I’m probably just scarred from the time traffic stopped on the freeway…the Durango driver speeding around a blind curve only to skid to a stop behind my bumper was so enraged that my car had the nerve to be in his way that as soon as traffic started moving again he tried to run me off the road for the next 5 miles. I’m pretty sure I saw a gun, and I have yet to meet the fabled “good guy with a gun,” so…I’m not saying that’s why I went to buy underwear as soon as I shook him, but I’m not saying it wasn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      If you find yourself being tailgated on the interstate I recommend moving into the right-hand lane and letting the faster drivers by.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I see. So the guy was OK to sit three feet from my bumper at 85 mph while I was trying to *get around the semi on my right so I could move over for him*?

        Or should you give the guy in front of you a respectable distance while he gets around the guy on his right?

        Don’t comment on situations when you weren’t there. Seriously.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          I wasn’t intending that as a response to your specific story.

          If that’s the only time you’ve been tailgated in the last 6 months then good on you, you’re probably doing it right.

          But for the people (who of course aren’t you) who complain about all the aggressive tailgaters they encounter: You are likely the cause of your own problem. Either drive faster or stay in the slow lane.

          • 0 avatar
            silentsod

            If he was going 85MPH he was well over the speed limit. I travel 5-10MPH over the speed limit as well, move over to the right when I can, and still have people tailgate. When I move over (my commute has no left lane is for passing section so this is purely courtesy and not legally required), they tailgate the next person, and the next, and will weave around in traffic.

            The issue is definitely the people engaging in dangerous behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        +100. Those who bitch about being tailgated are probably driving 5 below the posted limit in the left hand lane. Move over!!!

      • 0 avatar

        I drive at about 90-95th percentile on my home turf here in Michigan. Depending on what state it is, I’ll drive from 4 over (Ohio) to 10 over in faster states. I try to avoid being the very fastest car on the road but no matter where I am I don’t dawdle in the left lane.

        I check my mirrors frequently and get over to let cars that are closing quickly pass, but if I find you tailgating me on the Insterstate it means that you can’t read traffic and couldn’t tell (or don’t care) that I can’t get over to the right safely.

        Good drivers can read traffic, don’t force things, and go with the flow.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    It never ceases to amaze me that a country as downright brilliant as the US cannot get it’s head around healthcare. It’s complicated, arduous, expensive and unfair, surely someone could just pick up the phone and call malcolm Turnbull or Treudeau and say “walk me through it”.

    I dunno, it can’t be this complicated but having your hospital visits impact your credit rating is a stark raving mad system.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      if you can’t afford insurance, you don’t deserve it.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        “if you can’t afford insurance, you don’t deserve it.”

        But the people who DO have insurance pay for those who don’t (been to an ER lately?).

      • 0 avatar
        Ostrich67

        If you have millions of citizens with nothing left to lose, you get Russia 1917, Germany 1933, Vietnam 1954, Cuba 1959, USA 20??.

        In Latin America, wealthy and upper middle class people live behind walls, have private security and armored cars and fear kidnapping for ransom. Is that what you want here?

        If my wife or child was sick and I was told, “sorry, the free market has decided that they are unworthy of life”, I’m going to pull out a gun and take what I need to save them. And I’m taking it from YOU.

        • 0 avatar

          “If my wife or child was sick and I was told, “sorry, the free market has decided that they are unworthy of life”, I’m going to pull out a gun and take what I need to save them. And I’m taking it from YOU.”

          How is that worse than Charlie Gard’s parents being told by Britain’s nationalized health system that the government health system has decided that they coudn’t take him to the U.S. for an experimental treatment?

          You think government “health” bureaucrats are going to be compassionate? Their salaries and their agency budgets/power are going to be more important than your kid. At least an insurance company has to worry about market forces, alienating customers, and bad publicity.

          Health Care was predominantly free-market prior to 1960 and people were neither dying in the streets nor threatening doctors with guns.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Give me a break. In the 60’s, that kid would have died at birth, or certainly long before the amount of time he lived. People just died back then. There were no $300K cancer treatments, no $64K per month wonder drugs (that may or may not be worth their cost). You got sick, you mostly died. If you were poor, you definitely died sooner rather than later.

            As with the example of my own Grandfather, there comes a point where you have to ask if it is worth it to extend a life. Someone not emotionally involved has to make that decision if the person in question does not have the means to pay for it out of pocket. Which for anything much more serious than a cleanly broken bone means you had best be Steve Jobs. And all the money in the world didn’t buy him very long either.

            I consider myself a fairly selfish person as a general rule, but the utter lack of compassion and empathy for the have-nots in this thread is really starting to make me sick to my stomach, and explains why the United States is one of the richest countries in the world but has the social safety net that a third world sh!thole would be ashamed of. And let’s face it, an awful lot of you posting this crap are a layoff and a little bad luck away from being a have-not if you will be honest with yourselves.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            “Health Care was predominantly free-market prior to 1960 and people were neither dying in the streets nor threatening doctors with guns.”

            I suspect it was different in poorer parts of the country.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Health Care was predominantly free-market prior to 1960 and people were neither dying in the streets nor threatening doctors with guns.”

            Here’s a true anecdote, a few years ago before a blizzard I found myself in a bar with three other people. The third person finished their drink shortly after I arrived and I was left with the bartender and this older Canadian gentleman who explained he was waiting for his son (the cook) to finish his shift.

            The Canadian explained he worked for a food additive company and somehow we got on the subject of health care. I opined on how US food is full of unhealthy things to which he agreed, but he followed it up with a “do you know why?”. He explained in Canada because health care is socialized the gov’t is incentived to only allow ingredients/additives which are known to be safe and healthy. Here in the US, “health care is a business” and he left it at that so to speak.

            In order words, your health care costs have spiked because it is intended to happen. This whole country is in practice a big corporation.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Everyone in a position of power here, with the possible exception of our head of state, knows exactly how to fix it. Multi-payer universal health care systems that we could transition to pretty easily exist all over the world. (Single-payer would be harder for us, at least in the short term, because it would put a lot of people out of work.)

      But… we just have to get past 1) the people who are happy to shut down the government because $50 of their taxes might go to someone black and 2) the doctors who might have to downgrade their GT3s to Carrera Ses in order to keep paying off their student loans.

      • 0 avatar
        soberD

        When will the average person start asking themself ‘Why does health care cost so much?’ or ‘How is it legal for the hospital to charge $30 for an asprin?’ instead of ‘Who, other than myself, is going to pay for my health care?’

        You could also replace health care with college.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          You could take that ideological approach, or you could use the approach that every other rich country in the world uses, which leads to generally better outcomes for everyone and far, far better outcomes for non-rich people. That is, paying for essential care out of taxes (with the government preventing things like $30 aspirins) and allowing rich people to buy extra private insurance or care on top of that.

          Those systems mostly work. Ours doesn’t unless you’re very rich or work for an unusually generous employer.

        • 0 avatar
          kkt

          We do ask ourselves that. A liter of saline, $500… But they’re the hospital and if you need them, you need them.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “the people who are happy to shut down the government because $50 of their taxes might go to someone black and”

        More like me as a healthy younger person being asked to pay $300+ a month for a $10k deductible policy instead of the sub $100/mo such ’emergency’ policies used to cost in Indiana, or else forfeiting 1% of my salary to the government as a penalty.

        Explain the logic of a non-taxpayer being entitled to a more comprehensive health insurance policy at almost no cost to them while I pay $300/month for an emergency plan when damn near a third of my income goes to various taxes? Shouldn’t I at least get the same coverage since I put so much more into the system? Shouldn’t someone actually contributing to the pot get at least that much respect?

        Ever-increasing Obamacare premiums is what single-handedly swayed a lot of otherwise non-political people like my brother’s wife in PA to vote for Trump (in spite of really disliking him on a personal level).

        But no, let’s play the race card, that’s worked out so well in the past, right?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “Explain the logic of a non-taxpayer being entitled to a more comprehensive health insurance policy”

          What is this a reference to? Medicaid?

          If so, it proves my point. People are happy to pay taxes for Medicaid. But they have different feelings about paying taxes for Obamacare subsidies, even though they’re paying for more or less the same thing. And the difference is in the perception (not the reality) of who is getting care. Some of the research is summarized here:

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/05/23/yes-opposition-to-obamacare-is-tied-up-with-race/?utm_term=.62f8af6e0ef9

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yes, or basically anyone in the non-tax paying category who would pay less per month and get a lower-deductible plan than I saw while pricing out options.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            This is the only place in the First World where we so carefully parse who “deserves” what. Everywhere else, it’s just an assumption that taxes, whatever the tax system may be, will pay for the basics for everyone. Even the far right in other countries doesn’t challenge the assumption.

            Personally, I think that’s a far more humane and civilized approach. Based on those countries’ experiences, I also think the higher taxes it would require would be significantly cheaper than the combination of taxes and premiums we pay now for most people, assuming that the government were actually allowed to use its negotiating power to lower the cost of care like it is everywhere else.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Why do you keep coming back to race though? I have sympathy for an old retiree, I don’t have anywhere as much sympathy for an able-bodied younger person, point blank. call it ageism maybe? Kills me to see 70 year old women still working at McDonalds, one very old lady I used to see worked 2 part time jobs, one at Meijer, one at the McDs next door. The section 8 renters across from my parents’ place who kept calling an ambulance as well as getting freebie taxi rides can rot. Unemployed idiots who got drunk and kept me up when I got off of a midnight shift (one got an ambulance ride that night for alcohol poisoning).

            I definitely consider myself of deserving an EQUAL plan to someone who puts in much less (or nothing) than I do into the system. Aren’t you for equality or something like that?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            With respect, you’re both missing the larger point, which is: WHY is insurance so expensive?

            Answer: because the COST of healthcare is out of control. And it’s out of control because the cost structure of healthcare providers is absolute insanity.

            Example: a few months ago I did a home equity line for an anesthesiologist for $200,000. The line was against his *second* vacation house. He made upwards of a million dollars a year. Why did he need the equity line? Because he had to pay off the balloon note on his Lamborghini. I am not making this up.

            Another example:
            My youngest daughter had to go to the hospital a few years back because she got depressed and made “I feel like hurting myself” threats to a counselor. The hospital put her in a plain room with nothing but a couple of couches and a TV for four hours until she could be seen by a shrink. She received no medications. No nurses or doctors saw her. Just a room, with couches and TV. The hospital sent a bill to my insurance company for *****$5,000***** for the room alone. Could the fact that the hospital was brand new at the time, and looked a lot like a freakin’ Four Seasons, have something to do with that?

            The cost structure of healthcare is WACK. It’s insane. And all insurance does is get these costs to be “affordable” for us. But it doesn’t address *why* these costs are so high to begin with. And the folks who charge us for the care will just charge whatever the insurance will pay. They raise their prices, and insurance raises theirs. What are we gonna do – pay out of pocket? Yeah, right.

            We all need to DEMAND that the cost structure of medical care drops. Want to be an anesthesiologist? Splendid. You make $250,000 a year, which is PLENTY, fella. You want to make a hospital? Splendid. Make it functional, not the JW Marriott, and charge people accordingly.

            This is the kind of stuff that needs to happen. Until then, nothing will really change.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            FreedMike I fully agree that the focus needs to be changed on why the healthcare is so expensive in the first place. That’s my take on college expenses as well. Rather than advocating to make them “free” and giving colleges carte blanche on tuition, I’d rather understand the motivations and driving forces behind the disproportionate increase in cost.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            a lot of people vastly over-estimate how much they contribute. Just look at how many people who steadfastly believe we’re criminally “over-taxed,” yet we’re in the bottom third in overall taxation compared to the rest of the world. partly because our income taxes are lower, partly because plenty of other countries don’t treat capital gains as separate from income, and partly because we have no federal sales tax/VAT.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I do suspect a large part of it is the disconnect between receiving the service and payment for it as such. If I had to pay right up front for regular visits or regular non-emergency care, you can bet I’d do some more price shopping and that practices would be more cost-competitive with each other. For colleges, if loans were not handed out willy-nilly backed up with a government guarantee but instead the bank considered each applicant (want to be an art history major? That loan is too risky, not enough job security and risk of non-payment). Perhaps colleges would be less inclined to even offer some of the totally insane off the wall majors that they must know full-well have incredibly low job placement rates. Just some musings.

            Jim, I guarantee you I’m contributing many times more than the people I’m taking issue with (who don’t just contribute little, but suck up quite a few resources).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I come back to race because I honestly think it’s the reason we don’t already have universal health care. The research is astonishing. A surprising number of people think that Obamacare is a program only for racial minorities. And even among the ones who understand how it works, it’s hard to find an explanation other than race for the difference in perception (which is enormous) between Medicaid, for the very poorest, and Obamacare subsidies, for lower- and lower-middle-income working people.

            And the fact that we don’t already have universal health care is the only reason you have to put up with those ridiculous deductibles. If the risk pool included everyone, there’d be no need for that crap. Instead, you’d pay a reasonable copay for routine stuff, like everyone in Germany, or everyone with a really good employer plan.

          • 0 avatar
            soberD

            The government is protecting the healthcare system (non-competiton) and universities (non-forgiveable loans) from the rules that every other market plays by, therefore costs skyrocket.

            Focusing on taxes, medicare, poor people, insurance premiums, etc. is just diversionary politician garbage.

            Force both to manage costs like a car company and see the debates disappear.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @gtemnykh

            Last I checked, no one died from not having a bachelor’s degree.

            I’m sorry, but this comparison isn’t even remotely valid, and the reasons become obvious with even cursory reflection. To wit: you can plan on how to best fit your college tuition into your budget, and shop the colleges that best fit your needs, but I guarantee you that you won’t be shopping hospitals if there’s a broken bone sticking out of your kid’s leg.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @FreedMike

            Fair point, I suppose I didn’t mean to 100% equate one to the other. If you’re in dire straits and need medical attention immediately, you’re not sitting there comparison shopping for weeks/months. I’m more-so referring to routine visits and check ups, the kind that people pay co-pay for and the insurer foots the rest of the bill. If we were all actually paying the itemized lists of things done during a physical or whatever we’d quickly assess options. But it’s just the standard $20 so no one even bothers to look at what the insurer is actually picking up the tab for.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Your insurer knows exactly what they are picking up the tab for, and negotiates hardcore with the providers to keep those costs down. This is why there is a radical difference in copay (and charges) between “in network” and “out of network”. Individuals have no power at all, other than to refuse treatment. I think you would find that in any given area there is rarely a radically different cost by different providers. And frankly, I’m not a doctor. If my healthcare provider says he wants to see X test results or Y procedure, then I figure he knows what he is doing.

            And even then you can get screwed – my Dr office is part of a large local hospital conglomerate. The office is in network for my employer provided insurance, and the hospital is in network. I found out the hard way that the LAB at the hospital is NOT in my insurance network, though of course nobody told me that. So on finding out that the little in-network hospital branch 1/2 mile down the street from my house can do bloodwork, I went there instead of the usual lab facility across town I always used. Got my annual blood work, thought nothing of it. Six months later I get a $250 bill from the lab. My insurer, of course, only paid them what they are willing to pay for lab tests. Because they have no agreement with that insurer, the lab cheerfully billed me for the difference. Lesson learned – ask up front, and don’t assume! But not a lesson you can use in an emergency situation.

            And to add insult to injury, because this hospital is notoriously slow in billing, AND it took months for my insurer to reject the full claim, AND then more months for them to get around to billing me, I was unable to use my HSA funds to pay that bill (past the deadline for prior year bills), and I got to eat it while losing the leftover HSA money for the previous year (would have covered it). The whole system is death by a thousand cuts.

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            Actually sometimes it works this way with many types of insurance

            Let us use auto body work as an example

            Published Rack rate price of service billed to you. Transparent when the bill is presented. $4,000

            Your deductible $750 not covered by insurer and paid by you. You think you have saved $3250

            Price negotiated by the insurer with the service provider for that service $2000.

            Yes you were covered by the insurance but not as much as you thought. Why do you think the insurer strongly encourages you to use one of their preferred providers.

            Not uncommon with price of generic prescription drugs for your co-pay to be more that the non-insurance covered price for the same drug purchased without insurance. And I don’t imagine even then you are getting the medicine for less than a large pharmacy insurer would pay

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Because this is how society is supposed to work. I, as a someone with no children and zero plans to ever have any, have to pay MANY thousands of dollars in local taxes largely to support the school system (80% of property and excise taxes goes to the school in my little burg). I personally get very little benefit out of this, but I am reasonably happy to pay it. Similarly, the cost of healthcare for all should be born by all. Similarly I have never needed the fire department but I am perfectly happy to help pay for it. I’ve probably gotten my money’s worth out of the police…

          Because realistically, you never know. You might be healthy as a horse today, and find out you have cancer tomorrow. Or do as a friend did a couple days ago and fall off a ladder and do a couple hundred grand in damage to his leg.

          Take it from someone who got his professional start in the health insurance industry – those super cheap “catastrophic” policies were generally not worth the paper they were printed on. As you would have quickly found out if you ever actually needed to use it.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Likewise I don’t have kids and likely never will, and I don’t bristle at paying taxes for schools. I may not realize any benefit to doing so right away, but later on. My way of thinking is if I help in paying so that everyone else’s kids are better educated, then it’s less likely that down the road one of them will be sticking a gun in my face demanding my wallet and/or car.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “Similarly, the cost of healthcare for all should be born by all”

            That’s my point though. If I’m paying in (a lot more than the hypothetical non-payer Medicaid recipient) shouldn’t I at least have the option of equal coverage (something better than $10k deductible) for the $300 a month I’m paying ON TOP of the much bigger tax contribution I’m making compared to the freebie recipient? In the same way that if I was paying into funding local public schools but not using them, but then had a kid. My kid should be able to go to the same decent public school that I’ve already been paying into (and continue to pay into) as the person who doesn’t pay any effective taxes. I shouldn’t have to pay an extra surcharge and for that extra cost my kid ends up going to a half-rate sub par school. Doesn’t that sound kind of wacky to you?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            No, IMHO you don’t get to have “better” care than the poor who happen to not pay any taxes. There should be a reasonable minimum level of care available for and covered by everyone for everyone. You may end up with better care if your employer wants to offer it as a perk, or you want to buy a supplemental policy to cover things the standard insurance doesn’t. Just like how Medicare works. And Medicare works REALLY well all around. At least where Congress lets it work well – they by law cannot negotiate drug prices, which is special interest BS at it’s finest.

            And frankly, it doesn’t matter anyway, because YOU are still paying for everyone who does not currently have insurance. Do you think either the deadbeat druggy or the working 3-jobs to get by single mother can in their lifetime pay for cancer treatment? Or treatment for anything else that causes them to go to the Emergency room because they have no doctor and no insurance? They are going to get it anyway, at least some minimum level of care. And they aren’t going to pay for it, regardless of whether it makes their life even worse to have no credit. We ALL already pay for the uninsured one way or another, by taxes or by higher bills or higher premiums, and because they are uninsured, they are even LESS healthy, and it costs even MORE once they get sick. We just add a ton of overhead to the process.

            Why the “but I don’t want to pay for freeloaders” faction like you don’t get this concept baffles me.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “No, IMHO you don’t get to have “better” care than the poor who happen to not pay any taxes.”

            My point:

            I already pay into Medicaid through existing taxation, for that I should receive equal care as a Medicaid recipient that pays nothing in taxes, and who is not expected to pay any sort of deductible. That’s the baseline. If this assumption implies making that baseline of care lower, so be it. It’s the $300/mo extra with that $10k deductible that should then take me into some higher level of care (equivalent to our current healthcare standards perhaps). Am I a total monster for thinking this?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Put it a different way – should your kids, assuming you are an upstanding, tax paying citizen, get a better public education than the single working mother of three who is working three jobs to get by and is on public housing assistance, and thus doesn’t pay any taxes at all beyond a very bare minimum of SSI and sales taxes? Should you get better fire and police protection than she does? Better water and sewer services?

            I am perfectly OK with the existence of supplemental insurance if you want to pay for it to get “better”, but everyone deserves the minimum. I would expect the minimum to be equivalent of Medicare more or less. Hopefully with proper negotiation of drug pricing, etc.

            The way we do it now is basically luck of the draw based on how generous your employer can afford to be. At my last job, where I made 1/3 of what I currently make, my employer was an Australian company that felt it was only fair that the US employees enjoy the same level of coverage and out of pocket expense that their Australian employees got. So we had a plan that a Congressman would be happy with, and it cost almost nothing directly out of pocket (but the actual pay wasn’t amazing, just OK for the market). My current employer provides a much more basic level of coverage with much, much, much higher out of pocket costs. But given the difference in pay at my current level that is fine now. It HURT when I first started and was only making a little more than I made at my last job though. I effectively took a big cut in take-home pay.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @krhodes1, JimZ – Very few of us live in isolation. Taxes paying for education, protection, and healthcare benefit society as a whole even if most of us do not directly use any of those services. A tide raises all boats.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s a casebook example of how American Corporations are literally undermining the social contract in the United States (hence leading interesting times we see unfolding).

        I’m not about to preemptively classify myself as a hard-and-fast capitalist, libertarian, socialist or with whatever other silly label people who argue against this point will try and do so, either (no such absolutes exist in the real, big, messy, nation-state competitive, subsidized, bailed-out, bailed-in world).

        Health insurance companies-Big Pharma (it’s true; there is such a thing)-Doctors’ Lobbies, etc all bought off the politicians on both sides of the aisle and control the system.

        It’s hopeless that the system will improve in terms of levels of quality care, favorability, access, or even billing rationality or price rationality unless there is a major disturbance in this farce.

        Look at the person – literally the woman – who was responsible for drafting the ACA was, and look at where she works now.*

        Look at who the CEO of the company manufacturing the epi-pen is.**

        *https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/05/obamacare-fowler-lobbyist-industry1

        “Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading ‘global health policy’ at Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group.”

        **Heather Bresch (née Manchin; born June 27, 1969) is an American business executive. She has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Mylan since 2012. Bresch is the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin;

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @DeadWeight

          Sadly, I agree with you 100%. We need a rational, long-term (decades), plan to get from the current mess to rationality without tanking the economy. And with a political system that looks no further than the next election it will never happen. How Europe and Canada and the rest of the civilized world managed to get there as well as they did (nobody is perfect) amazes me. America really is “exceptional”.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Semenak

          It’s obvious the only solution is to remove the Tax Deduction for Lobbying Expenses. Since, they are not purchasing anything,(Wink,wink,nudge,nudge..) It should be treated as a frivolous expense and, condemned.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, that’s the ticket, presume people who have an ideological difference with you over socialized medicine are racists. Young man (I won’t use the word boy else you would paint a red R on my forehead), stop crying wolf when there are just puppy dogs.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Speaking as a Canadian…

      The US has a very entrenched healthcare “non-system”. This makes it difficult to replace or improve. Universal healthcare goes against the US cartoon John Wayne character of the all-powerful individual. Countries that enacted fully public healthcare systems earlier in the evolution of the idea of such systems had an easier time because of:

      Vested interests. The flip side of high per-person cost of US healthcare and the huge disparities in coverage is that some parties involved have built a strong interest in continuing to profit from the situation. They, lacking morals and concern for the health of their fellow citizens and the country, are happy to stoop to anything to protect and even expand their profits. Healthcare became a devious way to magnify wealth distribution inequity. This was so well done that half the population wants to make negative wealth distribution via healthcare, even worse. Amazing.

      This is engineered by spreading lies and buying politicians.

      I’m pessimistic a country that can elect Trump can fix healthcare. A country where many think the ACA and Obamacare are two different things. But then you did elect Obama and set up the ACA, so maybe there is hope.

      As for the article, valuable insight into the mentality of those who habitually make poor life decisions.

      And many drivers see nothing wrong with how drivers use the roads. They say it is the cyclists who are the habitual lawbreakers and the real menace.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It would be really hard for us to transition to a single-payer system. It would be surprisingly easy for us to transition to a multi-payer system like the German model, where private insurers and government coverage coexist. Obamacare got us partway there, but left out way too many people (especially in red states where there’s the “donut hole” between Medicaid eligibility and Obamacare eligibility) and didn’t subsidize the people who are included enough, resulting in complaints like gtemnykh’s from middle-high income earners.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Either the French or German model would work much better here (either would bring costs down by at least 30% and improve affordable access to quality care dramatically).

          The rub lies in how much cost-shifting should be steered towards corporations versus towards taxpayers, with the German model doing more of the former (hand-in-hand with tighter corporate governance and stronger labor position) and with the French model doing more of the latter.

          Either way, the argument that having government have more power, in the case of what is now an intentionally rationed good controlled by an oligopoly and cartel, to mandate presciber prices and drug prices, would “worsen the system,” is absolute rubbish.

          Healthcare does not behave as other industries do, where tech political advances DRIVE DOWN COSTS. With healthcare, the opposite holds true.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “Healthcare does not behave as other industries do, where tech political advances DRIVE DOWN COSTS. With healthcare, the opposite holds true.”

            Technological advances drive down costs in other industries, but not in health care, specifically because most other industries have less government involvement. In industries with lots of government and legal involvement, restrictions, regulations, mandates and the rest of the nonsense, costs go up. Not just health care. But also education, housing and real estate in general, defense…… It’s not happenstance that the “industries” where costs keep rising, are the ones where government has the greatest involvement.

            Even in the parts of health care (plastic surgery, lasik etc.) where government involvement is lighter, costs follow the pattern that is inevitable in every competitive industry: Lower over time. Ditto for education (Khan Academy et al…). And housing (tents). And even defense, where costs for lightly unregulated stuff like optics are falling, but the more government involvement there is, the more inverted cost developments become.

            Computers would et more expensive over time too, if those who sold them, could get together and have government ban anyone else from doing so. And if every new key on a keyboard had to be OK’d by an army of beureaucrats. And it was illegal to import computers from abroad. And virtually every computer sold, were not paid for by the one buying it, but by whomever had the least political clout, hence were forced to pay the most for everyone else’s computer…… The individual services that combine to comprise “health care”, are al perfectly normal economic goods. Nothing weird or magical about them, that makes basic economics somehow turn 180 degrees backwards. Whether the jellybean looking thing someone is elling you contains some hormone or not, in absolutely no way invalidates the laws of economics, anymore than it invalidates laws of physics.

            Instead, costs go up in industries where government is involved. Down in others. In the Soviet Union, costs did go up for jellybeans as well. Not because of hormones, but because of government. It’s exactly the same here. Nothing magical and weird and special snowflake. Just government involvement vs not so.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It’d be easy, but it’d inflate our tax bills. That’s why people are dead set against it.

          Still…they should consider my brother’s story. The guy’s a staunch liberal hater from way back, and just came down with cancer. He was told by three hospitals that they won’t take his case due to his insurance.

          (Translation: screw you, we ain’t gonna make as much money off you, so go die.)

          He found a hospital that’d do his case.

          His out of pocket is going to be in the neighborhood of ********$200,000**********. He will be required to sign something waiving his right to write this off in BK.

          This is a guy who makes around $40,000 a year. He’s 50. Figure his taxes go up by two grand a year to cover the universal health care program. Run the figures for yourself, y’know?

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Here’s the problem as I see it: there are a large number of us, call us fortunate, ‘privileged’, lucky, whatever, that have extremely good health care through our employers. Even if it’s expensive, it’s excellent care. I can get literally the best care in the world if I needed it at the Mayo clinic, etc, through my insurance. And who has that? Probably the top 20-25% of the population, and they’re all upper middle class professionals, executives, whatever.

      I don’t think you can make healthcare better for everyone in the US without somehow making it worse for this group. As much as I want the less fortunate to have healthcare, I’m not willing to sacrifice the level of service and access I already got. Sorry, I’m just not. You put the government in charge of it, guarantee it gets worse for me, and that just isn’t acceptable.

      Now, what I DO think we need to do is require every insurance company to give us a little card, and it will say on it “percentage paid for in network” and “percentage paid for out of network.” And then we require every doctor, hospital, specialist, whatever, to have a giant billboard in the lobby showing the price of everything they do there, and whether they are in network or out for major insurers. So I can whip out my little card, see that I’m in or out of network, and then know that whatever price on that billboard correlates with my needed service, I am reasonable sure I’m paying the XX% on my card of that price. That will make me shop around.

      There is nothing else we buy where we don’t know what it costs until the bill comes. It’s like if you needed a car, and you went to the car dealership down the road (the hospital in your town) and just took what they offered. A month later, are you getting a bill for a Rolls Royce, or a bill for a Kia? You have no idea. Put the prices up, and all the sudden you’re wondering why this place is charging $5k for an MRI, but the place over there only charges $1500.

      I know there’s a lot more complexity than that, but you get the idea. We need price transparency as that is basically the only effective thing that will ever drive down the cost of services.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The price transparency (or lack thereof) is a just one of many huge problems.

        There’s no other industry/sector that I know of whereby the end’consumer has no clear, remote idea of pricing differences between hospitals, doctors, emergency rooms, nurses, surgical centers, medication providers, etc., etc., as in health care – so much so that it’s typical for patients to not be able to even estimate what procedures,t care, meds will cost – and there’s no other industry that I know of whereby one class of people (insured) have middlemen (bloat, being insurance adjusters/billers) pay radically different prices for the same treatments, procedures, surgeries, meds, etc. as non-insured.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Of course price transparency isn’t the only problem, but in my simple little mind, it’s the biggest obstacle to solving any of the other problems. Until people are able to understand what they’re being charged and how it relates to what they could be charged somewhere else, nothing will be solved. Fixed that and a lot of the other stuff will at least be pushed along, if not solved.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “There’s no other industry/sector that I know of whereby the end’consumer has no clear, remote idea of pricing differences between hospitals, doctors, emergency rooms, nurses, surgical centers, medication providers, etc., etc”

          Exactly, DW, and that’s because medical science is not exact. A treatment that works on patient A might fail on patient B, and so and so forth.

          We can’t expect human life to conform to some pre-determined cost structure, like a pair of Levis jeans. We’re all unique and have unique needs.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          The system needs regulation. Free market pricing doesn’t work since the consumer isn’t in a position to say no.
          It would be no different than having to negotiate with a fire department for the cost of their services while you are watching your house burn.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        S2K – price transparency is hugely important, and hugely disliked by much of the medical community, which is why it doesn’t happen. The other element that is needed to bring costs down, however, is people paying for all but serious medical conditions with their own money. If someone else (taxpayers, insurance companies) are paying the bills, then the patient is not price sensitive at all, and the medical providers have no incentive to cut costs. If the money is coming out of my pocket, then I care about the quality and the price, and mass shopping around by consumers will force the medical community to innovate in ways that reduce costs. Widespread use of tax-free medical savings accounts and cheap catastrophic insurance would help achieve this, but again the problem becomes the low future time orientation people because they won’t see the value in putting money into a medical savings account or buying cheap insurance. Instead they will put their money into reckless spending and dangerous habits that tend to also increase their medical needs – which end up being paid for by the rest of us. Government run medical systems are typically presented as a solution to this problem, but are only beneficial to these low future time orientation people because then they receive “free” medical care, while the responsible rest of us pay for it with high taxes and lousy medical care because cost containment and quality control are low priorities to 3rd party payers (government).

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “again the problem becomes the low future time orientation people because they won’t see the value in putting money into a medical savings account or buying cheap insurance. Instead they will put their money into reckless spending and dangerous habits that tend to also increase their medical needs – which end up being paid for by the rest of us.”

          This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the developed world.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Dal – The rest of the developed world doesn’t have the large under-class that the US has, although that is changing in Europe with the recent mass influx of low-skill/low-education “refugees”.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Really? You don’t think there are just as many poor people (as a percentage) in Spain or Portugal — both countries with working universal health care systems — as there are here?

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “The other element that is needed to bring costs down, however, is people paying for all but serious medical conditions with their own money.”

          Not necessarily. I’ve never had a medical plan that didn’t require me to spend at least some of my own money (up to the deductible). If I’m getting a $5k MRI or a $1500 MRI, and I’m on the hook for 20%, that’s a copay of $300 to $1k; $700 is enough of a swing that I’ll shop around.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          And in fairness, “price transparency” isn’t liked by the medical community for a simple reason: they often have no idea what’s going to be involved in “fixing” someone. If a guy gets wheeled into the ER with chest pains, he could need anything from a capful of Maalox to a quadruple bypass.

          And treatments that work for one patient may not work for another.

          I see where they’re coming from on this.

          And, yeah, HSAs are great…if you have money to contribute to them. Folks on Medicaid don’t have money to contribute. HSAs for the poor, or the working poor, are a complete non solution. But do we just let them go untreated? Well, setting aside the whole moral question, I suppose it boils down to dollars and cents: if you want non-productive poor folks, or working poor folks that end up on welfare and disability, then make sure they don’t get medical care.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        All of you are trying to elaborately reinvent something that already works elsewhere.

        Price transparency is of limited use in the health care context because the expensive stuff happens when people are not in a position to shop effectively. It can nibble around the edges of costs for stuff that is already not too expensive, but it’s not the reason we pay half again as much as any other developed country in the world for the same services.

        There is no reason your professional-grade, expensive care needs to get worse in a universal coverage world. You just need to know that you will have to pay a bit more for access to it, in exchange for people who are just trying to get basic care being able to get any care at all. That’s how it works in every other developed country. If you want to get care at the Mayo Clinic, you can either pay for it out of pocket or buy more expensive supplemental insurance (which around a quarter of the German population, for example, does) that will pay for it.

        The reason a disproportionate amount of that kind of care is in the US is not because we keep healthcare away from the poor, but because we have the world’s best education system and (if this Congress doesn’t manage to screw it up too much) some of the best-funded, best-run research institutions in the world.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “All of you are trying to elaborately reinvent something that already works elsewhere.”

          I’d argue that’s not true. The rest of the world might have a better health care system ON AVERAGE, or FOR EVERYONE, but I would argue an affluent American with private health insurance through their employer has better healthcare than anyone else on earth.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Again, that’s because of our educational system and research institutions, not because we’re stiffing the poor. The Mayo Clinic would still do land-office business if we switched overnight to the German model.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Lovely idea. How is that going to work when you get in an accident and are transported unconscious to a random hospital? There should be no “network”. The same procedures should cost the same no matter where or by whom they are done. They are, in theory, all held to the same standards after all.

        There should be a minimum level of care and coverage required and covered for all. If you want more than that, your employer can offer it as a perk, or you can pay for it yourself. For example, private rooms vs. general wards. This is how it works in most of Europe.

        I got a first hand eye-opening experience of how it should be. In 2011 I was in Europe on my delivery trip for the infamous 328!. In Finland, a friend from Sweden got bitten by a spider or something. Nasty golfball size swelling on his leg and intense pain. We stopped by the local hospital, where they took him in, incised and drained it, stitched him up, bandaged it, and gave him a couple prescription drugs – generic antibiotics. His out of pocket at the hospital was a few Euro for the prescriptions. And he will never see a bill for any of it. Would have been the same in Sweden. This would have cost thousands in the US. Even with my decent employer provided insurance it would have been several hundred minimum in copay and deductible. I would cheerfully pay more in taxes to have this level of peace of mind, but the reality is that with the type of controls the Europeans have on costs the roughly *$12K* a year my employer and I already pay for my relatively craptastic coverage would certainly cover it all. But most people have no concept at all of how much they actually pay, and/or they are like you and are frankly selfish and spoiled.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “But most people have no concept at all of how much they actually pay, and/or they are like you and are frankly selfish and spoiled.”

          I know exactly how much I pay. I see it as part of filing my taxes every year.

          And on the subject of being selfish and spoiled, why is it the liberals love to tell people they are voting against their own interests (“the poor should vote Democrat!”) and then when I am voting in my own interests I’m told I’m selfish and spoiled? Can you not have a discussion without throwing rocks at my opinions and beliefs? At least I’ve been open and honest about the fact that I’m not willing to vote myself a lower level of service than is available to me now.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Why are you selfish and spoiled? Because part of being in a civilized society is occasionally putting the good of society above your own best interests, rather than always ME ME ME ME ME ME ME.

            Nobody who actually knows me would EVER accuse me of being particularly liberal, but I am 110% in favor of mandatory minimum level of minimal payment at time of service healthcare.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            it’s probably because you’re taking a pretty clear “F you, I’ve got mine” attitude about this whole thing.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          krhodes – Its not as rosy as you present it for Scandinavia – I know since I have lived/worked in Norway for years and have a Swedish wife. First, Scandinavians generally take better care of themselves in terms of exercise and diet than Americans and are probably have healthier genes as well. Scandinavians are among the longest-lived in the world, but it isn’t because of superior health care, because Scandinavian Americans in Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc. tend to live longer than real Swedes, Norwegians, etc. But because there is only a very small “under-class” and the Scandinavians are generally healthy they don’t have to pay all the health costs associated with obesity and bad diet and exercise that the American system has to pay for. Second, if you need a specialist in Scandinavia you are likely going to wait 3+ months for an appointment unless you are bleeding to death, and the private system is very small so there is no private option in many specialties. Third, they don’t pay for much medical research (they free-ride like the rest of the world on US research) and they generally don’t use the latest treatments and medicines because they are too expensive. Fourth, they have no incentive to dig deep into difficult cases and they are more likely to tell you to go home and live with the pain – perhaps a partial explanation for the high suicide rates. Finally, the “free” care is far from free, as taxes are very high and much of it goes to the medical system (most of Europe also free-rides on the US for defense so they have more money to spend on the welfare state). Thus it really isn’t possible to install Scandinavian style health care in the US, despite with Bernie Sanders says.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Stingray, I’ll relate the story of my brother, who was unfortunate enough to learn he has cancer. He has private health insurance. Like you, he despises the idea of “death panels”, “inconvenience”, “specialist waits” and “massive tax increases” that seem to be endemic when we’re talking about government run plans. So…how’s his private policy working out?

            1) He was told by three surgeons that they wouldn’t take his insurance, which translates into “I’m not gonna make enough money off you, so f**k off and (literally) die.”

            2) He has three huge hospitals within 10 minutes of his house, but they all gave him the “f**k off and die”…I mean, “we don’t take your insurance” excuse too. So he has to travel 15 miles one way to a hospital in the city for chemo/radiation every day, five days a week.

            3) He was diagnosed in May and just started getting treatments a few weeks ago for a lethal illness.

            4) His bill from all this will be about $200,000, and he will be required to sign a waiver that will not allow him to discharge this in BK. He’s going to be in debt forever.

            Therefore:
            He’s already endured the “specialist wait”, except this wasn’t for a non-lethal illness.

            He’s already gone through the “death panel”.

            And if you consider the $200,000 bill he’s going to get a “tax,” I’d say that it was FAR more than he’d have paid in actual taxes for a government run plan on his salary.

            Tell me why this guy’s not better off with a government run plan?

            Seriously.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I am perfectly OK with rationing healthcare for the greater good. Instant access is a luxury we cannot afford as a society for other than the most extreme cases.And the reality is that healthcare for those who aren’t lucky enough to have nice employer-subsidized insurance (or public insurance) is severely rationed anyway – FAR more so than anywhere in Europe.

            And we spend WAY WAY WAY too much on people who are going to die anyway. In my own family, I lost my grandfather last year to stomach cancer. He was 91 when he was diagnosed. Over $300K was spent on treatment in the six months after the diagnosis. The treatment was very successful – until it wasn’t. His initial prognosis was 12-16 weeks, he made it about a year, and had an extra 9 months of relatively comfortable life. But dear God, $300K to keep a 91yo man alive for an extra roughly nine months!! Mostly paid for by Medicare and his very good, fairly expensive Medicare supplemental insurance policy. Completely insane. And I loved my Grandfather very much, but this is NOT sustainable as a society. $300K for cancer treatment for a 30yo, maybe, but a 91yo is statistically already dead!

            Another case is a friend who has a child who was born extremely prematurely. She survived, but has profound deficiencies and will never be a productive member of society. MILLIONS of dollars have been and will be spent on this child (spent a full year in the hospital from birth, many surgeries since), who will likely never progress beyond the mental capacity of a toddler. Again, completely and utterly unsustainable, but he is an executive for a big company and has gold-plated insurance. But we are ALL paying for that kid one way or another. She should have been allowed to die, full stop.

            The difference in lifestyles between Scandinavia and the US would make hill of beans difference in costs when spread across 300+ million people. If you compare across Europe you get similar treatment everywhere, with better outcomes at radically lower cost. You just might have to limp around a few months longer, and you probably won’t get $300K of cancer treatment at 91 years old.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “Third, they don’t pay for much medical research”

            Uppsala University and Karolinska Institutet do quite a bit of medical research. Astra-Zeneca still conducts around 43 percent of its R&D in Sweden. However, they’ve been declining since the 1980’s as one of the top nations for medical research.

            But never fear, we’ll be joining the decline. My son has already complained about one of his products getting slowed down by “anticipated” FDA cuts.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “God, $300K to keep a 91yo man alive for an extra roughly nine months!! Mostly paid for by Medicare and his very good, fairly expensive Medicare supplemental insurance policy. ”

            This. My grandmother- God bless her- kept her marbles to the very end (at 93) and she was quite clear in that she would have rather skipped the last year of her life.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “I am perfectly OK with rationing healthcare for the greater good.”

            “other than the most extreme cases”

            “She should have been allowed to die, full stop.”

            I don’t believe I’d ever support this sort of policy.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @stingray65 – (they free-ride like the rest of the world on US research)

            Free-ride?
            The USA is the world leader in research but one has to be extremely naive to think that big Pharma or many of the other big companies investing in that research are doing so without profits in mind.
            There are drugs for cancer that cost $18,000 per month. A new one just came out that is around 64k per month. Those are Canadian “price regulated” prices.
            I’ve talked to several pharmacists about drug shortages and high end drugs. Once patents come off (7 years + 3 year extension = 10), if a drug is easy to make then one sees the typical race to the bottom. One company hits bottom feeder prices and they corner the market on that drug. Everyone else stops making it and if they have problems, that then causes a shortage.
            Leading companies have therefore preferred to focus on more exotic drugs. That tends to be drugs that are difficult to make requiring highly specialized and complex processes. That indirectly eliminates generic 3rd world knock-off manufacturing since the start up costs are too high.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “We need price transparency as that is basically the only effective thing that will ever drive down the cost of services.”

        What, you’re gonna start shopping ERs while little Cindy’s sitting in front of you with a broken leg? You’re gonna google “cheapest cardiologist in zip code 80005” when you have chest pains? Not happening.

        The problem with equating health care to other consumer goods is that you can’t price it out like you’d price out a new laptop. Even if you do have time to shop around for it, treatments are so patient-specific that any “quote” you get is likely about as reliable as the one you get for your trade over on the used car lot.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          FreedMike – sorry about your brother, but cancer survival rates are much higher in the US than anywhere else, so I hope it works out well for him.

          Comparison shopping is obviously not going to happen for emergency stuff, but most medical care isn’t emergency but non-life threatening elective. If comparison shopping starts to shift demand to lower cost medical facilities, the expensive places will need to start cutting costs and prices to stay in business. If they get their cost structures down, then even the emergency stuff will likely also become cheaper. Right now, almost the entire US system is oriented around life-saving and profit-boosting innovation, and virtually no effort is devoted to cost-reducing innovation, which is why we get so many good medical advances that will hopefully help your brother, but also very high costs. The medical system needs to get better AND cheaper, and the power of consumers working in their own self-interest is the most powerful mechanism for achieving it.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          I forgot the only kind of medicine was emergency medicine. My bad. (Roll eyes).

          How about the vasectomy I just scheduled? Or the (scheduled natural) birth of my kid? How about my MIL’s non-emergency open heart surgery? Or my FIL’s prostate surgery? Or the zillion ankle surgeries my mom has had? Or the MRI and subsequent consult and treatment of my torn MCL?

          None of that could be comparison shopped?

          • 0 avatar
            kkt

            I can understand their point though. You won’t know what will come up during any of those procedures. You want the child to have a natural birth, but the kid may have other plans. My kid we hoped for a natural birth, but it wasn’t happening, we tried to induce labor three times and she wouldn’t come out until a C section.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            So what is stopping you from comparison shopping today? If you keep the cost to your insurer down, you may keep your premiums lower in the long run. But what you will find is that in any given area there isn’t really going to be much difference, and your insurer has already negotiated the price anyway. Nobody is knocking out half-price ankle replacements on a Labor Day sale.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            What about gene editing to lower health care costs? Make it mandatory? It’s radical, but might work. There would still be accident injuries, but we might be able to engineer in resistance to many diseases.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @mcs – “What about gene editing to lower health care costs?”

            I see the opposite happening. The human genome was mapped out in 2003.
            Many diseases can be directly traced genetically or under certain genetic conditions are more likely to occur.

            Genetic screening could be used as a tool to charge individuals more money for insurance since they are more likely to become ill.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, here’s the problem…you can have a hospital “quote” you all day long for something like a “natural” childbirth, but the minute there’s a complication – which happens all the time – the quote’s right out the window. All the sudden, a $5,000 “natural” delivery becomes a $50,000 set of complications.

            Fixing humans isn’t an exact science, so pricing the fixes out isn’t exact either.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      There are alot of things that COULD be changed in the USA but there is no political or corporate willpower to do so. Things are set up for the max profits, the consumer/voter be damned.

  • avatar

    Great article, Jack!

    That’s why my diet is mostly fruit, vegetables, raw nuts, whole grains, and wild-caught salmon, why I run just about every day, and why my first hard-shelled bicycle helmet had a very low serial number–7022, why my parents had seat belts installed in the ’57 Chevy in 1961, and why I’ve always worn ’em.

    However, my one friend who has an Altima is a very future oriented woman in her upper 60s. Nonetheless, I expect she’s the exception that proves the rule.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I know two Altima owners personally. Both of them paid cash for their cars, new, and have kept them for years.

      But what I see on the street tells a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I don’t mean to generalize, but then again, I do, and am about to.

      There is a certain demographic of the population that disproportionately gravitates towards (or is pushed toward) nearly ALL models of Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi.

      I try and be above the fray and not judge such things and draw conclusions from something as seemingly arbitrary by what make of vehicle people drive, yet can’t correlation, when seemingly so tightly clustered, say at least something about something, even if not causation?

      I shall now proceed to exit stage right before being eviscerated by the legions of saints and patriots driving aforementioned Nissans, Kias, Hyundais, and Mitsubishis.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Stereotypes exist because they tend to be true, like it or not. Those makes DO structure their business to appeal to a lower socio-economic class. I can guarantee that every one of those dealerships in my are has some variation of “everyone is approved” in their advertising. A couple of them have it on banners right on the front of the store.

        Doesn’t mean they make bad or sub-standard products, or that wealthy people don’t buy them too. One of my best friends (47yo project manager for a large bank making $150K+ a year, single, no kids) is on his third KIA, because he is all about the toys, and you get a ton of toys in a loaded KIA for the cash. They must love him too, as he has traded in two 2yo loaded Optimas with about 10K miles on them, now has a loaded Sorento.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Advertising *IS* stereotyped. Companies target specific consumers with certain models.

        Does the car one drives correlate directly to sh!tty driving habits? or ethnicity? or socioeconomic status?

        I’d love to see the statistics backing that assumption.

        Jack has danced down that path a few times with some of his other stories. This one just happens to be his most subtle work to date.

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          This isn’t that different than the low income person who chooses to live in a sh!thole rather than cleaning it up and at least keeping his or her modest place of residence clean and orderly.

          Its all part of a general ignorance about things and a I don’t give a **** about anything, not even myself.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Another great and true read Jack .

    I myself have been there although having had my Son at a young age I’ve had to temper it a bit .

    It’s never too late though ~ I didn’t really get serious about retirement planning until my 50’s and scrambled every loose dime from then until I retired, loots O.K. ahead as I don’t need much and have always lived within my means being poor and all ~ credit is nice but damn ! you have to pay those bills so no new suits, cars/ Motos etc/ for me .

    You’re making John proud of you just as he’s making you proud of him .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    volvo

    I can’t entirely agree. Here in Silicon Valley my experience is that the most aggressive drivers (tailgating, weaving, lane changing) are many times driving fairly new Audi sedans. It used to be BMWs but not now.

    I don’t know about the lack of forward thinking. These people are certainly socioeconomically OK. I think they just feel entitled and don’t really care about others.

    Also in the lower price group I mostly see Honda si and Mazda wrx driving in a similar manner. but then why else would you buy one of those.

    While these drivers might be only going 10 mph over the speed limit they are doing it when traffic is moving 20 miles under the speed limit due to congestion.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Blaming Obamacare for third party billing is an easy out. But, that’s how it’s always been with private insurance and how clinics oursource procedures to those who are not part of the plan.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I happen to have relatively high future time orientation so if I project a car is going to cost me too much to keep around (even if I like it) then it goes. If I want to buy something “fun” for myself I will project if I’ll have time to enjoy it, if I will actually use it, whether or not the money is better served elsewhere (I don’t float credit card debt as a rule), and usually end up postponing purchases for myself for months or years.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    As the resident TTAC Altima driver… I’m glad to say that’s not me anymore. There is a rare occasional moment when “old Kevin” tries to take over, but I have gotten better at keeping him in before things get out of hand.

    I’ve gotten into the habit of driving in the range of [speed limit -3/+5] on highways (right lane, of course) and I can’t believe how ENJOYABLE it is! The assholes all just fly past, and I rarely have to pass anyone myself. The tradeoff for the few extra minutes a trip might take is… space. Beautiful, serene space. Having that space really reduces stress. People bring it upon themselves, I’ve realized. I used to be pretty terrible behind the wheel, and I’ve given examples before.

    Dunno exactly when my FTO kicked in. It wasn’t immediately after buying the house and beginning my life with the best half and her daughters, but no doubt that planted the seeds. My best guess of a first sign would be in 2012 when I sold the Accord after 16 months because it just wasn’t worth having that big a car payment on top of all the new bills brought about by home ownership. That was the last new car I ever bought, and probably the last I’ll ever buy.

    So now I drive an Altima that was build January 2007. I won’t lie- I can’t wait to replace it next year with something a bit newer, but I paid cash for it and it has more than served its purpose. No doubt in my mind the next owner will lack the FTO Jack speaks of, because he will only see a cheap, fast, reliable car.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Oh you are very correct. I run about 2 mph over the speed limit these days. All the perks you described. Less noise from the car and better mpg too b/c my speed is more constant on cruise.

      Once upon a time I pushed it as often as I could always running a radar detector. I wasn’t an asshole about it though.

      Was passed by a p/u chasing a Chrysler 300 last night. The p.u truck’s tailgate just about clipped my car’s headlights.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    So, here I was, on a boring Friday, sort of waiting for the weekend to visit me, so that I may get some R&R (this week has been stressful, and I was triggered a few times – not going to omit that in order to try and project some sort of uncaring persona or hard-ass-tight-yo-exterior-shell), and Jack pops off and writes this (just when I was unconsciously slipping into weekend mental-mode, where things don’t bother me to nearly the degree they do between M-F).

    Now in my early 40s, I feel as if I’m in firm mid-life crisis mode.

    I’m very fortunate, though, with no debt, a surplus of cash (not humble-bragging; I was lucky to have hedged to the extreme prior to things going south in 2008), having “lived the dream-baller thing in my late 20’s through mid-30s” (in a professional capacity, but tagging along for some pretty wild ‘and extravagant adventures replete with grand hotel rooms and villas, incredible food, high-stakes poker in both the literal and figurative sense)…

    …mind you, all purely a product of my privilege, which I’m working hard on checking, and not a consequence of my planning, education, life choices, decisions on whom to associate or decline associating with, etc., so please, no lectures on that privilege (even though I’m not a WASP), for I joined a 12-step program to check and relent my privilege after they took out Harambe.

    Now, living a suburban life as husband and soccer dad, and after previously tasting some pretty exotic fruits and bathing in milk and honey, prior to the GFC, and finding the life of that excess habituating and thus ultimately boring (the “oh wow!” tank only has so many serotonin and endorphins in it, and it’s hard to replenish), everything is bland, and I am tempted to go off into the desert on an iron horse with no name, microdose, have vision quests, live dangerously, and try to connect with Steve Jobs, Hunter S. Thompson, Keith Moon, Paul Maclean, Dennis Hopper, Colonel Kurtz, Hemingway, Charlie Sheen, et al.

    I want to reconnect with my ancestral, wild, free, yet savage spirit-animals.

    In a world where Johnny Depp and Boris Becker get the financial advice that they do, being a mere hundred-millionaire doesn’t cut it any more, organized religion, be it Roman Catholicism or Scientology, is in crisis, even Kim Kardashian is losing her powers to break the internet, and the only certain thing is more and exponentionally accelerating uncertainty in the future, regardless as to where one lives, or what tribe one belongs to (or has walked away from or been banished by), what’s even a full-on-privileged but exceedingly bored male in his early 40s to do?

    Maybe I’ll find the solution for malaria prevention, efficient, inexpensive salt water desalination, the key to completely free and non-polluting energy production, a cure for cancer, middle-east peace…

    …maybe I’ll learn the method to reform the ozone holes, reverse climate change, discover the secret to render war unnecessary…

    I had better order a double-dose of peyote.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I am lost. I have gone to find myself, if I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.
      – Unknown author

      If you decided to take off – please send us a postcard every once in a while.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      *to be more complete and precise, the happiness tank only has so much dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins in it, which is hard to refill.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Deadweight my boy, that was brilliant!

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      Well DW as one in a similar situation but 10 years older all I can say is you have to do what you do to keep your family safe and secure. But make sure you push yourself mentally and physically and try to turn parts of your life into mini adventures.
      Vodka and red wine is a good fall back.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @DeadWeight – you mentioned 12 steps. The Serenity Prayer is a great guide whether or not one is religious. As a society we are focused on up-regulating our set points. Adrenaline junkies are a prime example. Addictions are another example. We have been brainwashed to believe that health, wealth, youth and beauty are the keys to happiness. The Grand Illusion.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Future time orientation is highly positively correlated with impulse control and IQ, and negatively correlated with income and life success. People with low future orientation and intelligence are overwhelmingly over-represented among the ranks of single mothers with children from multiple partners, drug addicts, smokers, obese, impulse buyers, shopaholics, disruptive students/employees, school drop-outs, long-term unemployed, imprisoned, drunk drivers, reckless drivers, emergency room patients, and just about any other bad habit or destructive behavior you can name. Which is why welfare programs mostly don’t work or actually have negative effects, why insurance rates are so high (the less destructive and more productive have to subsidize them), why prisons are full, and why bad schools persist despite throwing more and more money at them. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any type of education or training that can substantially raise the low IQ of people suffering from poor impulse control and future time orientation. As Jack alludes, the only effective solution to minimize the problem is the enforcement and reinforcement of societal norms regarding taking personal responsibility for your family, and unfortunately we are going the wrong direction very fast on that front.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Boom. Truth bomb.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “why prisons are full”

      weeeeeellll… prisons are full partly because our culture thinks “justice” means “throwing people in jail” and is run by old people who are deathly afraid of a silly little plant. But not afraid of another plant which kills many people every year.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        JimZ – Most recreational weed users are not a danger to anyone and it is a crazy waste of resources to put people in prison for having a few joints. Yet the reason there are drug laws (and alcohol prohibition in the 1920s) is because low IQ/impulse control/future time orientation people can’t handle easily available and cheap drugs that come with decriminalization. They overdo and overdose which keeps them unemployed/unemployable at best and expensive patients in mental hospitals or emergency rooms at worst, unless they kill themselves first. Unfortunately, there is no good solution to keeping drugs (including alcohol) away from people with low IQ/impulse control/future time orientation. Prohibition didn’t work and the war on drugs has also been ineffective, but they are both about trying to help these people that can’t/won’t help themselves.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @stingray65 – citations/abstracts required.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Lou – here are a few

            https://books.google.no/books?id=KQ4rLiAbHQQC&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=single+mother+iq&source=bl&ots=IuoSrA1Zp_&sig=dfk2cba7E-oaC4qS7vYymJbm4WA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiOxOGpzcTVAhXEORQKHfhxD88Q6AEIXTAI#v=onepage&q=single%20mother%20iq&f=false

            https://books.google.no/books?id=FNsmzy-lLagC&pg=PA176&dq=iq+and+impulse+control&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZzOOwzsTVAhUQYlAKHUEBAh0Q6AEIKzAB#v=onepage&q=iq%20and%20impulse%20control&f=false

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @stingray65 – the links won’t open.

            IQ

            Reproductive men

            Married — 101.0
            Divorced/separated — 97.8
            Unmarried — 93.6

            Reproductive women

            Married — 101.3
            Divorced/separated — 98.7
            Unmarried women — 93.6

            There are multiple factors that affect IQ scores. “The value of IQ tests is determined more by what they correlate with than what they measure.”

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Look up the effects of lead poisoning on child development (TLDR: it’s a neurotoxin affecting the areas of the brain relevant to what you’re talking about), the quality of rental housing in poor neighborhoods (TLDR: full of old peeling lead paint), what kind of industry zoning allows in poor neighborhoods (TLDR: stuff like the Exide plant spewing lead fumes all over Vernon, California for generations) — lead contamination being just ONE example of many — and you’ll realize pretty quickly that your theory on poverty and dysfunction has got cause and effect reversed.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    The Nissan Altima: the sedan for the discriminating driver who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Dodge Avenger.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    A few thoughts come to mind.

    From 15-10 years ago I’ve experienced what it’s like to need medical care while uninsured in the US. I had a hiking accident while working as a “contractor,” which meant all the money I had been saving for a house and future stability went to a doctor who botched the surgery. Things were bleak for a while–which is why I have that five year timeframe in this–I nearly died from an internal infection, spent five months hospitalized and attached to an IV several times a day, and my life was permanently changed. All while being treated like a bum by several administrative people. But I’ve mostly recovered. After that I had to rebuild my life, finances, and credit. It wasn’t easy, although having a job working odd hours and buying very little besides necessities and an occasional musical instrument for a number of years helped. On the upside, my circle of friends now includes a number of medical professionals.

    In any case, a while ago I decided that maintaining a certain amount of readily available money greatly diminished the things life could toss at me for which I’d be financially unable to handle. The amount has changed as life and responsibilities have–from a few thousand to the equivalent of a year’s salary–but adhering to it has made some difficult times a bit better.

    Regarding the cars seen driven dangerously, I’ve also noticed that a high percentage of them are Nissan Altimas. It’s been frequent enough that I’m cautious when around one, as there’s a good chance its driver will do something stupid. About 15-20 years ago, I reacted that way when spotting a Mitsubishi (and I see a lot of similarities between Mitsubishi’s US strategy 20 years ago and Nissan’s in current years, including boasting being “the fastest growing brand”) . Beyond any make and model, however, is any vehicle with a Sunoco sticker on the back. If you see one of those, look out.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      tbp – your story illustrates the problem with most welfare/safety net programs. Virtually everyone sees the value of giving a helping hand to someone such as yourself that gets a tough break, because the help will get you back on your feet more quickly and be repaid by your productive contributions to the economy and society. On the other hand, giving a helping hand to low IQ/impulse control/future time orientation people means they will very likely spend most of their windfall on booze, weed, $200 sneakers, a new Altima they can’t afford and will soon crash, or some other wasteful use, and will soon be back for another handout.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        So…an IQ/character test for welfare recipients?

        I can’t see that one working.

        We’re just going to have to accept that some of the money we invest in welfare isn’t going to be spent well. You do it anyway. It’s the right thing to do.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          FreedMike – the problem isn’t that “some” of the money is poorly spent. The problem is most of the money is poorly spent. When work requirements are added, it is very interesting to see how much the welfare rolls shrink, which is very worrisome to the welfare-bureaucracy complex that spends 67% of the federal budget.

      • 0 avatar
        tbp0701

        Thanks for the comment, but my experience in that regard was not good, and hardly anyone wanted to help.
        I’m certain things have changed a great deal, but for an example I was deemed ineligible for any aid one month as I had over $5K in an IRA, so I was fully responsible for medical bills in excess of $20K a week. In short, I had to lose everything. And after everything was gone, I would have been tossed out and cut off from the medication keeping me alive if one person hadn’t put her career at risk and bent rules.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “On the other hand, giving a helping hand to low IQ/impulse control/future time orientation people means they will very likely spend most of their windfall on booze, weed, $200 sneakers, a new Altima they can’t afford and will soon crash, or some other wasteful use, and will soon be back for another handout.”

        do you actually know any of these people? or is this just something you’ve been told by talk radio?

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          JimZ – I’ve seen the demographic profile or heavy users of alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, expensive sneakers, and Altima type cars, and its not the upper-middle class. I also worked with a lot of these people during summer jobs in college. Yes, many of them are nice, honest, hard-working people, but they don’t plan for the future and they make lots of stupid consumption decisions that hurt their ability to get ahead. If you give them more money (welfare), most of them don’t start making better decisions, they just have more money to blow on dumb purchases and bad habits.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “I’ve seen the demographic profile or heavy users of alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, expensive sneakers, and Altima type cars, and its not the upper-middle class.”

            You do know that IQ tests are highly subjective and is not an accurate assessment of intelligence?

            Demographic profiles are also not an indicator of intelligence.

            There is a disproportional amount of people with mental health problems at the low end of the socioeconomic scale. Impulse control depending on the severity, is a mental illness.

            Socioeconomic status and impulse control are not direct causes of addiction.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    //

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Strange that you mention the Altima’s. Just yesterday afternoon I was tailgated about 10 feet behind me by a black Nissan Altima whilst I was motoring west on US 36 towards Palestine running 65 in a 55 zone. He came close to ramming me as I started slowing with signals indicating the right turn prior to deceleration but maintained his new distance of 3 to 5 feet with an annoyed scowl on his face. I don’t but he might have been quickly moving to a new location to avoid the repo-man.

  • avatar
    z9

    You can learn more about future (and present) time orientation in a book called The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd. On their web site, thetimeparadox.com they have a test called the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory that will tell you your time orientation. I highly recommend taking the test and also making your kids take it.

    The message of the book is that having a future time perspective is not unconditionally better than what they call a “present hedonistic” perspective. Otherwise you’re pretty much an insufferable human being. Our goal should be to live with a balance of various time perspectives.

    I believe time perspectives exist on a political and societal as well as personal level. This can end up making them weaker or stronger in certain ways. It feels pretty hard to think about how collective actions we take today will affect our grandchildren’s children, that’s a good indication of what a person such as Jack describes who has trouble thinking past the next two weeks will experience.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    to be on topic, around me the cars to be careful around are anything (usually domestic) about 5-8 years old, with at least one temporary spare on it, one or more cracked headlamps/taillamps, and missing all or part of at least one fascia.

    • 0 avatar

      I will agree on this one. When I think about people who don’t give any f*cks, what comes to mind is beat up vehicles with 3800 engines or Northstars, old Taurus models, rusty Chrysler vans, 90s rusty trucks, etc.

      This also extends to hooptie BHPH German cars, with broken suspension and rental rims.

      I don’t see so many Altimas being driven carelessly.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I still occasionally see a Plymouth Acclaim or a Dodge Spirit here and there.

        although that’s to be expected, since the USDM marques have been a lot greater a percentage of the market here. I expect that down Jack’s way, as you get further south through Honda country and closer to Nissan Country (Tennessee) you’d see a lot more Altimas.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          I had a Spirit so I notice them. Can’t recall ever seeing a Spirit or Acclaim being driven badly. Except the one time I let a university professor, owner of an Acclaim, drive my Spirit. Not aggressive but oddly incompetent. Like he didn’t understand driving. Egad, never let him drive it again.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Funny. We have a fire problem here in the parched and smokey Pacific northwest. The other day, stopped in traffic, I got out of my car to pick up a half-smoked lit cigarette and hand it to the young lady who had dropped it out the window of the car ahead of me. An Altima.

    Bad enough to be young and ruining a perfectly good body and litter and risk starting grass fires, but do you also have to waste half the cigarette?

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    It is said one thing that distinguishes people from almost all animals is the ability to foresee and prepare for the future.

    The problem seems to be that people only separate from spouses with this affliction after they have kids. So the dumb genes get passed on.

  • avatar

    Very nicely done.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Altimas are definitely a menace. It used to be Maximas.

    I think pickup trucks have both beat for consistent aggressive and reckless driving.

  • avatar
    equ

    Great article. I have absolutely made the Altima comment here in North NJ, Westchester, Long Island and the NYC area in general. I am full-on enthusiast, usually in some high-performance German steel, and I often have some gusto and spirit to my driving (though lesser as I grow older) but I know not to mess with Altima’s. My version was “The fastest car in the world is an Altima”.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Great read. Jack’s writing style has evolved into something increasingly hilarious. Always a few sentences that have me laughing while providing something interesting to think about.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Jack Baruth at his best. I feel privileged to read his articles for free.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I agree! For a long time now, and I even mentioned to my wife, I watch second-owner Nissan Maximas and Altimas being the worst offenders in NYC tri-state area. Maximas are disappearing because the model changed to something more distinct and probably more expensive, but Altimas are still the worst. No idea why. Maybe it’s the magic combination of interior volume, room to recline the front seat for that pimping look, and the price. And we are talking ragged, plastic window tinted, white tail light lens-ed Altimas.

  • avatar
    Cashmoney

    Maybe you were just being hyperbolic, but no doctor sends a bill six months after he treated you. And if he did, it was long after his window for billing you closed.

    Health insurance is v-e-r-y heavily regulated. Every player in the game, patients included, has to follow rules. Break the billing rules and you forfeit your right to collect. Your doc’s billing people know this. 180 days — are they insane? And there are rules and contracts that govern how outside providers can bill for treatment in a hospital or ER.

    Without knowing your particular details, Jack, and assuming what you wrote is accurate, I think you may well have been improperly billed. Next time, when unexpected medical bills show up, push back. Maybe it’s due to paperwork errors. Confirm their right to bill you. Contact your state insurance regulators. Get a lawyer. But don’t do nothing. That’s how you get stomped on.

    Yes, being/not being future-oriented is usually what determines which poor people rise into middle class. Being future-oriented is why refugees/immigrants rafted across the Pacific on an inner tube. Once in the US, all they need to succeed is cash and some pidgin English. Which is why immigrant success stories are so common.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      It’s happened to me a half-dozen times. Often at the 185 day mark. It’s outside the insurance billing period, but that doesn’t mean I don’t legally owe the money. I’ve hired two attorneys over this practice.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    I have spent all of my working career in finance/banking.

    Almost without exception totaled cars happen to the poorest people

    You can find a few nicer cars that were totaled by errant drunk drivers that him them and the occasional younger inexperienced 16 year old driving Mom and Dad’s car, BUT really bad drivers go hand in hand with poor (low income) drivers.

    Separate line of thought: When you collect on an auto loan, if you can look at the vehicle you can tell right then if it will be paid for, or be a repo. Dirty, trash filled, scratches/dents, neglected, high mileage interval oil changes, all point to a DON’T CARE attitude and that usually extends to their payment habits (exacerbated by their poor work habits that doom them to an ever changing job market because they just can’t be troubled to show up on time and do a decent job when they are there, or sometimes pass the drug test to stay employed)

    Sounds very cynical but it is experienced based.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “Almost without exception totaled cars happen to the poorest people”

      To what degree is this a result of the fact that poorer people drive less valuable cars with a lower damage threshold to result in a total loss?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I drive an Altima as a commuter…that very car you posted a photo of, albeit in hybrid form. My credit is 800, and I am on target to retire at 57, maybe 58. I don’t drive like a jerk, though 70 on the open road is fair game. And even then, I am still passed by 40% of the cars. So much for stereotypes. I will also add that it should be illegal for an employer to ask for access to your credit, your social media, and with a some notable exceptions, drug tests. None of that has any bearing on your job performance and it is none of their damn business. You can’t ask for age or sexual orientation, why should the other things be fair game? Jack’s own experience is of how scumbags in the medical industry prey on people with predatory billing practices. That behavior is what should be on the target for investigation, not some guy who’s credit slipped because their job was outsourced and now struggle to pay bills with no income. And now they can’t get a job because of their credit? Anybody see a vicious cycle here?

    As for vehicles being driven stupidly, well first define “stupid” Seventy on an open highway is not stupid. Nor is enjoying an good offramp. Stupid is tailgating, cutting cars off and jamming on the brakes, obnoxious exhausts, horrible aftermarket LED/HID lights, going 50 in the left lane…I could go on and on…

    Lastly, the Altima is not a bad car. Hardly exceptional, but it handles well, has good visibility, a really good stereo, powerful A/C, and killer brakes. All it needs to be a great commuter is a better seat. Even though it was provided by my employer, I would consider buying one if I had to commute in my own property. Far more engaging than say, a Camry of the same year.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “…it’s none of their damn business”

      If you get hired (or get the promotion) based on your “well above average” 800 credit score, are you gonna turn down the job in disgust??

      Although a poor credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a thief, it’s a good indication, and I understand about the medical stuff, but normally it shows who’s not responsible with “other people’s money”, and those that don’t follow through on promises to pay it back (on time or at all).

      So you ask how that applies to “job performance”? Aside from promises to show up on time, and complete tasks efficiently, timely, etc, companies are curious how conscientious and caring an applicant is with “other people’s” equipment, assets, and customers, or in other words *other people’s money*!

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “You can’t ask for age or sexual orientation, why should the other things be fair game?”

      Age and sexual orientation are innate characteristics that are beyond a person’s control.

      Credit rating, drug use, and whatever you post on Facebook are less innate.

      If somebody has poor credit because of medical issues or similar most reasonable employers will treat that differently than if they simply have a list of stiffed consumer creditors a mile long.

      We recently denied a position to an otherwise promising candidate because his (open to the public) social media presence was full of outright racist stuff.

      I’m not crying too many tears for him. Are you?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        No, I’m not but by using a tool – in this case a tool designed to determine credit worthiness – for other uses that is was not designed for can have unexpected and unfair results. Sure, a “reasonable” employer might be sympathetic if the reason was medical bills, but they might not, either. Also, you are now informing a potential employer about your medical history and you might be cast aside for that reason. Your medical history is not your employer’s business. As for short term decline due to unemployment, why should you be put in that position to have to explain in the first place? The credit tool works well for just that, credit worthiness. Not employment worthiness. Can a correlation be made between poor credit and being a poor employee? In some cases, sure. But to say that it is a good tool for that purpose is nonsense. Here’s another bullsh!t use for credit scores.

        Ever hear of “insurance score”? I did when my homeowner’s rates nearly doubled due to my poor insurance score. A little research showed such scores rely primarily on credit scores and claim history. Well, a credit check back then showed me with a 780. Zero claims on my homeowner policy. The company that did this witchcraft, Choicepoint IIRC, sent me their history on me. Everything from gun ownership to auto claims (zero) and of course, credit. Nothing showed any reason for my redlining. I dumped them of course.

        The point is there are tools that are being misapplied by some obsure algorithm that even varies from company to company. No wonder I ramble here about loss of privacy. As for social media, if everything I did as a teenager/young adult was made public, an employer would not want to hire me either. I’m sure many who post here have the same “immature” past and yet we all turned out to be good employees or business owners. How about our illustrious writer Jack? His past would put him in jail, never mind keep him unemployed. These things that are being used to weed out potential hires are horribly flawed for that purpose.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Employers will use every “tool” they can to hire the best candidates. That’s what they’re supposed to do. You would demand they do all they can if you were a stockholder, partner, etc.

          Around here, it’s hard to feel sorry for corporations. Yes they’re forced to make snap-decisions, and if they had the time/money to allow everyone with a criminal record, poor credit, repeatedly fired, unsavory social-media profile, etc, to “plead their case”, then investigations their stories, interview witnesses, etc, it would be a whole different scenario.

          Surely they’re missing out on some of the best employees the market has to offer, while complete pigs that look like angels in the “digital world”, move to the head of the line.

          It is what it is.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            A big reason for this growth in “background” checks are anti-discrimination laws and law suites. Aptitude and performance tests aren’t safe to use if they cause statistically too little hiring of “protected” classes. This is why many jobs that don’t need them have a college degree requirement, because the employers assumes you must be reasonably intelligent and hard-working to have completed a degree. Unfortunately, affirmative action and the growth in junk degrees have reduced the signaling value of a college degree, which is why New York dropped testing requirements for new teachers because too many from “protected” classes were not able to demonstrate basic writing and math abilities despite their supposed college degrees in education.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            click the “costing him opportunities” link in Jack’s story. I just read it. It explains why credit scores are a poor barometer for employment. Use the right tool for the job. Sure you could hustle a 1975 Cadillac through the ‘Ring….does not mean it is the proper tool to do so…

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Yes it sucks for applicants with bad credit scores. I’m not disputing the point. But for the employer/corporation (all other things equal), what’s a better/faster “tool” to weed out the losers?

            You’d absolutely hire the workers (all other things equal) with the highest credit scores , if you’re being honest here, and looking to do the best job at hiring personnel. If not, you’re not.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            A 70s Caddy through the ‘ring… I’d watch that YT video…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Me too.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I guess it depends on the definition of “outright racist stuff”. That’s a moving target, as are all the progressive standards. Just look at this guy they’re crucifying on social media this week for saying he loves his wife’s “curvy” body. Apparently she’s not quite fat enough to be called “curvy” so he’s a racist.

        • 0 avatar

          Don’t women without any curves at all look like, um, boys?

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          The job applicant was not white. He was completely nice and professional at the interview and at lunch. He was also openly advocating for violence against white people on social media. Not specific white people, just white people generally.

          It may be as a result of my continually changing “progressive standards” but I feel OK about declining to hire him.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My vote for craziest people on the roads are young males on crotch rockets. Today, I was toodling up the Maine Turnpike to meet a friend for lunch and some dumbass went wailing past me lane splitting at 100+mph, then proceeded to zig over onto the shoulder to pass some more cars and a trailer truck just before an off-ramp. Where he came within inches of getting annihilated by a car exiting, because who would EVER expect a motorcycle to go by in the breakdown lane at near double your speed??

    I almost called him in, but decided there is a shortage of donor organs in the world. He was smart enough to be wearing full gear, but that is just going to make the cleanup a little easier when he buys it at those speeds. If he makes it, I hope he has REALLY, REALLY good health insurance, but he probably has none. Testosterone is a hell of a drug, no?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Here in Houston we’re scraping at least one rider a weekend off the pavement as a result of freeway gymnastics. Not sure how I feel about it…

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yup.

      Returning to Toledo from Twin Cities last September, 9:00pm on a Sunday. On the I-90 inbound towards Chicago from I-39 out of Wisconsin. Dad’s driving my Accord, Mom’s sawing logs in the back seat, ACC set to 75 or so (and was the prevailing speed), center lane.

      My Dad goes [w]hat the…,” and before he could get the next word out, two crotch-rocketeers blew by, one on each side, at what was easily a buck-forty! Before we could catch our breath, another cycle whipped by on the right, weaving around traffic! By this time, my Mom awoke and asked what was going on, just in time to see a dark blue or black MkVII GTI barrel by on the right, probably going 120!

      One miscalculation at those speeds, and even in full gear (as these riders all were), you’re in for being skinned alive at least, if not being outright impaled on a bridge abutment, becoming someone’s hood ornament (or entering another vehicle through the window), or even being grated up like hamburger by hitting a sewer grate just so!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @krhodes1 – in my part of the world middle-aged men on Harleys have supplanted the crotch rocket crowd for the “donour cycle” title.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Another Bay Area guy here. My anecdotal observations on the worst drivers:

    The occasional coal roller bro pickup (rare, but consistently reckless)
    Late-model Nissan Altima
    Late-model Hyundai Sonata
    Ratty mid-2000s Camry with Uber stickers
    Late-model BMW 328i and 335i sedans
    Other ratty old cars with very recent number plates

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      One more “Bay Area” observation: one of the worst places in the country for people driving with mis-aligned headlights, or high beams on at night in traffic. I guess all the SUV drivers don’t care, but man, with a stock-height Legacy GT, it’s REALLY annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Here I thought it might be just me getting old, thinking 80% of traffic has their lights pointed at my eyes. It isn’t just oncoming lights; without auto dimming mirrors I often find the lights reflecting off my side mirrors and into my eyes.

        It is brutal out here, but I’m guessing it’s brutal everywhere or the IIHS wouldn’t have an interest in rating performance of driving lights.

        It could also be increasing numbers of jacked up vehicles causing problems for those of us sticking to sedans and coupes.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          No, its not from getting old. You are noticing the increase in horrible lighting out there. The advent of cheap LED retrofit kits and easy internet ordering has caused a flood of crap lighting to hit the roads. I find this very hazardous and annoying. Now, put this junk lighting on an SUV and now they are blinding you from behind. I have a small mirror in my car and when they are behind me at a light I reflect their light right back into their eyes….

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            My Dad has a 12V bazillion-CP portable spotlight for use on my parents’ boat. THAT would do the trick!

            Brings back memories of night driving, and being followed by a first-generation Chevy Astro/GMC Safari van with the single light on each side! The worst!

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    The easiest way to fix healthcare: ONE law for the entire country. Even POTUS/congress-slime/senate-vermin have to have the SAME plan they give to you and me, and the costs are proportional to income (i.e. paid for by income taxes alone). Same deductible for everyone. No “premium” plans allowed.

    You’d better believe it’d be fixed inside of 3 months.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The biggest mistake they made with the ACA was not forcing Congress to buy their own damned health plans through the ACA marketplace. You bet it would have been right in the first place and worked like a charm.

      I’m actually perfectly OK with allowing private supplemental insurance plans. Just like how Medicare works. But the basic coverage should be the same for all, paid for by all. Though I don’t think it should necessarily be income taxes per se. It should be a separate tax – based on income sure, but with a mandated minimum everyone pays if they have any income at all. So everybody pays SOMETHING, even if it isn’t a lot. A couple percent off the top, minimum. Just to shut up the whiners. And no cap – if you are making $20M you can pay the top percent on every last dollar – a healthy populace is part of why you are able to get all that pay, so it is giveback time.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve never understood why some people think they have a moral right to other people’s property.

        After a healthy populace, and roads, and police & fire protection, and an educated populace, etc. is there any part of why people make good money that is attributable to their own ideas and behavior, or do you always get to take credit for my success without taking ownership of my failures?

        I have a basic question to the “you didn’t build that” crowd. You have two seemingly identical businesses located next door to each other. They sell products in the same industry to the same market. They hire from the same labor pool. They equally rely on police and fire protection. Their employees and products travel on the same roads. One business succeeds, the other barely survives. What’s the difference? Why does one business succeed and the other fail?

        I never hear the “you didn’t build that” crowd talk about invention or ideas.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Amen and hallelujah. There is no end to entitlement and the desire for redistribution. Eventually, the takers break the will of the makers and the stagnation and decline occur.

          Our current debt is equal to our GDP.

          Again: Our current national debt is equal to 100 percent of our GDP.

          Most of this problem is created by the entitlements we already have.

          We love to feel virtuous with other people’s money and call people “selfish” if they don’t agree to having the product of their labor confiscated. Yet, there is no real generosity or compassion in taking and redistributing other people’s money.

          Compassion is demonstrated by donating one’s own time and money.

          The effects of fake compassion can be brutal. Welfare has destroyed the family unit among a huge percentage of the poor and devastated more neighborhoods than Godzilla. It has created a permanent underclass. Millions of children grow up without fathers. The result is horrible violence and massive ignorance. The predictable response is that we need to confiscate and redistribute even more money to welfare programs and the failing public schools in these neighborhoods. And yet, the poverty becomes even more entrenched. People quickly adapt to learned helplessness, moral destruction and a resentful victim mentality. This is mostly the result of good intentions and the lack of accountability that comes from spending other people’s money.

          Thanks redistributionists. The government can’t even run the DMV. Please get out of health care.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            What a load of unmitigated bullcrap .

            The only redistribution of wealth in America is from those Working Class who earned it to the already full pockets of the 1% .

            Your hannity troll check is in the mail now .

            You’re flat _lying_ when you walk about welfare as the biggest slice if that pie is to corporations that are already making record profits followed by White people in the Appellations (SP) but why deal with facts, truth and logic when you can lie and repeat what people who are stealing from you, tell you to say ? .

            Critical thinking was the very first thing the gop killed in our Public Schools and you are the result .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Ouch. Not much substance Nate.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Some consider the plain truth to be very substantive, you may prefer lies and dishonesty, I do not .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Your emotions are making you incoherent.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Typical response to the truth : obfuscate .

            try reality and honesty, it makes life so much better, more enjoyable and easier .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Try making a coherent argument, Nate.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            The Bible, I believe, says something about being a “cheerful giver.”

            And I will cheerfully give, as I am able, to church or other charitable causes, which give hand-ups, not handouts.

            I understand the need of a safety net for those who are on disability or cannot otherwise work to sustain themselves.

            However, when my slice is confiscated to go to those who CHOOSE not to better themselves, I am no longer a cheerful giver! And I have less to give to church or other charitable causes, lest I end up needing a hand-up myself!

            Funny how that works!

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Completely agree with all you just wrote sgeffe.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Nate – fight the good fight.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “I never hear the “you didn’t build that” crowd talk about invention or ideas.”

          the vast majority of people aren’t inventors, Ronnie.

          “I’ve never understood why some people think they have a moral right to other people’s property.”

          I’ve never understood why some people think they have a moral right to benefit from society’s protections yet think they shouldn’t have to pay to keep that society running.

          You’re perfectly welcome to move to some remote unincorporated area and live off the land if you don’t think you should have to contribute to society.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            JimZ – Everyone has relatively equal access to roads, schools, fire, police, and military protection, but only some end up creating successful new businesses, inventing popular new products, writing best selling novels and songs, etc. that end up making them wealthy. And the vast majority of wealth is self-created, not inherited. If tax money went primarily to funding roads, schools, fire, police and military, there would be very few objections to paying taxes, and taxes would be far lower than they are today. The objections come from the fact that 67% of federal spending is welfare, and whether it is corporate welfare or food stamps it is highly questionable that such spending actually solves any of the “inequalities” and “unfairness” that such spending is supposed to address. On the contrary, evidence is far stronger that such “fairness” interventions only make things worse by decreasing price sensitivity and thereby increasing prices for health care and higher education, and creating incentives for crony capitalists and low future time orientation individuals to act irresponsibly.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Absolutely agree.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            stingray and thelaine,
            I really do believe you guys are full of it.

            I do believe that those who are better off need to pay for those who are less fortunate.

            70% of all jobs are middle class and above. So, irrespective of education, how hard you work there will be 30% having it tough.

            What about the protection offered to US industry? Farmers? Corn, dairy, beef, wheat, etc.

            The motor vehicle industry? If you do believe in your views why should Ford, GM and Ram pickups be protected from fair competition?

            I do believe many of you are totally and utterly selfish to the point where you don’t give two fncks about anyone or anything other than yourselves.

            How nice you really are.

            If the minimum wage was made to be liveable you would be the first ones to whine that a Big Mac costs 50c more, not that you will be paying less tax to support food stamps or something else.

            I’m not saying I support unlimited welfare, but I do believe much welfare can be cut by just offering a decent minimum wage. It saves the country money, as would a compulsory 401K system that all must put into.

          • 0 avatar

            ““I never hear the “you didn’t build that” crowd talk about invention or ideas.”

            the vast majority of people aren’t inventors, Ronnie.”

            Interesting how you left out “ideas”. Every small business owner, whether it’s a hot dog stand, or a McDonald’s franchisee, or the owner of a small mfg company, has an idea.

            Not just business owners either. A Unigraphics expert friend of mine and I have started a side thing called Blue Collar Prototyping. In the past week I’ve gotten about a half dozen inquiries from people who have ideas for a product.

            “society’s protections ” – interesting characterization of the adminstrative state.

            The fact that I agree that the state has the power to tax does not give the state rights to all of my property.

        • 0 avatar
          Ostrich67

          “I’ve never understood why some people think they have a moral right to other people’s property.”

          Here. I help pay for this; you should too you freeloader.

          U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section 8

          Article 1 – The Legislative Branch
          Section 8 – Powers of Congress

          The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

          To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

          To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

          To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

          To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

          To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

          To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

          To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

          To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

          To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

          To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

          To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

          To provide and maintain a Navy;

          To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

          To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

          To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

          To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

          To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

            sh!t, you mean that’s been there since 1789?

            more proof that the people who incessantly bleat how things are “unconstitutional” have never once in their lives actually read the document. Just like “Christians” claiming the Bible says things it doesn’t say.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            @Big Al ;

            You’re right they are and are proving it by repeatedly lying and using dishonest talking points from 1%’er funded hate spew talk radio ~

            #1, obviously none have read any part of the Constitution yet they yammer endlessly about it .

            #2 . ” Our current welfare policies actually encourage irresponsible people to have children, ” false, again they have NO IDEA how rough it is for poor people with Children, why I had the snip right after my Son was born and have never regretted it because I looked forward to getting a normal life not one of endless poverty .

            #3. “As for helping the poor with high minimum wages – it sounds good but it also doesn’t work.”

            Again,(no surprise) completely false and has been proven so repeatedly but selfish hate filled people simply DO NOT CARE about anyone else even if doing so might help them .

            Shameless and bad Citizens, try living in Poland or Croatia if you think no taxes and of course, mostly only White people is so great .

            Hypocrites the lot of you .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar

            I’ll see your Article I Section 8 and raise you the Fourth Amendment, also the law of the land:

            “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

            The purpose of Art. I, Sec. 8, was to enumerate and restrict Congress’ powers, not give the federal gov’t carte blanche.

            Paying for the wholely unconstitutional and lawless administrative state is not mentioned in Article I. Very little of what the federal government currently does fits the restrictions of Section 8.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “Just like “Christians” claiming the Bible says things it doesn’t say.”

            Interestingly enough, most of the rhetoric that comes from the Christian right is based on the Old Testament. If one claims to be a “Christian” then that means they are a follower/believer in Jesus Christ. His teaching over-rule the Old Testament.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Ronnie, although “the poor will always be with us” it is much better and cheaper for society to provide them with a guaranteed standard of living. Otherwise they partake of ’emergency services’ which end up costing much more and create generational dysfunction.

          Studies have demonstrated that it is much cheaper in the long run to provide inexpensive housing, universal healthcare and free/subsidized education than to pay the emergency care for someone living on the streets, in prison and bringing into the world children who require assistance in the form of food stamps, etc and who are unable to go on to higher education and/or skills acquisition and eventually support themselves.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not sure that humans beings thrive when they have a guaranteed standard of living.

            A while back I was discussing with Jack the fact that many of our favorite guitar players and musicians have been stone junkies at one point or another. He said that opiates give you a feeling of absolute peace and contentment. Maybe humans aren’t meant to have absolute peace and contentment.

            Maybe you’re experiences are different but I’ve found that when I’m in an unequally dependant relationship or feeling entitled, it doesn’t make for positive character development.

            There’s this weird thing about dependancy. Humans simultaneously resent it and feel entitled about it. Not a healthy combination.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    God-fucking-DAMN is the US healthcare system a disaster.

    I’m genuinely, sincerely sorry you’ve had to endure all that, Jack.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I was driving
    Taking chances
    Walking way too far out on
    Some broken branches

    Sometimes where you’re going
    Is hard to see

    I always knew there was
    Something missing
    They said no one could ever get me
    To sit and listen

    I was always
    Trying to leave

    Babe it got away from me
    It got away from me

    – Matt Berninger

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    By observation, Dodge pickups are the worst. Not Chevys, not Fords but Dodge Rams have the drivers with a software defect.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      I think the reason is income. Dodge is often cheapest.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      Hey as a RAM owner I resemble that remark.
      I don’t drive like a crazy man but I will pass on the right. The freeways I drive on are two-lanes in each direction and every day there are multiple cars that camp out in the left lane at or below the speed limit and never, ever move over. I have given up on tailgating to teach them a lesson, I just look for an opening and pass them on the right and move on down the road.

  • avatar

    This is a very poverty oriented attitude. I had a long conversation many years back with woman who staffed a free contraception clinic in NYC. I asked why so many unplanned births when, here she is, surrounded by information, free condoms, and I found out, free or low cost doctor visits for other means.

    “It just happens”.

    I took exception. I’m a very free-love sort, think you should be happy, and don’t care just so there is no duress or children involved. I had been childless for a while and no priest…I said..”It doesn’t JUST HAPPEN”.

    She kindly explained to this white boy from the suburbs the poverty mentality. If you can’t plan for the future, you don’t-if your life is just crisis to crisis planning falls by the wayside.

    With this mentality, pregnancy, paying bills, or doing much that isn’t right now…..just happens…or not…but it is usually a poverty response.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Speedlaw – Poverty response is just a ‘polite’ way of describing low IQ/low impulse control/low future time orientation people. Most of their crises are due to their own actions (i.e. making stupid purchases, taking up bad habits, armed robbery, etc.) and inactions (i.e. not showing up for work, not paying bills, not using birth-control, not fixing broken tail-lights, etc.). The one thing that many of them are smart enough to figure out, however, is that individuals and society will be much more willing to give them “free” stuff if they think it is to help their children, which of course creates an incentive for more of these typically bad parents to have more children who end up creating another generation of ‘poverty responses’.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @stingray65–Thank you, I could not have said it any better. I have helped people in the past and many are as you described they are smart enough to appeal for help because of their children. Helping people like this is a futile effort–the only way anyone changes is to admit they have a problem and they are willing to do something about it. This is the same whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, hoarding, compulsive shopping, and etc. The best solution would be to sterilize people that are like this but the American Civil Liberties and various court decisions do not allow this.

    Just as Jack described I have more shoes, shirts, pants, and clothes in general than I can ever use. I do keep my vehicles a long time (at least 10 years) and I drive much more conservatively than I did when I was younger. Jack gives a good explanation and gives a good correlation between those who default on their car loans and bad driving. There is a sterotypical vehicle that these type of people drive because of easier credit but as many have stated not everyone who drives that type of vehicle is irresponsible–some of us are just very thrifty with our money and look for a good value.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The issue of children has been in the news recently, when a Tennessee judge offered repeat offenders in his court 30 days off their jail sentence if they agreed to have vasectomy (men) or Nexplanon arm implant (women). Of course the ACLU went crazy and the judge has backed off, but he thought it was a reasonable solution for dealing with people that repeatedly kept showing up in his court. Our current welfare policies actually encourage irresponsible people to have children, but it would be far smarter to make welfare contingent on accepting reversible sterilization until such time as the person proves they have the personal stability and economic resources to support a child without public assistance.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        cheap and easy to get birth control and plan b would help a lot. i myself finally got a vasectomy, and its the best $25 copay i ever paid. doc asked why, i said “retirement insurance”. ill take a dog over a kid any day.

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          How long did it take for you to get back to work?

          I need to make that appt this week but I have a couple of big projects that I need to get past so I can take a day or two off if necessary.

          Ice packs would be awkward at work…

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Big Al from Oz – I can’t speak for Laine, but your comments about selfishness and minimum wages are not very accurate or fair. Helping out the bottom 30% is not a bad thing, but I believe that such “help” should actually be accomplishing something positive. The US spent $22 Trillion on “war on poverty” programs between 1964 and 2014, and the poverty rate ended up at approximately the same as it was in 1964, while measures such as two-parent families, population % in the work force, etc. got much worse – particularly for the people these programs were designed to help. Clearly the programs haven’t been effective, and should be shut down or at least drastically redesigned. The question is why they are ineffective? If someone with a strong future time orientation was to be laid off work or have an unfortunate medical emergency due to no fault of their own, they would likely see value in getting help (i.e. money for necessities, retraining, medical help, moving assistance) until they could get back on their feet and able to support themselves, and would in most cases work hard to get to that state as quickly as possible due to social norms or internal pride. But this “middle-class” mind-set public assistance doesn’t work the same for low future time orientation people, because it most often becomes permanent welfare assistance due to their different social norms and basis for pride. Its the same for corporate welfare – in most cases it becomes permanent assistance because the recipient doesn’t feel any incentive to ever give up the “free” money and stand on their own.

      As for helping the poor with high minimum wages – it sounds good but it also doesn’t work. Poor people with low future time orientation are very often terrible employees – they have few skills, they are difficult to train, they have terrible work habits – and these are the people that profit seeking business should be forced to pay a “living” wage? A more effective strategy would be for welfare programs to be oriented towards offering companies money to hire these type of people to compensate the business for the risk and sacrifices they make in trying to provide employment to unemployable people.
      Hopefully some of them would eventually learn some skills and how to show up to work everyday on-time, which would allow them to move up the ladder without public assistance. Thus my belief can be summarized by saying: welfare programs for the poor can only be effective when they demonstrate the ability to encourage/force healthy working-age people to act more responsibly and move them as quickly as possible towards self-sufficiency. I also have the same viewpoint regarding corporate welfare.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So many issues and so many good comments.
    1) Lack of future orientation = greater propensity to commit a crime. Do not foresee the future and goes for instant gratification.
    2) Credit checking as part of pre-employment screening is a discriminatory practice. And the research demonstrates that it has very little correlation to actual job performance. Its implementation coincided with the growing income disparity in the USA and unfortunately its practice is slowly creeping into Canada through American owned companies. Credit and criminal background checking are helping to create a permanently unemployable underclass in the USA whose only choice is to return to crime or welfare.
    3) Why among all first world nations is the USA unable to see the overall benefits to society of universal healthcare. Yet the USA spends far more on healthcare per capita than most nations, including Canada.
    4) As Toronto is becoming a ‘wprld city’ we see far more than our fair share of exotics. Lambos, Ferraris, Aston-Martins. Bentleys, etc. I see at least a few everyday. A decade or more ago, I could go weeks without seeing one. And those driving them tend to not care about driving rules. Like the guy in the UK who wrote off his Ferrari within 1 hour of taking possession. Many are driven by university/college students with money provided by their billionaire. overseas parents. The other major source of over aggressive drivers are those in pick-ups. Sorry but sometimes stereotypes have a base in experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I was just in your beautiful city 2 weeks ago. 1) How the hell do you get anywhere? Traffic was horrible – and I live in Houston! 2) I was amazingly impressed at the amount of recycling everywhere. Kudos on that!

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Dave, Well there are 2 schools of thought regarding the direction that Toronto has taken.

        Prior to around the mid 1970’s Toronto was a very WASPish town. Largely run by a group that considered themselves to be ‘progressive conservatives’. Everything closed on Sundays. Strict control over alcohol licensing and bar hours of operation. Taxes were relatively high, the public transit and public housing systems were among the best in the world. “New York City run by the Swiss” was the famous quote from Peter Ustinov. The largest minority was the Italian community. And it wasn’t even the biggest city in Canada. The fear was that the inner city would become ‘hollowed out’ like Detroit, Cleveland, etc.

        Then things changed. Different ‘progressive governments for a period, followed some true believers in the modern ‘conservative’ approach (Mike Harris as Premier and Rob Ford as Mayor). Public spending and increased taxation were considered to be ‘bad’. Population growth exploded, so that it is now the 4th largest urban centre in North America. Large number of immigrants, most from 2nd or 3rd world nations arrived. The Toronto media likes to claim that Toronto is the most multi-cultural city on Earth. Not really true however those of ‘colour’ and those born in other nations are now about 50% of the population. However the public transportation system starved of funds has become inadequate. Public housing is largely in crisis. Population growth is greatest in the inner city. Traffic is a mess 24/7 and housing has become unaffordable. Expect to pay about $400k for a small condo and over $800k for a ‘starter’ home.

        So far the solutions offered are the construction of massive 40 story plus condos, taxation on foreign/out of country absentee real estate investors/landlords, rent controls. the decision to build a very expensive subway extension rather than light rail transit and the imposition of bicycle lanes on many of the major roads.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Bike lanes that can be used, what, five months out of the year?

          Twenty years ago, give or take, I was in Montreal for a week, and was amazed at the underground, indoor shopping area which radiated from the central train station throughout downtown. I suspect there’s a good reason for that!

          And ten pounds of cars have to be stuffed into five pounds of space as a result! (Probably without re-timing the traffic lights! MAYBE the only advantage of which is that there’s more room to put plowed snow without interfering with traffic, which is still constrained!)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “The fact that I agree that the state has the power to tax does not give the state rights to all of my property.”

    No one but the lying fear mongers ever said the state has rights to anything of yours ronnie.

    Stop lying .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      “No one but the lying fear mongers ever said the state has rights to anything of yours ronnie.

      Stop lying .

      -Nate”

      Tell that to your fellow travellers above who claim that Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives them the moral right to my property.

      How ’bout you not call me a liar and I won’t call you any names either? I believe in treating people civilly, until they act in an uncivil manner.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I hate to tell you this Nate, but it suddenly appears that we have something in common.

      • 0 avatar

        Nate you’re gonna have to cool down for a while. That sort of attack is unwarranted, and the language used unacceptable in this forum.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “travellers”

        please don’t tell me you buy into that “sovereign citizen” nonsense.

        • 0 avatar

          “Sovereign citizen”? The term “fellow traveler” (sorry for the spelling error) was more or less coined by Trotsky about 100 years ago. Anti-communists picked up on it in the 1940s. I figure if people are throwing around “alt-right” without much of a clue, I can call leftists fellow travelers.

          FWIW, I had far more productive things to do but I’ve actually read what self-identified alt-right guys like Richard Spencer say. They have nothing in common with American conservatives who are deeply committed to their reading of the U.S. Constitution. Spencer and his reactionary buddies are explicitly opposed to the enlightenment concepts in the Declaration and Constitution.

  • avatar

    “I have a basic question to the “you didn’t build that” crowd. You have two seemingly identical businesses located next door to each other. They sell products in the same industry to the same market. They hire from the same labor pool. They equally rely on police and fire protection. Their employees and products travel on the same roads. One business succeeds, the other barely survives. What’s the difference? Why does one business succeed and the other fail?”

    Still waiting for a coherent answer to the question.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Ronnie – I’ll answer your question. If the failed business is run by a person of color (except Asian), the reason for the failure is racism or possibly Islamophobia. If the failed business is run by a woman, the reason for the failure is patriarchy or misogyny. If the failed business is run by a white heterosexual male, it failed because of managerial incompetence and/or laziness.

      If the successful business is run by a person of color and/or a woman, the reason for the success is because they are wise, creative, inclusive, and had to work twice as hard – or in other words “they did build that”. If the successful business is run by a white heterosexual male, it succeeds entirely due to cronyism, dumb luck, and/or the racism/misogyny/general deplorableness of the customers – or in other words “you didn’t build that”.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      if theres an asian mom n pop 99cent plus next door to a corporate 99cent only (TM) store, im going to the 99c only. i know what they carry, i know the price and quality. they get better deals from suppliers, have their own buying department that does research so im more likely to find current things that i want to buy.

      the right merch at the right price in the right quantity in the right condition. good enough answer?

  • avatar

    It’s fascinating to see the same people who claim that everyone has a right to a guaranteed standard of living call others freeloaders.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      So Ronnie, your solution is to turn your back on them?????

      Better to ensure an acceptable standard of living that will allow some from each generation to escape poverty and contribute positively to society.

      And provide the others with adequate proactive housing, food, and healthcare so that they don’t become a permanent user of emergency services and reactive programs which cost much, much more than proactive care.

      Shouldn’t shelter, education, healthcare and food be given the same guaranteed rights as the firearm ownership,voting privileges and access to roads.

      • 0 avatar

        “So Ronnie, your solution is to turn your back on them?????”

        I guess it depends on your definition of needy. My grandfather supported a wife, five daughters and two nephews dealing in things that people throw away, paper and rags.

        “Better to ensure an acceptable standard of living that will allow some from each generation to escape poverty and contribute positively to society.”

        The social science is fairly well settled, you don’t need a standard of living to escape poverty. If you want to escape poverty you should graduate from high school, don’t have a kid before you’re married, and get married. It seems to me that all those things are possible in America even if you grow up poor.

        You’re making the common mistake thinking that giving people the signifiers of middle class life will give them middle class behaviors. You just end up with a mortgage crisis.

        “And provide the others with adequate proactive housing, food, and healthcare so that they don’t become a permanent user of emergency services and reactive programs which cost much, much more than proactive care.”

        Are you so sure that those provisions won’t encourage passivity and becoming a permanent cost to society? Your answer, “it’s cheaper that way”, hardly seems enobling of the human spirit.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Ronnie, unfortunately there are a number of holes in your argument.

          First the USA is not the centre of the universe, nor were its Founding Fathers omnipotent. The American Constitution has been amended by both Acts of Congress and judicial decisions. The USA no longer has the highest standard of living, nor the greatest social mobility rates. It also falls behind on education, infant mortality and life expectancy. These downward changes have occurred since the ‘hard right’ turn in the American political system.

          Studies have shown many times that corporate grants, rebates and tax exemptions cost far more than social welfare. Compare military expenditure to expenditures on Medicaid and Medicare, despite the fact that there are zero nations threatening to ‘invade’ the USA.

          As for getting a high school education to pull yourself out into the middle class, well that is now largely a dream. There are few blue collar jobs available that provide solid, middle class incomes. Let alone pensions. Social mobility rates have decreased as income disparity increases.

          The greatest amount of money is not going to those who created jobs or made inventions but instead to those who trade in equities, collect on their investments, practice law, etc.

          Meanwhile those who work the hardest, standing on their feet all day, doing manual labour, waiting on customers, etc get paid the least, many unable to earn a ‘living wage’. The working poor do exist and their ranks are growing.

          That is a major reason why Donald Trump got elected. He presented a vision of a return to when America alone at the top. When the organization that you worked for was more important than the job you performed. Where your loyalty was rewarded and in return for 30 years in the workplace you would enjoy a comfortable retirement and provide greater opportunities for your offspring.

          That world no longer exists and any amount of wishing will not bring it back.

          The war against drugs has just resulted in the USA spending billions on a prison system that does not work and creating an entire underclass of the unemployable.

          The Laffer Curve has been proven to be a hoax. Trickle down does not work.

          Yes, staying in school, not procreating until you had savings and secure housing and not getting a divorce would be beneficial for all. However unless you implement a dictatorship or a religion based legal system, that is not going to happen.

      • 0 avatar

        “Shouldn’t shelter, education, healthcare and food be given the same guaranteed rights as the firearm ownership,voting privileges and access to roads.”

        Not according to the Founding Fathers. I’m pretty sure that in 1789 people needed shelter, food, health care and education at least as much as they do today, yet those supposed rights were not guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps the founders felt that liberty was a more fundamental concept than a meal ticket.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          If you want to see what happens when you give people all of the things they need to live, look no further than an American ghetto. Or, if that is insufficient, look to England. “Life at the Bottom” by Theodore Dalrymple, is a classic examination of the exact same process in the UK. Able-bodied people capable of work do not become “productive” when their basic needs are handed to them. They become dependent, resentful, and destructive. What makes people productive is culture, values, and morality. We have already performed the experiment that so many people are proposing. It has been a disaster. It is catastrophic. I would very much rather be in the Marines in Afghanistan than on the streets in a welfare ghetto in Chicago or London. Not even close. The culture of Marines will protect me. The culture of the ghetto will destroy me. Our “compassionate” polices have created a permanent underclass that is born, lives and dies in neighborhoods no prudent person would voluntarily drive through, much less live in.

          The products of this sick and twisted culture fill our jails and prisons with physically strong and healthy men who have never worked a legitimate job a day in their lives but are, nevertheless, strong, well fed and clothed. Regardless, they are bitter, resentful and angry about the raw deal they have gotten. Immigrants from actual poor countries can only shake their heads in stunned disbelief.

          Culture is everything, and welfare destroys it. Basic income is not a gift, it is a curse. If you can work, you should be expected to do so. If you refuse, you should not expect someone else to pay for your dinner.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @thelaine, these were not created by progressive policies. They existed long before the ‘welfare’ system. Read about Victorian/Edwardian England or the slums on New York City.

        • 0 avatar

          But founding fathers of Soviet Union did make shelter, education, healthcare and food guaranteed right for all people. It says about how much more compassionate and politically correct and how much ahead of time founders of Soviet Union were compared with founding fathers of USA.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Exactly. People never learn.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I never cease to be amused at people who never had to experience something explain what it’s like to experience that thing.

          • 0 avatar

            Experienced which things?

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Yeah, you are really making some assumptions now, Jim. In any event, the statement is bizarre. You gotta go through the Holocaust to have knowledge of the suffering?

          • 0 avatar

            BTW I experienced systems in both Soviet Union (where I was born BTW) and USA. If you are loser you would be better served in Soviet Union. But it did not last long did it? Does it say anything to you Jim? Socialism is the place where nations come to die.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            If you were poor or rich you often had a much better standard of living in the USSR than elsewhere.

            The rich had access to any and all luxuries.

            The poor were guaranteed a place to live, access to a very
            good educational system, enough food, clothing, medical care and usually access to cheap cultural/recreational/athletic events, public transportation and ‘guaranteed’ employment which usually included at least one week at government provided ‘cottage’ or similar.

            It was the middle class that suffered, regarding their standards of living, in comparison to those in the west.

            Of course many of their personal freedoms and the freedom of the media were also eliminated, which is normal for any dictatorship. But then most dictatorships also have very low crime rates or immigration.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Remember that they were all well to do, many large land and often slave owners. They were not particularly worried about the poor.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Incentivizing destructive behavior and penalizing productive behavior is very, very bad policy. Eventually, it all comes tumbling down. We have experienced great wealth and opportunity for a very long time, and many take it for granted. It doesn’t come from nowhere. Everything comes from the productive. Beat them down sufficiently, and they stop producing. It takes time, but it is inevitable. Sweden had to pull back, as their social spending was destroying an economy that had been built through free enterprise. They are still in big trouble due to their immigration errors. Venezuela…nobody on the left wants to talk about Venezuela. If they do, they blame oil prices so they don’t have to acknowledge the obvious.

    Incentives matter. Have a look at the police these days. They have given up on entire neighborhoods. It’s not worth it.

    Most people are motivated by ambition for pleasure, fame, power, sex, money. Many are competitive and jealous of others as well. Human nature does not change. I have never in my life met someone who did not want to have more money, no matter how much money they had. I’m sure those people exist, but not in my experience.

    There is much bitterness and jealousy over the success of others. If your boss was willing to give you a two thousand dollar bonus for doing absolutely nothing but you find out that he was also willing to give a twenty thousand dollar bonus to your even dumber and lazier co-worker that you do not like, many people would forego the two thousand just to prevent that other jerk from getting his twenty thousand.

    Welfare has caused massive suffering; has destroyed productive middle-class values and substituted a destructive victim mentality; has created multigenerational poverty; has wrecked havoc on the idea of responsible fatherhood; has destroyed the nuclear family in poor communities; has created 3rd world war zones where no one is safe and the most ruthless predators rule and has created a culture of dependency, immorality, viciousness and self-destruction. The War on Poverty has been worse than a failure, it has been a catastrophe for the people victimized by it and the nation as a whole. Perhaps we should examine our errors here before we jump in to government run health care. What we should be doing is pulling back and letting competition reduce prices and increase choice and quality.

    People do need to take responsibility for their own lives. No one has the right to expect a bailout from someone else. Compassion should be expressed through personal sacrifice. Put your own money to work for your fellow man. Confiscation and the entitlement mentality are horribly destructive and have led to one catastrophe after another.

    Kill the landlord.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Laine – I agree. We live in a crazy world where formerly positive words such as “responsibility” have become dirty words that are supposedly racist dog whistles. Its very easy for politicians from both the left and right to be generous with other people’s money, but it is the “selfish” and “greedy” people on the right that study after study shows are the most generous in giving their own money and time to private charity of all types. Of course private citizens who lean left, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, have also been generous to charity while also advocating higher taxes on the wealthy. Yet these same people are also the ones that do everything possible to minimize the taxes they pay, and to shield their estates from the IRS, which is probably the best indicator of what they truly think about the efficacy of government spending.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I think it is Bill Gates who is known for demanding strict “metrics” to constantly evaluate the practical effectiveness of his charitable programs. If they are not producing, he immediately reevaluates and then eliminates or modifies. In contrast, the government response to manifest failure, typically, is to expand.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Yep – failure of a government program simply means it wasn’t given enough money, and it is time to double-down on the “investment”. On the other hand, a stated desire to shut such a failed program means you are a heartless bastard who enjoys seeing poor people suffer slow painful deaths.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    just today… the young latina in the newer sentra with no plates and visible body damage deciding to use the HOV lane as a passing lane, and the hispanic in the hooptified 1991 civic hatch with cREVier BMW dealer ad plates, because OF COURSE they just picked that up from an orange county BMW dealers used car section… nothing at ALL suspicious about that.
    Both of which if caught by the CHP will complain about targeted racism, and not their own stupidity.

  • avatar

    Nissan essentially replaced Mitsubishi. No wonder that Nissan and Mitsubishi are now the same company – it was destined to happen. Now if they buy Kia also.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The “entitlement mentality” is a belief you have a moral right to the product of someone else’ labor and an anger and resentment when the other person disagrees. It is on full display here.

    In addition, there is no issue that more readily strips the mask from those who claim they are not socialists.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    We talk about fairness and equal all the time. Sure is fair that many on Medicaid get many large expensive treatments paid for, but the middle class, even with good insurance, Medicare and Medicare supplements, can still get saddled with thousands and 10s of thousands of dollars in debt.

    Real fair.

  • avatar

    Badly driven cars around NYC…

    Nissan Rogue. Don’t know why, this sells to foks who have no interest at all in driving.
    Prius:, Ditto, with the occasional hypermiler.

    Corolla (yawn)

    Work trucks-Utility, Railroad, and Gardeners-will block a two lane road with a 50 limit and do 35 for the whole segment…no passing anywhere. We have a lot of two laners with no passing for five-seven miles so this gets stupid.

    Bonus points for the motorcyclists in NYC who take over with two stroke motorcross bikes and ATV’s…yes, on Manhattan and Brooklyn Streets.

  • avatar
    phlipski

    Timely article. I just drove from Nashville to Fort Worth today. It rained pretty heavily during the entire stretch between Little Rock, Arkansas and Mt Vernon, TX (about 1/2 way between Texarkana and Dallas). And during that stretch of I-30 the speed limit is 70mph which is really the speed minimum. The majority of reckless driving I witnessed (in the rain) was done in 1/2 and 3/4 ton pickups. A lot of dangerous driving was also done by dudes in pickups pulling trailers carrying those side-by-side ATV’s.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Here in the Syracuse area the Nissan Altima is ubiquitous due to a volume dealer, so it’s probably sheer numbers that make it seem like a repeat offender. Far worse are Subarus. Thanks to the safety trope, people tend to think they’re driving a M1 Abrams and dispense with little details such as indicators and keeping a safe distance. As far as healthcare, I’ll leave it to people who are far more intelligent than I, like Patty Murray and Maxine Waters.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I had great FTO when employed by a Fortune 100 company and enjoying all the benefits. Then I took a Steve dance package to fund my own business. It depended on unskilled labor, and I found myself surrounded by very low FTO folks. Horrible behavior in and out of work, no desire to get ahead, high turnover. The horrible decisions these people made on a regular basis shocked me. It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to get out. Then the ACA came and I lost my health plan, but was offered a lesser one for 1900 per month. Vs the previous 1300. Then I realized this business was not going to fly so I flushed my investment. Back in corporate America now I look back at that experience as a nightmare – even my own FTO had declined. I don’t know how the underclass lives, as far as I can tell they are merely existing with no hope for the future.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Wow. If Jack’s getting paid by the click , introducing two very hot- button topics, social inequality and health care ,into one article is sure to put some new Fikse’s on the 993, or maybe a new guitar.
    But hey , clicks are free and this article was still very well written.


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