Friday, December 25, 2009

I wish for you a very Merry Christmas

December the 25th is not a "Winter Holiday", it is designated as Christmas Day.
It is also very likely NOT the birthday of Jesus the Christ, but it is a designated day to remember that event. (Shepherds would not likely have been "in the field" in winter.) The event was attended by some celestial signs and visitors, but nobody bothered to mention the actual date. Perhaps the date was considered of less significance than the import of the event. God had visited man - no, God had become a man. The second Adam had been born to redeem us all from the taint left by the first Adam. Good News, indeed.
Here is the major distinction of Christianity from other religions: The way of salvation was invested not in following elaborate rules, but in a Person. Messiah Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save it. In those hours on the cross, He absorbed all the sins of the world - past, present, and future.
And that is why I can wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stimulus Effects for Retirees

The Federal Government has issued the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) adjustment figures for Social Security and military retirees. Here you go:
Social Security.
Cost of Living increase = 0%.
Cost of Medicare Part B goes from $96.50 to $110.50.
Net Benefit to seniors = -$14.00.

Military Retirees.
Cost of Living increase = 0%.
Tax increase due to stimulus = $10.
Net benefit to military retirees = -$10.

How's that hope and change working out so far?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Governments Never Shrink

Our wonderful Republic (not a Democracy, regardless of what says. ) was founded by some really smart guys.  They were not, of course, saints.  They did, however, recognize the fallibility of humans.  We are a flawed people.  Because they rightly discerned the nature of man, they invented a system of government with checks and balances and wrote the Constitution to limit the power of the Federal government.  For my purposes, I will refer to the King’s power as statism and the people’s power as anarchy (Democracy has been defined as two wolves and a lamb voting on what is for dinner).  They strove to seek a balance between the two.  They envisioned the rule of law rather than the rule of a person.  The ideal was that certain “truths” were “self-evident” as put forth in the Declaration of independence.  This new experiment would balance the needs of the minority as well as the majority, because the law was supreme.


The constitution outlines three branches of government, taking the king’s legislative, executive, and judicial powers and spreading them around.  Each branch of government was to be suspicious of the other branches.  The Congress was to have two houses, one in which all states were equal (Senate), and one in which the states with larger populations had a larger vote (House of Representatives).  Originally Senators were to be chosen by the state legislatures (Article I Section 3), later that was changed (17th Amendment) to require direct elections by the people.  Because slavery was a contentious issue and because the less populous states feared that states with large slave holdings might have undue influence in the House, they settled on an enumeration that include three-fifths of a person for each slave held.  There is a general misunderstanding today about that three-fifths clause, which I will probably have Dave and Blarney discuss in the future.


But the point of this article is that each branch then was free to hire people to assist them.  The President has a staff, Congress has staff people and the supreme court has numerous law clerks.  The executive branch is the one most likely to grow, but Congress can commission studies and offices for itself.  Let’s say that we decide to eliminate poverty, or maybe reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  We could have a “War on Poverty” or create a “Department of Energy”.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  The people in those areas would be hired to solve those problems.  We could throw money at the problem and create large executive departments filled with people who are charged with solving the problem.


Oh, wait.  We already did.  And how is that working out?  Not surprisingly, neither problem (poverty or dependence on foreign oil) has been solved in spite of armies of people and billions of dollars attacking the problems.  Not surprisingly, you say?  Indeed.  It is Basic Economics.  Once a federal agency is created, it takes on a life of its own..  If they ever solve the problem, they will be out of a job.  It takes a strong character to cut out one’s own job.  Not gonna happen.


And that is why governments never shrink.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dave and Blarney and photosynthesis

Blarney: Dave, you still haven’t told me why you think Lisa P. Jackson was stupid to call carbon dioxide a pollutant. After all, the UN has stated that it definitely causes global warm… Climate Change. Humans are to blame.

Dave: Blarney, have you ever heard of photosynthesis?

Blarney: Is that something like using Photo Shop to make up phony pictures?

Dave: Good parsing of the word, but no. Photosynthesis is the process in which plants convert carbon dioxide and water to make glucose. In the process, the plants release oxygen into the air.

Blarney: Really? You mean carbon dioxide is food for plants?

Dave: Yes. I forgot you attended liberal arts schools. The lack of plants to generate oxygen is one of the concerns about deforestation.

Blarney: I thought you were a conservative. Why are you worried about the planet? Aren’t you one of the Global Warm… - I mean Climate Change – deniers?

Dave: Wow. No sane person denies climate change, Blarney. We only deny that man is causing it.

Blarney: Oh.

Dave: See, that is one of the problems in talking with you. You drop out significant words, like “man-made” or “anthropogenic” when calling us “deniers”.

Blarney: Well…

Dave: And when you were confronted with the fact that the earth is actually cooling, you switched from “global warming” to “climate change”.

Blarney: That’s because you might get by with denying global warming, but you would be an idiot to deny climate change.

Dave: Indeed. And. As I said, nobody does deny climate change. We simply point out that it will happen with or without man’s activities.

Blarney: Don’t you care about the environment?

Dave: There you go again. We can be all for clean air and water without getting hysterical about some mythological man-made climate catastrophe.

Blarney: Well, you don’t have to resort to name-calling.

Dave: What?!? Never mind. Plants take the carbon dioxide from the air and use it along with light and water to make glucose. In the process they release oxygen back into the air.

Blarney: OK. So plants clean up the pollution.

Dave: No, Blarney, that isn’t my point. Humans breathe in the oxygen and use it in a reverse process to extract the sugar from foods and release carbon dioxide back into the air.

Blarney: So I’m polluting the atmosphere just by breathing?

Dave: One more time. Carbon dioxide is NECESSARY for the plants. In fact, the richer the atmosphere is in carbon dioxide, the better the plants do.

Blarney: How can a pollutant be good for plants?

Dave: I think you are almost getting it. That’s my point.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dave and Blarney, UN and Pollution

Blarney:  Dave, why so serious?

Dave:  I just can’t believe the stupidity of some people.

Blarney:  To whom do you refer?

Dave:  EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, for one.  She called Greenhouse gases a threat to our health.

Blarney:  What is stupid about that?

Dave:  Do you know what the largest greenhouse gas is?

Blarney:  Sure.  Everybody knows that it is Carbon Dioxide.  That’s what is causing Global Warming – I mean – Climate Change.

Dave:  Actually, Blarney, the largest greenhouse gas is water vapor.  It makes up about 4% of the atmosphere.  Carbon dioxide makes up about four hundredths of one percent.

Blarney:  But, I heard that the concentration of carbon dioxide went up dramatically over the last thirty years.

Dave:  Well, it has increased over 35% in the last 300 years.  That means it went from 275 parts per million (ppm) to 375 ppm.

Blarney:  You’re saying that it increased only 100 ppm in 300 years?  The concentration went from 0.000275 to 0.000375?  And that caused all this warming?

Dave:  Actually, the globe has been cooling since about 1998, even though the atmospheric carbon dioxide continued to increase.

Blarney:  Why would that be?

Dave:  Well, it wouldn’t IF carbon dioxide caused warming.  That’s one of my points.

Blarney:  ONE of your points?

Dave:  Yes.  You do know that there was a big Ice Age, right?

Blarney:  Yes, that first one was the best of the three.

Dave:  Not the movie, Blarney.

Blarney:  Oh.  OK.  Yes there was an ice Age.

Dave:  And you know that there was a little ice age?

Blarney:  Yes, around 1550 to 1850.  But there were warming periods in there.

Dave:  You get a gold star, Blarney.  Now tell me what caused those warming periods or for that matter, what ended the big Ice Age?

Blarney:  Well… I don’t know.  I never thought about it.

Dave:  And you know that there were concerns about a new ice age in the 1970s?

Blarney:  Yes, but it warmed up instead.  That was caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming.  The science is settled.

Dave:  Why do I bother?


Friday, December 04, 2009

Dave and Blarney and AGW

Dave: Well, Blarney, how’s that Global Warming working out now? Houston has the earliest snowfall ever.

Blarney: Dave, you should know you can’t take one data point and make a theory go away.

Dave: Speaking of data, how about those emails in Great Britain?

Blarney: I don’t know what you are talking about.

Dave: There has been some data washing going on at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU).

Blarney: That is the first I have heard of it. There is nothing on my major news stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC).

Dave: That isn’t particularly surprising. But it has been reported in the New York Times and on Fox News.

Blarney: Fox is not a real news source. My favorite bloggers call it Faux News. Get it? Faux, Fox?

Dave: That’s really clever Blarney. You do realize that “faux” rhymes with “no” instead of “knocks”. Right?

Blarney: Of course I knew that, but you should see the right wing nuts react to it as if “Faux” is just another way to spell “Fox”. It’s rich.

Dave: But then aren’t they too stupid to know the meaning of faux? And if so, they don’t get the insult. Maybe they just think you are an atrocious speller.

Blarney: Huh?

Dave: But back to my topic. How does the recent cooling trend affect global warming?

Blarney: See, Dave, you just don’t get it. We quit calling it “Global Warming” years ago.

Dave: So what do you call it now?

Blarney: It’s now “Climate Change.”

Dave: So now the claim is not that man is causing global warming, but he is causing global climate change?

Blarney: Exactly!

Dave: But the climate is always changing – it is either cooling or warming all the time.

Blarney: That’s the beauty of it! No one can deny climate change.

Dave: {sigh}

Monday, November 30, 2009

Senate Amendments to the (amendment) Health care bill

   SA 2788. Mr. COBURN submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2786 proposed by Mr. Reid (for himself, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Dodd, and Mr. Harkin) to the bill H.R. 3590, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

    At the appropriate place, insert the following:


    (a) Scoring and Summary.--It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to vote on final passage on a bill, resolution, or conference report unless a final Congressional Budget Office score and Congressional Research Service summary report on policy changes in the bill, resolution, or conference report has been posted online on the public website of the body 72 hours before such final vote.

    (b) Additional Requirements.--The information required to be posted by subsection (a) shall also include--

    (1) an affidavit that the policy summary of the Congressional Research Service adequately reflects the measure signed by the Majority and Minority Leaders; and

    (2) signed affidavits from every member of the body attesting that they have read the measure.

    (c) Waiver and Appeal.--

    (1) WAIVER.--This section may be waived or suspended in the Senate or House of Representatives only by an affirmative vote of 3/5 of the members, duly chosen and sworn.

    (2) APPEAL.--An affirmative vote of 3/5 of the members of the Senate or House of Representatives, duly chosen and sworn, shall be required to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the Chair on a point of order raised under this subsection.

    (d) Public Availability of Amendments.--Each amendment offered in the Senate or House of Representatives shall to be posted online on the public website of the body as soon as practicable after the amendment is offered.


   SA 2789. Mr. COBURN (for himself, Mr. Vitter, Mr. Burr, and Mr. Hatch) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2786 proposed by Mr. Reid (for himself, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Dodd, and Mr. Harkin) to the bill H.R. 3590, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

    On page 156, line 4, strike all through page 157, line 7, and insert the following:


    (i) REQUIREMENT.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all Members of Congress shall be enrolled in the community health insurance option when established by the Secretary.

    (ii) INELIGIBLE FOR FEHBP.--Effective on the date on which the community health insurance option is established by the Secretary, no Member of Congress shall be eligible to participate in a health benefits plan under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code.

    (iii) EXCEPTION.--Notwithstanding clauses (i) and (ii), if a Member of Congress resides in a State which opts out of providing a community health insurance option, that Member may be enrolled in a health benefits plan under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, during any period which that State has opted out.


    (I) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives shall pay the amount determined under subclause (II) to the appropriate community health insurance option.

    (II) AMOUNT OF EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION.--The Director of the Office Of Personnel Management shall determine the amount of the employer contribution for each Member of Congress enrolled in a community health insurance option. The amount shall be equal to the employer contribution for the health benefits plan under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, with the greatest number of enrollees, except that the contribution shall be actuarially adjusted for age.

    (v) DEFINITIONS.--In this subparagraph:

    (I) COMMUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION.--The term ``community health insurance option'' means the health insurance established by the Secretary under section 1323.

[Page: S11974]  GPO's PDF

    (II) MEMBER OF CONGRESS.--The term ``Member of Congress'' means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some Healthcare Thoughts

I read an interesting article today. Two thoughts struck me about this:

1. 11 Let’s not be hasty to dismiss patients as “vegetative” without more extensive testing.

Belgian doctors who treated him early on said that Rom had gone from a coma into a vegetative condition.

Coma is a state of unconsciousness in which the eyes are closed and the patient can't be roused, as if simply asleep. A vegetative state is a condition in which the eyes are open and can move, and the patient has periods of sleep and periods of wakefulness, but remains unconscious and unaware of him or herself or others. The patient can't think, reason, respond, do anything on purpose, chew or swallow.

. . .

The case came to light after Laureys published a study in the journal BMC Neurology this year showing that about four out of ten patients with consciousness disorders are wrongly diagnosed as being a vegetative state. Houben, although not specifically mentioned, was part of the study.

2. 2. Advanced technology saved the day here.

More searching finally got her in touch with Laureys, who put Houben through a PET scan that indicated he was conscious. The family and doctors then began trying to establish communication.

A breakthrough came when he was able to indicate yes or no by slightly moving his foot to push a computer device placed there by Laureys' team.

Then came the spelling of words using his finger and a touch-screen attached to his wheelchair.

Houben has started writing a book on his experiences.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sleight of Hand in Health Care

This is the cautionary tale of two bills:

1. H.R. 3590 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes. Entered IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES on September 17, 2009 by Charlie Rangel.

2. H.R. 3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act. Entered IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES on October 29, 2009 by John Dingell.

H.R. 3950, when in the House, had the short title of Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009. The bill was six pages long and primarily affected the tax treatment and first time home buyer credit for US Military. It passed on Oct 8, 2009 with 416 Yes votes and 16 not voting. After all, it was a good thing to help our heroes fighting in the War on Terror. Good going House guys in passing it virtually unanimously.

As you probably know, H.R. 3962 was voted on a late Saturday night (Nov 7) and squeaked by 220 – 215 with one Republican voting yes. It was placed on the Senate calendar on Nov 16, 2009. Some pundits said it was dead on arrival in the Senate and would never pass in its current form (2,016 pages).

Now here’s the tricky thing: H.R. 3590 was amended in the Senate (by replacement) by Harry Reid. The original six page bill suddenly became 2,076 pages and acquired the new title of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This bill, remember, started as a Revenue bill. Now it is the health care bill, but it can be reconciled by simple majority vote in both chambers. This sleight of hand was accomplished with these words:


Purpose: In the nature of a substitute.


H. R. 3590

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify

the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members

of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees,

and for other purposes.

November 19, 2009

Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed

Amendment in the nature of a substitute intended to be

proposed by Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr.



1 Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

Now, some on the left will think this was clever of the Democratic leadership. Some on the right will think it is chicanery. What do you think?

I think I’m going to vomit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blue Dogs in Name Only

The following so-called Blue Dog Democrats failed to join the other 39 to defeat the Health Care bill:

Mike Arcuri (N.Y.)
Joe Baca (Calif.)
Marion Berry (Ark.)
Sanford Bishop (Ga.)
Leonard Boswell (Iowa)
Dennis Cardoza (Calif.)
Christopher Carney (Penn.)
Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
Jim Costa (Calif.)
Henry Cuellar (Texas)
Kathy Dahlkemper (Penn.)
Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
Brad Ellsworth (Ind.)
Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.)
Jane Harman (Calif)
Baron Hill (Ind.)
Mike Michaud (Maine)
Harry Mitchell (Ariz.)
Dennis Moore (Kan.)
Patrick Murphy (Penn.)
Earl Pomeroy (N.D.)
John Salazar (Colo.)
Loretta Sanchez (Calif.)
Adam Schiff (Calif.)
David Scott (Ga.)
Zack Space (Ohio)
Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Charles Wilson (Ohio)


Should they be called BDINO’s?  or maybe BINO’s?  Or how about “outta there!”.

In case you missed it

It seems that NY-23 was prematurely conceded by Hoffman. Had he not conceded, Pelosi would have been one vote shorter from passing the Health Care Monstrosity. Then maybe the Republican would not have voted for it either. Ah, well.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Addendum to Nobel Peace Prize

It might seem strange that a man who voted present in the Illinois Senate, spent most of his US Senate time campaigning to be President, and has been in office a scant nine months to win the Peace Prize.  It is stranger still that someone who had been in office 11 DAYS would be nominated.  In case you are unfamiliar with the process, let me help you out. 


The Deadline for nominations is 1 February of each year.  This is from the official web site of the committee:

FebruaryDeadline for submission. The Committee bases its assessment on nominations that must be postmarked no later than 1 February each year. Nominations postmarked and received after this date are included in the following year's discussions. In recent years, the Committee has received close to 200 different nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The number of nominating letters is much higher, as many are for the same candidates.


You will recall that US Presidents are inaugurated on 20 Jan of each year. 

Am I in the Twilight Zone?  Are we in the first movie of the Left Behind series?  Are we all being punked?

The Nobel Peace Prize

As if the Nobel committee had any credibility left to lose, they outdid themselves this time.  Let’s briefly review who did NOT win the Nobel Prize in recent years:

Mahatma Gandhi

Irena Sendler

Pope John XXIII

Dorothy Day


Now let’s see who DID win

2009       Barack Hussein Obama  “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”

2008       Marti Atasaari                   ‘for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts"

2007       Al Gore                                 for a Power Point presentation, er, I mean , "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"[


Wonder what else is on SyFy?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Eat Right, Part 3

I would like to follow up on a thread from a previous post. In it I stated that I was mad at the "faith" people. I must admit, I am one of them. There is a general misunderstanding about the teachings of faith. It has been labeled the "name it and claim it" or "blab it and grab it" movement by people who do not really listen to the message. For years Christianity was known as the "Great Confession." Evidently someone was saying something. What folks failed to realize about confession was that it means "saying the same thing (to speak together)." It basically means to agree with YHWH about the situation. Faith begins where the Word of God is known.

Forsaking All I Take Him (at His word) = Faith. False Evidence Appearing Real = Fear. I had an object lesson in this at Disney World of all places. Once upon a time there was a movie called "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" which Disney turned into an attraction. At one point on the ride the overwhelming physical evidence was that you are on a train track and the train is bearing down on you from in front. The noise, the lights, the shaking all contributed to the effect. That was False Evidence Appearing Real. Now, in spite of the emotional connotations, we knew that Disney would not just run their customers down with a train. If only we had that much faith in YHWH.

YHWH was the only One present at creation. Everyone else has to try and figure what happened by looking at the evidence. The problem with evidence is that we always come to it with our own filters firmly in place. It is a fact that the fossil record does not present one smooth transition from goo to you. Is that because intermediate fossils were somehow lost? Or did they never exist in the first place? The answers to those questions are not a part of the record. Honest people can disagree as to the "correct"answer, because it does not matter to the actual record. The fact is there are gaps. To one person that is proof that gradual evolution did not occur. To another, it is proof that there are things yet to be learned.

And so it is with the "believing God" folks. Some of them are actually trying to believe themselves. That did not work for Satan. (OF course, you could make the argument that he very nearly pulled it off.) Believing God comes down to the quite precise science of … well … believing GOD. Whatever He said must be true. As Mary the Mother of Jesus said, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Thus endeth the sermon for today.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Insurance, Part 2

At our last juncture, we discussed term insurance, which is the cheapest form of temporary insurance. It is designed to provide for the family in the event of an untimely death before assets can be accumulated. The idea with term insurance is to have a target amount of money that you will have accumulated to provide for the family. Once that target is reached, you would not need the insurance. That target date might be one year, five years, ten or twenty years ahead. The further you have to plan, the more expensive the term insurance becomes (Remember the $27,925 premium at age 70?). Our 23 year old hero from last time could purchase a one million dollar term policy for about $1,510 a year. Based on the tables, he could continue that premium with little increase for about 15 years.

For any business to remain viable, the amount of income must at least equal the amount of expenses. If income is greater than expense, we have profit. If income is less than expense, we have loss. Continue the loss and eventually the company (or household) goes bankrupt. Once the company is bankrupt (as we said before), nobody wins because the claims cannot be paid. Ignoring a whole lot of complicating factors, we can examine what a NO LOSS premium would be for various types of life insurance. [Cash in] = [policyholders] * [premiums]. [Cash out] = [deaths] * [face amount]. Again, if we make all the policies for the same face amount, we can calculate the required premium by setting cash in equal to cash out.

(1) [policyholders]*[premiums]=[deaths]*[faceAmount]

For large numbers of policyholders, the actuarial tables can predict the average number of deaths expected by multiplying the probability of death times the number of policy holders. So equation (1) becomes

(2) [policyholders]*[premiums]=[probability]*policyholders]*[faceAmount]

Dividing the policy holders from both sides we get:

(3) [premiums]=[probability]*[faceAmount]

That is where I got the numbers for the one year term discussion.

The math gets a little more complicated when we look beyond one year, but the concepts are fairly simple. Since only the living can be counted on to pay the premiums, equation (1) becomes

(4) [survivors]*[premiums]*[years]=[deaths]*[faceAmount], which reduces to

(5) [premiums] = ([deaths]*[faceAmount])/([survivors]*[years])

The actuarial tables provide a column of survivors from an original 100,000 population. Looking at the male age 23 column, we see that there are 98,057 survivors. Ten years later, there are 96,663 survivors. In that time, 1394 people died and the company would have paid out $1,000,000 to each death. The 96,663 survivors would have paid the required premiums for ten years. The required premium, then is

[premiums] = (1,394*!,000,000) / (96,663*10) = $1,394,000,000 / 966,630 = $1,442.12

Notice that this premium is actually lower than the initial one-year term premium because of the reduced mortality expectations from age 23 to age 32. It is not until the male reaches 33 that the probability of death exceeds that at 23. You can do the math for ten year level term for a 40 year old and see a big difference. 91,985 survivors would pay premiums for ten years to cover 3,465 deaths.

[premiums] = (3,465 * $1,000,000) / (91,985,*,10) = $3,766.92

Here the premium is larger than the one-year term at 40 ($2,436) but less than the one-year term at 50 ($5,730) because of the increasing mortality. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Die Anyway, Part 2

I have held a number of jobs in my years: Pin setter in a bowling alley, busboy, caddy, producer and director of a successful after high school play, Air Force officer, college professor, Certified Life Underwriter (CLU) and insurance agent (property, casualty, life, annuities, and mutual funds). I would like to take a few moments of your time to share with you what I know about the insurance industry. This does not properly come under the heading of apologetics, but it is about my life.

First of all, who needs insurance? If you have unlimited assets, you do not need property or liability insurance. Say you live in a modest house of $50,000. If you have financed the home, the lender will require you to carry property insurance. If you paid cash and have at least that much in additional resources, you would not need property insurance as you could absorb a total loss and purchase another one. Similarly with auto insurance. If you have financed the purchase of a new car, the lender will require that you carry insurance. If you paid cash for the car and had enough to purchase another one, you could omit the collision and comprehensive insurance. If you cause a wreck which damages another person's life or property, you would be liable for their expenses. Again, with enough assets of your own, you would not need liability insurance.

Should you have to enter a nursing home, you would pay upwards of $50,000 a year for the privilege. The average stay in a nursing home that exceeds 90 days is three years. So, if you had $200,000 lying around, you could absorb the expense even with inflation. Medical bills can be extremely high, but with a few million dollars (let's say five) in your account, you could probably absorb them. With that much money, you could easily generate an annual passive income of $200,000. You would not need disability income insurance, which is designed to replace earned income. And, when you die, there would be ample funds for your survivors to handle final expenses and their own living expenses. So, the person who needs insurance is one without unlimited resources. They must find a way to mitigate or share the risks.

Since not everyone goes to the hospital or the nursing home or becomes disabled, some of those risks could be retained even without unlimited resources. Everybody, however, dies. A person who is earning an income of $50,000 a year and wishes to provide for his or her family would need to carry about $750,000 in total death benefit to cover final expenses and provide an income for his or family for 15 years. A person who does not care about his family obviously would not carry any life insurance. Let's assume you care and do not have unlimited resources. You would look for a way to share the risk. That is why people buy insurance of any kind – to transfer the risk to an entity that does have vast resources. And they must have the resources to pay the claim when it comes due. You would be quite upset as would your survivors, if at the time of your death the insurance company would not or could not pay. You WANT your insurance company to be rich – to have large reserves of money so that they can fulfill the terms of the contract. There are rating companies that evaluate the ability of companies to pay. The two best known are A.M. Best and Standard and Poor's. A. M. Best ratings range from A++ to B+ for secure companies and from B to F for vulnerable companies (with S for suspended rating in some cases). Standard and Poor's highest rating is AAA. Whereas an A+ from A.M. Best is the second highest rating, the same rating from Standard and Poor is the fifth level.

Insurance companies hire mathematicians called actuaries to calculate the correct premium to charge for the policy. They consult mortality tables to determine the percentage of a given population that are likely to die in any given year. For a generic male of age 23, one would expect about 151 deaths in 100,000 people. On the other hand, a population of generic males age 70 would expect about 2729.5 deaths that same year. An insurance company covering the young population (let's assume all have a $1,000,000 policy for simplicity) would have to have $151,000,000 in reserves to pay the expected claims. A company insuring the older population would need $2,729,500,000 to pay the claims. Ignoring for the moment the other expenses of the company, the first group of 100,000 people would need to pay an annual premium of at least $1510 for the company to break even. The older group would have to pay a minimum premium of $27,295 per year. What I have just described is the principle of term insurance. The premiums would be adjusted upward for a non-generic male (smoker, heart disease, diabetes, etc.). A term insurance policy that has expired has no value to anyone. If the policy expires before you do, there is no death benefit for the survivors. Guaranteed renewable term policies can be continued in force (usually to age 70) by the insured making the age-adjusted payments of the original classification. That is, even if they do develop heart disease or some other ailment that would increase the likelihood of mortality, they continue to pay the generic rate. A non-renewable term policy expires at the end of the contract period and the insured must qualify for the new rate with his or her current risk factors.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eat Right. Be Fit. Die Anyway.

This title was a T-shirt inscription that I saw when taking my mother-in-love to have a carotid ultrasound. It reminds us that life is fatal. As one wag put it "You'll never get out alive." Or as the Bible says "it is appointed to man once to die…"

If any of you followed the link above, you know I left out part of that quotation (of course, the ellipsis tells you something was omitted, but the link tells you what was left out). In my not always humble opinion, the omission is the whole point. My first wife died several years ago from ovarian cancer – that is what the death certificate says. Each of us dies from something even though G*d installed a healing program in our bodies called the immune system. The body is fully capable of repairing minor damage (broken bone, laceration, infection) on its own as long as the immune system is intact. At some point, through lack of "the will to live" or perhaps through a direct attack on the system or from the cumulative effects of life ("old age") or fear, the immune system stops doing its job and something will be listed as the "cause of death." When the spirit departs the body, the body dies.

I don't mean for this to be a downer. I thought of using Dave and Blarney (Dave and Blarney Discuss Life and Death Part 1), and I still might follow the Health Care series with that as kind of a natural segue. But first I wanted to explain how I got there. When my first wife died, we were attending a "Charismatic" church that believes in the today healing power of God. Most Christian churches believe that it is G*d's will for people to be well (why do Baptists build hospitals and churches offer prayers for the sick?). We prayed for healing, we searched the scriptures for healing, we listened to tapes of healing, and she died anyway. I'm sure there was more we could have done. I'm sure there was more I could have done. She lived two years longer than the oncologist thought she would, but she wearied of the fight. She told me while we were in the hospital for what turned out to be the last time "I want to go home." Thinking that she meant our earthly home, I was calling to make arrangements for hospice care when she slipped out. Even though the doctors made an effort to revive her, she was gone. Earlier she had seen a vision of people dancing a "funny dance" as she called it. They were in the corner of the room, but of course not visible to me. And then she was gone. I was devastated. Why had she died despite our and the physician's best efforts? At the funeral the pastor was honest enough to say "I don't know."

I can tell you now that I was angry at G*d, angry at myself, angry at the "faith" people, just angry. Fortunately for me, my son was living with us. He had been a great help through the battle, assisting with moving Sharon from the upstairs bedroom to the family room and back again. He had prepared a bed for Sharon to sleep in when we went home from the hospital. But that wasn't the home to which Sharon had referred. If not for him and my granddaughter, Brianna, I might not have survived the next several months. We would weep together as we watched home videos. She would come and sit on my lap and we would hug. I needed that. The two inside dogs were a great comfort to me also. We had prayed and Sharon had died anyway. Some reporter had once told Oral Roberts "I happen to know that you prayed for so and so and she died." His reply was "Son, everybody I ever prayed for dies at one time or another." Oral Roberts never claimed to heal anyone – G*d healed through him. People criticized him for building a hospital, but he understood that all healing comes from G*d. And I understand that, too. G*d is the source, first of the immune system, then of the knowledge of the body granted to doctors, and of the gifts of healing. For the sensitivities of my Jewish readers, I omit the vowel just as the early writers presented the YHWH without vowels.

And here is the beginning point: either G*d exists or He doesn't. I can respect the agnostic who is not sure. The atheist is a conceited
fool. For most people there is ample evidence of G*d's existence in nature. The atheist, in effect, says "I have seen all there is to see and know all there is to know and G*d is nowhere to be found." In his arrogance, the atheist claims the attributes of G*d for himself (omniscience, omnipresence, etc.). He is his own god. So let me state that I know I am not smart enough to be YHWH, but that I believe He exists. I have seen His hand on my life and the lives of others. I also believe the Bible is His word and that it means what it says. I have learned, too, that a walk with YHWH is an intensely personal journey. From sin to faith, each person is on his or her own (I think it no coincidence that the center of "sin", "faith" and "believe" is "I"). No one sins for someone else, and no one has faith for someone else. And no one knows the condition of another's heart. What I say may help you (I hope it does), but the thoughts come from me.

Well, no they don't. I probably have never had an original thought in my life. What I mean to say is these are the thoughts that help me. They come from YHWH or other people (through books or messages), and I have internalized them. After this life, there is another and left to my own devices I would not have a pleasant one. Thank YHWH for Jesus. I wish I could hold myself up as a paragon of virtue. I really want to be one, but I am not. I know me and I know my faults and my failures – as a father, a husband, and a person. Paul thought he was the chief of sinners, but I think I have him beat. I need a Savior and thank YHWH, I have one. I was a sinner, I got saved by grace and I am a child of the living G*d. I still fail, but I can go on and (in the words of the Army) be all I can be in Christ, the Messiah. And when I die (which I surely shall someday in spite of diet, exercise, and prayer) I have the expectation of a great afterlife. I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dave and Blarney Discuss Health Care - Part 1

Blarney:  Yes we can!  Hope we can believe in!  Change that matters!  Organize for America!

Dave:  What has you so worked up, Blarney?

Blarney:  I am just so pumped!  I just left a “Town Hall” meeting with the  President.  It was great!

Dave:  What was it about?

Blarney:  It was about health care reform.  Wow!  It was stupendous!

Dave:  Really?  What is the plan?

Blarney:  I’m not really clear on that, but it will be great!

Dave:  How do you know, if you don’t know what the plan is?

Blarney:  No child will be without health care!  Everyone in America will be covered!  The current system is broken and he will fix it!

Dave:  How?

Blarney:  Are you one of those right wing nuts that is opposed to health care reform?  Why are you asking these obnoxious questions?

Dave:  I just want to know what kind of change we are expecting.

Blarney:  If you are happy with your current program, you can keep it!  There will be no rationing!  This will save Social Security and Medicare!

Dave:  If everybody keeps their current plan, what will change?

Blarney:  Well…  Uh… People without current insurance will have lifetime coverage!

Dave:  And who pays for that?  Where is the money coming from?

Blarney:  There you go, asking irrelevant questions.  The GOVERNMENT will pay for it all.

Dave:  And where will the government get its money?

Blarney:  We’ll tax the rich, of course.  We need to spread the wealth around!

Dave:  Ok, let’s let that one go.  Will this plan provide more medical personnel?

Blarney:  What?  Well… Uh… Why is that important?

Dave:  Because if more people will have medical care than now, unless there are more doctors, somebody will have less.

Blarney:  This plan will keep the greedy doctors from overcharging, so the money will go further.

Dave:  That’s not the point.  If currently each doctor is seeing as many patients as they can, who will take the new patients?  Someone will have to lose their current care or we need more doctors.  What is the incentive for someone to be a doctor if the government will cap their wages?

Blarney:  We don’t need to worry about that.  With more abortions and mandatory end of life counseling, there will be less children and less seniors to drain the system.  If we can convince everyone to kill themselves after 65, Social Security will no longer be bankrupt.  Medicare will be solvent.  It is the perfect solution.

Dave:  Unless, of course, you are 65.  Why should 65 be the magic number, what about 60?

Blarney:  Sure, even better.

Dave:  How about 55?

Blarney:  Now you are getting it!

Dave:  Did you ever see Logan’s Run?

Blarney:  No, why?

Dave:  Never mind.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day

Isn't it interesting that we have this national holiday to recognize mothers, no matter who their offspring turned out to be? Charles Manson had a mother. So did Ted Bundy.

And, as it turns out, so did Jesus of Nazareth. Catholics have raised His mother to an idol. Protestants want to throw her under the bus. Can't we find a middle ground? After all, the Angel thought she was special (Luke 1):

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Well, now: "Highly favored" . . . "Blessed among women". . . "Favor with God". It certainly seems like she would be due at least a little bit of honor. If God thought enough of her to entrust His Only Begotten Son to her and Joseph, we should venerate her at least as much as we do Abraham, David and any of the patriarchs. This is not to say we need to worship her as though she were God, but she was certainly touched by God. Carrying the Holy Child for nine months is at least as impressive as watching God part the Red Sea, wouldn't you say?

So, then… Happy Mother's Day, Mary.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life is Good

Once upon a time there was a country founded by people who wanted to enjoy freedom of religion and freedom from unjust taxes. These people framed a document which they called a "Constitution". This document clearly described a system of limited federal government holding together a group of otherwise autonomous states. These states, in turn, were governed by the people from the state. It was a wonderful plan and it lasted over 150 years.

At that time, people who had enjoyed freedom began to get strange ideas. They reasoned that life could be much better if the government could fix things. And so, little by little, the government began to take responsibility for more than diplomacy and defense. The elected leaders were so much smarter than the citizens that they were able to determine how much each should receive for the mere act of breathing. As more and more people were allowed to depend on the government, they implemented a system of taxation which was "progressive" (That means that the larger the income,the larger the percentage of it that the government would confiscate). Now some thought that "progressive" sounded so good they would adopt that terminology, making the word an emotional one.

Once upon a time the government-owns-everything-and-will-only-let you-keep-what-it-thinks-is-fair economies collapsed, but no one noticed. People everywhere liked the sound of "fair". They even applied it to what people could say and called it the "Fairness Doctrine". By that they meant it was not fair to speak the truth about economics or politics. It was only fair to be "progressive.""Liberal" and "progressive" are good, "conservative" and "fundamentalist" (one who wants to return to the fundamentals) and "originalist" are bad - like old stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddies. Much better to be fun loving liberals. (Funny how those fun loving liberals always seem so angry.)

But I digress. My sad tale continues. Once upon a time there was a political party that believed in freedom and liberty and limited government. They are largely extinct now and the government believes it know the right kind of car for all to drive, and the right kind of fuel to put in that car (depending on where you live, of course). The government also know the right kind of light bulb, toilet and television to put in your house. Life is so much simpler when you don't have to make choices. I will just sit back, quit my job, go on welfare and let my rich Uncle care for me.

Would you like some Kool-aid?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Eleven Principled Democrats

The recent vote on the so-called stimulus package found every single House Republican voting “No”.  That isn’t much of a surprise, since the package is all about funding liberal pet projects, growing government and having no positive impact on the economy. 


What might be more surprising is the fact that eleven Democrats stood up to their party (including my own Representative, Bobby Bright).  In case you are interested in personally thanking these people, I am providing a link to their Congressional home pages.

Allen Boyd, FL (2)

Bobby Bright, AL (2)

Jim Cooper, TN (5)

Brad Ellsworth, IN (8)

Parker Griffith, AL (5)

Paul Kanjorski, PA (11)

Frank Kratovil, Jr, MD (1)

Walt Minnick, ID (1)

Collin Peterson, MN (7)

Heath Shuler, NC (11)

Gene Taylor, MS (4)


Kudos to the Blue Dogs and the conservatives in the Republican party for standing up to this sham legislation.  Too bad it passed the House anyway.  Now let’s see what the Senate does.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dave and Blarney at the Inauguration

Dave: Well, Blarney, your man gave a great speech. I only hope he will be a great president.

Blarney: Dave, have you nothing good to say?

Dave: Weren’t you listening to me? I said the speech was great.

Blarney: That’s the problem with you right wing Looney Tunes. You are always criticizing our great President. Look at the mess Bush made of the last eight years.

Dave: Blarney, get a grip. I did not criticize President Obama. And to what specific mess do you refer? The fact that we were not attacked since 9-11? Or is it the fact that we have liberated over 50 million Iraqis and Afghanis?

Blarney: The economy, stupid! Bush absolutely ran the economy into the ground. Look at the unemployment – look at the banking crisis – look at that mess!

Dave: For seven of the eight years, the economy was doing well, although you would not have known that if all you listened to was the drive-by media. If you actually did some research and looked at the facts, you would see that unemployment has been lower than previous administrations until this last quarter when the economy finally caught up to the dire reporting.

Blarney: This is worst economy since the Great Depression!

Dave: Blarney, that’s just not true. This might be the worst economy since Jimmy Carter, but unemployment and inflation are actually still lower than during his watch. Again, do some research and look at the facts.

Blarney: I need a bailout. My stocks have tanked.

Dave: You do know that the Democrats were in charge for the last two years, don’t you? Since 2006, they have had a majority in Congress. Congress makes laws. Congress oversees the Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac corporations that caused the banking crisis. Congress raised the minimum wage, which, predictably, caused a rise in unemployment. You know that the Democrat controlled Congress had a lower approval rating than President Bush.

Blarney: Of course, the rating was low – it’s those darned Republicans. That’s why we voted for change! Change we can believe in! Yes we can!

Dave: Blarney, the Republicans were not in control of Congress during this debacle – the Democrats were.

Blarney: Says who? You? Am I supposed to believe that right-wing propaganda?

Dave: Look at the Senate and House statistics for yourself. Do you know who the Speaker of the House is?

Blarney: I sure do, it’s Nancy Pelosi.

Dave: Right. And do you know who the Senate Majority Leader is?

Blarney: Well, of course. That would be Harry Reid.

Dave: I’m impressed. That’s better than most people. Now you know that they are both Democrats, don’t you? And you know that those positions are filled by the majority party don’t you?

Blarney: Well,…yeah…Oh!….But that doesn’t mean that the Democrats were in control!

Dave: [Sigh]

Monday, January 19, 2009

Eleventh Hour Victory for Compean and Ramos

If you have followed the case, you know that the last best hope for these border patrol agents would be a pardon or have the sentence commuted by the President.

President Bush has just announced that he would commute the sentences of both Compean and Ramos. The Associated Press, in true left wing fashion, hammered on the Border Patrol agents:

Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean,
who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and
Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely
doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also
maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were
too harsh.
Bush didn't pardon the men for their crimes, but decided instead to commute
their prison sentences because he believed they were excessive and that they had
already suffered the loss of their jobs, freedom and reputations, a senior
administration official said.The action by the president, who believes the
border agents received fair trials and that the verdicts were just, does not
diminish the seriousness of their crimes, the official said.Compean and Ramos,
who have served about two years of their sentences, are expected to be released
from prison within the next two months.

At least they will be released soon. Now about the lawsuits and movie deals...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It's a New Year

It is an historic year, with the very first black American set to assume the highest executive office in the land.  As everybody knows, he is a Democrat and should be instituting an extreme agenda of left-wing policies.  Indeed many pundits are warning us of that very possibility.


Yet, here is an amazing thing.  Of the announced nominations for his cabinet, I really can’t object to any of them on ideological grounds.  Oh, sure, they aren’t Republicans (well some of them anyway), but neither are they charter members of  As far as the War on Terror, Mr. Obama proposes leaving the current Secretary of Defense in place.  For his National Security Advisor, he has chosen a decorated General (is that redundant?).


Now, it could be that he is even more clever than some give him credit for.  The Senate must approve all the nominations.  Since it is Democrat controlled, we could expect a rubber stamp on each one.  But wait, there is more.   Suppose the Senate REJECTS his “first” choices.  Then Mr. Obama will be FORCED to nominate someone more in line with the extreme left, just so he can get them confirmed.


Kind of makes you go “Hmm…”