From Pine View Farm

Mammon category archive

The Privatization Scam 0

Scott Maxwell tells the tale of a highway project in Orlando, Florida, in which it looks as if the primary thing being privatized is the public’s money. Here’s a bit:

We were promised that, if we’d just turn the $2.3 billion project over to a private consortium, the private profiteers would finish it on time and on budget.

It turns out they’re doing neither.

Part of the project is already a year behind schedule. Five workers have been killed. More than 1,000 drivers and property owners have filed claims for everything from misplaced barrels to chunks of concrete that fell through windshields.

And now there are $125 million in overruns — with no guarantee there won’t be more.

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A Tune for the Times 0

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Trump Care 0

Donald Trump dressed as doctor stand between two hospital beds.  In one, labeled

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The Art of the Con 0

Hobby Lobby horseplay.

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One Insure Thing 0

Wendell Potter, at one time a flack for CIGNA, reminds us that for profit insurance companies exist for profit. They don’t want you to get sick, and, if you do, they don’t want to take care of you. Here’s a bit (emphasis added):

One of the most-watched metrics for health insurance companies is called the “medical loss ratio.” The more insurers pay for care, the higher the ratio is. (It’s called the medical loss ratio because insurers consider it a loss when they pay a claim.) As part of Obamacare, insurers have to spend at least 80-85% of premiums on health care. So most try to keep the ratio right at those levels. If it creeps up significantly, shareholders run for the exits. Why? When insurers pay more in claims, that’s less more for insurer profits.

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The Snaring Economy 0

The Inky reports on the lack of protections–sick leave, worker’s comp, etc.–for those ensnared in the “gig” economy. Here’s a snippet (emphasis added):

As efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus force Philadelphians into isolation, consumers are increasingly relying on gig workers to deliver groceries, takeout, and beer.

(snip)

But even as their work is deemed “essential” in the face of government-mandated business closures, the delivery workers who power these apps are in a precarious position. There is no law that requires companies such as Instacart or GoPuff to keep their workers safe on the job. And if they get sick or hurt on the job, they do not qualify for sick pay or worker’s compensation. That’s because most app-based gig workers are classified — or misclassified, depending on whom you ask — as independent contractors, who aren’t afforded the same legal protections as employees.

I was an independent contractor for several years, designing and delivering training for several clients. I paid quarterly estimated income tax installments and my own health insurance premiums.

Delivering pizza for a pittance (plus tips) because it’s the only work you can find is not the same thing.

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Goldman’s Sacks 0

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Masked Marauding 0

Farhad Manjoo investigates why an item so simple as a medical face mask is suddenly unobtainable, and the answer is all about the next quarterly report. It’s what Harry Shearer’s guest on Le Show, Matt Stoller, referred to as the “financialization” of business.

Here’s a bit; follow the link for the rest.

What a small, shameful way for a strong nation to falter: For want of a 75-cent face mask, the kingdom was lost.

I am sorry to say that digging into the mask shortage does little to assuage one’s sense of outrage. The answer to why we’re running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies — the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs.

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Gamed 0

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The Electronic Medicine Show 0

FBI arrests coronavirus snake oil salesman for wire fraud.

Natch, he was hawking his phony cures via videos on “social” media.

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The Robber Barons Are Casing the Joint 0

At the Inky, Maria Panaritis explains.

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Up Against the Wall Street 0

Well-dressed man and woman holding bags labeled

Click for the original image.

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And God Said, “Let There Be an Exploit(ation)” 0

Words fail me.

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The Art of the Con, Going Viral Dept. 0

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the epidemic of scams designed to feed on the fear of COVID-19. Here’s a bit about one of them; follow the link for the lengthy litany.

And while the ink isn’t even dry on a Senate proposal to issue relief checks to individual Americans as part of a broader stimulus action, the Federal Trade Commission is already warning against scammers seeking Social Security numbers, bank accounts, or credit card numbers in order to release the funds.

“It will seem legitimate to people who have heard in the news that those distributions might be coming,” said Jonathan Sasse, marketing executive at First Orion, an Arkansas company that builds scam protections for mobile-phone users. “And often times, where scammers are very successful is if they’re dealing with a too-good-to-be-true thing like an offer of funds in times of desperate financial conditions.”

As the saying goes, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

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Senatorial Privilege 0

At Above the Law, Joe Patrice comments on what he calls the “COVID Four,” the four (so far) Senators who have been revealed to have sold shares of stocks coincident with receiving secret briefings about the coronavirus. A nugget (emphasis added):

Before we get to whether or not the “COVID Four” here committed a crime — which they might have — let’s focus on the most important issue here: why are there United States Senators so gobsmackingly stupid that they assumed they wouldn’t get caught? It doesn’t matter if this lands them before the district court or just the court of public opinion, they looked out at the world and thought no one was going to raise any eyebrows when the market crashed and they walked onto the Senate floor carrying a bunch of brown bags with dollar signs painted on them.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald Was Right 0

The rich are different from you and me.

They have friends in high places.

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Health Hostage 0

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The Vacuum, Going Viral Dept. 0

The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Diaz states what COVID-19 has made even more obvious, obvious at least to those outside the Fox News/AM talk radio bubble. A nugget (emphasis added):

But the abysmal failure of Trump’s leadership in the face of the worst crisis of his presidency neither began nor ended with one speech in which he tried to deflect blame on “a foreign virus” that was “seeded by travelers from Europe.”

The president of the United States has been trying to hoodwink us from the start as if we were just another group of suckers being pitched on one of his properties. This time, however, the Trumpian snake oil was at a severe cost to our health, our jobs and our 401(k) balances.

Follow the link for the rest.

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Bait and Switch 0

What happens if you are ill and get unknowingly referred to an “out of network” health care provider?

Why, you get to shake the fee hand of the market.

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Giving America the Business, Reprise 0

What Noz said.

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