Monday, May 6, 2013

How your money has been stolen

Karl Denninger's produced another blockbuster article demonstrating very clearly how the financial and political 'powers that be' have cynically and deliberately robbed the US consumer of his or her earning and spending power over the past few decades.  Here's an excerpt.

Most people fail to understand basic mathematical concepts such as exponents and ratios as they apply to everyday life.  We usually "get it" when it comes to the mathematical facts that are taught in school (if we passed through basic Algebra) but nobody in our government schools ever teaches how these functions apply to the real world.

The reason they don't, I assert, is that the educational establishment from the government itself on down knows full well how these functions relate to everyday life, and they also know that if you understood these facts there would be a revolution the next morning as you would understand exactly how you have been systematically and intentionally robbed by the mavens of finance with not only the consent but the active participation of your government.

. . .

GDP has "increased" by 20.1% over the same period (2006-Q1 to 2012-Q3) yet debt has gone up by 28.3% (22.2% population-adjusted), which means that GDP has actually declined in real terms on a per-capita basis over that period, not advanced.

The so-called "increase" in your wages are an intentional chimera which is thrown to you to make you "feel good" about your earnings "going up."  But in point of fact they're not going up at all, they are going down because the divisor, the total number of dollars in the system that are available to buy the goods and services are rising much faster than your earnings are.

The fraud you're being sold is exactly identical to going into a bakery and ordering a sheet cake.  The baker asks you how many pieces you would like the cake cut into; your options are 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32.  He then tells you that if you're really hungry you should choose 32, because that way you can eat more pieces.

You'd either laugh at the baker or string him up by his necktie were he to pull that crap, yet this is exactly what Ben Bernanke along with all the politicians have been selling you for the last 30 years.

There's more at the link.  If you want to know how inflation has already done permanent damage to you and yours - never mind what we've got coming - this is essential reading.

Companies, of course, have followed the example and taken full advantage of this top-down, officially countenanced corruption.  They're making as much as they can while the going is good.  You can get some idea of how widespread these predatory corporate attitudes are in this report from CNN.

A group of more than 120 cancer researchers and physicians took the unusual step this week of publishing a research paper taking aim at pharmaceutical prices they see as exorbitant and unjustifiable.

Drug companies are profiteering, the doctors say, by charging whatever the market will bear for medications that patients literally can't live without.

. . .

Those prices bear little relation to what the drugs actually cost to develop and produce, the doctors say.

. . .

"These price increases do not reflect the cost of development of drugs or the benefit they provide to the patient," [Dr. Hagop Kantarjian] told CNNMoney. "They are simply related to the drug companies' wish to increase profits beyond a reasonable range."

Again, more at the link.  The report reminds me of the case, last year, where an antivenom drug selling for only \$100 per dose in Mexico was administered to a woman in Arizona.  She was billed \$83,046 for two doses!  Talk about daylight robbery . . .  On the other hand, you have the extraordinarily low prices charged by the Surgery Center of Oklahoma.  Shows what can be done when providers are prepared to be reasonable!

This is the unacceptable face of capitalism.  Make as much as you can, any way that you can, without taking into consideration - without even caring about - what your pricing and policies are doing to the consumers who make up the bulk of the economy.  When those consumers can no longer afford your goods and services, just apply for a government bailout (e.g. Medicaid, Medicare, prescription drug benefits, etc.) so that taxpayers must cover your charges!  After all, politicians are cheap compared to your engorged, swollen profits!

Peter

c w swanson said...

This is NOT capitalism! It's government interfering to pursue their own ends. The free market really isn't free when government prints money by executive fiat. With all it's disadvantages, perhaps a currency based on precious metals, oil or some other item the government cannot create out of thin air, has as it's greatest advantage that it constrains government from the temptation to inflate away the value of the currency to pay for all the debt they incur, which in turn they use to buy the votes they need to stay in office.

Unknown said...

What's the bet this genuinely caring hospital alternative isn't interested in euthanasing you either if you're going to be a difficult case?

tweell said...

The term is crony capitalism. If you have the right contacts, give money to the right people, you can do as you please and the common folk you rob have no recourse.

What our rulers discount is that every time they flout the law, it loses some of the moral foundation that keep 'the little people' from ignoring all laws. When the Secretary of the Treasury cheats on his taxes without consequences, is it surprising that more common taxpayers do the same?

Eventually, all respect for the law is lost, and folks take the law into their own hands. That is starting to happen on the border now, and our rulers are responding by punishing American subjects. Do these oh-so-intelligent VIPs want mob rule and vigilante justice? Sometimes I wonder.

pjk said...

Yes Peter; you have a long way to go if you are going to make hospital gouging a story about capitalism. There are far too many other variables at play in any health care model.

Peter said...

@Phil Kraemer: I'm afraid that's precisely what this is - the unacceptable face of capitalism. It's the pursuit of profit at the expense of almost every other value. If it's not that, then what is it? It's certainly not compensating for indigent patients by charging better-off patients more. A markup of 41,523% on a drug can hardly be described as anything else!

pjk said...

Peter, It is actually a corrupt marketplace when compared to a real marketplace in the medical arena. There are two primary areas in medicine where the quality has gone up tremendously while at the same time prices have fallen dramatically. Those are cosmetic surgery and lasik type vision correction. Why these two areas? It sure appears that competition and full disclosure of prices has led to this.

There are ways for capitalism to be ugly; most of them have to do with collusion and cronyism where a company then colludes with a political system to provide them with an advantage.

I would bet that this woman in Arizona didn't even ask about the cost of her medical care when she went in for the antivenin. Who would? But then, add that lack of pre-purchase discovery across millions of medical transactions and any resemblance to a "marketplace" has been entirely lost. Not that the medical facility could have told her what the treatment would cost anyway; they probably didn't know and couldn't have told her in any sort of timely fashion.

Yes, the medical business in the US is corrupt in terms of the marketplace and capitalism, but blaming a theoretical device like capitalism when it isn't even functioning will allow you to miss the true failures in the way health care is delivered in the US.

Stories like this one create disgust and even rage when people hear about them. But they seldom blame the true culprits.