Category Archives: Economic Issues

Tort Reform Bill, a.k.a. Republican Porn

The Republican dream bill knows euphemistically as Tort Reform passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesday, March 4, 2009 — “a day that will live in infamy.”  If you take time to read the bill, it reads like Republican porn.  There are so many things in this bill that makes it easy for Big Business to screw the Regular Joe/Jane that, if signed by the governor, there will be a nasty orgy of malpractice and manufacturing defects without the prophylactic of meaningful lawsuits to keep things safe.

OK, so maybe I’m carrying this analogy a little far, but I  am absolutely furious at the sheer, unadulterated disregard by these so-called “patriots” of the individual right to redress grievances in court.

Let me just address a few of the fun things you will find in this bill.

In the case of medical malpractice, the bill bars the admission as evidence the defendant’s (physician’s) unfavorable peer review and credentialing information.  So basically, if that physician has had any disciplinary actions taken against him by a medical board, you cannot use that in court as background for your case.  If this is the case, then should we not use prior crimes against a criminal defendant to determine sentencing?

The bill imposes federal standards for the determination of liability.  What this means is if a federal agency has already approved a product, then that product becomes immune from liability lawsuits.  This probably put the pharmaceutical companies in an extremely happy mood.

The bill also caps noneconomic damages to $300,000.  Noneconomic damages are also called “pain and suffering.”  Pain and suffering can  include death.  It should make every Oklahoman proud to know that these legislators have placed a value on their lives.  Each one of you is only worth, at the maximum, $300,000.  Now, folks, there are times in my life when I have made my wife mad enough that she would tell you my life wasn’t worth a plug nickel.  However, being my wife, she has that right!

The bill also has a stipulation in it that exempts manufacturers and dealers from suits stemming from the use of firearms.  This is a touchy subject, I know, and I am a firm believer in the right to bear arms, but this provision is downright irresponsible.  The gun lobby has resisted each and every attempt to require added safety features on firearms.  In the state of Oklahoma, the gun lobby has no worries.  Also, I cannot help but wonder if a dealer would be exempt from a suit in which the dealer sold a gun to a person with a criminal record, did not follow the waiting period laws, and that firearm was used to injure or kill an innocent in the commission of a crime.

Folks, this bill is purely political.  Republican legislators have for years attempted to turn “trial lawyer” into a four-letter word.  The main reason for this is that the trial lawyer lobby has traditionally supported Democrats.  If this bill could break the financial back of trial attorneys, Democrats would get less campaign funding and, ergo, Republicans would have a greater chance of gaining and staying in power.

One thing I cannot stomach is that the author of this bill, Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-Tulsa), has stated that mandating insurance companies to cover the treatment of children with autism would be government interfering with the way a company does business.  This same legislator is now trying to interfere with the way lawyers do business.  I guess if you don’t get money from one special interest group, you’re allowed to impose mandates on them.  But if you give generously to a Republican or the Republican party, well then, you are exempt from legislative interference.

The only thing missing from the pro-tort reform arguments is the cheesy porn music.

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Filed under Economic Issues, Oklahoma Politics

What in the Hell Are They Thinking?

Recently, the Oklahoma legislature has shown the full extent of their ability to shock, horrify and astound me.  A House committee chaired by Rep. Dan Sullivan used sneaky tactics to shoot down a bill informally titled “Nick’s Law.”  In short, the bill would have issued a mandate requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for the early diagnosis testing and medications for the treatment of autism in children.

The bill (HB 1312) was voted on in the Economic Development and Financial Services Committee on February 3rd, 2009.  Guess what?  It failed.  Not one single Republican on the committee voted in favor of the bill.  Not one.

And to really put the “compassionate” in “compassionate conservative,” a newly enacted House rule forbids similar legislation from being introduced for two more years.  So not only did they shoot it down, but they made sure that they don’t have to hear anything like it until after the next election cycle.

These “family values” champions who voted against the bill relied upon an actuarial study (commissioned by guess who? The Republicans) that stated that the health insurance premium cost increases for the average Oklahoman would be much higher than the studies from reputable sources showing the minimal impact realized by consumers in other states where similar legislation has been enacted.  So let me get this straight.  Other states have enacted legislation like Nick’s Law and seen minimal impact(+1%)  In fact, The Oklahoma State Education Employees Group Insurance Board recently announced its own study revealed that Nick’s law would have 1% or less impact on claims.  But in Oklahoma, according to the Republicans’ self-commissioned study, the legislation magically would have seen a more dramatic increase (+7.8%-19.8%)?

Really?  You guys can’t beat the bill on its merits, so you rely on some trumped up study (a.k.a. LIE)?  And why do I call it a lie?  Well, the study commissioned by the Republican leadership was created with the express instructions to perform the analysis based upon an annual cap that was $25,000 HIGHER than the cap actually cited in the bill.  Oh, I get it.  You don’t like the answers you will get from an honest study, so you just change the parameters to suit your needs.  Cute.  Really cute.

And damned shameful.

I believe that deep down, my fellow Oklahomans are big-hearted, giving people.  However when ideology clouds the judgment, that compassion goes right out the window like a bottle of whiskey when the preacher comes to visit.

Nick’s Law is named after Nick Rohde, 11 years old, who is autistic.  Nick’s father Wayne spoke recently with members of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.  He was told that parents of autistic children should band together to do fundraising to help each other out.  (I wonder if their families would do that if they were stricken with cancer and insurance did not cover that.)

One brainiac actually said that the costly behavioral therapy involved was unnecessary because of some “cream” that could be placed on an autistic child’s temples.  (If there are any snake-oil salesman out there, you might want to look up this person, because apparently he or she will buy anything!)

And the most “compassionate” of these conservatives actually suggested that Wayne move his family to another state where a mandate exists.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.  And make sure you take your tax dollars with you!  Because Lord knows we don’t need any in the Great State of Oklahoma.

Folks, I can honestly say that I did NOT vote for these guys.  I voted for one Republican on my ballot and he was not in this committee.  I  have friends who are Republicans and who are legislators.  This, however, has left a very bad taste in my mouth.  Just the other day, I was called by the House Republicans for a donation.  Not only was their script highly insulting, but I am averse to giving money to those who loudly proclaim to be good Christians and the height of family values and virtue, yet cannot see fit to help out those who cannot help themselves.

Nick’s Law was authored by Rep. Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah) and Sen. Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant).  These two are TRUE champions for what is right.  As a citizen of the Great State of Oklahoma, I am proud of them and their efforts.

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McCain Does NOT Support the Farmer

McClatchy newspapers yesterday released a news story detailing the record of John McCain which shows that he does not approve of federal subsidies for American farmers.  In 2006, Sen. McCain sought to remove a $74 million grant program that would help states promote sales of locally-grown fruits and vegetables.  Thankfully, he was defeated by some of his own party and a then-new senator named Barack Obama.

The American farmer is a staple of our society and extremely worthy of admiration for anyone who sits down at his dinner table.  True, the federal government should reform its current system of subsidies, but a simple veto as would likely happen under a McCain administration is not the way to go about it.

The McClatchy Story

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Filed under Economic Issues, Oklahoma Politics, United States Politics

Sarah Palin’s Bridge over Troubled Lies

Alaskans know that she is lying.  I would be curious what her approval ratings are now.

This is from an Alaskan news report as posted on YouTube.  It basically calls her an unrepentant liar.

Yet, she’s given a pass because if you don’t show enought “respect and deference,” you must be a sexist.

This is insane.

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Filed under Economic Issues, United States Politics

Global Warming is Irrelevant

(This is an article I wrote some time ago for EZineArticles.com)

Recently, the nation and indeed the world has been inundated by dire, apocalyptic warnings about the consequences of global warming. The media blasts you with front page headlines about how you and your children might die while a murdered African-American child (who actually DID die) barely earns a mention on page 30 below the fold. The United Nations and the U.S. Congress have spent months studying the global warming phenomenon at tremendous cost and energy while in some countries citizens can’t even get a drink of clean water. Environmental groups spend thousands of dollars sending out mailings (on paper) bemoaning global warming and, ironically, deforestation.

All of these efforts are for what? To “raise your awareness?” Nope. It’s all about the money. And nothing makes people give up their money better than fear. Fear will make you pay, and it will make you vote.

In America, both sides of the legislative aisle have been guilty of utilizing fear to get your votes and your money. Not too long ago, the Right tried to make you believe that Islamic terrorists were EVERYWHERE, and that they just might be tree-hugging, latte-sipping homosexuals who wanted to get married in YOUR church right after they attended a fund raiser at Bill Clinton’s house. And you know what? It worked. The Right won by an overwhelming majority nation-wide.

Now, it’s the Left’s turn to try to scare the pants off of you by claiming that YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE BY GLOBAL WARMING!!!! THOSE GREEDY OIL MEN ARE GOING TO KILL YOUR CHILDREN!! Well, here’s what I have to say: Who cares? Global warming is irrelevant to the issue of environmentalism. Now, before you get too bent out of shape, let me explain.

THERE IS NOTHING THAT SAYS WE SHOULD NOT BE GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR ENVIRONMENT. Where is it written that just because we are an industrial society that we should not take care of the air and water? Global warming has been proven and disproven by tons of scientists. Even esteemed author Michael Crichton in his book “State of Fear” makes a good argument that global warming as a cause of human activity may very well NOT exist. Therefore, if the global warming issue is taken out of the equation, should we then feel free to poison ourselves with pollutants? Of course not.

Environmentalism is not necessarily a global warming issue. It is, however, a national health and a national security issue.

I think the health concerns are self-evident, but if they are not to you then I will explain. Humans produce waste products. Our factories and modes of transportation pollute the air and water. Chemicals we use leech into the ground water, rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. This, as they say, is not good. If we poison our surroundings we poison the very air and water which give us life. I personally do not want my son to breathe air that is filled with junk, drink dirty water, or eat fish that is laden with mercury. By not taking care of our surroundings we are causing harm to our national state of health.

Now on to national security. This may not be as self-evident as health. If our troops are not at the prime of health due to exposure to pollutants, then that is a detriment to our national security. Healthy troops are more efficient. Additionally, it’s not wise for the U.S. to allow a group of men in the most unstable region in the world to dictate to us the price to run a car. Nor should the U.S. be satisfied that the military, and indeed the whole country, could very easily be shut down by the destruction of a couple of pipelines. These situations place the United States in a perpetual state of vulnerability. This is not conducive to a strong, secure nation.

Therefore, our national energy should be focused on researching alternate energy sources, cleaner technologies for factories, protecting the air and water, and not on whether global warming is going to kill us all.

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