Daily Archives: October 3, 2010

Jon Healey (La Times Blog)–McDonald's fires a warning shot about healthcare reform

….the law requires all plans to meet the 80% to 85% threshold (also known as the “medical loss ratio”). And that’s a problem for “mini-med” plans such as the ones offered by McDonald’s, which typically have high administrative costs — a consequence of insuring businesses with high employee turnover.

The threshold is also problematic for insurers that have a comparatively small number of customers, like Principal, which has sold fewer than 1 million health policies. The more customers an insurer has, the easier it will be to meet the threshold — its fixed administrative costs can be spread across more people.

McDonald’s is likely to obtain a waiver from the feds that will allow it to continue its current insurance plan, and another insurer (United Healthcare) has agreed to take over Principal’s customers after it exits the business. Still, the reports raise the question of why the feds should be setting minimum medical loss ratios in the first place.

After all, in a free-market system, profits should be limited by competition, not by regulation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, The U.S. Government

ABC News–Concern That Terror Teams Have Selected Targets, Ready to Strike

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Terrorism, Travel

Health care mandate poses dilemma for those who believe faith is the remedy

Joel Orr is member of the Church of Christ, Scientist. So when a bump under the skin on the back of his neck eventually grew to a baseball-size growth, and a doctor friend told him it would have to be removed surgically, Orr’s Christian Science faith was tested.

He might have asked a physician to intervene earlier. Instead, he prayed. After the boil became infected and painful, he could have visited a doctor to have it lanced. Instead, he prayed. And he sought the help of a Christian Science practitioner.

“These are people whose full-time profession is in helping people overcome problems through prayer,” said Orr, from Ninety Six. “As the practitioner helped me gain a better understanding of my relationship with God, my fear was quieted.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Local Paper Front Page: Are cruises a boon for local economy?

As the community debates the effects cruise ships have on the city’s environment, infrastructure and quality of life, a larger question looms over the discussion: From a pure dollars-and-cents perspective, is it all worth it?

The only study to examine the financial implications of cruises in Charleston paints the industry as a bonanza for the region in sour economic times, contributing some $37 million a year to the local economy. Direct spending by cruise passengers alone is expected to top $5.5 million, the study found.

But that study was paid for by the State Ports Authority, which claims as much as 8 percent of its annual revenue from the cruise industry. That makes some residents and business leaders skeptical of the study’s conclusions, particularly since the analysis did not examine potential negative impacts associated with the ships.

Chief among economic concerns is whether cruise-ship passengers displace other tourists who visit Charleston for its events and historic attractions rather than as a vacation stepping-off point. Stay-over tourists tend to spend more cash on hotel rooms, restaurants and activities. Will they balk at the increased traffic and crowds and go elsewhere?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

Luther on Galatians and Justification

Anyone who is justified on the basis of the Law . . . has within himself the power to acquire righteousness….If this is true, then it necessarily follows that Christ died to no purpose. For what need would a man have of Christ who loves him and gives Himself for him [if] he is able to obtain grace and eventually do good works and to merit eternal life. . . or surely be justified by performing the Law? Therefore let Christ be removed togetherwith all his blessings because he is completely useless. But why is Christ born, crucified and dead? Why does He become my High Priest, who loves me and gives an inestimable sacrifice, Himself, for me? Why does he do all this? Simply to no purpose at all if the
meaning of justification which the [false teachers] set forth is true, because I find righteousness in the Law or in myself, outside grace and outside Christ.

–one of the many passages I cam across preparing for this morning’s sermon on Galatians 2 the second half from Luther’s Galatians

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Lutheran, Other Churches, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Elaine L. Chao–A day of reckoning for public pensions: The bills are due, the coffers are empty

For the past few decades, many local and state governments evaded… [certain set] requirements, using an array of accounting gimmicks and rosy economic predictions to routinely understate pension fund liabilities and overstate assets. All the while, cozy arrangements between politicians and public employee unions fueled pension benefit increases. According to a study by the Pew Center, state and local governments today face at least $1 trillion of unfunded pension promises.

The problem is exacerbated by significant differences between the laws governing public pensions and those in the private sector.

Private sector pensions are required by federal law (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) to conform to certain minimum pension funding rules. These rules require more accurate measurement of pension liabilities and assets and prevent companies with significantly underfunded pension plans from making new promises they can’t afford to keep. State and local government plans are not subject to these federal laws, and many failed to take it upon themselves to responsibly ensure that they would be able to make good on their promises….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

James Leachman (The Tablet)–Building on the papal visit

I have spent time recently in Lincoln among Church of England and Catholic friends and family. After Evensong in the (Anglican) cath-edral one day, some of us were received by a delightful member of the cathedral community, many of whose Church of England friends had followed the papal visit on television and considered it an astounding success. Some who had stopped attending were considering a return to regular worship in the church that had nurtured their faith.

The Catholics I met were also united in their conviction that they had seen the Pope as he is for the first time, rather than through the distorting medium of a press that is often cynical and atheistic ”“ and they had experienced a shift in their attitude towards him.

One of the central elements of Pope Benedict’s call was that all people of faith should have an active voice in society. Religious faith is not a private experience or hobby, and it must be active in promoting justice and truth. It was clear from his joyful meeting with young people at Twickenham and outside Westminster Cathedral, and with the elderly in Vauxhall, south London, that both he and they were moved. They welcomed his call to follow Christ and become the saints of the twenty-first century.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Church Times–Flying bishops: We’re not going yet

Two Church of England bishops have denied reports they will resign to take up the Ordinariate before the end the year.

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, and the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton, both Provincial Episcopal Visitors, were said this week to have decided to leave the Church of England and had accepted the Pope’s invitation to join an Ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Herald said….“Senior Anglo-Catholic bishops are likely to take up the Pope’s offer of an Ordinariate before the end of the year.” Bishop Burnham was quoted in The Tablet saying that Pope Benedict XIV had made the offer “and I’ve decided to respond to it”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

A Prayer to begin the Day

O Living God, in whom is the fountain of life: So teach us to know thee through Jesus Christ that we may share the power of that eternal life which is in him, and that all our lives may be brought into obedience to thy holy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Eric Fenn

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

–Palm 118: 8-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Fears of Chinese land grab as Beijing's billions buy up resources

China is pouring another $7bn (£4.4bn) into Brazil’s oil industry, reigniting fears of a global “land grab” of natural resources.

State-owned Sinopec clinched the deal with Spain’s Repsol yesterday to buy 40 per cent of its Brazilian business, giving China’s largest oil company access to Repsol Brasil’s estimated reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil and gas. The whopping price tag for Repsol Brasil ”“ which values the company at nearly twice previous estimates ”“ is a sign of China’s willingness to pay whatever it takes to lock in its future energy supplies and avoid social unrest. It will give the company enough cash to develop all its current oil projects, including two fields in the Santos Basin.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Brazil, China, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Globalization, South America

Bishop Alan Wilson on the Process whereby People are Elected to General Synod

I promise I’m almost through with General Synod elections but I want to thank various people for emails and other messages about ways to make the process simpler, more informative and transparent. There’s a way to go, but a few simple steps with the right technology would go a long way to help, but not till next time round.

I just want to share finally, however something I would find it hard to believe if several people whose judgment I trust had not told me it was so. Apparently an elector at an election meeting asked candidates to state to which relevant organisations they belong. All but one candidate did the obvious and said, but one who shall be nameless simply refused to answer the question. Only having a tiny number of electors present makes this kind of sheer arrogance possible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(NY Times) Floyd Norris: The Recession Is Over, but Pessimism Still Reigns

In previous recessions, there has been widespread pessimism about the overall economy. But this recession was the first since the survey began in 1967 when more people expected their own incomes to fall.

Before this recession, no survey ever showed as few as 15 percent of Americans optimistic about their own prospects. But since October 2008, when the financial crisis intensified after the failure of Lehman Brothers, the figure has been below 15 percent. Similarly, the proportion of pessimists had never been as high as 15 percent before the financial crisis, but it has been above that figure for the last two years.

At the height of the financial crisis, in March 2009, less than 8 percent of Americans expected their incomes to improve, while about 24 percent anticipated a decline. The figures released this week showed about 10 percent were optimistic about their incomes, while about 16 percent still expected a fall.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

David Chase, Steven Bochco and other Hollywood folks remember Stephen J. Cannell RIP

Before Stephen J. Cannell, television’s heroes tended to be square-jawed, flawless, never-a-hair-out-of-place kind of guys. But the creator of series such as “The Rockford Files” and “The A-Team” changed that.

“His characters had weaknesses — they were fallible human beings,” said David Chase, who worked early in his career with the prolific producer on “The Rockford Files.” “That was the beginning of viewers seeing a TV protagonist as someone like themselves.”

The Rockford Files was one of my favorites growing up. He will be missed–read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams visits Zoroastrian Centre in Harrow

THE Archbishop of Canterbury praised the “enormous” contribution of one of the country’s smaller religions on a visit to Rayners Lane today.

Dr Rowan Williams went to the Zoroastrian Centre, in Alexandra Avenue, at 2pm, where he met members of the faith and learned about their rich history and tradition.

He said: “For a community relatively small in size it’s contribution has been enormous to the life of this country but also to the life of so many of the great world religions….”

Read it all.

Update: There is more there.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths