Tag Archives: evil

“Health-care price gouging is a scandal . . . “

Link:  Health-care price gouging is a scandal, but there are solutions

This article was an eye-opener.  I mean, I KNOW there are big big problems with the health care system, but from what I know (or what I thought I knew) of non-profit organizations, it had no idea it was possible for non-profit hospitals and agencies to do what they’re doing.  How is this happening?  We need to ask our government this, which regulates non-profits.  I started to look into this issue today after my boss told me that health insurance is going up 30% AGAIN, for individuals.  People, can we please do something for our brothers and sisters in this country?  Many people that are homeless ended up that way over health costs!!  Anyway, these are excerpts from the article.  Go to the link to read the whole thing, and the author provides a name and place to get more detailed and highly informed information.  Thanks.

I once tried getting an answer from officials at Bayfront Medical Center about why they billed a breast biopsy at more than $12,000, not including fees charged by the radiologist and lab. All I got were vague answers, and no one would break down the cost.

In nonprofit hospitals, where top executives often are paid lavish compensation of $1 million or more, Brill [from Time magazine] documents how patients are gouged, charged hundreds of dollars for services that Medicare would have reimbursed at little more than $20. In one typical case, a dose of life-saving cancer medicine, already expensive at $4,000, was marked up by the hospital to $13,700 — with no explanation given. . . .  We overspend on health care by $750 billion a year, Brill asserts, more than the gross domestic product of Saudi Arabia.

. . . transparency in medical billing is an essential consumer-protection reform. And . . . we need to put limits on pharmaceutical pricing to bring down U.S. drug charges in line with other developed countries. That reform alone would save Medicare $25 billion a year.

The uninsured, who are powerless to negotiate a better deal, can pay tenfold for the exact same services.

For even-better ideas, read Princeton economics professor Uwe Reinhardt’s posts at the NYTimes.com blog Economix. An expert in the funding of health-care systems . . .

The author of the piece, Robyn Blumner, believes that a single-payer system would be best, as does my CPA boss.  I agree.  We are still being killed softly by insurance company policies, even if they are keeping prices from hospitals down.  What underwriter should deserve health insurance themselves when they deny a dying (or simply overweight!!) person any?  This more than amazes me.  This is inhuman.  But from what people have been taught in schools, there’s nothing special to being human – it’s survival of the fittest (and somehow all other countries and humans are better than Americans . . . ).  People are losing their critical thinking skills, their compassion, and the appreciation and desire for beauty.  God help us!

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America, the home of the free . . . to screw and be screwed.

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Open Comment to US Representatives Regarding Gun Control

I’m not a member of the NRA, the Republican party, or any such so-called group of nutty control freaks.  I do, however, want my right to own a firearm preserved.  I deserve the right to protect myself and those around me from others who threaten or attack with a firearm.  And making them illegal will not stop violent people from having them.  Nor will it stop nutty violent people from killing others.  Men in China have slaughtered children in schools with knives . . . bombs are apparently easy to make . . . .   People who are bent on killing others will find a way to do so.  The problem is partly or mostly a social-cultural one (the rest is a problem of individual psychiatric imbalance) (as a Christian, I believe in the forces of evil, but this is not a post to get into how that ties in here).

Our culture promotes aggression and greed – selfish behavior.  It’s all about self and money.  Do things YOURSELF, do it ALL YOURSELF.  Also, we are into letting people do things all by and of THEMSELVES, so we don’t do anything about crazy people.  We just leave them be until they go totally nuts and kill people.  The guns the shooter used in Newton were and are inanimate objects.  They are dangerous, to be sure, but not evil in themselves.  It was the shooter’s evil that caused the deaths of all those innocent people.

When are we going to start being a more community-oriented country, instead of one where everyone has to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (even if they have some bad disease or ailment)?  Where so many people can’t pull themselves up, anyway, because there are fewer and fewer full-time jobs, and most things are more expensive while we make less, and where executives and do-nothing investors keep making more money while we make less?  It is kind-of amazing to me that more protesting, rioting, and violence hasn’t occurred.  Keep people too tired, worried, but also entertained with sports and games, and not too much happens . . .

Anyway, I have the right to defend myself, and many persons with firearms in this country have indeed stopped violent attackers from harming themselves or others.  When shootings like Newton occur, it’s so awful and tragic that people have a knee-jerk reaction to gun ownership.  Maybe there’s a way to make it harder for unstable people to use or acquire guns, and I would be for that.  In the case of the Lanza’s, would any new regulations have helped?  There is not enough known yet, but from what I’ve seen so far, I have my doubts.  We need to be more proactive, as people and a nation, in addressing the needs of those with mental health issues in our communities.  Quit ignoring THAT, and maybe we’ll all be a bit safer (yes, it’s OK to butt into other people’s business if it means saving lives).  More so than if you take away good folks’ defense against armed criminals and deranged folks.

We need to be more community-oriented, period, which means being more socially loving and showing concern for our neighbors.

(Imagine the change in this country if corporations actually started acting this way . . . we need to start fixing our cold, aggressive, greedy, selfish hearts, rather than taking people’s rights away.)

[A little bit of food for thought:  Obama sheds fake tears]

A PS:  Is anyone else seriously tired of all the conflicting “news” in the news (like, the shooters mom worked at the school, but now she doesn’t, and no other info is given?  Or that his dad was found dead, but then he wasn’t?)?  All day I’ve been checking back to see what the motive of the killer was, since early on it was reported that investigators had good evidence for the motive.  But now, I’m seeing new articles (like in the Huffington Post), that say they don’t know the motive . . .  So tired of US media and whatever goes on with censoring.  If you want to know some more detailed news, or any news at all, check out foreign sources.

A PSS:  “The victims of the shooting were shot multiple times by a rifle, a medical examiner said Saturday . . .”  Yet no rifle was found in the school; Lanza killed himself (apparently) in the school at the time police arrived – he didn’t run back to the car, dump a rifle, and then go back in and kill himself.  Quote (not my commentary) from: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/16/at-least-26-dead-in-shooting-at-connecticut-school/#ixzz2FF4cyFTf

Gun Control at Just the Facts

America the Greedy: Homes on Land-lease land

In Anaheim one day.

Hello everyone – how are you all doing?  It’s been an unusually long time since I made a blog post, but looking for mortgages (loan shopping), looking for properties, taking cars into shops and looking for a new car, etc., surely takes one time up!  Since I’ve been in this mode and have learned some new things, I thought I’d pass a little of my new-found knowledge along.

So we are low-income (and recently lost some monthly income) and our rent went up.   But we have some funds to use for a down-payment, so it’s time to buy a condo if we can find one.  Why?  Where we live, it costs less per month to pay a low-end mortgage and homeowner’s association fees (HOA), than it is to rent.  Seems silly, huh?

Leaving the vagaries of renting vs paying a mortgage aside, there’s this thing that exists in our country called a land-lease (not all states allow this for condos/houses, apparently, and for good reason).  I have read a number of realtor’s comments and articles on this and this is what I have to say:  don’t buy into the idea that there are good reasons to buy a condo or house on leased land.  Buying a manufactured home in a mobile home park MAY be worth it, but I’m not talking about mobile homes.

Ok, so this came as a shock to me that you could BUY a condo on land you don’t own.   The lease tends to be a lot, and they also have high HOAs.  So how, possibly, could this help anyone but the leaseholder?  But wait, you might say.  What if you buy the home and the lease is finally paid up – don’t you own it all then?  That would make sense, right?  And it would make up, maybe, for paying the lease for all that time (up to 99 years, I’ve seen).  But NO, you BUY a condo, but when the lease is up it’s NOT YOURS.  This is what I’ve read; this is my understanding.  If you buy a condo or home on leased land and you want to sell and get your money back from the investment you made in the property, you might be dreaming.  If the lease is almost up, no one in his/her right mind is going to spend their good money on a home that will be “theirs” for only few years!

I saw a condo here recently that was very attractive, very cute, in a nice area (it only had one parking spot, however).  They were asking a fairly low price for the condo itself ($139K), but the lease was around $3,300 annually right now (this is actually a low lease), with scheduled increases to $6,814 annually by 2031.  The HOA was a very high $584 per month.  Another listing didn’t provide either the lease cost or the HOA.  Ok, another is one of those deals where the listing agent sucks in unwary people:  a nice condo listed for a ridiculously low price (about 25% of comparable ones in the area), with a bit higher than average HOA, and NO mention of it being a land-lease.

Finally, one in the city where I live.  An OK looking condo for not all that cheap of a price (in a perhaps an OK area, but not a great area), with $412 HOA and no lease price provided.  Let’s say you were able to put down 20% on a mortgage for this place (but good luck with even finding a bank to give you a mortgage for this type of property).  The monthly payments would be about $780 per month.  Property tax would be minimal.  There’s the $412 HOA, and the lease is . . . what?  Just for the heck of it, let’s provide a lease that is kind-of average for a mobile home lease in the region: $1,000 per month.  That would leave you paying $2192 per month for you basic housing needs.

We’re looking to buy a small regular condo and our monthly costs will be between about $1,025 and $1,420, and that includes property tax.  So how does the land-lease option help lower income people, or help to save on monthly costs?  It doesn’t; it only helps the landowner.  And you will not gain equity in that home.  You will be lucky if you get the same amount back for it as you paid.  This is what I’ve read from real estate agents and others.  One good side to owning, some people try to suggest, is that the place will be better maintained and generally nicer than a cheaper condo or apartment, so it’s better for families.  Well.  I say don’t throw away your hard-earned cash and be patient, do some more searching, etc.  (Build good credit; it’s kind-of astonishing how much of a difference one-half of one percent makes on your monthly payment.)  Save that money for your kids’ college education and don’t just throw it at some land-owner who’s sitting back making all kinds of cash off you for simply roosting on his land.

Is God ever the author of evil? Does God cause evil acts?

The light shines through the darkness. By Mattox at stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1134104).

As a Christian, I believe John’s statement:  This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (John 1:5).  Yet, there are verses in the Bible—mostly in the Old Testament—where God says He causes calamity, the hardening of hearts, even sinful behavior.  Critics and skeptics ask about these, and in light of the evil and suffering in the world, wonder at the goodness or even existence of God.

So which verses are we talking about?  Here are some of them:

Exodus 9:12:  But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had told Moses.

1 Kings 22:23:  You see, the Lord has put a lying spirit into the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has pronounced disaster against you.

Isaiah 45:7:  I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

Mark 4:11-12 (verse 12 is from Isaiah 6:9-10):  He answered them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been granted to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables so that ‘they may look and look, yet not perceive; they may listen and listen, yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back—and be forgiven.”

So does God really, purposefully, harden people’s hearts to that they won’t listen to Him or come to Him, tell people or spirits to go and lie for Him so that they (or others) do the wrong thing, and/or simply cause disasters?

The basic answer to all of these is that since God is sovereign and He made everything, He is ultimately responsible for everything that happens.  That’s how the Hebrews saw it and that’s how they wrote, though to us today it seems odd or unsatisfactory.  The Hebrews knew that persons and spirits were responsible, yet they emphasized God’s role.  As is stated in Hard Sayings of the Bible, “What is reflected here is the lack of precise distinction in Hebraic thought between primary and secondary causes.  Since God is sovereign, human will and freedom to decide for or against God were often subsumed under divine sovereignty” (Kaiser et al, 620).

Let’s look at each of the above verses separately, while keeping in mind the general explanation already stated by Kaiser et al.  Regarding Exodus 9:12, MacDonald briefly writes:  “The more Pharaoh hardened his heart, the more it became judicially hardened by God” (96).  The concern is recognized in Kaiser et al.:  “. . . it appears God authors evil and then holds someone else responsible.  Did God make it impossible for Pharaoh to respond and then find Pharaoh guilty for this behavior?” (142).  No, since Pharaoh hardened his own heart  during the first five plagues (Ex 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34, 35; 13:15).  After this, as MacDonald so concisely stated, God helped the process along since it was already what Pharaoh had decided himself.

1 Kings 22:23.  In considering this verse and its context, the Hebrew habit of ignoring secondary causes is significant.  There are other verses in the Bible where a command is given, but it is an affirmation of permission – as is the case when Jesus tells the demons to enter a herd of pigs (Matt 8:31), or when he tells Judas to get going with his plans (John 13:27).  In the case of 1 Kings 22, King Ahab was listening to false prophets and the false prophets were responsible for their own lies; God allowed it and used it for His plans, and God even warned Ahab.

. . . the passage in question is a vision that Micaiah reveals to Ahab.  God is telling Ahab, “Wise up.  I am allowing your prophets to lie to you.”  In a sense, God is revealing further truth to Ahab rather than lying to him.  If God were truly trying to entrap Ahab into a life-threatening situation, he would not have revealed the plan to him!  Even so, Ahab refuses to heed God’s truth, and he follows his prophets’ advice (Kaiser et al, 231).

In conclusion, “Without saying that God does evil that good may come, we can say that God overrules the full tendencies of preexisting evil so that the evil promotes God’s eternal plan, contrary to its own tendency and goals” (Kaiser et al, 230).

Isaiah 45:7.  Much has been written on Isaiah 45:7, since part of the problem is that the King James Bible incorrectly used the word “evil” instead of disaster or some like word.  The verse refers to natural “evil” (destructive forces) and not moral evil.  God permits these things, and in fact natural destructive forces are a normal and necessary part of the earth’s balance and being.  The verse is a strong declaration, however, that God is THE creator and that He is ultimately in control of all things, and not some other being.

Mark 4:11-12 (Isaiah 6:9-10).  After having reviewed the other verses/passages, the meaning of this passage can almost be inferred.  It may sound mean and controlling of God, but it is a reality that there are those people who go after and accept views and actions that are contrary to God.  For those like this, God lets them continue; they have chosen their way, their path, and God does not force anyone to follow Him and accept Him as savior and Lord.  (Interestingly, the author of the section on this verse in Kaiser et al. [417-419] does not agree, providing a minority interpretation that is something of a 180˚ turn.)  MacDonald provides a generally accepted interpretation:

Verses 11 and 12 explain why this truth was presented in parables.  God reveals His family secrets to those whose hearts are open, receptive and obedient, while deliberately hiding truth from those who reject the light given to them. . . . we must remember the tremendous privilege which these people had enjoyed.  The Son of God had taught in their midst and performed many mighty miracles before them.  Instead of acknowledging Him as the true Messiah, they were even now rejecting Him.  Because they had spurned the Light of the world, they would be denied the light of His teachings (1330).

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (John 1:5b).  God is not evil and does not do evil, but He does “work around” the evil in this world to further His plans for human redemption.  God loves us, and sent His son for us, so that we may have new life in Him (to not be controlled by the evil in the world).  If you want that, you will find it.  You will find God and He will know you.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10); “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7); “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor 13:12); “But the man who loves God is known by God” (1 Cor 8:3).

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Sources:  James Dunn and John Rogerson, ed.s, Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Pub Co 2003); Tim Jackson, Did God Create Evil?; Kaiser, Walter et al, Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press 1996); MacDonald, William, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub.s 1995).

Where is God? God’s whisper to Elijah

God reveals Himself over and over again in the Old and New Testaments (and yes, there is much cumulative evidence to believe this is so), but Elijah’s encounter with an angel and with the Lord in 1 Kings 19 is one of the most interesting. Perhaps this is due to its poetical as well as enigmatic nature.   Some commentators provide that we do not really know why this story is in the Bible. But what can we learn from it?

Elijah was one of the most extraordinary prophets of God in the OT and he appeared in the NT “as” John the Baptist (Matthew 17:9-13; Luke 1:17) and in the Transfiguration (Mark 9:1-8). Since Elijah seems to show so much human weakness in chapter 19 of 1 Kings, it can provide encouragement to anyone who has fears or has become depressed. But why did Elijah become so fearful and depressed? To answer that question, some background is needed.

In Chapter 18, God conducted a (very) dramatic demonstration through Elijah to show the people that He was the real thing and not Baal, a god whom many Israelites were worshiping. Indeed, Yahweh, the only creator God and the God of Israel, was becoming thought of in the same terms as Baal, and from the site Kuntillet Ajrud, dated to this same period, Yahweh was even being associated with Asherah (a mother goddess). Not only was idolatry rampant, but paganistic syncretism. So, on Mt. Carmel Elijah called on God, and He rained down fire and consumed a huge water-drenched sacrifice.  But the 450 prophets of Baal could not get Baal to do anything. To rid Israel of this idolatry and all that resulted from it–besides the syncretism, all the prophets of God in Israel were being killed–the Baal prophets were executed.

Chapter 19 starts with Queen Jezebel, a Baal worshiper and killer of the prophets of God, refusing to believe the undeniable demonstration of God at Mt. Carmel. She said to Elijah, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow if I do not make your life like that of one of them [the prophets of Baal]” (interestingly enough, her curse on herself becomes fulfilled). Despite the miracle that God just did through Elijah, and God’s other works through him, Elijah is terrified and runs away, far away, in fear.

In despondency and what seems to be humility, Elijah prays, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” After this an angel provided food and water for him twice, saying to Elijah that the “journey is too much for you.” Since he hadn’t started his journey yet, it appears that the angel already knew where Elijah planned on going; nothing had been said about Elijah going to the mountain of God (Mt. Horeb) previously. Elijah leaves for Mt. Horeb, a journey taking 40 days and nights, with no other food than what the angel had already provided him. The following takes place the day after his arrival:

“The word of the LORD came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’  He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’ The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

Does Elijah change his tune after this demonstration by God? No, and he answers the Lord with the same exact statement he provided at the beginning, “I have been very zealous . . .”. One problem with this answer is that he seems to be ignoring what a devout man told him shortly before, that 100 prophets were in hiding and had not been killed by Jezebel (1 Kings 18:1-15). In any case, Elijah seems to think he’s alone; after the angels’ help, and after thinking about things on the long journey, and after God’s amazing demonstration, he still feels despondent and afraid! So the Lord then tells Elijah to leave and anoint two named persons as kings and to also anoint Elisha as his successor.  God also tells Elijah that 7,000 believers will be left after the coming bloodshed. As we find later, one of the anointed kings helps to get rid of Jezebel (2 Kings 9:30-37).

Since Elijah leaves and no longer seems depressed, he must have understood that the Lord was taking care of things . . . right? The Lord let him know that he was not alone, so perhaps that helped his mood. However, Elijah does not seem to have done all that the Lord told him to do, but only anoints his successor, Elisha. We find later that Elisha anointed one of the kings (2 Kings 9:6); the other never appears to have been anointed (2 Kings 8:7-15). So, did Elijah still walk in fear during the rest of his life? It is impossible to say, but Elijah was taken up into heaven bodily and is a major player in God’s future work, so the Lord loved (and used) him despite his apparent disobedience.

But what to make out of the powerful demonstration the Lord made for Elijah at Mr. Horeb? Did Elijah need to learn that God was not in destructive forces of nature? It would seem very odd to think so! Did Elijah need to know that the Lord spoke in a soft voice? That also would seem very odd since the Lord had already spoken to Elijah many times. So . . . why? It seems that the best explanation is that Elijah needed to be reminded, in a real way, that God is the one to be feared, and not others. The demonstration was frightening. The Lord told Elijah to “stand on the mountain” to watch, but by the end, Elijah is inside the cave, no doubt with his knees shaking.

But the Lord is the one who controls things, not people like Jezebel.  When Elijah had prayed earlier, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors,” he seemed to be saying that he didn’t have faith in God, that he didn’t think God was really in control, and that he couldn’t shake his fear of dying at the hands of Jezebel or her idolators. In fact, he didn’t seem to trust God to keep him alive on the mountain while all that destruction was going on.

Since Elijah answered in the same distressed way after the Lord’s demonstration, it almost seems that what God did was wasted on Elijah. However, the Lord gives him work to do, and Elijah shows faith by leaving to do it. He gains strength, as can be seen by his future confrontation with the King Ahab (1 Kings 21), Jezebel’s husband. Later, he is taken up to God in a whirlwind of fire, the powers of which he finally learned he did not need to fear (2 Kings 21-18).

[This is also published at our main site]

Amazing and wonderful post; “God is good always, man is not.” Thoughts on God, evil, and goodness from the Aurora tragedy.

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

July 22 – a note of explanation

I’ve tried to leave this post just as it was originally written because it was a heartfelt response after a very traumatic experience.  But I’m sometimes clumsy with words and even when I think I am writing clearly, there is always the reader who doesn’t know my heart or doesn’t hear the words the way they were intended.

I feel as though a few people have taken what I said and twisted it. When I wrote my post on Friday, I had a grand total of eleven blog  followers. Yes, eleven. I generally post on facebook and have had a loyal little group of readers that numbered thirty or so. That is who I generally write for.  People who know me  know that I dislike talking on the telephone. I’d pretty much rather clean a toilet than spend time on the phone. I…

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