June 22, 2009

Monday morning

Hey. Remodel moving right along, and we are hoping to have tile installed by the end of the week. That means finalizing electrical and plumbing fixture purchases in the next few days.


Couple of news items caught my eye this morning. Last week, Greg (at the Parish) caught this item regarding Thomas Kinkade. Evidently, the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" has some very shady business practices. Reading about Kinkade reminded me of a situation SOF and I ran into with some very religious business people. They merged their business philosophy with their Christian faith--which sounds fine, until you realized they weren't quite clear about those two different sides. Their response to others around them tended to vacillate between Christian ministry and hard-nosed business decision. Reminded me of the saying about baseball and management--"when you say it is a game, they say it is just business. When you say it is business, they say, "hey, it is just a game." In the case with our religious friends, it was "when you say it is a business, they call it a ministry, but when you need to get paid for that overtime, they call it a ministry."

Wasn't that they were bad people, in any way of thinking. But they weren't clear about their motives. I am more and more convinced that most Christians (especially of the evangelical type) over-simplify their religious faith and actually just assume that those "in relationship" with God will automatically learn about morality and ethics. A spiritual osmosis, as it were. But it does not work that way, and the most recent debate about torture is the best example. Ethics and morality, I am more and more convinced, require an open conversation and dialogue. These issues have to be introduce and framed, or most people will not even really consider them. Many I have seen understand the basics of "not stealing" and not "sleeping with the neighbor's wife." But they haven't really examined how their Christian faith might translate into business ethics, and they certainly haven't grappled with how their Christian faith might not be in line with American patriotism or capitalism.

Which, to switch topics ever so slightly, might explain how so many churches have adopted the advertising and marketing gimmicks to attract people to their churches. In this case, evidently parking some Nascar racing cars outside the church, which Greg makes funnier than I thought possible.


Lord knows Peggy Noonan annoys me quite frequently, as she did when she said of torture and the Bush people that somethings in life needed to remain "mysterious." But she is correct here when she points out the silly nature of the McCain/Republican criticism of Obama on Iran.


Speaking of Republicans, I had an interesting conversation (or at least began one) last week on the issue of tort reform and health care. I am coming around, at least in principle, to the idea that we need to do something to protect against some of these lawsuits as they are contributing to the rising cost of care. But I don't understand the Republican impulse to both rein in lawsuits, and also deregulate industry. How can you say to the American people that they shouldn't be able to sue the manufacturer of some item, but they shouldn't expect some reasoned oversight and regulation of that same item? I could understand one or the other, but both?

It, added to the mantra from the right about health care, make me very suspicious that Republicans (talking about those in Congress, not everyone in the country) care really only about corporate profits.


Ok. Enough of that. My contractor just lent me his Sawzall and I am going to use it on a stubborn overflow pipe in my garden pond. Heh.



steves said...

My dad absolutely hates Kinkade, so I will have to e-mail him that article. I keep threatening him with a Kinkade print if he doesn't give me ideas as to what he wants for presents.

I love discussing tort reform. Proponents of tort reform, in general, are very ill informed as to what tort reform really does. There are some areas, such as in firearms with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, where the laws make sense and achieve a legitimate goal. In most cases, such as with medical malpractice, the laws do nothing to lower the insurance rates of doctors and make it easier for them to practice. The only beneficiaries are the insurance companies who take home more profits while many people with legitimate injuries and grievances are unable to get little in compensation.

I think that many otherwise intelligent people, have been duped into supporting tort reform by stories of a few silly lawsuits or distortions of negligence cases (e.g. McDonalds hot coffee case). I think if you are going to look at tort reform, you need to see benefits and who is harmed. I have no problem protecting businesses, but not if it harms people.

Streak said...

If it wouldn't give Kinkade more money, I would suggest you go ahead and get him one!

I am intrigued by what you say about tort reform. How would it not help Doctors if it helps insurance companies?

BTW, I have always considered lawsuits part of the market adjustment, and still think that people should have some leverage against a large corporation. My fear is the cost passed on to OBGYN's for example.

Oh, and I didn't put this in my post, but I had a conversation with a friend from Germany about health care. He said there they had the choice between individual companies, but had to have coverage (he found it funny that Americans bragged about all the choice they had, while only getting to "choose" the health care already chosen by their company.). He noted, as an aside, that it was very hard to sue a Doctor in Germany, and we were distracted before I could follow up.

leighton said...

In addition to the factors you both have mentioned, one complicating factor that makes me unsympathetic to tort reform in the context of medicine and law is that in practice, doctors and lawyers tend to be sued more often for a bad outcome combined with a lack of diligence in communication with the patient or client, than for actionable mistakes. If you have a good bedside manner or require your staff to communicate with clients regularly, it's very unlikely that you'll be sued even if you commit malpractice. To my mind, the best way to tackle the problem of excessive lawsuits (if there is one; I'm not really current on the issue) is to push CLEs and CMEs that focus on communication skills and management tactics.

Streak, I can obviously only speak for what I've seen, but my boss's malpractice premiums wouldn't be substantially affected by legislation making it harder for clients to sue him, since the way our insurance company determines its rates is a closely guarded secret. With nobody looking over their shoulder, I can't imagine they would "hurt their shareholders" (i.e. funnel less into the bank accounts of the underwriters) by being more generous than they absolutely have to be to retain business.

steves said...

I'll have to poke around for the articles. Tort reform has been promoted as a way to help lower premiums for doctors, since they shouldn't be able to get sued as often. Unfortunately, premiums paid by doctors is tort reform states are almost identical to premiums paid in more litigation friendly states. In other words, the insurance companies make a bigger profit in states where it is hard to sue, but don't really pass on the savings to the doctors.

In Michigan, it is very difficult to sue a doctor for medical malpractice and many attorneys don't even practice this specialty anymore. Any potential case has to go in front of a physician review panel before it can proceed. There is also a very short window to sue. If you are injured, you have to act very quickly. If you do manage to win, then any punitive damage award is capped.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against doctors, but bad doctors that injure people through their own negligence should have to fairly compensate the people they injure.

European courts are far more likely to favor the corporation/big guy than American courts. They rely more on gov't agencies to compensate and protect people.

Monk-in-Training said...

you know, there is just something very testosterone laden about a Sawzall...