Monthly Archives: December 2014

Seasons of Life

So we are all supposed to “live in the moment” to be happy.  If you are a shark like me, this is a struggle.  Most of our strength comes from our mind, which when left to roam free will rush to either analyze the past for insight, or predict the future in preparation of it.  However, if not controlled, this mental wondering becomes maladaptive and distracts us from the present–aka the most important moment at any given time.

It is hard to move off the mind-roaming treadmill and into, “Okay Lady, think only of NOW…okay, NOW…back to NOW!”

So if the discipline of moment-by-moment awareness feels unnatural, allow me to suggest a great way to get there: with progressive baby steps.

Start by going with the seasons of life, both literal (winter, spring, summer, fall) and figurative (grief, celebration, calm, struggle).  Embrace whatever is going on in your life and lean into it, rather than fight it.   Live “it” to the hilt, in all its terrible glory.

When stuck, aesthetics can help you work from the outside in–clothing, home decor, food, weekend activities that match the season.  Go with the season enough and next you are aware of the room, of the conversation–see what I did there?  You are practically living in the moment!  Accepting the inevitable and natural turns on the wheel of fortune is freeing.

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” -Henry David Thoreau

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, KJV)

Profit & Loss at the US Mint

The penny cost 1.7 cents to produce in 2014, and the nickel 8 cents, costing US taxpayers $90.5 million in losses.

However, a dime can be made for 3.9 cents, and a quarter for 9 cents, meaning the US Mint actually profited $289.1 million this year!

While alternative, cheaper metals are being explored, laundry and vending companies vehemently oppose any alteration that would mean a change in the size or weight of coins, since the adjustment to the machines would likely cost billions.

See more on WSJ’s economics blog.


Normalization with Cuba Expected to Only Benefit GOP Fundraising

Yesterday, Politico discussed the expected effects of Obama’s push for open relations with Cuba.

While support and detraction of diplomatic relations with the Communist island do not strictly adhere to party lines, the opposition PACs have already mobilized to support GOP candidates who oppose Obama’s move, and they are expected to out-raise the groups that do support Obama.

While most Americans support normalization, many wealthy donors see the issue as a top priority–especially in South Florida, which will  of course have an undue influence on the 2016 presidential election due to Florida’s number of electoral college votes.

Both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush hail from FL, oppose normalization, and are seeking the 2016 Republican nomination.

The US – Cuba Democracy PAC, which opposes normalization, anticipates over $800,000 to come in to the organization for the 2016 race, to support either of the two candidates.

Does Obamacare-eligible = Charity-care ineligible?

Modern Healthcare raised this question last week.  US health systems have a range of responses to patients who are eligible for a subsidized health insurance plan, yet do not take advantage of one–and then need the hospital to give free care out of its own pocket.

“I don’t feel it’s appropriate to say you must do this brand-new thing or you can’t get care.” says Dr. Bill Burman of the Denver Dept of Public Health, defending all patients’ right to charity, regardless of insurance eligibility

Although, that is what the US does for many things already: air travel, driving a car, working, owning property, etc.

Caring for the community is part of the mission of almost every hospital, and its leaders have come up in a culture that it is the right thing to do.  Not-for-profit hospitals must also give a certain amount of free care to maintain tax-exempt status, although these standards vary widely by state, and some have claimed that hospitals benefit too much from the tax-savings, while only giving a comparatively small amount of care in return.

Yet, many of the uninsured have chronic diseases and will likely be returning to these facilities over the years.  Therefore, the hospitals have a clear financial interest in expanding coverage.  In fact, one could make the case that a core duty as a provider in this country is to participate in our country’s decision to move to the public insurance model that is more financially sustainable for all.

A phased-in approach seems to be the most prudent solution.  The internet-based portal for buying government insurance is not perfectly reliable, and there are too many loopholes and exceptions to deny charity care to those who may not have coverage.  These patients may be trying to obtain proper coverage, or waiting on an issues resolution.  Hospital financial counselors should review and encourage selection of an Obamacare plan for those who would benefit, but if the patient refuses, they should still be granted charity care for a limited amount of time or number of occurrences.  For example, charity care could cover the insurance premium for six months or for the course of a cancer treatment, rather than in perpetuity.  This is a compassionate solution that still gives repeat healthcare consumers skin in the game.



Moments of Agency

David Brooks had a recent article in the NY Times about Agency Moments.

An Agency Moment could be defined as a time when external approval and validation become secondary to dignity in the decision-making process.  Brooks calls it when adulthood begins.

These moments seem to happen after doing things “just-so” fails to give lasting security and comfort.  A highly-prescribed life is often antithetical to life’s purpose: connecting with the divine forces in the cosmos and within each other.