Greed Begets Greed

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The environment selects for those traits that are better able to survive and perpetuates those traits.  That is natural selection.  Our society through its policies, laws, and behaviors selects for those people who are greedy.  (Some call this artificial selection)  We allow people to earn as much as they want and spend it how they please.  Those who earn the most are better able to survive and pass on their genes, thus perpetuating their genes.  So our society, by rewarding greed, artificially selects for that trait, thereby perpetuating it.  Greedy people will have more children exhibiting the greedy trait until the entire population is made up of greedy people.  The extent of the greed will grow too, because those who are the most greedy will pass on the most genes.  People should look at which traits they want to see survive and set up policies that promote those traits/behaviors.  I would suggest greed is not one of them.

Nationwide Is Not On Your Side

Recently I was involved in a motor vehicle accident that was the fault of a person insured by Nationwide.  I suffered some relatively minor injuries.  I called up Nationwide the same day to explain what happened and to seek compensation for the damage to my vehicle.  I also notified the adjuster that I suffered injuries and I would be in touch when I finished whatever treatment I might need to get better.  The adjuster surprised me with her response.  She said that given the nature of the accident that they would only compensate me for a very limited pre-set amount of medical treatment for a limited span of time for treatment.  She made it sound like it was just pre-established policy of the company not to pay more than a certain amount for these types of accidents so any treatment above that would not be compensated.

I was floored by these statements.  As an attorney, I knew that everything she was telling me was wrong.  I knew that regardless of her company policy, I was entitled to recover for whatever amount of medical treatment I needed to make my self whole again.  I was entitled to seek treatment for whatever period of time to whatever extent needed in order to return to the condition my body was in immediately prior to the accident.

I knew that Nationwide, as the insurance carrier for the at fault driver, would have to pay for it.  Not only would Nationwide have to compensate me for my medical treatment, it would also have to pay me additional damages for pain and suffering.  I knew that if Nationwide decided not to make me whole again, I could sue its insured, and ask the judge or jury to require the insured to compensate me (which Nationwide would be on the hook for up to its policy limits).

I didn’t bother in this initial phone call to let the adjuster know that she was wrong–that I was an attorney and knew what Nationwide’s obligations were.  I didn’t think the confrontation would resolve anything.  I decided to just seek the treatment I needed, save my bills and medical records, and send her a demand letter for the full amount plus pain and suffering.  I did exactly that and recovered everything I incurred in medical expense plus more for pain and suffering.

What frightens me about this situation though is that not everyone who gets into an accident knows their rights.  The average person in my situation on the phone with the Nationwide adjuster might actually believe everything she said about the limitations of recovery for injuries.  She offered me a mere $500 dollars on that initial phone call for a release of all injury claims.  It wasn’t even clear that would come to me.  She made it sound like that would be just for reimbursement of any incurred medical expenses.  I recovered far more than that in the end and I got the treatment I needed.

In my opinion, what the adjuster told me on the phone that day was misleading and deceptive.  I don’t want others to fall victim in this situation.  If you are injured in an accident, know your rights, whether that’s by seeking out an attorney or on-line research or otherwise.  Don’t let Nationwide or any other insurance company dictate the recovery you need due to the negligence of their insured.  They are required to make you whole.  Hold them to it.

Disclaimer: I am not your attorney.  This is not legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please call an attorney.

Donald Trump Speech at CPAC Once Again Self Serving, Authoritarian, and Isolationist

img_1611 So called President Donald Trump gave a speech on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC in which he once again came across as authoritarian, isolationist, and self serving.  Here are some of the highlights:

Early on he insisted that his audience sit down.  He joked that the “dishonest” media would report that his audience never gave him a standing ovation during the speech but would leave out the part that the audience “never sat down.”

He defended his statement that the “fake news” is the enemy of the people.  He blamed the media for changing the story to take out the word “fake”claiming Trump is against the media in general.  He insisted he is only against the “fake” media not the media in general.  He initially didn’t identify a specific media outlet that he claimed was fake other than “Clinton News Network,”  refraining from referring specifically to CNN. Later he added ABC, CBS, and NBC news claiming they reported “fake” polling regarding the election.  He blamed the fake news media for creating a narrative that dissuaded people from voting for him because the media made it sound like he had no chance of winning.

Trump called for an elimination of confidential sources used by media for reporting.  If someone wants to say horrible things about President Trump, they should say them to his face, he said. (Likely a call to whomever within the intelligence community is revealing his ties to Russia through leaks of information to the media.)  He acknowledged and seemed to welcome that the required revelation of sources by the media would effectively shut down the news, leaving nothing to report.

Trump actually aligned himself with extremely liberal democrat Senator Bernie Sanders.  He pointed out that Senator Sanders is correct on trade, that the U.S. is being burned on bad trade deals. He said that he and Sanders agree on trade and that he actually likes Bernie.

Trump exclaimed that America under his rule will put its own citizens first.  For too long, he said, America has traded away its jobs to other countries, and defended other nations’ borders while leaving U.S. borders open.  In response to shouts from the crowd he promised again to build the wall on the Mexican border.  But he emphasized that the first goal is to get the criminal illegals out of the country.

Trump claimed that 6 trillion dollars has been spent in the middle east implying that money should have been spent on Americans in the U.S.  He said that if presidents of the past 15 years had laid on the beach for their entire terms, the country would be better off.

Trump renewed his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, citing millions of people who were happy with the plans before the legislation was passed.  (I was one of those people but I never lost my plan under Obamacare.)

Trump promised to lift restrictions on shale oil, natural gas, and “clean” coal.  He insisted miners would be going back to work.  He said on the one hand that he would put the regulation business out of work. But on the other hand, he claimed we need regulation for environment and safety.  Trump said the Dakota Access pipeline would be built with American steele (neglecting to mention that his daughter’s clothing line is made in China).

He claimed that major corporations like Ford, Sprint and Intel are already adding jobs locally in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina due to Trump’s anticipated policies. He said it is time for people to get off welfare and get back to work. He said, “you’re gonna love it!”

He plans to substantially upgrade the military more than ever before, but insisted we would never have to use it because “no one is going to mess with us.”  He believes in “peace through strength.” In his very next sentence, in an obvious contradiction, he said he has asked the defense community to develop a plan to totally obliterate ISIS.  He said he would never apologize for keeping our people safe.

He promised to reduce taxes, reduce regulations, support police, defend our flag, rebuild the military, take care of veterans, fix trade deals, cut spending, promote values, rebuild inner cities,  bring back jobs and dreams, and protect the second amendment.

While he acknowledged that we need to get along with other countries he said that there is no global anthem or global flag, and he his not President of the Globe, but of the United States.

 

Media Wrongfully Attacks Trump Over Taiwan Phone Call

img_1611Trump took a phone call from Taiwan’s leader a few days ago and the media has lambasted him since.  Supposedly no U.S. President has spoken with Taiwan’s leader since 1979, when the U.S. aligned with mainland communist China.  The media reported that China would be very upset that Trump spoke to Taiwan’s leader.

This begs the question, why should we care if China gets upset?   The last I checked Americans didn’t like communism and communist countries.   China is still a communist country.   The U.S. was aligned with Chinese leader Chiang Kaishek during World War II and continued the alliance when Kaishek fled to Taiwan after defeat on the mainland by the communists in a civil war.  It was only in 1979 that the U.S. changed its alignment from Taiwan to communist China.  Despite the change in alignment, the U.S. is still obligated to help Taiwan maintain an adequate defense.  Yes, Trump was not lying when he tweeted that the media shouldn’t be so critical of a simple phone call given that the U.S. does sell weapons to Taiwan.  In 2010, the Obama administration announced its intention to sell 6.4 billion worth of military hardware to Taiwan.     If China was going to be upset about anything one would think they would first prefer the U.S. stop assisting in the defense of Taiwan, rather than worry about a congratulatory phone call to Trump.  But somehow Trump is to blame for a potential destabilization in the region by a mere phone call?  It just sounds absurd.  Moreover, Taiwan’s government is a democracy!  Last I checked the U.S. supported democracies over communism.   Maybe Trump wants to change the dipolomatic relationships between the U.S., China, and Taiwan.  If he so chose, it would be his right as President.

Trump’s Sales Ambassador Met With Taiwan Mayor in September

img_1610-1After a phone call with Taiwan’s leader that broke with U.S. diplomatic protocol, Trump denied that his company is exploring business prospects there.  However, the mayor of the Taiwanese city of Tauyuan said Trump’s representatives met with him in September to explore a possible hotel venture.  The Trump representative who visited the Taiwanese mayor has been identified as Charlyne Chen.  Ms. Chen denied being an employee of Trump but admitted to being a “sales ambassador” for Trump’s company.  Ms. Chen admitted the meeting occurred before the election and said talks are at a very early stage.  In addition, Anne Marie Donoghue, Trump Hotels’ Asia sales director, visited Taiwan in the fall for business.  Reporters have been unable to speak with her about the details of the trip.

So it seems Trump’s claim to not have sought any business ventures in Taiwan recently is false.  This is significant because the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause forbids the president from receiving payments from a foreign government.  The emoluments clause aims to prevent bribery and conflicts of interest.

This is also significant because the U.S. diplomatic position since 1979 is not to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.

(credit to the wall street journal, http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-aides-deny-plans-to-invest-in-taiwan-1480797511)

Support or Distrust Our Troops? Which is it?

So when George W. Bush was President he took us to war against Iraq under false pretenses.  He said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.   It’s not clear how it followed even if you accepted that premise as true that we needed to go to war with Iraq.   Nonetheless, what we saw a lot of during that war were signs and people saying “Support Our Troops.”   That always made me feel odd.   Whoever came up with that slogan was a genius.   Why?  Because even if you were against the war, like many were, how could you possibly wish ill on our troops?   We supported our troops under the assumption that they don’t have a choice in their mission.  We assumed that when they sign up to serve our country they must serve in whatever capacity our military leaders dictate.  Assuming that to be true, how could one not support them in the sense that, we don’t want them to die in whatever mission they are given, even if it is an ill conceived mission.   That said, if you expressed dissent against the war, people liked to assume that you didn’t support our troops, an appalling notion.

Now Barack Obama is President.  Now we read a very different story.  We don’t see the “support our troops” slogans anymore.   What we do see are stories about Jade Helm.  Jade Helm is apparently simply a training mission for our troops that is taking place partially in Texas.   The federal government is trying to prepare the troops for terrain they are likely to encounter abroad.   It seems that suddenly in the context of Jade Helm, we don’t support our troops.  Now we fear that Obama is preparing to turn them against us to impose martial law and take over the Texas state government.   The notion is absurd.  But apparently  39 percent of Texas registered voters believe in this conspiracy theory.   See  http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2015/07/12/us/12reuters-usa-military-texas.html  And so the question from above reasserts itself in a different context.  When you say “support our troops” in this context, it doesn’t quite work the same way as it did with the war in Iraq?  Why is that?  The Jade Helm conspiracy theorists are not saying support our troops in a mission to take over the states.  In fact, the very same troops we were told to support in Iraq are the ones Texas Governor Abbott is monitoring by use of the Texas State Guard.  To what end?   Is Abbott prepared to go to war against the same troops we were told to support?

So what we are left with then is the conclusion that what mission our troops are embarking upon does matter.   We don’t support our troops in just any circumstance or any mission they are given.  It’s okay then, to be against the war in Iraq, and say you don’t support the troops in that mission.  Just as its okay to say you  don’t support the troops in a mission to take over the states.

All of this begs another question.  Why are Republicans so gung-ho about going to war under false pretenses?  First Iraq and now Jade Helm.   Perhaps that’s a question for another article.

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