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Selective Outrage: How Fox News Is Harming Their Viewers

October 20th, 2013
Sean Hannity airs a piece in which he finds three couples who are “victims” of the “Obamacare train wreck.” Paul and Michelle Cox say that they cannot grow their business because of Obamacare. They had to cut employee hours down to less than 30 a week to avoid disastrous costs that would be incurred. Allison Denijs and her husband say that they were forced off their current policy and had no choice but to choose from ACA-compliant policies, meaning they may not be able to keep seeing their doctor of choice. Robbie and Tina Robison also say they're being kicked off of their non-ACA-compliant Blue Cross plan, and they would have to pay 50% to 75% more under an ACA plan. Also, the ACA plan covers all kind of stuff they don't need. All in all, these people believe that Obamacare has derailed their health care and cost them dearly; it is likely that millions of Fox News viewers seeing this broadcast will even more strongly believe that Obamacare will similarly destroy their health care and their livelihoods.
Eric Stern at Salon thought these stories sounded a little too much, so he investigated. Paul and Michelle Cox's business? They only have 4 employees, and the ACA only requires employers to contribute if they have 50 or more workers—so there is absolutely no need for the Coxes to cut down the hours of their workers. Either they did so under false beliefs, or, like so many businesses, they are dishonestly using the ACA as an excuse to cut costs on workers that otherwise would be cause for employees to complain. Allison Denijs? Her family pays $20,000 a year for their current policy. If they shopped on their ACA marketplace, they could enroll in a similar plan that costs $7,600. They didn't check, claiming that the web site didn't work, but Stern found it working fine when he found a policy that would save them $12,400 a year. As to her being forced to change doctors? That is not clearly a result of the ACA; Stern pointed out that insurers shrink doctor pools all the time as a means to save money—and there is little doubt that many of the big insurers are using the ACA as an excuse to do the damage while illicitly blaming the ACA as forcing them to. Either way, Allison will save $12,400 a year. Does she value her current doctor that much? Robbie and Tina Robison? They claim that their “insurance agent” told them that they would need a plan costing 50% to 75% more, and they refused to check their ACA exchange, claiming they simply oppose it outright. Their current plan costs $10,000 a year, so we are to believe their costs will increase to $15,000 to $17,500 a year. However, when Stern checked their ACA exchange for them, he found a plan that cost $3,700 a year, about 63% less than his current plan. And most plans, probably including his current plan, cover just as many unnecessary items they don't need.
Here are the results, boiled down:
  • Many employers are using the ACA as an excuse to shortchange their workers and save money. They want to switch to part-time because the costs to them are less irrespective of the ACA. They would do this normally, but it would outrage their workers. With the ACA, they can claim they have no choice. If their workers watch and believe Fox News, they will fall for it and be hurt.
  • Many employers with fewer than 50 workers are cutting hours of workers because they truly believe they have to. Their false beliefs were created by Fox and other similar sources. If they really don't want to do this, then both their workers and they are being hurt by the falsehoods being spread by Fox and others.
  • Many insurance companies are using the ACA as an excuse to jack up prices and reduce offerings, depending on the false beliefs generated by Fox and others to blind their customers to the alternatives.
  • Many Fox viewers are avoiding the ACA exchanges and rejecting cheaper and better insurance plans simply because they are not aware that the cheaper plans exist and are not horrifying traps, or because they oppose the entire system for reasons that are similarly untrue. As a result, these people will be severely penalized because of what Fox tells them.

So, people who would be helped by the ACA are made to hate it and become weapons against it. People told lies then take actions which ultimately cause a great deal of self-inflicted damage. Employers take advantage of this for profit, and even employers who mean well are made to fear and thus do things which not only do harm to them and their employees, but which actually bring about the very conditions they were told to fear. This is not the first time that a right-wing campaign to spread utter falsehoods has generated such results. Take the lies about unions. Unions help almost all workers, across the board. They improve pay and benefits and help cut down on employee abuse. This is not to the detriment of corporations—they profit from having a customer base which is able to afford what they sell. However, it is the default position of corporations to make more money and pay out less, regardless of long-term, indirect effects. If there is any way to fire workers, they do; if there is any way to pay them less, they do. If there is any way to cut their benefits and cut corners on their working conditions, corporations will do that. That's what corporations do, as a rule. Conservatives talk about the built-in checks that keep such abuse in line; the problem is, the built-in check is unions, and conservatives have been deliberately and systematically destroying these. They accomplish this by turning against the unions the very people who would benefit from them. People are told that if the minimum wage is raised, they will lose their jobs. They are convinced that if corporations have to spend one penny more on them, even in the context of billions in untaxed profits, “job creators” will be, sadly, “unable” to keep them on. They are told that unions are populated by violent thugs. They are told that they are over-taxed, and a chief reason is that unions demand and get overpaid cushy jobs just for themselves, and live the high life at government expense. Thus, the very people who would be helped most by unions are made to fear and hate them, and become instruments to destroy them. Another rather prominent example is Affirmative Action. The lie was spread that businesses must hire minorities and women even if they are not qualified. Many managers actually believed this, even when their offices were not even under quotas at all—not to mention that no quota nor AA in general ever requires any manager to hire an unqualified worker; if a good-faith effort was made to hire and no qualified minority or female candidate appeared, the manager is off the hook, even when under a strict quota. I remember an exchange with someone who said this was not true, and he saw it happen in his own workplace. However, all he saw was that an apparently unqualified minority worker was hired—he did not see any law or regulation which said that was necessary. And this is what happens: people actually believe the crap that conservatives dish out as horror stories, and they react accordingly—thus completing a self-fulfilled prophecy that, yes indeed, these things actually happen. No they don't. Not legitimately, in any case. Mr. Cox had absolutely no reason to cut his workers hours, and the Denijs and Robison families could save a small fortune on their insurance, and be just as happy with it, if they did not buy the lies and propaganda issuing forth from “news” organizations like Fox. The ACA is not hurting people. Fox news, the Tea Party, the Republican Party—they are hurting people. And, obscenely, making these people hurt themselves.

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  1. Troy
    October 21st, 2013 at 01:15 | #1

    What ACA did do is raise the minimum standard of insurance coverage, making comparison shopping easier for consumers.

    This has resulted in some shitty plans being forced off the market, but there was supposed to be some sort of grandfathering for that. (?)

    ACA is a babystep in the right direction, but just goes to show that any more worthwhile reform would have been met with a complete shitstorm from the right, and from insurance companies had they been cut out of their parasitical business like “HillaryCare” wanted.

    We have a very big problem in this country, we’re a nation of tards.

    We got manipulated by the right to borrow & spend trillions of dollars in the mideast over the past 10 years, and now we’re being manipulated into cutting taxes on rich people and cutting back social programs to keep the status quo going down.

    If the American people don’t collectively come back to their senses (like they did in 2006) this next year, or by latest 2016 . . .

    The right is playing a very dangerous game here.

  2. Troy
    October 21st, 2013 at 08:53 | #2

    This is basically what’s going on:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/who-should-young-people-throw-under-the-bus-granny-or-billionaire-hedgie-stan-druckenmiller.html

    the “malefactors of great wealth” have been erecting a propagandistic “Big Lie” for DECADES now that social security is unsustainable and will be worthless to people paying into it now.

    AFAICT, less that 1% of the public even understands what the $2.7T trust fund really represents. The propaganda calls it empty promises, but what it really is is the taxation the 1% faces over the next 20-odd years, to pay off the bonds that were bought with excess FICA taxes.

    The System has framed this transition as “SS running out of money” and “going bankrupt”, while the truth is exactly the opposite — anyone with $2.7T in savings held in treasuries is normally considered immensely wealthy.

    But because it’s held by the government in trust to FICA payers 1990-now, it’s worthless.

    Bullshit! But the long-con the conservatives have been running is more or less conventional wisdom now.

    The contrast with Japan is interesting, as Japanese “savers” have a similar issue, but a little more intermediated, since your postal savings etc. are like 80% vested in Japanese government bonds, so to cash them out, taxes have to go up a lot in Japan, too, but that’s pretty difficult now that Japan has run into the demographic wall:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/LFWA25TTJPA647S

  3. Troy
    October 25th, 2013 at 12:27 | #3

    hey, 10.9 update here!

    Really cool how very point release my old 2008 MBP is getting better and better.

    My 1989 IIcx was beginning to age out by 1994 as PPC got going and 640×480 wasn’t so hot anymore.

    My 1995 7500 @ 300Mhz was definitely on its last legs by 1999, even though I had upgraded the CPU to 300Mhz G3 and had plenty of RAM, and even Rage 128 and 3Dfx PCI cards.

    My 1999 B&W G3 was certainly meh by 2004, too.

    2002 PBG4 was completely crap by 2006!

    But my 2008 MBP is still soldiering on like a champ! (Gave my Mom the 2006 iMac I got and it’s still going strong on 10.6 for her).

    Installation of 10.9 was a breeze, I had been running the 10.9 developer releases all summer, and since it’s free for everyone I just blew away the 10.8 partition I was saving and made a clean install on that, since there’s zero reason to keep 10.8 around anymore. Everything auto-migrated painlessly from the previous 10.9 install, which had been migrated from the 10.8 install.

    I’m definitely going to be getting the new Haswell MBP, but I don’t know when. Maybe next year. I’m sure I’ll be stunned by the performance gains, but the funny thing is retina doesn’t really do anything for me.

    The new Mac Pro is about 2X overkill for my needs. I love how quiet it is, but running MBPs with clamshell closed works a lot better for me.

    Rather take the $3000 and build my own screamer x86 box for ~half that.

  4. Troy
    October 29th, 2013 at 07:10 | #4

    Wow, looking at Apple’s 8-K, I see Japan is their strongest market (growth-wise) now:

    40% YOY growth!

    US was only up 1% — iPad’s flat [people buying cheaper Minis and iPad 2s], iPod’s tanking [down 33%!], Mac down a bit [down ~10% in both units and revenue], iPhone up a bit [~20%].

    In FY08 Apple Japan had $1.5B in sales, in 2012 $10.6B!

    Good news for iOS developers!

  5. Troy
    October 29th, 2013 at 07:11 | #5

    Oops, here’s the data for above:

    http://i.imgur.com/6ghJ0ZX.png

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