Wall Street lobbyists - or "pond scum" as we know them around here - may be scrambling to feed the leeches in Congress enough blood to make sure the banksters squeeze past the febrile attempts at banking "reform" that are all the Dems are interested in ("We gotta have 60 votes!" says Harry Reid again today, just like teh Olden Times). Poor Blanche has been told that her amendment won't be part of the Dodd bill and will have to sink or swim on its own, and poor Brad Sherman has yet to realize that Dodd accepted his tweaking because even if it's included, it doesn't mean anything. It only looks like it does, and that's the n of the g in DC.
To see how this is all likely to play out doesn't require a stinger of Owlsley and a crystal ball. All you have to do is look at some recent beneficiaries of the very same process and see how they're doing. Having been slapped down in public by the Congress and the media, are they chastened and correcting their previously appallingly greedy and inhumane behavior? Um, based on two recent stories, not exactly. (Both links via the indefatigable Mark G.)
The Miner-Killing Coal Company
Remember Massey Energy? The corpo that was responsible for the deaths of 29 coal miners in West Virginia through many and massive violations of safety laws and was the center of all that opprobrium a couple of short weeks ago? They've cleaned up their act because they're quivering with fear of another accident or the horrid PR resulting from this one, right?
Massey Energy, the Virginia-based coal giant that runs the Upper Big Branch Mine, has denied time off for miners to attend their friends' funerals; has rejected makeshift memorials outside the mine site; and, in at least one case, required a worker to go on shift even though the fate of a relative - one of the victims of the April 5 disaster - remained unknown at the time, according to some family members and other sources familiar with those episodes. In short, the company might be taking heat for putting profits and efficiency above its workers, but it doesn't appear to have changed its tune in the wake of the worst mining tragedy in 40 years.
"They told my husband, 'You've got a job to do and you're gonna do it,'" said the wife of one Massey miner, referring to the funerals he's missed this month for friends who died in the blast. "What else are we gonna do?"
Such anecdotes aren't easy to come by. Massey - the top coal producer in Appalachia - has built a reputation of intimidating its workers into a type of lock-step compliance that most often takes the form of silence, particularly when the subject revolves around safety in the company's mines. The reason is clear: Massey is the economic engine in parts of West Virginia, and there's a lingering fear among many workers that any grumbling could leave them unemployed. Some former employees said this week that the reluctance of Upper Big Branch miners to discuss the conditions inside those tunnels prior to the blast is no accident.
"I guarantee it: Massey's already told these guys, 'Hey, don't say nothin'. You're not talking to no reporters. You're not saying nothin' about our safety record - or you won't have a job,'" said Chuck Nelson, a former Massey miner who's since become an environmental activist with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. "That's the way they operate."
Jerry Massie, field representative for the United Mine Workers of America's District 29 branch in Beckley, echoed that message this week, saying that Massey miners are well aware of the company's response to recalcitrance: "Take your dinner pail and get out."
That threat of job loss - be it spoken or simply understood - has created a culture of fear in some corners of Southern West Virginia, where coal is the only real industry, and Massey is king of the hill. Indeed, in certain areas there's simply no queen.
So it's back to BAU and, incidentally, fuck you.
The Customer-Cheating Health Insurance Company
You remember when Wellpoint took major beatings over raising their rates and predatory practices they all but bragged about at a Congressional hearing? Surely they realize they can't go on treating their customers as enemy combatants after the recently passed Healthcare "Reform" Bill expressly forbid such behavior. Don't they?
(Reuters) - Shortly after they were diagnosed with breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled. There was Yenny Hsu, who lived and worked in Los Angeles. And there was Patricia Reilling, a successful art gallery owner and interior designer from Louisville, Kentucky.
Neither of these women knew about the other. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders -- more than any other health insurance company in the United States.
The women paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, neither had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.
They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.
Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. WellPoint declined to comment on the women's specific cases without a signed waiver from them, citing privacy laws.
That's a good one. Privacy laws. They can't comment because of the privacy laws.
IOW, "Hey, customers! It's BAU and fuck you, too!"
This is not encouraging. Could it be the banksters are equally confident that they have nothing to fear and equally certain they won't be forced to modify their corrupt behavior?
Whatever emerges from the negotiations in Congress, Peter Solomon, founder of investment bank Peter J. Solomon Co. and a former vice chairman of Lehman Brothers, said the financial industry will adapt.
"Wall Street is smarter than any regulation or laws, and they'll figure out how to make profits and they'll figure out how to adjust," he said after the speech.
Translation? "Do your worst. We beat you before and we'll beat you again. In no time we'll be back to BAU and fuck you, too."
No. Not encouraging at all.
This computer algorithm was used only to weed expensive customers out. It was NOT used to detect fraud in the application forms of those who were not claiming much. Indeed, low claimers could be as fraudulent as they wished because they were bringing money in! That is a biased practice. The company should screen for fraud among all its customers if it wishes to screen for fraud.
Once people learn of practices like this one they may choose not to be covered by this insurer.
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