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Hemp, Pot & Hedge Funds October 23, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Jobs, Lifestyle Design, Politics, Random.
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Yes, there is a difference.

Farewell Letter from Hedge Fund Manager Andrew Lahde

He pretty much sums it up- don’t really know what to add on this.  Amen?

“Capitalism is broken”.  Some might argue that our system was never working in the first place, but as of now it truly is broken.  Click here for an awesome book/eye-opening perspective- Economic Interp of the Constitution by Charles Beard (1913).  Funny that I’ve been kind of dancing around this conclusion for the last couple years.  It took someone else stating it for it to really come home.  The socio-economic system in this country is broken.  I hope that the $700B bailout package will be THE last straw.  It is the crown jewel of a system that is built upon the illusion of democracy and meritocracy.  We live in a country that is of, for and by the elite.

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Hospital Finance and the Credit Crisis October 7, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Random, technology.
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Last week Rob talked about  how the recession  might affect different sectors within the industry, “More On Health Care and the Recession“.   A hospital, like any business, relies on a variety of financial instruments to maintain operations- both short and long-term.  Naturally, disruptions in the markets that facilitate these transactions can cause some serious headaches for borrowers.

Remarks coming out the the Fed today- “The commercial paper market has been under considerable strain in recent weeks as money market mutual funds and other investors have become increasingly reluctant to buy commercial paper, especially longer-dated maturities.  As the market for commercial paper shrank, rates on the longer-term debt increased significantly, making it more expensive for companies to borrow.” Full article here.

More on the topic from the WSJ HealthBlog– “Hospitals traffic in debt. They borrow money for big construction projects, and they effectively lend money to patients when they treat people without requiring payment upfront.  Unable to borrow money freely or forced to pay a high cost to borrow, employers are cutting jobs and reducing capital investments.”

The credit crunch presents some hurdles for hospitals to overcome but problems can be opportunities in disguise.  The importance of conservative financial management and efficiency are magnified in times like these.  Product and services that increases efficiency start to look a lot more attractive when margins are getting squeezed and every dollar spent is getting stretched further.  Interesting article here on cutting down on “frequent fliers” in the ER– perfect example of an opportunity being capitalized on to improve the efficiency and overall delivery of medical care.

The Tragedy of Medicare Fraud: Opportunity Cost October 6, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Politics, Random.
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Just came across a post in USA Today- “Rampant Medicare Fraud Suspected in Miami”. True to its government-run form, there seem to be some problems surfacing in certain Medicare paid services (Home Health Care) across the country; it seems to be particularly out of control in Florida.

“Miami-Dade County is on track to cost Medicare a projected $1.3 billion for home health care services this fiscal year, up 1,300% in just five years, government data show. Investigators suspect that fraud is helping to drive the increase because the population of Medicare beneficiaries in the county grew only 10.2% between 2004 and 2007, the latest government data show.”

This is so outrageous that you almost can’t help but laugh. How does 1300% growth go unchecked? How can the administration look at that and not say “Wait a minute- that seems a little high…”? Remember, that $1.3 billion is for Miami-Dade County ALONE. The financial waste of that county alone is staggering, but the real tragedy is the economic cost– the cost of wasted opportunity.

Let’s say that 25% of that $1,300,000,000 is the result of fraud- who knows what the actual number is but it’s safe to say that a large percentage of 1300% growth is the result of fraud. Twenty-five percent of $1.3B is 325 MILLION dollars. That is almost a 1/3 of a BILLION dollars flushed down the toilet in ONE YEAR. That is the real tragedy of federally administered health care.

Think of what an innovator could do with $325 million. Think of what an innovator could do with the interest alone on a principal balance of that size. And, again, keep in mind that this is the waste from one county and one tiny portion of the Medicare budget.

Opportunity of the Day: a private contracting firm that protects against fraud in Medicare services.

Eliminate the waste and put it in the hands of people that can create value through innovation.  It’s not rocket science.

HealthCare 2020 October 5, 2008

Posted by Who? in Business, Health, Lifestyle Design, Politics, Random, technology.
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What will healthcare look like in 2020?  2020? That’s way out in the future; we’ll probably have Jetson brand pill dispensers in our homes by then. But think about that for a second-that’s barely more than a decade away.  We might not have the pill dispensers, but one thing is for sure- things will be different. Step back 10 years- could you imagine a company not only caring about but paying for you to invest in your health?  Last fall, The Boeing Company encouraged employees to take a Health Risk Assessment and they offered a $50 gift certificate to all that participated.  Over 100,000 people partcipated.  This year, less than a month into the event, over 35,000 people have taken the Assessment and received almost $2 million in gift certificates. 

So let’s start there, healthcare is changing.  From the ways that we seek and consume info and services to the way that we view our role in partcipating in our health and paying for those services.  No matter the outcome on November 4th, 2008, things will be different.

Changing Consumption: Information and Services

The internet is changing the way consumers seek information and this includes health related info.  Three months ago I injured my wrist playing basketball.  You can guess what I did next, right?  I taped it up and finished playing- (It was a close game!!).  But—when I got home that night and my wrist completely locked up after I took the tape off, I got online and Googled something along the lines of “how to tell if your wrist is broken”.  Ended up on WebMD and later found myself at the ER.  That process is very interesting when you think about it and it represents one of the ways that healthcare has and will continue to change.  Without even realizing it, I did a prelimary examination.  I wanted to know if my wrist was broken.  Where do I go when I want information?  Google.  Medical information is no longer solely possessed and distributed by doctors and nurses AND the methods of distribution are changing.  Last week, Charlotte wrote about “telemedicine” in her post “Everything But Touch and Smell“. 

Changing Perspectives

People and even companies are changing the way that they participate in healthcare.  Boeing is just one example.  Not only have they talked the talk, but they have backed it up.  Big company or not, two-million dollars is a lot of money.  Think about that.  Attitudes are shifting from treating symptons and injuries towards wellness, lifestyle and prevention.  Not everyone is going to jump on the Wellness Bandwagon, but it will be a part of the paradigm shift.  The industry, operations and practices have to change; I spent 6 hours in the ER only to have a Physician’s Assistant refer me to my primary-care physician.  You can be sure that next time, that hospital won’t be getting my business.  And that is the key- healthcare is a business.  The table is set for innovators to come in and “wow” consumers with quality, value and efficiency.

How will we get wellness and medical information in 2020?  What will the doctor’s office, wellness center and hospital of the future look like?  Where will it be located?  How will it flow and operate?  Who will the cost-structure look like?  What the system will look like in the future is almost beside the point; the important part is that it will be different and, with the right ideas, better.

The Ultimate Question September 16, 2008

Posted by Who? in Career Planning, Health, Jobs, Lifestyle Design, Random.
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Randomly came across this post and it reminded me that I haven’t talked much about my “ultimate question”.  Although phrased differently, it gets at the same idea.  He asks, “If money didn’t matter, what would you do?”.  While that may help to shake-up hardwired responses, I prefer a slightly more practical question because, in this world, money does matter.  But the idea is the same

If you no longer had to “work” for your income, what would your life look like?  Where and how would you spend your time?

My theory is a blend of my own thoughts and ideas combined with various people, stories and books that have influenced me over the years.  Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a bunch of fluffy bs, but I like some of the general ideas the books promote.  For example, it helps to think about the different types of income; if you aren’t aware of the differences between Passive Income and Working Income, you might have a hard time taking action to move towards the former.  Tim Ferriss has the right idea with the philosophy he lays out in The Four-Hour Workweek– figure out what you want, determine what that is going to cost and figure out how to generate that money.  Pretty straightforward.

Hurdle No. 1 is trying to answer the question.  Hurdle No. 2 is figuring out how to fund the answer; generally, this is going to be much more difficult.  But as the author of that post points out, you could be unaware of your dream right beneath your feet.  In that case, all you have to do is ask yourself that question and make it happen.  You could have the opportunity of a lifetime sitting right in front of you and all you have to do is become aware of it.  That’s what The Ultimate Question helps to do.

So what does my dream life look like? 

Summer/Fall- My base for this time of year would be somewhere in Washington with a place on the water- Chelan and Tapps being at the top of the list.  My activities would include the following: water-sports, pickleball, weights, cycling, reading, eating, NAPPING, writing, learning and working on/maintaining whatever ventures are active or require my attention.

Winter/Spring- My base for this time of year would be somewhere near a great ski mountain- doesn’t really matter where as long as its got consistent snowfall- CO, CA, ID, Int’l…who knows.  Activities would pretty much be the same except the summer activities would be subbed for winter- skiing/snowboarding, racquetball… 

-My “home base” could be either of the previous locations or a different one- depends on what the money-train can handle at any given time. 

-I’d have the ability to travel for both quick getaways and what Tim calls “mini-retirements”.  Not a blank check to do whatever-whenever, but the resources that allow flexibility to get away every so often-planned or random; whether its a quick trip to soak up some sun in the winter or a 6-month trip to Spain.

-I’d have the financial resources to pursue ventures, hobbies and opportunities as they come up.  The goal is not laziness, but rather the resources to pursue whatever opportunities are present without being constrained by time, location, schedule or money.  Whether its launching a new start-up or getting into MMA, I want to have the resources that allow that.

-I want those closest to me to be able to enjoy my life with me as much and whenever possible.

It looks a little outrageous when I write that out, but if I had a magic wand, thats what I’d pick.  Now I just gotta keep my mind open, create and seek the right financial opportunties and seize them.  Easier said than done, but asking The Question and being aware of the answer is the first step.  Between now and then, my cubicle and I will continue our blossoming romance.

The Virginity Auction: a new trend? September 13, 2008

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The Oldest Profession in the World meets 21st century Marketing

My good lord, I love this.  I love to see someone challenge backward social norms/programming.  Good for her.  Either she has a brain that I truly admire or she is just doing a publicity stunt to gain notoriety.  Either way, it’s fascinating.

I wonder what the feminist response will be.  A true feminist should applaud this, right?  This woman is making a personal choice to fund graduate-level education by capitalizing on the out-dated, double-standard for sex/virginity.

From a business perspective, I also find the idea of a girl marketing her virginity through mainstream media channels extremely interesting.  Could this be the start of a new trend?  No-nonsense girls selling their first-time to the highest bidder and closing the deal, excuse the pun, in a legal brothel; some just for the cash, but others doing it for something valuable (like graduate school).  Walk into any bar or club, and you’ll see girls selling sex for a lot less than the cost of graduate school.  I got into a heated debate with a couple buddies of mine over this a while back- what do you think:

If you buy a drink for a random girl at a bar with the intention and hope of getting laid, isn’t that basically prostitution?  I won’t even get into what their responses were, but I think it is nothing short of prostitution.  How is it not prostitution?  Exchanging money for drinks for sex.  Its actually more like prostitution and gambling combined into one big ball of excitement because you are paying for the chance.  Maybe that drunk girl that accepts the drink is a genius in disguise when she says, “If you play your cards right, you might just get lucky tonight.”  I’m not saying that you can’t buy a drink for a girl without it being prostitution; but rather speaking about particular/typical situation described above.

The real reason I love the Virginity Auction is because it rebels against and challenges rigid social norms that exist not because they make sense (they don’t) and more because they’ve been the status quo/people don’t know how to think.  Isn’t time we moved passed out-dated, rigid views on virginity, double-standards and sex in general.  I’m not advocating that we drop all standards and turn into indiscriminate dumb-shits, sleeping with whomever, whenever- just hoping to provoke thoughtful reflection in hopes of making progress beyond pre-programmed responses.  People don’t know how to think for themselves and get past thoughtless responses brought on my social programming/norms, the status quo and the puritanical roots of this country.

In case it isn’t apparent, I’m very open to the idea of legalized, well-regulated prostitution- same goes for marijuana.

For those of you that struggle to see what I’m getting at- here’s some food for thought:

Sex for money is illegal.  Making and selling porn isn’t. So…sex for money is horrible/immoral and thus illegal, but if you want to film and try to sell it- its not?  How do you rationalize that?  People don’t/can’t because they can’t/don’t think.