First published on the Wake Up Tucson Blog:
As an insurance broker I am faced with clients every day preparing for and dealing with some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable: loss of their home, injury in a car accident, unexpected medical conditions and many more. My job is to place them into financial products that, while not eliminating their suffering, can at least help them avoid the financial ruin that will make it all the worse. Thus I help people face their fears and manage them… unfortunately I had to face a professional fear this past week and there was no way to manage it or deal with it. Over the course of 5 days, I received two separate calls from clients for whom I could not place coverage, whom I could not help. They were healthy children and I couldn’t provide coverage because of changes made to the health insurance market by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Due to budget constraints and mismanagement, effective October 1st AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program) made changes to benefits eligibility. As a result of these changes a friend and client of mine recently received a notification that her two minor children would be losing their coverage. She came to me last week as her agent to discuss options for replacing this insurance.
The second call came from two grandparents. Tragically, their daughter and her husband had died in a car accident several weeks earlier. Because of this they were taking in their 16 year old granddaughter. They called me because they were both in their 70’s and on Medicare, thus they needed an individual policy for the new teenager in their home.
As recently as a few months ago I would have been able to help both of these situations easily with policies that would have cost no more than tens of dollars every month ($30-$60); very reasonable and within reach of a working student and mother as my friend was, and a couple on a fixed income as the grandparents were.
But no longer.
Assume Man A has 3 apples and Man B has 10 oranges. If Man A wants an orange and Man B wants an apple, they can directly trade between themselves (“barter”) in order for both to get what they want.
However, what if Man B doesn’t want an apple? Maybe he wants a banana… If Man C has a banana and also happens to want an apple, Man A could trade an apple for a banana, and then the banana can be traded for the orange (an indirect exchange).
If Man C doesn’t want your apple however, then you add at least one more level of complexity. In all likelihood you would need many more partners in the transaction and with each successive level Man A becomes ever less likely to get his orange.
But what if there was one type of “Universal Fruit” that everyone wanted?
Money is “Universal Fruit”. Money allows us to engage in infinitely more complex trades than we ever possibly could if we had to directly barter for each good or service we wanted. This ability to efficiently trade allows us to acquire quantities and types of goods impossible without it, thus enriching our lives.
Published by the Wake Up Tucson Blog, 11/18/2011:
I will start by saying I do not know Phil Lopes.
However, he made a series of statements this last week (unusual in their clarity as examples) that I would like to address due to their implications regarding the level of discourse and understanding in our fair Pueblo.
In case you are not familiar, Mr. Lopes is a long time Arizona activist, a founding staff member of Pima Community College, a former senior manager at the AZ Dept. of Health, a state legislator and the current coordinator of the Tucson Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America a “group of left-leaning Democrats, Independents, and Greens who work… for progressive change.” (PDA Tucson website).
Those roles have placed Mr. Lopes in the group of what, in our city, passes for “Public Intellectuals”. This group includes political party leaders, any number of media personalities, some members of the university, and a few participants from the business, religious, non-profit communities and others.
“Public Intellectuals”, as a vocation, can be defined as the entrepreneurial class within any community’s market of ideas. And as with all entrepreneurs they are constantly competing for customers. However, unlike those in the business world aiming for dollars or other measures of growth, entrepreneurs in the political and thought arenas are competing for ears and minds. They count their success not in financial terms but in how many people they can get parroting their beliefs and the level of influence of those who echo their thinking.