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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Horizon Bill Echoes Christie's Arm-Twisting As Prosecutor

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is ready to shut down state government because he and legislators cannot agree on a state budget, and a sticking point is a horrible Christie proposal to raid the reserves of the state's dominant health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, under certain conditions (such as the reserve being too high) to shift funds to his new pet project of combating opioid addiction.

The problem is that those reserves represent customer payments, and not one penny would go back to them. It's the functional equivalent of the IRS keeping your tax refund and giving it to a tax commissioner's favorite charity.

Now, if the Horizon proposal doesn't pass Friday, Christie and some Democratic allies have threatened to shut down state government. That's because Friday is the last day of the preceding fiscal year and a budget for the new year starting July 1 has not been passed by the legislature.

Some Democrats are going so far as to reportedly seek to remove current Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto from that role, because Prieto, a strong opponent of the Horizon reserves proposal, refuses to allow that proposal to come up for a vote in the State Assembly.

How bad is this attempt to seize over $300 million in excess Horizon premiums? What's the effect of this?

If there are reserves, it is because either customers have paid too much or Horizon has not provided enough care. The proposal would not fix either problem. Customer premiums get shifted under Christe's proposal, not to their own healthcare, but to drug addicts.

Or as a cynic might point out, into the pockets of those few and connected health care providers who are in the drug treatment industry.

If you have health insurance through Horizon and that company has excessive reserves -- which come entirely from what you pay in premiums -- you won't get a refund or credit. Not one dime.

You won't get an expanded network.

You won't get more choice. Remember, if you're on an exchange (and Horizon is one of only two insurers participating on the Obamacare exchange!) you have no choice but to get covered on these exchanges, at whatever cost the insurer sets.

Again, if you pay too much, Christie's proposal would mean your overpayment gets shifted elsewhere.

Not refunded.

Christie has done this arm twisting of businesses to benefit friends and cronies before, however. When he was United States Attorney in the last decade, he prosecuted some companies and secured settlements that called for the companies to hire special monitors (law firms of friends of his) or make large contributions to pet causes such as to Seton Hall Law School. That is, Christie's alma mater.

This is how elected officials score brownie points.

You get the bill.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Winning In Business, Politics and Relationships With Just These Five Words

Five Words To Run Your Life By

By Eric Dixon

A business campaign, a political campaign and personal relationship all have something in common.

They are successful when they accept that human nature matters most of all. 

It's not about products, services, issues or what you say on social media. That all obscures the core point: Cater to your base and treat it like a tomato plant. Water it. Cultivate it. Make it feel special. 

Business, politics, philanthropy, when they are successful it is always because they recognize the importance of feelings, of psychology. There is nothing more important than making your base feel like it is the most important thing. Or the only thing!

A quick point: Most people will disagree with me. Just watch the comments section here. They will argue on facts. They will invoke morality.

My quicker responses: First, they are forgetting and ignoring the role of feelings. And second, most of those who disagree with me, are failures! Most people fail! Success is not common! Keep reading!

Since some of you actually care about politics -- the rest of us have, um, real lives -- here is a political twist to the advice above. 

Most candidates lose because they make one central error, and never realize it. They chase the base of their opponents. Why is that? 

Because in going after other segments of the voters, you are sending messages to your base which will ensure your defeat!

The messages? 

Our opposition matters more than we do.

We're being taken for granted.

He (or she) really doesn't care about us.

We don't matter. 

Whether these messages are true or not, that's not the point. When appealing to potential customers, facts don't matter; feelings do. 

That's what your base will feel. Issues, social media statements, none of that matters. Real attention matters. 

Give your precious time to other constituencies, and the one word message you send to your core is indifference. That will be returned, on Election Day. 

Make the people most important to your campaign, feel the most important. (Just like in real life.) Nothing means more than giving attention to people. 

This will sound harsh, but it is true in all relationships: personal, business, political. Give your attention to the people who matter. 

When you have a scarce resource -- your time -- your decisions make a big difference. Be very discerning and uncompromising with your time.

Donald Trump learned these lessons a long time ago in the real estate world. What did he do when he ran for President? He ignored convention, he ignored (and disparaged) his opponents. He made his base feel special, like they were the only thing that mattered. 

Trump won, by mastering five words: The carrot and the stick.

The carrot? In his presidential election it was playing to his base and deliberately ignoring his opponent's base. Why did this work? Because to his base, their reward was his attention. And part of that reward was a second, related, unspoken message -- the stick -- that his (and their) opponents did not deserve his attention. The effect of that, the subtle punishment of withholding attention, is to enhance the reward to those receiving his attention.

Manipulative? Yes. Cunning? Yes. Shrewd? Yes. Nasty, even? Probably.

But this is done in retail all the time! Customer affinity points, rewards plans, frequent flyer plans, points back on your credit card. These are all rewards systems which push your buttons with messages about loyalty, rewards and punishments.

You need to do the same. Reward your constituency with attention and you maximize your shot to win.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: Convicted Terrorist Steps Down As Puerto Rican Parade Grand Marshal

First Kathy Griffin, now convicted Puerto Rican terrorist (aka nationalist freedom fighter) Oscar Lopez Rivera. Conservatives and common sense terror opponents are unleashing the power and fury of boycotts, and scoring victories. 

One of the largest street parades in the nation, New York City's Puerto Rican Day Parade, faced evisceration from its own community over its award of "National Freedom Hero" to convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera.

Some of the biggest companies serving the Hispanic market worldwide pulled out from the parade in recent days, including the two top Spanish-language television networks Univision and Telemundo, Coca-Cola, the Spanish food empire Goya Foods and even the New York Yankees. Many elected officials, even in a Far Left safe space like New York City, also announced they would not march in the parade. 

Rivera, a leader of the notorious FALN terrorist group which sought Puerto Rican independence from the United States, announced he would decline the parade's award as a "National Freedom Hero" but would still march in the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City on June 11th. 

In this column published in the New York Daily News, Rivera expressed no contrition for his prior association with the FALN, which claimed responsibility for over 100 bombings in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. FALN attacks killed six people, including four in one 1975 bombing in New York's storied Fraunces Tavern which dates back to the American Revolution. 

Rivera was released from federal prison just last month after serving 35 years in federal prison after his 1981 convictions for weapons manufacturing and seditious conspiracy. The remainder of his sentence was commuted in January by former President Barack Obama.