More Evidence That Lawyers Are Ruining America – You Won’t Believe What McDonald’s Is Being Sued For Now…

One of the fastest ways to ruin anything is to get lawyers involved, and lawyers are running amok in America today.  Several decades ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger warned that our nation would become “a society overrun by hordes of lawyers, hungry as locusts”, and that is precisely what has happened.  There are more than 1.3 million lawyers in the United States today, and it is estimated that those lawyers produce more than 40 million lawsuits each year.  Many of those lawsuits are completely frivolous, but frivolous lawsuits are often settled because it can be much cheaper to settle them than to defend against them in court.  So it is essentially a form of “legal extortion” that has gotten wildly out of control.

Earlier today I came across another shocking example of this phenomenon.  McDonald’s is actually being sued for charging the same price for a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a Quarter Pounder without cheese…

Two McDonald’s customers in Florida are suing the fast-food giant for a hefty sum of $5 million because they say they’re being unfairly charged for cheese they don’t want on their burgers.

Cynthia Kissner and Leonard Werner argue that hamburgers and cheeseburgers are different prices on the McDonald’s menu, but when they order a Quarter Pounder without the extra dairy, they’re still forced to pay the same amount.

Seriously?

In the end, this is something that nobody cares about, but some lawyers out there saw an opportunity to make a quick buck and so they are going for it.

Once upon a time you could order a Quarter Pounder without cheese right off of the menu.  But if you go into any McDonald’s today you have to specifically ask them to leave the cheese off if you don’t want cheese on your Quarter Pounder.

Apparently, some lawyers in Miami believe that McDonald’s is being “unjustly enriched” because the price is not reduced for those that would like the cheese left off their Quarter Pounders…

According to the lawsuit, filed by Andrew Lavin of the Miami-based Lavin Law Group, McDonald’s used to sell four items in the Quarter Pounder family, with and without cheese, with prices adjusted accordingly — about .30 to .90 cents more for cheese than without.

This practice continued for years, the suit says, but now McDonald’s, “at some point,” ceased “separately displaying these products for purchase on menus, and currently lists the availability of Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.”

I can’t believe that someone should be stupid enough to bring such a lawsuit.  Andrew Lavin should be immediately disbarred for this.

Attorneys like Lavin are financial predators, and fortunately it doesn’t look like McDonald’s is inclined to settle

“We do not believe the claims in this lawsuit have legal merit,” McDonald’s said in an email. “The advertised Quarter Pounder burger comes with cheese. We try to accommodate our customers’ requests by allowing them to customize their orders, such as a Quarter Pounder with no cheese.”

It is rapidly getting to the point where our entire society is becoming paralyzed by fear of lawsuits and legal matters.  Just look at the White House.  President Trump could have gotten so much else done if he wasn’t constantly fighting for his life against a legal witch hunt.  Robert Mueller has been given unlimited time, staff and resources to investigate the President, and it has been over a year and Mueller still hasn’t found anything.

But it looks like his absurd investigation is not going to end any time soon.

After seeing what they have done to Trump, do you think that good people will be encouraged or discouraged from running for public office?

Of course it isn’t just politicians that are being targeted for this kind of thing.  You could literally spend years pouring blood, sweat and tears into building a business, and it can be destroyed in one moment by a single frivolous lawsuit.

And if you are a doctor, a lifetime of exceedingly hard work can be completely wiped out by one really greedy lawyer.

Look, every nation needs a legal system, and we do too.  But today our system is in desperate need of reform.  There are way too many lawyers, way too many lawsuits, and our entire society is rapidly becoming paralyzed by the misuse of legal power.

At one point I was optimistic that someday we would see some much needed reforms, but at this point I do not believe that it is going to happen…

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist.  He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Democrats Are Hoping This Is Watergate – But In Reality Comey’s Testimony Turned Out To Be A Huge ‘Nothing Burger’

Many were anticipating that #ComeyDay would be the most monumental congressional hearing in decades, but the truth is that it turned out to be quite a dud.  During two and a half hours of testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey didn’t tell us anything that we don’t already know.  Of course liberal news outlets such as CNN are breathlessly proclaiming that we are now “in Nixon territory”, but that isn’t accurate at all.  There is absolutely no evidence that President Trump committed any crime, and there is absolutely nothing that warrants impeachment.

And I am far from alone in that assessment.  For example, an analysis published by CNBC says that nothing in Comey’s testimony was “powerful enough to end the Trump presidency literally or figuratively”…

“Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony Thursday will indeed have a big political impact in Washington. It will foster more partisan bitterness and more bad feelings about our political process and news media. But none of his testimony rises to the level of anything legally powerful enough to end the Trump presidency literally or figuratively.

The bottom line is that Comey spent a few hours Thursday telling the Senate committee that he felt uncomfortable and even stunned by President Trump’s behavior. And he peppered that narrative with numerous damaging statements about the president’s behavior and character, including basically calling him a liar”

When Comey accused Trump of being a liar, that certainly made a lot of headlines, but unless you are under oath it is not a crime to lie.

Perhaps we should make it a crime for our politicians to lie, because if we did we would clean out the toilet that Washington D.C. has become rather quickly.  But as it stands, even if Trump is a low-down dirty liar as Comey is claiming, that would simply put Trump on the same level as most of the current members of Congress.

The much more important question is whether or not Trump committed obstruction of justice.  Fortunately for Trump, there is a very clear answer to that question.

First of all, we must remember that Trump was Comey’s boss.  As chief executive, Trump has constitutional power to direct the activities of his subordinates, and he is free to fire them whenever he chooses.  So, as Alan Dershowitz just pointed out on CNN, Trump cannot be impeached for simply exercising his constitutional authority…

Renowned Harvard professor and legal mind Alan Dershowitz sparked quite a reaction during a CNN segment on Wednesday night after he proclaimed that former FBI director James Comey’s prepared testimony indicates that President Donald Trump didn’t commit any crimes.

Dershowitz argued that Trump “could have told Comey, ‘You are commanded, directed to drop the investigation against [Gen. Michael] Flynn,’” but noted that he didn’t do so, according to Comey’s prepared testimony that was published on Wednesday.

The famed attorney also said Trump could have pardoned Flynn as well, but also chose not to do so. In the end, he concluded that there appears to be no criminal activity on the part of the president, particularly when it comes to obstruction of justice claims.

Traditionally, the FBI has operated in a highly independent manner, but there is nothing in the law that gives the FBI independent status.

If Congress wants to pass a law to remove the FBI from being under the president’s authority they can certainly do that, but as it stands what Trump did was fully within the law.

But even if Trump didn’t have the authority, there would still be no obstruction of justice.  The two most important federal statutes that cover obstruction of justice are 18 U.S.C. § 1503 and 18 U.S.C. § 1505.  In both cases, it would be exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to prove that Trump acted “corruptly” in this case.  Not only that, there was no “proceeding” that Trump was trying to influence.  For a more extended analysis, please see the article that I posted yesterday entitled “Even If Everything James Comey Is Claiming Is True, There Is Still No Evidence That Trump Is Guilty Of Any Crime”.

If Comey is being straight with us, and at this point his credibility is pretty much shot, but if he is being straight with us there is still nothing that is going to end Trump’s presidency.

What Trump did may have been “inappropriate”, but you don’t impeach a president for being “inappropriate”.

In the aftermath of Comey’s testimony, Trump’s attorney said that the president feels “completely and totally vindicated”

President Donald Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, on Wednesday said his client felt “completely and totally vindicated” by James Comey’s prepared opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey’s remarks, released Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s Senate hearing, confirmed previous statements by Trump that Comey had told him three times that he was not personally being investigated amid the FBI’s wide-ranging inquiry into Russian meddling in the election and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

Personally, I hope that this whole “scandal” will go away now.  There never was anything to it in the first place, and the American people want a government that is going to focus on solving problems instead of focusing on investigations that were doomed to go absolutely nowhere from the start.

But even if this Comey angle doesn’t work out, the Democrats will just keep on trying.  In fact, the Huffington Post is already starting to promote the theory that Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement is an impeachable offense.

In the end, the Democrats are never going to give up until they find something that they can use against Trump.  What I am hearing is that they are going to make an all-out push to take back the House and the Senate in 2018, and if they can do that they plan to use their congressional majorities to get rid of Trump one way or another.

This is just another reason why the 2018 mid-term elections are going to be the most important mid-term elections in modern American history, because if the Democrats have their way Trump will never even make it to 2020.

Gorsuch Will Not Shift The Balance Of Power On The Supreme Court As Much As You May Think

Neil Gorsuch And Donald Trump - Public DomainOn Tuesday, President Trump announced that he would nominate Neil Gorsuch to fill the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Gorsuch currently serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, and he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate when he was appointed to that position by President George W. Bush in 2006.  Gorsuch appears to have some strong similarities to Antonin Scalia, and many conservatives are hoping that when Gorsuch fills Scalia’s seat that it will represent a shift in the balance of power on the Supreme Court.  Because for almost a year, the court has been operating with only eight justices.  Four of them were nominated by Republican presidents and four of them were nominated by Democrats, and so many Republicans are anticipating that there will now be a Supreme Court majority for conservatives.

Unfortunately, things are not that simple, because a couple of the “conservative” justices are not actually very conservative at all.

For example, it is important to remember that Scalia was still on the court when the Supreme Court decision that forced all 50 states to legalize gay marriage was decided.  Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberal justices in a majority opinion that Scalia harshly criticized.  So with Gorsuch on the court, that case would still have been decided the exact same way.

Sadly, even though Kennedy was nominated by Ronald Reagan, he has turned out to be quite liberal.  In the past, not nearly enough scrutiny was given to justices that were nominated by Republican presidents, and a few of them have turned out to be total disasters.

And let us also remember that Scalia was still on the court when the big Obamacare case was decided.  Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in a decision that was perhaps one of the most bizarre in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

For some reason, Justice Roberts was determined to preserve Obamacare, and if you read what he wrote it is some of the most twisted legal reasoning that I have ever come across.

As someone that was once part of the legal world, let me let you in on a little secret.  Most judges simply do whatever they feel like doing, and then they will try to find a way to justify their decisions.  So if you ever find yourself in court, you should pray that you will get a judge that is sympathetic to your cause.

Fortunately, Gorsuch appears to be one of the rare breed of judges that actually cares what the U.S. Constitution and our laws have to say.  In that respect, he is very much like Scalia

Gorsuch is seen by analysts as a jurist similar to Scalia, who died on Feb. 13, 2016. Scalia, praised by Gorsuch as “a lion of the law,” was known not only for his hard-line conservatism but for interpreting the U.S. Constitution based on what he considered its original meaning, and laws as written by legislators. Like Scalia, Gorsuch is known for sharp writing skills.

“It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives,” Gorsuch said on Tuesday at the White House event announcing the nomination in remarks that echoed Scalia’s views.

One of the most high profile cases that Gorsuch was involved with came in 2013.  That was the famous “Hobby Lobby case”, and it represented a key turning point in the fight for religious freedom.  The following comes from CNN

In 2013, he joined in an opinion by the full Court of Appeals holding that federal law prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from requiring closely-held, for-profit secular corporations to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

And although a narrowly divided 5-4 Supreme Court would endorse that view (and affirm the 10th Circuit) the following year, Gorsuch wrote that he would have gone even further, and allowed not just the corporations, but the individual owners, to challenge the mandate.

Donald Trump said that he wanted a conservative judge in the mold of Scalia, but I think that he was also looking for someone that he could get through the Senate.

And considering the fact that Gorsuch was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2006 will make it quite difficult for Democrats to block him now.  Gorsuch has tremendous academic and professional credentials, and he will probably have a smoother road to confirmation than someone like appeals court judge William Pryor would

Trump may have favored Gorsuch for the job in hopes of a smoother confirmation process than for other potential candidates such as appeals court judge William Pryor, who has called the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.”

But Pryor is still reportedly on the short list for the next spot on the Supreme Court that opens up, and by then the rancor in the Senate may have died down.

If Gorsuch is confirmed, what will this mean for some of the most important moral issues of our time?

As for abortion, even if Gorsuch is confirmed I do not believe that the votes are there to overturn Roe v. Wade.  But if Trump is able to nominate a couple more Supreme Court justices that could change.

But even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it would not suddenly make abortion illegal.  Instead, all 50 states would then be free to make their own laws regarding abortion, and a solid majority of the states would continue to keep it legal.

The analysis is similar when we look at gay marriage.  If the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states was overturned, each state would get to decide whether gay marriage should be legal or not for their own citizens.  And just like with abortion, it is likely that only a limited number of states would end up banning gay marriage.

So the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court appears to be a positive step, but it does not mean that we are going to see dramatic change when it comes to issues such as abortion or gay marriage any time soon.

But at least Gorsuch can help stop the relentless march of the progressive agenda through our court system.  So in the end we may not make that much progress for right now, but at least the liberals won’t either.

American Pharoah: What A Perfect Description For The Guy In The White House

Obama Pharoah - YouTube ScreenshotA horse named “American Pharoah” just won the Triple Crown.  Is this some sort of a sign for America?  The office of the presidency was greatly strengthened under previous administrations, but now Barack Obama has grabbed an unprecedented amount of power for himself.  In this article, I am going to focus on immigration, but Obama’s power grab is certainly not limited to this area.  And as I have written about previously, if there is some sort of major “national emergency” over the next year or so, the legal framework has already been created for Obama to use his “emergency powers” to take total control of virtually everything.  So is comparing Obama to the pharoahs of ancient Egypt unfair?  I don’t think so at all.  He is certainly acting as if he would like the powers of a dictator, his policies in the Middle East would make the pharoahs proud, and without a doubt Obama loves the adoration and worship of his fans.  In my opinion, he is the closest thing to a pharoah that the United States has ever seen.

Just consider Obama’s approach to immigration.  The laws of our land require him to protect our borders, but he has left them wide open and has openly encouraged illegal immigration because that is what he decided was best.  He also attempted to use his “executive powers” to grant amnesty to millions upon millions of immigrants that were in this country illegally.  Fortunately, that action has been blocked in the courts (at least for now), but Obama says that he is going to keep trying to do everything he can to “bring them out of the shadows”.

Personally, I am someone that believes that the United States will always need a certain level of legal immigration.  But the key word there is “legal”.  It is absolutely imperative that we require everyone to come in by the front door, so that we can weed out those that would be damaging to our society.  But instead of adopting a system that makes sense, we have left the back door wide open while making it extremely challenging to come in through the front door.  As a result, we have seen an endless flow of gang members, drug dealers, serial criminals, welfare parasites and political radicals enter this country illegally.  We have made it really easy for the “bad guys” to come in, but extraordinarily difficult for the “good guys” to move here.  What we are doing does not make any sense at all.

And thanks to our foolishness and the refusal of recent presidential administrations to enforce the law, all of this immigration has fundamentally altered the employment picture in this nation.  According to the latest numbers, nearly all of the job gains that the U.S. economy has experienced since 2007 have gone to foreign born workers

Assuming, the Household and Establishment surveys were congruent, this would mean that there was just 1K native-born workers added in May of the total 280K jobs added.

Alternatively, assuming the series, which is not seasonally adjusted, was indicative of seasonally adjusted data, then the 272K increase in total Household Survey civilian employment in May would imply a decline of 7K native-born workers offset by the increase of 279K “foreign borns.”

But while all of these comparisons are apples to oranges, using the BLS’ own Native-Born series, also presented on an unadjusted basis, we find the following stunner: since the start of the Second Great Depression, the US has added 2.3 million “foreign-born” workers, offset by just 727K “native-born”.

Foreign Born vs. Native Born

This means that the “recovery” has almost entirely benefited foreign-born workers, to the tune of 3 to 1 relative to native-born Americans!

It is getting to the point where we have a national epidemic on our hands.  According to one recent study, nearly one out of every 10 workers in the entire state of California is here illegally.  Imagine how much easier it would be to get a job in that state if the illegal workers were not part of the equation.

And of course it isn’t just employment that we need to be concerned about.  Thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, there are now 1.4 million gang members living in our cities, and these gang members often commit crimes that are absolutely horrific.  For example, the following is from an article about a crime that was recently committed by members of MS-13

Three teenage reputed members of the MS-13 street gang were ordered held without bail Friday on charges they forced a 16-year-old into a wooded area of a Long Island golf course, where two of them took turns raping her while the third stood as a lookout.

This is one of the most brutal, heinous crimes that I have seen in a long, long time,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a news conference following the suspects’ arraignments.

‘This poor young woman is so lucky that, quite frankly, that she is alive. These are vicious young men, vicious young men and what they did to her was absolutely terrible.’

If Barack Obama had protected our borders like he should have, those members of MS-13 would have never gotten into this country and they never would have raped that girl.

But instead of admitting that what he has done has been wrong, Pharoah Obama is doubling down on his current approach.  He insists that leaving the border wide open is “the right thing to do”, and he pledges to “bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows”.  The following comes from the Examiner

After executive amnesty was blocked in the courts and in the House the last two days, President Obama used his weekly radio address to ridicule House Republicans for blocking a vote on immigration reform, while promising that he would keep up the fight for undocumented immigrants.

“I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system more just and more fair,” Obama said. “Last fall, I took action to provide more resources for border security; focus enforcement on the real threats to our security; modernize the legal immigration system for workers, employers and students; and bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can get right with the law.”

“Some folks are still fighting against these actions,” Obama said, without directly naming the legal hurdles his executive actions face. “I’m going to keep fighting for them. Because the law is on our side. It’s the right thing to do. And it will make America stronger.”

And if Obama has his way, this is only just the beginning.

I have previously written about the devastating impact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will have on our economy, but did you know that this secret new treaty that Obama is negotiating will also allow for the free flow of people within the Asia-Pacific region?  The following comes from WND

The European Union was founded on “four freedoms”: the free flow of people, goods, money and services among members. We learned at a recent White House press conference the Trans-Pacific Partnership will ensure “people, goods and money will flow freely within the Asia Pacific region.”

So what does that mean?

Will immigrants be able to move around the nations that are involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as freely as they do in the European Union today?  Mexico is one of the countries that will be a part of this new treaty.  Does that mean that people will now “flow freely” between our two nations?

We have seen it time and time again – once Obama is blocked one way, he just comes back and tries to advance his agenda another way.  When he promised to “fundamentally transform” this country, I don’t think that most people had any idea of what we would really be in for.

At this point, many regard Barack Obama as a “lame duck” president that is on his way out.

I don’t see it like that at all.  In fact, I believe that the most tumultuous time of Obama’s presidency is still to come.

Do you agree?  Tell us what you think the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House will look like by leaving a comment below…

Why Is The EU Forcing European Nations To Adopt ‘Bail-In’ Legislation By The End Of The Summer?

Question Smiley - Public DomainAre they expecting something to happen?  As you will read about below, the European Union says that any nation within the EU that does not enact “bail-in” legislation within the next two months will face legal action.  The countries that are being threatened in this manner include Italy and France.  If you fast forward two months from this moment, that puts us in early August.  So clearly the European Union wants everything to be squared away by the end of the summer.  Is there a reason for this?  Are they anticipating that something really bad will happen in September or thereafter?  Why such a rush?

We all remember what happened when major banks were “bailed out” during the last financial crisis.  A tremendous amount of taxpayer money was given to the big banks to help prop them up so they wouldn’t fail.  This greatly upset a lot of people.

Well, when the next great financial crisis hits Europe, banks are not going to get “bailed out” this time.  Instead, we are going to see “bail-ins”.

So precisely what is a “bail-in”?  Essentially, what happens is that wealth is transferred from the “stakeholders” in the bank to the bank itself in order to keep it solvent.  That means that creditors and shareholders could potentially lose everything if a major bank in Europe fails.  And if their “contributions” are not enough to save the bank, those holding private bank accounts will have to take “haircuts” just like we saw in Cyprus.  In fact, the travesty that we witnessed in Cyprus is being used as a “template” for much of the new legislation that is being enacted all over Europe.

The bottom line is that not a single bank account in the European Union will ever be truly safe again.

By this time, everyone in the EU was already supposed to have enacted “bail-in” legislation, but some countries in Europe have been dragging their feet.  So now the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) is giving them a hard deadline.  According to Reuters, any nation that has not passed “bail-in” legislation within two months will be subject to legal action…

The European Commission on Thursday gave France, Italy and nine other EU countries two months to adopt new EU rules on propping up failed banks or face legal action.

The rules, known as the bank recovery and resolution directive (BRRD), seek to shield taxpayers from having to bail out troubled lenders, forcing creditors and shareholders to contribute to the rescue in a process known as “bail-in”.

So which countries are being threatened?

It turns out that there are 11 of them.  The following comes from Mark O’Byrne

The article “EU regulators tell 11 countries to adopt bank bail-in rules” reported how 11 countries are under pressure from the EC and had yet “to fall in line”. The countries were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

France and Italy are two countries who are regarded as having particularly fragile banking systems.

But why only two months to get this done?

When I was in law school, I took an entire course on European Union law.  Normally, things in Europe take a very long time to get done.  It is out of character for the European Commission to rush to get something like this done so quickly.

Could they be anticipating that this legislation will need to be put into use very soon?

What we do know is that bonds in Europe have already been crashing, and it appears that the European Central Bank is starting to lose control over European financial markets.

And we also know that there has been a sustained bank run in Greece.  In fact, it is being reported that 700 million euros were pulled out of Greek banks on Friday alone.  Personally, I think that anyone that still has any money in Greek banks is absolutely insane.  Some day in the not too distant future, Greek bank account holders are going to be in for a “haircut” just like we saw in Cyprus.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

While the Greek government believes it may have won the battle, if not the war with Europe, the reality is that every additional day in which Athens does not have a funding backstop, be it the ECB (or the BRIC bank), is a day which brings the local banking system to total collapse.

As a reminder, Greek banks already depends on the ECB for some €80.7 billion in Emergency Liquidity Assistance which was about 60% of total deposits in the Greek financial system as of April 30. In other words, they are woefully insolvent and only the day to day generosity of the ECB prevents a roughly 40% forced “bail in” deposit haircut a la Cyprus.

But of course Greece will only be just the beginning.  In the end, I expect major banks to fail all over Europe as we head into the greatest financial crisis that Europe has ever seen.  Bank account holders all over the continent could end up having to take “haircuts”, and that would just make the coming deflationary cycle in Europe a lot worse.

And I actually expect events in Europe to start accelerating greatly by the end of this calendar year.  Apparently the top dogs in the European Union are also concerned about the immediate future, because they are rushing to get “bail-in” legislation passed in every nation in the EU by the end of the summer.

Fortunately, the United States has not moved in a similar direction – at least not yet.  It is always possible that during an “emergency situation” anything can happen.  We saw that in Cyprus.  But for the moment, European bank accounts appear to be more vulnerable than U.S. bank accounts.

Not that any of us should have much confidence in the major banks in the United States either.  Since the end of the last financial crisis they have become more reckless than ever.  At this point, the six largest banks in this country collectively have 278 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  A day is coming when the “too big to fail” banks will actually start failing, and that will absolutely cripple our economy.

We are moving into a time of great financial instability.  During such a time, one of the keys will be to not have all of your eggs in one basket.  That way it will be more difficult for your wealth to be wiped out by a single event.

So what other advice would you give to people that are wondering how to deal with the coming global banking crisis?  Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

Scam Alert: Hospitals All Over America Are Wildly Inflating Medical Bills

Medical Bills - Public DomainThe next time you visit a hospital, it is your wallet that may end up hurting the most.  All over the United States, it has become common practice for hospitals to wildly inflate medical bills.  For example, it has been reported that some hospitals are charging up to 30 dollars for a single aspirin pill.  And as you will see below, some victims report being billed tens of thousands of dollars for a non-surgical hospital visit that lasts only a few hours.  When something is seriously wrong with us, most of us never stop to ask our health professionals how much it will cost to actually treat us.  In that moment, we are desperate and we just want someone to help us.  Many doctors and hospitals take full advantage of this by billing their “customers” as much as they feel they can possible get away with.  It is a legal scam that is bilking ordinary Americans out of billions of dollars every single year.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported on one case that is a perfect example of the outrageous medical billing that I am talking about…

Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, Peter Drier, 37, signed a pile of consent forms. A bank technology manager who had researched his insurance coverage, Mr. Drier was prepared when the bills started arriving: $56,000 from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, $4,300 from the anesthesiologist and even $133,000 from his orthopedist, who he knew would accept a fraction of that fee.

He was blindsided, though, by a bill of about $117,000 from an “assistant surgeon,” a Queens-based neurosurgeon whom Mr. Drier did not recall meeting.

“I thought I understood the risks,” Mr. Drier, who lives in New York City, said later. “But this was just so wrong — I had no choice and no negotiating power.”

The practice known as “drive-by doctoring” has gotten completely and totally out of control.

All over America, doctors are popping into surgeries or are stopping by to talk to another doctor’s patients for a few minutes and are charging thousands of dollars for this “assistance”.

It is a morally reprehensible scam that needs to be stopped.

Another thing that needs to be stopped is the practice that many hospitals have of billing patients for emergency medications at a rate that is thousands of times over cost.

For example, just check out what happened when 52-year-old Marcie Edmonds went in to a hospital in Arizona to get treated for a scorpion sting

With the help of a friend, she called Poison Control and was advised to go to the nearest hospital that had scorpion antivenom, Chandler Regional Medical Center. At the hospital, an emergency room doctor told her about the antivenom, called Anascorp, that could quickly relieve her symptoms. Edmonds said the physician never talked with her about the cost of the drug or treatment alternatives.

Her symptoms subsided after she received two doses of the drug Anascorp through an IV, and she was discharged from the hospital in about three hours.

Weeks later, she received a bill for $83,046 from Chandler Regional Medical Center. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health, charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp.

Did that hospital actually need to charge that much?

Of course not.

Hospitals down in Mexico only charge $100 per dose of Anascorp.

And anyone that has ever been in for major surgery knows how outrageous some of these hospital bills can be.

For instance, consider the experience of an NBC News reporter that chose to have neck surgery for degenerative disc disease….

Once I got my itemized bill, the grand total was a little over $66,013.40!   That was for a one night stay and a four level vertebrae fusion surgery.  The charges included $22 for one sleeping pill, $427 for one dissecting tool, and $32,000 for four titanium plates and ten screws.

I brought it to Todd Hill, a fee based patient advocate who helps people decipher their medical bills. “The screws in your procedure were billed at $605 a piece for a total of $6050 dollars. We’ve seen those in our past research for $25 or $30,” he said. “In this case, the markup is tremendous,” he added.

One of the primary reasons why so many Americans die completely broke is because medical bills can run up to astronomical heights if you happen to have a terminal illness.

For example, a while back Time Magazine reported on one cancer patient in California that had run up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…

By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.

The sad truth is that the U.S. health care system has become a giant money making scam, and all of us are the victims.

Those that work in this industry should be greatly ashamed for what they are doing to us.

Just consider the following numbers…

-It has been estimated that hospitals in the United States overcharge their patients by about 10 billion dollars every single year.

-Medical bills are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy.  One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

-According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills cause more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.

-Health insurance is not nearly as much protection as you might think.  According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt approximately 75 percent of the time the people actually did have health insurance.

-Hospitals are not shy about sending debt collection agencies after people with unpaid medical bills.  In fact, collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from approximately 30 million Americans every year.

-Back in 1980, less than 10 percent of U.S. GDP went to health care.  Today, about 18 percent of U.S. GDP goes toward health care.

-If the U.S. health care system was a nation, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

Does anyone out there have any doubt that the system is completely broken?

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Hospitals all over America are brazenly ripping us off, and we need to stand up and say that enough is enough.

The Odds Are Never In Our Favor

Flash BoysHow would you feel if you went to the store to buy something, and someone rushed ahead of you and purchased it first and then sold it to you at a higher price?  Well, in the financial world this happens millions upon millions of times.  In fact, this practice has become so popular that it has spawned an entire industry known as “high frequency trading”.  At this point, high frequency trading makes up about half of all trading volume on Wall Street, and it is costing the rest of us billions of dollars a year.  And the funny thing is that this is all perfectly legal.  High frequency trading firms are exploiting a glitch in the system, and by allowing this to go on, the authorities have essentially given them a license to steal from the rest of us.  Sadly, this is just another example that shows that the odds are never in our favor.  The “little guy” never seems to be able to win, and those at the top of the food chain like it that way.

Making money in the stock market is supposed to be about making wise investment decisions.  It isn’t supposed to be about finding a glitch in a video game and exploiting it.  But that is essentially what these high frequency traders have done.  They have spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy figuring out ways to make pennies (or sometimes just fractions of a penny) on the trades that the rest of us make.

Fortunately, this practice was exposed in front of the entire world by 60 Minutes the other night.  Steve Kroft interviewed a former trader named Michael Lewis that just released a new book entitled “Flash Boys” that is all about the evils of high frequency trading.  The following is an excerpt from that interview…

Steve Kroft: And this is all being done by computers?

Michael Lewis: All being done by computers. It’s too fast to be done by humans. Humans have been completely removed from the marketplace.

“Fast” is the operative word. Machines with secret programs are now trading stocks in tiny fractions of a second, way too fast to be seen or recorded on a stock ticker or computer screen. Faster than the market itself. High-frequency traders, big Wall Street firms and stock exchanges have spent billions to gain an advantage of a millisecond for themselves and their customers, just to get a peek at stock market prices and orders a flash before everyone else, along with the opportunity to act on it.

Michael Lewis: The insiders are able to move faster than you. They’re able to see your order and play it against other orders in ways that you don’t understand. They’re able to front run your order.

Steve Kroft: What do you mean front run?

Michael Lewis: Means they’re able to identify your desire to, to buy shares in Microsoft and buy ’em in front of you and sell ’em back to you at a higher price. It all happens in infinitesimally small periods of time. There’s speed advantage that the faster traders have is milliseconds, some of it is fractions of milliseconds. But it”s enough for them to identify what you’re gonna do and do it before you do it at your expense.

Steve Kroft: So it drives the price up.

Michael Lewis: So it drives the price up, and in turn you pay a higher price.

You can watch the entire interview right here.  Unlike most mainstream media news reports, this one is actually worth your time.  I have watched the entire thing, and I highly recommend it.

Of course there have been many that have been screaming about high frequency trading for many years.  Zero Hedge is just one example.  This practice has gone on year after year and the federal government has looked the other way.

These high frequency trading firms do not add anything to society.  As Barry Ritholtz noted recently, one of these firms has an average holding period for stocks of just 11 seconds, and at one point it stated that it had “not had a losing day of trading in four years“…

The only surprising thing about Lewis’s assertion was that anyone could be even remotely surprised by it.

The math on trading is simple: It is a zero-sum game. One trader’s gain is another trader’s loss. Only in the case of HFT, the losers are the investors — by way of their pension funds, retirement accounts and institutional funds. The HFT’s take — the “skim” — comes out of these large institution’s trade executions.

The technology behind HFT may be complex, but the math is that simple. Once the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed stock exchanges to share with traders all of the unexecuted incoming orders, it was hard not to make money by skimming a few cents or fractions of a cent from each trade. Several years ago, the founder of Tradebot, one of the biggest high-frequency firms, had said that the firm had “not had a losing day of trading in four years.” The firm’s average holding period for stocks is 11 seconds.

How in the world does that kind of behavior add any value to society?

They are just skimming money that should be going to others.  Billions of dollars is essentially being stolen from pension funds and retirement accounts, and it is time that people started getting outraged about this.

Unfortunately, even if this practice is outlawed, the truth is that the odds will still never be in our favor.

There are millions of Americans that dream of getting ahead, but they never seem to be able to get there.  They work incredibly hard, but the more they earn, the more the government taxes them.  If somehow you do manage to scrape together a little bit of money to invest in the financial markets, any profits that you make will be endlessly eroded by fees, commissions and even more taxes.

And it is important to remember that in the financial world, the “little guy” is regarded as easy prey by the hungry wolves that are all too eager to find a way to transfer your money into their own pockets.  If you don’t know what you are doing, it is all too easy to get absolutely slaughtered.

On Wall Street, there are winners and there are losers.

Most of the time, “the little guys” end up losing.

But at least they could try to have a system that at least has the appearance of fairness.  As long as high frequency trading exists, that will never be the case.

Flash Boys