Tag: build the wall

Pre-existing conditions and viral ideas

I keep hammering at denial of pre-existing conditions because it’s a really weird talking point which has come up over and over again as a rallying cry – the healthcare equivalent of “build the wall.” Or the “rampant fraud” everyone keeps seeking but not finding in places like the food stamp program. People are, at this point, emotionally attached to the idea, in a way they can’t fully articulate.

Coverage-deniers are theoretically trying to block cheaters who only pay for insurance when they’re sick and drop it when they get healthy (so they’re guaranteed to always take more out of the pool than they put in). The classic “you always want to share my lunch, but you never share your lunch.” That’s the rationale for walling out or upcharging people who got sick during coverage gaps (but not sick people who switch insurance without a gap).

It sounds rational, but it’s covering up a more irrational fear. If the real fear is cheaters, there are other ways to penalize them – like the individual coverage mandate, which literally makes you pay for not having insurance. There are also mechanisms to make health insurance sticky, like limited enrollment periods (and massive enrollment paperwork) which mean you can’t pick up insurance just the minute you get sick or drop it the minute you get well.

In general, these things are opposed by the same people who think denying pre-existing coverage sounds fair, even though they directly address the “cheater” problem.

I figure there has to be a deeper disgust reaction underneath – maybe disgust of poverty and sickness, and a visceral instinct to bar the door against contagion. (Keep them out of my pool! Even the word pool reminds you of segregated swimming pools, the fear of contamination spread through shared water.) Maybe some of it goes back to the AIDS crisis – the gay plague – and biblical tales of God sending a pestilence to wipe out the enemies of God’s people – although God mainly sent plagues against the Egyptian ruling class, whose modern analogues would have insurance.

This is dream stuff, not logic.



When a Wall is a Dam on the Floodplain of the Rio Grande

Turns out a 30-foot-tall concrete wall in a floodplain is a dam.

Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding” (Morning Edition, NPR)

Rex says: None of the border states want a wall. Trump has no idea. It is a whim. If he didn’t have such great hair I would doubt a lot of his plans. But that hair is great! Mt. Rushmore great. Build that wall !!

Proposed Designs for Trump’s Border Wall

Border wall bids include tourist attraction, solar panels” — the Associated Press

Some of the long-shot bids are pretty fun, including forming an autonomous shared state in between the US and Mexico – sort of a Vatican of culture, full of libraries, art galleries, makerspaces, and a hyperloop. Otra Nation, I love your hustle.

Listen to this charming jargon: “Otra Nation is a regenerative territory open to citizens of both Mexico and the United States… the world’s first continental bi-national socio-ecotone.” I have no idea what socio-ecotone means! But this would be the first!


If you didn’t watch Conan O’Brien’s “Made in Mexico” special, it’s worth your time to catch up. Among other things, there’s some top-tier prop comedy by ex-PM Vicente Fox.

It made me surprisingly emotional, and it was fortunate I had kleenex handy. It’s no secret that I grew up in Texas, which was part of Mexico before it was part of the United States. I have a lot of Mexican-American friends, and also a lot of Mexican friends.

I always expected our countries to develop a closer bond – for NAFTA to become something like the Schengen area. It is strange and sad that people at the head of my country talk about Mexicans like they’re enemies or boogeymen. That’s not how I feel. It’s hard for me to accept it’s how most Americans feel. If they do, they’re wrong.

In any case, I’m sorry for the pain we’re putting Mexicans through at the moment. If you think wild Trump statements are only wild and terrifying for the US, imagine being our newly-despised neighbor while investors use the peso as a weird currency hedge.

Polling Margin of Error Joke (Mexico Wall Edition)

Polls! There is little I find more delightful than looking at columns of numbers. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here, but here’s the part that made me laugh. (Fair warning: It will probably only make you laugh if you’re a nerd.)

In basically every poll, there is some percentage of people who respond don’t know, don’t care, no answer. Pollsters sometimes try to push these people to pick an answer anyway, to expose people who say they don’t have a preference (maybe out of embarrassment), but in fact do have a preference. There’s a lot of contention around whether this leads polls to be more accurate or less accurate – and the majority opinion among pollsters at the moment is “less accurate.” This poll, as is typical, has a column for non-responses.

Basically, unless a pollster FORCES this number to be zero, it is never zero. You can ask a group of a thousand people whether they like their own name, and a couple percent are going to say they don’t understand the question or have never heard of themselves or they saw something out the window just now, what is that thing? (You could think of it like a typo rate. No matter who you are, you’re definitely going to mess up a word somewhere, even if you totally know.)

In this poll, EVERYBODY has an opinion on whether Trump is going to build a wall (probably not) and whether Mexico is going to pay for it (firm no). For context, 3% have “no opinion” of Donald Trump. How many people have no opinion about the wall? Zero percent.

This is so COMPLETELY in keeping with my experience every time I or a friend is doing home repairs.

I think a lot of songs need to be rewritten: “Don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology, but I do know that despite not owning a roof I have strong feelings about roofing materials.”