Your Odds of Dying or getting Seriously Injured Skiing/Snowboarding are about the same as Dying in a Mass Shooting

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 24th, 2013

Week in Review

The first time I skied on a mountain I was pretty nervous.  I had only just begun to ski.  I was still snow plowing my way down the slopes.  But my friends were going to a great ski resort.  I didn’t want to miss out on a good time.  When we arrived and bought our lift tickets there was a newspaper clipping taped to the window.  Earlier that week a girl fell out of a chairlift and died.  Making me even more nervous.

It was cold.  Very cold.  The sun was melting the snow a little in the day.  And it froze at night.  Except when we got there.  The clouds never broke when we were there.  So the slopes were sheer hard ice all day long.  As I snow-plowed back and forth across the mountain I slid sideways down the fall line.  As I stopped to rest an advanced skier stopped by me.  He remarked how bad the conditions were.  The slopes were littered with death cookies.  Frozen chunks of ice that didn’t move when a ski hit them.  Making me even more nervous.  On the next day the winds were so bad they closed part of the mountain.  Because the mid-station served that side of the mountain I couldn’t get off there.  Something I didn’t know until after getting on the lift.  I had to take the lift to the top of the mountain.  Where you could take some runs down that kept you off the closed side of the mountain.  Making for a very long and tiring snow-plow down.  Suffering the early stages of frostbite, aching muscles and some bruising from some falls and collisions I left the mountain that day and made it home alive.  Despite a few close calls.

When you’re young you do stupid things.  And take risks.  Like skiing on a mountain when you’re barely a beginner.  Skiing is dangerous.  People die skiing every year.  Including kids (see First picture of tragic 13-year-old schoolgirl who died in ski lift accident on school trip to Italy as friends pay tribute to ‘bubbly and popular’ teenager by Hannah Roberts posted 2/24/2013 on the Daily Mail).

Tragedy had struck on the first lift of the day, moments after the teenager had put on her skis.

According to newly-emerged details, the schoolgirl slid from the chair after accidentally sitting in the wrong seat of the four-man chairlift.

Investigators told the La Stampa newspaper: ‘She didn’t end up sitting in her assigned seat, perhaps as a joke or because she lost her balance. In any case she ended up sitting in the arms of a school friend.

‘Because of this the safety bar didnt go all the way down, so at the first tremour of the lift, she slid and fell’.

The schoolgirl’s injuries were compounded by the fact that she fell not onto fresh snow but onto a stream in which there lay several rocks, it has now emerged.

A terrible tragedy.  What makes it so tragic is that it seemed so harmless.  Just goofing around on a chairlift.  But how quickly things changed from silly fun to horrific tragedy.  Anyone who has ever skied probably did a lot of stupid things that only dumb luck kept them from hurting themselves.  Or killing themselves.  According to the National Ski Areas Association about 42 people die on average skiing and snowboarding each year in the U.S.  With another 45 suffering paralysis, serious head and other serious injuries.  But we don’t hear a lot about this horrific toll of death and suffering.

According to the Washington Post approximately 84 people died in mass shootings in the U.S. in 2012.  Including the great tragedy in the theater in Aurora, Colorado.  And the great tragedy at the school in Newtown, Connecticut.  The media does not stop talking about these 84 deaths.  And neither do the liberal Democrats pushing for gun control.  Who want nothing less than a total ban on guns.  Even if it saves only one life.  Yet not one of them is calling for a total ban on skiing and snowboarding.  Which will save more than one life.  In fact, we know the number of lives such a ban would save.  It would save about 42 people on average a year.  (As well as preventing another 45 from suffering paralysis, serious head and other serious injuries.)  Which is more than one.  Yet there is no such push for a skiing and snowboarding ban.  Why?  Young people do most of the skiing and snowboarding.  And liberal Democrats don’t want to piss them off by taking away something the vast majority of them enjoy and do responsibly.  While giving no such courtesy to gun owners.  The vast majority of which are responsible.

Why the double standard?  If they don’t care about the loss of life on the slopes then they can’t care about the loss of life from these mass shootings.  Meaning that they want to take away those guns for some other reason.

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Insurance and Risk Management

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 2nd, 2012

Economics 101

By collecting a Small Fee from Many Policy Holders Insurance Companies can Afford to Pay for the Large Losses of a Few

Insurance has one purpose.  To protect wealth.  People work hard accruing wealth.  Buying a house.  Cars.  College fund for the kids.  Retirement 401(k)s and IRAs.  It takes a long time to earn the money that lets us have these things.  And they take a constant stream of payments to sustain them.  And we are always at risk of losing them.  Something can interrupt that stream of payments to sustain them.  An accident or illness that prevents us from working.  Burying us in a stack of unexpected bills.  A tree could fall onto the house during a bad storm.  You could total your car while driving to work in a thick fog.  A wife could lose her husband leaving her to raise their children on her own.

These are very real risks that we must manage.  Because we need to protect our wealth.  We buy house and car insurance so we can keep or replace our houses and cars because we can’t afford to buy new ones should we lose the old ones.  We buy life insurance to provide for our families should we die.  We buy health insurance so an accident or disease doesn’t wipe out our savings, college fund and retirement investments.  Because we do do these things we can manage the risks in life.  So that something unexpected and incredibly expensive doesn’t take everything away that we worked so hard for.

Managing our risks allows us to live our lives.  To plan for the future.  A future that has a price tag.  A future that takes a lifetime of accumulating wealth to pay for.  And to protect the wealth that provides for our families and our retirements we buy insurance.  Groups of people join together and pay a small fee for an insurance policy that will protect a very large amount of wealth.  So if we have an unexpected and very expensive event in our lives our insurance will protect our wealth by paying for our losses.  By collecting a small fee from hundreds of thousands of policy holders insurance companies can afford to pay for the large losses of a few.  Allowing life to go on.  As best as it can following these  unexpected events.  So even in the worst of events families can keep their homes.  Keep their kids in their schools.  Protect their kids’ future by keeping their college fund intact.  Replace their property.  Allowing life to go on as close to what it was before the event.  All thanks to insurance.

Bad Insurance Risks have an Advantage over Insurance Companies due to Asymmetric Information and Adverse Selection

Insurance companies provide this valuable service.  But it isn’t easy.  Because insurance isn’t a science.  But statistical analysis.  And risk analysis.  Which is how they determine the cost of their insurance policies.  A critical part for the survival of insurance companies.  So they can continue to provide this valuable service.

Insurance companies are at a disadvantage because of asymmetric information.  Meaning their customers know more about how great a risk they are than the insurance company.  For example, reckless drivers don’t offer that information when someone is quoting a policy for them.  For they want a low price.  Not a high price that reckless drivers normally get charged.  This is a problem mostly with young drivers.  Older drivers have a driving record.  If it’s a safe record they get a low quote.  If the record includes many points and at-fault accidents they will get a high quote.  Young drivers, though, don’t have a driving record yet.  This is where the statistical analysis comes in.  On average young men drive more recklessly than young women.  Based on the statistical evidence.  So they charge young men higher rates than they charge young women.  Problem solved.  But this causes another problem.

Not all young women are good drivers.  But by charging young women lower rates some bad women drivers are getting a rate lower than their risk warrants.  Which means insurance companies will lose money insuring these drivers at rates below their risk level.  In fact, this will attract more high-risk drivers.  Thus increasing an insurance company’s risk exposure.  And as they pay out claims that exceed the premiums they collect they have to raise insurance rates for all women drivers.  Thus discouraging some good drivers from buying insurance because of the higher premiums.  Thus increasing the percentage of high-risk drivers.  Which forces the insurance companies to raise their premiums again to cover these higher losses.  We call this problem adverse selection.  Where pricing plans to manage risk ends up increasing risk.  One way around this is by group coverage.  Like in health insurance.  Where everyone at a company buys insurance in exchange for a lower group rate.  Including the high-risk people.  And the low-risk people.  Thus avoiding adverse selection.

Economic Growth is the Creation of Wealth and our Insurance Protects that Wealth

When is insurance not insurance?  When it is health insurance.  At least as it is today.  It still acts like insurance for the unexpected and catastrophic accident or illness.  But it is anything but insurance for most everything else.  The latest example in the media these days being birth control.  Which is neither an unexpected nor a catastrophic expense.  For there are few expenses that are more expected and more affordable than birth control.  Unlike, say, chemotherapy.  Or trauma care in the emergency room.  Both of which are unexpected.  And very, very expensive.

When insurance pays for everything for everybody it is no longer managing risk.  Insurance companies are no longer collecting a small fee from all policy holders to pay for the large losses of a few.  Instead they’re collecting a large fee from everyone to pay for the costs of everyone.  Or more precisely, they’re collecting a large fee from the employers who provide health insurance to their employees.  So the recipients of all those free health care goodies don’t see their costs.  Which is how they’ve been able to include everything but the kitchen sink in today’s health care insurance policies.  Causing the price of health insurance to soar.  Hurting families.  Businesses.  And the economy as a whole.

A healthy economy allocates scarce resources to where we use them most efficiently.  When we do we create the most goods possible from these scarce resources.  Making society as a whole better off.  By improving the standard of living for society as a whole.  But by turning health insurance into a welfare program it increases the cost of doing business.  Which puts downward pressures on wages.  Preventing real wages from keeping pace with the rise in consumer prices.  Leaving workers with less disposable income.  Which translates into weak economic growth.  And a stagnant or declining standard of living.

Economic growth is the creation of wealth.  And our insurance protects that wealth.  When we convert that insurance into welfare, though, we put our wealth at risk.  By putting greater pressures on that stream of payments to sustain our wealth.  Our future plans.  And our families.

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FT104: “Driving is more of a right than health care because it doesn’t cost others when someone drives.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 10th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

Although it doesn’t Cost Others when Someone Drives it’s Still not a Right because Driving Recklessly can Cost Others

Freedom of religion is a right.  It doesn’t cost me anything (money, time, inconvenience, etc.) for my neighbor to go to church or to practice their religion.  Freedom of speech is a right because it doesn’t cost me anything when someone writes a letter to a newspaper editor.  The right to bear arms is a right because it doesn’t cost me anything when a neighbor owns a gun.  Rights are free in the sense that others don’t have to incur any costs whenever someone exercises a right.  And because they are free no one can grant them.  Or take them away.  Hence they are God-given.  And only God can take them away.  Even an atheist will favor this definition.  For these God-given rights prevent any man from taking away his or her right to publically protest the existence of God.

Housing, food, education, etc., are not rights.  Because these things are expensive.  Someone has to pay for them.  And if you don’t pay for them they will take them away from you.  Or you can lose them if you don’t follow the rules.  A principal can expel a student for causing trouble in high school.  A landlord can evict an unruly tenant in an apartment building.  And if you don’t pay your mortgage the bank can foreclose on your house and take it back.  So these aren’t rights because someone has to pay for them.  You.  Or other people.  And there is a process to go through where someone grants us access to these.  Typically paying for these things.  And following certain rules.

Interestingly, when someone drives a car it doesn’t cost me anything.  Yet driving a car is not a right.  It’s a privilege.  And the thing that makes it a privilege and not a right is similar to housing, food and education.  There are certain rules to follow.  And if a driver doesn’t follow these rules it can then cost others when they drive.  Such as if a driver ignores traffic signals, drives under the influence of alcohol, ignores the posted speed limits, drives recklessly, etc.  Such a person can involve other people who follow the rules into accidents.  Costing them dearly.  It’s because of this that driving is a privilege and not a right.

Unlike Obamacare you can Choose not to Buy Car Insurance by Choosing not to Drive

A car or truck is very heavy.  And as it moves it creates a lot of kinetic energy.  The faster it goes the greater the kinetic energy.  And the greater amount of damage it can cause in an accident.  Causing great damage to other cars.  And their occupants.  Those who were not at fault will incur great costs from these accidents.  The at-fault person, though, may not be wealthy enough to pay these costs.  That’s why we make ALL drivers buy insurance.  So the few that have accidents can have their insurance pay these great costs.  This is a classic example of the use of insurance to spread risk.  Everyone pays a small fee to create a large pool of money to pay for the few who incur these great costs.  By making drivers buy insurance we make them responsible for the consequences of their driving.

Health care is very similar to driving a car.  Only many say health care is a right.  Unlike driving a car.  But health care isn’t a right.  Far from it.  For health care is very expensive.  And someone has to pay for it.  The patient.  Or others.  Just like housing, food and education.  Also, much of our health problems are self-inflicted.  Health problems plague obese people as they age.  Smokers tend to suffer from cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.  Heavy drinkers and drug users suffer a variety of ailments.  People get hurt doing risky things (take dangerous risks while drunk, extreme sports, etc.) and incur great medical costs.  But unlike the driver of a car we don’t make these people responsible for the consequences of their actions.  Instead, we treat them and have other people pay for the consequences of their actions.

Some like to point to the individual mandate in Obamacare as addressing this very problem.  By forcing people to buy health insurance.  So they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.  They say making people buy health insurance is no different from making people buy car insurance.  But it’s not.  Because buying car insurance is not mandatory.  You can choose not to buy it simply by choosing not to drive.  Obamacare offers no such choice.  Unless you call choosing not to live an option.

Health Care is Expensive because Unlike a Driver those who don’t follow the Rules of a Healthy Lifestyle never lose their Living Privilege

Health insurance is nothing like car insurance.  Car insurance protects a person from losing all their savings from an unexpected and unfortunate accident.  By spreading the risk over a great number of people who pay a small premium.  Whereas health care has become welfare.  It has nothing to do with spreading risk.  For people today expect a complete free ride.  For everything.  Whatever the cost.  They don’t want to pay a dime.  Not even for their prescriptions.  They want someone else to pay all of their costs.

And what really makes this welfare is that it will become a pure transfer cost under Obamacare.  The vast majority of people consuming health care are senior citizens.  While the young and healthy consume the least amount of health care.  Obamacare will transfer the costs of those who consume health care to those who don’t.  By forcing the young and healthy to buy health insurance.  That they currently do not buy because they rarely see their doctors.  Instead they use the savings from not buying health insurance to afford something they do use.  Like to pay for a house to live in to start their families.  But once Obamacare forces them to buy health insurance they’ll have to find another cost to cut.  Perhaps selling their car and using public transportation.  Saving on both a car payment.  And the car insurance payment.  Because they have that choice.  Unlike under Obamacare.

Driving a car is more like a right than health care.  It doesn’t cost anyone else as long as they follow the rules of the road.  But we still make them buy car insurance in case they have an accident.  Whereas health care is unlike a right in every way.  There is always a cost whether you follow the rules or not.  And unlike a driver those who don’t follow the ‘rules of a healthy lifestyle’ never lose their ‘living privilege’.  (At least, not yet.  And let’s hope it remains that way.)  They just pass their higher health care costs to others.  Especially the young and healthy who consume very little, if any, health care.  Making it a pure welfare transfer cost.  Of course, in this case, unlike other forms of welfare, this cost will be transferred to those least able to afford it.  The young.  Most of who are not rich.

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