Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Bill James Mailbag

Latest detours on the way to something or another…

My favorite what-if player: Adolfo Phillips. In 1967 he was 25, and according to WAR, was the 5th best position player in the NL that year (behind Santo, Clemente, Aaron, and the MVP, Cepeda). His manager, Leo Durocher frequently said he was the best young player since Willie Mays, and Durocher knew young Willie Mays. What happened?

As I remember, he started striking out a whole lot, and became the new Jim Hickman.

‘What if’...Bo Jackson didn’t play in the NFL?

We’d have saved a lot of trees.

Yeah, is easier for hitters making adjustments. Some players will succeed and some players will make bad adjustments, or any ot them at all. Think about Yoenis Cespedes. He didn’t play in the minors; well, just 3 rehabs games AFTER his debut in the bigs. A lot of people expected from him 20-25 homers, but 160 strikeouts and something like .240 batting average. A lot of people thought he would have problems with the breaking/off-speed pitches, but… he found a way to hit .292 with power and a good OBP, thus a good OPS. It was that predictable or was just a surprise to you? Do you see him improving even more or will the league be able to adjust to him?

I am told that Cespedes body changed dramatically after he came to the states.  I honestly didn’t have any expectation for him at all.  My expectations are based on minor league performance; if a player has no minor league performance he is a black box to me.    But the scouts say that Cespedes is much, much bigger in the chest, forearms and shoulders than he was two years ago—thus, that what he has done is not what anyone would have been able to project.

Repoz Posted: December 14, 2012 at 09:04 AM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4324663)
I am told that Cespedes body changed dramatically after he came to the states. [...] But the scouts say that Cespedes is much, much bigger in the chest, forearms and shoulders than he was two years ago—thus, that what he has done is not what anyone would have been able to project.
So basically this is Bill James' way of saying Yoenis Cespedes is on steroids, right?
   2. G.W.O. Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4324721)
"Yes, and I am sure that people who have never actually interacted with government in any way, shape or form believe you."

People who should be careful about implying the untramelled incompetence of others:
i) People who helped assemble the 2012 Boston Red Sox...
   3. Dan Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4324735)
So basically this is Bill James' way of saying Yoenis Cespedes is on steroids, right?


Apparently. It seems wrong though. He looked just as big in that ridiculous YouTube promo video he did before he signed.
   4. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4324736)

You say: "It is like giving a passing stranger $50 and telling him to go to the grocery store and buy some stuff for you, except... it is guaranteed that [government] will steal $20 and waste another $15". For two reasons, that's nonsense. One, administrative costs in government are monitored. 99.3% of the Social Security old-age program's money is spent on benefits. 97.6% of the disability program's money is spent on benefits.

Asked by: bokonin
Answered: 12/14/2012
Yes, and I am sure that people who have never actually interacted with government in any way, shape or form believe you.


Bokonin: 'Hey Bill, here are a bunch of actual facts that contradict what you were saying.'
Bill: 'Oh yeah, well, you're stupid.'
   5. andrewberg Posted: December 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4324739)
So basically this is Bill James' way of saying Yoenis Cespedes is on steroids, right?


Seems like it, but he might be referring to cultural changes- diet, trainers, etc- that accompany coming to the USA. We all know about Livan's "body change" after adopting the McDonald's diet, and it is not a far cry to assume there are more positive options available as well.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4324775)
Bokonin: 'Hey Bill, here are a bunch of actual facts that contradict what you were saying.'
Bill: 'Oh yeah, well, you're stupid.'


Yeah, but this type of exchange is sadly common with people who share James' apparently rather strident view of government. It's only surprising because it's Bill James, the godfather of fact-pointer-outers. I guess Bill James + politics = Joe Morgan.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4324781)
Those aren't useful facts, in terms of judging whether the SSA is ineffcient. How well is the SSA, its workers and managers "monitored"? And what are its administrative costs vs comprable ones from the private sector? Is 99.3% good? What does Allstate or whomever come in at?
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4324786)
Those aren't useful facts, in terms of judging whether the SSA is ineffcient. How well is the SSA, its workers and managers "monitored"? And what are its administrative costs vs comprable ones from the private sector? Is 99.3% good? What does Allstate or whomever come in at?


Reasonable questions all. And none of them posed by James.
   9. AROM Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4324801)
Apparently. It seems wrong though. He looked just as big in that ridiculous YouTube promo video he did before he signed.


That's what I was thinking. But that video was done after he left Cuba, wasn't it? Last year, I guess? So he could be much bigger there than he was 2 years ago in Cuba.
   10. tfbg9 Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4324802)
And neither were they settled by bobokin or whatever.
   11. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4324805)
Adolpho Phillips' problem was that he developed a stomach tumor, which was removed about 1970. He likely would have been HOF-quality, or at least marginally HOF, otherwise.
   12. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 14, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4324808)
This is depressing.
   13. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4324848)
Ferguson Jenkins on Phillips: "He had great talent and did things easily, without struggling or strenuous effort. He had a strong arm, he could run, and he hit for both power and average. One-handed, he could hit the ball out of the ballpark"
   14. depletion Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4324868)
Adolfo Philips: depletion owned his baseball card in 1966 and looked at it. He was forever cursed.
   15. zonk Posted: December 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4324869)
Those aren't useful facts, in terms of judging whether the SSA is ineffcient. How well is the SSA, its workers and managers "monitored"? And what are its administrative costs vs comprable ones from the private sector? Is 99.3% good? What does Allstate or whomever come in at?


Well, Medicare ain't SSA --

But the ACA law puts the MLR (medical loss ratio -- essentially, the outlays that go directly to paying for care) at 80% (or 85% for large plans) for private insurance. Many insurers are/were near this before the ACA, but plenty were not.

Medicare's MLR is in the 92 to 98% range, depending on whose numbers you want to believe... FWIW - the 92% is number that AHIP (the insurance lobby) generally uses by prorating things that Medicare itself doesn't have to pay for (for example - Medicare can charge you with fraud, but it's the DoJ that would actually prosecute you if it came to that... and the DOJ doesn't charge Medicare a retainer). The higher numbers come from raw looks at the outlays - all of which is publicly available.

In effect, if you want to look at pure ledgers -- I don't think even the private industry equivalents -- whether you want to talk about health insurance or SSA vs insurance/private retirement accounts -- would make the argument that they're "more efficient" strictly in terms of where the outlays go.... their argument is more rooted in the fact that the service is "better" and thus justifies the neutral $$$ appearance of lesser efficiency.

Allstate absolutely keeps/pays out in non-benefits costs more than %0.7 percent -- probably by a factor of 10, 20 or more.... Allstate would say that their coverage is better, or, in the case of some retirement vehicle -- they offer the possibility of greater returns.

   16. The District Attorney Posted: December 14, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4324925)
So basically this is Bill James' way of saying Yoenis Cespedes is on steroids, right?
I don't think so. Why would a guy not be on steroids in Cuba, but be on them here?
   17. AROM Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4325021)
Why would a guy not be on steroids in Cuba, but be on them here?


What's Fidel's policy on steroids? Maybe he's the type who wants to keep his baseball pure. Maybe he's got worse penalties in mind than a 50 game suspension.

Just a pure guess. I really have no idea the extent of steroid use among Cuban ballplayers.
   18. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 14, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4325040)
Those stats are lies and James describes it accurately. More than half of social security and Medicare is wasted because it goes to the wealthiest segment of our society, retirees. Its not a safety net, its a massive wealth transfer funded by payroll tax rates far higher than necessary for a pure safety net and those rates are directly responsible for much of our high unemployment.

Crowing about how efficiently the system rapes workers to transfer most of its benefits to retirees making more than median incomes is ducking the issue.
   19. Tippecanoe Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4325089)
Why was Adolfo Phillips intentionally walked 49 times in 67-68? Why would a fast 120 OPS+ hitter lead the league in IBB?
   20. Tippecanoe Posted: December 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4325103)
Why was Adolfo Phillips intentionally walked 49 times in 67-68? Why would a fast 120 OPS+ hitter lead the league in IBB?

Edit: I see they batted him 8th. So let me change my question: Why in the world would the Cubs bat a fast 120 OPS+ hitter 8th?
   21. Darren Posted: December 14, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4325143)
Those stats are lies and James describes it accurately. More than half of social security and Medicare is wasted because it goes to the wealthiest segment of our society, retirees. Its not a safety net, its a massive wealth transfer funded by payroll tax rates far higher than necessary for a pure safety net and those rates are directly responsible for much of our high unemployment.

Crowing about how efficiently the system rapes workers to transfer most of its benefits to retirees making more than median incomes is ducking the issue.


James could have made those points if he agreed with them.
   22. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 14, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4325152)
Tippecanoe: (1) the other teams were walking him to get to the pitcher, and (2) because it was the Cubs.

In 1967 he had the second-highest OPS+ on the team. I don't know of any lineup theory that would countence batting him 8th with those numbers.
   23. Steve Treder Posted: December 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4325156)
So let me change my question: Why in the world would the Cubs bat a fast 120 OPS+ hitter 8th?

Because it made so much more sense to bat Don Kessinger (55 OPS+, .275 OBP) leadoff. Ours is not to question the genius of Leo Durocher.
   24. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4325167)
1967: Phillips 5.8 WAR, Kessenger 0.7 WAR. "Genius" is not the word that comes to mind,
   25. zonk Posted: December 14, 2012 at 07:08 PM (#4325176)
Because it made so much more sense to bat Don Kessinger (55 OPS+, .275 OBP) leadoff. Ours is not to question the genius of Leo Durocher.


Man...

It would have been a lot of fun if either BBTF had existed in Leo's time, or if Leo were managing today.

I'm betting we'd have a club of "Primates Leo had punched".
   26. Rob_Wood Posted: December 14, 2012 at 07:09 PM (#4325178)
SS and 2B back then were often at the top of the lineups despite poor OBA. Bill James wrote about this often.
   27. Bhaakon Posted: December 14, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4325229)
Bokonin: 'Hey Bill, here are a bunch of actual facts that contradict what you were saying.'
Bill: 'Oh yeah, well, you're stupid.'


Actually, the numbers quoted wouldn't surprise me at all. Anyone who has actually interacted with the government has probably found not that it is corrupt and wasteful, but that their "customer service", if you will, is woefully inadequate. If you want a service from certain parts of the government, you have to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and navigating the system yourself (or hire someone to do so).
   28. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4325268)
James could have made those points if he agreed with them


Don't you mean he could have re-iterated the points that he already made if he wanted to?

It is like giving a passing stranger $50 and telling him to go to the grocery store and buy some stuff for you, except... it is guaranteed that [government] will steal $20 and waste another $15

What is Bill supposed to say to an idiot who is actually excited by the government's efficiency in sending support checks to Trump and Buffett?
   29. BDC Posted: December 14, 2012 at 10:50 PM (#4325276)
Oddly enough, I remember Durocher writing in his memoirs about how crucial the acquisition of Billy Herman was to the 1941 pennant race, precisely because Herman was such an OBP god. I think by 1967-69 Leo was just running on memory, not really checking what was actually happening any more. He either assumed Kessinger and Beckert were getting on base, or he thought they would certainly come around and start getting on base once they realized that was the idea.
   30. McCoy Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM (#4325293)
Those aren't useful facts, in terms of judging whether the SSA is ineffcient. How well is the SSA, its workers and managers "monitored"? And what are its administrative costs vs comprable ones from the private sector? Is 99.3% good? What does Allstate or whomever come in at?

Yeah, but so what? So what if Allstate comes in at 99.7% The US government is wasteful becuase they waste almost half a penny more than some other company per dollar? Sescondly the way Bill wrote it he is saying that the government will piss away 70% of the funds whereas apparently the stats say something vastly different.
   31. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4325299)
It would have been a lot of fun if either BBTF had existed in Leo's time, or if Leo were managing today.

Leo Durocher--the white Dusty Baker
   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:41 PM (#4325303)
.
   33. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 14, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4325304)
Anyone who has actually interacted with the government has probably found not that it is corrupt and wasteful, but that their "customer service", if you will, is woefully inadequate. If you want a service from certain parts of the government, you have to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and navigating the system yourself (or hire someone to do so).

My wife and I just spent four hours buying a new car today, during which time we were given about dozen different numbers that went up and down with the desperation of the salesman.** We were quoted a price over the phone that had nothing whatever to do with the price that was quoted when we arrived at the dealership. After we (finally) ground them down and got the price we'd originally wanted (thank you, Consumer Reports), they lost some of the paperwork, spent another hour trying to get us to buy various "upgrades", then told us that the car we bought wasn't actually in stock, then gave us a loaner, forgot to put the authorization slip (a de facto registration card) in the car, and took up another 30 minutes once we got home before they finally faxed it to us.

Everyone was extremely nice: The salesman, the upgrade saleswoman, and the finance man. I'd gladly go out for the proverbial beers with all of them. And of course they were "just doing their job" with all that three card monte shit.

But if we hadn't come there 100% prepared with offers from two other dealers and loads of numbers and advice from Consumer Reports (free to every subscriber), we would have been several thousand dollars worse off than we wound up. I can only imagine what someone with less stubbornness and sales resistance might have been taken for. My wife lived in Africa for two years while doing her doctoral field work, and she said it was like being back in some roadside tourist trap market in Malawi or Burkina Faso.

And yet the weirdest thing: THIS DEALERSHIP WASN'T RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT. Go figure.

**The best one was when we were quoted undercoating and "paint protection" at a combined price of $2300, which quickly dropped to $999, then $799. (Sorry, no sale, anyway.) The trade-in for our older car went from $1050 to $1500 after a moment's grimace from my wife and a grin from me prompted a trip to "my manager upstairs". There were four or five such "consultations" during the course of the afternoon.
   34. Darren Posted: December 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM (#4325311)
Don't you mean he could have re-iterated the points that he already made if he wanted to?


He didn't make any points. He made vague pronouncements backed up by nothing. Presented with actual numbers that appeared to refute his points, he resorted to name-calling. He was acting exactly like the baseball people he used to rip to shreds.
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: December 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4325329)
"My wife and I just spent four hours buying a new car today, during which time we were given about dozen different numbers that went up and down with the desperation of the salesman."

I had a roommate for four years, back in my single days, who was an auto dealership manager. I have saved so much money for me and friends and family over the last 20+ years that I shouldn't have even charged him rent.

I have a brother and his wife who never got a car until they were in their 40s (not odd for Manhattanites). They had NO idea what to do. I took a day off, and like you I spent 4 hours there.

Never felt more like a pool hustler than that day. Had every "let me talk to my manager" result predicted, from the "oh, bad news" ones to the "ok, we just found a lower price" ones.

I got my last car at below Consumer Reports invoice price, knowing of a company in-house rebate. My tack early on was, "Look, you wan't make much/any off me, but you add another unit late in the year to get closer to another tripwire on the bonus scale."

The manager was cool about it in the end, admitting that he hoped to make a profit on me at least going to the dealership for service.

Which I don't. But his place was looking to increase market share, so a loss leader or two won't kill them.

Now one of my nephews is a dealership manager, so I get the latest scams from him.

   36. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 15, 2012 at 12:59 AM (#4325332)
Nice stories, Howie. Funny you mention that you felt like a pool hustler, because the only time I've ever had much dealings with car salesmen on an ongoing basis was when a group of them used to come into a DC pool room next to their Pontiac dealership and blow half their commissions during their lunch hours. Super nice guys, but I hope for their sake that they were better salesmen than they were pool shooters.
   37. smileyy Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM (#4325368)
I don't want to think how much I overpaid for my car last year >.<
   38. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4325370)
He didn't make any points.


Neither did the questioner, , quoting efficiency statistics is an attempt to avoid James point, doesn't rebut his assertion that most government money is misspent. You cant criticize Bill for not responding to a trolls argument.
   39. Bhaakon Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:53 AM (#4325381)
And yet the weirdest thing: THIS DEALERSHIP WASN'T RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT. Go figure.


I never said that private companies couldn't also give you the runaround. Sometimes I was the government would give me the runaround, because that usually ends with someone who can give you an answer. What frustrated me when dealing with my mother's medicare was that no one seemed to know. Even the social worked took a month to figure out exactly what was and wasn't covered, during which time we had to go out of pocket on a lot of things because no one knew where to send the bill.
   40. G.W.O. Posted: December 15, 2012 at 03:05 AM (#4325382)
Bhaakon: The guy works for the Red Sox front office - he's lost the moral right to pontificate about mis-spending other people's money.
   41. Darren Posted: December 15, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4325417)
Neither did the questioner, , quoting efficiency statistics is an attempt to avoid James point, doesn't rebut his assertion that most government money is misspent. You cant criticize Bill for not responding to a trolls argument.


The questioner had actual data, which may or may not thought was germane. And if Bill didn't want to respond to a troll, he didn't have to put it in his mailbag feature. Instead, he thought his little quip was so clever that he just had to include it.
   42. McCoy Posted: December 15, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4325419)
Re 38. Except bill has the government stealing 40% of your money.
   43. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 15, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4325431)
My wife and I just spent four hours buying a new car today,


I bought a new car 2 days ago, and it cost me 15 minutes on the phone and a couple of e-mails. Went through a broker who got me the exact model, color, and options I wanted at dealer invoice. I could have had it delivered to my house, but I'm going to save a couple of hundred bucks and drive up to Miami today to pick it up.
   44. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 15, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4325435)
So I guess in addition to the nerds hanging out in granny's basement, we've now got crazy old Uncle Bill locked up in the attic ranting about "THE GOVERNMENT!" Quite an extended family we've got here. (smile)
   45. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: December 15, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4325440)
Good lord -- all you people & your new cars, no doubt bought with money found in your sofa cushions (&/or expropriated from your man- & maidservants).

Come the revolution ... well, heck. I just looked outside & there aren't any convenient lampposts around; regular ol' utility polls just aren't feasible.

Dammit!
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 15, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4325448)
Good lord -- all you people & your new cars, no doubt bought with money found in your sofa cushions (&/or expropriated from your man- & maidservants).

Well, we were going to hot wire one of Ann Romney's Cadillacs, but we could never figure out how to work the elevator.
   47. Hysterical & Useless Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4325519)
Re: Adolfo Phillips batting 8th, the story at the time was that Leo was taking the heat off him; he pressed when hitting higher in the lineup and got better results when expectations were lower. Don't know if this was true, but there are worse outcomes than having a fast guy get a free pass, even if the only result is to clear the pitcher's spot that inning.

Don Kessinger hitting leadoff is pretty much unforgivable, though, even during the little deadball era.
   48. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: December 15, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4325578)
And yet the weirdest thing: THIS DEALERSHIP WASN'T RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT. Go figure.
You are free to take your business elsewhere if you are not satisfied with the dealership. That's not something you can do if you are not satisfied with the service you are getting from the government.
   49. Morty Causa Posted: December 15, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4325583)
Yes, it is. You can vote for another party--or you can go to another jurisdiction.
   50. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: December 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4325587)
Re: Adolfo Phillips batting 8th, the story at the time was that Leo was taking the heat off him; he pressed when hitting higher in the lineup and got better results when expectations were lower. Don't know if this was true, but there are worse outcomes than having a fast guy get a free pass, even if the only result is to clear the pitcher's spot that inning.

When Durocher got Phillips in early 1966, he immediately dropped Phillips into the leadoff spot - and Phillips did pretty well there overall (.386 OBP leading off the game, .356 leading off an inning). But Phillips had a bad month (sub-.500 OPS from late July to late August) and Leo dropped him to 8th, to stay.
   51. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4325630)
Good lord -- all you people & your new cars, no doubt bought with money found in your sofa cushions (&/or expropriated from your man- & maidservants).


Life insurance from my father's passing. I got a 50 MPG car so I wouldn't have to drive my 16 MPG Suburban (which I still need to keep for occasional towing/hauling purposes everywhere I go). I paid $25,000, but it will save me money, about $1000/year in gas, and extend the life of the Suburban, which is over 120,000 miles.
   52. danup Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4325636)
Car dealerships aren't run by the government, but they are protected by (state) government laws preventing manufacturers from selling their product directly to customers, so I'm not sure that's a great example of the public sector's devotion to customer service.
   53. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4325667)
Yes, it is. You can vote for another party--or you can go to another jurisdiction.
If we were still under the spoils system that might be an option but changing parties does not change the efficiency of government bureaucracies. I would be interested in learning how to change my jurisdiction so that the Department of Water and Power would provide better service. Do I just declare myself a sovereign nation?
   54. zachtoma Posted: December 15, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4325672)
but I'm going to save a couple of hundred bucks and drive up to Miami today to pick it up.


How does one drive "up to Miami"? Do you live in the Keys? Hydroplane from Havana?
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: December 15, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4325677)
How does one drive "up to Miami"? Do you live in the Keys? Hydroplane from Havana?


Maybe he's using a non-eurocentric map
   56. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 15, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4325712)
How does one drive "up to Miami"? Do you live in the Keys?


Yes, though one could drive "up" to Miami from Homestead as well.
   57. Bhaakon Posted: December 16, 2012 at 05:42 AM (#4325923)
Car dealerships aren't run by the government, but they are protected by (state) government laws preventing manufacturers from selling their product directly to customers, so I'm not sure that's a great example of the public sector's devotion to customer service.


My point wasn't really about public vs. private sector. One can say that the government should be doing a better job without making an argument for privatization. Believe me, our private supplemental insurer wasn't any more helpful than medicare when it came to figuring out who owed what to whom, they just had a recognizable motivation to be unhelpful beyond incompetence and under-staffing.
   58. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 16, 2012 at 09:06 AM (#4325934)
My point wasn't really about public vs. private sector. One can say that the government should be doing a better job without making an argument for privatization. Believe me, our private supplemental insurer wasn't any more helpful than medicare when it came to figuring out who owed what to whom, they just had a recognizable motivation to be unhelpful beyond incompetence and under-staffing.

I've been on Medicare for 3 years, and before that had Blue Cross / Blue Shield, with several other companies before them. I also have a supplementary policy from United that fills in the Medicare gaps. Total premiums are just under $250 a month, which is about what BC/BS was after I turned 60.

But the difference in coverage is like night and day. It isn't just that I haven't had to pay a dime in out-of-pocket costs for the past three years, which is an enormous difference from before, it's the total lack of paperwork. Before, you needed to be a professional something to figure out what the hell all those statements meant, and when you'd call the company for clarification all you got was a complete runaround. It was a total nightmare. Paperwork would be coming in right and left, sometimes in the form of a bill, sometimes with "THIS IS NOT A BILL", but, mostly telling me that they were only covering a tiny percentage of the doctor's bill.

And as for "competition" being the answer to that, every ####### company was the same: Low premium prices for the first six months or year, then double digit increases every year after that, in spite of the fact that for all but two of those years all I had was routine checkups and preventive tests, and never went over my deductible.

By contrast, since I've turned 65, the ONLY paperwork I've seen is either a check in reimbursement for up-front payments to doctors, all paid back 100% and within a few weeks of an appointment; or an "EXPLANATION OF BENEFITS" that breaks down what Medicare paid and what the supplementary policy paid. No out-of-pocket costs, and not one minute of explanation has been necessary.

The only kicker AFAICT is the Rx coverage, which is way too expensive for the eyedrops I need, so I just buy those drops from Canada and save about 60%. A single payer policy with the government negotiating the prices would bring those costs down, but of course that would also entail a UN occupation of Georgia or something, so I guess that's out of the question.



   59. Morty Causa Posted: December 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4325951)
If we were still under the spoils system that might be an option but changing parties does not change the efficiency of government bureaucracies. I would be interested in learning how to change my jurisdiction so that the Department of Water and Power would provide better service. Do I just declare myself a sovereign nation?


The disinction you are alluding to is not real. In both instances, private and public sector, your recourses are limited. The same reservations apply to the proposition that you can take your business elsewhere. You have rights, you have the power to make an effect, and that power is neccessarily restricted in its effect. I can change medical insurer--and you know what? They are pretty much all the same, and, moreover, you rely on the government vetting them and underwriting them so you don't get screwed if they go bankrupt or decide to do their version of what those lenders did in the mortgage crisis.

The solution is to make the government more responsive while realizing that you are not an island. That's hard--but having an effect on an entity or preserve in the private sector is hard, too. You can vote for Commissioner of Public Power or vote for he who appoints him. You can make so he feels your presence. You can join the Sierra Club or its opposite. You can organize for and against. You can contact the local media. As a last resort you can move--even out of the country if it's that bad. But, you can't get around the facxt that social organizations, public or private, or hard to work and change, one way or another. That's what those 55000 people who were let go when Boeing moved to Oregon a while back, and now I understand certain divisions are moving back. It's tough.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Traderdave
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(3199 - 12:46am, Oct 23)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogMcSweeneys: NEW BASEBALL STATISTICS.
(12 - 12:40am, Oct 23)
Last: Der-K and the statistical werewolves.

NewsblogAd Week: What Is Madeleine Albright Doing on the Wheaties Box?
(5 - 12:38am, Oct 23)
Last: Dog on the sidewalk

NewsblogSielski: A friend fights for ex-Phillie Dick Allen's Hall of Fame induction
(182 - 12:31am, Oct 23)
Last: Sunday silence

Newsblog2014 WORLD SERIES GAME 2 OMNICHATTER
(534 - 12:25am, Oct 23)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(854 - 12:25am, Oct 23)
Last: DJS and the Infinite Sadness

NewsblogRoyals are not the future of baseball | FOX Sports
(30 - 12:08am, Oct 23)
Last: rlc

NewsblogHow Wall Street Strangled the Life out of Sabermetrics | VICE Sports
(10 - 11:51pm, Oct 22)
Last: Misirlou's been working for the drug squad

NewsblogStatcast: Posey out at the plate
(14 - 11:25pm, Oct 22)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(343 - 11:01pm, Oct 22)
Last: madvillain

NewsblogCardinals proud of fourth straight NLCS appearance | cardinals.com
(65 - 10:38pm, Oct 22)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogJerome Williams re-signs with Phils
(9 - 10:21pm, Oct 22)
Last: stevegamer

NewsblogJay set for surgery — and for CF in 2015 : Sports
(5 - 9:58pm, Oct 22)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogHunter Pence responds to Royals fan signs with monster Game 1 | MLB.com
(54 - 7:50pm, Oct 22)
Last: JE (Jason)

NewsblogMike Scioscia, Matt Williams voted top managers
(43 - 7:45pm, Oct 22)
Last: catomi01

Page rendered in 0.3331 seconds
52 querie(s) executed