Electronic Health Records: a murderous, publicly subsidized, $13B/year grift by way of shitty software

In 2009, the bipartisan HITECH Act pledged $36 billion to subsidize the adoption of Electronic Health Records throughout America's fragmented, profit-driven health system, promising that the system would modernize American health care, save $80 billion (and countless lives), and deliver a host of other benefits; a decade later, the EHR industry has blossomed from $2B to $13B, and adoption is up from 9% to 96%, and it's a catastrophe. Read the rest “Electronic Health Records: a murderous, publicly subsidized, $13B/year grift by way of shitty software”

A detailed analysis of American ER bills reveals rampant, impossible-to-avoid price-gouging

For more than a year, Vox's Sarah Kliff has been investigating hospital price-gouging in America, collecting hospital bills from her readers and comparing them, chasing up anomalies and pulling on threads, producing a stream of outstanding reports on her findings. Read the rest “A detailed analysis of American ER bills reveals rampant, impossible-to-avoid price-gouging”

Schadenflying: the super-rich are getting ripped off like crazy on their private jet billings

Private jet companies generate a flurry of impenetrable invoices for their customers, with separate bills for crew, catering, fuel, airport fees, etc, and these represent a bonanza for scammy invoice-padding (like billing $5,300 to deliver 240 nonexistent sushi boxes to an empty plane). What's more, the gougers victims are so rich the often don't even notice the overbillings: a third of private jet owners are worth $500,000,000 and up. Read the rest “Schadenflying: the super-rich are getting ripped off like crazy on their private jet billings”

Terra Nullius: Grifters, settler colonialism and "intellectual property"

Terra Nullius is my latest column in Locus magazine; it explores the commonalities between the people who claim ownership over the things they use to make new creative works and the settler colonialists who arrived in various "new worlds" and declared them to be empty, erasing the people who were already there as a prelude to genocide. Read the rest “Terra Nullius: Grifters, settler colonialism and "intellectual property"”

How the patent office's lax standards gave Elizabeth Holmes the BS patents she needed to defraud investors and patients

When legendary grifter Elizabeth Holmes was 19 years old, she conceived of a medical device that could perform extensive diagnostics in an eyeblink from only a single drop of blood; she had no idea how such a device would work or whether it was even possible, but that didn't stop her from drawing up a patent application for her "invention" and repeatedly submitting to the patent office until, eventually, she was awarded a patent for what amounted to a piece of uninspiring design fiction. Read the rest “How the patent office's lax standards gave Elizabeth Holmes the BS patents she needed to defraud investors and patients”

Financialization is wearing out its welcome

On the eve of Apple issuing a credit card (and following Carl Icahn's 2013 advice that "Apple should be a bank"), we seem to be reaching the end of financialization's dominance over the economy, a trend that started in the 1970s and has risen ever since -- but the tricks are wearing thin. See for example, the notorious Brazilian corporate raiders 3G bought out Kraft-Heinz and tried its usual MO of goosing profits by squeezing suppliers, paying its bills late, and cutting costs at the expense of growth -- only to have Kraft-Heinz's value drop by more than 50% in less than three years. Read the rest “Financialization is wearing out its welcome”

Rep Pramila Jayapal's Medicare For All Act fixes America's dire and broken health-care system; take action to support it now!

Pramila Jayapal [D-WA] has introduced the Medicare for All Act, which mandates comprehensive health-care reform so that Americans can enjoy the same basic right to high-quality health care that the people in every other developed nation have had for decades, while ending the cream-skimming and price-gouging created by America's fragmented system, which is a gift to grifters and middlemen, but which leaves patients and medical professionals mired in needless expense and bureaucracy, a system so byzantine and inefficient that it would be vastly cheaper to simply give away health care than continue to charge for it. I have lived under Canadian and British socialized medicine, and currently use US private insurance. The US system is much, much worse in every conceivable way. Write to your Congressperson today and demand that they support this bill! Read the rest “Rep Pramila Jayapal's Medicare For All Act fixes America's dire and broken health-care system; take action to support it now!”

Mobile apps built with Facebook's SDK secretly shovel mountains of personal information into the Zuckermouth

If you need to build an app quickly and easily, you might decide to use Facebook's SDK, which has lots of bells and whistles, including easy integration of Facebook ads in your app's UI. Read the rest “Mobile apps built with Facebook's SDK secretly shovel mountains of personal information into the Zuckermouth”

Insider sources say Apple is shutting its east Texas stores to escape the jurisdiction of America's worst patent court

The Eastern District of Texas is home to a crooked court that is in the pocket of patent trolls, handing down ludicrous rulings in favor of the trolls, whose "head offices" are tiny, unoccupied offices in empty, dusty office buildings, the rent on which entitles patent trolls to claim that their rights are being infringed in the demense of the Eastern District's terrible judges. Read the rest “Insider sources say Apple is shutting its east Texas stores to escape the jurisdiction of America's worst patent court”

The TRUE Fees Act: legislative proposal to force cable/ISP companies to advertise the true cost of their services, inclusive of surcharges

The Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees Act [TRUE Fees] has been introduced by Rep Anna Eshoo [D-CA] and Sen Ed Markey [D-MA]; if passed, it will force ISPs and cable operators to advertise the true costs of their packages, including all surcharges. Read the rest “The TRUE Fees Act: legislative proposal to force cable/ISP companies to advertise the true cost of their services, inclusive of surcharges”

Most adults are incapable of understanding most online terms of service

A new paper by a business professor and a contract law professor evaluated the terms and conditions of 500 leading websites and found that the 99% of them required at least 14 years of education to truly comprehend, far more than the majority of US adults have attained. Read the rest “Most adults are incapable of understanding most online terms of service”

Patent trolls celebrate as Trump's new rules breathes fresh life into parasitic grifter capitalism

A golden age of blackmail began in 1996, when the US Patent and Trademark Office created extremely generous criteria for when software could be patented, allowing every shitty grifter to register a patent for $SOMETHING_OBVIOUS (with a computer) -- thanks to the USPTO's laid-back approach to searching prior art, several people could patent the same obvious thing. Read the rest “Patent trolls celebrate as Trump's new rules breathes fresh life into parasitic grifter capitalism”

Uber is a "bezzle," doomed to disappoint the suckers who buy into its IPO

Writing in New York Magazine, Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith draws on Hubert Horan's outstanding series on the underlying economics of Uber to describe why the company's IPO will be a terrible bet for the investors who buy into it. Read the rest “Uber is a "bezzle," doomed to disappoint the suckers who buy into its IPO”