The Affordable Care Act gets support from where? Are we still in Kansas?

I don’t live there, but I’ve been watching what’s going on in Kansas because there’s a fascinating battle between ideology and reality going on there.My wife and I have gone ketotic, and after a refreshing cup of “bulletproof coffee“, I have a lot of energy to write about it!!

Sam Brownback has been governor of Kansas since 2010, made it his explicit mission in his state to demonstrate the magic of supply-side economics. That is simply, if they made massive tax cuts, the benefits to the economy would be so great, that not only would businesses thrive, but the budget would actually improve and life would be better for everyone because of all the growth. Never mind that economists who have looked at this hypothesis have found no evidence to support it. It’s a firm belief of some conservatives. And so Brownback and the Kansas legislature did it. In 2012 they passed a massive tax cut bill. And then they sat back and waited for the free market to work her magic. And they waited. And the budget got redder and redder and their fairy godmother refused to show. Brownback said that the experiment just needed more time, there were reasons. He was narrowly reelected.

Now, the Kansas economy has lagged significantly behind the nation as a whole for years. Private businesses have benefited from tax cuts, as have the wealthy, but the public sector budget, schools and roads, have been hemorrhaging money–through 2019 the deficit is project at over $1 billion.

Republicans in the Kansas legislature are starting to revolt. Yesterday, they narrowly failed to overturn Brownback’s veto of a tax increase that was designed to end the experiment in huge tax cuts that never seem to pay for themselves as advertised. The great thing about an experiment is that if you’re paying attention, you learn something. Brownback hasn’t learned yet, but more and more Kansans appear to be.

This story gets more fascinating when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gets factored in. Because the deep red state of Kansas has of course refused on principle to take advantage of the ACA to expand Medicaid. Conservative philosophy is the only reason I can think of for refusing  to accept federal dollars to pay for the health care of the poorest in your state. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Kansas lawmakers have reopened the issue of  Medicaid expansion with the House voting overwhelmingly to expand and sending the bill to the Senate. Mike Pence referred to the ACA as a national nightmare, but apparently, Kansas is looking to the law to help them out of the nightmare budget hole they have created. Interesting to see where this goes.

Also interesting to see how long we drink the butter coffee. Not going to lie, it was pretty tasty!


Narcissists and narratives

Binge watched and listened to Marc Maron and WTF the past few weeks. I didn’t know who he was until I heard him on Fresh Air a few weeks ago.  A comedian, he was one of the original godfathers of the podcast medium. He has had EVERYONE on his podcast. So respect, and jealousy.

“You really have to stop listening to Marc Maron.” – M


One thing I learned from Maron: Isis was right. Her advice was that I needed to keep writing consistently. Maron keeps to a rigorous posting schedule despite a chaotic artistic life. One of the secrets to being a productive neurotic is to be dependable. Let’s see if I can post every week.

Recently heard a podcast with the Robert Shiller explaining narrative economics and it sparked a connection with narcissists. Shiller believes that for economics to evolve, they must transcend raw mathematics and borrow from the humanities the art of narrative. I’ve been thinking a lot about narcissists, both the one in Washington, and ones in my life, and it dawned on me that narcissists are narrative ninja warriors.

The entire nation is learning about narcissistic personality disorder, but I had a head start — I have more than one malignant narcissist in my family. A signature feature is if you suggest to a narcissist that they are doing something wrong, causing someone pain for example, they respond with angry counterattack.  They can’t hear it. You are a bad person if you suggest to a narcissist that they are a bad person. Trying to explain my feelings and find compromise in these relationships has caused me a lot of suffering that I’m just now getting past. The narcissist is the Golden Child of their story and their psyche absolutely refuses this principle to be challenged. With a malignant narcissist, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. Facts and discussion won’t help. I’ve needed to move on from that, and so will opponents of the current administration.

Charismatic narcissists have honed to perfection the art of the narrative — the spinning of a compelling story. We all crave a narrative and don’t feel satisfied with data alone until we have one. As scientists, we are counseled to tell a story. The internal life of the narcissist has been replaced with unceasing  narrative construction, so they are masters of this very powerful tool. Distrust and fear are quick participants in their process, and they can draw many people in to a story of heroes and villains that feels so true. I want to shake my friends that don’t understand that these dynamics are utterly unshakable. They seem to believe that more facts and more calling out of sins, the narcissist will be shamed or convinced. They can’t. To a narcissist, you are a prop, and props don’t participate in the writing of the story. Engaging a narcissist doesn’t work, the only way to transcend is to adopt a different narrative. This takes discipline and consistency. I’m scared for my country these days, but in my home life, I’m fortunate to have a partner who listens and loves me and with whom I can co-write our story together.

Disclaimer: if you’re reading this and are mortified that I’m talking about you…I’m not talking about you!! You’re amazing!! I’m talking about the other one!!