Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sup Ibro?

I met my mentee, Ibrahima (Ibro) on Saturday. He seemed like a really nice, smart, shy kid. Obviously, there's plenty to work on before we turn him into Ben 2.0. Saturday's meeting consisted of various ice breakers and whatnot, and we'll be meeting 3 more times over the next 5 weeks in order to build a closer bond (puke). After that, we'll likely be communicating by email, and meeting once every month or so. Here's the first email I sent him.

Hello Ibrahima:

My name is Ben and I’m a 29 year old that works in the world of finance. I live near Union Square in Manhattan and work on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Thank you for emailing me and don’t worry about not being able to finish in time. I am sure next time you will finish. I also played football in high school! I’m sure there is a ton of stuff we can talk about in that subject! This is my first time being a mentor and I’m very excited about the opportunity to get to know you and I’m also a little nervous because I have never done anything like this before. I’m sure it will work out great. Hopefully this year, as we get to know one another, we’ll be able to share fun stories and learn from each other.

Imentor has given me some sentences to finish. Some are pretty silly but here is my best try. 1. The one word that best describes me is “stable.” I don’t let many things upset me but I also don’t get overly excited about things. This is both good and bad, but my friends rely on me to always be the same for them.
2. If I could travel to anywhere in the world it would be “Argentina.” I love steak, do you? Everyone who goes to Argentina and Brazil tells me that you can get steak everywhere, and it’s not expensive, and it’s the best they have ever had! Hopefully, I can go sometime soon.
3. My number one dream for my future is “building my own family.” I have two sisters and both are married but I’m still single! They are looking to make our family bigger while I work all day and so I really want to find someone that I actually like!
4. My most prized possession is “my cell phone!” I take my phone everywhere and constantly use it. If I ever lost it or if it broke I would run to the Verizon store to get another one!
5. My favorite movie or CD is… I have many favorite movies. I’m sure you do too. My favorites are probably Jerry McGuire, Apollo 13, The Matrix movies and the Borne Identity movies.
6. My greatest accomplishment in my life so far is still to come. While I’ve done many good things, I don’t think I’ve tried that hard or wanted something bad enough to be proud of getting it. The biggest accomplishments are those that you want the most, and then achieve. I still have to find one of those.
7. My family would describe me as “young.” I like to act like I’m a kid sometimes. I’m always looking to find the “fun” in any activity.
8. My greatest fear is “falling from heights.” I’m not scared of heights. I don’t have any problem being in a high building or on an airplane, but I don’t like looking over the edge of buildings or mountains. I have a fear of falling! Have you ever been on an airplane?
9. During my free time (outside of school or work), my favorite activity is “playing volleyball.” I played volleyball in college and though I’m not as good as I used to be, I still play once a week in a league.
10. If I could change one thing in the world today, I would change selfishness in professional sports. I look at athletes and agents and coaches and owners and it just seems like everyone is in it for the money and for themselves. I play sports for fun and to win and because its good exercise and because I love competition, and not for money. I wish everyone played that way.

Thanks again for messaging and hopefully I’ll hear from you soon. I think we will be meeting this Saturday at your school. Will you be there?

Have a good week,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Insurance Solution

Insurance, at its core, is based on communism. It is a collective in which each participant pays the same amount and those who need it are helped. The "lucky" participants are those who pay more than they get back, they are healthy(health insurance) and alive(life insurance). There is very little social rationale for health insurance companies to be for-profit, and for non-mutual life insurance companies. These companies' business models inherently contradict the collective rationale for actually having insurance, since they want to deny coverage for those who need it (or risk needing it in the future). Insurance companies as businesses are not failures except that their progress and success directly contradicts our societal goals of a healthy populous. It therefore becomes obvious that we need to extend this basic government services to the most vulnerable segments of society, since it is under provided by the free market.

This is not dissimilar to the extra USF charges we see on our phone bills. Those charges help pay for the rural and thus unprofitable segments of our society to have basic phone service. Phone companies would never pay $100K to extend a phone like 4 miles up a road to 1 person who would pay them $30/month, but they are required to by law, and thus we subsidize. Perhaps the solution is not a public option, but an option that does not allow for denial of coverage, that is subsidized by a small tax on everyone else. Of course, that is exactly what insurance is, everyone who’s healthy and alive subsidizing those who aren’t, so why do we need these companies at all?

To implement this, we need federal regulation with states out of the picture. 1) Competition will increase because not every insurance company is in every state. 2) Maximum premiums will be regulated, to make sure everyone can afford the insurance. 3) High risk individuals, which insurance companies would deem “unprofitable” and would likely not have insured, will be subsidized by the government to the point that the actuarial assumptions used by these companies would render them profitable to take on as customers as well.

We will not need a "new" government run health plan for the uninsured and uninsurable (a new medicare), but we'll have a regulated, outsourced, and subsidized healthcare plan, which will increase competition among insurers but also increase the pie for them to make money.

And if some people still choose not to have a phone line in their house, that’s their own damn problem.

PS - I plan on editing this numerous times before its perfect.... then maybe a NYT editorial submission...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Israel Summarized

For quick reference, here are all of the parts of my trip:

Israel Part 1: I Can’t Stand El Al / Rules for Flying
Israel Part 2: Friday in Tel Aviv / Rules for Eating
Israel Part 3: Saturday in Tel Aviv / Rules for Tanning
Israel Part 4: Sunday in Tel Aviv Haifa / Rules for clothing shopping, The Fate Method
Israel Part 5: Monday in Haifa / Rules for Hangin w/Your Family:
Israel Part 6: Tuesday - Wedding / Rules for learning a New Language, Part 1
Israel Part 7: Wednesday in Ayalim / Rules for Building a Mud Hut
Israel Part 8: Thursday in Ayalim / Rules for Learning a New Language, Part 2
Israel Part 9-12: Friday - Sunday in Hefzi Ba / Flight Home

And here are the pictures:


And here is a summary of my trip, using numbers to remember:

1 – Movies I watched during 22 hours of airplane flights
2 – Times I ate pork on the first 2 days
3 – Time I upset Elana by not wanting to play with her kids constantly, or during meal time.
4 – Times I apologized unsuccessfully for not wanting to hang out with Elana and/or her kids, all the time, or during meal time.
5 – New FB friends I have from the Negev, we’ll see if any become real friends
6 – Days I went shopping (Friday, Saturday, Monday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday)
7 – Days I went to the beach or pool (excluding Desert as beach)
8 – Dinner’s, out of 9, in which I overate (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
9 –Nights I drank moderately including wine on the flights (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

And here are some things Atara has said really loudly so that the people she’s talking about definitely heard her:

- About an Asian woman – “Why does that woman have slanted eyes?”
- About a guy with a pony tail – “Why does that woman have a beard?”
- About a guy in a wheel chair – “Oh no! A monster!”
- About a really fat woman – “That woman is so fat!”
- About a boy in her swim class – “Daddy, that boy’s vagina looks weird.” So Daddy responds, “That’s his penis.” And Atara again, “Daddy, you don’t have a penis.”