More comedy gold from the AFA

posted 03 August 2007, updated 03 August 2007

As I believe I've mentioned, I'm subscribed to the newsletter of the American Family Association. Their latest trip is to claim that the continuing drop in sales at Ford -- a troubled company with a history of poor quality control, lacklustre design, and incompetent management -- is happening mainly because they support the "homosexual agenda", and the AFA is thus boycotting them. Read on:

Sales of all Ford Motor Company automobiles fell 19.1% in July, compared to a year ago. Since AFA began a boycott of Ford in March 2006, sales have dropped in 15 of the 17 months. While the boycott isn't totally responsible for the drop in sales, it has played a major role.

According to Ford's own press releases, here is the last 8 years of sales data for July:

Year Sales %change
2000 347,331 1%
2001 303,043 -13%
2002 319,975 2%
2003 297,265 -7%
2004 285,204 -4%
2005 366,548 29%
2006 241,339 -34%
2007 195,245 19%

Contrary to the AFA's claims, their boycott (which began in 2006) did not even manage to increase the rate of decline above the trend of the last decade. It's really, really hard to parlay that into "a major role". But the AFA, as usual, is not content with merely grossly distorting the truth, but has to go for the crazy:

Despite the drastic drop in sales, not a single homosexual group has come to Ford's defense nor publicly encouraged homosexuals to purchase Ford automobiles. AFA asked Ford to take a stand similar to that of Wal-Mart, which will not support or oppose controversial issues. Ford declined, choosing to continue financially supporting the homosexual movement.

So the lack of any sort of homosexual interest in Ford doesn't prove that there is no gay agenda subverting the all-American car company -- it proves that there is a gay agenda, but gays are disloyal backstabbers. These AFA guys may be crazy, but you've got to hand it to them: they're masters of PR (it's sort of a survival skill when the main tenets of your religion involve persuading people that various natural, fun behaviours are dirty and wrong).

So meanwhile, cheers to Ford for not being as bigoted as Wal-Mart. Maybe if you stop making shitty cars, people -- gay and straight alike -- will start buying them again.

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Standard Malpractice

posted 03 August 2007

As some of you may remember, back in February, soon after I arrived in the US, I hurt my back and had to be admitted to the ER. Luckily, Y! provides me with full and comprehensive health insurance, so the bill -- all staggering $1700+ of it, for care that took about 2 hours -- was not my responsibility.

The billing procedure, even for somebody full insured, was immensely complicated and stressful. I had to provide my insurance details at the outset, which was impossible since I had just joined Y! and didn't have them yet. This meant I received a bill from the hospital, a separate bill from the doctors, and a notice from the hospital that as I was uninsured I was receiving a discount. In response to these I supplied my insurance details, only to have them rejected as a result of an administrative error at the insurance company, resulting in a letter from the hospital politely but clearly implying that I was attempting to defraud them, and that I had to pay the bill soon, or else. After sorting out the administrative error at the insurance company, I received a new set of insurance details and re-provided them to the hospital, which finally accepted them and paid the bulk of bill. I then received yet another bill, this time for the deductible on my insurance policy, a significantly more manageable $50. The whole process took six months.

Today, I received one final letter: a questionnaire about my recent medical claim. It politely enquired who else I would be suing about my recent accident. There was not, I should be clear, any option anywhere on the form or the accompanying website where I could specify that I didn't intend to sue anyone, and that I considered the accident entirely my own fault. I had been hurt, obviously I was going to sue someone, they just wanted to know who, apparently for statistical purposes.

This says lots of bad things about American healthcare, but really, it's also a pretty damning indictment of American society as a whole. The thing I miss most about Britain, second only to the Tube, is the blissful lack of caring about healthcare. Not the quality -- I never received any medical care in the UK, but the care I received in the US was excellent -- just the lack of headspace taken up by wondering how I would pay for things if I suddenly got very sick.

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