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State Governance For Fun and Profit
April 4, 2011 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Rick Scott is taking aim at public hospitals in Florida. Former private hospital executive and current Florida governor Rick Scott recently established a commission to conduct a study into the possibility of privatizing all public hospitals in the State of Florida. Scott, a multi-millionaire who made his fortune as chief executive of Columbia/HCA, a large private hospital chain with a significant market presence in Florida, was previously implicated in the US's largest medicare fraud settlement involving Columbia/HCA under his leadership. Although the terms of the settlement did not charge Scott specifically with any wrongdoing, both whistleblowers and federal officials party to the investigation have reported that Scott was closely involved in determining the illegal business practices that led to the fraud allegations.

Scott has recently also drawn criticism for advancing a controversial policy of requiring public employees to submit to random drug screenings, a policy which was previously found unconstitutional in Florida courts and that would financially benefit a company in which Scott owned a significant stock interest that he transferred to his wife shortly before taking office.
posted by saulgoodman (109 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I mean really. WTF - even if you think privatizing hospitals is a good idea, this has gotta ring about 11 million alarm bells. This is self-dealing at its finest. He should go to jail for this. The drug testing thing alone is enough for him to go to jail. I mean transferred to his wife? You've gotta be kidding me. My wife can't even change her 401k allocation w/o our complaince people marking it down in a file for the SEC to look at.
posted by JPD at 8:07 AM on April 4, 2011 [34 favorites]


My wife's new boss. She hates him so.
posted by grubi at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Florida can go hang. You elect a crook that ends up doing crooked things. This is a surprise to anyone at all?
posted by ged at 8:13 AM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, this is a great idea.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:13 AM on April 4, 2011


He should go to jail for this.

If he went to jail when he first should have he wouldn't have been eligible to run for governor in the first place.

How much fury am I supposed to reserve here? Scott's a monster and I don't wish misfortune on people merely for being morons but I feel like the Garbage Commissioner that Steve Martin played in that episode of the Simpsons. This wasn't like a "oh my political beliefs differ greatly from his!" situation; he was caught in Medicare fraud before he was even elected and owns companies that directly profit from his actions as governor. Really, Florida? Really?

Forgive me for rolling my eyes when a few months after voting Lex Luthor into office the citizens of Florida are somewhat perturbed about the Kryptonite-powered Doomsday Device being built just on the edge of the city.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:13 AM on April 4, 2011 [59 favorites]


Now what prejudice do I have that makes me think he is a Republican. I'll just Google him and see if I'm wrong...

Well, maybe I'll hold on to that stereotype a little longer.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 8:14 AM on April 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know how sometimes racist jerks talk about how certain continents aren't "ready for democracy"? That's how I feel about Florida.
posted by theodolite at 8:15 AM on April 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Public hospitals are socialism.
Private companies do everything better than the public sector can.
Profit creates innovation.

*sigh* Is anyone else drifting toward the feeling that this is the country's sad yet unavoidable future? Privatized everything?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:18 AM on April 4, 2011


If real life were like Carl Hiaasen novels, by now Skink would be feeding pieces of Gov. Scott to a swamp full of hungry alligators.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:19 AM on April 4, 2011 [22 favorites]


Scott was a Tea Party darling and was swept into office by the large elderly population we have here in Florida just because the TP backed him. Few who voted for him bothered to look at his record or his credentials. He won by a slim margin, I believe, yet behaves like he has that mythical "mandate" that politicians love so much.

Adding fuel to the fire, Scott also plans/was planning to close a number of our state parks, sell the land to a developer buddy (for pennies on the dollar, I'm sure), and turn them all into golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:21 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's gotten away with some pretty brazen things already, so of course he's pretty sure he can do it again, and of course he's going to try. Best part is that he has a plenty of cover: privatization-cum-graft is pretty much part of the official Republican platform these days, and those who for whatever reason still support the party are probably not only on board with the idea, they probably think we don't do it enough.
posted by namespan at 8:22 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


...a few months after voting Lex Luthor into office...

Seeing how accurate this seemingly throw away description really was made me smile.

Anyway, to play the Pollyanna, what, exactly, can Floridians or anyone else actually do about this? It's a pretty obvious, shamelessly public conflict of interests held by someone who stands to directly profit from extremely questionable actions. Surely that's worth addressing?
posted by byanyothername at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Scott,

Keep going dog, keep going. Squeeze those margins baby. Cut those benefits! By the time you realise this is a problem, it may be too late.
posted by nickrussell at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps some Floridians who lived through the campaign might share with us how Rick Scott managed to win the office with THAT albatross ("CEO of America's Greatest Medicare Fraudsters") dangling from his neck.
posted by notyou at 8:26 AM on April 4, 2011


The measures sponsored by Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach, and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, would also allow the golf course construction to be financed by revenue bonds issued by the state.



Soooo... new debt is good when its for golf courses- but not for anything else. Ok guys.
posted by JPD at 8:28 AM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I sincerely believe that 2011 will be remembered as the year the government (unofficially) declared war on the American people.
posted by tommasz at 8:30 AM on April 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


You forgot that Scott's also fired the state's top nursing home ombudsman, has announced that he's significantly cutting funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and is killing a pill mill database -- even though the problem it would help solve is so bad even the drug makers themselves are willing to fund it.

And that's not even all of just the health care related stuff. He and the legislature are working hand-in-hand to destroy education and the environment in the state, too.

But, according to his mom, he's a good boy. So that makes it okay.
posted by ThatSomething at 8:32 AM on April 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Unfortunately, there is no recall for the office of Governor in the Florida constitution. The options for fixing this problem are a bit far-fetched.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:33 AM on April 4, 2011


Perhaps some Floridians who lived through the campaign might share with us how Rick Scott managed to win the office with THAT albatross ("CEO of America's Greatest Medicare Fraudsters") dangling from his neck.

Weak competition from the Dems (including a seeming unwillingness to really hammer home the corruption charge), strong Tea Party support down here, the ability to run as "a business man, not a politician". His line on the Medicare fraud conviction was basically "yes it happened while I was CEO, but they never proved that I personally did it, so I am absolved of guilt," which: try to wrap your head around that.
posted by penduluum at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


tommasz: "I sincerely believe that 2011 will be remembered as the year the government (unofficially) declared war on the American people"

If there's any justice (or journalists with the stones God gave a pika) that statement will be modified to "the year the Republicans in office declared..."

I'm not holding out for justice or journalistic testicular endowment...
posted by notsnot at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2011


I sincerely believe that 2011 will be remembered as the year the government (unofficially) declared war on the American people.

Also part of the Republican party platform: govern so completely and utterly horribly that people see that all those bad things you said about government are true indeed.

I mean, if people wanted good government, they'd elect somebody else, right?
posted by namespan at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Since privatization of hospitals does not automatically lead to corruption and fraud, could someone with some familiarity of the situation tell me why privatization would generally be a bad thing? Catholic hospitals here in New York City gave superlative service to their communities for many decades. The care one received at them was not worse overall than at one of our public hospitals. (There are either 10 or 11 public hospitals and no Catholic hospitals remaining in NYC.)

I understand why people might be concerned that a corporation would be more focused on the bottom line than on patient care, but the way this FPP is phrased (and saulgoodman, if I'm reading it wrong I apologize in advance,) it makes it sound like either corruption, fraud or profit-stealing is a foregone conclusion if public hospitals go private. Is there any evidence to support that? Have studies shown that privatization creates a significant change in the quality of care shown to the public? To the poor?
posted by zarq at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2011


We've got our own problems up here, but speaking as a Canadian...that all of the events described in this thread are actually happening seems literally insane to me.

That roughly 40% of my fellow citizens apparently look at Republican-style governance and think "Yes, more of that!" seems even crazier...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Since privatization of hospitals does not automatically lead to corruption and fraud, could someone with some familiarity of the situation tell me why privatization would generally be a bad thing? Catholic hospitals here in New York City gave superlative service to their communities for many decades. The care one received at them was not worse overall than at one of our public hospitals. (There are either 10 or 11 public hospitals and no Catholic hospitals remaining in NYC.)

Context. It's all about the context. In Florida's case, the context is a huge population of retirees (many from NY), making Medicare fraud a lucrative field. Add to that the relative ease of setting up a fly by night operation in Florida, and a governor who, um, did precisely that, and you can see why people assume that this is just more corruption. In NY, privatization means a hospital is managed by someone who is not a cog in NYC's municipal bureacracy, so it can at times be a good thing.
posted by ocschwar at 8:41 AM on April 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


zarq- I think the point is that he's pushing for privatization when he's in a position to massively benefit himself and his friends via privatization.

As for the private vs public - you don't need to have a horse in that fight to think this behavior is unacceptable.

(also Catholic hospitals essentially functioned as public hospitals in NYC with a few exceptions, so its not really the right comparison - the real problem with private hospitals is how the game client selection - they basically grab all of the low risk/high profit business that ordinarily subsidizes high risk/low profit + charity at public hispitals.
posted by JPD at 8:43 AM on April 4, 2011


according to his mom, he's a good boy.

So was Artie Bremer, according to his mom.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:44 AM on April 4, 2011


Just finished watching the incredibly flawed Naomi Klein movie The Shock Doctrine. Not a very good movie for any number of reasons. But one of the basic tenets laid out by the movie is the idea that the Powers That Be want to see everything privatized, a la Chicago School / Milton Friedman teachings. That ONLY THEN will the invisible hand of the market truly come into effect and create the consumerist utopia we are all seeking.

This just fits part and parcel in with that.

And remember folks -- Small Government, in Republican eyes, means never being big enough to run any services, but ALWAYS big enough to track every pregnancy from conception to birth and to make everyone piss in a cup once a month.
posted by hippybear at 8:44 AM on April 4, 2011 [18 favorites]



I live in Fl. and there is nothing I wish to say about Scott that won't result in a visit from homeland security and my "right" to fly taken away.
posted by notreally at 8:47 AM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


If real life were like Carl Hiaasen novels,

Back when I first started reading him, and knew less than nothing about Florida politics, I assumed he was exaggerating for comedic effect. Oh, my naivete - RIP.
posted by rtha at 8:47 AM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Florida can go hang. You elect a crook that ends up doing crooked things. This is a surprise to anyone at all?

Except that less than half the population in FL turned out to vote in the last election and of that Scott won by 51%.

I was born in FL and hate Scott. The FL legislature is dominated by Republicans and has been hijacked by corporations. It's so corrupt that a law was just passed to bring back party slush funds done away more than 20 years ago. Every day I pick up the newspaper and within 30 secs I feel a deep wave of depression wash over me.

So when you say we "Floridians" can go hang because the collective "We" are responsible for Scott it's just another punch in the gut to those of us who are trying to turn the state around despite the awful odds.
posted by photoslob at 8:50 AM on April 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


namespan: "Also part of the Republican party platform: govern so completely and utterly horribly that people see that all those bad things you said about government are true indeed. "

I believe this joke is typically expressed as "The Republican­­s are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."
posted by pwnguin at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


wait ..he wants to pave over the state parks into golf courses? Is he also working on a Stealing Candy From Babies initiative?
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Since privatization of hospitals does not automatically lead to corruption and fraud, could someone with some familiarity of the situation tell me why privatization would generally be a bad thing?

From my perspective, it seems the concern isn't really that the arrangement will lead to corruption. Rather, that the arrangement is the corruption itself, from which he and/or his buddies are poised to benefit financially. This is really beyond the theoretical pros and cons about privatizing the hospitals.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:52 AM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."
posted by stenseng at 8:52 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%. Rick Scott is of the 1%, he governs for the 1%. If he benefits personally, no matter, it cannot be corruption. The 1% write the laws, they do not answer to them. The 1%, by definition, are not corrupt. Their lawyers said so.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:53 AM on April 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


If real life were like Carl Hiaasen novels,

Oh, but it is. Too much so.

I keep telling the left (my people!) when they get furious about Rick Scott that he's going to fail in these efforts for one reason:

Real power in the state of Florida lies in the legislature, and when you threaten their power (even if you're ostensibly the same party as they are), you will lose. Keep an eye on it; he'll likely not get re-election, which is pretty bad considering the last two guys *did* get re-elected and they sucked too.
posted by grubi at 8:53 AM on April 4, 2011


His line on the Medicare fraud conviction was basically "yes it happened while I was CEO, but they never proved that I personally did it, so I am absolved of guilt,"

Governor Scott, are you aware that under Federation law, the Captain of a Starship is considered responsible for the actions of his men? DON'T WAIT FOR THE TRANSLATION, ANSWER ME NOW.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:53 AM on April 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Is he also working on a Stealing Candy From Babies initiative?

I don't know, but I hear the Mandated Puppy Kicking Act is picking up traction.
posted by desjardins at 8:54 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


From my perspective, it seems the concern isn't really that the arrangement will lead to corruption. Rather, that the arrangement is the corruption itself, from which he and/or his buddies are poised to benefit financially. This is really beyond the theoretical pros and cons about privatizing the hospitals.

c.f. Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and the privatization of the Iraq war.
posted by hippybear at 8:54 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, what the FUCK? How is this a good thing, and second, why are Floridians not calling for a recall of this guy?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:54 AM on April 4, 2011


Seriously, what the FUCK? How is this a good thing, and second, why are Floridians not calling for a recall of this guy?

Florida does not have a recall procedure, they're stuck with him for 4 years.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:58 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


notyou: "Perhaps some Floridians who lived through the campaign might share with us how Rick Scott managed to win the office with THAT albatross ("CEO of America's Greatest Medicare Fraudsters") dangling from his neck"

Money

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/The-Vote/2010/1103/Florida-governor-election-results-Republican-Rick-Scott-prevails-in-tight-race

Rick Scott, who spent nearly $75 million of his own money, benefited from a rising GOP tide.
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:59 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow, they really don't have a recall procedure. Their only hope is for impeachment, which is pretty unlikely with the current legislature.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 AM on April 4, 2011


I'm not holding out for justice or journalistic testicular endowment...

The St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald publish stories every day about how Scott and the Republicans in the Legislature are running the state into the ground. The Times ran a scathing opinion piece by former senator and governor Bob Graham on Sunday that pointed out all of the bad Scott and the Tea Party are doing to the state.

Problem is that the majority of the population in FL is living in a home that is financially under water. Unemployment is high and wages are low. The schools are underfunded and social programs are being radically cut across the board. Most Floridians are just treading water and they can't even stop to think about what can be done to turn the state around.
posted by photoslob at 9:01 AM on April 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Governor Scott, are you aware that under Federation law, the Captain of a Starship is considered responsible for the actions of his men?

Yeah, there's this weird disconnect between "elect me! I have EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE running a huge company! I am an excellent boss!" and "I did not know what the people who worked for me were doing when they defrauded the taxpayers of more money than anyone ever has and benefited me directly by doing so!" that ... well, that didn't seem to bother as many people as I would have hoped.
posted by penduluum at 9:01 AM on April 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Scott was a Tea Party darling and was swept into office by the large elderly population we have here in Florida just because the TP backed him. Few who voted for him bothered to look at his record or his credentials.
He was a huge opponent of "Obamacare". I remember reading about him during the HCR debate. The attitude from the time was basically "LOL, the guy they got to run the anti-HCR thing is literally someone who defrauded Medicare for billions!" But the fight endeared him to Tea Partiers, I guess.
Since privatization of hospitals does not automatically lead to corruption and fraud, could someone with some familiarity of the situation tell me why privatization would generally be a bad thing?
Well, it's a huge opportunity for fraud especially if it's handled in a corrupt way. The basic difference between a public and a private institution is that the private (for profit) institution's goal is to extract money for shareholders. Which means, by definition lower services or less pay for employees. Sometimes private companies can pay less then public institutions staffed with public sector workers.

Private companies can provide a lot of innovation. And in a growing industry with good competition you get better customer experiences. But healthcare is the poster child for a market failure, so anything healthcare related seems like the worst thing to privatize.

Anyway, this guy is obviously a scammer, so anything he does with a potential for scammin' really needs to be looked at closely.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


He also thinks collective bargaining by public workers is bad for the state. So, you know. That's the kind of fight we're in.
posted by penduluum at 9:05 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


>: "Is he also working on a Stealing Candy From Babies initiative?"

Babies earn no income, being lazy, and by definition any candy they have is the result of socialist handouts, therefore the theft was the babies' to begin with, and so the candy is not being taken from them, but is stolen property being returned to the good people of this great state, God bless Florida and God bless freedom and the USA!
posted by Drastic at 9:05 AM on April 4, 2011 [31 favorites]


oscshwar, JPD and 2N2222, thank you. The post makes more sense to me now.
posted by zarq at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2011


Also, thanks delmoi.
posted by zarq at 9:07 AM on April 4, 2011


Anyway, this guy is obviously a scammer, so anything he does with a potential for scammin' really needs to be looked at closely.

Everything he does is being scrutinized by the press but nothing can be done because there is no recall and the Republican legislature is his lapdog.

My hope is he's going to run the state into the ground and in 3 years he will get kicked out of office but I'm not holding my breath. Although one good sign is that if the election were held again today Scott would lose in a landslide.
posted by photoslob at 9:07 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My hope is he's going to run the state into the ground and in 3 years he will get kicked out of office but I'm not holding my breath. Although one good sign is that if the election were held again today Scott would lose in a landslide.
I think part of the problem with Florida is that a lot of the elderly people there really don't care that much about the state. Out of state retirees just don't have an emotional connection to the state that someone who grew up their and lived their lives there might. The young people who live there aren't their grand children. They're not going to be around that long and things like education investment don't benefit them in any way. Most of their support comes from the federal government. Medicare and Social Security. So as long as that tap is flowing, they'll be happy. That might explain why they more often vote for Dems for congress and the presidency, but vote for republicans locally.

That's kind of playing on stereotypes, as the average Floridian being golf playing out of state retiree, and no doubts lots of the old people who do live there grew up there. But the point is, do voters even care?
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anyway, to play the Pollyanna, what, exactly, can Floridians or anyone else actually do about this? It's a pretty obvious, shamelessly public conflict of interests held by someone who stands to directly profit from extremely questionable actions. Surely that's worth addressing?

There were a couple of pushes recently (don't know if they're still alive or not) to give Florida voters the power to initiate recall referendum votes on the Florida governorship, but currently there is no recall in Florida. The Republican legislature, which has to its credit been tepidly critical of Scott, could impeach him I suppose, if they wanted to show real leadership.

Perhaps some Floridians who lived through the campaign might share with us how Rick Scott managed to win the office with THAT albatross ("CEO of America's Greatest Medicare Fraudsters") dangling from his neck.

Money.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:16 AM on April 4, 2011


Yes, money will allow you to do many things and get away with much. Money buys power and opens the door to more money making opportunities.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:19 AM on April 4, 2011


Clearly the problem is electing people with the name Scott.
posted by desjardins at 9:19 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scott promised he would create 700,000 jobs. One down, only 699,999 to go
posted by photoslob at 9:19 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If real life were like Carl Hiaasen novels,

Back when I first started reading him, and knew less than nothing about Florida politics, I assumed he was exaggerating for comedic effect. Oh, my naivete - RIP.


Hiaasen's take:

I once referred to a past Legislature as a festival of whores, which in retrospect was a vile insult to the world’s oldest profession.

Today’s lackluster assemblage in Tallahassee is possibly the worst in modern times, and cannot fairly be compared to anything except a rodeo of phonies and pimps.

posted by Tavern at 9:23 AM on April 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Scott cuts Department of Corrections jobs. (-1,690)

An 8,700 overall reduction in the state government workforce (-8,700)

DOE employees sent to hospital after elevators, whose maintenance contracts are no longer being funded under Scott, collapsed in the DOE's 17-story HQ building (where I work sometimes) (-2)

So what's that make, -10,392 jobs created in Florida so far under Scott's lead? Oh wait, that's right. He has brought some jobs, too--by promising to eliminate Florida's corporate income tax, he managed to secure 244 new jobs in Tallahassee. (244)

So I guess that makes his overall record right about -10,148 jobs created so far in Florida. Huzzah.

That's not even to elaborate on the indirect job losses and contractor job losses due to reduced or eliminated public programs--and forget about the wage cuts and per student 7% reduction in education services. Florida's open for business all right. And its willing to take it good and hard.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:33 AM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I tried people. When I lived in Jacksonville I voted against him SO HARD.

But, hey, we'd have a woman governor and that's just not right!!!11!

Le sigh. = /
posted by PROD_TPSL at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2011


Kleptocracy. Seriously. Taxes aren't theft - this is theft.
posted by GuyZero at 9:46 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


He won by a slim margin, I believe, yet behaves like he has that mythical "mandate"

Lots of Republican politicians have man dates. They tend to keep them quiet though.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:51 AM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Rick Scott is also the guy that recently refused a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando that would have been fully federally funded, ostensibly on the grounds that operating it would cost huge amounts of money. (But in reality on ideological grounds of "trains are socialist, or European, or something".) That was right before potential bidders got the chance to release projections that the line would be operationally profitable. The Republican-controlled state senate was outraged and several senators actually tried to undercut Scott's decision with a lawsuit (ultimately unsuccessful).
posted by parudox at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Years ago when I was a lot younger, and the world was a slightly different place, I wrote a crappy cyberpunk kinda novel set in a dystopian future world ruled by corporations. (Actually, it was a conglomerate of three major corporations, winningly termed The TriCore. They had formed out of the final mating of Big Pharm, Big Food and Big Tech or something along those lines.) I envisioned and then info-dumped a convoluted back story in which the world was practically washed away in a global warming apocalypse and governments didn't have the resources to feed & clothe everyone and everything was just collapsing into chaos, so corporations graciously stepped in and offered to take care of everything in exchange for ownership of the world. Desperate for food and clean water, everyone was all like "Ok! Thank god!" And things deteriorated from there.

At the time it seemed to me that some kind of dramatic cataclysm would have to take place in order for people to willingly allow corporations to just take over everything.

But now it seems that maybe, that's not the case. Maybe it's just a slow creep and everyone slowly just gives in. Maybe it starts with corporations buying up watersheds and patenting seeds, and totally privatizing schools, hospitals and prisons, and obliterating any publicly supported media channels, and insidiously becoming everything that used to be owned by us. Maybe it's just like what's happening every day.

Maybe it's just people like Rick Scott brazenly grabbing at public resources for private profit, and no one really doing much to stop him, because the outrage has just become overwhelming.
posted by crackingdes at 10:02 AM on April 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not everyone in Florida voted for him-it was a pretty tight race and extremely contentious. What's upsetting to those of us that voted for Alex Sink is that we really really tried to show people who this guy is, but his tagline was "Let's get to work." which is what people here wanted to hear. They also wanted to hear about lower property taxes and democracy, blah blah blah.

I worked as a nurse in a Columbia/HCA hospital in the 90's when he was the head of the company. He was in the middle of implementing a plan to fire all the patient care staff and then rehire us as "independent contractors" so that we wouldn't have benefits and could have our shifts cut at any time depending on what the home office determined our staffing levels should be, when he resigned because of the Medicare debacle.

Democrats here really really TRIED to avoid this, but people absolutely would not listen. All they heard was "Alex Sink = Bank of America" even when it was on every radio station and local news broadcast that this guy was a crook-apparently just enough people voted for him to get him elected. Some people thought Alex Sink was a man, they were so misinformed.

I really get disgusted with politics in Florida-I'm rapidly becoming one of those people who doesn't even pay attention because honestly, my votes don't count and what I want doesn't matter in this state. I've campaigned, sent money, called, faxed, emailed all my representatives and they refuse to listen.
posted by hollygoheavy at 10:11 AM on April 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


From Wikipedia: Following the raids, the Columbia/HCA board of directors forced Scott to resign as Chairman and CEO.[20] He was paid $9.88 million in a settlement. He also left owning 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.[21][22][23]
In 1999, Columbia/HCA changed its name back to HCA, Inc.
In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA plead guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to a $600+ million fine in the largest fraud settlement in US history.


Being rather ignorant of the law, why was Scott not personally charged with fraud as well? This seems like the same problem with SEC enforcement; corporations pay only a financial penalty for fraud with no jail time for the individuals. What incentive is there not to cheat until you're caught?
posted by benzenedream at 10:48 AM on April 4, 2011


notsnot: "tommasz: "I sincerely believe that 2011 will be remembered as the year the government (unofficially) declared war on the American people"

If there's any justice (or journalists with the stones God gave a pika) that statement will be modified to "the year the Republicans in office declared..."
"

You're right - Republicans declare war on the American People as a whole. Democrats just declare war on their base ;)
posted by symbioid at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Problem is that the majority of the population in FL is living in a home that is financially under water. Unemployment is high and wages are low. The schools are underfunded and social programs are being radically cut across the board. Most Floridians are just treading water and they can't even stop to think about what can be done to turn the state around.

That confluence of events is neither an accident nor a coincidence.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


The bullshit about deficits and saving money is a pattern not just in Florida but elsewhere too:

http://bit.ly/ekGumk
posted by Postroad at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2011


why was Scott not personally charged with fraud as well?

It's a good question; the story deserves more attention:

In 1987 Scott...launched what would become the Columbia/HCA hospital chain (now known as HCA). Within 10 years, Columbia/HCA would grow to include 340 hospitals, 135 surgery centers and 550 home health agencies and employ 285,000 workers.

"Columbia/HCA prospered through cost-cutting and takeovers, methods that gave rise to criticism the company placed profits before patients," The Associated Press reported in 1999.

Columbia/HCA's methods also gave rise to suspicions of systematic fraud. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Justice Department -- alerted by whistleblowers within the corporation -- accused Columbia/HCA of defrauding Medicare by submitting false claims to get higher reimbursements.

In July 1997, federal agents raided Columbia/HCA offices in seven states, including Florida, to gather documents to support the investigation.

Two weeks later, Rick Scott was ousted as chief executive officer and board chairman, leaving with a benefits package estimated at close to $10 million.

In settlements reached in 2000 and 2002, Columbia/HCA pleaded guilty to 14 felonies involving the filing of false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses, and paying kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors to refer patients.

The company paid fines of $1.7 billion -- the largest-ever Medicare fraud penalty.

Pleading the Fifth -- 75 times

posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 10:56 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


WRT SEC enforcement, it is always civil, not criminal so no jail time is possible. Actually the AG and the SEC aren't even allowed to share notes on an investigation.
posted by JPD at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2011


The bullshit about deficits and saving money is a pattern not just in Florida but elsewhere too:

http://bit.ly/ekGumk

http://www.newser.com/story/115595/scott-walker-gives-donor-jerry-deschanes-son-an-81000-a-year-job.html
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Being rather ignorant of the law, why was Scott not personally charged with fraud as well? This seems like the same problem with SEC enforcement; corporations pay only a financial penalty for fraud with no jail time for the individuals. What incentive is there not to cheat until you're caught?

Executives in the US system are almost never personally held accountable for corporate crimes anymore. There are a handful of high-profile exceptions and we sometimes prosecute middlemen and mid-level guys, but seldom the real big wigs. That's a major part of our problem. But indeed, one expressed goal of the US corporate legal system is to shield individuals from financial and criminal liability stemming from business activities undertaken in the form of a for-profit corporation (INC) or limited liability company (LLC). This system is supposed to free up entrepreneurs with capital to take risks that fuel innovation. I guess it never occurred to anyone such a system might also have other unintended consequences, like shielding people who do business from the moral and legal consequences of their deliberate actions.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


All those Floridians who are too young to vote can go hang!
posted by Brocktoon at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2011


Scott also wants to get rid of Crime Stoppers.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:05 AM on April 4, 2011


I think you people are missing the main point here:

Rick Scott is cutting edge.

Why?

Because rather than screw around with trying to keep from getting caught, he's just getting the graft passed as laws.

Technically this shit isn't even corrupt.

That's cutting edge.
posted by lodurr at 11:21 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, Florida? Really?

I am waiting for someone to announce which State's choice of governor (looking at Wisconsin and Arizona, for example) has won said State the title of Winner of the Race to the Bottom.

This all makes me glad, however, that no governor's term is very long. This too will pass if Floridians vote this man out at the next opportunity in favor of someone with some sense.
posted by bearwife at 11:28 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know hollygoheavy covered it a bit, but any more Floridians want to chip in to why Alex Sink lost? Florida in 2010 is still leaving me with the "Whoa, who got elected again?"

Who would have thought that Marco Rubio would be their statelier choice?
posted by Weebot at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2011


Saul- Corporations and LLC's exist to shield investors from financial liabilities. Anything else they are used for is a perversion of their intended purposes.

There is nothing about the structures that protect their owners from any sort of criminal or civil charges.
posted by JPD at 11:33 AM on April 4, 2011


I know hollygoheavy covered it a bit, but any more Floridians want to chip in to why Alex Sink lost? Florida in 2010 is still leaving me with the "Whoa, who got elected again?"

I sort of glibly attributed it all to "money" up-thread, and money was certainly a factor in Florida's most expensive race to-date. But Alex Sink really suffered, I suspect, from her association with the banking industry. She was a former Bank of America executive, and she didn't exactly come across as a committed, passionate crusader for the people either. Crist came across as more of a sincere populist than she did, but his bid as an independent was doomed to fail, like most independent candidacies, and it's not like Crist's integrity is above reproach either, especially in light of the Jim Greer scandal that was just coming to a head around election time.

Basically, Florida had an electoral choice between a questionable health care CEO, a former banking executive, and a former Republican turned independent. And we went with the corrupt health care executive on the hunch that a banking executive wouldn't be much better.

Sink's actually not that bad, from what I understand, but the bad taste the financial crisis left in people's mouths when it comes to bankers really might have played a decisive role in tamping down the enthusiasm for her campaign. Her gender may have also been a factor in a state like Florida, with a lot of hard-core religious conservatives.

There is nothing about the structures that protect their owners from any sort of criminal or civil charges.

Fair enough. Not deliberately, no. I overstated it. I would counter that there are some legal liability limits in law (civil, not criminal). There are definitely rules limiting the kinds of law suits that can be brought against individual agents of a corporation in certain cases, or limiting the upper ranges of penalties. And generally, aren't legal penalties levied against corporate entities rather against than the individual executives who run the company? I know that's not true in every case, but isn't it often the case? More importantly, to me it seems the practical effect of spreading out ownership and decision-making in the way corporate governance typically does is to make assignment of personal responsibility and civil/criminal liability for actions much more difficult, whether the explicit intent of the law is to limit civil/criminal liability or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:50 AM on April 4, 2011


your last point is the key one of course. Its really really hard to prove these sorts of cases. And prosecutors, especially Republican prosecutors aren't exactly rushing to bring charges.

Not sure what that link is about - SarbOx is about the veracity of financial statements - ironically that's one of the only thing directors can go to jail for. Also cheating on DoD contracts is a pretty easy way to go away. Hi Mike Sears!!
posted by JPD at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2011


I'm a bit frustrated that we have a system which lets a corporate entity be convicted of 14 felony counts and still allows that corporation to do business in any coherent way.

If it were a person convicted of those 14 felonies, they'd be basically unable to function in society for a good number of years.
posted by hippybear at 12:02 PM on April 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Because rather than screw around with trying to keep from getting caught, he's just getting the graft passed as laws.

Technically this shit isn't even corrupt.

That's cutting edge.


Nah, Berlusconi's been showing the way on this one.
posted by rodgerd at 12:04 PM on April 4, 2011


Executives in the US system are almost never personally held accountable for corporate crimes anymore

This should change. I don't mean that flippantly either; since we are doomed to be in the pockets of large corporations, one of the best things I can see going forward is to get the precedent in place that we won't put up with corporate malfeasance any longer, and that if there is some kind of illegality, people at the top will serve time in the same federal prisons that we gave over to the private sectors a while back.

Make it a public expectation, not a rare one-off when there is simply no way to hide the enormity of the crimes involved.

And make sure that any kind of felony CEO crime that deserves prison time also eliminates any possibility of serving in public office later.
posted by quin at 12:10 PM on April 4, 2011


Berlusconi's been showing the way on this one.

Well, sure, but you have to admit that Rick Scott's finally bringing American politics up to the level of Italian politics!
posted by lodurr at 12:16 PM on April 4, 2011


quin, are you suggesting we lynch these people, or just pull a Fight Club and take their balls?
posted by vrogy at 12:25 PM on April 4, 2011


quin, are you suggesting we lynch these people, or just pull a Fight Club and take their balls?

Quin was suggesting prison time.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:28 PM on April 4, 2011


quin - by what mechanism would this change? I'm not being snarky or flippant; if the majority of politicians are at least partially beholden to corporations, why would they ever vote for such a law? Whoever promised to vote for such a law would be drastically outspent in the next election.
posted by desjardins at 12:32 PM on April 4, 2011


I honestly have no idea, I would imagine that it would involve getting the press involved and making enough of a stink that the next time there was some clear corporate illegality going on, that it would be political suicide to go against the will of the people.

I think that's what needs to be made clear, that tolerating this is no longer in the best interests of the Will of the People, and we will tar any politician that stands up for corporate malfeasance with the same brush we hold for the corporation itself.

And then we need to, you know, act on it.

Whatever it is, it'll probably have to come from the grass-roots, because there is absolutely no reason for the people at the top to change the way things are as things currently stand.
posted by quin at 12:48 PM on April 4, 2011


Except that less than half the population in FL turned out to vote in the last election and of that Scott won by 51%.

No, you heard ged. Doesn't care. ALL of florida can hang.

People do this all the time. A slight majority of [insert state here] is crazy? Screw the whole state! Very black and white. It's an attitude ironically embraced by the tea party.

And as pointed out before, a great number of the elderly in Florida that voted for Scott are northern transplants. If you could keep your own crazy people that'd be great.
posted by justgary at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything Republicans like Rick Scott have proposed over the last few years (decades) can be boiled down to one thing: raiding the public treasury for corporate gain. Period. Privatizing is just another word for piracy.
posted by stonedcoldsober at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Whoever promised to vote for such a law would be drastically outspent in the next election.

Maybe politicians should be limited to a single term in office. I'm sure they could get much more done if they didn't need to spend so much time fundraising and campaigner for re-election.

Sometimes I worry that as executives and politicians become more and more brazen in their activities with no fear of consequence that someone, probably someone pretty desperate is going to decide to inflict punishment through extralegal means. That is a scenario I doubt would work well for anyone.
posted by the_artificer at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


A slight majority of [insert state here] is crazy? Screw the whole state!

Yeah, that's why I find myself sometimes fervently wishing that Tea Partiers, "libertarians," and evangelicals over 18 could somehow make their own state, so the rest of the country could see just how fucked up that state became, and how ludicrous their ideas were once they were allowed to come to fruition.

Then I realize that such a state, even if it could exist, would probably try to secede from the USA in a bloody protracted civil war, or illegally dump a shit ton of toxins into some other state, or otherwise affect the people who didn't choose to move to New Crazystate.

Also, in spite of all the shit I mention above, there'd still be a bunch of people who'd say, "Now, over in New Crazystate-- that's how things oughta be done over here."

Sigh.
posted by Rykey at 2:10 PM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Stonedcoldsober is absolutely right, the entire Republican agenda can be summed up as "how to most efficiently move U.S. tax dollars to our Corporate Masters."

Look at Paul Ryan's Medicare fix.
posted by Max Power at 2:57 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's why I find myself sometimes fervently wishing that Tea Partiers, "libertarians," and evangelicals over 18 could somehow make their own state, so the rest of the country could see just how fucked up that state became, and how ludicrous their ideas were once they were allowed to come to fruition.

Actually, they have several. And they're pretty fucked up!
posted by delmoi at 5:28 PM on April 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Scott's financial conflict: unethical, legal

Another day, another editorial by the St. Pete Times pointing out Scott's unethical behavior.
posted by photoslob at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2011


I didn't see where anyone had previously mentioned Scott's plan to pack the Florida Supreme Court with 3 more justices under the auspices of increasing the court's efficiency. Before that happens, however, he and the Legislature want to be sure to make the process for appointing judges 100% political by removing the Judicial Nominating Commissions from the vetting process. Put simply, he wants unfettered control over judicial appointments.

Let's not forget the worst idea of all: paying judges bonuses based upon how fast they can get through their dockets. Definitely a brilliant idea to give judges a financial incentive to dismiss meritorious cases and reduce criminal defendants' due process rights - what could go wrong? Technically this gem is attributable to JD Alexander, not Rick Scott, but it is worth noting that those two sacks of garbage along with Mike Haridopolos form Florida's own Axis of Evil.
posted by gatorae at 8:20 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hate him so intensely that I start cursing loudly whenever I see him on TV. I really wish harm on the state of Florida for electing him. I would love to see the state's economy to get much worse and even for the state to go bankrupt to prove how wrong his policies are and to punish the people for electing him.

I want to get out of this state SO badly.
posted by mike3k at 8:26 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck You Rick Scott
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2011


So is he going to wait until 2016 to run for president, or is he going to be a dark horse candidate in the 2012 elections?
posted by happyroach at 10:24 PM on April 4, 2011


Actually, they have several.

No, I mean a 100%, no-opposition, every-single-thing-they-want, nobody-to-blame-but-themselves screwtopia that settles this bullshit once and for all.
posted by Rykey at 5:38 AM on April 5, 2011


I would love to see the state's economy to get much worse and even for the state to go bankrupt to prove how wrong his policies are and to punish the people for electing him.


NO. THIS IS WHAT THEY FUCKING WANT. If the state goes bankrupt, the teahadists in power will have carte blanche to kill all standing contracts with union employees, slash whatever remains of social spending and channel everything directly into their private sector partner's pockets, all in the name of "restructuring" or "putting [insert state] back on the right track" or whatever they come up with. No one will be able to argue that it isn't necessary, because they'll say, "Oh yea? Well the whole damn state is bankrupt." No matter that it's bankrupt because Rick Scott bankrupted it.

HE IS TRYING TO DESTROY THE STATE ECONOMY. These fucks are disaster capitalists, thier model was perfected overseas with programs like the IMF and World Bank looting the wealth of Africa and South Asia, and now theyre applying the same devastating plans here because guess what, there's a shitload more money to loot here! They'll take advantage of every excuse in a poor economy to consolidate power, force through thier social agenda and loot the public coffer until there's literally nothing left. And if they don't have a big enough disaster to convince the public that thier way is the only way, they'll create one. See: Wisconsin.

They want the economy to fail, It's better to be king of Shit Mountain than not to be king. Rooting for the economy to fail is rooting for the teahadists like Rick Scott to win.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:39 AM on April 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


@justgary - You know, this isn't the first time Florida has done something stupid or elected a jackass.
posted by ged at 8:15 AM on April 5, 2011


So when you say we "Floridians" can go hang because the collective "We" are responsible for Scott it's just another punch in the gut to those of us who are trying to turn the state around despite the awful odds.

Don't retreat! Reload! Metaphorically! Load up your voting gun! With ballot bullets! And kill the opposition! Figuratively! But literally!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:38 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another update on Governor Rick Scott's curious priorities from my wife (who works for a law firm that does a lot of--ugh--political lobbying):

THIS JUST IN from my boss: According to a local judge, Governor Rick Scott refused to sign an emergency transfer of funds to the court system, and Justice Canady is going to be forced to shut down the entire court system of Florida for April and May. So Scott finds it necessary to call an emergency meeting to immediately CUT money to disabled care facilities, but he can't be bothered to do this. I. Am. Speechless.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:56 PM on April 5, 2011


If only half of a population votes, the half that doesn't vote is co-responsible for whatever happens next. I know it's banal, but the only person who has sort of brought it up here is FatherDagon.
posted by mumimor at 3:43 PM on April 5, 2011


I'm so very, very glad I don't live in Florida any more. What a cesspool of insanity.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:56 PM on April 5, 2011


Update on the courts thing my wife passed along from above: Apparently, there's new information, and a different deal was struck to keep the court system running through April after all, but I think May is still up in the air.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:49 AM on April 6, 2011


Doesn't he realize he can't put minorities in jail if the court system is shut down?
posted by JPD at 7:00 AM on April 6, 2011


The problem, apparently, is that the Florida Republican legislature recently restructured the court finance system so that the courts in Florida are basically being funded almost exclusively from fees collected as a result of mortgage foreclosure filings. I guess they were expecting a steady, uninterrupted stream of foreclosures throughout the state for the foreseeable future.

But as it turns out, there's effectively a freeze on foreclosures in the state right now because of unresolved legal issues resulting from the legally dubious robo-signing and other questionable documentation practices that have pervaded the industry.

Interesting that the Republicans just assumed there would be high enough rates of foreclosure filings in the state for the foreseeable future that they tied the funding for much of the court system to foreclosure filing fees.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on April 6, 2011


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