Did a Black Swan Just Swim By?

Yours Truly first came upon the concept of the Black Swan several years ago somewhere on the internet. Basically, it’s an idea first proposed by one Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who is one of the most original thinkers operating in the world today. As far as I’m concerned, he ranks right up there with Jordan Peterson.

Anyway, the concept of the Black Swan has to do with unintended events, game-changers if you will. J R R Tolkien called these once-in-a-lifetime events a eucatastrophe –an unforeseen and unexpected catastrophe that is beneficial in that it upends the carefully laid plans of an evildoer. Such a thing happened when Bilbo Baggins accidentally found the One Ring while he was engaged in a battle of wits with Gollum. Had Gollum continued to possess the Ring, then given his proclivities, Sauron would have found it and Middle-earth would have sunk into an apocalyptic cataclysm. (The ultimate eucatastrophe was the Crucifixion of Jesus: Satan thought that he had won but instead, Jesus’ death allowed Him to enter into Hades and break Satan’s grip forever. Coincidentally, Taleb is an Orthodox Christian.)

So basically, Black Swans are unforeseen and unexpected events which upend the old order. For a brief introduction please read the following snippet: http://www.econtalk.org/taleb-on-black-swans/

OK, enough with the introduction. No more teasing. What is the Black Swan in question that I’m talking about? Mainly this: late yesterday, a Federal judge just ruled that the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) was ruled unconstitutional. He didn’t merely gut it like Trump and The Republicans in Congress did last year, he ruled it to be completely invalid, lock, stock and barrel.

This is huge. Why?

Mainly because it has thrown this tar-baby back into the Congress’ lap. A Democrat-controlled Congress (or House of Representatives, where all laws and spending bills originate).

Now mind you, this is the last thing the Democrats in the House wanted to contend with. They thought with their simple majority that the next two years were going to be spent making Trump’s life a living hell. Investigations, inquiries and inquisitions were going to be the order of the day, culminating in a hard-fought for impeachment.

Although there was no hope for getting the President removed from office (only the Senate can do that), the idea was to permanently neutralize him with endless subpoenae and incessant moral preening before the television cameras.

Now don’t get me wrong, there will be some of that. But nowhere near as much as they wanted. Nope, now they’ll actually have to do something. And it won’t be easy because the Republicans in the House will be consistently sniping at them, making their lives miserable. As for the Democrat’s constituents, many of whom liked Obamacare, they’re going to be demanding that it be put back in place, someway, somehow. Trump and the GOP will be ever-so-solicitous: “Of course we want to help you, let’s put in these little free-market incentives into the bill” they will say.

Or “Let’s privatize X, Y or Z while we’re at it”. Who knows: “Maybe we could get that gosh-darned Wall funding finally; let’s tack it onto this bill, after all, it’s only a measly $5 billion. Don’t you want those poor people in the ghetto to have the same access to health care that those rich white people in the suburbs have? What are you, a racist?”

Wouldn’t that be delicious?

I will be saying more about this in the future but time and events are catching up with me. Originally, I wanted to post something about the so-called Unification Council in Ukraine but this recent ruling unexpectedly fell into my lap and that will have to wait. (See what I mean? that’s what Black Swans do.) Yup, The Golden Don is fortunate in his enemies. Instead of Siegfried appearing on a white swan maybe some modern day Wagner can compose an opera in which the President appears on a Black Swan at the climax.


  1. Michael Bauman says

    Too little too late. It will only get worse.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Imho, the Federal gov’t has gotten so bloated that the real black Swan on the horizon is the collapse of the Union. I believe it’s inevitable. It’s like the Hindenburg, all it needs is one short circuit and kablooie!

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        You got that right. It’s almost 250 years so we are right on course for a collapse. What we reconstitute into, if anything, will be equally interesting and inknown.

      • John Sakelaris says

        The government in Washington going kablooie? Now that really is even a more serious topic than Obamacare’s future.

        So how would the kablooie process happen? And what would be next?

        My thought at this point is to give the traditional astronaut warning: There is no problem so bad that it cannot be made worse.

        • George Michalopulos says

          John, let me gather my thoughts on that one before answering.

          • John Sakelaris says

            Yes, probably it will merit another article altogether.

            To insure some balance, I will be on the side of caution.

  2. This isn’t a correct application of the ‘black swan’ concept.

    Unforeseen? Nope. Unexpected? Also nope. Likely to actually stick or change anything? Also no!

    The lawsuit got a lot of coverage and writeup when it was filed and all throughout 2018 as it progressed. Its existence hurt the GOP in the 2018 elections! And for anyone paying attention the following was obvious:

    1) The GOP politicians who filed the suit worked hard to get it to a judge for an initial ruling that would rule the way they wanted.
    2) Legal scholars from a wide range of ideological viewpoints think the effort is ridiculous, and thus doomed on appeals
    3) Nothing is actually going to really change pending the appeals process.

    If one was unaware of those three things and this is some amazing development out of nowhere, it doesn’t make it a black swan event. It makes one profoundly uninformed or misinformed about current events. Which isn’t really excusable, especially considering what an issue healthcare was in the recent election, and it being a major factor in the GOP taking their worse House losses since Watergate.

    Even the timing wasn’t terribly surprising. There was a fair bit of ink spilled about whether the ruling would come before the midterms, and the effects it would have on GOP candidates already on the defensive. Since that didn’t happen, having it happen at the end of the 2019 open enrollment was rather anticlimactic.

    So this statement:

    Mainly because it has thrown this tar-baby back into the Congress’ lap.

    Is entirely incorrect. And thus so the wishful thinking that follows.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Anything can be “foreseen” if one engages in dorm-room historiography. (I.e. what would have happened had Alexander the Great not been such a heavy drinker?)

      “Unexpected”? Yes, at least by me. I thought Obamacare was a monstrosity that would never die, kinda like the Terminator in the first movie of that franchise.

      To me, the ruling is a Black Swan in that the Oligarchy wanted it in place and used every unconstitutional ruse in 2012 to pass it. Remember Nancy Pelosi saying “we have to pass it before we can read it”? And Harry Reid declaring the day to be 25 hours long (or something like that).

      The icing on the cake was when the Deep State got to Chief Justice John Roberts and asked him if he liked his kneecaps. So yeah, I thought Obamacare was forever.

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, hate to bust your bubble, but when has a federalized program ever been de-federalized?

        It might not be called Obamacare, but the deed is done and it ain’t being rolled back.

        • Russian monarchists and Putinists alike remind us that Russia always had free heatlh care and university education because the grand mokosh mir obsina was their mother. Yeltsin refused to allow land ownership because “How can you own your mother” the land? Mind you all this silliness came from the Tatars, not Orthodoxy.

  3. George Michalopulos says

    Imho, the Federal gov’t has gotten so bloated that the real black Swan on the horizon is the collapse of the Union. I believe it’s inevitable. It’s like the Hindenburg, all it needs is one short circuit and kablooie!

  4. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald) says

    “The Black Swan” is one of Thomas Mann’s last novels. Takes place in Rhineland: woman believing her cancer to be gone loves a GI and it comes back…

  5. Gail Sheppard says

    Jordon Peterson? The guy who has to “study” the resurrection to determine if it’s true? He’s a thinker; I’ll give you that. But original? Saying that men need to “grow up” was bold, but he didn’t have to think too hard to come up with it. Many had reached the same conclusion, which is why his books flew off the shelves. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when someone finally said it out loud.

    I also give JP props for even contemplating the tenets of Christianity because it means he has remained open to the possibility. Someone needs to light the pilot light of his nous like Father Maximos did for Markides. I SO hope one of our monastics is reaching out to him to do just that. We need academics in the Church because people today will follow anyone who has the title of “scientist.” If it’s Jordon Peterson, so much the better. I like the guy. Too many scientists don’t care about Christianity. Jordon Peterson is different.

    The dilemma we are facing in healthcare is that Obamacare has deep roots. It can’t be pulled from the ground like a weed. It’s become a proliferation of weeds which threaten to choke out any reasonable attempt at reform. It’s complicated and grossly underfunded because young, healthy people are just not contributing the funds necessary to offset the costs of sick people; many of whom have undermined their own health through the consumption of cigarettes, processed food, alcohol, and drugs. There is just not enough money in the till to cover the mess we’ve become in this country. So what do you do? Throw people out on the street? Restructure the system to reward those who take care of themselves and penalize the people who don’t, knowing those who don’t ALSO don’t have the ability to rub two nickels together and pay for their own care because they’re too compromised to work? THIS is the landscape, folks. If the problems were easy to solve, Trump would have done it by now. If we give this mess to Congress to unravel, they’ll make a mess of it, as it is EXTREMELY complicated and they have the AMA and Big Pharma breathing down their necks. The House will vote down any solution, even if the benefits outweigh the cost; like “Harvest Box” which sent the kind of food I eat, e.g. Freshly, Blue Apron, etc., to roughly 38 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients in lieu of food stamps; food stamps that are used to buy unhealthy, processed foods that are heavily marketed and readily available. If Trump were to suggest we just give them the food WITH their food stamps (could have a significant impact on healthcare if we made the effort to keep our population healthy) and take it out of the military budget, they would STILL have a problem with it because it came from Trump (just ask Bishop Tikhon). I am not optimistic. We may need to spend a lot more money to figure this out in an effort to curb FUTURE costs, but there is not a whole lot we can do to fix the problems today without letting people suffer and die and who has the stomach for that? Certainly not me.

  6. Alitheia1875 says

    Ummmm, this article seems to present the opinion that the Affordable Care Act is dead, gone. Not so. This decision will undoubtedly be appealed, if it hasn’t already. Then after the Appeals Court it will be off to the Supreme Court. And, of course, there is that pesky unofficial rule at the Supreme Court about being loathe to reverse rulings it has made.
    On the other hand many of us who have labored in the health care field for decades are of the opinion about the Affordable Care Act, love it or leave it, that the only better solution is universal health care, you know, what the rest of the industrialized first world nations do for their citizens. Gee, maybe then one fellow who was wounded in the Las Vegas massacre wouldn’t have had to start a go fund me page to help pay for his astronomical health care bills.

    • Antiochene Son says

      That kind of socialism is not possible in a country like the US. It can be done in small homogeneous countries with high social trust, but not in a “melting pot.” Maybe individual states should do universal Healthcare if they want it so bad.

      The much lauded Healthcare systems in places like the UK and Sweden are collapsing under the weight of migrants. It’s a total non starter here.

      • Very observant and knowledgeable!
        Luttmer (JPE 109#3) agrees that only homogeneous states
        go for social welfare.

      • William L Harrington says

        The real problem is not how we pay for health care, whether private payers, single payer, or a mix. The real problem is what we are paying for health care. This is something that I see no political will to deal with. Big Pharma and the insurance lobbies are very powerful and like things the way they are, a labyrinthine confusion of company policies that are practically impossible for government regulators to follow and a path for regulators to get high paying lobbying positions so they don’t try to hard to navigate the labyrinth to begin with. Oh, and a congress that has absolutely no appetite for tort reform. Obamacare was often described as a power grab. It looks to me like it was actually a money grab and a way for some insurance and pharma companies to eliminate some of their competitors.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Once again, I find I am in agreement with William. There is definitely a labyrinthine of confusion when it comes to policies. I implement systems that pay physicians based on “Quality” initiatives. They call them P4P (pay for performance) plans. But “quality” doesn’t mean what you think it does. It means the degree to which a provider adheres to government regulations. For example, if the CDC recommends 48 or 49 vaccines for children within the first 6 years of life (they do), a doctor gets compensated based on the percentage of time s/he meets that goal. It’s called “population management” and this is where medicine is going. Analytics are telling doctors how to practice. Gone are the Marcus Welbys of my era. It doesn’t matter who you see. Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Assistants are just as good at understanding the guidelines as physicians, which is why you see so many of them in primary care. Frankly, even *I* could practice primary care medicine, as I am just as adept at looking up recommended treatment plans and services based on gender, age, history, etc. The sad thing is, we’re people; not populations. People are different and these rules take a “one size fits all” approach.

          NCQA is one of the agencies that make recommendations. They come out with these long, often poorly defined, narratives. For example, I remember when they introduced a behavioral health guideline that a patient has to see a provider within 7 days of discharge. What they failed to say is what kind of discharge. Inpatient? ER? Observation? What if I came in for injuries due to a traffic accident and then become suicidal when I discover a family member has died. What diagnosis do you look at? The admitting diagnosis or the discharge diagnosis? What kind of provider is the patient supposed to see for followup? Must it be a behavioral health provider or will a family practitioner do? If it’s a behavioral health provider, what kind? Can it be a social worker or must it be a psychiatrist? Of course, all of this has to be coded for reimbursement so it’s important to define these things upfront to get it right. But this is not how the current system works. Often, nothing is defined upfront. In this example, I called NCQA and was told, “We don’t know. We haven’t fleshed out the details. Do the best you can until we figure it out. Keep checking the releases.” So we took a wild-ass-guess and coded our system the way we thought they might want it. We were more right than wrong, but we took a more complex, robust approach than was needed.

          There is, indeed, “labyrinthine confusion” in healthcare and confusion costs money. A month-long project could have taken less than a week had we known the requirements.

        • Michael Bauman says

          William, your analysis is developed in a backwards fashion. Your premise that how health care is paid for is not important is false. Further you start with what seems to be an an observable result-fewer insurance carriers and higher premiums and allow your bias to fill in the blanks.

          The list of causes and their possible interrelatedness is Byzantine. Any attempt to identify even a major cause is false because of it’s extreme reductionism.

          Here is a very short list based on my 20 years in the retail side of the health insurance business:
          Using other people’s money;
          Insured expectations;
          Insured greed;
          Insured ignorance(both willful and slothful)–many want to be lied to;
          Insured powerlessness;
          Using other people’s money to pay for care.
          Provider demands;
          Provider arrogance;
          Provider greed;
          Abusive and wrong headed medical training;
          Technology (includes drugs and devices)
          Provider incompetence in billing;
          Improper provider care;
          Hospitals and clinics that are too large;
          Electronic record keeping;
          Managed care (HMOs and PPOs);
          Insurance companies;
          The FDA;
          Incompetent, greedy and lazy agents;
          The regulatory bodies ( a good number of the “problems Obamacare purported to fix were the result of bad regulation in Democrat states);
          The assumption that payment for health care is the same as healthcare and that is a fundamental right;
          Federalizing the whole sheebang.

          If I had the energy and the time, I could write a tome on each on of the items in the list as the primary cause of our dilemma. Each tome would be as factual and reasoned as I could make it and each tome would be false.

          Our dilemma has been built over a long period of time using improper and false assumptions along the way.

          No “fix” will make things better even the massive tax increases and further rationing of care that we are now facing.

          • I can boil it down to a much simpler nut.

            We the people don’t pay for our own healthcare. Thus, we don’t have much say in it. Our employer pays the bill. We act like we earn it, so there are those that argue we pay for it, but really we don’t.

            We don’t negotiate rates, we don’t fight about the cost of service and none of us want the economy prostate surgery or the el cheapo birth center.

            The USA is unwilling to look at other nations as models with better healthcare systems because our innovations are pretty darn good, but our outcomes aren’t all that super. The right wants a killer for profit model no one can afford and the left wants to give the killer for profit model away to poor folk and neither are sustainable.

            The very best solution would be a way for the poor to buy into medicare for all. That way, there is a quotient of price controls on the mad for profit model and the people can still go to the Cadillac care options if they can afford it. And if the doctors won’t take the medicare plans; demand for affordable care will increase. Today, we have no demand for affordable care. None. We get what we get from employers. Employers have only so many options per state.

            Of course, Obamacare did not do that. And the right was so hell bent on repealing Obamacare and falling back to status quo; they can only be counted on for less than the liberals, and that ain’t saying much.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              So, some of what you say is true. On average, employers pay 83% of premiums, or $5,179 a year. Employees paid the remaining 17%, or $1,071 a year. For family coverage, the average policy totaled $17,545 a year with employers contributing, on average, 72% or $12,591. Employees pay the remaining 28% or $4,955 a year. But that’s just the *premiums.* Employees then have deductibles and co-pays. Deductibles rose from an average $303 a year in 2006 to $1,200 a year in 2016.

              You actually CAN negotiate rates if you’re a cash-only patient or your bill is beyond your means. Many people don’t know this. There are some things that can’t be negotiated, though. For example, the federal government can’t negotiate what Big Pharma charges.

              Our innovations ARE “pretty darn good” and we don’t want to go to crappy birth centers. However, we also demand a CT scan when an x-ray will do and an MRI when a CT scan will do. Doctors are so afraid of malpractice, they can be talked into giving us what we want which inflates costs. That’s changing, though. Doctors have to justify the “upgrades” to order them for you. It can still be done, though.

              Sadly, you’re also right that our outcomes are not necessarily all that good. The U.S. has lower than average mortality rates for cancers but higher than average rates in the other causes of mortality and we have the highest rates of pregnancy complications and maternal deaths in the developed world.

              However, the poor cannot afford Medicare. It costs about $10,739 per person and that’s not for a “Cadillac” version. Poor people can’t afford that.

              Having options DOES reduce costs. They call it “cafeteria benefits” where you get to pick and choose what you want to pay for.

              Most doctors accept straight Medicare (91%) but Medicare Advantage is trickier because you have to see providers in your plan. You also pay extra for straight Medicare, and you don’t have access to prescription, dental or hearing benefits, but I’d rather do that than get some bizarre disease and not be able to go the best doctor.

              EVERYBODY is screaming for affordable care and a number of state legislators have expressed an interest in exploring the feasibility of allowing employers to purchase health insurance across state boundaries or from out-of-state regulated insurance companies.

              Only 63.2% of working-age Americans have a job or are even looking for one so they don’t have employers to pay for anything. Nearly 90 million people are now considered out of the labor force. Then there are the young and old. Employers don’t pay anywhere close to all healthcare costs.

              The Right is hell-bent on undoing Obamacare because it doesn’t work! There are a lot of good articles that can tell you why. One of the biggest reasons has to do with assumptions made about risk pools that turned out not to be true. They also overestimated the degree to which the states would help with the burden. It’s imploding and if the money is not found, a lot of sick people will be out on the street. It’s not like the Right is going to make any money if they repeal Obamacare!

              Question: If you had no income and depended upon government assistance, which party would you vote for? You would vote Democrat, right? And if you didn’t have an income, how could you be counted on for “MORE”?

              The Right wants to hold onto what they make. In other words, THEY’RE the ones making the money, which they are expected to give to those who receive government assistance. To make a blanket statement that conservatives can only be “counted on for less” is patently ridiculous. What I think you meant to say is the Right can be counted on to vote for initiatives enabling them to keep more of their money. THAT would be true. There was a time when I paid almost 1/3 of my income in taxes. At age 58, I drove 30 minutes to a train station to catch a 5:45 AM train which I rode for an hour to Grand Central Station in LA. I then had to take a subway and walk 3 city blocks to work. I’d work a MINIMUM of 40 hours a week and be away from home 12 hours a day. I then had to do everything other wives and mothers do, e.g. cook, clean, etc. Why would I want to pay $48,000 of my gross earnings toward programs that benefit other women whose career path is have babies so they can get welfare? Why would I want to pay more for the Dream Act when my blue-eyed, blond-hair daughter doesn’t qualify for anything, even after all I paid in taxes? These Dreamers get to go to the front of the line, too, when my daughter had the better grades and a greater chance of graduating. You see, I GET why the Left votes for the things they do but I don’t think the Left gets why I might feel differently. The same people who call ME heartless depend on ME to bust my butt to support them. I’m tired of hearing of how they can’t catch a break when they seemingly get ALL the breaks. It’s like having a nation of ungrateful adolescents. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally, that’s the way conservatives see things and THAT’S why they voted for Trump and it’s ALSO why so many Liberals didn’t see it coming. They just think the money should be there. That’s magical thinking. It comes from somewhere and it comes from us.

              • George Michalopulos says

                All true. One cannot overestimate the coats added because of legal fears. Simply put, countries with socialized health care, legal considerations are negligible.

                • With all the problems inherent in single payer healthcare no country that uses that system has ever petitioned to return to a for profit model. In addition the wealthy in single payer countries such as the UK can purchase private insurance and have treatment in private facilities.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    For the same reason that vast majority of people who are on the dole stay on the dole, even if there is a way out.

                    After several generations dependence becomes epigenetic.

                    It’s also this: better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Gail RE: Negotiating healthcare costs:
                Case 1: I went to my eye doctor for my regular check up. Did not have insurance coverage at the time. Original bill $450 if sent to insurance; my cost less than $200 since I paid right away.
                Case #2: A client of the agency I work for had coverage but had a really bad accident and was sent to the nearest Trauma Center which was not in the coverage network. Trauma Surgeon fixed him up and got paid the network rate and then billed our client a large amount of additional money as is allowed. Our client could not pay. I went to the surgeon’s office, and with a little persistence got to speak directly to him. I explained that his patient simply could not afford to pay (this was before HIPPA). He bitched that he could not afford to work for the amount of money he got paid ( I would love to see his home, etc) but he agreed to write off the balance bill.

                …which brings up another add on to my list above HIPPA.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Michael, good for you advocating for that client of yours! It often takes that.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Gail, the real point is that I asked in person. All it took was asking. Letting the surgeon know that he was not going to get paid anyway and pursuing it would make his patient worse.

                    These days, however, the hospital would force a loan on the guy. The doctor no longer has the authority to forgive it. Some third party billing organization in Florida has the say.

                    That again is the result of using other people’s money.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      A long time ago, I used to work in billing and we did this kind of thing all the time. The best advice I can give is to go to a Catholic hospital if you find yourself in need of one. They will often work with you or write the balance off entirely.

              • Gail,
                Your last paragraph is spot on. When the levee on the right finally breaks, it’s going to be really, really ugly. A big loyal dog can only be kicked so many times, and both loyal and lazy dogs, if not fed, will eat their master.

                In this brave new internet world almost all is now seen, and known, that was hidden, and disguised before by MSM, and the Government. The middle class has finally awoken. All the guilt is gone, because now we know, it was wrongly misdirected at us.

        • Lon Gerakos says

          First of all most of medical costs are caused by nanny regulations. Each new drug costs an average of two billion for clinical trials alone, including the cost of other, failed, drugs. And drugs generally are a lot less costly than not taking them or doing surgery. This thinking ignores incentives, paying the inventor is the way to guaranty future inventions. The Byzantines invented the steam engine and computer but they only used it for political means, such as fooling the Russians about their godliness. It took the patent and corporation systems of incentives to turn those inventions into something useful for the greater good.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    The ACA has been entirely successful in it’s primary goal-federalizing health insurance. Despite the fact that such an act was, is and always be completely unConstitutional in every respect. It is, however, not affordable and makes actual health care even worse.

    Of course the solution is even more federal intrusion. All if this was quite predictable and, in fact I and many others called it eight years ago.

    The “fix” will make things even worse. Just don’t know in what way yet. Two mostly likely results: further rationing of care by bureaucrats and massive tax increases. But that too was clearly predicted by Sandy Praeger, Kansas Insurance Commissioner and head of the National Council of Insurance Commissioners at the time the law passed. She was a political proponent of the plan BTW.

    Other forms of tryanny will follow. That tryanny will harden into a seductive police state or the USA will gradually crumble.

    Lord have mercy

    • As soon as people expected someone else to pay for their health insurance, the system got distorted. Employers offered health insurance in order to circumvent FDR’s Wage controls. When your boss pays for insurance, it is before he or you get taxed, so if you get insurance, you are in effect, double taxed. Then LBJ began medicaid and medicare. By then the system got distorted. Either everyone has insurance or everyone pays out of pocket, You can’t mix, because incentives get mangled. So either tax employer plans or give individuals a tax break. The unions hate the latter because their primary hold on members is pension and health insurance.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Leo, exactly correct. As you point out–how we pay for health care makes all the difference.

    • Constantinos says

      Mr. Bauman,
      As a man of great intellect, you make excellent points on a variety of topics. The United States is already crumbling before our very eyes- and nothing can prevent it.
      Now, I would like to ask your opinion: I personally think being a monk or elder on Mt. Athos is a waste of time. I’m very unimpressed with many of these saints because they seem to be infected with anti- semitism. A man I deeply admire and respect is George Washington- the greatest American,and only indispensable man in US history. I respect him more than all the monks on Mt. Athos, and Orthodox hierarchy combined and multiplied. Unlike the Orthodox Church, President Washington was a very religiously tolerant man. That’s one of the reasons I don’t take many of the admonitions of the Orthodox Church seriously. We Orthodox laity put the clergy on pedestals – and we shouldn’t
      I put George Washington on a pedestal. One reason I don’t take the Orthodox proscription against freemasonry seriously is because Washington and Franklin were both active freemasons. , therefore, the church is only trying to control its members. To me, that’s totalitarianism … . ..

      • Michael Bauman says

        Mr. C your couldn’t be more wrong:
        1. I am not a man of great intellect;
        2. We absolutely need every monk we can get living as a traditional life as possible, praying and living a life of repentance,
        3. Freemasonry while it has some good charities is a philosophy that is antithetical to traditional Christianity. It is sycretism at best and having lived in a syncretistic group for a number of years I can say it is an acid for the soul.
        4. The Jews don’t like us much either. If they were really true to their faith, they would convert and be with us. Then we could repent together.
        5. Franklin was an amoral man who was a good tinkerer, but not really a thinker. He liked faith because it made most men easy to govern. He was among the first Americans to be famous for being famous.
        5. Washington was the only President we have had who tried to govern by the Constitution. As such, he is an irrelevant except for the fact that had he not chosen to do so, we would have returned to a monarchy sooner than later. He established that the President was not a king. Every President since except Calvin Coolidge, has tried to over turn that precedent in one way or another.

  8. Antiochene Son says

    Jordan Peterson

    Oh, George, please don’t be taken by that charlatan. He is, as far as I am concerned, an antichrist.

    • Michael Bauman says

      AS, he is charismatic and does not role over and play dead in the face of ideas and power that are anti-Christian. Still he is quite bemused that Christians like him. But, “Jordanetics”? Is he now channeling the spirit of L Ron Hubbard?

      He is after all only applying logic based upon fairly traditional premises in an outwardly uncomorimising manner. That does not make him a great thinker. It can expose him to the temptation to be a tyrant however.

  9. George Pelincas says

    Indeed, Orthodox Christians have an outsized presence in quatitative finance, including: Dragomir Krgin, Achilles Venetoulias, Victor Filatov, Steve Zeimbekakis, Ioannis Karatzas, Thanos Episcopos, Elias Belessakos, Stavros Peristiani, Yanis Koskosidis, George Cherpelis and of course, the original Thales of Miletus, credited by Aristotle with inventing derivative securities.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Aristotle was an Orthodox Christian– or just Thales, his “creditee””? Even my “Greekest” co-parishioners have not claimed that much!

      • Zelas Fanacotsis says

        On the contrary, both Orthodox and Catholic view Aristotle and his student Alexander holy precursors.

  10. Monk James Silver says

    See if this doesn’t make you feel better:


    I hope the link works!

  11. Michael Bauman says

    Gail, you are right about many Catholic hospitals but the Catholic hospitals in my town are the most aggressive in pursuing collections and forcing people into debt. On the other hand the non-Catholic hospital which used to do abortions where my late wife died, racking up a $40,000 bill in about 12 hours, had a system in place which made sure that I got state aid to cover the bill plus, my parish was home to the most renown heart surgeon in the state, memory Eternal, and he had my priest assure me not to worry about any bill. He knew the board of the hospital.