Cigna to Pay What it Stole From its Pensioners

In 1998 Cigna changed its pension plan to the disadvantage of its retirees. Employees and former employees filed suit, and the case has been dragging on ever since. From the time the suit was filed until today, approximately 1,000 of the retirees involved in the lawsuit have died. Now, finally, Cigna may pay what it owes its retirees later this year. A federal court has ordered Cigna to produce a list of all 27,000 former employees involved in the lawsuit and how much each of them is owned. Of course, once attorneys’ fees are deducted from the payout, employees will still not get the amount that they would have received had Cigna not taken its illegal action.

The courts first ruled against Cigna in 2008, but Cigna  managed to drag the matter out until a few weeks ago. It remains to be seen if Cigna will comply with the court’s order. Cigna has a record of thumbing its nose at its legal obligations.

Originally, pensioners were promised a percentage of their final years’ salary based on years of service. Under the new plan, Cigna promised to contribute a percentage of the employees’ salary to the pension plan each year. At retirement, pensioners have a choice of taking the money in a lump sum or using it to buy an annuity.

Unsurprisingly, given Cigna’s reputation as an outlaw company, the information that Cigna provided its employees overstated the benefits of the change and concealed the fact that the new plan would result in lower benefits. Such pension plans were later outlawed, but Cigna believed that the new laws did not apply retroactively to it.

I do not back Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States, because I think his policies are too simple to be put into practice in a complex political environment. However, I do agree with him that avaricious managers such as those at Cigna should be stopped from taking advantage of their employees and customers.

 On another subject, if you haven’t done so yet, please check out my ebook about hiking the Camion de Santiago de Compostela on Amazon. You can do so by clicking on the image of the book’s cover in the left sidebar. If you read it, an honest review on Amazon would be appreciated.

Upgraded MyCigna Website Still Dysfunctional

Cigna insures a large portion of the US population and operates so many Internet sites that it is difficult to track them all. One site that is supposedly available to all people insured by Cigna is called My.Cinga.com, more specifically my.cigna.com. Like other parts of Cigna, this site is dysfunctional.

According to a notice posted on the site in red letters last week, my.cigna.com was to undergo major work on February 13 and 14 and would be unavailable. I had hopes that this meant that the glitches in the site would be repaired. No such luck!

I checked the site several times during the period when it would supposedly be down, and I was able to log on and access the inaccurate information in my account with no problem. How could major repair be going on if the site was accessible?

Today (February 15) I checked the site again. It looks the same as it has for years. I logged onto my account, and the information there is still inaccurate. It shows me as having a drug plan only (I have both medical and drug), and when I check my evidence of coverage, the PDF document that is downloaded shows that my coverage ended in December 2015. I am currently insured by Cigna, and we are well into 2016.

There is also a smart phone app that is supposed to work with the site. It will not allow me to log on at all. At least the website itself allows me to log on from my computer, even if the information there is incomplete or out of date.

The site once worked well for me, but sometime in the past few months it went bonkers. Despite repeated promises that it would be fixed, it hasn’t been. As time has gone on, the site has become increasingly dysfunctional.

I’m writing this blog entry not just to whine about my situation, but because many people insured by Cigna are in even worse situations that I am. I am whining for all people insured by Cigna. I am at least able to get my medical services. Many people insured by Cigna are not that fortunate.

As I have written in earlier posts, Cigna the federal government currently bans Cigna from signing up new Medicare Advantage customers. Cigna has promised for years to fix its problems, but it has not done so, which finally resulted in the government ban. The fact that a supposedly “repaired” website is just as dysfunctional as it was before repairs were promised is a poor indication of Cigna’s compliance with government demands.

Why is this company allowed to sell insurance in the United States at all? If it can’t properly service the people it insures, the company should be shut down.

Justice Antonin Scalia Rest in Peace

I suppose everyone has heard by now that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away yesterday. He was indisputably one of the most influential justices in Supreme Court history. I did not agree with his conservative views, but I admired his intellect and honesty.

Although I think his views on many subjects were wrong, he based those views on logic. He believed that the words in the Constitution should be interpreted to mean today exactly what they meant when the Constitution was written. Take the concept of “cruel and unusual punishment” for example. He believed that any punishment that was not considered cruel and unusual when those words were written should be permitted today. The most obvious example of this is the death penalty. It was not considered cruel and unusual when the Eighth Amendment was written, and therefore it should not be considered cruel and unusual today.

An example he gave in a TV interview involved stocks and pillories. To paraphrase what I remember of his remarks, he said that he would not advise using putting criminals in a pillory in a public square today. Nevertheless, such punishment was not considered cruel and unusual when the Eight Amendment was written, and therefore it would not be unconstitutional today, even though the concept of what is and what is not cruel has changed through the intervening years. If you believe his basic concept, that the words in the Constitution mean the same thing today that they meant when they were written, his conclusion is logical.

I disagree with his basic premise. I believe the Constitution to be a living document. Our concept of cruelty has changed greatly since the Nation was founded. For example, it was not considered cruel and unusual to own, beat, and rape slaves when the Eighth Amendment was written. It is almost universally agreed today, unless you’re a member of ISIS, that such behavior is completely unacceptable.

On a personal note, because a tendon injury keeps me from training for bicycle racing but does permit me to walk, I am hoping to spend the summer in Southern Europe again. I would like to walk one of the other pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. I have already done the Camino Francés, so I think I would like to try the Camino Portugués. If I do, I will blog the trip here with the aim of turning it into another book. Then this blog would finally become more interesting. 🙂

Dark Money

I’ve been contemplating squandering $15 plus Arizona sales tax on the ebook version of Dark Money by New Yorker investigative reporter Jane Meyer. Before I buy anything from Amazon, which seems to be the cheapest place to buy the book, I read all of the negative reviews. This habit has saved me from a lot of impulse buys.

In this case, however, the one-star reviews unintentionally promote the book. The reviewers who attempt to trash Ms. Mayer’s treatsy do so from a far-right ideological point of view instead of writing logical and honest criticism. In my opinion, anything that gets radical ideologues so riled up that they start spouting their unimaginative nonsense deserves a second look.

The subjects of the book are the famously rich Koch brothers and the immense impact their money has had on American politics. According to a New York Times review. Ms Meyer first published her research as a 10,000-word article in the New Yorker in August 2010. After the article was published, she found herself under investigation by a powerful private investigation firm. She reacted to this attempted intimidation the same way I would have: She dug up all of the dirt she could find on the Koch brothers political machinations and used it to write a 464-page book.

I did discover a newer article by Ms Meyer published in the January 25, 2016 edition of the New Yorker, which is also online. You can read it by clicking here. I’ve only skimmed it, but I’m going to read it as soon as I finish this blog entry. From what I have gathered from my browsing, the Koch brothers seemed to have turned over a new leaf and are now campaigning in favor of criminal justice reform. They have also launched a nonprofit group called the LIBRE Initiative to help poor Hispanics improve their economic status, and another of their foundations donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund. How uncharacteristic!

If the Kochs are trying to become upstanding citizens by trying to do something useful with their money, I will be disappointed. What is this world coming to if a pair of the world’s worst villains suddenly become do-gooders? At my age it is difficult to alter my cherished stereotypes.

Of course, it could be that the Kochs have merely gotten tired of their rotten public image and have hired a publicity consultant to improve it. No matter what their motive is, if the Kochs have finally decided to put some of their money to use in improving society instead of undermining it, it is a good thing. I applaud them for it.

However, whom am I going to use as models for the villains in my novels? The Koch brothers are the model for the Hogsons in the novel I am writing about a psychopath who becomes president of the United States. (Some people think that has already happened.) While you’re waiting for that novel to be finished, you can check out my current book, a non-fictional account of my 400-plus mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela by clicking on the image of the book’s cover in the left sidebar of this blog. Zero copies have been purchased so far today. We can’t let a Saturday end that way, can we?

As to the models for my fictional characters, if the Kochs really have decided to become good citizens, I’m sure I can find some other rotten people to serve that purpose. And regarding Ms. Mayer’s book, it’s not the price that has me hesitating to buy it. I’m not going to live long enough to plow through the stack of reading material I’ve already purchased. How am I going to find the time to read that 464-page magnum opus?

Dumbing Down Americans

A lot has been written about the younger generations of Americans being poorer than their parents. Many do not realize that they are, on the average, also much more poorly education than previous generations.

Up through the 1960s, each generation of Americans did better both financially and educationally than the generation before it. At some point, both trends reversed. Susan Jacoby Page, in her book The Age of American Unreason, which I have not read and don’t intend to buy, argues that Americans are getting dumber and dumber. I don’t think we need to read her book to agree with her. (She has reputedly proven her point by producing a poorly written book.)

I’ve lived in France, Germany, Sweden, and Spain in addition to the USA, which is, of course, my native country. Except Spain, the young people in those other countries are generally more aware of what is going on in the world than Americans are, and they have a better idea of foreign geography and culture than do Americans. Among the younger generation, at least, they read better in their native languages than Americans do in English, and they are more informed about science, technology, and mathematics. In fact, I would argue that in some European countries, young people speak English as a second language better than most young Americans speak it as their first language.

This wasn’t always the case. When I was young, American education was the envy of the world. Now, among industrialized nations, American education is below average and is falling farther behind with every year that passes. When I lived and worked in Germany as a young man, I felt much better educated than 95 percent of Germans. Among today’s young people, the shoe is on the other foot.

It is not just that other industrialized countries have improved their education, our educational level is also slipping. The worst part is that politicians are taking advantage of and even encouraging our ignorance. They cut budgets for education to the point where in most states teachers are so poorly paid that very few smart people are willing to teach.

Nearly half of all graduate students in math and science programs in the United States are from abroad. Why? Because Americans by and large are too poorly educated to meet the standards of American graduate schools in those fields. We have some of the best universities in the world, but some of them have standards so high that few Americans can meet them.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll of public school pupils. Only 2.8 percent could pass a citizenship test, the test that we require immigrants to pass to become American citizens. Seventy-seven percent did not know that George Washington was the first president of the United States, nor did they know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Here in Phoenix, we fared a bit better. When our Goldwater Institute gave the same tests to public school pupils, 3.5 percent managed to pass.

Gallop says that 38 percent of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth. No wonder they also believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old and think that House Speaker Paul Ryan is an intellectual.

When I was a university undergraduate majoring in the German language, those who were education majors, destined to teach German in the public schools, could not speak German with one exception, and the exception was a young woman who had immigrated from Austria. These people were going out to teach German in our schools without being able to speak it themselves.

Is it any wonder that few Americans can speak a foreign language unless they grow up speaking it at home? Go to Holland, Flanders, or anywhere in Scandinavia, and almost everyone is fluent in English. In Amsterdam you can wake up any drunk sleeping on a park bench, ask the person a question in English, and get an answer in the same language. The Dutch also speak German, at least some French, and, of course, their native Dutch language. Most Germans can at least get by in English, even if their grammar is a bit off. How many Americans do you know who can speak four languages? How many do you know who can speak two, unless they grew up speaking the second language at home?

Is it any wonder that 35 percent of Americans believe that Donald Trump would make a good president? If you think that the fact that Arctic ice is melting and almost all of the Earth’s glaciers are melting means that the Earth is getting colder, you will also believe Donald Trump when he says he’s going to build “a beautiful wall” on the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. You will not bother to ask how he could force Mexico to do that.

One of the things that many voters held against John Kerry when he ran for president was that he speaks French. In other words, he was not stupid enough to be president. George Bush the Second, who has trouble expressing himself in English, was more our style.

Changing subjects, it was reported in the news this morning that s Spanish court fined a civil servant in the city of Cadiz 27,000 euros, approximately $30,000 US, for not showing up for work for six years before retiring in 2011.  I wonder if he gets to keep the pension that he “earned” during those years.

And lastly, don’t forget that the image in the left sidebar shows me standing in front of a road sign in Spain on my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Click on the image, and a page about the book will open on Amazon’s website. I guarantee that it is well written, even if this blog entry is not.

Will Cigna Drag Anthem into Bankruptcy?

The news about Cigna for those of us insured by the company has not been good. As previously reported in this blog, the federal agency Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS for short, has prohibited Cigna from signing up new Medicare Advantage customers until it solves its serious and systematic problems including denial of legitimate insurance claims, a host of dysfunctional computer systems that do not communicate with each other, and failure to comply with CMS directives.

Today Cigna suffered another blow. Morningstar downrated Cigna’s creditworthiness to BBB-, which indicates that Morningstar considers Cigna to be in a moderate risk of default on its debt. It has also been disclosed that Herbert Finch, president of Cigna’s HealthSrping division, sold 40,157 shares of Cigna stock on November 16. HealthSpring is the Cigna division that provides most of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage insurance. When a senior manager sells stock in the company he works for, alarm bells should ring.

There one  hopeful sign, however. A note on Cigna’s dysfunctional my.cigna.com website where Cigna those insured by Cigna are theoretically able to view information about their coverage and insurance claims, but often cannot, displays a notice saying that the site will be shut down beginning noon Saturday February 13 through noon Sunday for an upgrade. I’m curious to know if I will be able to view my insurance information on Monday. Today the information I can view is garbled and incomplete. Many others insured by Cigna are in the same situation. If that website goes back on line in a functional state on Sunday afternoon, it will be a sign that Cigna is finally working to solve one of its problems.

The question on many investors’ minds is whether the proposed merger of Cigna and Anthem will take place. Anthem has proposed taking over Cigna for $52.5 billion. The merger has been approved by the shareholders of both companies following Cigna’s settlement of multiple investor lawsuits against the merger. The Department of Justice is investigating the merger, and several states oppose it. Although Anthem management says it still plans to go ahead with the merger, many question whether that statement is still true given Cigna’s many internal problems that have come to light since the merger was announced. If I were an Anthem shareholder, I would not be happy at the prospect of having the Cigna millstone put around my neck. Cigna is quite capable of dragging the combined companies into bankruptcy.

A disturbing fact about the proposed merger is that Cigna’s current CEO, David Cordani, is expected to be president and CEO of the new company. Given Cigna’s wretched performance under Mr. Cordani, the decision to put him in charge of the combined companies seems downright idiotic. In fact, any talks of the merger should be scuppered until Cigna fires Mr. Cordani, finds a replacement capable of turning Cigna around, and gives the new CEO time to turn Cigna into a properly functioning company.

For the record, I own no stock in either Cigna or Anthem, and I have no plans to buy any.

Finally, a shameless plug. My ebook about hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela is for sale on Amazon. Click on the image of the book’s cover in the left sidebar for more information.

Update: September 2016. Cigna is unlikely to drag Anthem into bankruptcy, because if now appears almost certain that the merger of the two companies will not happen.

Rubio, the Candidate of the Wealthy

I’m watching the US presidential primaries with interest. I find it interesting that Marco Rubio is now billed as a “moderate.” He’s a Tea Party type, and a few years ago he was considered to be a right-wing radical. That many people, including the press, now consider him a centris is a testimony to how far to the right the Republican Party has drifted.

Rubio himself has moved farther to the right. He was once in favor of immigration reform. Now he says that immigration reform can only take place once the border, meaning the Mexican border, of course, is secured. The border will never be completely sealed, so that’s another way of saying he is against immigration reform under all circumstances.

He also calls for 20,000 more Border Patrol agents. The Mexican border is already overrun with Border Patrol agents, and it appears that the law of diminishing returns is already in effect. Throwing another 20,000 agents at the border will have little effect. The agents will be stumbling over each other. Unless we want the type of border that existed between East and West Germany during the bad old days, there is no way to seal the border. Actually, even that wouldn’t work. The Communists were never ever to keep people from getting out.

Marco Rubio also favors granting more tax concessions to the rich. For example, he wants to eliminate both income taxes on investments and the estate tax. That means that the very rich, who earn their income from investments, would pay no income taxes whatsoever. The entire burden of supporting the federal taxes would fall on people who work for a living. There would be a drastic wealth transfer from the middle class to the very rich. The Washington Post says that the wealthiest one percent of the US population would see their income increase by an average of $224,000 a year. Do we really want to go back to the Medieval days when a small group of people lived in great luxury paid for by the work of their serfs?

The Washington Post also estimates that under Rubio’s plan to free the rich from the obligation of paying taxes would reduce federal income by $2.4 trillion over a decade. That is money that our already debt-burdened federal government would have to borrow.

Does anyone remember that during the Clinton administration the federal budget ran a surplus and was making payments on the national debt? Then the Bush II administration drastically increased government spending while cutting taxes on the rich. Our national debt has been growing ever since, although the rate of growth is slowing under the Obama administration. Rubio wants to implement a Bush plan on steroids with massive government borrowing to support the very wealth. When it comes to the federal budget, Republican administrations spend money like drunken sailors while the middle class foots the bill.

I wish this country would go back to the practices that Republicans support in their speeches but throw out the window in practice: A prudent budget with the wealthy bearing their fair share of the burden of running the government.

Changing the subject, I spent a long day yesterday in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, a desert park northeast of Phoenix. Our bicycle racing team is obligated to put on a bike race once a year, and yesterday was the day of the race. I had one of the harder jobs, presenting the awards. What made it difficult was being on my feet for about 14 hours. At 73 years of age, I don’t handle standing for such a long period as well as I once did.

I wish I could have raced. There was a race for guys over 70 years of age, but due to a strained lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in my left leg, I am unable to pedal my bike without feeling intense pain. It’s a shame, because I had planned to be in great racing shape this year. Then, I came home from a routine 75-mile training ride, not long compared to what I’m used to doing, only to feel an intense pain in my left leg during the last five miles. I haven’t been able to ride my bike since without making the injury worse.

Cigna Cooks the Books

As reported in earlier posts on this blog, the US government agency Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) suspended Cigna’s right to enroll customers in its Medicare plans until the company comes up with a plan to correct its longstanding problems. Before the suspension, CMS had rated Cigna HealthSpring’s Medicare Advantage plan in Arizona with five stars, the only Arizona plan to receive such a high rating. After the open enrollment period was over and it was too late for seniors to change plans did CMS finally reveal that Cigna had not met government standards for years. If effect it re-rated Cigna from a five-star plan to a zero-star plan.

We all know that many government agencies function poorly, but let’s concentrate of Cigna. Can Cigna be trusted at all? It’s difficult for outsiders to look inside the company to judge the degree of Cigna’s dysfunction. We have a small if inaccurate view of that dysfunction thanks to the yearly report that the company is required by law to file in Vermont. The most recent information I am able to find comes from the report filed in 2014 for the year 2013.

Cigna filed the original report 25 days after the March 1 deadline, but the report was rejected due to large discrepancies between it and the report the company filed with the Federal Government’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). For example in the original report to Vermont, Cigna reported having compensated its CEO David Cordani $3.9 million. In the SEC filing his compensation was reported as $12.8 million. That’s an astounding discrepancy!

Cigna reported to Vermont that its chief financial officer had received $1.4 in compensation compared to $3.3 million in the SEC filing. It reported to Vermont that Herbert Fritch, head of its HealthSpring subsidiary, had been paid $4.2 million. The number reported to the SEC was $10.7 million.

Cigna then filed a “corrected” report. The original report stated that Cigna had denied an astounding 21 percent of claims filed in Vermont. In the revised report, that number was lowered to 7.9 percent, which still seems very high to me. I suspect that neither number is correct.

Which of the various numbers that Cigna reported can one believe? I think that not one of them is credible. If you believe anything that Cigna reports, you will probably believe the figures that the Chinese government reports about its economy. In the case of both Cigna and China, we know that we’re being lied to, but we don’t know how much the lies we’re being fed differ from the truth. At least in the case of China, the lies don’t affect the chance that some Americans might die. In the case of Cigna, they do.

If Cigna ever gets serious about cleaning up its internal mess, it will start by firing its CEO, David Cordani, and bringing in a troubleshooter with a record of fixing dysfunctional companies.

As a footnote, Cigna reports that its earnings in the final quarter of 2015 were down by 8.8 percent. I wonder how far down they really were.

Funny Money

Few people in the USA use cash any more, and that is becoming more and more true in other industrialized countries, except Germany, where people love cash and opportunities to charge purchases on a credit card are fewer than in many other countries. But then, many Germans are so paranoid that they insist that pictures of the fronts of their houses be blurred out in Google Street View. Most of the rest of us are not quite that untrusting.

I admit that I seldom pay cash anymore. I would pay cash if I got a discount, but I don’t, so I swipe my credit card and get airline miles or a cash rebate deposited into my brokerage account. I even charge my senior coffee at McDonald’s in the morning, 55 cents plus 5 cents sales tax. I get double airline miles for that. The last time I remember paying for things in cash was when I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela last summer. Almost all of the small businesses in the villages through which I walked dealt strictly in cash, (Click on the book cover image in the left sidebar to know more).

I hope the days of people wanting the country to go back to the gold standard are over. All right, Ted Cruz wants us to go back to the gold standard, but he’s known for his complete lack of financial acumen. However, gold standard aside, there is some cause for concern about the disappearance of cash transactions. It’s not just the fact that most money today consists of ones and zeroes in computer systems and has no physical manifestation. More importantly, it’s the fact that the processing of most of those ones and zeroes is in the hands of a small number of large companies such as PayPal, Apple, Google, Amazon, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.

The Federal Reserve prints very little money these days. When we refer to the Fed printing money, in most cases we mean that the Fed creates a cyber representation of money in its computer systems. I assume that someone does that by typing something into a terminal.

That cyber money can then be sent to the Treasury Department to buy US government bonds. The bonds do not have physical form, either. They are electronic documents that are sent back to the Fed. Nothing has changed hands that can be seen or touched in the real world. The two government entities have exchanged streams of ones and zeros in cyberspace.

My Social Security “check” from the Treasury Deptartment is also a stream of ones and zeroes. Once a month, it magically appears in my checking account, misnamed because I write no more than two or three checks a year these days. I charge most of what I buy to my credit cards or pay online through PayPal, which in turn charges the amount to one of my credit cards. At the end of the month, the credit card companies automatically deduct some of the ones and zeros from my checking account, and the debts are paid. During the whole process, no physical money existed. All of the money exists in cyberspace.

I never visit my bank anymore. In fact, I have no idea where it is located. I assume it’s somewhere in the USA, and I assume it’s not in Phoenix, but I don’t actually know if either of those statements is true. It could be located in Timbuktu, or perhaps it, too, exists solely in cyberspace.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to rail against the Federal Reserve Bank. Unlike many people I know, I trust the Federal Reserve much more than I trust large corporate financial institutions. It does make me slightly uneasy that large corporations have so much control over my financial transactions. My trust in them is limited. After all, it the financial institutions caused the financial crash, and it was the Fed that rescued us from it.

Am I going back to using cash? No way! I may feel slightly uneasy about how much the credit bureaus and the large banks know about me, but I’m not paranoid enough about them to go back to using cash. The banks may know about every six-pack of beer I buy and every prescription I have filled, but I can live with that.

Cigna Plus Iowa Caucuses Thoughts

First, a note on my problems with Cigna HealthSpring Medicare Advantage. I finally received a membership card after weeks of calling and emailing different support organizations in Cigna. In fact, I received two cards in the mail yesterday. When dealing with a dysfunctional company like Cigna, it pays to be a persistent whiner. 🙂 At least I don’t have to warn seniors not to sign up for one of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage plans. The federal government has banned the company from enrolling seniors in these insurance plans until Cigna straightens out its internal mess.

I notice that if I Google “Cigna mess,” two of the top four search results my blog posts on the subject. I wonder if that was what caused Cigna to finally sent me card verifying that it is my health insurance company. I suspect that some of the top people in Cigna management is using Google to see what is being written about its internal disorganization.

I notice that some hedge funds are buying Cigna stock. They seem to be taking advantage of the stock’s lower price and to still believe that Anthem will acquire the company. They must also believe that Cigna will be able to solve its internal problems. Cigna insiders apparently don’t share that optimism. Cigna management has been selling Cigna stock, despite its depressed price. I think it’s a matter of cutting their losses. Does Cigna management know something that hedge fund managers do not? My guess is that the merger will not go forward. if I were more of a gambler, I would be selling Cigna stock short.

I’m glad the first event in the primary season is over, the Iowa caucuses. The presidential election season is far too long.

At least I can take solace from having correctly predicted the winners. I had picked Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz. I must admit, however, that I had not expected the Democratic race to be so close with Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders separated by a fraction of a percent of the votes.

I predicted that Senator Cruz would win on the Republican side due to his support among conservative, fundamentalist Protestants. These are people who vote. Mr. Trump had a big lead in the polls going into the caucuses, but I suspected that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are people who don’t vote. That proved to be the case in Iowa.

Nevertheless, I believe Trump will win in New Hampshire. On the Democratic side, it’s hard to go with anyone but Bernie Sanders. He’s from New England and is almost sure to get the local-boy vote.

In the end, I think the election will come down to Secretary Clinton against Senator Rubio. As less-radical Republican candidates for the nomination drop out, I think the “moderate” Republicans will gather around Marco Rubio. These so-called moderate Republicans are outnumbered by the supporters of the more-radical candidates, but the latter vote in smaller numbers, especially in primary elections.

Why do I put “moderate” in quotes? Marco Rubio backs tax policies that would accelerate the transfer of wealth to the well-heeled form the rest of us.

By the way, in my book about the fictional presidential candidate Jason Wilder, Jason has now won the Republican nomination and is visiting his parents on Fletcher Street in Chicago while the Democratic convention rubber-stamps Barack Obama’s nomination for a second presidential term. In my book, Barack Obama will end up being a one-term president, and Jason will occupy the Oval Office with a large political and financial debt to the ultra-conservative Hogson Brothers. Yes, the “hog” part of their surname is intentional. What will happen if Jason defies the Hogson brothers? I haven’t quite decided yet. I can guarantee that it won’t be pretty.

In the meantime, anyone who is interested can read my non-fictional account of my hike along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela last summer. Click on the image of the book’s cover in the left sidebar to go to the ebook’s Amazon page.

by Jack Quinn, Phoenix, Arizona USA paybay1(at)mosmicro.com