Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ramsey's position continues to evolve, actuarially speaking

The University of Louisville's position on whether it is subsidizing health benefits for the live-in sexual partners of its staff seems to change by the day. The problem, it appears, lies with actuaries, of which U of L seems to have no shortage.

President James Ramsey, the recipient of so much actuarial advice on this issue, originally told lawmakers in a March 6 meeting of the House Health and Welfare Committee that the full cost of the benefits of the domestic partners of its staff was borne by the employees themselves and their partners. But then it was discovered that, according to U of L's own website, it's employees were not bearing the full costs, and that part of the benefits were, in fact, being subsidized by the University.

This was a problem for Ramsey, whose credibility was on the line. So Tuesday, the last day of the session, he showed up in Frankort "begging for mercy," as WHAS-11's Mark Hebert put it Tuesday, "and a chance to explain some things he said earlier this month." According to the same report, Ramsey claimed he was telling the truth "at the time of the meeting," since he was relying on a 2006 actuarial report that indicated that the premiums charged would cover all the medical bills. This, however, turned out later not to be true.

In other words, at the time of his testimony before the March 6 committee meeting, the benefits did not cost taxpayers anything (according to the 2006 actuaries) and so Ramsey was telling the truth (at the time). But something happened after that that resulted in the benefits being subsidized by taxpayers, making Ramsey's testimony false. This became evident when the information U of L makes available to its employees through its website (which is apparently the work of a second set of actuaries) was discovered to say something completely different.

An honest man on March 6, but last Tuesday, a liar. What a bummer.

The 2006 actuaries, the ones who rendered Ramsey's testimony truthful by saying that the university didn't subsidize the benefits, are apparently different from the actuaries who actually run U of L's health insurance program, who made him out a liar by saying the university does subsidize them. But what about the 2005 U of L report (which Ramsey now disavows, as he now disavows the 2006 report) that said that the costs for underwriting the health insurance of domestic partners would be into the hundreds of thousands? Were these figures provided by another, third set of actuaries?

And if so, where do they fit in to the fickle fortunes of this ill-fated university president?

This third set of actuaries would have also made his testimony false, unlike the 2006 actuarial figures, which made it true, but similar to actuaries for the health plan who would have made it false. But it doesn't matter, because we don't believe them anymore either.

Is this getting confusing yet? We hope not, because Ramsey, who gave false testimony on March 6 (but was really telling the truth because of what the first set of actuaries told him) and who was then not telling the truth (because of what the university was telling its employees), is now telling the truth again.

How can this be? "U of L will get private donors to foot the bill," says Hebert, "allowing Ramsey to keep his promise that no tax money or university funds will be used."

Voila! What was true at the time but really false, and was then false (even at the time) is now true again!

How can you give false testimony to state lawmakers in a committee meeting and then make it true later on? Our theory is a fourth set of actuaries, their existence hidden from the public, who have figured out (like the characters in Frank Herbert's book, Dune) how to bend time.

But however he did it, Ramsey has now found a way to make his testimony true ex post facto. Let us call this new technique, "retrospective honesty."

G. K. Chesterton once said of the playwright George Bernard Shaw that he was in a "perpetual state of temporary honesty." Could the same be said of Ramsey?

Think of its ramifications of this new technique. If you cheated on a test because you didn't know the material, for example, you could study later, and claim that even though you didn't know the material then, you know it now, and therefore the fact that you cheated is irrelevant.

U of L students, are you listening? We hope not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is the University of Louisville's agenda: