Archives For May 2011

Source: The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse – BusinessWeek.

Too bad the person who wrote this article didn’t snail mail it to everyone. It is seven pages long so it would have brought in big bucks to the USPS. :) Seriously though (at least as serious as I get on this blog) the postal service is in pretty deep trouble and it is not going to go away. I am usually pretty tolerant of government agencies but this one needs to reign back its scale and look to other ways to provide its services.

There are just too many post offices around that do little or no business. As I mentioned before there is a post office in a little town near us where it is now the only business in a town of about two dozen houses.  Most small town post offices could easily be incorporated into some existing businesses such as the local thrift/gas store. I can remember when I was a kid that the post office was in the local food store.  As the article mentions the USPS now handles more junk mail than first class and that will continue to be a downward trend for them. I like almost everyone else pay most of my bills on-line now and of course those personal letters to past family and friends has long since been replaced by email, Facebook, and other such services.  I can see the time in the not too distant future where first class mail, like buggy whips, will basically cease to exist being totally replaced by its electronic cousin. About the only thing that is keeping that from happening today is the lack of adequate Internet connections to those of us who live in rural America.

This is yet another instance where we can learn from our neighbors around the world. As mentioned in the above article most of the European postal systems have already morphed into quite different services. Many are quite profitable and something we could easily mirror here in the U.S.  One of the basic problems with our current system is the postal union seems to be against any significant change. I am definitely a person who believes in workers being collectively represented but that does not mean they must resist change, even changes that will reduce their ranks, when it is obvious that is what is needed.  I know we need more middle class jobs here in the U.S. but stubbornly hanging on to ones that have outlived their usefulness is not the answer to this problem.

But what do I know….

Freehold Diner 017One thing I definitely miss about New Jersey is all the diners that were there. We frequented many of them but this one was perhaps our favorite. If you notice from the picture that gas prices were considerably different in those years!!

Big Red…

May 30, 2011

Before our New Jersey years we lived in a house on the north side of Indianapolis. While we were there we “adopted” two of the neighborhood cats that came to our door about to have kittens. Big Red, as we named him also came to our door for his regular dinner. He was a scraggly cat and looking at his ears and belly it was obvious that he got into a fight now and again. When we moved to NJ the new owners promised to continue to feed him. Here is to you Big Red. I hope you had a relatively good life.


The title to this post seems to be more frequent the last few years. When the kids are grown and out of the house (sometimes those are two totally separate events :) ) then Mom and Dad make the announcement that they will no longer be living together. This often comes as a shock to the kids but maybe it shouldn’t. When Mom and Dad got married twenty-five or more years ago they were at one state of their lives. They had fallen in love and that alone is an overwhelming experience.

But as the years progressed Dad took an interest in certain things and Mom took an interest in certain things and they were just not the same things. In other words they grew apart. Maybe Mom turned into a resolute homebody who totally enjoys puttering around the house and her garden and plans to spend the rest of her life in that mode. But Dad moved in another direction. He is more into traveling and seeking new adventures and the “stay-at-home” life is unthinkable to him.  As Mom and Dad grew older they knew they are growing in different directions.

And then comes a life milestone to make them realize they have different priorities. For some that time might be as mentioned above when they become “empty nesters” but it also might happen when they retire. It may come when their parents die and they get a strong sense of their own mortality. But at some point Mom and Dad realize they are very different people than when they were newlywed. Put simply, they have different overriding priorities for the remainder of their time on this earth.

So the logical conclusion is to go their separate ways. Some do this and maintain a close friendship with their spouse; for some the separation is more stressful. Many can find some sort of compromise to avoid this state entirely but for some the wants/needs for the future years is just too different.  So, if your Mom and Dad want to get the family together for an announcement don’t be too surprised if the above is the topic of the conversation.

And the journey continues…..

A couple of posts ago was about the so-called Republican plan to change Social Security. It is championed by Congressman Ryan.  As I mentioned in that previous post this new social security is supposed to empower seniors to get the best plan available but they limit the choices to private insurance companies. I personally have had enough dealings with those for-profit insurance guys to know that profit, not the customers, is their far and away number one priority for them.

If as Congressman Ryan suggests that his new plan is an improvement that “empowers” us then why don’t they “empower” the recipients of Medicare to choose his plan or the current one?  I would not be opposed to having Mr. Ryan’s plan to be one of the options that I can choose if I buy into his rhetoric. But give me the option of going to the same plan that my father and grand-father used.  The Republicans say they are all for competition and the free market place. If that is really the case then put the “empowerment” plan alongside the current one and let the competition begin.

Just yesterday Congressman Ryan said that the Democrats are playing the fear factor with “Mediscare” and that actually his proposal would be just like today’s Medicare Advantage option in Social Security. But, that doesn’t make any sense to me? It is well know that Medicare presently has to pay a 15% premium for all those on the Advantage plans. That is one of the reasons the Advantage plan is eliminated by the Democratic proposals. They are just too expensive.  If his plan is the same then he must be proposing to increase Medicare costs not decrease them.

Most people who are at least minimally knowledgeable in this area know that Mr. Ryan’s proposal is a voucher system with the amount of the voucher covering much less of the expenses than the current system. After all it would have to cover the medical procedures as well as the increased paperwork costs AND the profits needed by the private insurers. But then again I’m sure the Republicans would enable the private insurance companies to weed out all those who are currently “unhealthy” via a pre-existing condition statement so maybe that is where they would make up for their 25% or so added costs.

Congressman Ryan and his fellow Republicans are not about to give seniors a choice of staying with the current system or moving to his experimental voucher system. They know if they did that  the majority of seniors would stay with the current system.

But what do I know….

It is heartening to see that seniors medical care means something to the nation as a whole. After the Republican defeat in the very conservative district in New York on Tuesday maybe they will get the message. Why do so many politicians, almost all of them of the same party, think that the solution to Medicare is to end it and put seniors out on their own to individually battle the giant private insurers for healthcare?

It is beyond my comprehension as to why no one is talking about controlling the costs of medical care in this country instead of just reducing benefits! The rest of the industrial world spends less than half of what we do for medical care and most live longer than we do. Surely there is something we can learn from them?  Why isn’t anyone looking to their examples to find solutions to our current Medicare problems? I’m sure a big part of the reason for this is that they don’t like the solution that the rest of the world has discovered.

Everyone country that  has costs well below ours is on a single payer system. Of course there is one party in Congress who screams that this SOCIALISM and want nothing to do with it for solely that reason. Socialism abounds in many other parts of our country so why are some so resistant to accept it in our healthcare area?

  • Our police departments are controlled by the governments in each area
  • Our fire departments are controlled by the governments in each area
  • Our army, navy, air force and other military are controlled by the federal government
  • Our food safety is controlled by our governmental representative
  • Our banks are regulated by our government
  • Our electricity is regulated by our government

Almost everything that controls citizen safety is in one way or another controlled by our governmental representatives. I don’t hear too many, except maybe those on the extreme right of the political process like the recent KY Senator Rand, complain about any of these forms of socialism. So most of us are socialists in many areas so why not for healthcare?  It is a fact that Medicare is the most efficiently run healthcare agency in the country. The private insurers spend three times more for their paperwork than Medicare. Medicare pays usually only 60% of the private insurers for most medical procedures. The main thing that need addressing in Medicare to keep costs down is the fraud in the system. Why isn’t any of our politicians in Washington talking about any of this?

Why aren’t we talking about costs? Is it really necessary for a surgeon to earn more for a one hour surgery than most of his patients earn in two months? Those sort of issues are nowhere to be found in the public debate. Why not?

I read recently that diapers and politicians are things that need to be changed frequently; both for the same reason. Maybe it is time to keep voting them out until we finally find some one with some common sense in this area. Yes, I admit Medicare has some long-term problems but they are all fixable if we would only get off our high horse and recognize the solutions that the rest of the world has already discovered.

Don’t shut down Medicare; fix it!!

But what do I know……

It is heartening to see that seniors medical care means something to the nation as a whole. After the Republican defeat in the very conservative district in New York on Tuesday maybe they will get the message. Why do so many politicians, almost all of them of the same party, think that the solution to Medicare is to end it and put seniors out on their own to battle for healthcare?

It is beyond my comprehension as to why no one is talking about controlling the costs of medical care in this country instead of just reducing benefits! The rest of the industrial world spends less than half of what we do for medical care and most live longer than we do. Surely there is something we can learn from them?  Why isn’t anyone looking to their examples to find solutions to our current Medicare problems? I’m sure a big part of the reason for this is that they don’t like the solution that the rest of the world has discovered.

Everyone who has costs well below ours is on a single payer system. Of course there is one party in Congress who call this SOCIALISM and want nothing to do with it for solely that reason. Socialism abounds in many other parts of our country so why are some so resistant to accept it in our healthcare area?

  • Our police departments are controlled by the governments in each area
  • Our fire departments are controlled by the governments in each area
  • Our army, navy, air force and other military are controlled by the federal government
  • Our food safety is controlled by our governmental representative
  • Our banks are regulated by our government
  • Our electricity is regulated by our government

Almost everything that controls citizen safety is in one way or another controlled by our governmental representative. I don’t hear too many, except maybe those on the extreme right of the political process like the recent KY Senator Rand, complain about any of these forms of socialism. So most of us are socialists in many areas so why not for healthcare?  It is a fact that Medicare is the most efficiently run healthcare agency in the country. The private insurers spend three times more for their paperwork than Medicare. Medicare pays usually only 60% of the private insurers for most medical procedures. The main thing that need addressing in Medicare to keep costs down is the fraud in the system. Why isn’t any of our politicians in Washington talking about any of this?

Why aren’t we talking about costs? Is it really necessary for a surgeon to earn more for a one hour surgery than most of his patients earn in two months? Those sort of issues are nowhere to be found in the public debate. Why not?

I read recently that diapers and politicians are things that need to be changed frequently; both for the same reason. Maybe it is time to keep voting them out until we finally find some one with some common sense in this area. Yes, I admit Medicare has some long-term problems but they are all fixable if we would only get off our high horse and recognize the solutions that the rest of the world has already discovered.

Don’t shut down Medicare; fix it!!

And the journey goes on…….

I Kind of Figured….

May 24, 2011

The above cartoon kind of mirrors what I think of the Obama administration to date. I actively supported his candidacy for president based on his rhetoric during the campaign. He said he was for change and I think the country can use an awful lot of that right now. I had very high hopes for the first African-American president. And then came the compromises. They all seemed to be pretty one-sided to me.

  • Yes, he did get Obamacare passed but it had morphed into an insurance company windfall by the time it became law.
  • He started out with great plans for alternate energy but dropped them under a budget crunch and then took up the “drill baby drill” mantra
  • He said he was for putting the upper income tax rate back to where it was before Bush but then caved in on that.
  • He was adamant about getting us out of foreign wars but we still have about the same number of troop in conflict across the world
  • He vowed to close Gitmo but it is still open and with military tribunals

I guess I was pretty naive to think that he could actually accomplish what he talked about but then I didn’t see the total opposition to any change that the Republican party morphed into. Those guys are determined to stop any of his initiatives even if it means taking the country down in the process and given their opposition to raising the debt limit that day might not be too far in the future. They have given new meaning to “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.

So here I am almost totally discouraged that President Obama seems to be overwhelmed by the Republican opposition and constantly caving in to them to gain even the smallest change. I hope you win a second term Mr. President because the alternative of having another president like Mr. Bush is incomprehensible to me. But I am looking to 2016 for another version of you who maybe has stronger convictions to go with the determined rhetoric.  I am disappointed in your administration but maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe gridlock and extreme partisanship are just a part of the country now for at least as long as it exists.

The source: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/cycling/2011-05-22-armstrong-doping-60minutes_N.htm

The headline:

Armstrong encouraged doping

Tell me it isn’t so; Lance doped!! Here we are with another sports legend falling from grace. I often proudly admit that I know little to nothing about the sports world. When I was younger I like all kids had my favorite sports idols. For me it was Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Duke could do everything as far as I was concerned. But then I grew up and realized that he was just another guy who had a certain ability to hit a ball with a stick and for that he got paid a bunch of money (at least by the 1950s standard). There is the old saying about when we get older we put away our childish things. I guess that happened to me with pretty much all sports.

But there are those kids of all ages who still idolize their sports figures. They cling to them as if to live out their dreams through them. They spend hundreds of dollars buying jerseys, helmets, and such of their idol’s team. It must be quite troubling to see them fall one after another. Lance Armstrong is indeed one of those idols for many today. Many thought he was the purest of the pure. To learn of his evidently frequent drug enhancing use is upsetting. But it does show that he was just another guy who was good at something that brought in large sums of money.

Maybe we need to find a category to idolize outside sports figures?

  • How about public servants? Oh wait a minute; isn’t some politician almost weekly found to be dishonorable?
  • How about successful business leaders? Wait a minute; didn’t we just go through a bunch of Wall Street scandals? And then of course there was Enron.
  • How about clergymen? Surely they are immune? Oh wait a minute; didn’t we just go through a bunch of clergy pedophiles scandals in the Catholic church?
  • Is there any group that safely deserves our admiration?

I don’t know why we insist on putting people on these pedestals only to find that they are, for the most part, just ordinary people like all of us. My three main idols, none of whom are jocks, are long dead so I don’t suppose their foibles will be discovered now to throw them off their throne. But you never know.

And the journey goes on….

Here is another cross post with my blog “All I Know”. I couldn’t decide where to put it so I am posting it at both sites.

I have a birth certificate that says I was born in Indianapolis Indiana but many times in my life I have had the feeling that I just don’t belong here. With all the doubt about Presidents Obama’s place of birth I have been doubting my own. Maybe my birth certificate is a phony?

As a kid I watched all the cowboys and Indians shows on TV. I even had my own Hopalong Cassidy lunch book. But I just never got comfortable with the idea of violence. When I was six years old I got into an argument with Johnny my best friend. The argument, whatever it was about, resulted in my giving him a black eye! I was totally devastated by this event for more than a week. How could I have done such a violent thing? Right then and there I said I would never use violence against anyone else.  I have kept that promise for sixty some years now.

I was in college at the height of the Vietnam conflict. With the draft still in effect I dreaded the day I would graduate and then face the draft board. I knew in my heart and soul that I just could not take up a gun against another person no matter how evil my government thought they were.  Within a month or so of my graduation I received the notice to appear for a draft physical. I deeply contemplated going to Canada instead of facing being drafted into the military. My father, who I learned had an absolutely horrid experience in WW II, said he would support my efforts to become a conscientious objector and if that failed then to leave the country. Fortunately my hearing even at that early stage of my life was not good so I flunked the physical. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find that I was hearing impaired.

There have been many other experiences throughout my life where I just didn’t fit the typical American mold. I really didn’t care for John Wayne and all his macho movies about killing the bad guys.  The NRA to me is simply insanity. When I finally turned to Christ in my mid-life I learned from his words that violence only begets violence and to blessed are the peacemakers.  And most recently, while I did not mourn the death of Bin Ladin I also could not celebrate it as so many of my fellow Americans seemed to be doing. When anyone is killed I think God shed a tear.

All these thinks have gotten me to thinking; I hate guns, bravado, and swagger how can I be American?  I have always known that our brother to our north are seen as being more kind-hearted than we were. I also know that Will Rogers who is one of my heroes always spoke kindly of them. For that reason I have always felt a kinship to them.  I will be going up to Canada for an extended vacation soon. Maybe I am really going home for a visit?

I wonder if I sent my birth certificate to Donald Trump maybe he would check it out for me. He seems to be the expert in this area now.

But what do I know…