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else pay most of my bills on-line now and of course those personal letters to past family and friends has long since been replaced by email, Facebook, and other such services.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……