Friday, January 8, 2010

Special Education for Politicians, or Does Congress and the Senate Know How to Add?

I, like so many others, had to ask this question when the "Healthcare Reform Act" was passed by the Senate without a single senator reading the 2000+ page document. Here is a simple expose of where $100 of YOUR tax dollars go. Buckle up, because you are going to want to climb out of your chair very soon here! Figures were taken from

$21 goes to National Defense and "Security"

$21 goes to Social Security payments

$20 goes to Medicare, Medicaid supplement and CHIP

$11 goes to "Safety Net Programs" (Food Stamps, Earned Income payments, etc.)

$8 goes to interest payments on previous years deficits

$6 goes to Federal Retirees and veterans

$3 goes to Scientific and Medical Research

$3 goes to Transportation Infrastructure

$2 goes to Education

$1 goes to International (non-security related, i.e. embassies)

$5 goes to "other things"

$101 (due to rounding)

(In defining these divisions of the tax money, it helps to know what those divisions really mean. Go to the above link to read exactly what that means.)

Now, with the CBO and the Democratic-held government disagreeing on the ACTUAL costs of healthcare spending, where will the money come from? They claim it won't hit our pocket, but if you review the list, you'll notice 3 big sections representing over 70% of the budget are spent on EXISTING inflexible spending payments we can't touch:

-Defense (not just our military, but the CIA, etc.,)

-Social Security entitlement payments (which, by the way, should double over the next ten years,)

-Medicare (which will also double over the next ten years as the Baby Boom generation enters the retirement years.)

You can also expect the Interest to increase as the difference between what was received by income tax in 2006 before the recession, to drop in 2010 as 15 million Americans are out of jobs.

Now, let's look at the expected budget for 2020. Remember, you have to double the cost of Medicare and Social Security spending by double because there will be twice the retirees, thanks to the Baby Boom Generation leaving the workforce. That means the following:

$21 dollars on Security and Defense

$42 dollars on Social Security payments

$42 dollars on Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP (remember, Medicaid must have matching payments from the States and we're now in hock for ALL of Nebraska's share, so this is expected to rise along with the other federal 'deals'. It also means your state taxes will have to rise since there is no such thing as a "free lunch!")

$10 dollars on interest payments (because we are expected to run at a deficit for the next ten years)

$11 on Safety Net programs (Food stamps, Earned Income credit for families in poverty, etc.)

$6 dollars on Federal Retirees and veterans payments (which will also rise to possibly $12 as the retirees increase exponetially.)

$3 on Scientific and Medical Research

$3 on Transportation

$2 on Education

$1 on Non-Security International

$5 on "other stuff" (or as we say in our home, "mad money")

$165 and possibly $171

What does this mean? Our taxes will need to increase by 65 - 71%! SIMPLE MATH! The average birthrate for America is currently at .98 per each death. (CIA figures for all countries can be found at States&countryCode=us®ionCode=na&rank=129#us )

This means there is less than one child born to every one person dying. We barely have enough to replace those going into retirement, so at least we'll be able to tread water, but keep in mind, the lifespan of the average American is much longer than it was at the introduction of Medicare or Social Security. We will be coughing up more money for longer in order to allow people to simply retire.

Healthcare Reform will tag an additional $100 billion per year in deficit spending (or add another $1 to $2 dollars to the interest payments.) That would be looking at the best case scenario.

Now, I KNOW the politicians that vote on the budget each year graduated college, but I propose a new program to educate politicians in Basic Math. They seem to be disabled mentally when it comes to simple addition. And they want to blow more money? Considering how many actual jobs were created by the $1 trillion they gave the banks and the other $1 trillion they just blew on the "stimulus" that offset just ONE WEEK'S job losses at the worst of the recession thus far, it appears to me these twits need remedial math classes.

I'm scheduled to get my Bachelor of Science degrees in Education AND Special Education by mid 2011. I will be available to teach all politicians how to add and subtract (hey, we can hope, can't ee?) by that time and I will gladly offer my skills FREE OF CHARGE to any politician who wants to reintroduce themselves to remedial math.

Or, we could just double the birth rate for the next 10 years to produce enough new taxpayers to limit the amount we all pay for these morons to count wrong. Frankly, I've done my part, so the rest of you will have to get with the program!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

There is nothing like a philosophy class to make you appreciate the common man. All our lives, we struggle to understand our reason for being. Just when we think we actually know truth, someone changes the rules.

Here are a few examples: Global warming (my ass is freezing right now), the killer swine flu, communism and birth control. I cannot wrap my brain around the contradictions. Just when I thought I knew and understood these things, the world presented evidence that forces me to reevaluate my understanding.

The world is warming, which is why I am colder in California than I was in Ireland two years ago. The swine flu thundered through our local elementary school and not a single child died. Communist China is the leader of manufacturing in the world and is buying American debt so we can continue our limping economy.

But where I laughed my backside off (not is still there) is when I read this today in the UK Guardian:
The scheme - set up by an organisation backed by Sir David Attenborough, the former diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell and green figureheads such as Jonathon Porritt and James Lovelock - argues that family planning is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic global warming.

The cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the trust claims that family planning is the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions. Every £4 spent on contraception, it says, saves one tonne of CO2 being added to global warming, but a similar reduction in emissions would require an £8 investment in tree planting, £15 in wind power, £31 in solar energy and £56 in hybrid vehicle technology.

Calculations based on the trust's figures show the 10 tonnes emitted by a return flight from London to Sydney would be offset by enabling the avoidance of one unwanted birth in a country such as Kenya. Such action not only cuts emissions but reduces the number of people who will fall victim to climate change, it says.
From the UK Guardian
So there you have it. If we could just get those pesky Kenyans to stop procreating, our global warming will magically disappear. Funny how this whole proposal comes on the heals of the Copenhagen summit AND Climategate. Do you sense the impending announcement that global warming has been corrected and all is right with the world, now that the Kenyans are no longer having too many children.

Now here is where my philosophical alarm bells are screaming to identify the false arguments of this theory. First: Since the introduction of artificial birth control in 1960 U.S. population has increased by 50%, Chinese population has doubled with forced birth control and other developing (and thriving) nations have doubled their populations. Click here for the stats Based on this evidence, promoting birth control will increase the population, not decrease it.

Second: How ethical is it for Sir David Attenborough to suggest that Kenyans in Africa should move out of the timeline in order for the Europeans to continue to pollute the world at will? Where does that make our society superior to the behavior of 18th and 19th century slaveowners? Doesn't that just prove that racism is still alive and well and living in Europe?

Finally: How does one measure the value of a single human life? Our president is the product of one Kenyan and one American. Is this a promotion of an anti-Obama sentiment? Or are some human beings not as valuable as others, simply due to their racial component?

I know....I know. We could honor Monty Python's Flying Circus much more effectively by simply suggesting the Fish Slapping Dance be employed as a method of eradicating undesirable English. Or better yet, let's just contemplate the idea that God knows what He (or She) is doing and let nature control itself with a killer swine flu. I do find it curious that the very same people insisting that we all need a swine flu vaccine are also suggesting that some countries should encourage birth control. Isn't nature simply addressing the concern on her own?

The greatest irony is that the body of individuals promoting this thought process is the very group that insists others should not force religion upon unsuspecting atheists. Are they not imposing their beliefs upon the rest of us by insisting on vaccines for swine flu, birth limitations and political ideologies? Don't get me wrong. I have a great and secret love for a few atheists. (Perhaps it is a lost puppy syndrome, but they make me think which prevents me from taking my existence for granted.) Some I believe are closet theists, but they shall remain anonymous. But where is the imposition of birth control a better public policy than the imposition of prayer in school? It does make a person wonder.

So for those of you who have the audacity to believe in God, I suggest you sit back and have a nice glass of California wine. No point in getting our panties into a bunch. Everything takes care of itself. Besides, this generation will eventually be wearing Depends and living in rest homes. I suspect the urgency of global warming and population control takes a back seat when you have trouble remembering what you said ten minutes ago.

Now, what were we talking about again?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Constitution of the United States of America

My daughter announced she needed to learn the Constitution Preamble. She asked me for help, and I proudly began to quote it...just like Barney Fife.

Embarrassed, I YouTubed the School House Rock song. Now, it runs through my head, reminding me the humble origins of our nation. I don't mind though. It makes me proud, given my family history in the establishment of this country, to know the Wings and Snows (yes, probably the same origins as Olympia...) probably debated to construct the document and fought to preserve the infant Republic, these United States of America.

Many people think our Constitution dropped out of the sky (or Thomas Jefferson's ink well) without any debate or discussion. Hardly. After a LONG fight for our country's independence from Great Britain, it took almost another ten years before the penning of this precious document. Why? For the same reason why all good things take time. They wanted to get it right.

The United States Constitution was constructed on September 17, 1787 after months of conflicting views, heated debates and clashing ideas finally yielded to compromise and thoughtful reconsiderations. The founders of the Constitution were delegates appointed by the state legislatures to represent each state's welfare. They had first convened in the Philadelphia statehouse as a quorom of 55 emissaries on May 25, 1787. Of the thirteen original states, only independent-minded Rhode Island declined to participate. The group's express original purpose was to revise the Articles of Confederation, our nation's first constitution that was constructed in 1777 after the Revolutionary War with Great Britain.
Taken from

Debate was necessary to clarify the pro's and con's of what they were about to institute for all generations. It took time because the effort it required to get it right mandated all points of view to be considered. Farmers and businessmen, financiers and manufacturers, students and the educated, poor and rich all had to inject their positions so all might be incorporated into the document. As such, the debate then clarified the document we have today.

Debate will always be a critical component for the governance of any democracy. Our Founding Fathers knew this, and interjected the requirements of debate in the legislative process. But the debate isn't enough. Those who are in the debate must be willing to HEAR the arguments with careful consideration. Part of the whole debate process usually involves keeping an open mind. But if our Legislators enter the debate with a predetermined decision, the debate is rendered useless. In addition, the voice of the people must be heard by our legislators in order to weigh the information. We MUST keep this component at all costs. Otherwise, we will get things like a $1 Trillion dollar stimulus bill that wastes the future of our children's income. And we could end up with a Healthcare Reform system that cripples the country rather than cures it.

Today is the anniversary of this precious gift from our Founding Fathers. In their memory, and the memory of every soldier that has fought to preserve this document for our posterity, (which means future generations, not to be confused with prosperity, which is wealth) I am embedding it the School House Rock version of the Preamble so you all can have it run through your heads.

Surprise your kids with the song. Ask them to listen to the words. Discuss what they mean. Better yet, read the Constitution. Then ask yourself, am I willing to die to preserve this document, and its principles and values?

Finally, go to a veteran's website or memorial and say a prayer for any soldier who gave their life for the defense of this great country. Say a prayer for those who defend it today. And pray that George Washington's vision comes to pass. "While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last." Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Every Conservative Should Have a Liberal Friend

I, like most conservatives, have strong opinions about how healthcare reform should be approached. Because I was raised conservative, I just assumed liberals had very little to contribute due to the preconceived notions I held. (I.e., Every liberal is a secret, card-carrying communist, etc.) I figured all liberals really wanted in the healthcare debate was power and control. I saw them as ideologues who wanted to use society as a petrie dish for their philosophical theories. I may have been assuming a little too much.

I had a conversation with liberal friend I hadn't seen since high school. I also had another conversation with a liberal acquaintence from high school. In the course of these conversations, I was inspired to investigate and research the healthcare problem as a whole, partly out of anger. Based on the information I uncovered, I am beginning to realize why both had such a passion about the issue.

We, as a generation, are on the cusp of one of the most overwhelming moments in healthcare history. The baby boom generation are entering the retirement years, just as the healthcare industry has morphed into a multi-billion dollar industry. While I understand this is precisely what made America the most advanced country for medical care, it is also the most expensive. The two trains are speeding towards each other at top speed, and they are on the same track.

Aetna, one of the largest healthcare insurance providers, recorded 1.3 billion in profits for 2008. M.D. Anderson, one of the largest private "non"profit hospitals recorded $310 million in net revenue (aka, profit...called net revenue for tax purposes)just in 2008 alone, and they paid their president well over 1.8 million in salary last year. This is a NON profit hospital...ergo, no taxes. They claim to spend the rest on their charitible endowments, while at the same time, demanding cash up front for share of cost from their patients. This seemed incredulous to me, especially given the whining both groups have done recently about not being able to stay financially afloat. Obviously, they are gearing up for a long winter.

For those of you preparing the traditional Free Market Mantra of "the laws of supply and demand...yada yada yada," hold your breath a second. This was my error at first as well. The problem is we are facing the recession/depression (lower disposable incomes) coupled with the baby boomers entering the age of highest healthcare demand.

The first Boomers will turn 65 in 2011 and, according to today's report, more than 37 million of them—six out of 10—will be managing more than one chronic condition by 2030. Also by 2030:

*14 million Boomers will be living with diabetes—that's one out of every four Boomers.
*Almost half of the Boomers will live with arthritis and that number peaks to just over 26 million in 2020.
*More than one out of three Boomers—over 21 million—will be considered obese.

As patients live with multiple chronic diseases, demand for services will increase. The number of physician visits has been increasing for all adults, up 34 percent over the last decade, and this trend is expected to continue. By 2020, Boomers will account for four in 10 office visits to physicians. Over the next 20 years, Boomers will make up a greater proportion of hospitalizations as they live longer but with multiple complex conditions. At the same time, the number of registered nurses, primary care and specialty physicians will not keep pace with demand.

This comes from , a caregivers website.

In other words, the hope for supply and demand to regulate down the price of healthcare, with or without insurance, is pretty slim to none.

OK, now prepare for something to hit you on the side of the head.

Bearing all this in mind:
1. Healthcare costs are going to skyrocket with the increased demand,
2. The Medicare plan is ALREADY paid by the government, only the government also pays a middleman (the insurance administrator) to process the claims, and
3. Healthcare demands are going to limit access NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, even WITH health insurance for every American...

Doesn't it make sense to CONSIDER a direct pay option? Why are we giving a middleman (Aetna and their 1.3 billion in profits) the power to limit our care further? What about an HMO system provided just for seniors? Set up a managed care system for the retired Americans, and allow the non-profits to manage them. (They DID say they were non-profit.) Medicare payments to providers must be reduced to stay solvent. Wouldn't it make more sense to create a salaried position for a doctor to work exclusively with an HMO rather than leave it arbitrary? As unpleasant as it sounds, it may be the only way to control the enormous costs.

By removing the seniors from the private system (as they already are) it frees up the doctors and hospitals to provide more care for the regular insurance paying patients. In other words, we push down the demand, freeing up the supply. Allow the rest of the system to remain intact, with a few tweeks, like allowing the purchase of prescription drugs internationally and lift the restrictions on medical savings plans so it doesn't penalize the people who save but are healthy. A mandated purchase of health insurance will no longer be necessary when doctors lose 40% of their patient load. Or premiums will go down, as the insurance industry no longer has to subsidize the high utilization of elderly patients.

Also, how about focusing on prevention, such as naturopathic medicine (chiropractors, allergists, etc.) who advise adjusting food consumption and increasing activities rather than go on medication to manage cholesteral, diabetes, etc. For example: I had skyrocketting cholesterol and was borderline Type II diabetes. Instead of using Lipitor ($75 a month) and other diabetic controlling drugs, I went to a doctor who tested me for allergies. After eliminating the offending foods (wheat) from my diet, my blood sugar went down to that of a 20 year old, as did my cholesterol!

I'm not suggesting we need to all go organic (although I'm sure my eldest would be happy if I did,) or that the government will fix everything, but we can't just stick our heads in the sand on this one. It will sneak up on us while our heads are buried and bite us in the butt.

Oh, and to my liberal friends (you both know who you are) and my liberal leaning children, thank you for your patience. Debate is a painful process, but well worth the effort. If we are patient, we might just get through this mess!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adults with ADD, or Welcome to Facebook!

I have officially become a member of the Facebook Community and I couldn't be more unhappy. I realize that the Internet has become a gift to those looking for long lost friends and family, but sometimes the past is, well, better left in the past.

I joined Facebook at the behest of several friends. They were looking for me, and I can't imagine why. I always knew where I was. But, it sounded fun, so I joined. It was like going back in time, and WHAM! All those people you enjoyed the company of while in high school were there, with their not-so-high school-ish physiques (well, all but Paul DiGi...the bodybuilding is obviously still a hobby!) It was comforting to know that, although we all started at different points in the looks catagory, we are now in about the same place with our graying hair, our belly rolls, and our proud parent pictures.

What I didn't expect was to find the lack of attention everyone has in conversing. In a blog, I get to state a point, give the supports to that point and invite others to make commentary, pro or con. It is civilized, productive and reasonable. Facebook is very different. An opinion or thought (random, usually) is thrown out to the general community and everyone gets to throw their two cents into the hat. It's like I'm back home and all the opinions carry more weight than my own. There is no civilized debate, because they all flit from one page to another, randomly commenting on what so-and-so is doing, or something that came up in the news or some weird animal a widget declared them to be. It is all surface, and substance seems to be as rare as the Obama Healthcare Bill. Lots of talk, but in the end, very little meaning.

I did have one quality discussion with an individual I knew would be reliable, and one that went very wrong. It was initiated in response to the President's speech regarding healthcare. Now, this individual was always known for quick wit and biting remarks, so in fairness, I should not be offended. But I was alarmed at the sheer hostility when a person (namely, me) disagreed with his opinion. His opinion was, of course, that noone should die because they couldn't afford healthcare. I would agree with this statement, but I disagreed with the solution. This immediately made me the target of his wrath.

I began to realize, too late, that going on Facebook would also be time travel back to high school and all its immaturity. It became a game of taunts, as though we were all teenagers again. And due to the nature of Facebook, the conversations are started, and dropped as quickly as they start. Attention is distracted to the newest random thought a friend posts.

Now, I understand that intelligent debate was not made for Facebook. I realize that email is a better medium for this type of conversation. But it never ceases to amaze me how rude people feel they are allowed to be when talking on an internet. My own daughter has been known for biting remarks when sending an email. It is probably related to the ADD approach to the internet. We don't have time to reread our notes, and we click that send button before we consider how the other person might interpret our words.

So, I am returning to blogging my thoughts. I believe politics and religion are far too important to waste on random thoughts tranmitted through Facebook and Twitter. Some subjects need careful thought, reconsideration, and intelligent observation before replying. Reasonable discussions must begin with clear and cohesive thoughts, not random ones. And biting remarks only distract and hurt.

So for all you out there discussing the Healthcare Reform issue, I suggest reading the various issues facing Medicare payments and the government response. Look at the amount the government will be expected to pay in the next four years. It is the clue to why the panic is overcoming Congress.

And for those of you who would like to read more about the issue, here is a link to an article by the AMA about the projections of Medicare spending: After you read it, you'll understand why the members of Congress are defecating all over themselves.

Then we can BRAINSTORM ideas. And remember...reread before hitting the 'post' button!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Failures that Make Us Successful

My daughter called me this morning in a state of panic. Her distress, an 'indiscretion' made by her new husband, was the source of great hurt and worry. It was a small thing, really, unless you put all the puzzle pieces together and realize it was just the symptom of a much bigger problem.

Her dismay was augmented by being 31 weeks pregnant, just at the beginning of the 'balloon phase' of pregnancy, where the woman begins to look (and walk) like a balloon on a stick. She enters the place of 'I look ugly' in her mind. I suspect it could be proven she is the ONLY one who thinks this way, because I, like most people, have never seen a pregnant woman I thought looked ugly or fat. Most men have a reverance and awe during this phase (not to be confused with shock and awe...that comes at the moment of delivery.) So her fear is probably the genesis of her dismay. Her fear is of losing what she once had, a girls free and easy life, to the one carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. This would be known as the "Oh My God! I'm responsible for this tiny little person," phase. This phase hits women first.

Men usually only experience it after the "shock and awe" phase (see definition above.) Although delayed in men, it is profoundly more grandiose, and it makes them become REAL men. REAL men start to realize the pretty girls laying in seductive positions are actually someone's baby girl, much like their own. It makes them want to buy guns with sniper scopes on them. Protective responsibility seems to be the motive, as demonstrated recently by my daughter's own father.

It makes a man want to defend his home, or trailer, with a Tim 'the Toolman' Taylor level of 'more power.' Logic doesn't seem to play into it, as anyone with a decent can opener could break into their trailer, but the intruder may reconsider acting on his desires if he sees an angry father in boxer shorts holding a rifle with a sniper scope, firmly planted on his face.

This defense of the home is the instinctive nature of most male species. Territory is everything, and giving their offspring a safe environment to grow and thrive is the purpose. But modern society has temptations and distractions that make this more difficult. Thus the reason my daughter was so distressed. She needn't worry, because MOST men eventually realize they are being distracted and stop the behavior. We, women, need to understand when we are being impatient and give the guys a chance to grow up. Sometimes it comes soon after birth, but it almost always comes by the time their baby girl grows past puberty and into a size D cup.

This is the whole thing about life. All we see right now is viewed differently with the eyes of wisdom. The sexy woman on a porn video stops looking so sexy when the man watching her views her from a father's eyes. In fact, most things look different when viewed with the Father's Eyes. Mistakes become learning tools. Trips along the way become learning experiences that teach us how to be better people.

So don't dwell on the failures. Failures are just the process by which we all learn. And those learning experiences are what lead us to success.

And, for the record, beer summits are not 'teaching moments.' However, with enough beers, people have been known to THINK they are professors! At 10 beers, you are a philosopher. At 11, a theologian. At 12, university professors.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To be or not to be....mentally unstable.

I got some juicy news tonight and I am coming apart at the seams trying to contain myself. I have heard my sister, the one that thinks I am mentally unstable, is throwing my parents a surprise, 50th wedding anniversary party. Everyone is invited, of course. Well, everyone but me and my offspring. I suppose this is understandable, given the animosity they still hold. I was once told, "Never associate with crazy people." So, it seems appropriate that they don't want me there.

I am so very tempted to send a note of regret that I won't be in attendance to my mother, who absolutely despises surprise parties (or so she has always claimed,) thus letting the cat out of the bag. I mean, if they all hate me already, there's no destroying any relationships in telling her. After all, if I am mentally unstable, they can hardly hold it against me for doing something as mentally unstable as spilling the beans to my parents. Crazy people do crazy things, right?

Then I began to realize the sheer pleasure it must be to be considered 'mentally unstable.' Imagine a place where you can do anything you want and say whatever you think, and at the end of it all, simply exhonorate yourself by claiming, "After all, I AM mentally unstable!" Think of the people you could insult and the bizarre things you could do with a nice little caveat like that! And you don't even have to go to confession because a crazy person is not considered responsible for his sins. Man, that would be such a fun way to live!

It worked for so many others in the past, and even Hitler was deemed to be somewhat looney. This all got me thinking. If Jesus was known for making crazy people sane, was He really doing them any favors by making them stable again? Why would God take that gift away from me? OK, so my family isn't talking to me. Big deal. Imagine the stuff I could do and the things I can say, now that I am mentally unstable. I don't even have to be logical in my thinking! I can support Proposition 8 and not worry about gay retribution. I can be anti-Obama and not worry about the Huffington Post declaring me to be ignorant (as they have done to so many other mentally stable types.) I could even vote for Sarah Palin and not worry about my liberal leaning adult children thinking I am a right wing extremist. I'll just be that 'crazy woman.'

Only one problem. I'm not crazy...or at least, I don't think I am. Crazy people never think they're crazy. So I am back to square one. What if I'm NOT crazy? You mean, I really AM a right wing extremist?

*sigh* Maybe just for a day...