Tis the season

Well it’s that time of year again. Storm season. So this morning I got up and started getting prepared. Brought out the generator and cranked it up to make sure it would run when needed. Then topped off all my garden equipment with the remaining gas from my stocks and took the empties to the gas station to load up. As it turns out, I have 20 gallons of external storage and over the past year I used every last drop – counting today’s top off. That means I use 20 gallons a year with the mower and chipper since the only time I used the generator all year was to start it once every few months to make sure it was running. I think the generator runs for 10-12 hours on For those of you who have never experienced hurricane season, one of the things that happens is that you lose electricity which shuts down gas stations. So part of everybody’s prep is to be sure your gas tanks are full. If you wait until a couple of days before a storm hits, the stations are mob scenes so I just get it done early and forget about it. Ditto propane so we can grill for a couple of weeks if need be. Beyond that about the only thing we do is tie down all the dock stuff and get anything that could fly fastened down or put away. Move the chain saw up to the house in case we have to cut our way out. That sounds bad but our driveway is a few hundred feet long with jungle on both sides. Big storm wind invariably brings down a couple of big branches if not whole trees and we just anticipate the likelihood of having to clear a path. Right now we’re planning a 10 trip to visit Dallas, Columbia MO, and Rock Hill SC but we’ll be keeping a close eye on the tropics and be ready to abort as weather conditions dictate.

Hey, want to hear a bizarre one. Nancy learned about a quilt shop in Alachua, Fl. We entered the address in the GPS and off she went. The GPS took her to an empty lot. So she called the shop and was directed there verbally. Interestingly the place had the same address as was plugged into the GPS, xxxxx N Main St. Turns out that the house is an old, historic house that was moved to this location and renovated and in Florida if the house is over 100 years old and moved, it has to retain the same house number as it did originally. So even though the house number is totally out of sequence with it’s neighbors, that’s the rule.
On healthcare – One provision in one of the house health care bills that’s catching lots of heat is the provision for end of life counseling. Some see it as leading to state sponsored euthanasia; some see it as a simple counseling service being added to medicare. Here’s my concern – since when does it take an act of congress to add a simple benefit to medicare? What’s covered or not covered changes all the time and I don’t ever recall hearing about congressional debates. The other thing that bothers me is why it takes 10 pages in a 1000 page bill to add a counseling service. Seems like if it’s that innocuous, it would be done in 10 sentences, even by politicians. Nah, something more to this than meets the eye.

And with no tort reform, liability reform on the table – the whole idea that this is health reform is a joke. Legal costs add about 3% to the cost of healthcare and 3 out of 4 suits brought are fraudulent. And it’s not even open for discussion.

What about the 47M people who are uninsured. Almost half of those could be insured but choose not to buy insurance. 9M are illegal immigrants. Whittle the big scary number down and you get to something more manageable. In fact the number I’ve read for those legal citizens who aren’t covered but would like to be is 9M. What the feds want to do is add all those who are opting out of the insurance system as payers. Most of these folks are young, healthy folks who just don’t think anything is going to happen to them. And mostly they’re right. And that’s exactly who the gov’t wants – people that pay but do not get sick. Can’t blame them for that. Somebody has to pay. But freedom of choice is fairly basic to Americans and that’s what’s stirring up so much anxiety. Most people have made their choice and are happy with it.

But if you just stand back from the whole thing, you know that you are not going to add a bunch of people and have total costs go down. Even to remain $$ neutral, you either have to add money – read taxes – or cut back on services to those currently covered – read senior citizens. It’s simply dishonest to say we’re going to do more for less money. And if you use the argument I’ve heard that as much as half of the new costs could be covered by eliminating fraud and waste from medicare and medicaid – my answer to that is if you can do it, just go ahead and do it. You sure as hell don’t need a new healthcare bill to get rid of waste and fraud. And the fact that there’s that much in the current system is reason alone not to give the gov’t even more control.

My suggestion is to set a handful of objectives, plainly stated, that the big majority can get behind. Things like not allowing insurance companies to drop coverage or not insure because of pre-exisiting conditions. Tort reform to reduce legal costs to medical providers. Create a branch of the FBI that does nothing but go after medicare/medicaid fraud. Not many people would argue with any of these improvements and should not result in higher costs for anybody.

Take anything that smells like Socialized medicine or moral issues, read abortion, off the table.

And how’s this for an idea – open a few Medical Universities in the mold of the military academies. Selective entry, free education, a 5 year commitment to practice at a public health venue – maybe VA hospitals or one of the fully integrated medical clinics sauch as Mayo or Cleveland clinic. Crank out medical professionals to boost the supply and turn them out without the huge debt most graduate with now. I can’t help but think that will help hold costs down.

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