Saturday, August 1, 2009

Health Insurance.

A touchy and complicated subject, why would you want to even go there David? Maybe because I have a new idea! At least I have never heard any one bring this up.
First, lets cover the main points real fast. When I was in business for myself and raking in the princely sum of $50,000 a year - most years - for working 60 to 80 hours and 6 days per week, I was paying $1,000 a month for health insurance for my wife and myself. That amounted to 24% of our income (and doesn't include the deductibles, for doctor and hospital and medicines. So it was actually more than 24% of our income.) Now that we are retired we pay $96 Medicare and $32 for drug coverage each - $128 a month each. That comes out of my wife's SS of $660 - so that's 19% of her income, and $128 out of my $1700 is about 8% of my income. Again it does not include deductibles on Dr. Hosp. and Rx. So the lowest I've paid in the last 30 years or so is 8% of my income in Health Ins and usually two or three times as much, or more.
If the US went to a National Health Insurance, everyone would need to pay in depending on their income. The simple number to pick out of the air would be 10%, seems reasonable, or actually low based on my experience. But lets use it. So using my income - before I was retired of $50,000, I'd pay $5,000 or $417 a month. - a lot less than the $12,000/yr or $1,000/mo that I was paying, so I'd be happy. Some pay less now, so they'd be unhappy, I guess. But maybe not, if they earn say $30,000 they'd be paying $3,000 a year or $250 per month - real low!
Now for my big idea. I think that the people who cause the expensive medical care should pay their share. I am referring to manufacturers who make defective products that cause injuries, illnesses and deaths. Why should they not pay their fair share? Lets take a small example, and here I will have to use some figures that I am pulling out of the air, they seem reasonable to me, and I'm sure someone smarter than me could verify or put them in perspective. Now follow me closely here. Lawnmower accidents, lets say there are 100,000 per year and it costs the hospital $1,000 on average to fix up each injury. That's 100 million dollars. Now, how many lawnmowers are sold a year? Lets guess 10 million. So, if we tax each lawn mower a $10 'Health Ins Charge', we collect 100 million dollars - enough to cover the medical costs incurred by the manufacturers machines. The manufacturers meanwhile can say, "We don't want our machines to cost an extra $10 each, what can we do?" Well what they can do is design their machines to be safer and cause less injuries. Lets say they do that and in a couple of years lawnmower injuries drop in half to 50,000 a year, the Health Ins Charge could then be dropped to $5 per machine.
We can check with the Hospitals to see what are the most dangerous things that cause the most injuries, illnesses and deaths and are the most expensive. Why should these things not pay for the misery and expense they cause? They make their living, and profit from them and it is in their power to reduce those costs and I'm sure if it was financially profitable to them they would. Other items that come immediately to mind are :- Chain Saws, Cars, Cigarettes, Guns, Alcohol, Soda's, Fast Foods, Fat Foods, I'm sure there a few more. That Health Ins Charge - which is within the makers power to reduce, and if they did would be win/win/win situation for everyone involved, would go to the National Health Insurance to help reduce every ones premiums.
There are probably a couple of other place to pull money into the National Health Ins Fund without too much pain. Lets see, how about a tax on gambling etc, the good old sin taxes, or add 1% to the sales tax of every State, they can collect it - it shouldn't cost a lot more for them to collect as they already do it, and then they send in the 1% to the National Health Ins Fund every week or month. A lot cheaper than the Feds setting up a whole new Federal Sales Tax and it would only tax money that was spent (Not incomes, savings etc) Of course there would be a deductible - say $10 when you visit a Doctor, $10 for a Rx, otherwise people would go to the Doctor for a band aid or a bottle of Aspirin. We would also be collecting money from 47 million more people than we are now - the 47 million uninsured Americans, and we'd be collecting from the rich people too, someone making a million dollars a year would be contributing $100,000! Someone making $20,000 would be contributing $2,000 - seems fair to me.
It would probably be possible to reduce the 10% National Health Ins Tax by using those suggestions, maybe considerably - to 8% say or even 6%.
Comments please.

Food waste.

We have chickens - so we don't have food waste, they will eat virtually anything except . . Wait we did have some food waste the other day, chickens will not eat anything citric, like oranges, lemons, limes etc. The other day there was a perfectly good looking orange - until I picked it up and turned it over, gross, no way we could eat even a bit of it and I knew the chickens wouldn't touch it. So, on to the compost pile. I guess that counts as waste huh? We also live on the water and as you can't put any meats or fats onto the compost if we EVER do have meat waste that I don't want to give to the chickens, that goes into the crab trap.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rascal's Big Adventure.

I had trouble sleeping last night. We went to bed at 11.30 and after a half an hour I got up and read for about two hours. I think that I also went out onto the deck. Back in bed I lay for some more hours, I remember watching the clock at 4.00 and 5.00. The next thing I remember is Julia saying, "Oh my God the door is open." I looked up and sure enough the bedroom door out onto the deck was wide open. The time was 7.30. It was windy, I must not have pushed it hard enough to latch and the wind had blown it open. Rascal the cat has not been out since we moved here. For the first 9 months he showed no interest in going out, but lately he has been looking out a lot and if the door is left with just the screen door, he sits by it and smells the air. Well he must have smelled the air this morning and headed straight outside. I searched the house in case he was still in but found no sign of him, I really hadn't expected to because ever since we moved in, wherever Julia is, there is Rascal. Julia was in the bedroom, so it followed Rascal must also have been in the bedroom where he would have smelled the scent of the open road - once a cat, always a cat I guess. So I went outside, closed the door and went looking for him. I found him at the bottom of the steps and when I went to pick him up he bolted up the stairs to the door, which was closed. I approached cautiously, he was looking panicky as I got close but I managed to reach over him and open the door. He shot in and lay down. A Big Day for Rascal.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A visit.

Our very good friends Mary & Don visited last night. There are few things in life as good as friends, and family, and these are wonderful friends indeed. They came bearing gifts, wonderful gifts from wonderful friends. What kind of wonderful gifts you say? What does it matter, if it comes from friends it's great whatever it is. But as it happens these were super - food - a huge box of fruit and vegetables AND a home made carrot cake. What more could anyone ask? We hugged, we ate, we talked, we hugged, talked some more, we played cards, they let me win, we hugged again (I especially like that part) and they left. A lovely evening.

Cancer survival

My daughter is approaching the 20 year survival mark of her battle with Cancer. It began just a couple of days before Christmas 1989 and continued for most of the next year, much of it spent in Johns Hopkins Hospital, an Institution that we are fortunate enough to reside close to. There is no way that I could possibly go into the high's and lows, mostly lows, of that year. The nightmares, pain and tears, live in me even now every day. The pain and suffering that my daughter endured remains with me as one of my recurring nightmares. In fact even now I am starting to lose it, so I'll end this very short Blog with a prayer of thanks for her recovery and her new lease on life - which also gave me a new lease on life, there is no way I could have gone on without her.

Giant Egret

A surprise awaited me this morning as I gazed out at my own personal piece of Heaven, (No you idiot, The Lake, not Julia.) because there, right outside of the window, was a beautiful Giant Egret stalking the shallows. I watched fascinated as he (or she?) busily thinned out The Lakes stocks of minnows and other small fish. As I watched, I wondered what those fish think about as they swim around in their own world, surely almost completely oblivious of a whole other Universe right next door to their own. All they can see of that Universe, from theirs, is a new "tree" towering from its base, right up through their realm and out into that "Other World" beyond their sight. A World that they can never visit. Then 'BAM', all of a sudden they are grabbed by a huge powerful pair of tongs, whisked completely up and out of their World into a entirely alien one, that they get to see see for a few brief terrifying seconds, until they are plunged deep into the even more terrifying world of the belly of one of the denizens of that 'other world' that they can never visit, except as food for the aliens.

Hmm, I wonder, do we live right next to another Cosmos that we are as entirely unaware of? Are we as unaware of a world right next to ours that we know as little about as the fish in my Lake know about our world? Just think, what do they know of us? They see our shadows, sometimes they see us if we pull them out of the water, they may even be lucky enough to survive the trip and be placed back into their own wonderful world, but what did they learn of our world from their brief visit? Do they now know about our homes, our family life, pets, TV, MacDonalds, cars, our forms of communication, books, education, politicians now? I don't think so. If there is another, or many other, forms of life as far above us as we are above fish, how could we possibly know about them? Why should we be the 'ultimate' form of life? I'm sure the fish thinks he is the top of the chain. The usual way of 'things' is that most 'things' are somewhere in the middle of a "bell curve", why should we be right on one side of that curve? Isn't it much more likely that we are more in the middle. In the scheme of things - and of bell curves - it is in fact highly unlikely that an item is going to fall all the way to one side. So, we are much much more likely to fall somewhere in the midstream. I must say that I would hope we fall more to the 'high end', but we are probably sort of Middling, more than a microbe, but less than a God. After all what kind of a job are we making of even taking care of ourselves and our kind? Pretty awful I'm sure we would all agree on that. We can't be even be a little bit Tolerant of each other, let alone care for or love each other. War, Hate, Envy, Stealing, Hurting, and a whole bunch of other nasty stuff is "What We Do Best", surely we cannot be the best the the Universe has to offer?
What do you think?
Have a Happy Day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Friends of The Lake

This is for my friends who follow my Blog to read about The Lake and it's unique wildlife and my stories about them.

Apart from the Fish and the Mosquitoes, 90% of the visible species of wildlife on The Lake are Birds. Actually, come to think of it there aren't all that many mosquitoes. I wonder why that is? Everyone thinks that there are a lot of mosquitoes around lakes, but I think that may be a misnomer. Could it be because mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and with such a huge amount of water in The Lake they don't have to look for little pools, they just get lazy and lay them right there in The Lake where the layers and the layees become a tasty snack for the minnows that abound there. One supposes that mosquitoes lay their future issue in still, dank, stagnant water and maybe they do usually, but The Lake is often so still that it is like a mirror and it fools them into laying their precious cargo there - or maybe like us, they are just lazy. Anyway, I don't see a whole lot of mosquitoes around here.

As I said, most of the wildlife around The Lake is in the form of our wonderful and hugely varied bird population. Today's short stories are about two of those birds.

The first story is about a Cormorant that Julia saw last week, just one, on it's own and just once. It must have been lost or on its way somewhere else when it stopped in for a quick snack. Some of you will remember that earlier in the year when I first saw the Cormorant "Invasion", I had been concerned enough to call the Dept of Natural Resources. There were at times 50 or more of these fascinating diving birds here, all feasting on "My" fish! The DNR assured me that they were just passing through on their way north - to the Great Lakes, and sure enough in a few weeks they had disappeared. The DNR also told me that the Cormorants are making quite a comeback all over this area, having been almost extinct once in The Chesapeake Bay. In the Great Lakes they have rebounded from a few dozen pairs to a few thousand pairs today. Another success story - unless you are a fish!

The second story occurred today. Julia was doing her civic duty and carefully keeping watch on all of her charges, otherwise known as 'The Lake's Wildlife,' when she spotted one of her favorites, an Osprey, who dived into The Lake right in front of her and came up with a big fish. Now here is where we learned something, apparently the fish is often killed right away. We know this is not always the case because to our horror we have often watched the Osprey perched in a tree eating a still struggling fish. But don't worry about us, we are used to this now! Anyway we know this fish was dead because the Osprey dropped it into The Lake and it just floated. We watched for some time expecting the fish to be just stunned and to suddenly come to life and swim away. But it just bobbed along on the little wavelets. The Osprey did a couple of fly-bys right over the body and then flew away. We could not understand that, he had already caught it, now all he had to do was pick it up. Mind you, it was a very big fish, but I doubt if that was the problem, I guess they just don't eat dead things and maybe he wasn't smart enough to know that he had just caught and killed it himself!

After that we got to wondering what was going to happen to the fish body. You hadn't wondered about things like that? Too much other important stuff to think about? Well why don't you break out of that rut and just spend a couple of minutes thinking about what will happen to the dead fish. Julia's immediate thought was, "The Buzzards will get it." But the Buzzards don't go onto the water. My response was, "Yes, when it reaches the shore." So her reply was, "If the crabs don't get it first." Of course it will also have to run the gamut of the other fish, the minnows and any other bird that spots it. If it, or any of it's remains do somehow make the shore and it is nighttime, there is not much chance that it will escape the notice of the Raccoons or the Possum, not forgetting any hungry cats or dogs. There are doubtless other unseen night creatures that search the shore line at night. All these ensure that we rarely, if ever are subjected to nasty smells around our perfect piece of heaven. Night, night, sleep tight.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pro and Con

Pro and Con, if Pro is the opposite of Con, is Progress the opposite of Congress?