Thursday, October 22, 2009

We The Idiots...

The definition of an idiot is someone who continues to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. But I think we can not make that assumption a constant. Or at least we must add a disclaimer that reads, "In many cases" or, "4 out of 5 doctors..."

For more years than I'd care to remember we the people have been pushing, wishing and hoping (sorry Dusty) for a reform in the health care system. We continue to believe that our leaders, the ones we really elect and the ones that get into office by other than legal majority rule methods will do as we ask.

Year after year we the sheep are led to the proverbial slaughter by double-talking politicians speaking out of several sides of their mouths at the same time.

Many of these Congressmen have a valid excuse for allowing our complaints to go in one ear and out the other, they have nothing between the two to hinder their progress!

And yet we continue to beg hoping this time for a different outcome. Yup, you guessed it, we're idiots!

Now for the disclaimer side of the issue.

For all the years we have naively done what we do honest and compassionate people have run for office with dreams of fairness in their hearts. But in order for these "Mr. Smith" wannabes to get elected they must beat the machine. So very few of them are able to do so and end up owing their positions in Congress to one or more "Special Interest Groups."

The term 'Special' as used above should in no way be confused with the term 'Good' as in what a daddy calls his children but rather 'Elite' as in 'just me and my friends.'

The newly elected officials join their brethren in double-speaking; double-dealing ways and lead us on right until the moment when they pull the rug out from beneath us. They are not hurt because they are not standing on the rug at the time but rather at another fund raiser hosted by the Lobby Du Jour.

So they continue to do the same thing year after year but expect the same result. AND THEY GET THE SAME RESULT! And therefore by definition they are NOT idiots.

And to make matters worse We the Idiots have been doing the same thing all our lives! So guess what? By a definition used by another one of those lobbies that own our Congressmen, "if it is something we have had all our lives - IT'S A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION!"

So even if by some miracle we ever get the option to have a fair health care system none of us IDIOTS will be covered!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When I Was a Young Man

In many ways I miss the good young days.

I know, I know it should be the good OLD days but let's face it - back then I was younger than I am now.

The bogeyman hiding in the closet turned out to be a harmless overcoat when the light was switched on and every thunderstorm eventually passed into the distance.

Life may not have been simpler but it was certainly less complicated and a bit more fun. There was less to worry about or at least that's the way it seemed.

We could also get away with harmless pranks or tiny insignificant thefts that really hurt no one.
While I am neither admitting to have ever stolen anything nor condoning theft businesses always figured a certain amount of petty theft into their pricing.

And 'getting away with murder' did not mean killing someone and not being caught. Back then it could simply be the charging of more money for a shrimp dinner because shrimp was costly while defending the fact that you served a smaller portion of shrimp on that plate because, well shrimp cost more!

While technology and our 'better mousetrap' mentality has kept the distance between "Necessity" and "the Mother of invention" constant there is nevertheless always a tiny period of time between the two when savvy individuals push the envelope. And the bigger the push the harder the eventual payback.

Remember taking a trip to a distant city before cell phones? You arrive at your destination and not wishing to waste money on the "I arrived safe" call home you place a collect call to yourself. Your loved one refuses the charges satisfied in the knowledge that you got where you were going and the phone company got screwed out of another 25¢.

Nowadays that call is made via an unlimited cell phone service that only costs you 10 times as much as your monthly bill used to set you back. The phone company connects you satisfied in the knowledge that they have screwed you back BIG TIME.

Remember cramming your entire wardrobe into one suitcase because the airlines only allowed one per passenger? And then you toted the rest of your apartment in your carry on bag?

Now the airlines don't care what you take with their version of the "Cash & Carry" pricing your bags are counted along with extra weight and charged accordingly. The end result is you may as well take nothing and buy an entire new wardrobe when you arrive at your destination.

And don't even think about the old 'hidden city' scam. The airlines are onto that one and you could wind up being stranded in a not so hidden city!

(For those of you in the dark - The 'Hidden City Scam' worked like this: You needed to get from NY to Minneapolis but the ticket cost $800. Then you noticed that a flight from NYC to Rochester Minnesota cost only $500 but had a stop in Minneapolis! You bought the Rochester ticket and took only carry on bags so you got off where you wanted and saved $300. But now if you do that you will not be able to board a return flight in Minneapolis if you were not on the plane when it departed Rochester and you will have to buy a new one-way ticket home. Shame on you and the airlines for this double edged scam.)

Truth in advertising was always an oxymoron that really only fooled morons (and those on Oxycontin) but now the advertising world is not alone in their trickery.

If you are politically or socially motivated and wish to find a group of like-minded individuals with whom to hang you had better do your research. There now seems to be more wolves in sheep's clothing than there are sheep.

Such "wolf" groups as Americans for Prosperity have wonderful sounding names but group President Tim Phillips is not for most Americans. The group is hell bent on keeping the wealthy wealthy while fooling the rest of America into taking up their cause. This is not the only group with an oxymoronic name and you would do well to make sure that the one you wish to join is actually what you believe it to be.

Again I miss the days when you knew where you stood. When the annoying yet impeccably dressed duo of young men and women rang my doorbell in an attempt to save my soul by enlisting my service into their witness protection program (It had something to do with their God) I had no problem smiling and politely slamming the door. But the game changed when someone named their group "Pro Life." This group implicitly stated that non members condoned death. This early fraud has caused a great deal of death and destruction and should be watched.

We have come a long way since the good young days of my youth and unfortunately the road back is no longer open to us. Pandora, not Elvis has left the building and the box is forever open.

When I was young we screwed Ma Bell out of a quarter now and then. Nowadays a small group of devious parasites is hiding in a K Street closet screwing everyone out of their futures. Will someone please turn on that light and expose today's true bogeyman?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Heads I Win

A coin toss is a simple and almost perfect way to decide the random outcome of a wager or even a close non-crucial argument. That's because with the possible exception of that one Twilight Zone episode the only outcome will be heads or tails.

For the most part we must have a winner and therefore a loser clearly delineated so that we can go on with our lives. Many people internalize the feeling so as to not cause further discussion and may even mumble "loser" as they pass an adversary.

But for years now we have been listening to, no subjected to political adversaries demanding to know if we can win the war in Iraq or now Afghanistan.

"Can we win without sending more troops?"

"Can we win if we allow the Afghanis to govern themselves?"

I have a simple question - Would someone please define WIN?

Would it be considered a win if we could get out without any more of our troops (young men and women who used to be called our children before the military dehumanized them by calling them troops) being murdered?

Should we consider it a win if we can annex Afghanistan as our 51st state?

Before we do annex the country can we find out if they would be a red state or a blue state?

We now know that a win in Iraq meant that Cheney and his cronies were able to get their hands on lucrative contracts through subsidiaries such as Haliburton and Blackwater.

But what happened to all that inexpensive oil we were promised? Did they hide it somewhere?

For me and many other Americans I believe a win would be ending the war and securing the future of our young men and women in a more productive way.
I believe the rest of the world must join us and take up the task of securing peace in the area.

No, I am not filling out a form to compete in the next Miss America pageant although I wouldn't with World Peace. However we cannot do it alone.

Alexander the Great surely wanted World Peace. He just went about it in a slightly different way.

Someone once said, "Winning isn't everything." Unfortunately he didn't stop there but he should have. Winning may be the only thing but only after we have a clear understanding of what "Winning" means.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You Can Bank on It

I have some money in Chase Bank. I guess that makes me lucky by today's standards.

Actually the money is not really mine it belongs to Chase or at least that's the way it seems. You see they don't let me have it unless I jump through hoops and ask nicely, very nicely. And in many cases I must pay a surcharge for the privilege of taking my money and doing with it as I please.

An explanation is in order because the above would make no sense to an ordinary human being with a modicum of intelligence but intelligence is not what you need in our country anymore. What you need is a lobbying organization on your side and a congressman in your pocket.

When it comes to a bank versus a depositor the government will always side with the bank.

Don't believe me?

Spend recklessly and lose all your money; take some of your relatives along for the ride and send them into the poor house; bankrupt your mother-in-law and then apply for a bailout.

If your name happens to be Vikram Pandit or Jamie Dimon or Hank Paulson's friend Lloyd Blankfein there will not be a problem. And with no strings attached you will have all the money you need to get you back to where you want to be.

Now I am not going to rant about how the banks have totally wrecked the country and have nothing to show for it except deferred millions on bonuses and CEOs who continue to gorge themselves as if there's no tomorrow. This post is to point out how the little guy, a regular investor has no one on his or her side anymore and no chance of the change we need on the horizon.

I said I have money in Chase and that's true. But since Chase is offering a wonderful rate of less than ONE QUARTER OF A PERCENT on one year certificate of deposits I decided to take some of my money (I mean their money) out of my account and send it to a different bank.

In order to do this through the on-line banking service I have to set up the new bank as a "Payee." But having done that Chase is not allowing me to send any money out until they decide if the new bank is worthy.

SERIOUSLY! I received a message that the new 'Payee' is under review. A call to the customer service hot line (It's hot only because everyone who calls them gets extremely hot trying to get a person on the phone) informed me that it will take up to two days for me to be allowed to use the new account.

And if I would rather set the bank up as an external account and thereby be allowed to transfer money back and forth between banks I will be charged $3 every time I do so. That includes receiving money back from them!

The last part is very interesting because Chase actually states that if you wish to transfer money from an external account into Chase they will charge you $3 per transaction! I can see depositors lining up to send money into Jamie Dimon's a-hole of a bank, can't you?

Remember when a new deposit could get you a toaster? Now a deposit of a certain kind and you're toast!

It's not bad enough these receivers of our tax money bailouts are flaunting their wealth in our faces but now they are not even allowing us to play with our own money without scrutiny and new surcharges.

Wouldn't it be nice if once, JUST ONCE our Senators would say no to the bribes and yes to the little people who pulled that lever to get them into office?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hypocritical Oath

A secret document was just uncovered that may help everyone understand what is happening in America these days.

I am risking much to bring this document to light but I do so in the spirit of that which made America great and in the hopes that one day we shall re-achieve that greatness.

Here then is the HYPOCRITICAL OATH recited with the right hand up and the left hand on the Bible with fingers crossed:

FIRST DO NO HARM that can later be pinned on you.

MAKE SURE THE NEEDY ARE TAKEN CARE OF in a way that causes no imposition to yourself or the wealthy.

BLOCK BY ANY AND ALL MEANS NECESSARY REFORMS MEANT TO HARM OTHERS as long as those others continue to pay for the service.

NEVER ALLOW NOR ANSWER A LOADED QUESTION unless it is presented by a supporter, flunky, or favorable news network.

NEVER TELL A LIE but if caught in one blame faulty information supplied by the other side.

COACH OTHERS IN THE WAYS OF A PURE AND PEACEFUL EXISTENCE PASSING LAWS TO ASSIST THEM IN THOSE ENDEAVORS based solely on your religious upbringing regardless of what non-believing infidels think.

CONTINUE THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE in the physical sense only and by at least a couple of avenues or long blocks.

USE NOT THE KNIFE TO COMMIT A CRIME as long as guns are still available from the NRA.

NEVER KNOWING GIVE OR ALLOW TO BE TAKEN ANY DRUG THAT CAN DO HARM unless the minimum pricing schedule set up by 'Big Pharma' has been followed.

NEVER USE OR ABUSE THE PUBLIC TRUST AFTER GATHERING THE PERSONAL INFORMATION OF OTHERS unless it is deemed necessary to help the careers of your friends, your sponsors or your loved ones.

NEVER CHEAT ON YOUR SPOUSE without an escape clause ready and an assistant to swear by it at your side.

CONTINUE TO PREACH LOWER TAXES FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS as long as you can get away with that myth.

MAKE PUBLIC YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW TO BETTER THE NATION without any intention of following through on them thereby using the loophole, "It's the thought that counts."

IF FOUND TO HAVE BROKEN ANY OF THE ABOVE RULES BY A JURY OF YOUR PEERS YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY RESIGN and accept a pension not less than your entire lifetime salary and a position with a lobby of your choice.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today's New Language

Our language has changed in recent times but we have yet to define in what way it has morphed. In order to give you some insight into that movement I offer a small guide to the subtleties of change.

We have:
Queen's English - QE
American English - AE
American Slang - AS - and now
Republican Speak - RS

QE: The Republicans wish to effect a compromise on the health care reform bill.

AE: Republicans are ready to negotiate a new health care bill to cover all Americans.

AS: Republicans wanna do da right thing.

RS: Do it our way and keep channeling money to our friends or forget the bill.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

QE: Nearly three quarters of Americans want a health care system similar to England's.

AE: According to polls over 65% of America wants a Public Option in health care.

AS: Don't wanna be sick go broke.

RS: Tremendous numbers of LEGAL citizens are 'tea-bagging' against socialized Obama-care.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

QE: The President must stop trying to fix the entire system and focus on important issues.

AE: The President should focus on the Economy and jobs first.

AS: Obama best be gettin unemployment down, yo.

RS: We can only take bribes from 1 or 2 lobbies at a time - Otherwise it gets too confusing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

QE: The world needs some gentle stimulation to help it move forward.

AE: Tell Congress we must have a stimulus package that really helps the economy.

AS: Damn, we need that stimulus to help us down here.

RS: Stimulate this!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

QE: Rio will be hosting the 2016 Olympic games.

AE: Chicago tried valiantly to be the host of the 2016 Olympics but lost out to Rio.

AS: Olympic officials can't wait to get busy wif dem Brazilian chicks in 2016.

RS: Obama wasted time and money and lost the Olympics. HE LOST! FANTASTIC! HE'S SUCH A LOSER. WOO WOO.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

QE: I can see Global warming hurting the planet more and more each day.

AE: I can see science fighting a losing battle to stop Global Warming.

AS: I can't see no mo icebergs, where dey at?

RS: I can see Russia from my house, ya betcha!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Two Heads are Better Than Three

Recently there has been talk of the need for a third party to keep the Democrats and Republicans honest.

First of all the premise is absurd on its face - Neither of those two parties have been honest for years.

But there is a fundamental problem with introducing a third party into the National mix for upcoming elections. In case you haven't noticed the economy is in the dumps and money is not flowing as freely as it once was.

With that in mind let's have a little compassion for those poor people in the lobbying business.

If there was another party running against the incumbent two that would increase the number of bribes needed by 50%!

People get real!

Do you really think the Health Insurance lobby can afford that much more? And suppose they told their current group of Congressional puppets that they will have to cut back on their bribe income? How well do you think that conversation would go? Grassly might have a coronary and Fox would blame it on Obama for starting the whole debate in the first place.

The National Rifle Association would not be happy, I can tell you that! And folks do we really want to piss off PWGs? (People with Guns.) I for one do not. They can keep their concealed weapons next to the concealed bribe money.

And let's face it - Does anyone really believe a new party would behave any differently? This system did not just spring up in the last few years. Congress has been cultivating the special interest groups and vice versa for as long as there has been a stock market.

And speaking of the Stock Market can we afford to make those guys and gals angry?

I should say not!

If we annoy them they might not loan us back any of the billions we gave them and their CEOs and families so that they could go on vacation and visit spas to release the stress caused by the economic disaster of last September.

No, I think the current two party system of do nothing Senators and Representatives who get nothing done while getting paid over and under the table is just fine. We really don't need to increase that number by half.

(Hey guys, now that I have said my piece in your defense can I get a job?)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When Segregation is a Good Thing

When you turn on the news or open your newspaper or browser you are looking for new knowledge.

When dealing with papers or even the web most news sources offer you sections in which to easily find what you seek.

For example if you are reading the newspaper and really only care about how your local teams did you obviously turn to the sports pages, Section B in most papers. For entertainment we go to section C or the Arts & Leisure and most multi sectioned papers use "D" for their business. (Wouldn't "B" be better for Business?)

If you need to find news on television or cable you may turn to your favorite station but you will have to wait to hear your wanted item unless it is considered "Breaking News." Unfortunately just about everything is considered Breaking News these days.

And if you are among the less educated hateful people you need not wait to turn on The Fox
News (?) channel.

But we need a change to the normal conventions that have served us so well for so long.

Nowadays you have to sift through so much flotsam and jetsam to get to the island that contains your wanted article that you may lose interest or forget why you opened the paper in the first place.

I would like to propose a new way of printing and sorting newspapers that may save the industry and allow the public to enjoy the product more.

I propose a combination of the way news used to be reported with the way it is now done. Years ago we paid one penny for the news but that was what we got, the news! Good or bad happy or sad we got the news.

But today we have a conglomerate of fact and fiction; news and opinion; stories of truth and ones that scream, "You lie!"

I want the facts segregated from the rest of the articles. This is what I would love to see from now on:

Section 1 or "A" becomes the news! And by that I mean the radical idea of unadulterated no opinion added straight fact news. Not Fox's version or even MSNBC's more fair version. Factual news that would have made Sargent Friday proud.

Section 2 or "B" could be an entire reprint with a conservative slant followed by the Liberal point of view in Section 3 or "C" (You could do it the other way around but I would prefer a convention that all publications would agree to follow.)

The remaining sections would report Business; Sports; Arts & Leisure; and anything else the publishing company could afford to print. The 'funnies' should be incorporated into the Arts & Leisure section. And advertising would be limited to Sections B and up with no one allowed to mar or spin the news in section 1.

I have left out the weather because until the meteorologists can get up to the point where they are at least 50% accurate I cannot in good faith consider them for section 1. They may have a column reporting on yesterday's weather and how close or far away from right they were with their predictions but for now the 4 day forecasts must appear alongside sports.

Anyone interested in this type of paper contact me through the personals or by commenting below.

And that's the way it is, Thursday, October first, 2009.
This is the Eclectic Curmudgeon signing off. Good night!

Is We Educated?

According to a study of the World's math and science scores by country America ranks 9th.

While I would love us to be number one I am a realist and I understand that we cannot be the leader on every front. Naturally I hope we use this as a stimulus (can I use that word for this?) to do better in the coming years.

But while coming in ninth may not be bad considering how many countries there are in the world it is nevertheless not something to be terribly proud of. I mean you are not going to hear many citizens going around shouting "We're Number 9" unless they are inveterate Beatles fans.

Of course being number 9 is thirty better than our rank in the World's ratings for health care but that's another story (See Below.)

What I find interesting is the placement of the countries above and below us.

Not surprisingly taking the top 5 spots are the Asian countries of:

Chinese Taipei - South Korea - Singapore - Hong Kong & Japan.

Hungary is a bit of a surprise at number 6 and I guess I'll have to stop with my joke about their schools being from hunger.

England coming in at number 7 is not a shocker although I would have liked to have beaten those blokes.

Another slight surprise is that the US is sandwiched between Russia above and Lithuania below.

Many countries just like small school districts have to include a diverse student class that is not as homogeneous as one might think. For example in my neighborhood many years ago I had the task of rating school districts for my kids and I found that a certain area had lower grades than I expected. I found that the poor scores were a direct result of many students being transient as their parents were in the military. These children, through no fault of their own were not scoring as high as they most likely would have given more stability in their lives.

Israel is further down the list than I expected but as noted above without a more detailed breakdown of their student class I make no assumptions.

The bottom six on the reported list includes no surprises as far as I am concerned. I will leave most of the editorializing to you but I will ask if you feel education of the masses, including women is high up on the list of importance in these countries:

Qatar - Saudi Arabia - Colombia - Egypt - Iran - Turkey.

Send Out Da Noise - Let's Lose Our Funk

America needs to get rid of it's funk. But it cannot do so while all this nonsensical chatter continues. It is hard for us to think with all the yelling going on.

We are stuck in a childish political name-calling fight that is taking our eye off the target.

But there always two sides to every story and the good new - bad news scenario of the current health care debate is no exception. Unfortunately the good news side is helping the same people who should not even be in the discussion.

Instead of getting down to work and getting our health care and health insurance system fixed or at least off life support our leaders are engaged in infighting the likes of which have not been seen since the last time the Republicans were not fully in control. (See the Clinton years.)

Let's get one thing straight America was conceived to be a country governed "OF - BY - AND FOR THE PEOPLE." Now corporations, while made up OF people are NOT people in and of themselves. They are entities that have taken on a life all their own and like other organisms they desire to thrive even at the expense of their surroundings. In that respect they are quite similar to parasites but worse.

Parasites have to make their living off the body to which they are beholding for life. They feed off that body and suck as much of the life out of it without killing it for that would actually be suicide.

Our corporations do not see that death as a limit. Killing the host is but a step forward in their evolution. They will stop at nothing to gain their holy grail; unlimited, unfettered profits.

These corporations and their lobbies are making tremendous noise these days. The noise must not be confused as grass root discontent but rather paid for advertisements against the citizens of this country.

If the men and women of our government finally stopped collecting bribes from the parasite community and came up with regulations setting up a health care system for everyone the result might be the lowering of profit margins at many current insurance companies and the saving of our nest eggs and our health.

Would big insurance go out of business?

Not unless they refused to give up a portion of their obscene profits and start competing in a fair and equitable way.

What exactly is the definition of insurance?

It has two definitions depending on which side you ask.
To normal humans it is a bet we make and pay for up front hoping never to win. But if we need to tap into the funds we have paid in advance in the event of a health care need or an accident we have the peace of mind knowing that the money is there for us.
To Big Insurance it is a bet that they accept knowing in their heart of hearts that they cannot lose since they are the foxes and you are the hens. They have the peace of mind knowing that no matter what ills befall you they and their team of lawyers can find a loophole you missed.

Would they be forced to lay off thousands of workers to compete?

Again, only if the CEOs of those companies decided that it was more important for themselves and their ten or twelve board members to continue making between $10,000,000 and $30,000,000 per year than to have 4,000 employees making $50,000 per year. (Hey guys, can you live on, say $2,000,000 per year?)

Would America go deeper into debt as a result of any plan?

Not necessarily. And individually we would all be better off immediately.

How is it possible that we as individuals would gain?

The average American is paying in the neighborhood of $25,000 per year for health insurance right now. They may not be paying directly from their wallet but it is being paid to the insurance companies by way of payroll deductions and lower salaries due to that cost factor. In other words whether you realize it or not you are paying!

If the Government were to offer an option - OPTION! - that made it possible to get out from under the thumb of a $25,000 per year bill but in doing so caused an increase in your taxes of $10,000 per year would you take it? Do fish swim?

The current health insurance way of doing business is to first deny and then perhaps give in if you are persistent. You also have to pay higher and higher deductibles on what they deem to be allowable. Your costs on drugs is and will continue to increase forever under their plan. There is also a limit on the amount you are allowed to even charge your insurance company within a given year. And make a mistake on a claim form and it's almost as though you committed genocide. And all these decisions are not being made on a personal basis by an informed doctor but by an accountant whose job it is to make the parasite more money!

A true Government regulated health insurance plan would not be run by the beaurocrats in DC but rather by a reputable company within guidelines set forth by our representatives without an eye toward obscene profits. Your costs would be far less than they are now and your health, not their well being would be job one.

The noise that is being heard around the halls of Congress may be coming from the mouths of our so-called leaders but they are only the speakers in a sound system plugged into the stereos of big insurance.