Friday, September 30, 2011

Poem - Despair in the Air

It's really such a simple thing
It says that I can never win
When trying not to lose is all I do
No matter what I say or bring
To the table be it fat or thin
I just can’t get ahead; I am so blue

If only we could catch a break
And win just half, give or take
I know the sun would finally shine on me
And so I ask for goodness sake
To not just eat but have my cake
And from this deep depression be set free!

My son is such a great young man
And those who know him are a fan
Of his kindness and incredible keen wit
But no one calls him back to say
We’d like to hire you today
It’s only time before this boy will quit

America was once the land
Of wondrous dreams and futures planned
But now there’s been a pall cast over all
Our leaders only seek a bribe
The unemployed despair; imbibe
This once great country’s heading for a fall

Can things be changed?
And rearranged
The nation’s road is facing quite a fork
No time for stealth
A tax on wealth
Action’s what we need no time for talk.

Republicans always plan a way
For friends of theirs to steal the day
And keep the poor way down; it’s melodrama
But humans we must now unite
Don’t give up now continue the fight
And stay the course & reelect Obama!

Can You See Me Now?

Optometrists, opticians & ophthalmologists are all seeing red over NY DMV turning a blind eye to vision tests for drivers. Although critics claim drivers need to be able to read the bottom line on the eye chart NYDMV says its bottom line is more important.
Fewer exams at DMV offices mean fewer employees needed.
And it’s no accident that auto repair shops applaud their forward thinking.
By dropping the eye exam requirement for license renewal the DMV is asking drivers to go on honor system. This is quite shortsighted and the DMV must be using rose colored glasses rather than through a glass darkly if they think motorists will see the light and be honorable!
In a related story a stretch of highway in Maine sports the country’s first 75MPH speed limit. Look sharp motorists!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Service Denied - Drop Dead!

I was recently charged a $100 "Co-Pay" for a doctor visit because my new insurance is through the latest group of fraudulent sub-humans to make billions off the pain and suffering of others - Emblem!  (My quoted "Co-Pay" is $50 per visit but the tiny print states that they are allowed to charge me up to FOUR "Co-Pays" per doctor visit so as to pay less themselves.)
When I complained to the customer service people who work for Emblem, AKA leeches, I was informed that without my insurance I would have paid the doctor $1,370!
In other words I should blame the doctor and be thrilled I have Emblem!
Aside from the fact that it was quite unethical for the moron at Emblem to state that it was the doctor's fault that my bill was so high the care I received should have been nowhere near that cost.
When we Americans receive what is quaintly known as an EOB - explanation of benefits - from our insurance companies we should scrutinize the thing.
Doctors request far more than they expect to get since they know insurance companies will pay pennies on the dollar!  After all if they were to pay a fair amount they would not be able to make billions in profits every year and pay the board members such high bonuses FOR DOING NOTHING!
It is time to start a movement toward ridding the world of these despicable leeches who get their sick satisfaction and billions of dollars by denying sick people health care in order to line their own pockets.
Doctors and their labs must be enlisted in the movement as well so as to make the death of the unneeded middle men a reality.
If every one if us were to contact our physicians and ask them to make a deal I am certain we would all be better off.
Here's how it would work:
When we see a doctor he charges the insurance company, let's say $1,000 knowing full well that he contracted with them to only take $250 in payment for his services.
If we the people were to tell the doctor that we won't use insurance and offer $300 instead he or she would probably jump at the idea.  Of course it might take a little more explanation than I am putting forward here but you must get the idea.
The up-side of this for the medical practice would would be decreased staff time (and unfortunately number of staff members) to track and submit detailed records to the insurance company who will only reject the first draft anyway and cause the doctor to resubmit over and over again and wait months to get paid.
But if we the people make a deal with the Dr. and state that we would pay him the full amount on the spot he would be a fool not to accept!
Similar deals could be made with labs or through the doctor's practice and we the people would pay the doctor's office directly.
Yes we would be paying more than the current "Co-Pay" but think of the yearly savings on the health insurance bills to the insurance company and not ever having to hear them say, "not covered."
My yearly health costs once exceeded $21,000 and I am certainly not the highest paying idiot in the country.
Perhaps I have been lucky but even though I have had several surgeries these past few years I would have thousands of dollars more in my bank account had I made deals with the doctors rather than fork over money to insurance bastards, and that includes hospitalization!
An if you are afraid of being hit with unmanageable hospital bills in case you are laid up for an extended period of time you may assuage your fears by taking out far less costly disaster insurance.  These usually come with high deductibles but cost far less in premiums than the leeches like Emblem & Cigna & Blue Cross & Guardian etc. charge.
And many dead people would be alive today if they did not beg some heartless piece of slime bean counter to approve a lifesaving medical procedure only to hear those awful words, not covered.
"Sorry sir but you will now have to die because our CEO has a party planned on the Isle of Crete and cannot afford to pay for your surgery.  You should have taken out life insurance!  How could you be so heartless?  Your family will hate you for eternity!"
How long before the bastards at the life insurance companies start denying claims on dead ones by saying they died needlessly and would have been alive if they had better health care insurance?
In other words they will call every death due to their brethren's denial of service, suicide!  They may even split the profits.
I am certain if I told my doctor I would pay him 10% more than an insurance company would allow for services rendered he would consider accepting!  I am also certain if all of us did so the doctors would be fools not to accept.
I am also certain if the Republicans would stop their stonewalling and start acting human we in America could have had a public option for health care which would essentially kill the incredibly profitable FOR PROFIT insurance industry!
Doctors may not be saints but at least most of them are human!
The same cannot be said about ANY insurance company or corporation - No matter what morons like Willard Mitt Romney say!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Do No, WHAT???

When Senator Ron Paul hinted that he and many if not all of his followers and supporters would do nothing to help a dying human who had no health insurance he elicited a favorable response from many in his camp.
He also elicited a hailstorm of anger from the left and released a huge number of comedic extrapolations; not the least of which came from the fertile minds at SNL where a Ron Paul-like candidate confirmed that he would not stop to save a bunch of cute crying puppies from a burning building.
“Hell no I wouldn’t. Government should not get involved in that type of thing.”
So Ron Paul, who is not only a Senator but a doctor as well has chosen to rewrite the title of one of his oaths changing the “a” to an “i” on the caduceus.
I would like to say that Mr. Paul had some correct thoughts. But as an 'uber' Libertarian he loses sight that he is also, or perhaps was once, a human being.
I understand the feeling of anger at anyone who games the system for personal gain and then calls ON the system for aid if he fails.
Hell we are still going through an economic disaster brought about by just that type of individual!  (Actually individuals and corporations etc. but that's for a different rant.)
However when an individual chooses to forgo health insurance he or she may be doing so for reasons other than personal gain.
It's not my job!
What Mr. Paul should have said was, “We should help the person and find out what the problem is and try to get that person back on track, and we should do so to the best of our abilities. But if we find out that the person chose not to pay for insurance so as to save money while being able to afford it then the entire bill must be paid and the person be held responsible for its payment.”
He could have further clarified by saying that if the man could not afford insurance because he was laid off from his job or went through some other catastrophic event we would work it out later, perhaps even with community service for the greater good.
But Mr. Paul chose not to go that route choosing his hard line "me and only me" mantra.
One wonders why a person such as Mr. Paul even wants to be in government since he obviously hates it so and wants it shrunk to the point of non-existence.  I guess he's a masochist of sorts.
I hereby state that from now the Senator's supporters must be renamed PAUL BEARERS!
The bottom line is that of all people a doctor should not be leaving a dying man on the side of the road to first go check out his financial statement. Or at least he should not be saying it!
That’s, ‘first do no harm,’ Senator not first checkout his bank account and motives!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

If - Updated Version

If you can trust yourself to never say what you are thinking
Yet assume your audience hears what you want them to hear
If from the truth your very soul is shrinking
Yet from your lips glib lies flow clear

If you can hear truths men are saying of you
And still call them lies though you know they are not
Yet not hate the truth sayers for telling what is true
But smile and call their words a dangerous plot

If you can dream of personal gain
And never let on that’s what you crave
Injecting your own agenda into every refrain
With fingers crossed while at crowds you wave

If you can make a heap of magazines you never read
Yet say you know all from among their stories
And in your heart from their morals be freed
Yet claim the tales as your own past glories

If you can spin a tale of woe
Casting fear and doubt across the land
And with straight face calmly show
Twas by some enemy planned
Then make it seem as only you
With your personal hotline to the lord above
Beyond the danger get us safely through
And deliver coveted peace and love

If you can answer questions without ever speaking
Whilst all around are begging just to see if you can
And from your malodorous lies your soul is reeking
Then yours is hypocrisy and you sir are a Republican!

If anyone who loves Rudyard Kipling is offended by the above I apologize and ask that you consider getting a life :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Republicans’ Favorite Things

All together now:
2-4-6-8 who does our group
really hate?

Men killed at lynchings
Or gang-bangers gunned down
Things that make liberals’
Smiles turn to big frowns
Anything we do that thins out the crowd
These I will praise with my words sung out loud

Dinner at clubs with the upper elite crust
Watching old unions go down and then go bust
Laws hurting middle class make me so proud
These I will praise with my words sung out loud

When we vote no
Millions do go
Without food or drink
I simply remember rich corporate friends
And of my great bribes I think

Homeless who just die
Or criminals we fry
Aliens kicked out
Minorities; bye bye
When with complete power we are endowed
Then I will praise with my words sung out loud

When we vote no
Millions do go
Without food or drink
I simply remember rich corporate friends
And of those great bribes I think!

My heartfelt sincerest apologies to
the wonderful Von Trapp Family &
the entire cast of The Sound of Music
for associating them with this song
and the awful anti-human political
party it purports to represent.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Worthy of Annie Sullivan

While the selfishness of our elected officials continues to muddy the flood waters of America there are still pockets of truly great yet simple people performing beautiful selfless acts.
The things these people do they do out of love and respect for others. And their acts are made all the more wonderful by their obscurity on the National stage and against the backdrop of our government.
That government and the political world in which it resides has turned into a fight between two opposing views. Like the proverbial angel and devil occupying shoulders on either side of the country’s head each has an ear into which they whisper their agenda.
Sadly those whispers have become shouts and they tend to drown out all other thoughts. And we can look forward to continuing this non productive cacophony straight through to next November and beyond.
People’s lives are being adversely affected by the childish political and rhetorical ‘one up man ship’ of the DC buffoons. We are being asked to choose our future leaders from among that group of undeserving egoists.
What could be sadder than that?
And yet amidst the rubble of what used to be the best run country in the world there exist real people who go about their daily business without bothering to listen to CNN, MSNBC or Fox.
They understand what is important at least to themselves and their family.
And more importantly they want to make their corner of the sky a better place in which to live. And they do so without the help of our dysfunctional government.
They expect nothing from Congress nor will they get anything.
In fact what they can look forward to is continued attacks especially from one of the political parties who view their kind as a threat to the American way of life.
I am speaking of teachers and more specifically “Special Ed” teachers.
The leaders of the Republican Party view anyone who wishes to help others as weak. They think of unions as evil entities out to steal money from employers.
But I digress!
On my morning commute into Manhattan I often sit next to a young lady on her way to work. In order to keep her identity a secret for now let me call her Anne.
Anne teaches a class of 8 special needs children with various learning disabilities such as but not limited to autism.
Her ‘students’ call her Anne, at least the ones who can speak.
During a recent ride into work Anne told me about one of her children who had never spoken before but after working with him now recognizes 5 words!
This hard fought breakthrough brought her tremendous pride as well it should.
This past week Anne was carrying two huge shopping bags with her and I jokingly asked if she was leaving town.
“No, silly, I found these things in a store and my kids will love them.”
The bag was filled with toys and items such as portable stick-up lights that glow when squeezed. Some were in the shape of animals and Anne was going to use them to teach and reward correct answers.
She paid for them herself without even thinking about reimbursement.
That shows she is smart as well since the program through which Anne works is federally funded so it will surely come under attack as soon as our politicians get around to it.
But in the meantime she and many of her co-workers continue to enrich the lives of the most innocent and needy of New York.
And who knows, maybe with hard work and continued dedication one of her students or the many others being helped by living saints such as Anne will be able to live unfettered productive lives. And who’s to say one of them won’t be instrumental in finding a cure to their own disability.
To the Anne’s of the World and on behalf of all of us I thank and salute you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Remember America?

Me neither!
At least not the America with that ‘can do’ spirit; the one that built cities from coast to coast and border to border; and then built an impressive matrix of highways linking every city and town to one another.
The America that landed on the moon less than a decade after declaring it would do so.
When America was cowardly attacked on that December Sunday in 1941 we weren’t told to go out shopping, we mobilized and rebuilt our lost naval forces. Every able bodied citizen signed up to defend the country, with the only draft necessary being the declaration of WAR!
We doubled our efforts to secure our borders and those of our free world partners and we didn’t come back till it was over over there.
Have we made mistakes along the way?
You’re damn straight we did!
But we made those mistakes honestly while trying to do the right thing.
We knew we were one nation, a union of states comprised of large and small municipalities all eager to follow and attain the American Dream; keep it alive for our children and their children and so on and so forth.
There have always been differences of opinions on how to make the country stronger and help our citizens live more productive lives.
So what happened to that experiment called America?
When did our creed turn to greed and our ideals go to seed?
It has always been true that in order to have more than your neighbor he or she must, by definition have less than you.
In the past you earned more by doing a better job or working in a more profitable field. That has, for the most part changed and I’m afraid it has changed forever.
For one thing our own success has made the old America an impossible relic of the past.
We no longer need as many workers to do the same job and many of the jobs we do need are now done overseas.
Things are so bad that some people even long for the job where you ask, "Would you like fries with that?"
Take the book industry as a perfect example.
With the advent of ‘e-books’ people are now carrying the Nook or the Kindle etc. and downloading their favorite read.  And guess where those products are manufactured!
Aside from the tremendous number of jobs forever lost with the disappearance of bookstores nationwide consider the ancillary industries hurt by this unstoppable trend.
Publishing houses, paper manufacturers, delivery companies, the printing industry, ink manufacturers etc. will all lose out in the transition.
Should we stop this from happening?
Of course not.
And even if we wanted to, how?
Technology may be a blessing but it is also a curse. And it’s a curse that we here now rehearse not just in North America but in the entire world. (Credit to Sherman Stone & Peter Edwards, "1776 the musical.")
But I am nowhere near the first person to bemoan the inexorable march forward of technology without intelligent leadership and forethought. This article was printed over a decade ago!
So can we turn that trend around?
First of all it is not a trend, it's the new reality.
No one can fault a business owner who answers only to his stockholders for lowering his costs. And if lowering costs means laying off half his American work force replacing them with bargain basement priced willing workers from what we used to call the third world then so be it!
We will eventually get those jobs back when we are willing to accept less in compensation than our friends in far off foreign lands.
When America is finally considered a third world country we will start to take large chunks out of that pesky unemployment number.
However total salaries will remain tremendously reduced while the profits of the corporations meting out the measly pay will continue to rise.
Government will aid corporations by continuing to lower or remove regulations completely.
As a reward for hiring one or two Americans per year Congress will stop bothering them with pesky rules about polluting the environment or worker safety and maybe even give them more tax breaks.
Although at this point any further tax break will entail that dirty word stimulus since they are already paying no tax as it is!
Today it was announced the President Obama has given in again to Republican whining and taken a huge step backwards on environmental protection.
Banks offer little or no interest to consumers and have little or no interest ion loaning them money either.
Many of the jobs people in this country will be fighting over will be in the service sector as in serving or servicing the wealthy since they will be the only ones with cash.
When the President talks about jobs he must understand that nobody can force businesses to hire more workers than they need.
The time to stop our job loss to foreign shores was twenty years ago.  That was when our leaders eschewed any tariffs on imported goods thus making it profitable to ship the jobs as well as the product away.
In fact they made it even easier if not necessary with forward thinking ‘free trade’ agreements.
In the scheme of things those agreements will end up being a good thing for the world.
But remember what I said earlier, in order for the rest of the world to have more – we must by definition have less!
Spokesmen for businesses use lame excuses like ‘uncertainty about the future’ as reasons not to hire. Yet CEOs continue to distribute obscene profits among themselves and their friends while millions of Americans no longer know whether they will be able to afford food in their old age. I guess the uncertainty of which these hypocrites speak is on the other foot.
The only jobs our government can create would be in the vastly needed arena of infrastructure repair. But even that essential national project will never come to pass as long as our leaders think only of themselves and their next election or how to get the other guy out of office.
Even a speech by the President ABOUT jobs is a bone of contention for the opposition party as they whine that it would conflict with their petty debate amongst themselves to see who they want to replace him.
And sadder still is the fact that our President agreed to move the speech back to wait for his detractors to finish their love/hate fest.
So as you can see historically high unemployment numbers are here to stay.
When and if the economy comes back it will not do so for everyone.
It simply cannot!
There are more unemployed and under-employed Americans than ever before because there are fewer jobs FOR Americans than ever before.
If we continue down the pothole filled road we’re on the top 2% of Americans who are considered extremely wealthy will hold or control over 90% of the country’s money.
At that point the middle class will no longer exist and very few if any Americans will be able to afford what was once considered a comfortable retirement.
Those of us lucky enough to have a job will die with our boots on.
And those of us unlucky in that respect will be ridiculed and reviled by the top 2% overlords of the country as lazy good for nothing drug taking baby making losers.
On the downside for our overlords with the middle class shrinking into obscurity there will be no wallet from which to steal enough money to fund the vast military complex that President Eisenhower spoke about in his farewell speech.
The NY Times alluded to this last December as well.
And without the ability to wage war or protect the country from attack many of the wealthy unpatriotic business owners will take up residence elsewhere, possible closer to their money. 

America will have gone full circle from inconsequential upstart to super power and back again.
Of course this gloom and doom picture I paint does not have to become reality.
Our leaders could stop being idiots and instead ideate.
America can once again use its ingenuity to create new industries.
But in order to do this we must continue to educate our children and give them the best chance to compete in this flat small global economy. And we don’t do that by firing teachers and cutting out Pell Grants and other loans for higher education in order to line the pockets of the filthy rich.
Our leaders will have to start acting LIKE leaders and do the jobs for which they were hired and highly paid!
They will have to talk AND LISTEN to one another and realize we are one nation and we can only survive if we remain indivisible, doing so with liberty and Justice FOR ALL!
Many of you who read this will remember the America I allude to at the beginning of this post but if we do not soon alter our current course your children will not.