Friday, March 19, 2010

Yet Another Clueless Congress

It's always something with these clowns we elect to represent us in government. They hold their power due to a mandate of the people. This mandate is not unconditional. It is also not limited merely by the election process. They govern by our consent and by the spirit of that consent, they should be shaping things according to our consent. Not by the consent they grant themselves, or by a mandate from those senior to them, or by the President of The United States, who also is granted power only to see to it that he manage the country according to our will, not his alone.

They govern by our consent alone. However, members of congress have managed through the last couple centuries to further corrupt the system they operate in order to benefit themselves first, and the people second.

Many of our current representatives, including the President, were not elected solely on their platforms but by mere shifting of the political winds when voters felt disenfranchised by the opposing party who previously held control. Many voters are not total platform voters, but often make their decision on who to vote for based on one or two issues, by party affiliation alone, or merely because the candidate of their choice is simply "not the guy we have now".

However, to hear our elected leaders speak, the people voted them in to enact every single aspect of the leaders' platforms and thought processes. I hate to be the bearer of news from the universe of Mr Obvious, but it isn't true no matter how many times they repeat it. The approval rating of Congress is not the fault of one party or the other, but in its entirety. It isn't just about what legislation they are trying to shove down our throats, or just who's constantly filibustering the ideas of the other side. Although these are very valid ideas of why congressional approval has remained in the tank for quite some time. It seems the problem that these people just don't understand is this: IT ISN'T ABOUT YOUR SIDE OR MINE, IT'S ABOUT AMERICA AS A WHOLE!

Those who make the decision to vote for or support only the ideas from a singular party affiliation are point blank, MORONS.

Its funny how we see ideas bantied about in the halls of congress. Ten years ago the republicans came up with an idea, and democrats blustered about how horrible it was. Now, the same idea comes out of the mouth of a democrat, and republicans bluster about the disgustingness that it represents. Or vice verse. And all too often, when the latter party trying the idea defends themselves they use such a ludicrous defense of "well, the so-n-so party tried it first!"

I mean c'mon. Haven't we all grown up with the lesson of of jumping off the bridge or cliff because our friends did it? If you have to defend your idea, why not try to use the skills you learned in the halls of academia that you bragged about so much. Please don't use such a juvenile mindset of "they did it first."

Yesterday it was about war and terrorism, this week its about health care, and it will be something else again down the road after that.

But today I address just a few of the finer points of health care reform, since that's the big topic, and supposedly coming up for a final vote this weekend. (Conveniently scheduled for when everyone will be at home watching the NCAA basketball tournament and worrying about how they do in their office pools)

One one side you have the Democrats pushing hard to pass a monstrous health care bill through, read or not read, debated or not debated, passed or not passed through both houses on an identical passage. And the big argument: We have to do SOMETHING to reform our system of health care in America.

Here are my points on this
1. Yes, you are correct- you do have to do SOMEthing
2. No you do not have to have a zillion pages of complicated legislation that 3/4 of the lawmakers couldn't understand if left to look over it themselves.
3. You do NOT have to do EVERYthing all at once
4. Quit distorting facts, and quit using emotional laden stories as your main basis. Once you forget about logic, your ideas fall flat. No matter how many people you convince of your righteousness, a stupid idea, really is a stupid idea.

On the other side, you have the seeming "Party of No" that has been branded on to the Republicans. They have been deemed as the party that wants to keep the status quo, and keep the special interest insurance companies flush with control and cash from the hard working American population.

Here are my points on this
1. You really are idiots for making a huge deal out of anything that Obama supports. I suspect that if Obama fully supported your very mother, a good legion of you would immediately look for ways to vilify your mother. So quit being idiots.
2. Get focused, and craft an entire bill yourselves. Look to address some problems beyond the most very obvious, and be fair about it. Don't merely countermand that anything the democrats do is stupid and anti-American. Again, this only serves to make you look like idiots.
3. Don't assume you can use fear as a main tactic forever. Sooner or later your words get played out, and no one cares. Remember the little fable about the boy who cried wolf? Yeah, you guys are him.
4. Quit distorting the facts. Inventing ghosts and using end-times equivalent stories to make your point only work so well. Get your facts, check your facts, and be really specific on your points and exactly how things are working. Don't cherry pick your facts, so the people who oppose you can say "hey look he forgot to mention the second half of the statement that shows us to be right". If you fail to use logic, and your idea falls flat when applied to a litmus test, well like I said of the democrats, a stupid idea is a stupid idea, no matter how many people believe in it.

But lets look now at a few specific ideas within the health care bill and the concepts it brings to the table.

1. Individual mandates. In other words, you buy adequate health insurance (as deemed most likely by a government bureaucrat), or you pay a fine. If you won't pay the fine, spend some time in jail. the enforcement of this idea is under the jurisdiction of the IRS. You know, the tax guys.

First of all, even if the health care reform bill is passed, if this clause is in it, the fight has only just begun. It will go to the Supreme Court, and will most likely be struck down. You will have wasted a crap load of money dealing with the legislation, then the court case, and in the meantime while that's being decided, it may well affect a lot of people who will in fact be active dissenters to this clause. Never mind the fact that Congress, according to their position have to consider the constitutionality of their actions even before trying to see how it will go down in a Supreme Court decision. That's their responsibility, which more often than not, they shirk away from on their way to cash that check with their new taxpayer-funded raises they gave themselves.

Secondly, if this is not a tax, as it has been argued...then why are the tax guys in charge of compliance? These are the same guys who will arrest you and jail you for the mere act of following the very letter of the law when it comes time to filing and paying taxes. There's a couple key words in the tax code as it was written that says "voluntary compliance". Interestingly enough, it isn't so voluntary once you get down to the bottom of it all. And with this mandate, as it is worded, there will be nothing voluntary about it, so be prepared to pay a price if you choose not to buy a pre-approved plan.

Thirdly, they say that the argument against health care reform is headed by insurance companies as they are wanting to keep the status quo. Well, in one sense I can see it. However, the mandate specifically adds millions to these companies rolls of paying customers. the very clause says, individuals will buy insurance from private insurance companies. Never mind the unconstitutionality of this, just think about who profits from having millions of new people paying into them. Yeah, so much for "eliminating special interests" from the argument. You can tell with this one clause that those special interests have bought and paid for our elected officials who go along with this plan.

You really want to look at some options to go with? And no these are not merely my GOP provided talking points here.

Take your time. Decide what the problems are with the system. Then divide them up into smaller groups and legislate in a few fixes at a time. Then move on to the next group of problems. If some of the new legislation isn't working, try a different angle that goes into effect and repeals the previous legislation, so as not to keep clogging up our law books with antiquated and irrelevant crap. Any costs associated with the first idea, transfer to the replacement.

In other words, lets solve the problems one or two issues at a time. You don't need 2000 pages and an immediate and complete changeover to get things accomplished.

You want competition against the collusion and monopoly of health insurers??? Try using your power to replace some your predecessors idiotic measures. You know, way back when, our leaders were expected to protect us from trusts and monopolies of companies so that they couldn't take unfair advantage of us Americans. And yet, guess who specifically made an exemption so that health insurance companies could create their own monopolies and leave us to their mercy, god forbid they had any to begin with? Yep..that's right the Congress of the United States of America, and signed into law by our President at that time. Seems to me if you allow interstate commerce, you will see an increase in competition, and you will see premium costs go down, reductions in co pays and deductibles as perks to attract more customers away from the competition.

Allow interstate commerce within the health insurance industry.

Tort reform. Look I'm not talking about ludicrous ideas like capping rewards at a mere $250,000 per case. I'm saying give it a rational look and make monetary awards with a little discretion. If you want to mandate something here is where you do it. Whatever it takes money-wise to take care of a person who is injured or debilitated due to medical malpractice, give them that to start with. Say a free ride to whatever medical facility they have in their area or that treats such things if their isn't a local provider of such services. Just issue them a card that says, I get free treatment. As far as other monetary damages being awarded, look at their salary and years left to retirement, and give them that, maybe with a slight bonus to make up for any inflation. No more $10 million "pain and suffering" awards t someone who makes $20,000 a year and is only going to be working another 10 years before retiring anyways. I understand its their life we're talking about, but 9 out 10 people will never make $10 million in their life total, so lets be realistic here. If the malpractice results in a death, then figure out an amicable financial settlement for the family of the deceased. And again, it shouldn't be $10 million. It should take care of things, but not turn them into instant Forbes 500 kind of people. With a little tort reform, you will see an expansion of some medical services to certain areas that are lacking, geographically speaking. You will also see a lot less wasting of the unnecessary testing that doctors go through knowing full well their patient is not suffering from "hyper-idiomoronic syndrome". Many people will retort that tort reform will only make it harder to sue doctors who screw up, and that defensive medicine costs and malpractice insurance costs are only a sliver of a percentage of why health care is so costly. First off, lets not change the wording that makes it harder to sue, just change the monetary awards to a more common sense level. Secondly, so what about percentages of cost. Isn't every little bit saved that much better for everybody all around? After all, we keep voting in guys who just want me to put in fractions of a penny on the dollars I earn to pay for this program or that program, and everyone seems to be fine with that.

Tort reform should be fair to both sides.

Look, in the end, I don't have all the answers. I don't think there is a single member, much less the collective body, of congress that does. I don't think the President does. I don't think consumer advocates do, nor do the health care industry's many entities. But I think we need to slow down, get off the ideological train wreck we are all on, and figure out a few things a time to see what works, rather than changing up the system entirely in one fell swoop, with hardly a clue of the consequences. No plan goes perfectly in general, but in two areas it really shows its imperfection: battlefields and government.

We don't have to do things like other countries do them. We're America. We have created more wealth than almost every other country in the world combined, in fact some of those countries made a good chunk of money through our system or because of it. The reason we can give so much financial support in pure dollars to other countries to aid them in defense, or in the event of a natural disaster, is because we made the money in the first place. One may say there is something wrong with American exceptionalism. And maybe to a point there is, but it was our exceptionalism that led the world into modern times. You look around the world, and a lot of items were either created here in the U.S. (see: cars, airplanes) or we vastly improved upon items invented elsewhere (see: gunpowder, space travel). We can create our version of health care, improved upon what we have now, and make it unique and better than anyone else's if we step back and put our logical minds instead of our emotional minds to it.

We built our country on the idea of free market, with some government to reign in the players from hurting each other. Let us not just take all the players out and have the government draft only its own players to play the game. You'll never win with that kind of plan. Unless you're already one of the power players or well connected to them. Lets use the framework fo what got us here in the first place, re-tweak it, and use it to propel us ahead to where we need to go.

Let us be that Shining Beacon on the Hill, not just to Americans already here, but be the example for the rest of the world.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Report From the Colonel

From The Desk Of:

Col. Beauregard Sterling Lovell, Mookified Army, Feline Brigade, Commanding

Once again Spring has arrived, and it is time for my quarterly report. So lets get to it, I haven't much time for you people unless you plan on feeding me or letting me outside.

Health Report on the Colonel: Eating the same old dry cat food crap. No tasty live vittles for this guy. Recently underwent annual health inspection from just another lowly veterinarian. As a member of the Mookified Fighting Forces, this is taxpayer subsidized health care at its finest. You know, General Mook is always bragging about his state of the art James Medical Institution he co-founded. Sure they can make a simple one-time vaccine for cootie to help people out, but I still have to get a freaking distemper shot every year. State of the art my furry butt. The doctors say that while my Kitty-crack (that's catnip to you wise acres) addiction is under control, that I'm going to have to cut down on my cigar smoking. I'm not so sure how I feel about this. I may have to quit sneaking out and hanging with the Godfather when the General isn't paying attention. Besides that, the Godfather keeps brand name cereal around. Much better than this store brand crap the General's wife keeps buying. I think its sub par processed cereal material that has led me to a serious bout of cabin fever, and causing me to climb up every file cabinet, bookcase, or armoire available.

Economy: The economy, I am proud to say is in good condition. The fecal output is good, reeeaaall good. Air pollution reducers are being enacted for a better quality environment. And as a part of that economic benefit comes from using the recyclables I grab out of their container to help further bury the fecal material. Win-win proposition for me. Keep up my industriousness, while satisfying the "greenies" need to reduce flooding the atmosphere with my stuff.

Education: Happy to report all is well here, and I am learning absolutely nothing. I mean hey, whats the point of furthering one's education when you have people around to do a cat's (much less a fat cat Colonel) bidding?

Security: Here is one area that I, as the Colonel in this outfit, have found lacking. Since the receding glaciers have given way to more moderate temperatures, those dastardly birds have returned yet again. They are nesting above the Deck outpost. They are using sappers to take up posts on the deck itself. I fear it will only be days before the squirrels join them in harassing us further. The General has put an end to recon patrols outside the command post. Something about invading the area above our compound, or another stupid excuse for the man to keep me down.

I thought at first we were finally going to be proactive in our security measures. It appears that the one they call Buggy made a bird-feeding treat, and the General's wife hung it up out on the deck. Surely we were planning to lure the enemy in with a baited trap where I would be able to use my finely honed skills to eliminate them one by one. But I was ushered back inside. I plan on filing a formal complaint with the General later. I'm sure he'll find the time to lose it with all the bureaucratic paperwork he makes up to waste his time.

Clearly this is something that must be taken care of. Had the General's wife not put the kibosh on me getting my own executive officer, we would have this outfit in fine shape. However, given that I was denied my request, stewardship of the compound under General Mook has become rather lackluster.

In summary, we are at about 75-80% okay so far. However, should this security matter not be taken care of, all else may be in danger of collapsing. Please, send help, or the ASPCA or whoever is in charge of making sure I have a good home.

Friday, March 5, 2010

People Skills

Also titled: Sarcasm- It's Not Just A Breakfast Cereal

Now, I am sure most of you read the title and ask yourselves "What the hell does Mookie know about people skills?"

To that I say, intellectual knowledge and application of are two different ideas entirely. I know what people skills are and how they are supposedly, in theory anyways, to be applied in real life interactions. However, I have little use at this time for people skills, and my job requires little use for them, so I don't want to ruin my hard earned reputation for laziness and waste time on such needless efforts. I drive around, rattle some doors, and rarely have to talk to anyone while I work. And on the occasion that a client calls, I can make myself sound professional for 2 or 3 minutes. If some moron on the street feels the need to poke fun at my being a Rent-a-Cop, well, that's on him. That's usually the person who later on wil be so drunk he doesn't even realize how many times he's pissed in his own pants. I on the other hand made some money and provided for my family, so screw him (I edited the real word out that went through my brain).

People apply people skills often to keep the peace amongst each other, or in some cases to manipulate the behavior of those around them. To a degree, people skills and maintaining a sense of political correctness in our world have become intertwined. Its pretty much ludicrous how intertwined they can be at times. People open their yap a lot, and oftentimes say something or another that is going to offend somebody. In high school this can lead to a adulthood it leads to political grandstanding. Neither of which I have much time for these days. I'm too busy grooming my ego. Giving it a sponge bath, combing its hair, brushing its teeth, and dressing it properly for public venues takes up a lot of my time. Feeding time is always a lot easier, as we always go out for my ego's dinner. For those of you who read my drivel, we thank you. For those of you who actively avoid reading this drivel, sorry you're not here to see me thank you in writing for filling up my ego's realization of importance.

The way I was raised, was to be told how things were. Do this, don't do that. If I failed to adhere to the directives handed down from the Evil Duane, other adults, coaches, or other authority figures, I was given more than just an earful. And, if I cried in self pity about getting into trouble I was given yet another earful about knocking it off.

I was razzed by friends and those who weren't on a regular basis, and reciprocated on an equal or greater value. It forced a lot of us to grow some thicker skin. After all, you can't be seen as weak, especially as a boy, or it will only get worse. So pretty much any amount of nastiness sent my way rolls right off my back. (Unless its from my wife, in which case, its a penetrating laser beam of "I'm gonna $^&* you up now!" going right through my skull. Of course this invites me to defend myself the only way I know how....Spousal abuse. She needs a good beat down about once a week or so for getting out of line. If you're still reading this, please dial 911 and report a homicide, because she reads this too and the last line will result in my death. I live at....)

As such nastiness may roll off my back, depending on my mood and the person, I will either ignore it, or shoot my mouth off right back at them with an overly sarcastic tone. Once the exchange is over with, I'm pretty much over it and have already moved on with my life. If they are hurt by my words or tone of my voice, well, that's their problem. And to them I say, get over it, grow a thicker layer of skin and move on. To me, it has all become quite impersonal, and is merely situationally relevant. When I'm at work, and a coworker is being stupid I will not hesitate to say so, and i will not hide any disgust in my voice while talking with them. If it is a situation in which they have no experience, I will walk them through it without any angst towards them. However if it is something routine, and they start whining or bitching, well...Call me Mr Sarcastic Jackass, Esquire. Again, it is nothing personal against the person (unless it happens repeatedly and I determine the person is just a moron). I merely feel the need to get the venting out of the way, and hopefully my gripe will be enough motivation to not screw things up, if for no other reason than to avoid a bath by my acidic tongue. Basically the message is, you're an adult, buck up/sack up and do your job. I will not hesitate to pull anyone's Man Card, and publicly if necessary. But if I see this person at the shop or anywhere else, I can easily carry on a conversation like nothing ever happened. Unless of course, they are the aforementioned moron, in which case, watch what you say, I may throw it back in your face.

So I have this friend, we'll call him Mr A, who manages at a call center. He came in one day and asked the manager who had presided on duties about some certain shortfalls in reaching their numbers that occurred prior to his arrival. Pretty much an innocent question, just merely wondering in case the big bosses wants some answers when they get in. The other manager, we'll call him Mr D, made some explanation that sounded more like an excuse, given previous situations had occurred in not so great an atmosphere and performed immensely better than this current debacle. Well, Mr D, somehow got offended by the line of questioning from my friend, and tried to drag the big boss into the whole ordeal. He also proceeded to tell my friend, after not receiving a satisfactory answer from the big boss, to not talk with him unless it was business related. So I guess jovialness was now out of the question amongst work peers.

Now, without trying to defend Mr D, I can see how he might take things Mr A says the wrong way. He (Mr A)is a go-getter type and generally commands the respect of his employees, and makes quite clear what he expects of them. He is not one to pull punches, and can be rather intimidating at times to anyone with a less strong personality. (on a related previous note...if he gets that way with me, I'll beat him like I do my wife for getting out of line). While Mr A has a good grasp on people skills and how to use them, once in awhile when he gets going and doesn't take the time to think a statement through and how it might be perceived by the other person, he can quickly offend someone, but totally unintentionally. He merely puts things out there the way he sees things and how they need to be taken care of, solicited or not.

However, in this case, it appears that Mr D has a fragile ego, low self-esteem, or some kind of guilty conscience for failing to manage properly. I don't honestly know. But after having heard what was said, my advice to Mr D would be to reach down between his legs, grab his sack to reassure himself that he is a man, and get over it. If he finds there is no sack for him to grab, well he should rub some salve on his mangina and get over it. Hopefully he does this in a private manner, because to do it out in the open would just be a little weird, especially in a professional office environment. Anyways Mr D- Move on, and don't worry about a situation more than it needs to be worried about. And instead of acting like a child tattling to his babysitter that so and so was mean to him, man up and deal with your own mental issues.

Everyone gets so offended these days and takes everything so personally. To them I say, swallow your shallow false pride and get over yourselves. Inevitably most of what you worry about you can't do a damn thing about, and that which you can deal with, most of it doesn't matter in the big picture anyways. And if you find yourself in my cross hairs calling you a retard or questioning your sexual orientation, its a figure of speech...don't go barking up some special interest group's tree trying to make a big deal out of it.