MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

July 29, 2009

Diner with President Obama

The following was sent to me by an associate. I usually don't post anecdotes but this story seems to ring oh so true these days!

I don't know who the author of this is but I acknowledge his or her work.

Once upon a time, I was invited to the White House for a private dinner with the President.

I am a respected businessman, with a factory that produces memory chips for computers and portable electronics. There was some talk that my industry was being scrutinized by the administration, but I paid it no mind. I live in a free country. There's nothing that the government can do to me if I've broken no laws. My wealth was earned honestly, and an invitation to dinner with an American President is an honor.

I checked my coat, was greeted by the Chief of Staff, and joined the President in a yellow dining room. We sat across from each other at a table draped in white linen. The Great Seal was embossed on the china. Uniformed staff served our dinner. The meal was served, and I was startled when my waiter suddenly reached out, plucked a dinner roll off my plate, and began nibbling it as he walked back to the kitchen.

"Sorry about that," said the President. "Andrew is very hungry."

"I don't appreciate..." I began, but as I looked into the calm brown eyes across from me, I felt immediately guilty and petty.. It was just a dinner roll. "Of course," I concluded, and reached for my glass. Before I could, however, another waiter reached forward, took the glass away and swallowed the wine in a single gulp.

"And his brother Eric is very thirsty." said the President.

I didn't say anything. The President is testing my compassion, I thought. I will play along. I don't want to seem unkind. My plate was whisked away before I had tasted a bite. "Eric's children are also quite hungry."

With a lurch, I crashed to the floor. My chair had been pulled out from under me. I stood, brushing myself off angrily, and watched as it was carried from the room. "And their grandmother can't stand for long."

I excused myself, smiling outwardly, but inside feeling like a fool. Obviously I had been invited to the White House to be sport for some game. I reached for my coat, to find that it had been taken. I turned back to the President.

" Their grandfather doesn't like the cold."

I wanted to shout - that was my coat! But again, I looked at the placid smiling face of my host and decided I was being a poor sport. I spread my hands helplessly and chuckled. Then I felt my hip pocket and realized my wallet was gone. I excused myself and walked to a phone on an elegant side table. I learned shortly that my credit cards had been maxed out, my bank accounts emptied, my retirement and equity portfolios had vanished, and my wife had been thrown out of our home.

Apparently, the waiters and their families were moving in. The President hadn't moved or spoken as I learned all this, but finally I lowered the phone into its cradle and turned to face him.

"Andrew's whole family has made bad financial decisions. They haven't planned for retirement, and they need a house. They recently defaulted on a subprime mortgage. I told them they could have your home. They need it more than you do."

My hands were shaking. I felt faint. I stumbled back to the table and knelt on the floor. The President cheerfully cut his meat, ate his steak and drank his wine.

I lowered my eyes and stared at the small grey circles on the tablecloth that were water drops.
"By the way," He added, "I have just signed an Executive Order nationalizing your factories. I'm firing you as head of your business. I'll be operating the firm now for the benefit of all mankind. There's a whole bunch of Erics and Andrews out there and they can't come to you for jobs groveling like beggars."

I looked up. The President dropped his spoon into the empty ramekin which had been his crème brulee. He drained the last drops of his wine.

As the table was cleared, he lit a cigarette and leaned back in his chair. He stared at me. I clung to the edge of the table as if were a ledge and I were a man hanging over an abyss. I thought of the years behind me, of the life I had lived. The life I had earned with a lifetime of work, risk and struggle.

Why was I punished?
How had I allowed it to be taken?
What game had I played and lost?

I looked across the table and noticed with some surprise that there was no game board between us.

What had I done wrong?

As if answering the unspoken thought, the President suddenly cocked his head, locked his empty eyes to mine, and bared a million teeth, chuckling wryly as he folded his hands.

"You should have stopped me at the dinner roll," he said.

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July 25, 2009

Healthcare Prevention Does NOT Make Financial Sense!

The shining star of the Obama national healthcare plan is the claim of H-U-G-E savings that will come from constant testing and thereby early detection of diseases when treatment will be (maybe) simpler and cheaper than if the disease is allowed to progress further before being found and treated. President Obama insists that early detection and treatment will save billions and pay for the national healthcare plan plus more.

I say: Impossible!

It simply does not make sense.

When you look at the process of what it means to really have medical tests performed and the costs involved all long the way I just don't see how it can possibly save a penny. In fact, it will end up costing a lot more than no testing!

Here's why:

Preventive tests cost money!

What ever that test maybe it costs to administer the test, have the results reviewed by an expert, and presented back to the patient. Even if the test is completely negative these costs must be paid each and every time the test is performed. And since the point of testing is to catch a problem early on that means years and years of testing before anything is found – if anything at all ever is found!

For example –

The American Cancer Society recommends breast cancer screening in women start at age 40. That means mammograms. And I happen to know (from family experience) the cost of a mammogram test is approximately $2,000 (rounded).

According to U.S. government figures the average life expectancy for a woman in the U.S. is 76 years. That means a minimum of 26 years of mammogram testing. Give these two facts, at $2,000 per test that means starting from age 40 to age 76 the total cost of mammogram testing would be $52,000. And that amount is probably on the low side because costs always go up and it presumes 76 is the mortality. If costs go up as they always do and/or if the woman lives past that age the total cost goes even higher!

Now consider what it means if for those 26 years the woman never test positive for cancer (thankfully!). That means $52,000 was, for all intents and purposes, wasted on testing since it never returned a positive result. There is no recovery of that cost! I agree it is good peace of mind to know she doesn't have breast cancer, peace of mind doesn't off set the cost much less result in a cost savings.

But let's consider if she does unfortunately get diagnosed with cancer. Let's say 10 years (and $20,000 later in costs) into testing a mammogram reveals a lump. Further tests are need to determine if it's cancer or benign (there are non-cancerous grows too that don't cause illness). That's additional cost as well. Let's continue and assume it is cancer. Treatment is started. Doesn't matter what kind – surgery, chemo, radiation, whatever. That has a cost too. Now let's say the treatment is successful and the cancer is totally eradicated. Very good news! But the costs don't stop there. Now future testing resumes (especially after a prior cancer diagnosis) for the rest of her life. More on going costs.

So to sum it up you first have the costs of the initial testing to maybe find cancer, the costs of the treatment if and when cancer is in fact found, and the costs of the future testing after treatment to see if it has relapsed.

Where is the H-U-G-E savings???

Further, very often it may take several tests to determine if there is or is not a medical problem. We have all had the experience (and if you haven't yet you will, I guarantee it) of your doctor performing some routine test then telling you this or that result is slightly higher/lower than it should be. As such he wants to run an additional test. Or the doctor wants to send you to a specialist. Either way there could 5, 6, 7 or more tests performed. Each with its own costs (and usually growing in expense as the detail of the tests rise). Even at the end of all the testing very often there is no conclusive result positive or negative! The final answer very often can simply be "Come back in 6 months for another test".

Even more cost.

I agree that sometimes the cost to treat an illness is less the sooner the illness is found. But that definitely isn't in stone either. In many cases there is only a single or a limited number of treatments no matter at what stage the disease is and it costs the same.
But even if it is cheaper to treat sooner rather than later, the initial and follow up costs of testing are still the same as well as spending money to treat the disease itself when found. Maybe not a much spent on treatment but still a cost.

So I just don't see how there is going to be H-U-G-E savings from early testing.

I would also remind my readers that when the HMO system first came on the scene it too was touted as being a great cost controller. The concept of the Health Maintenance Organization would but early testing and preventive activities ahead of reactionary treatment and therefore reduce healthcare costs while making people healthier.

Anyone think HMO's have significantly reduced healthcare costs and/or made people more healthier?

As the saying goes: "Show me the money!"

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July 16, 2009

I Was Right! (But Wish I Wasn't) – An Open Letter to The Adoption Nazis on Craigslist

You know who you are.

You know what you did to me when I explained the tragedy of how my wife and I tried to adopt a little girl from a misguided young girl and her drunkard, abusive, felonious multi-convicted (including having served 3 years in state prison for child abuse!) and still on probation boyfriend 20 years her senior.

You know how you ripped me and my wife:

  • That it somehow as our fault they backed out 48 hours after the birth.

  • That somehow it was our fault we wanted to give this innocent child an chance and opportunities in life she would never get with an immature mother and drunk abusive father.

  • That it was somehow our fault we (as well as lawyers, social workers, doctors and nurses) warned the girl that if the father was abusive now having a baby around wasn't going to make things better and that it is a very short step from verbal and emotional abuse to physical violence!

  • That it was all our fault for going in with honest good intensions and good faith, paid all legal expenses for the family up to and including birth expenses.
    That somehow it was we who were awful, manipulative and uncaring people for wanting to do good for an innocent new life.

  • That we just didn't understand the mother/child bond even if it is with a loose, drinking, drug using young mother and her 20+ year older drunk, abusive, near-do-well multi-convicted boyfriend.

  • That we were too nose in the air thinking our home and lives could provide a safer, cleaning, more loving environment full of hope and opportunities for the child than these two people ever could hope for.
And I won't even touch your preaching of agency, agency, agency! (as opposed to private adoption - do you work on commission for agencies??)

Well all you do-gooders and holier-than-thou pompous adoption Nazi's, get your heads out of your asses and listen up!

Recently we found out that we (as well as the lawyers, social workers, doctors, nurses etc) were right – most unfortunately.

The birth mother had the birth father arrested for domestic violence and child abuse!

As of writing this his butt is sitting in jail awaiting a hearing for a restraining order (among other things).

We don't know the condition of the mother or child and can only hope both (especially the child) are OK and safe.

We can only hope she follows through on the arrest and prosecution, and doesn't take the all too common abused woman/mother stance of forgiving him "just one more time". The next time she may not be able to call for help.

I wanted all you adoption Nazi's asses on Craigslist to know this because in your total-control/narrow-minded view of what an adoption is and how birth parents behave this is all impossible and never happens. I must be making it up (that's what you told me and my wife countless times when we recited this adoption experience as well as other failed attempts over the last 2 years).

There is an 18 month old little girl who needs help. Unfortunately she is beyond our power to help now due to the poor decisions of these trash people. My wife and I now have our own beautiful little girl we love so dearly but I still hold a small corner of my heart for the one that got away.

If you have any measure of human compassion left in your close minds and little hearts you will say a prayer for this baby. She is the true victim on all this human tragedy for she is innocent of any choice in the matter.

And maybe, just maybe, after you read this and before you click the Post Comments button to rip me yet again you can look in the mirror and ask yourself "Maybe I was wrong?"

G-d bless and watch over the child.

July 14, 2009

On Giving Advise to Michael Jackson

(MastePo comes out of summer break momentarily to post this article for your benefit of his wisdom.)

This is not another article about how screwed up Michael Jackson's life may have been and why didn't anyone help him. There are plenty of those out there already. MasterPo doesn't rehash the same things. Beside, how does anyone really know for sure what Liz Taylor or Brooke Shields et al may or may not have said to him or tried to help him in some way? That's not the point of this article.

MasterPo doesn't know what was or wasn't said nor do most of the people who are now Monday-morning quarterbacking Michael Jackson's life.

But MasterPo does know the reality of human nature. And one reality is that people very often just don't want to hear advice no matter how important it is, nor do people want others butting into their lives.

To the latter first…

When it is asked "Why didn't anyone stop him?" or "Why didn't anyone take over?" stop and really think about it. Help or take over what? His life?! Like it or not Michael Jackson was an adult (at least from the legal stand point) for most of his career. He could make his own decisions. Whether that be good ones or bad ones, it's still up to him. As an American he – and you – has just as much freedom to fail as to succeed. In Michael Jackson's case he seems to have really gone down in flames but I suspect the media fanned those flames a lot more than necessary. People far less notable than Michael Jackson crash and burn their lives everyday with even so much a mention in the news. More on that in another article.

The ruination of your life is very much a matter of opinion. What I consider a bad choice for you may seem to be a reasonable risk to you. Who's to say. I certainly don't want someone to have the power to come into my life and second guess what they think is best for me!

Obviously there are some limits and at some point in our lives others do make critical decisions for us that often go contrary to what we ourselves want (like when we are very young or very old). But most of the time freedom means the right to make bad choices and to have to suffer the consequences.

To the former…

It has been said the Michael Jackson only wanted "Yes!" people around him; That anyone who told him he was wrong was dismissed. Maybe, maybe not.

But that isn't uncommon. MasterPo has known quite a few people – bother professionally and socially – that just don't want to be told they are doing something wrong or something that won't work out.

After all, it is human nature. Who really likes being told they are wrong? Who likes having their ideas, hopes, dreams squashed? What great achiever ever did well surrounding themselves with nay sayers?

In another article MasterPo will be posting soon it will be discussed who several people MasterPo knows didn't listen to his advise and have had a lot of heartache and failure in their lives because they undertook courses of action that MasterPo felt was wrong. But the world isn't black and white so who knows – maybe things would have worked out too?! It isn't a crime or a sin not to take advice. Only time can tell if someone else's opinion was better than your own. And even then most decisions are half chance anyway.

It's always easy to say "Someone should have done something!" after the fact. But ask yourself how many times people have given you advise that, if you had in fact followed, you would have been even worse off! And likewise, do you really want others sticking their nose into your business?
We love to see how the mighty fall. But don't get so upset over the tragedy of his life. Other than the human loss, he made his own bed. If you really respect the man then respect his decisions regardless of what you think he should have done.

No one likes an "I told you so!"

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July 1, 2009

Summer Break!

MasterPo is going on summer break until Labor Day (at least).

Few people of substance reads blogs during the summer anyway. I'm saving my good stuff for the fall.

If something interesting or noteworthy happens I'll post but otherwise have a great summer!

And wear sunscreen!