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.

November 23, 2009

Are you REALLY THAT Poor?

As of writing this the government healthcare bill has passed the first round of voting. Still a long way to go from being law but it's crawling there.

As is my way, I'm not going to rehash all the same problems and issues of the proposed new massive government entitlement program. That's well documented on other sites.

But I will say this:

If someone (individual or family) is sooooooooooooo poor they can't afford any kind of health insurance coverage, even just major medical or accident insurance, and they live in daily fear that a mere illness or broken limb will send them to the streets when they have to pay for their own care then if they take the government plan – paid for by you and mean Joe Taxpayer American – then in my opinion this person or family must be required to live under certain rules.

If these people are just soooooooooo poor they need you and me to pay for their healthcare for the rest of their lives (and ours!) then I say these people need to have none of the following:

No cell phones for anyone under 18.
No ring tones other than whatever basic sounds come with the phone.
No iphone or blackberry or similar.
No streaming video, music or internet.
No cable or satellite television other than absolute basic programming.
No pay-per-view services.
No DVR service.No Xbox, wii, Game Boy or Play Station.
No big screen TV's; If they have one and it breaks get a small tube!
No new DVD, CD or stereo equipment.
No new computer unless it's needed for work or school.
No internet service unless it's needed for work or school.
No new car (buy or lease); get a used one.
No changes or modifications to existing autos except for needed repairs.
No vacations more than 3 days long and/or more than 50 miles from home.
No boat, RV, jet ski etc. ; If they already own such it must remain unregistered and unused or sold.
No eating out – ever! – even just to McDonalds.
No season tickets for anything.
No going to the movies.
No subscription based movie service such as Netflix.
No magazine subscriptions unless required for school or work.
No club or association memberships unless required for work or school.
No playing the lottery!
No buying beer, wine, or liquor of any kind for any reason.
No smoking (cigarettes, cigars etc).
No home improvements or remodeling other then needed repairs.
No new home appliances other then replacements of similar kind for broken devices.
No personal beauty or cosmetic services (hair dresser, finger nails, spa etc.)

And, to mix it up even more – They can not have any additional children! If a pregnancy occurs the child must be given up for adoption unless they can obtain health insurance coverage with in a short period of time after birth.

I think these rules are very fair and reasonable.

If a person or family is sooooooooo poor and healthcare is sooooooooo much a concern they must take public assistance then these are pointless and frivolous expenses they should be required to give up.

If you can afford the things on this list then you can afford to buy your own health insurance!


November 21, 2009

Biting The Hand That Feeds You? (Why a Government-Run Healthcare System WILL Destroy Your Freedom!)

There already has been so much written about the pros and cons of a government-run healthcare system. I'm not going to rehash the same old-same old that can be found all over the blogosphere and forums. But there is one aspect of such a system that I have rarely seen addressed that I do believe must also be taken into consideration.

How can you have freedom of speech and protest against the same government that you rely on to provide for your and your loved one's health??

Think about it.

In a government run healthcare system you need the government to review and approve all your healthcare requests. Especially serious, chronic life&death treatments that are usually time consuming and very expensive.

So how can you bee free to voice opposition, much less strong impassioned opposition, against the same government that you then need to turn to in order to save your life or the love of someone you love?!

The answer is simple: You can't!

Just imagine an outspoken critic of the government then needing a major medical procedures – or worse, someone in their family needing it – and now having to apply to this same government that they have been soooooooo critical of to approve the treatment and payment. One would hope that politics remains out of the decision process but nothing in government is without some measure of politics.

Just imagine someone like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannety, Mark Levine, Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Dick Morris, Laura Ingrham, et al. suddenly needing cancer treatment or a organ transplant or perhaps life time treatment for something like MS or Parkinson's. Do you really think the government would be so quick and eager to provide it? I don't.

Not that government would outright say "No!" to the treatment (they might, who knows what politics will be like in the future!) but through weeks and months and possibly years of bureaucracy and the red tape government is famous for treatment will be delayed, withheld, or denied.

When you rely on someone else for literally your very life and the life of the people you love and care for how can you speak freely in criticism of them?

You can't!

Thus is how freedom dies.
Not with a gun shot.
But with something much worse – good intentions.

November 18, 2009

Executive Jobs Are Jobs Too!

On Tuesday November 17th (this year) I saw an interview on Fox News between Neil Cavuto and some Congressman (a Democrat) about job creation in this recession.

The Congressman was touting the usual claim of "jobs created or saved" by the stimulus, specifically all the roads and bridge work that supposedly is taking place. I say "supposedly" because at least in my area I haven't seen any new roads or bridges being built or re-built since the stimulus was passed. But I digress…

Neil Cavuto made a great comment. He asked the Congressman (paraphrase):

What about all the white collar professionals out of work in this recession?
People like technical staff at Boeing and United Technologies?
And business people like corporate Executives and managers?
Do you expect these people to pick up a shovel and start laying concrete?
What do they know about building bridges?!

This is an excellent comment that I've heard Neil and others make before and yet never gets answered!

But more over, it was the Congressman's reply that struck me, quote "I'm not concerned about jobs for Executives!" he said with a smile and a laugh.

Well, he ought to be very concerned!

Are Executives and senior level managers any less employees?
Are the jobs of Executives and senior level managers any less part of a healthy, growing economy?
Are the bills, mortgages, food, clothing, transportation, tuition etc. paid for by Executives and senior level managers any less important than someone else's bills?

No one has ever increased the value of an economy by cutting off people at the top!

And given how President Obama is eager to tax the stuffing out of "the rich", where do you think he's going to find all of "the rich" when highly paid Executives and senior manager jobs are gone?

Further, where is the incentive to work hard? To get an education or advanced training? To put in effort and to strive?

Sure, keeping a job is important. But if you have to work 2-3-4-5 times as hard just to keep your job and not advance, what kind of value does that add to your life and the economy overall?

In spite of what many liberals think of the American population, on the whole we aren't dumb. People simply aren't going to put in the time and effort and cost (in all definitions of the word) for little or nothing back. And that is not how you grow an economy out of a recession!

A rising tide must lift all boats.

Executives are Americans too!

November 16, 2009

When Paying is NOT "Affordable"!

"Afford" :
· To be able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect.
· To be able to meet the expense of; have or be able to spare the price of.

(source: afford. Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: July 24, 2009). )

In recent times it has become all the fashion to tell someone "You can afford to pay more" or "You can afford to pay for this-or-that."

Do NOT confuse the ability to find the necessary money to pay for something with that something being "affordable".

To put it another way, just because a person is able to buy for a product or service does NOT mean they can afford to buy it!

"Affordable" means the ability to repeatedly pay for a product or service without impact on your other expenditures. Almost anyone can spend a lot of money once in a while (especially if you put it on credit!). But that doesn't make it affordable. Likewise, if in order for purchase A you have to reduce or eliminate your purchase of B then A is not affordable. You can only pay for A by reducing your cost of buying B. If A were affordable you could buy both A and B.

For example, during the summer of 2008 in my area of Long Island the price for a gallon of regular gasoline was approximately $4.00. I had to buy it. I had no choice. My car is the only practical mode of transportation for me to/from work (see my prior article about Green Travel). Even if gas had continued to go up to $6 or $8 or more a gallon I still would have needed to buy it.

But that does NOT mean I can afford $4, $6, $8 etc. per gal for gas. I was able to pay $4/gal in large part by not making other purchases that summer. In other words, the money I would have spent on something else I now had to use to buy gas to get to work. And as a result of taking money from other intended purchases the providers of those products/services lost my business! (i.e. my money) There just isn't enough for me to pay for both (without going into debt and I wasn't going to do that!)

So when you hear someone say "Oh, that person is 'rich', they can afford it!" sure they might be able to pay what your talking about – but only at the cost of not paying for something else!

And that is not how an economy grows and prospers. Taking money from one place to put somewhere else is just a paper shuffle. It does not great jobs or economic growth. Those things happen when people have the ability to pay (on a regular basis) for both things!

Taking $1,00 out of one pocket and putting it in the other doesn't give you $2.00

November 12, 2009

Why Not Here?? (or, This Is Progress??)

I was watching a show on Discovery channel about amazing buildings and feats of engineering.

Truly cutting edge designs and grandeur.

I found myself thinking: Why aren't any of those things built here in the United States?

Then I got angry.
For the reason was clear: Politics.

No, not the awarding of contracts or zoning issues or crony-ism etc.

But the BS of environmental "save the planet" politics!

All these great structures have H-U-G-E physical foot prints.

Nope, can't have any of that.

All these great structures took tons and tons of concrete and steel and wires etc. to make.

Nope, can't have that either.

All these great structures took vast and awesome heavy-duty machinery to build.

Nope, can't have that too.

All of these structures change the landscape to some extent.

Nope, can't do that.

So we can't have world-class cutting edge buildings here in the United States.

No advancements of engineering for our civil engineers.
No advancements of materials for our materials engineers.
No advancements of construction for our builders.
No thousands of new jobs to build it, and thousands more to operate and maintain it.

Just think about aaaaalllll the law suits and demonstrations that would ensue if someone just proposed building one of this super towers or other similar structures.

Just imagine the angry and hostility towards such a project because it's big and uses a lot of resources to make and resources to operate.

So we don't do it here. Others do it who don't have such compunctions about moving forward.

This is progress??

I don't think so.

November 3, 2009

Cutting To The Bone (or Where Oh Where To Save Some Money??)

Cut back.
Due more with less.
And my favorite: We all have to make sacrifices. (Gag me!)

These are just some of the currently trendy terms our politicians (and liberals) love to spout about how you and I as citizens need to get by with less money while they tax and spend like drunken sailors. Sickening isn't it?

But this article isn't necessarily about the politics. It's a realistic (because that's what I always am) view of what exactly can be cut back and "sacrificed" on to save money in your life.

I can only speak from my own life so the observations made here may not completely apply to you.
For a long time (long before President Obama and VP Biden made "sacrifice" a patriotic act) I have been looking at what me and my family could cut back on to put some more cash$$ into our pockets each month.

And this is what I have come up with: Not much!

Traditionally I have always been of the belief that no matter how close to the bone your financial life is there is always something you can reduce to save a few bucks. But lately I am at a loss for ideas. Or rather, the ideas I do have result in mere pennies of savings by comparison to the greater dollars of the cost of living.

There are few things we could do.

We could drop our Netflix account (about $5/month).We could drop our XM radio (about $10/month).We could drop our Tivo service (about $12/month). (*)

(* This option would then require me to replace our Tivo device with a cable converter box and our cable service company would charge me about the same $12/month for the box. So the savings from Tivo and the cost of a replacement box pretty much net out to nothing saved.)

And that's about it!

So even if I did cancel these things (even the Tivo, not including the replacement cable box), at best I am saving about $30/month. Big deal. That isn't going to help pay my mortgage or put my kids through college. It's not such terrific savings that is going to have an impact on my life.

We don't have premium cable channels like HBO.
We don't go out to dinner on any sort of regular basis (and even when we do it's dinner at the corner diner or maybe Applebees half-price appetizers, not a Peter Luger steak house).
We rarely go to the movies and even then we get tickets half price or free as part of our cable service.We don't have season tickets to a sports team, opera, theater, etc.
We don't have a swimming pool (gave that up years ago already, but it was nice when we did! Wouldn't mind having one again some day.)

On the positive side:

We already switched about 80% of our light bulbs to CF's for the energy cost savings (long before it was so popular now).
We added a second layer of insulation to the attic.
Anytime we have replaced an appliance, a window or door it has been with an Energy Star efficient model.
In the summer the central A/C is set at 75; In the winter the heat is set at 67 (which is still damn cold!).

So where to cut back?

Lights? (like that Domino's commercial)
Food? (kinda already am; couldn't tell you the last time we had brand name orange juice in the house!)

So where to cut?

Funny how government tells us the people to cut back yet they buy themselves new jets, take trips to Europe, and always seem to be wearing new sharp clothes. Let me see your budget. I'm sure I can make some cost cutting suggestions.

As for me and mine, if anyone has any significant cost saving ideas please let me know.

(note: Moving to a cheaper living area, while I would love to, simply isn't practical at this time so don't suggest that.)