September 26, 2009 Thoughts on the Recession, Health Care and Cash for Clunkers
It was bad enough to discover I had lost 1/3 of my hard-earned retirement investment before I could transfer funds out of my conservative funds and into safer accounts. (I was one of the early few who saw the writing on the wall and acted in spite of my financial advisor's
advice to "hang in there"). Yet, those losses made it impossible to continue the ongoing deductions from the funds that helped me pay for....uh....health care!
I made an appointment with a new Internal Medicine Doctor at the local clinic. It had been some time since I had a full physical and I was concerned about my weight and somewhat elevated blood glucose levels.
So, I showed up for my appointment and the good doctor introduced himself in a significant but understandable middle European accent. Indeed, the doc had studied originally in Warsaw, Poland, and later in US hospitals. He was a formidable gentleman, over a head taller than me and a physique suitable for
a pro football line backer. I noticed that his hands were huge, within fingers the size of salamis, and I wondered how he could possibly handle delicate instruments and medical devices. As I was pondering these thoughts, the good doctor poked, prodded and inspected me as doctors do. I dutifully turned my head
and coughed on demand.
And then the gentle giant of a doctor mentioned "prostate exam" and my mind immediately flashed to the salami fingers as I bent over to the sound of extra large surgical gloves snapping. Minutes later, the doctor stated that my prostate seemed fine, and I squeaked a comment regarding how my tonsils
seemed? I vowed never to commit a crime that would result in my indenture to a penitentiary, unless the crime was so heinous that I would be placed in solitary confinement forever.
Following the doctor's exam, I had to go to the Lab to donate 3 quarts of blood for an expensive battery of tests...Seven hundred and thirty dollars later, the Doc said I was in good health...except that I was overweight..... Er, I kinda KNEW that!!! Then they charged me another $120 bucks to listen to a
dietician who told me to eat less!!!
These monies, as well as payments to my other doctor and the unbelievable prescription meds I take (I sincerely believe that not all of these meds are necessary, particularly in the doses prescribed, but it's much easier to medicate than do real doctoring!) are funded not through health insurance but
through my shrinking pocketbook.
It's not surprising that the larger companies here in far Northern Wisconsin manage to get away with laying off or firing employees who are fifty or more years old in order to have a highly more favorable profile for health insurance costs. Youngsters, eager to find work in these Northwoods, fill in the
vacancies of the displaced elders at far smaller salaries and with far less experience. But those whose jobs have been displaced by the greed of company owners with names like Smith and Foster and Kadiddlehopper have a difficult time finding jobs that have decent pay and health benefits.
There are a lot of folks who are unable to find affordable health care.
Health insurance companies feel the need for greed, pharmaceutical companies live high on the hog off the people who can ill afford their products. High prices in health care will bankrupt Medicare....I am totally amazed at senior citizens who oppose
health care reform. They denounce "socialized medicine" while most are benefitting from Medicare, about as socialized as you can get! Most of the dissidence comes from mass disinformation, and the disinformation comes primarily from the Republican party. You know, that GOP which has gone from the
Grand Old Party to the Gawd Offal Party! Made up of a bunch of sour grapes poor losers, the GOP attempts to manipulate misinformation for the sole purpose of creating President Obama's Waterloo. Reduced to name calling (LIAR) and other desperate tactics, the GOP is more interested in denouncing the President that in representing
and contributing to the betterment of the Nation's citizens. Of course, they have the additional incentive of having their election funded in large part by the very industries that thrive on the health misfortune of the citizenry. Do you REALLY want these idiots representing you?
I've heard of people having sympathetic ailments when a loved one becomes ill. I never knew it happened with vehicles... Within a day of my medical appointments, trusty GeoTruk refused to start while I was in town at my local LP dealer. It cranked over strongly but refused to start. I smelled gas and figured it might be flooded...
(OK, it's fuel injected but I never had this problem before). I tried all the tricks, but my trusty steed failed to start. I called the local dealers service department and arranged for a tow. While I waited I tried once again to start the grey ghost, and it fired up...so I drove a few blocks to the dealer who replaced the
fuel filter. The next day Geotruk acted up again and I called to make a service appointment.
It took a lot of diagnostic time but the service tech ultimately discovered that my fuel regulator (is there such a thing?) leaked and the passenger door key reader was sending bad signals to the security computer. It also had a front differential leak at the solenoid (GeoTruk is 4X4). Amazingly, the total cost of repairs was
$850 bucks, almost identical to my medical bill!!!
On Other Fronts: Autumn is arriving rapidly in these Northwoods...The hummingbirds have left and a huge number of mallard ducks are grouping for their migration, which may not occur until ice begins to form on the lake. We've had about a dozen that stayed on our lake all summer, and I'm convinced that the 50 or so newcomers have arrived from Canada or
N. Minnesota (they have an accent that sounds like "quack, hey" and "you betcha, quack").
Ferns, maples and a few other early-turning trees have begun to rapidly change color. Even the big oak by the lake is turning slightly, but it's a very old tree and easy to confuse.
I've been getting more exercise lately, mainly cutting, ripping, milling and machining a huge stack of boards that will become door, window and baseboard trim for the extensive basement remodeling. It's been unusually warm for this time of year, and perspiration whilst woodworking results in me looking like a large, fuzzy, sawdust colored
Buddha after a few hours of work. When I'm finished for the day it's a necessity for me to go into the bathroom immediately off the house rear entryway, disrobe and shower, dry and don fresh clothes and put the sawdust-laden duds in a garbage bag to take down to the washer and dryer so I can swap out again on the next work day.
I also bought a bicycle...26 inch Kendra tires and a six speed Shimano shift system. I haven't biked in, oh, forty years or so, and I never had gears to play with. So far I've used the lowest three gears and wonder what I'd ever do with the other three that are left. My old friend, Hal, has one of those 21-speed bikes, but I think tha 18 of those gears
are only for show. But my bike is really special...it folds in half so I can easily fit it in the back of GeoTruk or maybe in a storage trunk on an RV. So far is hasn't folded in half while I have been riding it!