Friday, November 19, 2010

Legal Organized Crime

Here is a podcast Public Radio interview with Wendell Potter an ex-(Health) Insurance Company Executive (Cigna) telling it like it really is.  But we all already knew that Health Insurance is not really about Health at all.  Since becoming a For-Profit industry it is only about Profit for shareholders and corporate executives.  I've always said that Insurance is Legalized Organized Crime.  Not only do they use millions of our dollars to lobby against us instead of paying for health care, but they actively seek to avoid paying out health care dollars for actual health care.  The Corporations are truly destroying democracy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The season of Darkness is upon us. If that weren't bad enough, it coincides with elections and holidays. I am a sun-loving individual and this time of year is not only dark, but the cold makes it less pleasant to be outside even on a sunny day.  But fortunately, I work at home (when I have work) so I can get out in the sun whenever possible - something I couldn't do in Winter when I was stuck in an office.  There are blessings to be grateful for, even in the season of Darkness.  If I lived in Alaska, I'd be in a psych ward or on some heavy meds - I don't know how they live in darkness and stay sane.  (Insert snide remark about Alaskan politician here).

Over the past few weeks we've been to Maine to deliver Leon's mom to her friend for a month.  Benni, the Dog, travels with us just about everywhere.
We had my family over for pasta dinner a couple of weeks ago.  We used to do that more often.  Everyone is too busy now.  My nephew is off at college so he missed the homemade meatballs and sauce.  I always think of my dad when we get together for pasta dinners.  Mom passed away years before dad and until he died, Dad used to make meatballs and sauce almost every Sunday whether we all showed up or not.  He made Sunday dinner for us two weeks before he passed away in 2002 at the age of 88.  Thoughts of death and dying come with the season - why else would they put All Hallow's Eve, the Feast of All Saints and All Souls Day at the end of October and beginning of November?   Hope I'll be making meatballs when I'm 68, let alone 88!
Toured "Appalachia" Connecticut which is just down the road from our house.  Goes to show the American countryside shares certain features, no matter where you go.  And some people think that Connecticut is only home to the wealthy.  When I wrote grants for a homeless shelter, even I was shocked at the statistics for poverty in this state.  Thing is, this little farm is not an example of the poverty I'm speaking of. 

 Is it depressing or is it just the time of year?
These turkeys should be hiding.  As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving is my favorite.  Just cook and eat.  No decorations, no gifts, no church-going.  It goes down hill from there however.  Even shorter daylight.  Colder. Drab. Dreary. Fuel bills. Sickening TV commercials (though nothing could be as bad as the political ads), tacky outdoor lighting and blow-up snowmen, Santas and reindeers.  Thanksgiving to Christmas are the longest four weeks of the year.
Too bad, some of these guys won't live to see it.
Call us the Sisters of Perpetual Help.  We helped the Lesbians move a month ago.  Suffice it to say they had lots of stuff.  A couple of Saturdays ago Leon and I went to help Steven paint his new home.  We got the living room and hallway done.  He still has the kitchen, two bedrooms and a bath to do, but we got him off to a good start.  Before:
Leon's business has been slow this year again.  People are cutting back on everything.  But the past couple of weeks, business has picked up a bit.  Here is his work van and trailer at a customer's house.  He took the picture from the roof which he was power washing.

Even Benni looks like he's been hit with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The milkweeds burst last week and I caught them at a vulnerable moment.  There is always the beauty of nature, no matter what the season.

Anyone else have the blahs?

Friday, November 12, 2010

And the Beat Goes On

Thanks to Spewing Truth, here is a link to a New York Times Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof that speaks to the growing divide between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy in this country.  In view of the coming debate on fiscal responsibility in government (is that too lofty a description?) I will just say: I am no economist but certain things just make common sense.  The more the wealthy skim off the top - and they are skimming deeper and deeper - the less there is to go around.  We are quickly becoming a so-called "third world" country or as Kristof calls us "a Banana Republic" or a plutocracy.

Think about farming, for example.  I can buy a pork roast for $1 per pound on sale at Discount Foods.  How can a pig farmer make any money at all even if he sells his pig at $1 a pound.  But even poor people must buy food so food costs must remain within some reasonable parameters.  Maybe a farmer who produces high quality organic tomatoes can sell them at a premium but certainly not for $1,000 per pound.  The farmer is not likely to get wealthy, at least not just from farming alone.

A $2 loaf of bread costs two dollars regardless of your income.  If you make $10 an hour, a loaf of bread costs 20% of your hourly wage or 12 minutes.  While Charlie Sheen makes 1.25 million dollars per episode or (for 24 episodes) = 30 million dollars or $14,423/hour based on a 40 hour week.  So even if Charlie buys an Artisan Whole Grain Hand Made Loaf of the Finest Bread made with Hand Ground Organic Winter Wheat from Kansas, at say, $12 a loaf, it costs him .000832 of his hourly wage or .05 minutes or 3 seconds!  And how much "work" does Charlie do in 3 seconds?  He barely inhales and exhales.  Compare him to what a physician does - seconds can save a life!  But the cost of college, medical school, internship, malpractice insurance, billing insurance companies and other "costs of doing business" makes doctoring an almost losing proposition.

What I don't get is the so-called christian moralists who quote the bible, chapter and verse, to condemn gays but totally ignore the many admonitions about wealth and the wealthy.  Perhaps we should be reminding our "conservative", "tea-party, right-wing, fundamentalist, literalist, religionists about those chapters and verses.

NBC nightly news has been doing a week-long series about "Living Better with Less" which really makes me laugh.  They have featured women who are foregoing their regular high fashion shopping trips in an effort to "live with less" and others who are living (well) off the sale of their "stuff" in their effort to "downsize"... after selling their expensive silver, antiques, art collections, furs, cars, and other luxuries, they sell their mansions for more money than most of us make in a lifetime.  They can downsize  to 2,500 square feet and never have to work another day in their lives.

Well, as the wealthy downsize and "get back to basics" the rest of us carry on.  They are glutting the market with used wealth which only makes our Sears and KMart "stuff" even less valuable.  Have you tried to sell a used refrigerator on Craig's List lately?  The wealthy remodel their kitchens and put their old refrigerators on CL for "free".  So we can't even get a break when we try to get rid of the old fridge in the garage or the snow tires left when we totaled the Mazda.

Anyone need four used winter treads on mag wheels that fit a Mazda or Prius?  Make me an offer.

The beat goes on.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


So much of what I see, read, hear nowadays gets me angry.
But when I get frosted, I'm never this pretty:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Well, I voted this morning.

As I said to the sign toting campaigners at the 75-foot perimeter:

"This is the first time in my life that I have not felt proud to vote."

I have voted in every election, national and local, since I was eligible to vote.  Never have I witnessed such a despicable campaign (or should I say cam-PAIN) at the state level.  I have, at times, felt I had to choose between the "lesser of two evils", but this year, even that description doesn't do justice to the choice.  In the past, choosing the lesser of two evils was more about the issues and the ability of the candidates.  This year, even the "good guys" stooped  to the lowest common denominator -viciously attacking opponents on anything and everything but the issues.

Talk about BULLYING!  These people we are electing to be senators, representatives, governors are the worse role models.  Even schoolyard bullies have less culpability.  What ever happened to decorum, civility, dignity?  I don't think any of these people deserve to be representing our interests or the state we live in.

I'm disgusted with the lot of them.


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