Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Simple Solution to Health Care Costs

Health care costs are rising at a blistering pace. I have a solution that will slow them down.

It's a novel idea, really. I call it "telling people how much a service costs when asked." All I want is a law that says a medical institution is required to provide pricing information when asked. I don't care if it's a 10,000 page document written in micro-print. I JUST want ACCESS to pricing when I ask for it.

Seriously. If you've never asked your doctor or hospital how much a procedure, action, shot, treatment, visit or test will cost, you should give it a try some time. Cuz here's the thing...they don't know. In fact...they look at you strange for even asking.

I'm no genius. But imagine an open market industry that's effectively a monopoly, has infinite demand, and isn't required to disclose price prior to purchase even when asked...I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that a such an industry will invariably have wildly uncontrolled price escalation FOREVER.

Maybe if we're hell bent on having a privately run health care system, we should make sure simple economic principles apply to Them Too.

Somebody out there might say "Oh but you have no idea about the complexity of treatment and how difficult it would be to actually GIVE pricing on a case by case basis..."

Indeed. Billing may be involved and difficult and yet, curiously, the billing departments invariably manage to tabulate a bill. Somehow they manage to determine: A) What was done to you and B) How much all that costs. So it's not like I'm asking for the impossible. It's not like billing is scribed cuneiform in clay tablets buried under a mountain. Today we have these wonderful things called Computers with breakneck connections that pass information as though it were the wind.

Calling up a price point for any given action is absolutely within the realm of possibility. I don't have much sympathy for the argument that it would time consuming and difficult. Shelling out money for any medical procedure at all is time consuming and difficult for the consumer. It's time for the medical industry to act like the free market system it is and take on the risks rather than shoving them off on the end consumer.

Though it's no secret the insurance companies have been the only winners in this lousy game

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beach goers, remember this friendly summer tip: take it the hell with you

Hello Muskegon! For cleaner, more healthful beaches just remember these six easy words: Take It The Hell With You. When you bring something to the beach, take it the hell with you when you go.

It’s been a fine week here on the West Coast and a jaunty group of youths had a fantastic time on the beach last Thursday; playing football, body-boarding, eating snacks, drinking the hooch, emitting pheromones at each other...all the wholesome beach stuff. A fine day for it. Some of them were drinking soda-pops, some were drinking “aged” beverages, some were munching down chips while others were surrounded by a fog of goofy smelling smoke and eating a lot of Swiss Cake Rolls, those rascals.

But trouble’s brewing! The next day, as though transformed by some cosmic crap ray, the previous day’s crowd was replaced by a pile of garbage; water bottles, razor sharp segments of aluminum cans, smashed beer bottles, a bag of something gross. Those beach goers had their fun and left their junk on the beach! Oh no!

On the carefree shores of the West Coast, we recognize it’s your life. Have a great time. Follow your bliss. But don’t leave your junk on the beach. Remember, glass in the foot is glass in the foot no matter who you are. Ouch! So be a good citizen and take it the hell with you.

Say it with me now: “Take it the hell with you.”
All together: “Take it the hell with you.”

What about beer bottles? Yes, take it the hell with you.
Pizza boxes? Take it the hell with you.
Apple core? Take it the hell with you.
Socks and other articles of clothing? That’s right…Take it the hell with you.

Your friend is about to leave something on the beach! Tell him these six friendly words, “take it the hell with you.”

Uh oh! Looks like Junior almost forgot to bring his sand pail. Mother says “take it the hell with you.”

Even Dad is getting in on the fun as he reminds his old friend Jack Daniels to “Take it the hell with you.”

Why, all around Muskegon everybody’s taking it the hell with them. Whatever you bring to the beach, take it the hell with you when you go.

Just take it the hell with you.

No Problems with America, It Just Needs its Fluids Changed

For those of you who are irritated with the direction of the country, I have a solution. Well, that's not entirely accurate. America has a solution. We need to vote out All incumbents. A real revolution.

See, the United States was built with all the tools it needs to keep it strong and reasonable and the sort of place we where want to live. We just need to use them. The Founding Fathers realized that every once in a while, every nation needs a Good Old Fashioned Revolution. The thirst for power is just too strong for even the nicest of leaders to resist, and in turn they become, as Jefferson said, "Too big for their britches." So they need to be flicked off of their high horse like a booger from the middle finger.


But revolution used to be so bloody and so violent. Nobody really LIKES revolution or decapitations or marching around with pitch forks. Look at all the countries that have actual revolutions or civil wars, Somalia...the erstwhile Yugoslavia...Iraq. They all spend long periods of time as hell holes. It's no good for anybody. So our leaders devised a brilliant way to have revolutions with no bloodshed. They called it Voting.

Now...a lot of you are thinking President. But let's ignore the President for a moment and turn our attention to Congress. Just look at them. Some of those bastards have been in power for, like, FOURTY years. What the hell are they still doing there?

If you want change, if you seriously don't like the direction of the need to flush out the old guard and replace it. All of it.

What we need to do is throw out EVERY incumbent in Washington. Vote for your party of choice, but DON’T vote for an incumbent.

(Some of you out there are saying "Oh, he's some flaming [insert party here] and is just trying to convince us to do something that puts the [insert party here] party in power." To you I say, *slap* SNAP OUT OF IT! Those jerks all benefit from us framing EVERYTHING in partisan terms. They have the rhetoric all carved up and portioned out like pre-packaged Thanksgiving turkey...they're constantly at war with each other to keep peoples' loyalties tied to Somebody in power. Just cut it out, will ya?)

The engine needs to be purged. That's it. A real revolution. No more Chuck Grassley, no more Ted Kennedy. It doesn’t matter how well they served or how experienced they are or what senior positions they hold because they control how the Washington Game is played, and it’s currently being played in a way that dangerously disregards sound decisions in favor of shoring up power.

They need to go. Your engine oil may have kept your car running smoothly for thousands of miles, but once in a while it needs a good flush. Use the same oil too long, and you damage your engine. Use the same political figures too long and they forget where they came from and who they serve. They’re only human. Power gets at everybody because it displaces them from the Real World…it corrupts even the best people. They can’t help it…the machine just gets into them and flakes off into their blood.

So replace them. Flush them out. Remove the questionable relationships and contacts the folks on K street have made with the incumbents by switching the people in control.

Replace them with people who were elected by people, and not sustained by long running relationships with companies with more money and influence than we can dream of.

Vote for whatever party you want. Vote for whatever reason you want. But Do Not Vote For The Incumbent. Those folks are the problem.