I Have a Gripe

March 27, 2010

A Physician’s Letter on Healthcare Reform

Recently, a letter to the president written by an Emergency Room physician was published and is now making its way around the internet. When I first read it, I wanted to stand up and applaud. However, I did what I normally do when I receive one of these email messages…I checked it out. And guess what? It is true! So, I wanted to print it here. I think it really sums up what a lot of people are thinking. You decide…

Dear Mr.  President:
During my shift in  the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a  patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body  was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly
tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a  new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While  glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that  her payer status was listed as ” Me dicaid”! During my examination of her,  the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of  cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and  beer.

And, you and our Congress expect  me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s  “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality  hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of  culture”, a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money  on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone  else will always take care of me”.

Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.


March 25, 2010

NJ Needs Budget Cuts, but this Isn’t the Right Way

Filed under: Economy,Education,Finances,New Jersey — alvb1227 @ 12:22 pm

Within the last week, New Jersey’s new Governor made sweeping budget cuts in the state’s education system. I completely agree that there is LOTS of waste in the schools, but I disagree that this is the right way to go about it.

First off, it gives Boards of Education reason to reneg on signed contracts with their teachers. What I would like to know is why is that OK, but when the federal government gave bailout money to AIG and the like, not only did executives keep their pay, but they received their bonuses as well? Why you might as? Because they had signed contracts! Just like the teachers!

I don’t necessarily disagree that teachers should contribute to their healthcare, but I would like to know if that applies to all education employees, or are teachers being singled out? If they are, I would think that it is Unconstitutional because it singles out a particular group. While I am not a Constitutional attorney, this is just the way it looks to me. I am also wondering what happens to teachers who have been frozen on the pay guides (yes, they do exist), and they have to contribute, that would be considered a paycut.

As I have said in a previous post, it is always easy to go after public employees like teachers, fire fighters, police and the like. Their jobs are NOT easy.

What I am curious about is how the often top-heavy school administrations  will be handled. They have a separate union and representation. What about board and school administrations that sometimes have close to double-digit assistants and secretaries that often make more than teachers!

Does everyone in this country have a right to be paid, and paid well, for doing a good job? Absolutely. However, if public employees, like teachers, are going to be asked to take cuts, then all employees related to education, like school administrators, secretaries, etc. should also bear the burden.

I do want to say that I overall support what the Governor is doing to reign in costs, turn this state around into a positive direction and help reduce our state’s deficit. I just wonder if this plan has really been fully thought through.

March 23, 2010

Healthcare Passes…God Help Us All

Filed under: Healthcare,Laws,Politics,Uncategorized,United States government — alvb1227 @ 1:11 am

Well, last night the greatest travesty has been perpetuated on the American people. The Democrats in the House passed the so-called healthcare (and don’t forget education loans) reform legislation.

There are multiple issues here. First and foremost, it is completely unconstitutional to force someone to purchase something. I know the Dems are arguing that the federal government has the right to regulate healthcare through the Interstate Commerce Clause. Throughout the last few decades, this has been one of the most frequently-used sources of Congress’ power. However, the Tenth Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Last time I checked, entitlements, like healthcare, aren’t in the Constitution.

What I really want to know is what has happened to personal responsibility? Are there people who need help that don’t have health insurance? Absolutely. What is happening here is the uber-rich can afford whatever they need, the poor will be taken care of by the government, and as usual, the middle-class will get squeezed.

People need to have a personal investment in their lives. If all people get are entitlements, handouts from the government, they will never take a vested interest in their potential personal success. It is too easy to just accept what is given to you.

On the other hand, if all that happens to the rich is to be penalized and over-taxed by the government, those innovators and small business owners (who create jobs mind you) will loose the want to succeed. Ultimately, this will increase the sea of mediocrity that is overcoming our great country.

By passing this bill, the federal government now has the keys to the front door of all our homes. Healthcare is the key to everything else – what we eat, if we choose to smoke, how much we exercise, and so on. This is the beginning of wide-spread socialization of America.

Right now, 35 Attorneys General are preparing lawsuits in an effort to block the implementation of this unlawful bill. I hope they succeed. The future of our country, our freedom, depends on it.

March 21, 2010

A Cliff-Notes Version of the Healthcare Bill

I just received my weekly newsletter from my Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen. I am proud to say he is voting against the healthcare bill that is going to the floor tomorrow.

In his newsletter, he listed what I consider a “cliff notes” version of the new taxes and what the IRS will be up to if this little gem passes. I have posted it here. I think you will find it interesting.

Here is a partial list of the tax increases in the Pelosi health care bill:

  • If you don’t buy health insurance (as dictated acceptable by a new federal czar), you will be fined up to 2.5% of your income even if you pay all of your medical expenses yourself. If your company does not provide “acceptable” health insurance to all workers, the company will be fined up to $2,000 per employee. (This proposal alone may require the hiring of 1,600 new IRS employees.  See attached data sheet from the House Committee on Ways and Means);
  • An additional Medicare tax on self-employment income and wages.  This removes the current cap on wages subject to this tax and it will effectively move the top income tax rate from 35% to 43.4% within a couple of years;
  • For certain taxpayers, the bill increases the Medicare FICA tax from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent and for the first time, this tax will be extended beyond wages to include interest, dividends, capital gains, annuities, royalties, home sales and rents.  This new tax will be particularly damaging to New Jersey’s seniors, many of whom depend on their interest, dividends and annuities to cover their monthly expenses and potential nursing home costs;
  • There is a 2.9% tax on all medical “devices”, which basically means everything used in a doctor’s office or hospital. Including gowns, syringes, wheelchairs and the like.  This will increase health care costs for everyone who does not get free government insurance;
  • The deduction for medical expenses is currently limited to those expenses that exceed 7.5% or your income. This will be raised to a threshold of 10% of your income. This means that fewer people will get any tax relief from medical expenses they pay for themselves;
  • There are various taxes on anything a person might do to pay for their own medical expenses. Things like Health Savings Accounts, Cafeteria Plans, and Flexible Savings Accounts are ways for people to save their OWN money for their OWN medical care on a pre-tax basis. Under the bill, they will be limited and taxed;
  • A 10% tax on tanning services;
  • A tax on self-insured health plans. This is another penalty on those who try to pay for their own health care;
  • A new tax on pharmaceutical manufacturers, an important employer in New Jersey. This will raise the price of medicines for everyone who does not get them from the government for free;
  • A new tax on “Cadillac” health plans. This is a tax of up to 55% on any health insurance that costs over about $800 per month including employee and employer contributions. This tax does not apply if you are a union member or your plan is from AARP or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan;
  • There is a new tax on all “for-profit” health insurance companies (except for a few favored ones).  This will also raise the costs of premiums for everyone not getting free care from the government.

Combined, these new taxes will cause medical costs to go up and private sector job creation to go down, increase budget deficits and national debt, and force physicians to stop seeing Medicare and Medicaid patients. It will cause fewer people to pay for their own care, and more to seek government care.

In the end, the Pelosi health care proposal adds up to more taxes, more spending, and more deficits.  This is a bill American cannot afford.

Highlights of New IRS Authority

Under H.R. 3590 – the Senate-passed health bill
(Source: House Ways and Means Committee Minority)

  • IRS agents verify if you have “acceptable” health care coverage;
  • IRS has the authority to fine you up to $2,250 or 2 percent of your income (whichever is greater) for failure to prove that you have purchased “minimum essential coverage”;
  • IRS can confiscate your tax refund;
  • IRS audits are likely to increase;
  • IRS will need up to $10 billion to administer the new health care program this decade;
  • IRS may need to hire as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents and other employees to investigate and collect billions in new taxes from Americans;
  • Nearly half of all these new individual mandate taxes will be paid by Americans earning less than 300 percent of poverty ($66,150 for a family of four).

SPECIAL EXEMPTION: The Senate-passed bill prohibits the IRS from imposing these taxes and penalties on illegal immigrants.

March 19, 2010

Healthcare Coming Down to the Wire

As Speaker Pelosi continues to bully and wrestle members of the House to vote for the proposed healthcare proposal, I want to give an example of the efficiency of the federal government by talking about…the census.

Why the census? I think you’ll understand as I explain…

In an effort to make the 2010 census as efficient as possible, approximately $600 million worth of hand-held computers so information collected can be sent and uploaded nightly for a state-of-the-art count.

Unfortunately, the hand-held units didn’t work properly. So, as a result, the decision has been made to go back to a paper-based system and completely scrap the portable computers. The new cost you ask? Between $2.2 billion and $3 billion (yes, that’s with a “b”) through fiscal year 2013. This will increase the overall cost of the census to $13.7 billion and $14.5 billion.

So, after wasting $600 million, we now have to shell out more tax dollars and revert to an extremely  manual paper-based system.

Now, let’s look at this for a minute, the federal government botched “cash for clunkers,” now they wasted millions on hand-held computers for the census. Does anyone else see the correlation?

Oh yeah, they can handle healthcare…no problem.

March 17, 2010

The “No-Vote” Vote on Healthcare

The latest tactic under discussion is the use of the “self-executing rule” to pass healthcare reform.

Why does this bug me? Well, let’s forget for a moment that this is the biggest vote most of those in Congress will place in their careers. Let’s forget that the majority of tax-paying, legal American citizens do not want it. Let’s also forget for a moment that we will be paying into this for four years before anything really changes regarding “universal” healthcare. What I have a gripe about today is that there is a plan under consideration by Speaker Pelosi to use a little-known rule called the “self-executing rule” to jam this down the throats of America. This allows for more of a procedural vote that means members of Congress will not have an opportunity to amend or vote separately on the self-executed provision. It is automatically agreed upon passage of the related procedural measure. Bottom line, she wants a passing vote and will stop at nothing to get it.

In my opinion, this is nothing more than an end-run around having a real up or down vote on this nightmare of a bill. When I heard about this latest plan, I immediately thought of “I voted for it, before I voted against it.” It is an easy way for those who don’t want their “aye” vote read into record, which will force them to explain why they voted to pass the legislation. I can just hear it now – “I didn’t vote for the bill, I only voted on a procedural process.” Um, does anyone else see a problem with this?

Make no mistake my friends; if this is passed and signed into law, it will allow the federal government to walk right into the front door of our homes and now dictate just about everything in your life.

“Oh, I’m sorry, you’re what we consider overweight, therefore we are going to better track what you eat.”

“Oh, according to your electronic health records (HIPPA will go right out the window), you are at risk for diabetes. When you go food shopping, you aren’t going to be allowed to purchase soda.”

I could go on and on. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this will allow the federal government to have access to every aspect of our lives. Does something need to be done so Americans have better, more affordable, access to healthcare? Absolutely. But this isn’t it.

I know the Dems and other liberals and progressives feel the federal government knows better than we Americans on how to use our tax money and run our lives, but I’m sorry, they are wrong. We are not uninformed people that don’t pay attention to what the government does. If anything, I believe we are more involved than ever.

So what can you do? Call, email or write your Representative and Senators and let them know exactly what you think. I emailed mine and let them know that I am watching and there will be repercussions if they vote against the will of the people (you know, the people? The ones they are supposed to represent.). Do they take me seriously? They better. They will loose my vote in the next election if they vote to pass this so-called “procedural process.”

Let your voice be heard.

March 5, 2010

Does Anyone Really Care About the Oscars?

Filed under: Celebrity — alvb1227 @ 11:45 pm
Tags: ,

So, I’m watching the local news and I see teasers for the Oscars that takes place this Sunday. I used to watch them every so often when I was (much) younger, but in recent years, these awards shows hold little interest for me.

Let’s face it; people are loosing their jobs in record numbers, foreclosures are up and consumer confidence is down. Meanwhile, the self-absorbed Hollywood elite glam up in custom gowns and borrowed jewels to walk the red carpet and talk about themselves and their projects. In acceptance speeches, the average citizen is lectured about how we need to give and do more for those in our community who are less fortunate. They then go to opulent after parties and congratulate each other.

Seriously, does anyone really care? I really don’t need to be told that I should give back to my community, help those around me and worship Barack Obama  by these people when most of them are so far removed from real-life it is unreal. If you need to be told to be a positive influence on your community by celebrities, then you need more help than these people can supply.

So, I will not be watching the Oscars this Sunday. I feel there are much more important things to do.

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