Friday, March 19, 2010

Wait Times Under the Health Care Bill

I posted this video last year, but with things being on the edge of the precipice I thought it would be good to post again.

Health Care and the Fate of the Republic

This Sunday the U.S. House of Representatives will convene (other than times of war--when has Congress ever been specifically called together on a Sunday?) and "vote" on whether or not the U.S. Senate's version of health care reform should be "deemed" worthy as passing. Though this maneuver is often done, it's supposed to be for something small, e.g. a few words of difference between two bills. This procedure of "deeming" has never been used and was never intended to be used for a piece of major legislation. This process will allow Representatives to "vote" for the bill without actually voting for anything.

Should the procedure pass this Sunday, I fear it will be the beginning of the end of our Republic. Should the procedure pass, I think it will be used time and time and time again in the future by whatever party that has the majority. I don't believe the procedure is Constitutional in this matter, but I have very little faith left in the judicial system to believe that it will be overturned and ruled unconstitutional and even if it is, the damage done will be tremendous. I haven't had time to read the entire bill (it's over 2,000 pages long), but I do know that there are lots and lots and lots of new taxes. For instance, do you ever buy soda, juice, or flavored water from a vending machine? As part of this bill beverages (except for water, I believe, though I'm not sure because the language is a bit confusing) sold in vending machines will have a tax levied on them. Those things typically cost between $.50-$1.00 now but if this current health care package passes those things will cost between $1-$2 more.

Those in support of the bill say that according to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will reduce the federal deficit $130 billion in the first decade, and by by $1.2 trillion in the second. This makes no sense whatsoever. You cannot create a massive entitlement program and expect it to actually reduce the deficit. Every single entitlement program the government has ever offered has only further increased the federal deficit and debt. Even those Congresspeople in support of the legislation say that the initial cost to just start the new program will be around $1 trillion. Let's see, it'll cost $1 trillion dollars just to start but in ten years if everything goes right, it'll cut $130 billion from the deficit. You don't have to be very good in math to see the numbers do not add up. The U.S. has already been warned that our AAA credit rating is in jeopardy (unless we stop our reckless spending) and this health care overhaul will only add to that. I don't have any children right now, but when I do, I don't want them to have to speak Chinese because that's the national language.

I've been working as a temporary office employee for over 20 months. There isn't much chance the company I work at will bring me on as a regular employee. However, there is a chance. Should this pass, I won't ever have a chance of being a regular employee. Several smaller businesses have already gone on the record as stating if the health care package passes, they will be making all of their employees contract workers. What that means is that all of those workers will be like me, they will be working on their own without any sense of job security or any benefits (no insurance or perks) and in some cases it will mean a pay cut. Let me tell you something, though I'm thankful to have a job, being a contracted worker doesn't allow one to make much gains in ones financial situation. I've been poor and living near the poverty line most of my life. Should this health care legislation pass on Sunday, I'm afraid there are going to be a lot more people who will be living like me. They say that misery likes company, but not me. I'd rather not have others experience any of the misery I've known. Unfortunately, Congress seems to think you should.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The U.S.'s AAA Credit Rating and Health Care

Today (Monday, Mar. 15, 2010), Moody's Investors Services, an institution that despite having come under criticism in recent years (most notably for firing analysts at the company that had warned of the 2007 housing market collapse and promoting those responsible for helping to bring about the collapse) has a tremendous amount of influence in the financial world, released a report stating that the U.S. and Britain are in greater danger of loosing their AAA rating with than Germany or France. Should the U.S. lose its AAA rating, interest rates on outstanding debt would skyrocket, making it even more difficult to pay down the debt and stop deficit spending.

Most reports I've read and seen on the usual news source (Yahoo and Google News, ABC, NBC, CBN, the New York Times, etc.) have emphasized the part in the report where it's stated that, "the U.K. and the U.S. don't face an immediate threat to their AAA ratings because they are still able to service their debts." However, the report also states that the U.S. will face a huge amount of downward pressure on its AAA rating unless the country reduces its spiralling federal deficit.

It's not a coincidence that this report was released at the beginning of a work week where some in the U.S. Congress are trying to ram down a health care "reform" package through, despite major opposition from the U.S. people. The report from Moody's today was a warning to Congress. The company made a major mistake in 2007 and they don't want to make another. They know how much the health care package is going to cost, how it will skyrocket the debt and deficit, and damage the chances of any major recovery in the U.S. economy. Moody's gave Congress a warning today. Sadly, it doesn't seem that Congress is listening. Instead of being leaders who steward the Republic through troubled times, they are more interested in trying to leave a political "legacy" that will ultimately destroy not only the Republic, but their precious political legacies as well.

No one denies that health care in America has problems that need to be addressed. I've read a part of the legislation (about 300 pages worth of a bill that is over 2,000 pages long) and from what I've read and gathered, the current bill as it now stands before Congress does very little to address the real problems with health care in America.

If you haven't already contacted your Congress person, I plead with you to do so and give your opinion. Perhaps you think the legislation that Congress will be voting on very soon is a good thing. Then let your Representative know. This is still a republic and you're concerns still matter even if I might disagree with them. However, if you are like me and you believe that this legislation is not a good thing, please contact your Representative and let them know. The fate of our country, everything that the founders of our country were willing to sacrifice (their honor, lives, and fortunes) is at stake.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ok Go--"This Too Shall Pass"

I recently was introduced to the band OK Go by my youngest brother. I like the music, but I like their music videos even better.  Below are two different music videos they've made for the same song.  The first version has the band as a part of a massive marching band.  The second is a giant Rube Goldberg device that was filmed without any cutting or editing in one shot. Simply amazing.

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

February 2010: Media Consumed

Books Read
The Skinny On Success Jim Randel
*Star Trek: Countdown Mike Johnson & Tim Jones
The Skinny On Time Managment Jim Randel
*The Twilight Zone: The Big Tall Wish Mark Kneece & Chris Lie

* = denotes a graphic novel or TPB

I really enjoyed reading Star Trek: Countdown is a comic book prequel to 2009's Star Trek movie, but it's really the movie that Star Trek: Nemesis should have been.

Movies Viewed For the First Time
The Wolfman (2010)
The Hurt Locker

Both The Wolfman and The Hurt Locker were good movies. The Wolfman is the only 2010 movie release that's worth watching in theatres right now (other than Shutter Island). I found it be a really fun movie that did a pretty good job of updating the original Lon Chaney film. The only problem with the movie is Benicio Del Toro. The guy is a very talented actor, but he's terribly miscast in the movie. He just doesn't fit the part and there is absolutely no chemistry between him and any of the other actors in the film.

The Hurt Locker is looking to be the film that might beat Avatar in the Best Picture race for 2009's Oscars. It's a very good movie, too. The acting is superb, the directing solid, and the overall scenery and sets do a great job in helping to set the film's tone. The movie was made with a smaller budget and didn't do very well at the box office. It's garnering a lot of attention and is now available on DVD. However, as much as I enjoyed the film, it's not the best movie of 2009 either. It's worth seeing, but don't expect to be awed.

By the way, for those who want to know, the Real Best Picture of 2009 is Up. Pixar hit gold with that film. It's a completely original story that gives nods to famous actors and movies of the past and has a little bit of something for people of all ages. It's just as beautiful as Beauty and the Beast, but with a playful sense of wonder that is lacking in that movie. The first 15 minutes of the film are really a movie all of themselves, because it tells the life story of two people who love each other very much, all with the lead character of speaking a few words. Avatar will always be significant because of the technological breakthroughs the film developed, but the story and plot are rehashes of countless movies before. The Hurt Locker will probably be looked at as a how-to piece, as in how-to make a movie on a small budget that becomes an Oscar favorite. However, it is Up that will be looked upon and revered by movie lovers of every stripe and character for generations to come.

January 2010: Media Consumed

Books Read
*The Twilight Zone: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? Mark Kneece, et al.
+Tundra Chad Carpenter
**Midlife the Crisis Musical Bob & Jim Walton

* = denotes a graphic novel or TPB
+ = denotes a book that is a collection of comic strips
** = denotes a play

In all honesty, I didn't read anything that was completely outstanding in January.

Movies Watched For the First Time
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
The Book of Eli
Up in the Air
You Can't Take It With You
Santa Buddies

I enjoyed most of the movies I watched in January, but there were a few that I found disappointing. Daybreakers was pretty well done. The Book of Eli was a movie that took me completely by surprise; it's a really well done film that reminded me a lot of an updated version of The Pilgrim's Progress. Moon, starring Sam Rockwell and Sam Rockwell, is a rather simple movie that starts off slow but then gathers steam and doesn't stop until the end. Avatar was good and the effects are nothing short of amazing, but the movie doesn't deserve near the praise it's been lauded or money it's taken in; it's definitely not the best picture of 2009.

Up in the Air is kind of a simpler movie, too that was mostly filmed in and around St. Louis. However, I found it incredibly depressing in addition to be overrated, too. Beyond the acting, there's really not much there, especially the story. You Can't Take It With You won Frank Capra a Best Picture Oscar, but it's not as good as much of the rest of Capra's work.