Friday, December 8, 2017

Spending Bill My Foot!

In the last 24 hours the Congress passed yet another bill so they can keep their doors open. When Congress does this it's called a Spending Bill, when a company does this it's called Fraud, and when we as individual Americans do this it's called Bankruptcy.

But not the government!

For them it's business as usual.

Why do they call it a spending bill?

Because it would be too long it they called it the "we can't live up to our obligations as responsible stewards of the public's money and are completely incapable of balancing a budget" Bill - which is entirely what it is.

Oh, make no mistake about it, both parties are complicit in this charade. When one party is in the power they say it's necessary to keep the country (Code for government) working and the other party says it financial irresponsibility. When the other party is in power they just change jerseys and play the others parts.

In reality, a spending bill means that once again the elected officials and bureaucrats have let us down and are kicking the Washington bar tab farther down the road. A road that is unsustainably deepening with each subsequent Spending Bill.

10 years age, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, it doesn't matter. Every few years we hear how this new budget will put us on a "path to a balanced budget" in the next decade. How's that working out for us?

Basically, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Think about that the next time you rush to the polls to vote for your favorite incumbent. Until we hold them accountable for their inability to meet the demands of the fiscal responsibility that only a balanced budget can deliver, then nothing will change.

Oh, and before some politico or their staff asks you how you would fix the problem, remind them that they were elected to make the changes necessary to do just that. AND if they can't, then they need to get out of the way and let someone in there who can lead.

The answers to fiscally responsible governing aren't hard to find, but they can be, and usually are hard to follow through on.

Cha-Ching – There They Go Again!!

Later,
Bill

Friday, March 31, 2017

STILL Hoping You Are IGNORANT

So, in an earlier post a few days ago, we discussed how so many of the politicos in Austin and Washington count on the voting public to remain ignorantly emotional on subjects instead of understanding the facts. Well, in this second installment we will discuss another group that operates the same way – Lobbyists.

AND they’re really good at it too.

First, they’ll get a group of powerful people with a common cause together, then they use those powerful people to generate the capital to pay their over-inflated budgets and salaries, then they’ll come up with a cute name to make it sound like they are a heartfelt and caring grass-roots organizations, and then they’ll use their alternative facts to sell their client’s case.

One example of this has jumped up at me recently on social-media, and it’s so glaringly obvious how their bad their spin is, AND how obviously uninformed the comments are that they use to support their cause.

I won’t even acknowledge the names of the two lobbyist groups in this particular campaign; however, from what I have been able to ascertain, both are essentially made up of a group of Big Medicine, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance. You know, the same folks who have spent the last 40 to 60 years assisting politicians in running our healthcare system into the ground.

In recent years, people have used Emergency Rooms for things other than emergencies more and more. I’ll spare you with the reasons this shift from visiting your doctor to visiting the ER has occurred over the years, but much of it has to do with government involvement in the healthcare issue.

It’s safe it to say that far too many people visit far too many ER’s for far too few reasons that actually constitute an emergency.

Recently there has been a new form of Emergency Rooms that are called Free-Standing Emergency Rooms. This means that they are not attached to a medical center or hospital, but private facilities that only take patients with private insurance or patients who agree to fully pay for their treatment.

Guess who this has threatened?

You got it…. Big Medicine.

Why?

Because suddenly, those with insurance to actually cover emergency services are taking their insurance money to the private ERs and moving away from the traditional Big Medicine ERs that are less-efficient, more time-consuming, and just as costly.

How does this hurt Big Medicine installations?

Because Insurance pays more per dollar than government healthcare plans and they lose out on the bigger paydays.

BUT not to worry, in rides the lobbyist groups to aid Big Medicine by covering their true nature with a respectable sounding name while acting like they are a Grass-Roots organization here to help the little guy. They have used many scenarios “representing” the little guy to attack the Free-Standing ERs, without mentioning them all, let’s just talk about this example I saw this week that was typical of their spin-masters’ work.

In this social-media post, they compared the cost of an ER visit with that of a visit to Urgent Care clinic. Yes, the insurance didn’t cover as much at the ER as it would have at the Urgent Care clinic, but that was because the patient didn’t have an emergency, she had a COLD……A COLD…. That’s what an Urgent Care clinic is for, not an ER!

If the person would have gone to a General Practitioner (Doctor) or an Urgent Care, she would have gotten the care she needed and the Insurance Company would have covered most of the expense. BUT, since she went to an Emergency Room (any ER) for a non-emergency, the insurance company didn’t cover some of the unnecessary costs of the visit.

But this is how these organizations work. Not with real facts designed to educate the public, but by working off most folks’ fears and ignorance of the subject with comparisons that don’t add up according to testimonials that are ridiculous.

They prey on your fear rather than looking at the real cause of the problem.

Here’s the simple fact, if you break a leg, sever a finger, poke your eye with scissors (that’s on me), have a ruptured appendix – you get the idea; then go to the Emergency Room – ANY EMERGENCY ROOM. Your insurance should cover that.

If you have a cold, a hang-nail, a sinus infection (or any non-life threatening infection), a sore knee, tennis elbow, allergies, or any other myriad of common health issues that aren’t likely to kill you in the next 48 hours, then call your doctor to make an appointment or visit an Urgent Care Clinic. Your insurance should cover that, but it probably won’t at the ER – ANY ER!

So rather than start a campaign to educate and benefit the consumer, Big Medicine will spend money on lobbyists to scare a pubic it regards as ignorant, coerce legislators who need your vote, and spin the facts to benefit the pockets of those who really need it…. Big Medicine.


NEXT,
Bill

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Let’s throw Congress’s Bums Out!!

I had intended for this post to be on another issue; however, that changed this morning as I was listening to the radio while getting ready for work. Normally I listen to soothing music to help me get my day started as I’m usually a little cranky in the morning – Not A Morning Person.

This morning I was feeling a little chipper so I decided to turn on news and catch on events of the world. I listened to a rant on this social issue, another on that fiscal issue, one dealing with a military issue, another on a foreign affairs issue, and even one on sports related issue that congress was considering (because we all know they have nothing better to do).

None of it made sense, and in each case, they interviewed a member of Congress who could identify all the problems, BUT couldn’t even begin the come up with even an ounce of a cure. Now these were congressmen from both parties; some representing large states and some smaller states; some representing affluent states and some representing poorer states; some urban and some rural; AND of all races, creed and colors.

So, what did they all have in common……They all would be out of office if any of the Term-Limit Bills that have been introduced in the last decade had become law.

That’s right, in every case the congressperson in question had been in office over 20 years. For Reference, think about where you were 20 years ago and consider that these people were sitting right where they are now. Think about all that has happened in your lives in 20 years and then think about this, has anything gotten any better for you in those same 20 years due to their efforts?

I didn’t think so.

Nope, they sit in Washington or Austin, keep collecting their paycheck and/or influence, and we sit outside that sphere of governance with less and less to show for our time and efforts. They continue to benefit from a system that allows for a small few to get elected and remain in office as long as they want, or until they completely screw up with some sort of scandal, or retire. After all, the way incumbents have rigged the process over the years, it’s practically impossible to throw an incumbent out of office.

What can we do? …. PAY ATTENTION!!

Don’t be an ignorant fool to the process.

Here’s a test for you on this. Name ten congressmen (Representatives or Senators) who are problem makers in Washington. There are 535 of them so it really shouldn’t be that hard.

If you can, look at their lengths of service. I’m pretty sure that 9 out of 10 will be career politicians that have over 12 years in Washington.

If you can’t, then that would qualify you as ignorant to the process, AND a part of the problem, AND probably more likely to name all the Kardashian sisters rather than your own members of Congress (you should all have three of those by the way).

Being an active American and an informed voter is what has been referred to as Advanced Citizenship. You get out of it what you put into it. Trust me, these lawmakers have much more influence over your lives than the Kardashians.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from JFK that sums this up quite well, “One man can make a difference, and every man should try.”


It’s time to throw the bums out!

Bill

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Now They’re Hoping You Really Are IGNORANT!

Several years ago, I wrote a series of blogs entitled “Counting on You Being Stupid” and it focused on how politicians of both parties, whether in Washington or Austin, counted on voters simply reacting with ignorant emotion and not informed knowledge.

Guess What?

They still are!!

But as I move forward I realize that it has more to do with most people’s ignorance of how government and its’ systems work. AND, while this isn’t a blanket covering all those elected, it does cover many politicians. AND it covers almost all the politicians who would be susceptible to proposed term-limits!

So, with that to consider, let’s look at an example of these items over the next few days. I promise to make these short and to the point. I can expound on the later.

First, School Vouchers. I wrote a blog on this earlier this year and you can find it on this page as well. But understand this, no matter what you think and how it’s all spun, in the end, School Vouchers do not and will not benefit most of those that its champions claim it will.

School Vouchers will not magically raise the level of those who cannot afford a private school to where they can attend the school of their choice, there’s no way for the government to provide that large of a voucher. And the tax breaks that are proposed? Please, what kind of tax incentive can you provide to someone who is receiving a paycheck and still living below the level to benefit from these Tax Break “vouchers?”

School Vouchers will do four things.

First, it will help offset the costs for those already sending their kids to Private School.
Secondly, it will further steal money from the public schools.
Thirdly, it would limit even further the choices for parents with special needs children.
And lastly, it will create a slippery slope to the weight of accountability known in public school circles as mandatory-testing.

That’s it, that’s the whole issue in a nut shell. Yes, they package it as “School Choice,” but it’s not. In the short term, it’s a subsidy program for those who can already afford it. In the long term, it’s the first step towards mandatory-testing and other programs for Private -School and Home-School students that have benefited the public-school students (THAT WAS SARCASM).

This is just ONE Issue. There are so many more.

Tomorrow, and in the coming days, I hope to have more of these for you to read. BUT please don’t accept my opinion as the facts. Do a little research on the issues. Don’t just Google it, find out the facts. Read the newspapers (the actual newspapers), talk to teachers, talk to you congressman.

Make a difference; regardless of how smart you think you are, or aren’t. No one has to be ignorant like so many Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and Big Business desire – unless you choose to be!

As we used to tell the kids before the left for school, “Make Good Choices!”

Have a Nice Day,

Bill

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Oval Office and Grandmother's Rules!

Many years ago, folks had respect at all times in the Oval Office. In his book "A Different Drummer," former Reagan White House Aide Michael Deaver tells a story that epitomizes that respect.

As the story goes, he was accompanying President Reagan back to the Oval Office from the front lawn following the White Easter Egg Roll. Deaver describes the day as unseasonably warm and of how everyone was hot and sweaty upon their return. As everyone begins removing their suit coats and loosening their ties, he noticed that the President was not. Deaver suggested to the President that it would be fine if he did the same. With that, the President looked up towards his staff and remarked that his respect for the office and the hallowed they were occupying prevented him from doing so. With that Deaver said the entire staff tightened their ties, put there coats back on, and never again thought of entering the Oval in anything less than a suit and tie during the workday.

This last week, President Trump  invited presidents and administrators from Historically Black Colleges to the Oval Office for a meeting. During the meeting a photographer took a picture of the event. Everyone was standing around the President in a normal staged setting for photographers, except for White House advisor Kellyanne Conway who was sitting with on her feet on the Oval Office couch.

As for me, I’ll just say that she should have been standing and standing out of the way, not sitting in front of everyone on the couch, on her feet on the couch. BUT that should be a minor Protocol issue that can be corrected and not happen again; however, the press and liberals blew it up and then the ensuing retorts from the Right have followed keeping this in the news and making it a much bigger issue than it should be. Meanwhile, the realists of society sit here and give it the much-adieu-about-nothing head shrug.

But here’s the truth, the Oval Office is not just a work place, it’s not a lounging area, and it’s not a hangout spot. The Oval Office is a special place. This is the office of the Commander and Chief of the United States of America. This is where the people of America expect the work of the President to occur. It’s the one office where Americans demand the utmost of respect and decorum.

So whether it’s Kellyanne Conway’s feet on the couch, Obama’s feet on the Resolute Desk, or other frolicking in the Oval Office; it really doesn’t matter, disrespect is disrespect.

But like everything else in the last twenty-five years or so, both sides of the political aisle are trying to one-up each other on who has had the most, or the least respect for the Oval Office. As usual, it’s political gamesmanship, and another episode of the venomous back-and-forth that weakens us as One Country.

So how about rather than making it a Democrat/Republican issue, we simply use Grandmother’s age old test of, “Would you do that in your own home and with your own furniture?”

For the Record, that was a trick question. If you answered no, she would respond with, “Then don’t do it here.” If you answered yes she would respond with, “Well this isn’t your house!”

So just like Grandmother’s house, it’s never alright to disrespect the Oval Office, even unintentionally.

Keep your feet on the floor,
Bill

Friday, February 3, 2017

Term Limits NOW…. Part 2!!!

I’ve waited a few weeks for the new administration to take office before I write this second installment of my term limits articles. Having been raised with two grandfathers whom preached the Golden Rule as a standard to live by, I was interested to see if the two political parties running the United States Congress could work together under that Rule – THEY CAN’T!!

It’s just more of the same old crap we’ve dealt with for more than a quarter century. This party is in power and the other side obstructs, then that party is in charge and the other side obstructs. AND YES, it is both parties that are responsible for this, and they’re not showing any signs of changing!

The main players in this D. C. Crap-Fest are pretty much the same individuals who have had large parts to play in prior editions of this same old song and dance routine for the last forty years. In the meantime, the country slips further and further from its high standing in the world, deeper and deeper in debt, and farther and farther from its ability to function at all.

With every passing administration, it becomes harder and harder to get the work of the nation done in Washington; and yet we get the same excuses over and over; there’s more news media today, social media pollutes everything, the country is more fragmented, the distance between conservatives and liberals is wider than ever, etcetera… etcetera…. etcetera….

Here’s the problem in DC – there are too many career politicians who are more worried about political manipulation and party gamesmanship and not enough who are actually concerned with governing and serving the voters who elected them to office. And before anyone gets their under-laundry in a wad, stop and think about it.

IT’S TRUE!!

AND, it’s not just the elected officials, but the Bureaucrats that work in their offices. It’s important to remember those staffers who spend their Lives in DC flipping from one congressman to another, or worse, from one congressman, to the media or a K Street Organizations (Look it up), and then back to a congressman. We must look at those folks as well.

It’s the longevity of those in congress, both elected and staffers, who have created this overly bloated, complicated, and wasteful mechanism we know as the legislative branch of federal government.

We tend to blame the presidents for the ills we face; however, except for George H. W. Bush, none of the presidents in the lest forty years have spent significant time as part of the Washington Apparatus.

But when you look at the members of Congress, many of them have been in office since the time of or prior to the election of Jimmy Carter – JIMMY CARTER FOLKS!!!!!

That’s from 1977 to 1981…

Right now, had there been term limits of 12 years for congress, that would have cleared out around 35% of the legislative branch and opened the doors to fresh faces, fresh ideas, and fresh hope. Instead, we have a group of folks entrenched in their offices who do little to nothing to better the country because they are simply more concerned with maintaining their seniority while sitting in their offices keeping the status quo in order to hold onto their jobs.

AND if they’re not, they’re doing a pretty good imitation of it.

We Need Congressional Term Limits – NOW!!


Have a nice weekend,

Bill

Friday, January 27, 2017

School Choice or Public-Education Abandonment?



Everyone has the right to a free public education – THAT’S IT! No more or no less.

Just as when the United States was created, the Constitution of Texas also allows for the right of a free public education through high school. It also allows parents the right to put their children in a private school and/or to home school if they so choose (at their own expense).

These days we are seeing an even bigger push away from the public education system in favor of other alternatives. Alternatives such as Private Schools (religious or secular), Charter Schools, Alternative Schools, and Home Schooling. All of these options have their positive attributes and all have shown to have positives as well as negatives.

Which is right for you or your children? It’s hard to say because each child, and each family is different. Are public Schools broke? That depends on which schools you look at, but it has as much to do with the community around that school system as it does the school itself.

Not a single school system can be successful without community/parental involvement in the education process. Schooling our children is an active process. It must involve the parents as much as it does the children and the teachers. Unfortunately, far too many parents only become involved in the education process when there is a problem. Far too many parents are absent from their child’s daily school life.

Regardless of the many issues facing Public Education, removing resources from the public education system is not the way to handle the issue. Our problems with public education have come from the state and federal government confusing oversight with micromanagement.

Unfunded mandates, mandatory testing, and financial manipulation by the state and federal government are the root causes of the educational failure in this country and this state; furthermore, robbing the public education system of more resources will not change that. Stripping away at these resources will only serve to deteriorate the already frail inner-city schools, weaken strong schools, and steal from the small-town local education that is a key part of the very fabric of rural Texas.

I hear many folks say that they want to use the tax money they pay for public schools to pay for a private school for their children. OKAY, but there are so many flaws with that system. First, take me for instance; let’s say I pay roughly $500.00 a year in school taxes on my home. That hardly seems enough were I to elect to send my child to a private school, or to home school them. But I have/had 4 kids in school at one time – YEAP – No Where Near Enough!!!

But what if the state or federal government gave me something like the $4,500.00 a year voucher or credit such as Indiana gives out? That sounds great too; however, what about all the hidden fees associated with private schools or home schools. There’s uniforms, books, lunches (no free lunches in private schools or home schools), equipment fees, extracurricular fees, and facility fees to name a few. I doubt that voucher would cover all that.

Then there’s testing! Yeap, testing is an inevitable part of accepting public money. What about the fact that once private schools accept public money they will most likely no longer have the ability to select the enrollment of certain students over others as they do now. Oh the strings that come with accepting “government” money!!!

In all honesty, vouchers tend to favor people who can already afford private schools. Vouchers help to offset their costs. But vouchers really won’t make much of an impact on those who are most affected by the failing public education system.

Instead of stealing resources from public education might I suggest a few items that will make things better:
1.       More emphasis on local control and less (Or No) emphasis on Mandatory testing!
2.       More emphasis on vocational and agricultural education.
3.       Appropriate emphasis on college prep.
4.       Less emphasis on athletics. Do we really need $60 million-dollar football stadiums?

The problems that plague out public-school system can be summed up with the following: Testing over Learning, Athletics over Academics, College Preparedness over Vocational/Agricultural Education, and Parental/Community Management over Government Controls.

Vouchers, Credits, etc. won’t fix that.

Want to know more? When was the last time you asked public school teachers about this?

I bet it’s been too long!

Later,

Bill