William Thien

Posts Tagged ‘conservatives

Recently there have been a large number of stories in the local media about people suffering exorbitant bills due to health care they have received and it seems to me that The Affordable Care Act may not be living up to its stated objectives. I don’t fault anyone for that, though I was pointing out the fact that the ACA isn’t socialized medicine when most conservatives had missed that point during initial debate on the legislation and were in fact calling it socialized medicine, when in fact it is merely a private health insurance gimme with a sensible tweak to it such as the “No exclusion of pre-existing conditions” clause.

And so I thought I would revisit one of my earlier observations on the state of health care in The US with a global perspective on socialized medicine. Here it is:

I participated in a healthy debate on an email list about socialized medicine versus privatized medicine in 2004 and 2005. A fellow conservative had remarked that Canada’s health system required long waits for substandard care and concluded that all socialized health care programs produced the same results.

At the time I was paying for my own health insurance to the tune of about $6,000 per year. But when I went in to have some blemishes removed from my skin where my backpack straps (I like to hike) rubbed them, which was painful, the health insurer said it was a “pre-existing condition” and refused to pay for the doctor’s visit. Upon discovering the greed of the health insurer I stopped paying the monthly premium and was in fact better off by about $6,000 the next year. But people need health care.

The online debate I had caused me to use my own situation as an example and to examine what indeed the realities of socialized medicine were in other countries and then make a comparison to our own.

The first thing I learned was at the time people in Canada lived longer than people in The United States. So, in order to begin a somewhat scientific study of whether or not socialized medicine is better or worse than the system we have here in The United States, I had to have a control, a reference point, something to anchor the discussion so that I could use it as an example as the discussion proceeded. I decided to use “longevity,” or how long people lived.

It was astonishing to me to hear all of the negative things about Canada’s socialized medicine and then find out that in fact Canadians live longer. How can that be, I asked myself? How can it be that a system which is supposedly less efficient, and less expensive than our own as you will see later, how can it be that such an inefficient system would help their population to live longer? I mean, you would think that something that doesn’t work as well would produce less effective results. People living longer indicates efficiency when it comes to health care I believed, better results. So, I chose from the get go to use “longevity” as the reference point to determine a system’s efficiency.

Then, I went to several web sites that list statistics about the various countries on the planet, and perused The CIA Fact Book as well, a book which compiles information about every country to include the size of the country, its population, etceteras.

What I discovered is that in many countries with socialized medical programs, the people live longer, not just in Canada. I was flabbergasted. I’d been hearing all of this negative political rhetoric about how socialized medicine is a failure, yet here it was that many countries with socialized medical systems had populations that lived longer, in some cases, close to a decade longer. A decade! That’s significant in terms of statistical observation. Remember, I’m trying to be a little scientific.

Then, I tried to gather as much information as I could about the cost to each person of the socialized medical programs in each country. This was more difficult, but I was able to determine that the costs ranged anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000. Again, complete surprise. I had the impression after hearing all of the debates at the time that socialized medicine would cost the individual $20,000 or more, much like it costs the elderly here in The United States. No such luck. It happens that socialized medicine is actually much less expensive to administer than our own system of medicine.

What!? You say WHAT?!

That’s right. Socialized medicine is much less expensive to administer than our own system of medicine where, by the way, many don’t even have health insurance in the first place.

How can that be, you ask? How can socialized medicine be less expensive? It involves the government. The government always costs more. True. But as you will see, in this case, there is somewhat of an exception due to the complex nature of our own system of medicine.

For one thing, we are actually paying for several types of systems at the same time here in The United States. In a socialized system, you are only paying for one system.

The bureaucratic mess involved in administering the variety of medical systems in The United States means that many more dollars actually go into the administration of the system instead of the administration of the medical care and medicine. In other words, you are paying bureaucrats instead of doctors.

Well, what do you mean we are paying for several types of systems here in The United States?

For example, let me use myself as an example, again. Today, my employer sends me a statement of benefits at the end of the year whereas before I paid for my own health insurance. Last year my employer paid $11,000 for my health insurance (quite a bit more than the $6,000 I paid several years ago, which means the costs are skyrocketing). But not only did my employer pay $11,000, I paid in to Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security as well. Social Security also has a medical component to it. So, not only does my employer pay for my health insurance, I pay for three socialized medical programs myself. And this is just at the federal level. My state has three socialized health care programs. Some say the cost to administer that bureaucratic mess is immeasurable. Needless to say, it’s huge! Gigantic. But more importantly, it’s inefficient, much more inefficient than say just having one system, or socialized medicine countrywide.

When I total up all of the input costs to my health care, the $11,000 my employer paid for my health care last year and what I paid into Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the cost is approaching $15,000. Today, socialized medicine in countries that have it, where they often live longer, is about $4500 to $7000, or about a third to one half of what it costs in The United States. And I’m just summing up the federal dollars that I pay and adding it to what my employer pays to the private health care insurer, and not adding what I pay to the state. That may approach $16,000 to $17,000, or two and a half times what people in countries with socialized medicine pay. Wow! That’s a lot of money.

Does this mean that we should move to a socialized health care system? Not exactly.

One of the things that I noticed in my somewhat scientific investigation is that there is a big fat guy in there that, were he properly regulated, medicine in The United States would be just fine, much less expensive, much more efficient. That big fat guy is The Health Insurance Company. Here we have a big fat middle man between America and its health care, a middle man that often tells the individual who pays dearly for the insurance that they are not covered due to a “pre-existing” condition, or that procedure is not covered because it is new, or that the prognosis is that you will only live three more months so they have decided not to approve the surgery.

In countries that have socialized medicine they have discovered something about efficiency in providing health care. Get rid of health care insurers. If you have a business, everything you do to structure that business is designed to make that business more efficient. You don’t have a special division of your business that doesn’t do anything related to that business. In this case, that would be the health care insurers. One thing health care insurers don’t do is provide health care services. They don’t treat patients, they don’t administer medicine, yet they are enormously costly. Countries with socialized medicine have recognized that fact and removed health care insurers from the health care equation. And guess what happened? The costs dropped dramatically. You can still purchase your own health insurance policy. But it’s not a law that you have to do so.

Since we live in a free market economy, that is really not an option. Or is it?

One of the major problems with health care in The United States is that big fat guy, health insurers, is not properly regulated and his weight is unhealthy for America. What we could really use is proper regulation of health care. After examining the issue on both sides, I’m convinced that is the answer, along with a couple of other minor tweaks that you will discover later.

Health care is not like other things. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything, the saying goes. Perhaps that is true of a country and its health care. And maybe like the historical relationship of the church and science, maybe health care and profit don’t make for a healthy marriage. Maybe there is something diabolical about profiteering so thoroughly as health insurers do from someone’s sickness, maybe not. But it sure is big business, in fact, one of if not the biggest in this country. In the last decade pharmaceutical companies have often been the most profitable businesses. Guess what else is in the top ten? Health care insurers. Nothing wrong with making a profit, unless it is making everyone sick. And I’m convinced that is what is happening with health care insurers.

So, from my perspective, the one measure to come out of the current administration’s health care legislation, the result of that big all-consuming discussion we all had at the beginning of the current administration, the one element that is of any value is that health care insurance companies can no longer say something is a” pre-existing” condition. This is an excellent example of the proper regulation of an industry that has been acting like a anti-societal monstrosity.

Yet, from my perspective also, I don’t see any benefit to making it a law to have to purchase health care in the first place, which was also an element of the current administration’s health care law, especially now that doctors are starting to offer lower rates if you don’t use health insurance. See how the health insurers have wheedled their way into the health care equation for good. Now, by law we are going to have to buy health insurance. Clever bunch those health care insurers. Pulled the wool right over everyone’s eyes in Washington.

I am not certain when the term “pre-existing” condition came into being, if it was an invention of some clever business school graduate brought on at one of the health care insurers, but that one term has increased the profits at health care insurers dramatically, I am sure, while it has simultaneously brought down the quality of health care in The United States, brought it down to that of a third world country in many instances. At one point I heard that close to forty percent of the population did not have health insurance. Well, why not just scrap it altogether, then? Something obviously isn’t working. Quite the opposite.

Outlawing the “pre-existing condition” status was in my opinion the one thing to come out of the current legislation on health care in this country to be of any measure. And it is an example of proper regulation. When the law says a corporation “must” do everything in its power to increase its profits and satisfy its shareholders, you will get things like the term “pre-existing condition.” Therefor, you must properly regulate against such behavior, and in this case, you must properly regulate health care insurers in general if you want costs in The United States to come down.

Furthermore, in reference to tweaking the system that I mentioned previously, it used to be that health care providers could not advertise their services as they can today. Advertising is not cheap, it’s expensive. All of those costs are incorporated into what you pay for health care. Do you think providers just throw that money out the door? No, the health care industry transfers those costs to you. So that brings health care costs up incredibly. In a “one system” form of health care, privatized or socialized, you make the choice, you would likely remove that part of the cost equation as well.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is much less expensive to administer one health care program in comparison to administering three or four programs at the federal level and then several again at the state level. One program for everyone and you will see the costs plummet. People will have more money for everything. The economy would likely flourish. Even major auto manufacturers and other industrial giants have said that health care costs are putting them out of business.

And, as a conservative I have to ask the question: Is having a government-run health care system comprised of multiple and perhaps likely redundant systems of care at both the federal and state levels actually better than having just one government-run system? The obvious answer is no. Having one system would be the better choice.

That is if a conservative can even accept having socialized or government-run health care in the first place? If in fact having one such system is much less expensive and more efficient than the multiple government and private systems we have today at such great cost, then of course the answer is a clear and definite yes, regardless of whether or not the system is totally government-run or private. It would be by default the most conservative system.

There are of course the questions which remain as to whether or not such a system could work in The United States. But we ought not to let the media front men decide that question for us.

In my opinion, if we want to lower health care costs in The United States we need to switch to one system and only one, whether it be private or public, into which everyone pays, and properly regulate that system. In that way, we will simplify and therefore decrease the administrative costs and insurance costs and everyone will likely live longer, as they won’t be sweating the cost of going to the doctor in the first place.

Copyright © William Thien 2011, 2105

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Now that I’ve published a multitude of anti-socialist essays and observations, many of them focusing on what I call the “sex-for-money social welfare system,” I’ve attracted the ire and attention of any number of publicly avowed socialists, many of them women since it would seem, they claim, that many of my essays against socialism seem to focus on programs that women tend to utilize, such as government programs that support single mothers (why of course, why not?, forty plus percent of children are born to single mothers annually today).

But other publicly avowed socialists have joined their ranks and have begun slinking around my perimeter, making themselves a nuisance realizing that now, after reading my positions on socialism that they haven’t a leg to stand on. Modern American Socialism is a scam on the people, a people afraid to address the matter, a people blighted by the constant draining of their income from a myriad of social welfare and entitlement programs that are incessant and pernicious upon the individual and which the individual often pays in to but is not eligible from which to draw. Socialism is selective and discriminatory.

Some of the socialists that I know directly have demonstrated to me in so many ways and in a rather revealing manner that they like to keep tabs on me, though they claim that is not what they are doing. They try to determine where I am at various times throughout the day and night and they often accuse me of all sorts of anti-social behaviors (what are really in these circumstances anti-socialist behaviors) without any basis in fact, knowing that even though there is no factual foundation to their accusations merely waging such accusations or positing such innuendo is a taxing effort to deal with.

I liken what they are doing to an inquisition. Their methods are no different. You see it in the character assassinations going on in the pandering media. You see it in the hatred of men and the male sex. It is everywhere, the constant drive to make you surrender what you have for someone else, to give up the product of your toils to pay for the product of someone else’s pleasures. It’s everywhere today.

And though I am not an overly religious person, I would not hesitate to say that is has now reached biblical proportions. But you don’t even hear the church saying anything about it. That’s how powerful the socialist giant has become. Even the church, the self-avowed arbiter of right and wrong is afraid to tread in the shadow of the socialist monster.

Questions, questions, questions. Where are you? What are you doing? Why are you doing that? Why don’t you believe you should have to pay for me and people like me having sex on your dollar? Why shouldn’t you be required to pay to raise my child, to feed all of my family even though I never married and I have three or more children, we are all in the same country? There must be something wrong with you for wanting to keep your own money and not pay for this outrageously expensive bastard nation I am making. You must be evil. You must hate. You are a hater because you don’t want to pay for me to fornicate all day while you work. That list goes on and on. And they always have an excuse for their constant inquiries. And where I live they usually outnumber me by several factors to one.

Politicians are afraid of addressing the problem because the media profits from the circumstances and the politician is afraid of the character assassination which will arrive from the media meant to snuff their political career. Corporations are too sensitive (could be read as cowardly by some) to deal with the matter because they are afraid of being seen in a negative light and many more profit from the circumstances, a ready and accessible source of income in the many social welfare and entitlement programs created that overtax the middle class. Everyone knows there is a problem but nobody except people such as me are doing or saying anything about it. With the power of the media behind it and a substantial portion of the population, the socialist giant is just such a behemoth that to be within the realm of its scrutiny can have a crushing, marginalizing effect.

Yet others hear us and identify with our message against the socialist giant, you can be sure. There are still many among us who are not afraid of the socialist inquisition.

Though it may not be entirely organized, it is a socialist front that I and others are dealing with, there can be no question. It is the result of decades of media indoctrination and socialist education that makes it impossible for the socialist to even distinguish that their behavior is the real anti-social behavior to begin with.

As I said, I liken their behavior to an inquisition, complete with an incessant list of questions, accusations for which there are no defenses, and innuendo originating often from the cavernous mouths of publicly avowed socialists.

I can answer all of your questions with one answer.

F&#* your socialist inquisition.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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It is my opinion and that of many conservatives and liberals I know that labor would improve its position in The United States if labor unions would stop allying themselves with the overt socialist candidate that believes in large government entitlement programs.

The true conservative wants to get the socialist giant off of its back but has no qualms with workers desiring a qualified wage or safe working conditions. Indeed, many conservatives could be considered members of labor as they are themselves “working class,” a statistic which cannot be disputed when you consider the large number of conservatives elected to public office during the last five years. Obviously working class people are voting conservative, not just the wealthy as the socialists would have us all believe.

One only needs to read the news to see the massive abuses of such programs as SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps), or any other of a whole host of social programs. One only needs to watch the news to see that the socialist system is out of order and subject to all manner of abuse and misuse at massive tax payer expense.

There is nothing more demoralizing to a working person than to find out when examining their pay statement a quarter or more of their pay is gone when it isn’t necessary.

So if labor unions and other such labor organizations truly want to help the working classes, maybe they should concentrate on getting the socialist giant off of the backs of the voter first before they go and support a candidate that carries the socialist cause.

Labor and socialism are not one in the same and it is time for labor to recognize that or it will continue to lose ground in the war to save its membership.

Labor will serve the working person best when labor ceases to be a socialist front.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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Someone I know and respect asked me to write something about the difficulty of finding a job these days on behalf of one of their loved ones and so here it is. This could very easily be about myself, though, or you.

Could it be that one of the reasons it is so difficult to get a job these days is because those who have the jobs make it so difficult to get the jobs in the first place? Or do they really have that many jobs to begin with? Are all of these numbers the government is always throwing around and employers are touting for real? Do they really have that many jobs or is there something else going on?

The reason I ask is that when I was younger, often getting a job meant asking someone, “Hey, I’m looking for work. Do you have anything right now?” If they had work and thought you could do it, they would put you right to work.

If you were still there at the end of the day, they would have you fill out an application which consisted of your name and address and where you’d worked previously and some contact information for those employers. You completed a tax statement regarding withholding from your check and that was it. Sometimes it was a little more complicated than that, sometimes less. But you were paid for that day’s work and hired if they asked you to come back. Not these days.

Today when you apply, many corporations make you complete an online application that frequently takes several hours of your time and requires that a rather intrusive, personal questionnaire to be answered. Many companies make you enact the actual job you will be doing by using role-playing software online that requires you to role play in the job of the potential employee. By the time you are finished with the application, often you have spent three or four hours, sometimes more of your time and still don’t have any response from the employer. You are working and not getting paid. I’m talking about the larger corporate employers of course, but many if not most have something similar involved nowadays. Is there a need for all of this pre-screening? To be sure, it has value, value in more ways than one of course as well shall see.

The reasoning behind it all is that employers believe they can acquire employees that are more suitable for the particular position and protect themselves from potential liability at the same time. And those are good reasons! But just as often employers are merely acquiring data on the person who wants to work there because the applicant also patronizes the place of business. People are known to apply to work at places they like to visit. In other words employers are telling applicants they have a job but instead what they are doing is testing the applicant in a marketing sense and acquiring extremely valuable data about your likes, interests, and financial position, in order to be more competitive.

To acquire that data by collecting it in another fashion, legitimately that is, they would have to pay an agency a lot of money. By having you answer some questions during the application process, they can essentially force you to provide the data to them for free. Employers are known to take a resume that you have sent to them in an email, populate it into a database, and then send you targeted advertisements based on the information, such as your hobbies and travel interests that you list in your resume, when you simply thought you were applying for a job. Employers are also known to accumulate information from all of the resumes they receive and create a picture of the potential customer by melding and merging information from all of the resumes. Not a bad idea in a business sense really, just a little bit unscrupulous, that’s all.

What’s really frightening is that the entire process dramatically increases your vulnerability to identity theft as your information is traded from one interested party to another. Your file is enlarged as more information is added along the way. Soon, someone, a corporation or a political party perhaps, is bound to have everything about you that they need to do whatever they want to you when all you were doing at the onset was looking for a job.

Let me add that I am a conservative and believe business needs to be able to function in the most unrestricted manner possible.

Yet I think the type of behavior I describe here should be regulated. At a time when many Americans are desperately looking for a “decent” job, many employers are taking advantage of the circumstances and doing just what I describe. I know others who have had to endure the same process over and over again never to hear from the potential employer once they jump through all the hoops. Kind of tells you something, doesn’t it?

That is why I believe the application process should be limited to merely asking the necessary questions to determine if the person is eligible to work in the particular environment in question and then a process should take effect whereby the applicant is promised reciprocal progress from the potential employer in some regard. In other words, there should be steps involved that require the employer to first check for potential employability for that particular position and then the employer requests that the potential employee carry on with the application process with certain promises involved.

Instead, what is happening is that many, many employers are doing what in the statistics business is called “Harvesting Data,” and they are abusing a population desperately in need of decent employment by testing them, poking and prodding them as they apply for work with no real ability or intent to employ each and every one who completes the surveys, questionnaires, the intrusive psychological batteries of questions that so many people looking for work must complete.

But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no! Once you complete all of that, many employers will make you take a drug screen, too, a drug screen often merely to earn minimum wage, after all of that other rigmarole.

They want to know about your driving record, have you ever been arrested, can they check your credit score, do you Facebook, do you have any debts, single, married, military service, education level, and the list goes on and on today. They don’t want to know if you can do the job and do it well, they want primarily to know “ABOUT” you. Employers buy and sell the information they receive from massive numbers of resumes after the information has been put in to databases. Yes! They do. It’s a source of profit.

They are not looking for a reason to hire you anymore; the entire process is backwards. They instead are looking for a reason NOT to hire you these days. It’s called screening. It’s always been done of course but now it is has become an intrusive, predatory, profitable practice. You could be the most competent, the most capable candidate for the job but perhaps your credit score is a little low. Maybe there is a picture of you on a web site at a party living it up. Maybe they hired some firm to check you out. You are out of contention! But you know what, they still have all of your information, don’t they? Yes, they do. And they will use it. You can bet on that. They don’t purge it.

How could they make any money off of your information if they purged it? In statistics you are now what is called a “case.” You have an electronic file at that corporation. When you were filling out that app, you know what they did? They left a “cookie” on your hard drive. If you didn’t remove it, now they know where you surf the internet. Now your file grows and grows. They know all about you. They may even find something interesting about you in your resume and begin searching for information about you on the internet and build that file so they can test you. Oh, yes. They do that. Make no mistake. You have to be careful when you apply at a corporation these days. Ever look at a corporation when you are driving by and ask you yourself, “I wonder what they make there?” Maybe they are making YOU! Why don’t you send them your resume?

So, no wonder it is so difficult to get a job. The actual process of getting a job is often working against you and it is in fact designed to work against you.

It wasn’t like that when I was younger. I can’t believe that somehow all Americans have become monsters that would destroy a corporation in a way that the application process indicates they all are. Maybe it is the other way around. Maybe the reason people are having trouble getting jobs these days is because employers are making the task of getting a job simply too difficult and instead profiting from the process at the same time in what some might say is a predatory fashion. Yes, maybe that’s what is happening. Or maybe there is no “maybe” about it. By the time you complete the entire process, some “holier than thou” person you never meet has found some selection you have made online in the application process they didn’t like or you don’t match “the profile,” when instead all they really are doing is “harvesting data” only to use it against you in a sales pitch perhaps to profit from your need to work.

You might ask, well if the unemployed aren’t working, they don’t have any money, why would they want to market to them in the first place? Quite the opposite. Marketers focus intently on the unemployed because many of the unemployed are receiving weekly benefits and not working. They have leisure time, time to spend their benefit money. Marketers also focus on single women having children out-of-wedlock who receive government benefits. Last year over forty percent of children were born to single mothers, nearly half. It’s a huge market. HUGE! It’s a science.

You often hear employers clamoring that they can’t get enough trained people in the US and they want to hire from outside the US. They want the State Department to increase US work visas for foreign nationals. Why? They claim that there are not enough US applicants. Why? Because the system of hiring has screened any potential US citizens out! The US produces more thoroughly trained applicants than any other place in the world and does it well. It’s just that the hiring process precludes many of them from working in The US. And the employers want a tax break for hiring foreign nationals, too! Go figure.

Some might say, “Bill, stop it. You are killing us. We are trying to do business here.” My response, “It’s a flawed business model. You don’t treat your customers that way. That’s not how you treat the American public.”

It’s time to regulate the job application process.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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So I’ve been kind of getting sick of these gas prices holding above $3 and often approaching $4 and $5 for the last six or seven years with no relief in sight and it occurs to me as it has to those of you who lived through the seventies I’m sure that there were measures we all took which in the end lowered the price of gasoline back to a reasonable level. OPEC as well as domestic oil producers were trying to squeeze every dollar they could out of the American household.

The measures that were taken not only involved driving by using certain methods such as trip chaining (doing all of your errands at one time instead of returning home after each one) and driving more conservatively (where I reside the governor was lauded for establishing a lower speed limit on the interstate), but the methods used to bring fuel prices down also involved curtailing the use of other forms of energy, such as the electricity you purchased from the local utility. And it worked.

And it was in fact the curbing of the use of other forms of energy it was believed that contributed the greatest to the lowering of the price of gasoline for automobiles. I don’t really know the exact explanation except that somehow the various sources of energy, oil, coal, natural gas, whatever, were able to somehow interlink their prices so that if the price of one went up, so did the prices of all of the others. It was a new form of economic charlatanism that the media force-fed the American public at the instruction of the special interests involved, big oil for instance, I’m sure.

And a national effort was created to lower the price of gasoline and all energy sources. That national effort involved taking certain steps in the home to curb the use of electricity and fuel. Perhaps if we revisit those methods, we can help to bring the price of gasoline back in line. Who knows? They may be cooking up some new line in the big oil PR departments for the media to spew to the public which will justify new price increases. Even municipalities got it on it. They started turning off streetlights in the very early hours of the morning and turning off streetlights in industrial areas where there was not traffic whatsoever. Municipalities also began installing low energy use lights throughout their cities and towns. It was a huge effort and it worked.

The first thing you must do is elect or designate an “Energy Cop” for the household. Usually both parents will split those responsibilities with such wise admonitions as, “SHUT THE DOOR! What do you think, we are heating the WHOLE PLANET!?” Or, “If you aren’t watching the television, turn it off or I’ll take away your TV privileges for the month.” These directions will come as loud, sometimes blaring, in-your-face warnings and are usually effective enough to gain compliance, but stricter measures are sure to follow if the offending party fails to comply.

Remember, make a list of what must be done to save energy and put it in an obvious place so everyone in the house can see it.

I will attempt to recall some of the methods we used in the seventies to bring the price of gasoline in line. First, create a plan and put it on paper in a place where everyone can see it, a list of rules for managing household energy. Put the list on the refrigerator or somewhere where everyone can see it and you can point to it if there is every a question in the house.

Put these on that list:

1. If you are not in a room, turn off the lights. The same holds true for a radio or television. Turn them off and read a book.

2. Turn off porch and landscaping lights by a certain time, such as 8pm. Stick to that time.

3. Use a shorter cycle on the dishwasher or clothes washer. Hang dry your laundry.

4. Buy plastic sheeting to use as added insulation during the winter months and place it over windows and other places where air leaks through from the outside. Separate areas of the house with added doors or cloth barriers in the winter to decrease air leakage. Contact your local insulation technician and have them do a review of the house where heat is escaping. They probably can lower your heating bills substantially by insulating areas you didn’t even think needed more insulation.

5. Don’t go in and out of the door frequently during periods of extreme cold or warmth so as not to tax the heating or air conditioning. This is an important measure and if you follow it, you will see your heating and air conditioning bills drop significantly. Why? Because you use a thermostat to regulate the room temperature and even slight temperature changes can activate it causing your heating or air conditioning to come on.

6. Keep your thermostat at or below 60 degrees in the winter and 72 in the summer.

7. Cool liquids by placing them in cool spaces in the home instead of filling up the refrigerator with them. It takes a substantial amount of energy to bring the temperature of a case of beverages down to 36 degrees when they have been sitting in the back seat of your car in the hot summer sun.

These are just some of the measures you can take to bring your electricity and heating costs down and by doing so it may help to bring the price of gasoline back to reasonable levels. It’s no guarantee. The media is complicit or perhaps ignorant of the big oil PR line in the abuse of the prices, I believe, so you will have to be alert to the media line which is coming straight from the producers. I’ve said there is nothing wrong with making a buck. And I believe that. But when it means sending families into debt as it does for many merely to drive to work, there is a problem. One way we can all address that problem then is to help out by using such measures as I’ve described.

When Americans began enacting these measures in the seventies, when they said it was only a matter of two or three years before all the oil would be gone (yes, they tried that line of BS on everyone and it worked! People were scared, lining up at gas stations for blocks and blocks. Now we see it was all a lie to which the media facilitated), Americans began to see the price of oil and other fuel sources go down.

There was no way for the producers to keep the prices up any longer because the amount of fuel used was actually being measured and reported and the amount used had plummeted. They could not say that demand had exceeded capacity any longer. Prices had to come down. They had to come down because that was the line they were using to drive prices up in the first place.

So if you want that new tennis racket or your kids need a new pair of shoes for school but you don’t have the scratch, just think of what you can do to change that and stop throwing it all away by putting your paycheck in your car or burning it up to heat the house.

Make the list, put it on the refrigerator, and hold everyone in the house to it. You are the “Energy Cop.”

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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If a company is going to receive a tax break for outsourcing production to overseas facilities or those facilities merely just outside of our borders, and companies do receive such tax breaks, then I believe those products made overseas should not be allowed to be sold in The United States. Those products should only be for sale outside the borders of The United States. Or, if companies and corporations wish to sell products in The United States that are produced overseas, then any related tax breaks should be removed.

American tax payers should not have to provide a corporate tax break for companies making products somewhere else. American tax payers should not have to pay to undermine their own economic condition.

There may be substantial benefits as some companies claim to using overseas production facilities, and that is quite likely, but I can assure you that undermining the American workforce is not one of those benefits. Even if companies outsource component parts for their products to overseas facilities, they should not receive tax breaks if those products are sold in The United States.

From the perspective of the federal government and income tax revenue, it is a no brainer. Why is the federal government foregoing potentially huge income tax revenue and on top of that throwing away more revenue to corporations in the form of tax breaks for setting up overseas production. The clarion call from the corporate world when such tax breaks became commonplace was “what was good for business was good for America.” But what is bad for the American worker is bad for America. Outsourcing production is bad for the American worker. And outsourcing directly affects income tax revenue.

In a world with a global economy we cannot prevent companies from outsourcing, that would be unfair. But what we can do is see to it that companies eligible for tax breaks operating in that global economy don’t use those tax breaks to destroy our own economy by undermining our own workforce.

Either products made overseas by companies receiving tax breaks for overseas production should not be sold here in The United States, to include components of larger products, or those companies should not receive tax breaks for outsourcing.

There is nothing wrong really with buying products made overseas from time to time by foreign companies or American ones for that matter. Often you don’t really have a choice because we don’t make all products in The United States. But it is one thing to buy something that is made in The United States and it is another thing entirely to buy something that through clever marketing appears to be made in The United States but is in fact almost completely composed of foreign-made products. I recall looking at a T-Shirt in the bargain bin at one of my favorite sporting goods stores. On the front was an American Flag with the word AMERICA! printed boldly on it just like that. When I checked the care label I noticed the country of origin was China. Somebody probably got a tax break for that, too.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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Being a veteran I am acutely aware of the staffing shortage some of the VA Hospitals have been facing and the problems with scheduling that have been brought to the fore recently, scheduling problems resulting in delays that then resulted in the deaths of veterans.

I think the solution to the problem is rather simple. Instead of forcing veterans to attend a Veterans Administration Hospital for treatment, we as a country should pay for veterans to obtain treatment on the open market at a local hospital in their community instead of having to travel to a V.A. Hospital.

Paying for veterans to obtain medical care on the open market makes huge financial sense, for one thing. Some veterans have to be transported great lengths to receive treatment since they live hundreds of miles from the nearest VA Hospital. When scheduling exceeds capability to provide medical care, give the veteran the option of visiting another medical facility on the open market. Why let a medical problem exacerbate itself and become more expensive because we are making the veteran wait for care? Medical issues generally become more expensive to treat the longer into the condition or malady, any doctor will tell you that. Since we use tax payer dollars to pay for the treatment, why make it more expensive?

Our elderly who have not offered up their lives for their country or served in the military are eligible for free medical care and we do not make them go to a special hospitals for “the elderly” like we make our veterans attend VA Medical facilities. Could you imagine what would happen if we made our elderly visit special hospitals for the elderly? Could you imagine the political cacophony of screams coming from the retired? They are making us go to “death hospitals!” It is a valid fear really. So why do we force our veterans to do just that, visit special, overcrowded hospitals?

Let me add that I am not saying we should dismantle the current VA Hospital system, quite the contrary. We should enhance it. Certain war related catastrophic wounds are best treated by specialists who see that type of injury all of the time. But not all such battlefield injuries require those types of specialists. Therefore, I believe we can fund enhancements to our VA Hospital system through properly managing care for our veterans by providing choices.

My local VA hospital is an excellent facility and has not had any of the problems we have been hearing about in the news. But veterans who live in the northern part of the state have to travel hundreds of miles to receive advanced medical care and their families often have to stay several nights away from their homes when there are local hospitals right there in their own community offering the same care. Why do we put them through that? Again, could you imagine the raucous cries if we made the elderly do that, travel half way across the country for care? And most of them haven’t even served in the military.

I think this is a better way of dealing with the problem of overburdened VA facilities. Use of the facilities is slated to increase as The US draws down in Afghanistan completely so the problems are likely to get worse.

It’s time to give our veterans a choice option when it comes to care.

It is an indication of the failure of our country’s entitlement culture when we pay for our elderly to use whatever hospital they choose and they have not even served in the military while we force our veterans, many of them elderly themselves in to crowded VA Hospitals. It is just plain wrong. Veterans pay taxes too AND have served their country. So why are they being treated like second class citizens?

It’s time to give veterans a choice when it comes to receiving medical care. Not only is it the right thing to do, it makes huge financial sense.

Contact your Senators and Congressmen and tell them you think veterans should have a choice to receive care on the open market by clicking here Find Your Elected Representatives and send them an email.

You will be doing every veteran in America a big favor and saving yourself some money at the same time. And that’s what America is really all about. It ain’t about entitlements.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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