It’s Alive!

At the risk of jinxing the whole she-bang, the long long saga of repairing my boat is finally done. It’s ALIVE!! It roared to life in the driveway last night and by all indications seems to be performing to spec. It ought to be since by the time I was done I had basically replaced the entire electrical system.

Still, it was way cheaper than a new boat, and much less than paying someone else to swear at it. However, I did learn a thing or two. One: marine parts are damned expensive. Two: I don’t want to be a boat mechanic.

The proof will be this weekend when it gets dunked in the lake. I’m gonna be one damned ornery puppy if it runs for 10 minutes and dies. It ran for the first 21 years without any trouble at all. All I’m expecting is another 21 now that this is done. Yeah right. But I’d settle for a good summer or two.

Drive Your Drunk Self Home

While out having a ridiculously good time this past Saturday night at a local watering hole, I was more than a little surprised by the DJ’s announcement. Several times, while queuing up the next karaoke star’s music, the girl at the sound board announced to the bar that whatever you do, do not leave your car in the parking lot overnight. Dire warnings of large towing fees and such followed.

While she didn’t state it quite so bluntly, the message seemed to be, we don’t care how wasted you are (and some of the patrons were clearly over that line), drive your damn car home. This seemed in rather stark contrast to other places I’ve been where they are promoting getting a cab or catching a ride with your friend who was not doing shots of Jagermeister all night. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really know for sure, but it seems there might even be some potential liability for the bar because they basically encouraged everyone to drive.

Either way, next time I’m making it a point to leave there well before closing time when the lot clears out.

Going to School on Health Reform

Is it possible we can use education as a role model for how health care should work in this country? The big debate at present is whether or not to offer a public insurance plan (e.g. Medicare for everyone) as part of the health reform plan. Critics are worried that public plans will restrict access to care, lower the overall standard of care, create extraordinary public debt, and drive private insurers out of business as they can’t compete with a not-for-profit model. Those in favor are claiming that unless there is some public option to drive competition costs will never decrease, and without public funding of health care millions will continue to go uninsured. The annoying part is that both sides are mostly correct.

It strikes me that we’ve sort of solved this problem once before, in the field of education. Everyone is provided a basic K-12 education at public expense, regardless of income, need, or any other criteria. If you are motivated and can afford it, you can send your kids to private schools. That’s your choice, but it doesn’t get you out of paying your share of taxes that fund public education. At the college level, most (all?) states provide some subsidized university programs that require students to fund part of the coverage as well. And there are lots of private schools out there that for a hefty sum will educate you at your own expense. While it’s hard to make generalities, it is pretty well accepted that in aggregate the private schools are providing a better education than the public schools. But for the vast majority, public schools are just fine.

Applying this model to health care, every citizen would be entitled to basic health care. This may not cover all the latest treatments, elective procedures, or extraordinary care, but it would be a solid basic coverage that would provide a desperately needed security blanket to the uninsured and those fearing unemployment because of its attendant loss of coverage. Then private insurance could be used to subsidize that basic coverage. Employers might still offer “umbrella coverage” as an employment benefit. States could offer subsidized umbrella plans to their citizens if they chose to do so.

In this way, those of us getting excellent care today would continue to get that care through a pair of complementary plans. Those without care today would get basic coverage they desperately need. Costs for basic care should be well contained, and capitalism is still alive and well. The only down side I see to this is that insurance companies’ business models will change dramatically, but I’m hard pressed to work up a lot of sympathy for them. It may be hard to get this past their lobbyists though.

And yes, this will raise your taxes, but it should also lower your expenses and/or raise your salary. Also, if the costs go down as anticipated, it may be a net gain for us in the end. It seems worth a shot. We certainly need to try something significant. Simply tweaking the existing system is clearly not going to get us where we need to go.

The Safest Place to Live

Maybe there’s something in the water in these municipalities, but these cities have taken the need to protect the populace to a new level.

First up is Bozeman, Montana. A sleepy little nondescript town who now requires all applicants for city jobs to release all login names and passwords for social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo!, or Google. Give me a break. Ostensibly this is only to ascertain if the prospective employee is engaged in any illegal activities. However, it’s one thing to search for prospective employees on the Internet to get a sense of what their public face is. It is completely another to gain access to their private world. What they do on their own or with their friends should be their business. This would be akin to requiring that all job applicants submit to a complete search of their homes prior to getting an employment offer. It takes invasion of privacy to a whole new level. It’s bad enough that the NSA is likely still reading your email and eavesdropping on your calls. Now your employer wants in as well?

On an equally perplexing, yet more comical note, comes Brooksville, Florida. I’m not sure what’s been going on it Brooksville that required them to pass such legislation, but the city council there has passed a new dress code to improve their public image. From now on, all city employees must adhere to the following rules:

  • underwear is now required;
  • employees must use deodorant;
  • no halter tops or Spandex at work;
  • no skirts worn “below the waistline”;
  • no other clothing that may be “distracting, offensive or revealing”;
  • only ears may be visibly pierced; and, perhaps most disturbingly,
  • all cuts or wounds must now be covered.

Now many of these are similar to decency standards enforced by most companies and schools. No trouble there. I do find it curious that they felt the need to require that all cuts or wounds must be covered. Did the Band-Aid lobby get in there? Or did they have a problem with people sporting open oozing festering sores in the workplace?

But I’m most intrigued by the rule against going commando at work. Exactly how are they planning to check on that? And what constitutes underwear anyway? Are you okay if you just put a Band-Aid on your butt? The mind boggles…