Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Feds Approve Corbett's Medicaid Plan

     Yeah But...

According to the 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette', "The agreement allows Pennsylvania to impose the highest Medicaid premiums of any state in the country beginning in 2016."

It was previously reported by 'The Philadelphia Inquirer' in May "Pennsylvania's expansion of Medicaid to require 723 new workers". "Far higher than most states have needed... Those new hires typically are in the dozens. New Jersey, for example, said the contractor that coordinates its health benefits hired 38 permanent employees and 62 temps... "The enrollment system is heavily automated for Medicaid," said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University."

Basically Governor Corbett is following what Republicans always seem to do when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. (1) Make the government sponsored ACA more expensive then it has to be.

(2) Privatize healthcare by all means possible. Even if it takes 100's of new state workers and lines the pockets of for-profit health insurance carriers to do it.

(3) Make the ACA less palatable to the American public by these means. Thereby accomplishing the Republican's main goal, the weakening of public support for ACA.

If Tom Wolf wins the position as governor here in Pennsylvania he may undo this.

'The Pocono Record'-- "It would be very doable for another governor to come in and do something different".. said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families...

Tom Wolf would move forward with traditional Medicaid expansion," spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said. "Governor Corbett's plan creates unnecessary bureaucracy and threatens higher premiums for certain recipients and future benefit cuts."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day, A Historical Look Back

     Nothing Ever Really Changes!

20/20 Reports Labor Union History (1986)

Ford in 1930s and early 1940s

Joe Hill
A Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World

Musician Steve Earle reads labor organizer Joe Hill's last words
penned on the eve of his execution by the state of Utah, 1915.

Paul Robeson, "Joe Hill"

Union Maid The Late Pete Seeger

What If Saving Could Be Like A Lottery?

Tina Rosenberg | New York Times (Opinion)-- "More than a quarter of Americans have saved less than $1,000 for retirement... Prize-linked savings exist in some form in at least 18 countries today..

Perhaps the experience most relevant for the United States is Britain’s Premium Bonds, established in 1956. The interest on the bonds isn’t repaid to the holders. Instead, it goes into a prize fund .. Every pound savers put in (to a maximum of £30,000) gives them a chance to win monthly."

"For each deposit of $25, savers got normal interest, plus one entry to the annual grand prize and monthly smaller prizes of between $25 and $100. More deposits meant more chances to win, up to $250 – 10 chances — a month... At the federal level, bills are in the House and Senate that would remove federal prohibitions on banks’ participation in prize-linked savings."

Sounds Like A Plan To Me!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fire Prone Electric Meters

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times , "Who's accountable and will pay for the $800 fix.. As the home settled, wires coming down the side of the home were stretched at the meter... A home with similarly stretched wires in Bath caught fire in 2005 after the connections came loose inside the meter and the two leads touched each other."

My problem isn't so much as who is responsible as it is, why the freaking $800!

If the utility company would come out at no cost to isolate the power I could fix this myself in about 10 minutes. This really wasn't a big deal until all parties (government electrical inspectors, the utility company and the electrical contractors) made it so.

All one has to do is disconnect the wires. Lower the box, cut both the meter feed and box feeds down to size, re-strip the wires and reattach them. About 10 minutes worth of work.

     There's no way in hell this should cost $800!

It looks to me everyone involved is looking to make a fast buck off these homeowners' misfortunes. (Including lawyers who will no doubt litigate this)

     Should I be surprised?

ISIS, Oil Or Slaughter Of Christians?

There's an awful lot of hyperbole over ISIS slaughtering innocent people and what kind of threat they pose to the world. Before we get our panties in a knot, let's take a look at a few facts.

'Fox News' reported back in January, "2,123 Christians killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88)."

This number may seem alarming but it's only a drop in the bucket. Wikipedia-- "According to Pope Benedict XVI, Christians are the most persecuted group in the contemporary world. The Holy See has reported that over 100,000 Christians are violently killed annually because of some relation to their faith from 1989 to present." That may seem much higher a number then FOX reported because the Vatican says most of the deaths occurred in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and some other African nations. Nations that the U.S. could give a hoot about when it comes to Christians getting slaughtered.

That same link in Wikipedia list the top ten offenders. I will list some of them along with their position regarding oil exports.#1 North Korea (ranked 110th in oil production)
#2 Somalia (ranked 111th in oil production)
#3 Syria (ranked 32nd in oil production)
#4 Iraq (ranked 7th in oil production)
#6 Saudi Arabia (ranked 2nd in oil production)
#9 Iran (ranked 4th in oil production)
To name a few. Oddly Wikipedia doesn't even mention Nigeria ranked 13th in oil production. Even though Boko Haram has slaughtered thousands since 9/11.

A Pattern Emerges
We tend to tone down the rhetoric on other nations when two things occur in those that aggrieve people of the Christian faith. (1) When those nations don't place high on the list of nations exporting oil. (2) As long as they are our oil partners we tend to overlook their transgressions.

Before I ask you a question, here are the top oil producing nations along with how they stand with United States Foreign Policies towards them. (F=Favorable) (U=Unfavorable)
1 Russia (U)
2 Saudi Arabia (F)
3 United States --
4 Iran (U)
5 China (F)
6 Canada (F)
7 Iraq Under ISIS (U)
8 United Arab Emirates (F)
9 Venezuela (U)
10 Mexico (F)
11 Kuwait (F)
12 Brazil (F)
13 Nigeria (F)
14 Norway (F)
15 Algeria (F)

Notice which ones we have either imposed sanctions or are actively engaged with militarily?

Generally speaking nations having poor human rights records and having oil they are willing to sell directly to the United States doesn't seem to be of concern when it comes to our relations with them.

I'm sure plenty of people will argue we shouldn't be sticking our nose in their affairs anyway. Others may insist we only stick our necks out when it's in our best interests to do so.

Here's The Point I'm Trying To Make..
Stop shoveling this kind of crap that somehow it's all about helping people in other countries or that we are somehow threatened if we don't. Don't go around spending our taxpayer dollars, the lives of our soldiers and pretend what we are doing is based on some noble cause if it were not for oil involved in all of this somehow. I have no problem helping suffering people throughout the world if that's what we decide to do. BUT.. it shouldn't be for those only who have fossil fuels in their backyards.

There's no justification for deceiving the American people, others throughout the world and the American soldier that he/she should die if what they were told was fabrication.

MSNBC: "Why We Did It"

How many people have to die and suffer before we wise up
It's no secret I've always maintained a very strong position when it comes to "alternative energy". This horrible gunk not only pollutes our air, but can never create energy independence the same way the sun and wind can. The sun shines and the winds blow everywhere. Not just in some nations but everywhere. Nobody has to conquer nor kill for them.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Going Down 4 A Few Days

I've just uploaded four posts, but will be gone for awhile.
      Will anyone miss Me?
      (I doubt it)

We're headed out for a few days. The wife has been covering 6 days a week since June for her boss (a small business owner) who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

This while the wife has been watching the daughter's twins three days a week while the daughter works, trips to CHOPS in Philadelphia and 'sign' classes for them.

I myself have been rather busy doing stuff that I haven't mentioned here, nor intend to.

We haven't taken a vacation in 6 years. Number one is we can't afford to. Number two is too many people depend on us not to be able to do so.

So my question is... Will anyone miss me while I'm gone?

There are only three or four bloggers in the Lehigh Valley who post regularly such as I. While I have several hundred visitors a day, has anything I posted resonated enough with anyone who would care to comment on rather then just read what I had to say?

Even though I've lined up a few posts for the next few days while I'm gone, I will not be spending my vacation monitoring the comments. I'll be gone for almost a week and people will have time (while I'm gone) to think about these. Bear with me. I'll check out these comments when I come back and delete those who took advantage of the opportunity to leave derogatory comments in my absence. I might even disable comments unless they are approved until I come back. See how it goes.


Scranton, Pa. Pension Funds Going Broke

'The Citizens Voice' is reporting Scranton pension funds will be broke in 3 to 5 years-- "Scranton could be bankrupt in three to five years because its pension funds are poised to run out of money... With a funding ratio of just 16.7 percent, the city’s firefighters fund is in the worst condition of any plan in the state, Mr. DePasquale said, and will be unable to pay benefits in less than 2½ years. The non-uniform fund isn’t much better, projected to be insolvent in 2.6 years, while the police fund has less than five years."

We could argue unions demanded too much or that governments have underfunded their obligations. The real fact of the matter is there are several reasons.

One of them is there is a lesser population of young workers paying into these funds. Another is more jobs have become automated and/or gone overseas. One more reason is corporations have found all kinds of ways to avoid paying taxes (see my earlier posts).

As I view this there is a whole lot more finger pointing going on between people then finding solutions. We all tend to blame one another rather then actually getting together to resolve this problem. The answer is in corporate taxpayer reforms that close the loopholes. Bringing back and encouraging manufacturing in this country via bad trade agreements with China and other countries.

Currently we are pitting both the young against older retirees and blaming unions. Neither which will resolve the problems we now face. Until we address the fundamental issues regarding trade agreements and corporate tax loopholes we cannot begin to find a reasonable solution.

We can either continue to play the blame game or find the reasons why things have turned out as they did. At the end of the day we all need to work together. Poking one another in the eye resolves nothing.

School Prayer, Forget About It!

Florida pastor lashes out at atheists because he wants school prayer ‘like the Constitution says’, "A Florida chaplain on Thursday accused a secular group of trying to turn him into an atheist because he was no longer allowed to pray with students at high school football games."

Ignoring his ignorance of what the constitution says... Christians don't hold a sacred right to be the only ones recognized. Even if this school chose to ignore the constitution and allow prayer imagine how this would open a 'Pandora's Box'.

Sports fans would have to wait for every prayer requested by dozens of religions who then would also be held the same rights. It's a ball game, not a freaking religious rally. Nobody came to the ball game to be converted. Who knows how long a prayer could last or what it would entail.

This is the very reason why the constitution says what it says. This guy needs to find his own venue elsewhere. Guys like him are the reasons why people are killing each other all over the world in the name of religion. Frankly we'd be all better off if religion never existed with aholes like him.

All religions (in their true form) abhor public displays. Anyone who imposes outwardly their beliefs on others are evil in nature and have nothing to do with the true divine. Anyone who follows such a doctrine is not only ignorant and dangerous unto themselves, but others as well.

Should Bangor School District Taxpayers Play Ball?

Lynn Ondrusek | Lehigh Valley Live, "A Bangor Area School District study recommends spending between $7 million and $9 million on a new stadium and athletics fields... School Director Mike Goffredo said problems with the parking and traffic could drive the total cost up to $20 million."

I'm all for kids playing sports, but is this the wisest use of taxpayers' dollars intended for funding education?

I also question how many of the people who own homes in Bangor are planning on attending these games or whether they're interesting in them in the first place. Unless some of these young athletes earn a spot in the NFL or on some other high paying sports team and build a McMansion in Bangor I hardly think investing a few million dollar$ seems worth that kind of investment.

I don't know where all this began to go off the rails, but the goal of K-12 should have always been to provide kids with a primary fundamental education. Preparing students for a field in sports, the arts, entertainment and all that kind of stuff is all fine and dandy, but the likelihood of one earning a decent living from them are like a thousands in one shot. Strapping homeowners and forcing them to pay for things beyond giving students a basic education goes beyond what was originally intended.

The Relentless Pursuit For LV Rail Passenger Service

Unbelievable! Here we go again
This will be my 4th posting on this.
Last July I said, "Great googly moogly, it's easier trying to kill a zombie!"

Aug 28 2014 - Lou Gombocz, Jr. | WFMZ-- "Bethlehem City Council Community Development Committee members Wednesday evening unanimously passed a motion to recommend to city council to enact legislation for the creation of a railway authority in the Lehigh Valley... Callahan, Karen Dolan, and Adam Waldron gave their approval for the formation of the Suburban Metropolitan Agency for Rail Transit (SMART) proposed and currently spearheaded by Kirk Raup of Bethlehem."

Before I comment further here's a brief collection of past articles regarding this.March 26, 2010- Dan Hartzell | The Morning Call-- "Lehigh Valley-to-New York City rail line would cost almost $700 million, study finds... Trains to New York, though popular in the public imagination, would cost nearly $15 million per year to operate, 22 percent of which would be covered by passenger fares, according to the study commissioned by Lehigh and Northampton counties and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp."

June 07, 2010 - Douglas B. Brill| The Express-Times-- " Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. says rail study 'has holes,' plans own task force... A regional transportation study released in April said passenger rail from High Bridge to Allentown would cost $659 million to build and might run an $11.7 million annual deficit."

Jul 18 2013- Randy Kraft | WFMZ.com -- "ALLENTOWN, Pa. - In a surprise move, council unanimously voted to support feasibility and marketing studies on rail service in the Lehigh Valley and to request state and/or federal funding to pay for such studies."

Proponents have been shopping this around since 2008 to anyone who'd listen. Every time I think I heard that last of it, up it pops again. I'm not going to go into a long spiel. Instead, if anyone's truly interested they can check out my prior posts' links below. However I will mention the points I made in them.* Between Bieber & Trans-Bridge there are about 24 buses shuttling back and forth to New York daily.
      No way in hell 24 trains will.

* Bus companies alrady have a couple hundred spaces of free parking for cars.
      None of the proposed train terminals do.

* Beiber bus on average takes about 1 1/3 hours with one stop between Allentown & NYC. They both go to the port authority. One block from Times Square.
     Rail passengers would have to get off in High Bridge, NJ (at a closed terminal). Wait outside in all kinds of weather. Where hopefully there would be a train waiting. Then have to disembark again to catch a 3rd train for the final leg of their journey into NYC. After arriving at the train station passengers would then have to take a subway train from there if someone's destination were Times Square. I'm 100% this could not be done in the same amount of time as taking current buses.

* We're talking about spending million$ of taxpayers dollar$.
     Whereas it doesn't cost taxpayer$ one thin dime for what is already available.

This makes about much sense as bringing back canal barges for anything other then a expensive tourist attraction. Anyone who wants to read in greater detail how I arrived at my conclusions can click on the following links.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Rail Transportation Study (Mine) II

Friday, July 19, 2013
Rail Feasibility Study HERE WE GO AGAIN!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014
Passenger Rail Doesn't Make Financial Sense