Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Single-Payer Healthcare

              If you’re like me you probably know little of the Single-Payer Healthcare. Heard of it? Yes. But beyond that, very little. After some of what I’ve been reading of late, I obviously need to pay more attention.

Single-payer is a term used to describe a type of financing system. It refers to one entity acting as administrator, or “payer.” In the case of health care, a single-payer system would be setup such that one entity—a government run organization—would collect all health care fees, and pay out all health care costs. (PNHP – Physicians for a National Health Program - www.pnhp.org/facts/what-is-single-payer)

“I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is, unless you have what is called a single-payer system in which everyone is automatically covered, you’re probably not going to reach every single individual.” President Barack Obama, July 22, 2009.

So, is Single-Payer something you should know about? I hope to shout! This is the direction our government is taking us. ObamaCare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, is the vehicle being used to get us there. I’m convinced that the obvious conclusion to ObamaCare is the collapse of the medical system we currently have in place because the government will not be able to sustain it. Just look at the mess people are facing simply trying to sign up through the Internet website! Single-Payer would eliminate all current medical insurance programs. In its place would be one governmental agency that would handle every single Americans medical records and the decisions that would be made regarding your health care. Such a system might sound easier to manage and oversee than the present system which is problematic in its own right. However, there are a few things that are very troubling to me in such as system as Single-Payer.

First, we the people are being forced by the government to enroll in some sort of medical program. There is no other option available. This is contrary to the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. Americans should not be required to pay for something that they do not want – in this case government healthcare. Someone might argue that we are required by the government to obtain a drivers license to drive a motor vehicle. That’s true. But you are not required to drive a vehicle.

Second, can you show me one government agency that has been run effectively and efficiently? I would suggest that the military does a somewhat respectable job of it in the area of recruitment and producing warfighters. But not much beyond that. Having worked on the electronic components of jets during my time in the Marine Corps, I witnessed first-hand the rampant waste and abuse in the purchasing of parts. Simple items such as nuts and bolts were exorbitantly priced through government contractors which cost pennies on the dollar in town.

Third, a government run operation overseeing my medical care will have non-medical people making decisions about what I can and can’t have when it comes to treatment for illnesses and life-threatening conditions. Such decisions will be driven by the bottom-line. So, if the person reviewing my record sees that I am 65 and need a another stent put in my heart, he may think I’m already in the senior citizen category so it would be a waste of money to pay for such an expensive procedure.

Lest you believe I’m being paranoid in my thinking, or simply misinformed, ask yourself this question: Why do so many Canadians who pay into a single-payer system travel across the border into the United States to receive medical procedures in our hospitals? Aren’t those same procedures available in their hospitals? Yes. But – and this is a big But – to receive such a procedure may mean the person waits 18 months or more before they can be treated. If it is life-threatening, you might not make it. Same is true in England.

Last week we were visited by a former foreign-exchange student from Brazil who is now a medical doctor. I had a discussion with her about Brazil’s socialistic medical system. I asked her how it was working. Ummm, not so good, apparently. She said the whole system is going broke because it simply costs too much.

That, my friends, is the trouble with where were heading. ObamaCare and/or Single-Payer Healthcare will be a cash cow for the government which will spend it on other programs just as they have with Social Security.

Our healthcare system needs to be changed, but ObamaCare is not the answer, nor is Single-Payer. Remember this in next year’s elections, and especially in the presidential election in 2016.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fly the Flag

             There’s a growing concern I have as I drive around commercial areas and neighborhoods. The American flag is flown in front of many homes and businesses which is always encouraging. However, I am witnessing way too many flags in various conditions of disrepair due to overuse.

Let me explain what I mean by overuse. Simply put, it means the flag has been left out well beyond its time. The red stripes have turned pink; the white stripes and stars are now a dingy gray; and the blue field is washed out losing its luster. Some flags are tattered and torn, snagged on roof tops, or wrapped around itself on the flag pole, and generally looking nasty and disrespected.

When the American flag is disrespected in this manner it conveys a disregard for the nation and its core values, beliefs and system of governance. The flag of our nation is a symbol which embodies our history, honor, hopes and humility as a people. It doesn’t mean you agree with everything that occurs within our borders or even the manner in which we conduct our affairs of state outside our borders. What it does mean, however, is that we hold to its best values such as are listed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with its Bill of Rights. With such documents in place we are always made aware of what we can be as Americans. To disregard them places us in peril of losing the very beliefs that made this a great nation. For well over two hundred years people from all over the world have sacrificed to make it to our shores for an opportunity to make something more of their lives.

The words etched at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor says it best: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, Tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The United States has been that beacon of hope to countless thousands of immigrants who have come to our shores. One immigrant who arrived from Greece recalled, I saw the Statue of Liberty. And I said to myself, ‘Lady, you're such a beautiful! [sic] You opened your arms and you get all the foreigners here. Give me a chance to prove that I am worth it, to do something, to be someone in America." And always that statue was on my mind.’”

         One of the best and simplest ways to show respect for the flag of the United States of America is to properly care for it. Look out your window. Look carefully at your flag. What does it show? If in doubt, simply replace it. On average, most flags for home use run about twenty dollars including the new pole and bracket. Flags for businesses range from $150-$200. I recommend to businesses (and homes as well) that they budget for two flags a year. This way you change it every six months. The flag always looks fresh and clean this way, and you avoid the disheveled appearance that seems to be commonplace today. It’s an easy fix, so let’s change it!

         If you are uncertain as to what to do with your old flag, simply drop it off at your nearest American Legion Post, or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post. These folks will properly and honorably dispose of the flag for you.

         A few weeks ago I gathered up several used flags I had in my garage. Wanting to use this as a teaching moment, I picked up my five-year-old granddaughter, Alyssa, to go along with me. We stopped at the VFW Post 1051 in Ripon, CA. The lady who answered the door, smiled and gladly took the flags from us. It was all of a five mile round trip and one minute at the door. But it also taught Alyssa an invaluable lesson in the proper care and disposal of the flag.

         You may find yourself wanting to suggest to a neighbor or a business establishment the need to replace their flag. The way I approach this is to ask to speak to the homeowner, or manager, if it’s a business. I begin by thanking them for flying the flag in honor of our great nation. Then I point out that the flag they are currently flying needs to be replaced according to the Flag Code in federal law. Often I have found that these folks have not taken a good look at the flag in a while. They are usually surprised that I point out this discrepancy to them. One CEO of a hospital walked outside to look at the offending flag. He was stunned by what he saw. At that point I didn’t need to say anymore.  
         Fly the flag proudly! But make sure you look at it once in a while.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Shutdown

              Are there any adults left in our government?

Whether you side with the Wasquelly Wepublicans or the Dimwit Democrats makes no difference. This government shutdown is being handled in a most irresponsible manner in a way that is apparently intended to harm the most number of people.

And it’s only a partial shutdown at that. A full 85% of the government is fully operational. And may I remind you that though the private sector can be affected by this government shutdown, most businesses and industries will manage to carry on with little impact. It’s a bit of a yawner really.

But, when our World War Two veterans, the youngest of which is perhaps 88, are barred from visiting their own War Memorial in our nation’s capital; and when our military chaplains are told they cannot provide religious services to our troops; and when a veteran and his wife are forced from their home which happens to be on federal land; and when independent businesses that are in no way connected to the federal government are forced to close their doors to business, then I found myself getting just a bit agitated.

The capper for me was when the families of our most recently fallen soldiers in Afghanistan were not afforded the customary courtesy of having transportation provided by the government to meet the casket of their loved one at Dover Air Force Base, Maryland, to then be accompanied to the final resting place, and the Death Benefits check was also not provided, I was seething. This is utterly irresponsible! It is despicable that our nation’s leaders would not stand up in unity to defend those in our military “who gave that last full measure of devotion.” Such inaction on the part of our government, particularly a Defense Department that would be complicit in this, is absolutely unconscionable.

As I said at the outset – I don’t care what your political views are – the proper respectful and expected treatment of those who have voluntarily stepped forward to serve their country in times of peace and war should always be honored. For instance, many of our Vietnam veterans were roundly criticized for being “women and baby killers.” They also endured insults and lies about their service, and their names and character impugned daily within the press. "Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR." ~ Vietnam Pilot.

As I write this article we are thirteen days into this shutdown – and there does not seem to be any success of the two parties coming together to break the stalemate between the fractious Republican and Democrat Parties.

I know that I am not alone in my disgust with our elected officials and their sycophantic media lapdog that is more than just a little bit complicit in the failure to report actual news. Instead, they are agenda-driven, willingly advocating for the removal of the Constitution, declaring it to be an “antiquated, outdated set of laws established by rich white men.”

It appears to me that our American society today has forgotten the difference between democratic ideals and the role of a republic. “The democratic ideal of self-government is the idea that people can rule themselves. This goes back to the Enlightenment in the 1600s, fostering the idea that kings and political leaders are not chosen by God; that man is born free, and he voluntarily gives up a little of his freedom to form a government in return for social order. The government works for the people, not the other way around; and when a government no longer serves the people's needs, they have both the right and the duty to make whatever changes are necessary, or to abolish that government and come up with a new one that better serves their needs.”

The role of a republican government, on the other hand, is a different concept. “The role of citizens in a republican government is to decide who shall represent them. This makes the people not give up their voice in government.”

So here is the crux of the matter: We are a republic. We freely elect those who will represent us within the government – everything from local to federal. The democratic ideal is the idea that everyone is equal before the law. So it falls upon us as the electorate to choose wisely those who would seek to represent us. If you do not like those who are currently holding elected office, then do something about it! Get involved supporting those who would share your beliefs and ideals and then get them elected. By the same token, work diligently to defeat those who do not represent you well.

We can fuss and moan all day long about the nonsense that passes for representative government in Washington DC today, but until we oust these “snake-oil salesmen,” we have no one to blame but ourselves. We are a year away from the mid-term elections. So get involved now! I know I am. Are you?

I want my government to represent me again.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Common Core

              Well, school is back in session throughout the United States. So I was curious when the story broke about a parent, Robert Small, who seemingly got out of line at a Common Core meeting in Maryland where he had to be physically removed because of his vocal criticism of this new teaching/testing method called Common Core Standards.

Going to school in the 50s and 60s our system of education seemed challenging enough to me. But then again, I was coming at this education thing from a rather biased perspective. My early ventures into academia were, shall we say, not exactly ideal. I started school in Connecticut where I was born. A couple of years later, after my mother remarried, we moved to New Jersey where my step father, “Pop,” was employed as a corporate manager. Two years after that we moved to New York. I was now nine-years-old.

Now, all this moving around may sound interesting, even exciting, but it played hob on my academic pursuits! Here’s an example. In New Jersey at that time (mid-50s) you started to learn your Times Tables in 4th Grade. I was coming to the end of my 3rd Grade year when we moved to New York. I would finish out my 3rd Grade year in a school there. No problem, or so I thought. I walked into a class taught by Mrs. Bean, a woman of advanced years, who still stands out as my favorite teacher of all time. Why? Because she sized up my problem immediately and did something about it. You see, kids in the New York school system began learning their Times Tables in 3rd Grade. By crossing the state line from New Jersey to New York I was one academic year behind in mathematics just that quick. In the two months that remained of school, I was like a deer caught in the headlights. Each day Mrs. Bean would give the class their work assignment, after which she would take me off to the side and work with me on my Times Tables. Bless her!

Now add to this the fact that I was what constantly evaluated by my teachers with written comments on my report card that said such things as, “Charles has potential,” or “He needs to learn to concentrate,” and so on. For me, I just remember sitting at my desk, gazing out on the baseball diamond, desperately wishing to be free from the confines of the classroom so I could play baseball with my friends.

I managed to get through grades 4, 5 and 6 before we moved yet again. Only this time we moved to Paris, France in the summer of 1960. Pop was in on a business venture with several other American businessmen. So I found myself being enrolled in a bilingual school. Initially, an attempt was made to get me in the American School in Paris, but the waiting list for 7th Grade was as long as my arm. The alternative was the bilingual school. By definition, bilingual meant that every class was taught in French, and all the teachers spoke English. I was in shock! I didn’t speak French! And they don’t play baseball. And football to them is what we call soccer. Argh!

I remember sitting with my parents and the administrator discussing the classes I would take. French, of course. English? Yes, but it was taught by a teacher from England (Trucks are lorries, and car hoods are bonnets), but I felt I could at least manage in that class. I was required to take another language class as well. Spanish or German? I reluctantly chose German. My teacher was Mrs. Wolfe. The administrator then suggested I take Latin. At this point I’m near panic. I looked at my parents with desperate, pleading eyes: “Help me!” Oh, another of those classes you take later on back in the States? Algebra. Stateside we would take that in 9th Grade. In the bilingual school in Paris you take Algebra in 7th Grade – taught in French of course. Oh boy!

I survived the school year with the aid of a neighbor, Madame Hanoka, a Jewish lady who spoke seven languages and was infinitely patient in working with me every afternoon when I arrived home from school. (The Hanoka’s story of escaping from sword-wielding Muslims in Egypt in 1948 is worth an article all its own.)

I would go on to attend yet another junior high school in Norway and then five high schools before finally graduating from Pacific Palisades High in Los Angeles in 1966.

My reason for sharing all this about my early schooling is to simply say that from what I can make out from the Common Core Standards, it is an attempt to unify the academic process so that students across the fruited plain of America would all be learning the same stuff at the same time, and the testing would be reflective of that teaching.

There may be problems with Common Core, I really don’t know. I have read a lot of articles and commentaries but can’t see anything seriously flawed in this approach. Folks from both sides of the aisle, conservative and liberal, are finding fault with this system. I would simply suggest that teachers and administrators create an environment so kids are encouraged to learn.

And may they have the likes of Mrs. Bean and Madame Hanoka to guide them in their academic pursuits!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Granddads Rule!

              My two five-year-old granddaughters began kindergarten in August which had an indirect impact on my own weekly schedule. Alyssa lives here in Ripon. Brooklyne, on the other hand, lives in Turlock.

I am now delightfully responsible for picking up Alyssa from school on Fridays. I say “delightfully” because it provides me with a few hours of one-on-one time with one of my grandkids. Priceless!

So, after I pick up Alyssa we go to McD’s for a hot fudge sundae, or a smoothie or some other treat that I’m a sucker for. Then we head for Spring Creek Golf and Country Club where I’ve been working with Alyssa on enjoying the game of golf. She brings her golfing togs in her backpack and changes in the ladies locker room. Then it’s putting on the practice green before heading out to play a few holes. My manner of instruction is to allow her to hit a ball when she wants to, or just ride in the golf cart with me. She likes to sit on my lap and steer the cart as we travel from hole to hole.

Last week Brookie spent the weekend with Alyssa. On Saturday Alyssa had a birthday party to attend, so it was previously arranged that I would take Brookie to the club to play golf. So when Isaura stopped by to pick Brookie up from Laura’s, the following exchange took place.

Laura said, “Brookie’s going to go play golf with your granddaddy, while you go to the birthday party.” Alyssa said, with big tears, “But I don’t want to go to the birthday party. I want to go play golf with my granddaddy.” Then Laura said, “Your friend is expecting you. We bought the gift, and it’s a princess party, and you love princess parties.” Alyssa was insistent, “But I don’t want to go. I want to go play golf with granddaddy!”

Well, chalk one up for granddads! I was surprised that spending time with me playing golf trumped a princess-themed birthday party, but that’s how the story was told to me. Alyssa composed herself and attended the birthday party. And Brookie and I had fun at the club.

Now Brooklyne does not have quite the same level of interest in swinging a golf club that Alyssa has at this point, but she sure does like to sit on my lap and steer the cart. I asked her where she learned to drive the cart so well. She told me her other grandfather, Papa Joe, has a cart that he drives around where he works, so she’s had quite a bit of practice.

As we cruised around the course, Brookie asked me why I couldn’t have her play golf with me more often. I explained that with her living 25 miles away it was much less convenient connecting with her than with Alyssa who is only a mile away. Brookie then said, “But you could come and take me to the Turlock Golf and Country Club!” I attempted to put it into perspective. “I’m not a member of the Turlock club,” I said, “like I am at Spring Creek.” She was having none of this excuse making on my part. She was backing me into a corner and I could see that she was settling for nothing less than more involvement in her life with time together centered around the game of golf. I told her I would check with the folks at Turlock as to the possibility of bringing her over to their club where we could play. That’s next on my list of things to do.

Alyssa is a blur of motion when we are at the club. She grabs her golf club, tees up her ball and lets fly. She then runs to the ball where she again tees it up, and gives it another mighty swing. Now for you purists, I’m quite aware that this is not the proper way to play the game. It’s okay! I want the girls to have fun playing. If they like it well enough to want to learn the nuances of the game, then I will stress the importance of knowing the rules and etiquette of the game. I have already shown them how to repair ball marks on the green, and to fill in the divots with sand on the fairways, and the proper way to rake the sand traps. Both girls especially like raking the traps!

But, this running to the ball, stopping to hit it, then running again is the perfect remedy for a sound night’s sleep, according to Alyssa’s mother. Laura told me that whenever Alyssa plays golf with me she sleeps like a brick that night!

In the Book of Proverbs, chapter 17, verse 6, it reads, Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.” I can hear the affirmative "Amen!" from the grandparents reading this article.

Both my wife and I had close relations with a grandparent which helped enormously to formulate our personalities as well as our appreciation for life in general. I want to have a powerful positive effect on my grandchildren. That’s a legacy worth investing in!

Psalm for the Day