Thursday, April 18, 2013

Soft Targets

We have plenty of protection for politicians. They are well defended by layer upon layer of private and military and quasi-governmental strongarms. So bully for the politicians. But what about the rest of us? In a perfect world Sheriff Andy and Constable Phyfe would be right around the corner ready to talk down bad guys in thirty minutes. The real world isn't quite that cut and dried. People who live in rural areas, small towns and even in remote gated resort style retirement communities often have to rely on whatever muscle is available. If they can't afford to hire private security firms, they count on local constables and the sheriff. It's not that crime doesn't happen in small towns, it's just that with a smaller population, it's not as likely. Why have a fully staffed police force if you seldom need it?

This is the "why" behind the gun issue. Most folks who have guns know how to use them. They are every bit as much of a tool as a tractor, a truck or a harvester. Farmers and ranchers living in remote areas know that some fools try to eak out a living making meth or stealing equipment and they know that the law isn't going to get there in time. Most folks who own weapons respect them enough to care for them and not wave them around like idiots.

 If you want to know who is in the most danger of having a gun tragedy not directly related to crime, look no further than the very same cities that have the strongest gun laws. These cities often have the largest amount of crime, largely because an unarmed population gives criminals power over people. Single women, living in places that due to their low income are not as safe often feel that to protect themselves and their kids that they buy guns, sometimes unlicensed, stolen guns, just to have peace of mind. These women often work two jobs, leaving young kids alone at home. One of them finds a gun and tragedy strikes. But it isn't the gun that causes the problem-it's the crime and the unwillingness by politicians to admit that we have a real problem when it comes to gangs, and the mentally ill, and in keeping bad people locked up.

There are those who honestly believe that taking away guns will make us all safer. Just the actions of the last week have refuted those claims. A crazy man wielding a craft knife attacks 14 in a Houston community college, a pressure cooker laden with bearings placed by persons unknowns kills three and injures many in Boston. Neither incident featured a gun. Both incidents were the product of people actively seeking soft targets-places where they can attack unimpeded by police or other officials. We've seen this happen over and over-every school shooting from Columbine to Newtown-every mall shooting. Aurora features Holmes as a known crazy who was supposed to get "counseling" but who instead was allowed to be free long enough to amass a startling amount of weaponry. Lanza had a mother who, bless her heart, was blind to the monster her son had become until it was far too late. Every time, it's another seriously deranged person, allowed to roam free because we the PC public are not to judge, ever.

Political correctness will kill us yet. The imposition of attitude that insist we can't call people out for obvious features, attitudes or behaviors is allowing all kinds of criminals and crazies have free rein to act out in dangerous and sick ways. Just this past week's unwillingness by the media to say that the guys who probably placed the explosives was more likely than not Middle Eastern continues to play into this "oh we're not biased" game. Like it or not, for all of Napolitano's tapdancing, profiling grandmothers and seven year olds is not going to stop these problems.

Soft targets will continue to be hit by a variety of actors because the artificially imposed sensibilities of the Left won't allow them to recognize a perpetrator when they see them. The Leftists are the ones who rail about single women who lock their car doors when they see a group of young minority males-but they ignore the stories when a single woman is attacked by a similar group. These same Left leaning groups support every manner of "freedom" by any number of groups in escalating order of radicalism, but never seem to see the impact made when members of those groups victimize others economical, physically or emotionally. As a nation we used to have a fairly clear view of who our friends were and who our enemies were. I guess the old Pogo cartoon was right "I have met the enemy and he is us."

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Stark Economic Reality of the "Affordable" Healthcare Act

Teachers' health insurance usually runs from September 1 to August 31 of the following year. Such is the nature of our contracts that we straddle the years economically. Teachers were the first to feel the surge of rising premiums back in 2011. I told the tale often, how the premiums were going up 15%, how the deductibles were rising, how the care was more limited. I was laughed at metaphorically. Online by the bloggers and tweeters and in real life by friends and families. "Oh you're just a teacher. You don't understand" was their dismissive comment.

Last Fall I issued another warning. Rates were rising again, another 15%. Deductibles rose from $2500 to $5000. And copays were eliminated forcing me to pay $135 out of pocket for even the briefest of office visits. There were simply times I was sick and could not afford to go to the doctor. Yet...I was insured! On top of that, strange pricing came into play. A prescription would be $35 one time, $5 the next. Generics and name brands played tagteam as the insurance formulary changed often day by day. A mammogram using my insurance would be $379 out of pocket, but without insurance would be $179. I couldn't even afford to schedule a long overdue colonoscopy.

Today I was in a meeting with the head of our HR department. The topic was next year's premiums. My district subsidizes $350 a month toward the cost. Even at that, this year my insurance premium was $491 a month. Starting in September, it will be $691 with a $10000 deductible. So unless I need to go to the hospital, why bother having insurance at all? My policy will never pay. On top of that Flexible Spending Accounts are limited by the Federal government to $2500, so I can't even shelter enough to cover my deductible. Health Savings Accounts are limited as well and come with all kinds of IRS warnings that would make it possible that just being prudent would mean an IRS audit.

Obama assured us he would "bend the cost curve". Pelosi told us we had to vote on the bill to see what was in it. It seems that three years later, the truth is coming out and it is not pretty. Costs are going up-and they're going up a great deal. I think the euphemism used by our HR department was "substantial". I know young teachers with kids who were literally in tears at the cost. Even with a pay step, I will make less take home pay next year than I did five years ago. We are teachers, we are middle class, we are supposedly the people Obama claimed to care about. But with rising costs to everything thanks to his energy policy and the higher cost of business overall both cost of living and employment are in peril. For all you folks that voted for this type of government, what the hell were you thinking? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. There never was.