December 30, 2015

Wondering, on Wednesday (v42)

Are you tired of year-in-review (YIR) posts and articles and emails yet, or do you still have some slim thread of tolerance for them?

I confess I haven't paid attention to half of the YIR notifications I've seen. I've been getting them for a several weeks now, it seems. I think some of them arrived shortly after the Thanksgiving tryptophan was finally out of my system.

The early arrivals leave me wondering, this Wednesday, how the authors would feel if something huge happened before the end of the year, leaving their YIR in shambles.You know, some horrible tragedy (heaven forbid) or some wonderful news like a major celebrity wedding, or the discovery of a new planet, or a famous politician's birth certificate or green card, or something like that.

Kind of like what happens when we have early voting well in advance of election day, which leaves open the possibility that a dead person could win by a landslide, or some similar bizarre occurrence. That would likely mean that a court would probably have to determine the winner. And we all know how that works out, right?

Given that my own attention span for these things is slim, I'll keep my YIR brief.

Before the end of New Year's Eve Day, I'll have had three major milestones this year:  my 25th anniversary at my day job; my wedding, and my husband's retirement.

On my 24th work anniversary, I did a post about the foolishness of the Tax-Free NY program, wondering why it was necessary for me to pay taxes as an employee of a 78 year old company, when some new kid can move in to the Empire State, hire me and I would not have to pay income taxes for ten years.  I thought it was unfair to me, and of course unfair to my company as well.

I just checked the STARTUP NY website, which is the official home of the tax free project, and realized that, for my Central New York region, the selling points for our Quality of Life include two pictures, one of fishing in the Salmon River, the other of Chittenango Falls. What's more, three other regions also feature water activities as one of their two pictures.

I'm wondering, are we trying to lure fishing-related industries here? Trying to net a big one, maybe?

The last of the three  milestones, my husband's retirement, happens officially next year, but for all practical intents and purposes, it's happening on 12/31. In the morning, we'll get ready for work and head off on the commute together, for the last time.

I'm wondering, if I'm honest, how much things will change. I've got a few more years to work, although the jury's out on exactly how many.  A lot of that depends on how much of a mess the current Congress and POTUS make of our somewhat encouraged economy, and what happens next year when the new gang is elected.  Will we be trickling down?  Will everyone be making double their current wage (if things go up in tandem with increases in the minimum wage)? Will my 401(k) keep growing, and will Social Security be gone when I get there?  So much to wonder about, with no answers anywhere in sight.

What I don't wonder about, though, is whether this is the right decision for him, and for us. After 20 years at his second career, he's done enough, and had enough, and I want him to be around when I eventually make the decision to retire. We are better when we're happy, and we're happier when we're better.

I'm sure I'll have a twinge or two of something (I'm not sure yet exactly what), come January 4th when I have to go to work and My Sweet Baboo doesn't. But then, that's something for the 2016 YIR.

A final note:  I would be remiss if I didn't talk at at least a little about this blog. Thanks to all who've hung in there with me over the past few years -- I appreciate your tolerance, your interest, and your feedback. To new readers, thanks for giving me a chance. Your feedback is also warmly welcomed.

Here are the top five posts from 2015, all of which are part of two new themes I introduced this year:
  1. My Middle-Aged White Lady Perspective: Don't Apologize for the Truth
  2. Wondering, on Wednesday (v30)
  3. Wondering, on Wednesday (v29)
  4. Wondering, on Wednesday (v28)
  5. My Middle-Aged White Lady Perspective: Words Matter
I'll still be a middle-aged white lady next year, and I'm sure I'll still be wondering, when Wednesdays roll around.

Hope to see you then!

December 29, 2015

Another Year of Tuesday's Numbers: 2015

Earlier today, I published the last Tuesday's Number post of the year, leading me to this, the annual recap.  How'd we do this year?
Let's take a look.

First, the final total for Q4 was $4,268,817, a little less than $500K higher than Q3, about $760K higher than Q2, but more than $1.2M less than Q1.

For the year, there were:

  • 806 judgments filed, totaling $16,401,925
  • 62 satisfied judgments, totaling $744,492 and
  • 44 bankruptcies, adding $1,394,994

The total of judgments plus bankruptcies less satisfied judgments is $17,052,427, some $7.5 million less than 2013's $24,607,933 total and $9.2 million less than 2014's total of $26,305,502.

The number of filings is also down significantly. In 2013, there were 1279; in 2014, it spiked to 1411, and this year there were only 912. I say 'only' knowing that, for the folks included in these filings, there's probably little comfort in knowing that there are fewer people in the same boat with them this year.

Satisfied judgments dropped again this year by just shy of $97,000 compared to last year. In 2013, the number was much higher - $2,447,163. I'd like to see this number starting heading higher, at the same time as the overall filings continue to drop; repayment of debt being a positive sign for our overall sense of well-being and for the actual well-being of the local hospitals.

Speaking of the local hospitals, how did they fare this year?

  • Crouse's total of $2,497,979 was down $3,085,456 from last year's total
  • St Joe's total, $1,055,099 was $1,766,370 less than 2014
  • SUNY's total, $10,740,987 was down sharply - by $7,195,576
  • Community's total of $149,278 was up by $31,405

A small portion of the differences stems from a change in methodology. In 2015, I started subtracting the satisfied judgments from the overall totals and from each hospital. In 2014, I was able to make that adjustment in the final totals, but not in the individual hospital totals. Even so, there was a good drop for all of the hospitals this year compared to last - and that's one of the things I've been waiting to see in the tracking. 

Whether we've really turned a corner remains to be seen, but the final numbers for this year at least give me a sense of hope.

Here's to a healthy economy and a healthy population in 2016!

Tuesday's Number: $303,319

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, the final Tuesday of 2015, there were 

  • 23 new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $303,319
  • no satisfied judgments and
  • no bankruptcies

Here’s the breakdown by hospital: 

  • Crouse had three, for $34,700
  • St. Joes had six, for a total of $60,042
  • SUNY Upstate had fourteen, totaling $208,577

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

I'll have the year-end summary later.

December 28, 2015

More Money is Not the Answer

Common Cause New York has released the latest information on outside income for New York's legislators. There's a lot of it for some of our elected officials, who make a minimum of $79,500 for their part-time jobs (those in leadership positions make quite a bit more).

The chart at right shows where the outside money comes from, by industry. Not surprisingly, the majority of members with outside income are lawyers; after all, they're lawmakers. 

Common Cause notes that, on the plus side, some 60% of legislators elected before 2014 report no outside income, and they surmise that "many, if not all" of the new class of legislators no longer hold their day jobs. 

The group also believes that, in light of the recent guilty verdicts for former State Senate leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, the time is now to make some changes.  And up to that point, I agree with them -- we differ, however, on how to fix the problem.

Common Cause would like to see the following changes
  • A ban on outside income
  • a full-time legislature
  • a pay raise for members
Their thinking is, if we turned the legislators into full-time employees of New York taxpayers, and gave them a raise, they wouldn't need to have outside income. And if they don't have outside income, they can't be 'bought' by outside interests.

My thinking is, if they're ethical people, it doesn't matter whether they're paid more or work full time or are allowed to continue earning income as veterinarians or funeral directors or owners of ice cream stands. I don't think it's necessary for them to figure out ways to convert their businesses into trusts or whatever it is they'd need to do in order to remove themselves from their 'real' careers while they served part time as our representatives.

We need our elected officials to stop looking at their seats as permanent possessions, as jobs for life instead of what they should be: short-term opportunities to serve the public. I want them to have jobs and families and careers and lives outside their public service - because I think they'd be better public servants. I want there to be teachers or auction house owners and all the rest, working part time for the citizens of New York. I'm perfectly OK with that.

What I do have a problem with, is how long some of these folks have been in office. 

In the Assembly, Gary Finch, the funeral services guy, was elected in 1999. Will Barclay was elected in 2002. Stephen Hawley, the big winner in the outside income game, was elected in 2006. 

Over in the Senate, it's even more glaring. Kenneth LaValle was elected in 1976, the year I got out of high school.

Skelos, one of the Three Amigos our Sonofa Gov Andrew Cuomo giggled about earlier this year at his economic speech, was elected in 1984. Kemp Hannon, 1989; Mike Nozzolio, 1992.

Is it the outside income that's the issue, or is it the amount of time these folks spend in Albany?

Is it outside income, or simply that some of them can't resist the benefits that come their way, the money to keep them in office, or jobs for their kids -- benefits that come to them because of the power they have, the power that comes with longevity?

Is it outside income, or is it the unending need to raise money for the next election, money from big donors who stand to benefit from laws passed by the people who receive the donations?

If you ask me, we do not need full-time legislators with bigger salaries and bigger pensions. We need term limits and we need real campaign finance reform.

  • If a legislator is not worried about the next election, and instead is focused on serving the public for the term of the election they just won, we'll be better off. 
  • When a legislator doesn't need to protect a pension, and instead is focused on protecting the environment, or jobs, or dwindling tax dollars, we'll be better off.
  • When a legislator knows that they can't use campaign funds for whatever they please, we'll be better off. 
  • When a legislator knows that they have an equal opportunity to participate, and that their constituents will have equal representation, we'll be better off. 
  • When we elect people who know what the rules are, know they're going to be held accountable to the rules, and know that there will be no personal nest-feathering allowed, we'll be better off.

It all starts with term limits. 

December 24, 2015

Make Some Room at the Inn

The classic "reason for the season" story of the Christmas holiday is the one of Joseph and Mary reporting to Bethlehem to be counted in the Roman census. Being told there's "no room at the inn" when they stopped to rest, they ended up bedded down in the manger, where Jesus was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

Regular readers know I'm not a religious person; I will go to church tonight with my husband, as I have for the past few years. I won't take communion or anything - to me, it seems dishonest. But I will enjoy the peace and serenity and the traditional Christmas carols, including the one verse of Silent Night that we'll sing in German, a tradition at his Lutheran church.

History and tradition, wrapped in and around Christmas, as similarly the other seasonal holidays are steeped in their own history and tradition - not the same, but nonetheless important to those who celebrating.

I wonder, on Christmas Eve, how well we're doing given some of the common refrains we're hearing to today's carols. You know what I mean, right?
If you don't believe in (my) God, go back where you came from.
We've got enough fill-in-the-blank-with-your-pet-constituency now, we don't need any more fill-in-the-blank-with-your-least-favorite-fellow-man freeloading off of us.
If you want to live in America, learn to speak and act like an American. 
How well are we doing, when we want to 'return to sender' anyone who worships a different supreme being, or who doesn't worship one at all?  I honestly don't know where it is that I would "go back to" when the time comes for me to leave. And what does our country do when all of the doctors and scientists and professors and policemen and military members and athletes and musicians and everyone else are gone?  Who will do the work, and save lives, and cure cancer, and teach, and play football and basketball? What will happen to the fantasy leagues?

How well are we doing when the politicians who yell from our televisions and web pages and editorial pages and wherever else, the thousands of them dancing in the streets since 9/11, that we have enough homeless and hungry veterans and homeless and hungry children here in America that we can't take care of already, so we can't be the beacon of hope and light for the rest of the world anymore,  are the same politicians who work tirelessly to cut state and federal government budgets to the bone, slashing programs that could help the very same people they find so commercially valuable now? How are we doing?

How well are we doing when we rail against people from foreign countries, a very small percentage of whom may pose some threat to us, and at the same time we passively ignore or actively prevent opportunities to keep Americans who speak like us and look like us from imparting great harm on their fellow citizens, especially those who may look or act differently?

How well are we doing when we as Americans vow to restrict the rights of our fellow Americans, in the name of our faith? And when we confer greater rights on the unborn than we do living people? And when we're willing to take health care opportunities away from men, women and children?

On Christmas Eve, I have three wishes.

My first wish is that we find it in our hearts to make some room at the inn, to welcome all Americans into the fold, to offer warmth, and food, and shelter. To offer help, and hope, and opportunity.

My second wish is that we find it in our hearts to make some room at the inn for those who look to America as still the greatest country on earth, who reach out towards our beacon of freedom, and that we somehow can live up to their expectations.

My third wish is that the peace and love that are so present tonight on Christmas Eve and tomorrow on Christmas day will be as present the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Peace be with you.

December 22, 2015

Tuesday's Number: $179,016

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were 

  • fourteen new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $190,890
  • four satisfied judgments, for $32,371
  • and one bankruptcy, for $20,397

Here’s the breakdown by hospital: 

  • Crouse had eight, including three repayments, for a net of $15,903
  • St. Joes had four, with one repayment, for a total of $32,873
  • SUNY Upstate had six, totaling $125,102

A local orthopedic group had the remaining judgment, for $5,138.  

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

December 18, 2015

The Update Desk: Poor Ethan

Almost exactly two years ago, I did a post about Ethan Crouch, the spoiled brat who killed four people while he was driving in a drunken stupor down in Texas.

Poor Ethan. He was 'victimized' by his horrible parents and their habit of throwing money around instead of dispensing love, and their apparent lack of humanity.

Poor Ethan. Four people dead, and he was sentenced to 10 years of probation, not jail time, because of his affluenza. That's what it's called, when your rich parents and don't teach you right from wrong.

Well, to the surprise of practically no one, Poor Ethan is now missing. He hasn't been in contact with his probation officer in 'several days' and he's now been named the top fugitive by the Tarrant County Sheriff.

Poor Ethan. There's some thought that he fled because someone had him on video potentially violating his probation; he (or someone who closely resembles him) was playing beer pong at a party, which would be a no-no. Or, maybe he fled because his mother didn't want to hang around for another 8 years with her son in such a horrible situation: free to walk around, free to do basically everything that his victims will never do again.

When they find him, which I hope happens soon, he'll end up in jail; and hopefully so will both of his parents. As I noted in the older post, if the parents were to blame for how Ethan turned out,  they deserve to be punished right along side their son.

Poor Ethan. Let's bring you home, so you might get the chance to live the life that normal people live: a life where actions have consequences, where expectations abound, and where affluenza is not an excuse for murder.

December 17, 2015

Grains of Salt (v4): Never a Good Time

Our County Executive Joanie Mahoney has apparently been cured of her significant paycheck envy, now that she's getting a 27.3% raise.

Mahoney, in an exclusive interview with CNYCentral's Michael Benny, noted in the nicest possible way her dissatisfaction with the fact that she hadn't had a raise but others had.
Previous to my time in office, when Nick Pirro was the County Executive, there was a raise for the office every single year for the eight years previous to my getting there...
I would just point out to people that none of those raises came along the way so it's not like you're going to go back and make up for all of the years that there was no raise...
The CSEA employees were collecting those raises every year and the County Executive was not.
Every county employee that's full time including every elected official has gotten a raise within the last eight years with the exception of this position. 
Mahoney contends that, while many taxpayers apparently don't recall, this was addressed last December, so it did sort of meet her request that it be taken up before the election. And she basically blames her constituents for their "busy lives" and not remembering that this had been discussed, so there really shouldn't be any complaints now.

When it was raised back then, there was concern about the timing.  Here's what Joanie says:
At that time, some of the criticism was that it shouldn't happen mid-term and that it should be for a new term so they asked to put it off for a year. 
Mahoney also points out, lest we have forgotten, that this was discussed during her campaign last year, and for the legislators last year.
All along the way on the campaign trail, I was asked about raises, county legislators were asked about raises... The fact of the matter is, this was talked about all year long, it did go through the campaign process. You know, I had all of the lumps of a raise on the campaign trail, without having actually gotten the raise.
When questioned about having the County Executive get the raise, while some county employees don't yet have a contract, she noted that
... There's never going to be a good time. There is never a time that you would propose raises for elected officials that everyone would say "that's a great idea" so you have to sort of set that aside.
After pointing out (again) that the union contract included retroactive increases, but that she wasn't getting any retro pay, she noted (again)
...there's never going to be a time that people think it's a good idea.
Actually, Joanie, there IS a good time - if you agree that elected officials should get a raise at all, given that they get pensions (including those who hold part-time positions) and benefits, and given that they know going in what the position pays. In fact, there are a couple of them.

The Legislature actually came close to one of them just last year.

The law that was proposed last December and ultimately dropped earlier this year would have immediately bumped up the salary for the County Executive, County Sheriff, County Comptroller and County Clerk, but would have put off changes for the legislators until the beginning of the new term in 2016. A simple tweak - making all of the changes effective at the beginning of the next term, rather than having some of them be effective upon adoption of the bill, would have been a much more honest way to do this.

Couple the revised proposal with a public hearing or two, at different times when people could actually attend them, and get out some even half-hearted communications, and you could have a clean process, with public input, and it could have been included in the budget process. I'd be willing to bet that CNYCentral would love to have streamed the public hearings on one of their stations.

Another good time, and good way, to do this would be to put it to a referendum. For example, what if the ballot this past November included a question like this:
The Office of the Onondaga County Executive has not had a salary increase in eight years. The current salary for this elected position is $122,413. This position is not term-limited, and includes a pension and benefits. It is proposed that the salary be tied to the CPI-E (Consumer Price Index- Elderly) and changed each year in a percentage consistent with changes in Social Security payments to Onondaga County citizens.
Do you favor or oppose this proposal?
Similar ballot questions could be placed for all of the other elected positions, putting everyone on equal footing with the County Executive in terms of how and when their salaries could change.

I'm sure the wording could be tweaked a little, if needed, although the statement as written is factual. And I'm sure there's probably a way to get the referendum at the top of the front page of the ballot, where people could see it easily.

If the majority of the citizens you and the Legislature represent voted in favor of this proposal, you'd get the same percentage of raise that my elderly mom gets; and sometimes, as she does, you'd get nothing.

Back to Joanie. When pressed by Benny on whether citizens should have some opportunity to chime in, to have a 'community conversation' on this issue, she - like most politicians who are not subject to term limits, and who have the overwhelming benefit of incumbency -- offered one last shot:
Oh absolutely, and that's why voters have the right every two years with the Legislature and every four years with the County Executive to make their voices heard... 
Thanks for the reminder.

December 16, 2015

Social Media and Terrorism

Much has been made lately about using social media to combat terrorism. What people say on their pages, and in their comments, and in their emails and what not can (and should) be used to identify potential terrorists, those radicals who would do us harm, we're told.

See, we coulda stopped that Muslim woman, that foreigner, from killing 14 people and wounding 22 in San Bernadino if only we had been paying attention to what she had been saying and looking at and who she had been talking to on Facebook. The fact that her fellow trigger puller, her husband, was born and raised right here in The Homeland, well, let's not talk about that.

Just like we won't talk about Scott Anthony Orton, known as 'Joseywhales' on multiple social media sites. He's an American, a white man from Washington State, and he's an honest-to-goodness terrorist, even though I suspect no Republican presidential candidate would agree with me on that.

Orton was arrested for making threats against employees of StemExpress, the biotech firm which gained fame and notoriety earlier this year when the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees talking about baby parts came out. StemExpress is one of the companies on the receiving end of the aborted tissue, which is used by researchers for things like, you know, trying to cure cancer and find other ways to save lives, as opposed to the videos themselves which are used to inflame people like Orton, and the American terrorist who killed three people at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, and those aforementioned Republican presidential candidates.

Orton threatened people in California using social media from his terrorist base in Washington, saying things like:
The management of StemExpress should be taken by force and killed in the streets today.
Stop the death of innocents, Kill the killers.
Now you might think that's OK  -- I mean, what's a little free speech among friends, right?

How about this:
Kill StemExpress employees. I'll pay you for it.
StemExpress your lives don't matter nearly as much as your deaths do.
Or this:
The (specific person) of StemExpress is a death profiteer. The (specific person) of StemExpress should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building with a note attached.
Or this:
(Specific person) must die. End of story. If we as humanity accept her actions, we're to be judged in the harshest manner.
He had also threatened a specific Planned Parenthood employee. And another Fox Fanatic. And the FBI. And get this: the FBI has known about him, they admit, since 2009. That was when he sent threatening emails to the city council where he lives.
I am coming for you, creeps. You have committed crimes against freedom. You MUST be put out of office, permanently, and I loathe you for your deeds.
Guess who else he's threatened?
I'll pay $10,000 to whomever takes out Marilyn Mosby (the prosecutor in  Baltimore's Freddie Gray death-in-police-custody case).
 I'd pay to have a hit on Mosby. She needs to be taken out.
I'll pay ten thousand dollars to the one who fires the shot that takes out Marilyn Mosby. 
Or this one:
N----- Holder you are a dead man you are a dead man walking. We got us a dead man walking here. Dead man walking.
And then there are these:
WE NEED VIOLENCE AT 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVE!
Hey Barack ever seen a skull explode?
Hey Barack you should face a firing squad.
Hey Barack, you should hang by your neck until your feet stop kickin.
Everyone knew this guy was a terrorist. Fox certainly knew it, since he was a very active participant on their comment boards. Everyone knew he was threatening all kinds of people on multiple social media sites. Screen captures had been done, they'd been reported. For six years, this guy has been terrorizing American citizens, including FBI agents, a (black) prosecutor, the (black) Attorney General and the (black) President of the United States.

The argument can be made that this was just talk, he's not a real threat, he was just shooting his mouth off, I mean, does this guy even have $10K? Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, and all. It's just free speech.

When Orton appeared in court, the prosecutor asked that he be held without bail. Despite that request, and despite his history, he was released on an appearance bond and told to come back at the end of December.

After all, it's not like he had a Pakistani wife or anything.

If we're really going to use social media to combat terrorism, we need to open our eyes, accept the fact - and deal with the fact - that terrorism doesn't only come from outside our borders, and that it's not only radical Islamist jihadis that we need to worry about.

We ignore that at our continued peril.

December 15, 2015

Tuesday's Number: ($113,082)

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, a slow week to be sure, there were 
  • six new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $58,530
  • one satisfied judgment, for $171,432 and
  • no bankruptcies

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:
  • Crouse had two, totaling $22,900
  • St. Joe's had one, for $6,283
  • SUNY Upstate had four, for a net negative of $142,265

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

December 8, 2015

Make America Great Again

I will not speak his name in this post.

I hope I have the strength to never speak it again, but I anticipate I will be weak, as I am when there's an unarmed jar of peanuts or perhaps some kettle chips in the house.

That we have a person leading the field in the race to be the next leader of the free world who says what this man says, and perhaps worse, believes what this man may actually believe, is frightening. It's maddening. It's incomprehensible. It's a crying shame.

I can't take it any more.

He is the Mr Potato Head of candidates: a eye or two of racism, a mouth full of hate, a nose for the news, a couple of hands full of angry-white-man bluster, and two feet covered in age-old fear of the different, fear of a changing world.

Make America Great Again, he says, his brand splattered across "Made in Your Pick of Foreign Countries" clothing, and that hat.

Make America Great Again, he says, as he insults all of our allies; as he speaks to Jewish Republicans and laments that he's not able to get in touch with his daughter on a Saturday now (her husband is Jewish), ha ha ha.

Make America Great Again, he says, publicly blasting anyone who questions his ridiculous statements, who challenges his truly bizarre statements, threatening anyone who dares defy him.

Make America Great Again, he says, with his plans to build an actual wall, as well as a numerous 'virtual' walls, between us and the world, between us and sanity, between us and our future.

Make America Great Again, he says, he's a friend of the blacks and the Mexicans and the Muslims and the Jews and the veterans and the women he says, as

  • he encourages his supporters, his thugs, to physically assault people who dare exercise their free speech rights at his campaign stops, because they deserve that and more for distracting people from his sacred words of wisdom, and 
  • as he insults women and "blood coming out of their wherever" but he didn't mean THAT, oh no, he would never say anything like that, he loves the women, and
  • as he asks people of color to perform, as if minstrels, on stage (snicker snicker) and
  • as he tries to coerce a donation to veterans from a television network, this from a man who has never served his country, but only himself.

Make America Great Again?  Please. This man who professes to be Christian as he slams the faith of actual Christians, and lies about being a member of a church, this great Christian man who ogles his own daughter on national television, she's hot, I'd date her if she weren't my daughter, har har har.

Make America Great Again?

Make him go away, and maybe we stand a chance.

Tuesday's Number: $217,765

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were

  • eleven new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $210,265
  • no satisfied judgments, and
  • one bankruptcy, for $7,500

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:

  •  Crouse had four, totaling $38,136
  •  SUNY Upstate had seven, totaling $174,424

A home health services company accounted for the remaining $5,205. 

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.

December 6, 2015

My Middle-aged White Lady Perspective: Why Not Treat All Laws the Same?

Robbery, assault and battery, the felon and his felony.
Robbery, assault and battery, the felon and his felony.

Criminals will always be criminals, they say.

They will still get guns, the story goes, and so we don't need any gun laws, or better gun laws, or more gun laws, because criminals will always be criminals, they'll get their guns, there's nothing we can do about it, laws only punish the law abiding, do you think people who are contemplating committing a crime even care about the laws or the punishment? They're criminals for heaven's sake. (Or they're mentally ill, or angry, or prompted by rhetoric, or racists, depending on circumstance, ethnicity, and who the victims are, it seems.)

Using that logic, here is one middle-aged white lady's take on some other laws we can get rid of:
  1. Driving while intoxicated, and under-aged drinking, selling alcohol to minors, and the like. The only people who do this are bad people and they'll continue doing it anyway. Because they're criminals. Or teenagers, which is really just the same thing.
  2. Robbery, Assault, and Battery. Yeah, I know, it's a Genesis song (hence the lyrics at the beginning of this post). But in reality, there's no need to have any laws related to this, because people who rob, assault and batter will do it anyway, and what the heck, the rest of us would never do that, because we're good people. Throw in breaking and entering too. These people are criminals, they will not be deterred merely by having laws on the books.
  3. Selling drugs. Another whole category of laws that we don't need. I mean, if people wouldn't buy drugs, they're would be no one selling them, and only bad people buy drugs, right?
  4. Rape, domestic violence, sexual assault. Come on ladies and gentlemen, just relax and give in, and you won't get hurt. You might enjoy it, or whatever the hell else the Republicans have been telling us for years. 
  5. Airbag and seat belt laws. And speed limits. And passing school buses with their red flashers on. Sure, these laws save lives, but only stupid people would ride in or drive a car without wearing their seat belts or without airbags. They deserve their fate. And speeders? They're just asshats, like the people who pass school buses some 50,000 times per day according to folks in New York.
  6. Murder, manslaughter, and the like. 
  7. Laws against pedophilia and other sex crimes against children. Adults will be adults, and they'll always prey on children, and that's just the way it is. Criminals will be criminals. And while we're at it, they should be allowed to live anywhere they please, be janitors in elementary schools and stuff. And that whole teachers-can't-have-sex-with-their-students thing?  Yeah, we don't need those laws either, because you know (wink wink), good for them (nudge nudge), and the kids must think it's awesome, right? All that attention, especially if Mr English Teacher or Ms Math Teacher are the school hotties!
  8. White collar crimes, medical fraud, pyramid schemes, identity theft, and all of those. Listen, the fact that our technology has advanced to the point we can practically pee and poop with our smart phones, that's just the way it is. People keep figuring out ways to get ahead of the technology and steal money, or identities, or medical information and collect billions fraudulently and so on. Well, more power to them for figuring it out and taking advantage, there's certainly no need for laws on this. It sucks, but only criminals and foreign governments do this kind of stuff anyway. Just move on.
  9. Any laws related to abortion, or keeping people alive on machines against their will, or frankly any laws about any other medical procedures, devices, facilities or practitioners. Unnecessary, one and all. I mean, who comes up with this crazy stuff? We would never ask anyone else to go through this to participate in a legal activity, right? Get rid of them.
  10. Laws related to voting. Only cheaters and criminals would try and vote illegally, and we know they're out there but there's no reason to make it harder for any law-abiding citizen to vote, right? No restrictions on polling places, or voting hours, or early voting periods. All voting districts - rich and poor, black and white, predominantly Republican or predominantly Democratic, etc. - would have the same rules: none.  
This isn't rocket science, folks. Heck, if we just got rid of all these laws, and the other ones on the books, we wouldn't need all those cops and judges and Lawyers, Guns and Money. Oh wait, we'll still need the guns and money. 

The cops, judges and lawyers? They can go on public assistance.

December 1, 2015

Tuesday's Number: $1,158,080

Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. In addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings.

Since mid-2012, I’ve been tracking health care related filings. I include anything that is likely a patient debt owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, and so on; I do not include filings by insurance companies, many of which are so diversified it would not be a fair assumption that the filing is related to medical care or health insurance.

This week, there were

  • five new judgments to hospitals, doctors, or other medical providers, totaling $1,164,316
  • two satisfied judgments for $16,630 and
  • one bankruptcy, for $10,394

Here’s the breakdown by hospital:

  • Crouse had two, totaling $13,666
  • St. Joe's had one, for $10,394
  • SUNY Upstate had two (the satisfied judgments), for a net negative $16,630

Where’s the rest? An infusion provider ($6,352) and a surgical practice ($6,330) had some of it.  

The balance was a filing by a rehab center/nursing home for $1,137,968 against the estate of a former patient. I can't even imagine what it would be like to get that bill, and to have had a loved one need care of that nature for such a period of time that a bill of that amount could be accrued. 

The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000.