Saturday, October 21, 2017

A pirogi for me. A pirogi for you.


        From time to time or, occasionally, at random, someone, or some group of someones decides that it's time to find out if the Europeans really like us and so they do a survey. Maybe the new American president is a rocker, and the Europeans usually like that. Or maybe he's a 'blondes have more fun kind of a guy' and the Europeans, don't, well, seem to like that, not so much.
        Anyway, after the survey is finished, a lot of people get very happy or maybe very not so happy about the results, but why? Why should any American care whether Europeans like us or not?
                                                            ***
        "Vladimir, the Latvians are releasing the reindeer. We have to cancel the missiles we were going to drop on New York or we'll all be gored to death."
                                                              ***
        Makes sense, right? According to the NATO charter it's one for all and all for one. America gets attacked by the Russians and we'll be saved by the Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Slovenians, the...No, it doesn't make any sense, no sense at all. The only country that can provide an existential threat to America is Russia, although it makes no sense to think they would want to do such a thing, and all the rest of Europe combined can not counter a threat like that.
        Europe is of no real military value to the United States whether they like us or not. The only thing they can do if we're ever attacked is sew on one of those snappy NATO arm patches, slip into one of those super cool  NATO caps, grab a few escargots and ....run.
        The only country that can provide real military security to the United States is...the United States. No country in Europe, or anywhere else for that matter, can even come close to countering the Russian nuclear forces.
        And it's the same thing with 'economic security.'
        Any company in any country that can make a buck by selling or buying something here will keep doing it, whether they like us or our president or not. And if they can't, they won't. And if you don't believe that, well, you should.
        So, next time you read that only 28% of Germans or Frenchmen or women, or residents of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick or wherever still respect America or its president maybe keep in mind that it may not be 'fake news' but it's definitely inconsequential news. Doesn't affect us at all. Have another pirogi and Fuggedaboutit. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

You Can Have Your Medicare and Eat it Too

      "Doctor, I can't hear so good. Please send me for an MRI and a C-T scan."
      "Well, Mrs. Schwartz, why don't you let me clean the wax out of your ears first and see it that takes care of the problem."
      "Doctor, it could be a brain tumor. Don't worry 'The Medicare' will pay for everything. And also, maybe I should have a PSA just in case."
      "But you're a woman. You don't have a prostate. Why do you want a PSA test?"
      "You never know. And besides, 'The Medicare' will pay, right?"
                                                                       ***
      The bottom line is that there are only two ways to control medical costs. The first is to have a system with patients paying part of the costs so that they have an incentive to control them (called having 'skin in the game') and the second is the dreaded 'R' word, rationing. 
      Let doctors set their fees and let patients choose the ones they want to use. Then, some doctors will accept Medicare as payment in full. Some will charge a little more. Some will charge a lot more. And the system will not go bankrupt because government will pay whatever it will pay and then GET OUT OF THE WAY.
      No, doctors will not be able to charge anything they want. There are too many doctors around to choose from. It's called competition. If your doctor charges a ridiculous fee, you'll pick another. And you'll be able to buy whatever kind of supplemental insurance you want. Works the same way with food, clothing, housing...everything. 
                                                                 ***
       "Doctor, I can't hear so good. Please send me for an MRI and a C-T scan."
       "Ok, Mrs. Schwartz, if that's what you want. But it will probably cost you over $1,000."

       "Hmm, on second thought, doctor, maybe you could just clean out the wax and, if I still have the problem, I'll call your office tomorrow for a referral."

Monday, May 22, 2017

How The World Works

      The world is made up of two different kinds of countries, countries that are Great Powers and countries that are so-so powers. 
      If you live in a country that's a Great Power, you get up in the morning, shower, shave, get dressed, have breakfast, go to work, come home, read the paper, eat supper, put on your pajamas and maybe watch a little television.
      Sometimes, right in the middle of your favorite show, you might get a call from the  President telling you that a guy on the next block started a business in a foreign country somewhere, that somebody is trying to take it away from him, and that you have to go get it back for him. He explains about how Great Powers have 'interests'  and now you finally understand what 'having interests' really means.
       So you get dressed, get your gun from the closet, drive to the airport, fly to the country where the guy has his business, shoot whoever took if from him and, if you didn't also get shot, drive back to the airport, fly home, maybe catch the end of your favorite show, and, go to sleep.
      If you live in a country that's a so-so power, everything is pretty much the same, except that you get to watch all your favorite shows and you hardly ever have to shoot anybody unless they try to shoot you first.
      And that's how the world works.  Now you know too.                                                         
                                                                 THE END  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hooray for Hollywood?

        Since 1996, film production days in Los Angeles are down by 50% and what's worse is that nobody in the whole state is blaming global warming,
        Anyway, the problem seems to be that states from Texas to New York are offering tax credits to the movie industry that are way more generous than those offered by the state of California and now the folks in the industry can't get to those states fast enough. And they're taking the work with them.
        But, wait a minute. Aren't these the same  warm, fuzzy wuzzy, 'socially conscious' A-listers, who are always going on about how unfair the tax system is and here they are, zipping all over the country as fast as their stretch Priuses will carry them, trying to save on their...taxes?
        How many kids could be put into decent schools and how many new hospitals and clinics could be built if they would just...stay put and pay up? 
                                                                     ***
        "Yea, hooray, yea." (clap, clap, clap) "That guy's heart sure is in the right place, isn't it?"
        "Sure is. Too bad his wallet is somewhere else."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Deniers

      
       "Orville, Wilbur, what am I holding in my hand?"
       "A butter knife, Ma."
       "Right. Now, watch what happens when I drop it....Clang!...Did you see what happened when I dropped the butter knife, the heavier-than-air butter knife?
       Did it fly? Did it go flying around the room singing, 'Fly Me To The Moon?'
       No! It didn't fly because it's heavier than air. And if something is heavier than air it can't fly. Everybody knows that, everybody except you two. Couple of damn...deniers!"
                                                 ***
        And, before the Wright brothers, there was the 'denier' Copernicus who knew that it was the Earth that revolved around the sun.
        And Lister showed that the almost 50% surgical mortality of the day was due to preventable infections while the surgeons kept sharpening their scalpels on their boots because they weren't going to listen to that upstart 'denier,' Lister.
        And schizophrenia is caused by 'poor parenting.' (It isn't.)
        And stomach ulcers are caused by 'stress.' (Uh-uh, a bacteria, H. Pylori.)
        And, until 1973, homosexuality was a 'mental illness' caused by a domineering mother,
        "Oh, doctor, my poor little Ru Paul. And it's all my fault."
        "Yes it is, Mrs. Cohen. But cheer up. At least you'll have someone to give your old clothes to. You know what your husband's things look like by the time he's ready to get rid of them. Men!"
        And now it's climate change...or is that global warming or global cooling or global drying or global wetting? Whatever...It's bad and it's our fault. All the experts agree. So don't be a damn...'denier.' Please, just shut up!!!
        Well, science doesn't advance by getting the 'deniers' to 'just shut up'.  
Science advances by asking questions. Questions, questions, and more questions. And it's the 'deniers' who  are the ones asking the questions....and making the butter knives fly.

        "The case is never closed." - Albert Einstein

The Rich Won't Make You Poor...Really

       Why all the fuss about 'income inequality?' Is that really the 'biggest problem we're facing today?' Is it, in fact, really a 'problem' at all?
        Microsoft, Google, Facebook... Speaking of 'income inequality,' suppose they had never come along and created all their stuff, would one poor person be the slightest bit more prosperous and happy?
        Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, the Wright brothers....same thing. Would the 'poor'  have been better off without electric lights and cars and railroads and steel and airplanes? Pre-industrial America was rough. 
                                                                                                                                                             
         You can't raise the floor by lowering the ceiling. It's an illusion. The only thing you get that way is a country full of people who've forgotten how to stand up straight.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Did He Say?!

"I have a dream that someday all men can live as brothers."
        "Yeah! G-d bless you, Dr. King."
        "Martin's the man!"
"And be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin."
         "Yes, Reverend King. Say it like it is."
         "Beautiful! 'Content of their character.' Right on, brother!"
"And that someday all people can live together like neighbors, white and black, black and white. Right next door to each other."
        "Yeah, G-d bles...Huh? What did he say?"
        "I think he said we should all live together."
"I have a dream that someday little black boys and girls will sit in the same classrooms as little white boys and girls."
        "Wait a minute! How's that going to work out? My kid starts Poly in the fall. Isn't
        yours going to St. Ann's?"
        "Damn right she is."
"And that someday white folks will give up promotions on their jobs so that black folks can get those promotions to make up for past wrongs."
          "What? Did you hear that? This guy's nothing but a damn...Commie!"
          "Damn!"
"But, in the meantime, I have a dream that it's okay if white folk just wear Trayvon Martin souvenir tee shirts and hoodies and go to Central Park to do the wave and sing about social injustice and watch MSNBC."
           "Whew! That's more like it. Making me a little nervous there for a minute."
           "Yeah, me too."