A MISSOURI LAWYER'S
APRIL 15, 2005
Archived Prior Ramblings
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Greets and Huggers. Posted the evening of April 15, 2005. Paying
an Income Tax sucks. There has to be a better way, a better system to fund our
government. A national sales tax seems to
me to be the answer, (those who consume the most ... pay the most, no tax
credits, no special treatment for anyone. Period.) ... I can remember my father
saying, "The skinniest horse has the most flies." Never knew
what he was talking about ... until I started paying taxes. 'Nuff said.
In China and South Korea, this week, there were protests against the history text books, the Japanese use to teach their children. The text books seem to gloss over or downplay the atrocities committed by the Japanese Military in World War Two. (In Japan, since 1965, there has been a battle waging between those who wish to teach history and a right-wing movement that wants to rewrite history, (Click HERE for an overview of the text book war.)) Seems the Koreans and Chinese "... complaints centered around the text's presentation of Japan's foundation myths as historical fact and its characterization of wars launched by modern Japan as wars to liberate Asia." I guess the Chinese and Koreans don't view Japan's aggression in WW II as the actions of a "liberating" nation, perhaps fueled by the memory of what Japanese troops did, after the fall of Nanking, (at least, 369,366 Chinese men, women, and children, murdered). Or the atrocities committed by Japanese Biological Warfare "Unit 731", (the members of which were never prosecuted ... they went to work for us) ... or the millions of young women systematically kidnapped by Japanese troops to serve as "Comfort Women" .... and the list goes on and on. (Click HERE or HERE , (there are SO many Websites documenting the atrocities!), for an overview of Japanese war crimes.) Today, Japan is a world economic power but lacks the capacity to defend itself, while, North Korea is a third world economic hell hole but has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Japan, (as do the Chinese). I can understand why we used atomic bombs against Japan, (especially after the horrific battle for Okinawa), to end the war. Given the denial of Japanese Nationalists that war crimes were committed ... if I were Japanese ... I'd be very nervous about the protests in Korea and China.
My health insurance came up for renewal this week. Had some really strange thoughts. In light of the fact, that each of us are only one serious illness away from a bankruptcy, (which we can not avail ourselves of due to the changes made this year, (we make too much money)). Why can't our Bar offer health insurance as a benefit. We are required to be a member of our Bar "Association", actually not an "association" at all, but a "committee" of our Judicial Branch, (read that to mean ... our Supreme Court ... our Bar exists, is subject to, the pleasure of our Supreme Court), in order to practice our profession. My plumber belongs to a Union ... during the year, he works for different companies but he has a retirement plan and health insurance funded by his Union dues ... while, my brother is a "Teamster", (he is a Greyhound bus driver) ... and ... sheesh .... he has a retirement plan and health insurance, (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) ... funded by his union dues, as well! I'm a "love's aftermath" guy, so I have no clue as to how "union" retirement plans and health insurance work. But I do know that my health insurance has gone through the roof, (over $1,700.00 per month!). I have a feeling, a significant number of Solo and Small Firm guys are in the same boat. I have been told our Bar Association could not provide retirement nor health insurance benefits under it's current organizational model "Karl ... we are not a "Group" for insurance purposes, and there are also Federal issues such as HIPAA ... under current law there is no way. Not to mention that we would NOT meet the standards to be a "collective bargaining unit", and that the organizational chores would make herding cats look easy. Nice idea, but the law and the facts are against you, and pounding the table won't change either." Perhaps not. But if there was an interest, what changes would need to be made? The answer is simple. There are no organizational changes we can make, that would make a difference. Look at the age demographics for our Bar, (Thank you, Wayne G for sharing them with me) 30 and under ... 1,261 30 - 40 ... 4,334 40 - 50 ... 4,915 50-60 ... 5,165 60-70 ... 2,079 70-80 ... 1,032 80-90 ... 628 90 and above ... 165 the median age being 48. Look at "Life Expectancy", (this is a Webpage that will help you calculate your life expectancy), in a health insurance perspective and the potential costs involved! Sadly, as a group .. we are just too old. Sheesh, we have 165 lawyers in the State of Missouri, over the age of 90 ... licensed to practice law??? Who would underwrite a group, where the median age is 48, at a rate the majority would be willing to pay? Perhaps AARP with a few million members??
How about a modest, (perhaps stupid), proposal? We are required to join the Bar. The Bar is actually a committee of the Supreme Court. You and I are Officers of the Court. Why couldn't we, (what would it take), as Officers of the Court, opt into the Court's health insurance plan, (at our cost?) Interestingly enough, our State doesn't self-insure ... they farm that out. Why? There isn't one health insurance plan. Why does our State have several different sources and contracts with different underwriters, for health insurance? Ultimately, isn't the idea to spread out, share, the risk? Having the largest possible pool of insured's paying in and thereby get the best rate? So Tom F ... you are an expert ... share with us ... how much they could save if they did ) What would need to change ... for us, as Solo and Small Firm guys to get to do so? There is a solution, isn't there? ... perhaps a radical solution ... because there has to be ... after all, doesn't the fact remain ... you and I are one illness away ... from Bankruptcy, (we can't take)?
In the news again this week Some folks in Kansas seem intent on forcing Kansas teachers to teach "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to "Evolution". A contentious issue. Seems we keep discovering "fossils" and bugs which seem to be evolving, (not only evolving but crawling out of the woodwork!), to become immune to our current set of antibiotics. One "theory" is in fact a conclusion, not empirically testable ... and the other seems to be an open invitation to change the way we explain our current reality, a theory, a way to explain and test the facts. Share with me ... which of the two makes more sense. Bottom line every court which has looked at this issue has found "Intelligent Design" an illegal intrusion/merging of church and state .... <humming to himself> .... w-e-e-e-' r-e ... off to see the wizard ... the wonderful wizard of Oz!!
In other interesting news "Mormon and Jewish leaders met Tuesday in New York City to discuss the Mormon church's apparent breach of its agreement not to posthumously baptize Holocaust victims and other deceased Jews." Seems Mormon folk believe a proxy baptism gives those in the afterlife the option of converting. So ... who in the afterlife ratted them out, complained? Also "A prominent Israeli rabbi has reversed an earlier ban and ruled that the anti-impotence drug Viagra can be made kosher for Passover, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday." Seems Viagra is not Kosher, during Passover, because of the coating on the pill. "The rabbi, Mordechai Eliahu, a former Sephardic chief rabbi in Israel, said Viagra could be consumed provided the pill was placed in special gelatin capsules before the weeklong observance begins April 23 ... " Good to know dutiful wives in Israel will have more than stiff unleavened bread to look forward to.
I'm a rabid news hound. How do you get your news? I read Al jazeera, Haaretz, Pravda, Japan News, Times of India, Der Spiegel, CNN and MSNBC, et. al. Strange how different parts of the world see current events. Stranger yet, what they consider current events! Seems the things you and I think are important ... other folks don't. The German paper, (Der Spiegel ... the English on-line version), today, had an interview with a Holocaust survivor ... see ... the German's acknowledge the atrocities committed in their national name, by the Nazi's. They have paid reparations, unlike the Japanese. The Mainichi Daily News, (Japan), "China is criticizing Japan for new textbooks that critics say downplay wartime abuses such as its sexual slavery of Asian women. But Beijing's own schoolbooks are marked by significant omissions about the communist system's history and relations with its neighbors." While Al jazeera "Some samples of a lethal flu virus that a US institute sent out around the world appear to have gone missing on their way to Lebanon and Mexico." Sure didn't see or read that in the news in this part of the world!! The H2N2 virus killed over 4 million people the late 57's and the samples sent to Lebanon and Mexicoˆì are missing!!! Consider getting your news from some place other than ABC, NBC or FOX. 'Nuff said.
Sitting here editing these Ramblings and thinking about health insurance, (have a glass of Port to sip on ... good stuff). There is no way Susan and I can continue to absorb double digit premium increases. I don't believe you can either. If the Kansas Bar can offer health insurance, there must be a way that our Bar can, at the very least offer catastrophic health insurance, as well. I was dumbfounded to discover that Missouri State employees have helter skelter coverage not one pool of employees covered by one negotiated or bid contract. Doesn't that fly against every conceivable good business notion or practice? Wouldn't logic dictate that a large, diverse, pool of people, could negotiate or put out for bid, a contract which would lower health insurance premiums for all State employees, rather than each agency, piecemeal? Isn't the largest factor/reason people are forced into bankruptcy ... medical bills? Aren't you and I one step away from Bankruptcy, EVEN WITH HEALTH INSURANCE?? Perhaps our President needs to stop worrying about the collapse of Social Security 40 years down the road ... and focus on making health care affordable for all Americans. Susan and I have talked about her getting an outside job which provides health insurance. Even if it only paid minimum wage, ($10,920.00) ... and a saving of $1,700.00 per month, ($20,400.00) .... that would be $31,320.00 per year!! Like you, sooner or later, we will have some tough decisions to make.
But not tonight. Tonight, I will be grateful we were able to pay our taxes on time, that we are both in good health ... and most important ... we have each other. Be and sleep well knowing the best there is, is on watch so you can .... and perhaps join me in whispering a prayer/sending good wishes, for the safe return of our men and women in uniform .... (Please, Please, Please, God ... let them come home safe and soon.) If my post offends, I apologize ... that is not my intent. As always ...
A Warm Brotherly Hug
Karl (the dumb ole country lawyer from Holden, Missouri)
Karl H. Timmerman M.A.J.D. © 2005
All Rights Reserved