A MISSOURI LAWYER'S
FRIDAY NIGHT RAMBLINGS


FOR

APRIL 29, 2005


These are the Ramblings of a small town, (Holden, population 2,700), Missouri, country lawyer. They contain my random thoughts and observations on current events and my life and experiences in the Solo Practice of law.
Compiled here are the Ramblings for 2002 - 2005. 

Archived Prior Ramblings
CLICK ON A DATE

In Memorium:
September 11, 2001

                   2002
  02-22-02  03-30-02  04-05-02
  04-21-02  04-27-02  05-01-02
  05-03-02  05-10-02  05-17-02
  05-31-02  06-21-02  06-26-02
  06-29-02  07-04-02  07-05-02
  07-12-02  08-02-02  08-10-02
  08-21-02  08-23-02  08-30-02
  09-06-02  09-11-02  09-11-02F
  09-13-02  09-20-02  09-27-02
  10-04-02  10-11-02  10-18-02
  10-25-02  11-01-02  11-08-02
  11-15-02  11-22-02  11-29-02
  12-06-02  12-13-02  12-20-02
  12-27-02

                       2003
  01-03-03  01-10-03  01-10-03R
  01-17-03  01-24-03  01-31-03
  02-07-03  02-14-03  02-21-03
  02-28-03  03-07-03  03-14-03
  03-21-03  03-28-03  04-04-03
  04-11-03  04-18-03  04-25-03
  05-02-03  05-09-03  05-16-03
  05-23-03  05-30-03  06-06-03
  06-20-03  06-27-03  07-04-03
  07-11-03  07-18-03  07-25-03
  08-01-03  08-08-03  08-15-03
  08-22-03  08-29-03  09-05-03
  09-12-03  09-19-03  09-26-03
  10-03-03  10-10-03  10-17-03
  10-24-03  10-31-03  11-07-03
  11-14-03  11-21-03  11-28-03
  12-05-03  12-12-03  12-19-03
  12-26-03 

                      2004
  01-02-04  01-09-04  01-16-04
  01-23-04  01-30-04  02-06-04
  02-13-04  02-20-04  02-27-04
  03-05-04  03-12-04  03-19-04
  03-29-04  04-02-04  04-09-04
  04-16-04  04-23-04  04-30-04
  05-07-04  05-14-04  05-21-04
  05-28-04  06-11-04  06-18-04
  06-25-04  07-09-04  07-16-04
  07-23-04  07-30-04  08-06-04
  08-13-04  08-20-04  08-27-04
  09-03-04  09-10-04  09-17-04
  09-24-04  10-01-04  10-08-04
  10-15-04  10-22-04  10-29-04
  11-05-04  10-12-04  11-19-04
  11-26-04  12-03-04  12-10-04
  12-17-04  12-24-04  12-30-04
 
                   2005
  01-07-05  01-14-05  01-21-05
  01-28-05  02-04-05  02-11-05
  02-18-05  02-25-05  03-04-05
  03-11-05  03-18-05  03-25-05
  04-02-05  04-08-05  04-15-05
  04-22-05  04-29-05
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
Greets and Huggers. Posted the evening of April 29, 2005. Saw on the news, this week, two turkey hunters shot. Seems another hunter shot them by mistake. "Investigators say when a hunter heard a familiar sound. He fired, thinking he was aiming at a turkey." So share with me ... the intellect ... or trust in the intellect of our fellow human beings ... it takes ... to walk around the woods, in camouflage, making the noises ... of what you are hunting. <Looking around> .... guess the good news for life on this little oasis, in the cosmos, continues to be .... we remain a self limiting species. There is nothing more efficient ... than us ... at killing us. 'Nuff said.

While going with Susan to her eye doctor's appointment, on Tuesday, an article in Newsweek caught my eye "Last year the Canadian province of Ontario surpassed Michigan in car production. Of course, most of the cars made in Ontario are manufactured by America's Big Three ­ General Motors, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler." The article argued that the reason is, out of control health insurance costs. General Motors will spend over $5.2 billion dollars in medical and insurance bills for it's active and retired workers this year ... or .... $6,500.00 per year, per worker. That adds $1,500.00 to the cost of each vehicle manufactured here in our America. Because of Canada's socialized health insurance system, it only costs $800.00 per year, per worker, for the same benefit. Toyota, because of multi-national out-sourcing, spends only $186.00 per vehicle. An interesting article published in 2002 by the New England Journal of Medicine, "What’s Ahead for Health Insurance in the United States?" and another article published in 2004 by the NEJM, "Controlling Health Care Costs" pretty well lays out how we got here. In the late 90's insurance companies went "for-profit". They switched from a "social benefit", not-for-profit health care/insurance model, (like, at the time, non-profit insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan), to an "actuarial" based, for-profit, health care system/insurance. "This system of "social insurance" ... [a system based on all members of a group paying the same premium, resulting in healthy low claim folks paying for the less healthy high claim folks.] ... began to erode when private health insurance companies entered the market and departed from community-wide premiums. They used the actuarial approach to insurance, charging lower premiums for groups that were expected to have lower utilization. This enabled them to "skim the cream" off the top of the health insurance market, and it drove up costs for any plan that tried to continue to set the same premium for everyone. Eventually, community rated premiums virtually disappeared." The number of members of a given group no longer matters because an individual group members premium is not based on the overall membership, but on that individual members risk factors. The greater the risk, the greater the premium. I can only surmise that, that is why, the State of Missouri does not have a centralized group health insurance plan. The size and composition of the group would not matter. Canada and most European nations have "nationalized" health care/insurance by mandating a "social insurance" paradigm and maximizing the number of members in a given group by making membership mandatory, (in the form of taxes) and limiting what "third party" health insurance companies may underwrite, (there is a list of what is covered and what is not ... cosmetic surgery, for example, is not).

From 1999 through 2003, health insurance premiums increased 39%, while wages rose 14%. Depending on how you crank the numbers, there are between 20 - 56 million working Americans with no health insurance. These are the folks who avoid seeing a doctor or dentist until their illness reaches a point where treatment, (medications, etc.), is much, much more expensive, driving the cost up for all. And most important, you and I are one serious illness away from a bankruptcy we can not take because we make more than the median income in Missouri, (thank you President Bush and the Republican Party ... for reforming the Bankruptcy Code. I'm sure the credit card companies that issued a "pre-approved" credit card to every Tom, Dick and Jane will be grateful .... that you have taught them a valuable lesson in "personal financial responsibility" ... hmmm ... BTW share with me, from a financial standpoint, isn't a Chapter 13 a form of "Indentured Servitude"? Oh, and did I mention that out of the 1,458,000 bankruptcies filed in 2001, over half were triggered by illness and medical bills?) As a society, we have a decision to make. Does the word "triage" ring a bell?

Watched my President give the 4th "press conference", of his Presidency, last night. He talked about and answered questions about his "energy policy" and "social security". The "commentators" opined afterward, how well he did. I guess I missed that part. To me, he had no viable answers ... no solutions. Don't get me wrong I admire Mr. Bush and agree with many of his ideas. For his energy policy, he suggested developing better technology to conserve resources, use existing resources more efficiently, find new sources of energy and help China and India cut down their oil consumption. Two out of four is not bad. Shouldn't the focus be on conservation, not consumption? Isn't conservation of a limited resource a better solution than finding what's left of that resource and using it? How about we stop subsidizing gas guzzling SUV's with a tax credit? Instead, how about a tax credit for vehicles which get 50+ miles per gallon? How about we give meaningful tax incentives to folks who run/use "biodiesel" or "hybrid" vehicles? What about a viable tax credit for using solar or wind energy? He talked about penalizing local gas stations, who gouge the consumer ... how about we look at EXXON gouging the consumer? Didn't they just post record profits of 44%, this quarter? Help China and India? Share with me what we can help them with? How to give tax credits to folks who buy gas guzzling behemoths? As for "social security"? He said we have 40 million persons currently drawing Social Security. By 2017 there will be 72 million. When we have a 39% increase in health insurance premiums between 1999 and 2003, 4 years ... and almost twice the number of persons receiving benefits by 2017, what makes our President think we have until 2017 before Medicare and Medicaid go bellyup? And the idea to give low income folks a greater benefit than middle and high income folks? So the folks that pay in the most ... get back the least? But wait!!! Isn't that already the case? Mr. President, how about you focus on and demand an energy policy centered around conservation and alternative fuels ... instead of championing big oil companies drilling new wells on public land? Mr. President, how about you focus on health care reform, making it affordable and accessible for all Americans ... instead of championing Social Security as a forced participation, national retirement account, that pays benefits that don't even cover the medication costs of it's current beneficiaries? 'Nuff said.

In interesting news from Germany "More than 1,000 toads have puffed up and exploded in a Hamburg pond in recent weeks, and scientists still have no explanation for what's causing the combustion, an official said Wednesday. " Sheesh .... while the rest of the world deals with UFO sightings and "crop circles" .... the Germans have exploding toads. Go figure.

In other news, "Obesity in middle age, already associated with a risk of early mortality, also seems to have a link with a fate worse than death -- dementia." Seems, if you are overweight in your 40's .... you are much more likely to develop dementia in your 60's, (dementia is the loss of mental abilities, the most common form being Alzheimer's). Well, the bad news ... if you are overweight, you are more likely to develop health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer, gout (joint pain caused by excess uric acid), and gallbladder disease. Being overweight can also cause problems such as sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep) and osteoarthritis (wearing away of the joints). So now the good news .... when these risks kick in ... you'll have Alzheimer's so you won't know what hit you, (course you won't know anything ... including your loved ones.) If not for yourself, get your weight under control, for the people that love you. [I'll be teaching a session, with Jim Brady, on Saturday afternoon, at the Solo and Small Firm Conference, on "My Diet".]

Sitting here editing these Ramblings, watching the evening news and sipping on some wine. We are expecting a mild freeze tonight ... probably should build a fire. Strange, how a fire in our fireplace, adds such a glow to Ft Timmerman. Gives it a sense of warmth and makes you want to put your arms around your partner, cuddle, and just stare into the fire together. The darkness, highlighted by the light from dancing flames, closes off the rest of the world ... creating a sense of oneness, in a small safe place, in the here and now. Wonder why so many, almost genetic memories are triggered around a fireplace, or campfire. Why is the thought of watching the fire, alone, so abhorrent ... almost frightening to me? Perhaps doing so would only highlight, accentuate, the vulnerability we have as individual human beings ... having evolved as social creatures, survived as species, by forming family clans, congealing around a fire, to protect our young and each other.

On the evening news, Iraqi folks are killing each other off at an increased rate, (so that's news?) In Florida, a 13 year old who became pregnant while being a ward of the State, wants to get an abortion. If she was not a ward of the State she could do so without parental consent ... but because she is a ward of the State, the State has filed an action to block her from doing so. So share with me ... if she is a ward of the State, the State acting as Parens Patria, how did she get pregnant to start off with? Why would the State have greater powers than a natural parent? Ah! I forgot. Isn't Florida the State that allows gay couples to be foster parents ... but will not allow those foster parents to adopt the child in their care? Home State of the Schiavo's?

I'm going to post these Ramblings and build a fire. Spend the rest of the evening snuggling with Susan, life really does not get better than this. Tonight, as I go to sleep holding and curled around the best partner, friend, lover ... a man can have, I will whisper a prayer of thanks and a prayer for the safe return of our men and women in uniform, (care to join me?) .... Please, Please, Please, God ... let them come home safe and soon! Be and sleep well knowing the best there is, is on watch so you can. 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).

 

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Karl H. Timmerman M.A.J.D. © 2005
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