The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘legislation’ Category

THE SWOOSH LAW

The other day I was thinking about our law-making process and for some reason Moses popped into my head.  I’m sure that the prophet had no idea how grateful he should have been that God knew what he wanted to convey to mankind and was able to do so quite succinctly.  What would Moses have had to endure had the Creator crafted his commandments to the children of Israel in the same way as our modern legislators promulgate new laws?

There’s Moses, curious to find the source of the bright light on the top of Mount Sinai.  He experiences his encounter with the Lord and obeys God’s order to bring his commandments to his people.  So Moses takes the tablets, “written with the finger of God” and goes down the mountain to deliver them to the Israelites.  And he goes back to retrieve more … and more … and more.

After the forty-third trip his brother Aaron says, “Is that it?”

Moses, wearied from all the trudging and schlepping he’s done, wipes his brow and says, “Well, actually, there are nine more.”

Perhaps the reason that those who pass voluminous laws that no one really understands, themselves included, can be attributed to the way we were taught to do things in High School.  Maybe, like me, you had an English or history teacher who handed out an assignment which included the requirement that the essay we were to compose had to be at least two thousand words long.  What made that number of words sacrosanct was never clear to me.  How in the world did laconic President Calvin Coolidge ever earn a diploma?

But let’s get back to the Ten Commandments.   Take Number Seven, as an example.  That’s that hairy one that says, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”  Notice how simple, straightforward and brief it is.  I had memorized this long before I knew what adultery actually was – but, of course, I asked – a little bit to the embarrassment of my Sunday School teacher.

Now those of us who believe that following that commandment is part of what I refer to as “normative” behavior, there is very little ambiguity – so it’s apparent that God knew precisely what he wanted people to do (or more exactly) to avoid doing.  But what if this commandment had been constructed by Congress?

The commandment comes out of the “Congressional Morality Committee,”  (wouldn’t it be remarkable if there were one – but then who would we be able to find who could with clear conscience become members?) and, like the original that the Divinity established, it’s a simple five word declarative sentence.

But then it moves forward in the process and has a hearing in the Economics Affairs Committee.  They recognize that this proposal could have serious implications and adverse impact on various business operations – specifically, those hotel/motel owners whose rooms rent out on an hourly basis.  And the members of that committee get lobbied by advocates for that industry.  So they amend the original commandment so that it reads, “Thou shall not commit adultery before six o’clock a.m. local time.”    (Since most of the commerce and congress at these hotels/motels occur in the afternoon, this effectively nullifies the original intent of the commandment).

But things don’t stop there.  Business is down at the hairstylists and beauty salons in America.  Because of the Obamacession, fewer customers have the money to spare to color their hair.  So the members of that profession press their association’s lobbyists to get something included in the law which will improve their business.  After considerable pressure, the law now reads, “Thou shall not commit adultery before six o’clock a.m. local time.  However, those whose hair has been dyed by a professional stylist are exempted from any and all provisions of this law.”

It might be well if it had ended there.  But, of course, it doesn’t.  The street prostitutes, straight, gay and transgendered can see that this might impact their business negatively.  An impassioned group of “sex workers” appear before Congress to make their case that this law is discriminatory – they being the recipients of that bias.  Of course, the Congressional committee which hears their testimony is quite respectful of this contingency since some members know those testifying on a first name, professional basis.

And then further testimony is given by several American mullahs who believe that their faith and their followers are “once again” being victimized and persecuted in what is supposed to be the ultimate land of freedom.  There can be no clearer evidence of that then that the law allows adultery to be engaged in on Fridays and during any day of Ramadan.  Furthermore, the law makes no mention of protections for virgins, quite a few of whom are required for those jihadists who die in the “holy war” against the infidel, particularly those in America.

Needless to say, “environmentalists” were outraged at this prospective law.  They commissioned a study that substantiated their belief that many of these adulterous trysts would be engaged in with one or both participants arriving at the site by using gasoline based automotive conveyances, thus contributing to the issue of “climate change”.  They demand that there be a stipulation in the law that only adulterous affairs in which both parties got to the rendezvous via public transportation will be “licit”.

Needless to say since the concept of adultery and its being wrong is based on religious moral concept, it was only reasonable to expect that members of the clergy weigh in on the subject, which they did.  A number of pastors who had fathered out of wedlock kids expressed their belief that we must view “ancient” rules in the context of the times; that times had changed and we must change with them.  Their testimony, offered in a brilliant Hip Hop style and recorded and released on MTV got more than four million hits within an hour of its release.

So in light of all this testimony, our legislators took the bill which had been introduced by Reps. Jack Mehoff and I. Fool Around and they reworked, rewrote and transformed it into The Swoosh Law with the subtitle, “Just Do It”.  This law confirmed that adultery was a highly overrated infraction of “morality” and that it was perfectly reasonable, in fact, healthy for people to engage in it in order to promote a strong, healthy marriage.

And a lot of public officials in America felt vindicated – and breathed a sigh of relief.  The bill, as it was finally presented to the full membership, got overwhelming bipartisan support.

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LIVING IN A LAW-LESS AMERICA

As a kid, one of the daily cartoons that I read was a strip called, There Ought To Be A Law.  It was unique in that readers would submit ideas and if their ideas were accepted, cartoonists Warren Whipple and Frank Borin would draw it and credit the contributor for his or her original idea.  The cartoon was extremely popular and emphasized that life presented itself with many situations which could have been dealt with by applying simple common sense – but instead we found convoluted ways to try to resolve simple issues.

That’s not unlike the way in which we craft legislation.

There was a time when the country was filled with what we call “blue laws”.  Many of those related to the observance of Sunday as a special day and imposed restrictions on the sale of alcohol – or as it was known in the old days among those with a puritanical bent, “Demon Rum”. But in an effort to make America a better place, enthusiastic lawmakers have concocted some rather amazing laws which it is hard for some of us to comprehend.  Allow me a few examples.

In Alabama you may not drive a car while barefooted, nor are you allowed to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket.

In Connecticut it is unlawful to walk backwards after sunset nor are you allowed to cross a street while walking on your hands.

In Illinois it is unlawful to pee in your neighbor’s mouth and eating in a place that is on fire is a punishable offense.

In Massachusetts no man may wear a goatee in public unless he has obtained a special license for the privilege and it is unlawful for a taxi driver to make love in the front seat of his cab while he is on duty.

A brief reading of these laws (which are still on the books) suggests that not only are the inmates running the asylum, apparently they are or in the past have been elected to statewide public office.  Who would create such laws?  What purpose do they now (or did they ever) serve?

There are thousands of such ludicrous laws on the books in all fifty states.  And while I have never had an urge to fondle a pig’s genitalia in public (Iowa) – I guess privately it’s okay – it’s easy to see how this proliferation of inane and perhaps even insane laws could easily entrap and cause any of us to be in violation of something that was concocted by a lawmaker and his cohorts at some time in the distant past.

At least theoretically we as voters do have some control over those who concoct this mishmash that passes as legislation.  They do have to face us every so often to retain their positions.  But the sad reality is that ninety percent of all incumbents easily win re-election, time after time after time ad nauseam, ad infinitum.  Well, there is still that ten percent glimmer of hope.  No such control exists for the bureaucrats who are unelected “public servants” who find ways to extend their power by writing new and extensive “regulations” which are purportedly based on the laws written by legislators.  Obamacare is an excellent example of that where 2,700 pages of legislation has turned into more than 33,000 pages of regulations – and that number is still growing.

Common Sense author Thomas Paine must be turning in his grave – because clearly there is nothing common sensical in any of this.  And barring a constitutional amendment establishing term limits for those in Congress it is unlikely that things will change in the future.  The simplicity of a flat tax must be daunting to legislators because it is something that is far removed from their convoluted thinking.  And why does that thinking exist?

It is for their own protection.  Because if you write a law that is so complicated that no one can possibly understand it you provide job security so that they can “tweak” the inconsistencies which were written in the original law.  To me that’s like going back to your car mechanic five or six times to correct a problem with your vehicle because they didn’t do it correctly the first time you brought your buggy into their shop.

I would enthusiastically support any candidate who wants to pump the bilge laws out of our system and streamline our legislative process so that anyone with a high school diploma could understand the laws they pass.  That is probably a high expectation and one that will most likely not happen in my lifetime.  Sometimes being honest has depressing consequences.

But there may be hope.  Remember those blue laws?  Well New Mexico has one that I actually think is brilliant.  In that state it is illegal for an idiot to cast a ballot in a general election.  Now that’s an idea that has potential.

GOOBERS AND GRUBERS

It finally arrived – the long awaited envelope.  It had been well over a week since I had sent away for it – but my letter had to make it from New York to Arizona and then the response had to come all the way back.

I had found an ad in one of my “Fantasy and Science Fiction” magazines and had responded.  Who wouldn’t answer this ad?  It promised to send the person who clipped the ad a “secret” way to accumulate wealth without really having to do much of anything.  It didn’t matter if you were young or old, a PhD or a high school drop out, the system would bring riches to whoever used it.   It was the American dream – and the information would be sent absolutely free of charge.

Some people are motivated by theory and others by practical concerns.  In my case, I wanted to become a fourteen year old success because I was tired of sleeping on the Castro convertible sofa and sharing my “bedroom” with the “dining room.”  If I made a lot of money we could move from our small apartment into one of the new high rises that were being built throughout Manhattan.  My parents had looked at several apartments in these new edifices, but decided that quadrupling the rent for just a small amount of additional space just didn’t make sense or fit our budget.

When Grandma handed me the envelope containing the “secret system” I took it and held it with the reverence due a holy relic.  I went to my desk, placed my school books on the side and laid it gently in the middle of the blotter.  I took the seldom-used letter opener and carefully opened it, making sure that my cut was even and neat.  After I completed that I waited a minute or two before daring to pull out and read its contents.  But I finally summoned up the courage.

Before me I had a pamphlet that explained how a person could make a huge amount of money by getting into mail order.  I read every word of this brochure, replete with “testimonials” from people who were identified only by their first names and an initial for their surnames and the city in which they lived – stories about how they had made a small fortune in mail order thanks to the secret system.

And what was it that they were selling?  They were selling copies of a booklet that explained how to get into mail order – a copy of which was reserved for me – if I merely completed the enclosed order form and returned it with my five dollar remittance.  Once I had received my copy, I would have the opportunity to purchase additional copies which I could sell at a “huge profit” and the booklet would explain the step by step way of doing that.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

Even though I knew that something just didn’t add up, I was reluctant to give up so quickly on this opportunity to get my own bedroom.  So at dinner that evening I asked my parents to read the brochure and give me their opinion.  Needless to say, it did not survive their imprimatur.  Nevertheless, having explained why this was a scam  they still permitted me to purchase the book if I chose to spend my five dollars on it.  My parents allowed me to make my own mistakes – as long as they weren’t likely to be dangerous to my health or well being.  Their theory was that rather than hearing them preach, a little personal experience would be far more enlightening to me.

Even before I had given my folks the brochure I knew that something just didn’t sound right.  But I was hoping that I was wrong and that my parents would agree with my original opinion that I had latched on the key to riches.  After several days of soul searching, I concurred with my parents and tossed the brochure in the wastebasket.  My father summed up the experience with the statement, “When something seems too good to be true – it probably isn’t.”

In 2010 the Congress passed and President Obama signed the PPACA into law.  Now more commonly referred to as Obamacare, the law was touted by Obama and lawmakers who supported it as the best thing that had happened since the invention of sliced bread.  It offered every American the opportunity to get “affordable health insurance”; we would be able either to keep our existing insurance or get a better policy through the healthcare exchanges that were going to be established; despite the fact that these new policies would be better they would be less expensive; every American household would save $2500 per year for this insurance; and on top of all of that, this three thousand page bill would reduce the national debt.  It almost seemed too good to be true – and it wasn’t.

Nobody who took the trouble to read through the law believed that the promises could be delivered for a simple reason.  The numbers just didn’t add up – and they still don’t.  But without going into a detailed analysis of the math, if you think about the law’s purported primary goal – insuring all Americans with affordable, quality medical care – it should be clear that goal is inconsistent with providing quality healthcare.

Let’s assume that magically everyone suddenly signed up and there were no longer Americans who couldn’t see a doctor for lack of insurance.  How would this impact the quality of delivering medical services?  It would cause a lower quality of health care if, for no other reason, than that we have now added forty million potential patients to a system to which no new medical practitioners or hospital facilities have been added.  The overall effect would necessarily be longer wait times to get an appointment which in and of itself constitutes a decrease in the quality of healthcare.

We know that few if any legislators actually read the bill before voting to approve it – per then Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  That in itself is disturbing as that is the reason that we pay these people quite handsomely.  But if they had read the bill I sincerely wonder if they would have been much more elucidated on its contents than before they began that exercise.  Besides its length, the law is convoluted and the language goes beyond what we have come to expect from Washington speak.  For that reason perhaps, we employed an MIT professor, one Jonathan Gruber to advise those who wrote the law on how to craft it.  The Federal government and various state governments apparently paid Professor Gruber the sum of nearly $6 Million over several years for his insight.

Over the last ten days a series of videos have surfaced in which said professor has been recorded delivering a number of talks to various groups, mostly within the hallowed halls of academia, and explained that in order to secure the law’s passage, basically its contents had to be both disguised and lied about because it would never have passed if the public new what it actually contained.  In the course of his explanation he pointed out that, “The American public is stupid.”

While this academic apologized for the statement from the first of these videos which was released as an unfortunate malapropism, on several other occasions he made essentially the same comment.  This is not a faux pas but a reflection of the professor’s world view – and more generally – an example of the world view of most on the liberal left.  People are simply too stupid to do what is in their best interest – so it is up to enlightened do-gooders to enforce what is good for them on them.

These comments brought me back to the time I was able to attend “The Howdy Doody Show.”  It was much earlier than my experience with the magic mail order system.  I think I was about eight – and like all the ther kids who attended, I sat in “The Peanut Gallery.”  Like all the other “peanut attendees” I was wowed by Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfallwinterspring and Mr. Bluster.  It was a half hour of pure fantasy and delight.  But I graduated from The Peanut Gallery.

I wonder if Professor Gruber ever had that same experience.

“Goober – a peanut.”  {Colloquially – A person of limited intelligence}.

“Gruber – a pompous, cynical ass paid nearly $6 Million by various government agencies to deceive the American goober to buy into Obamacare.”

WAS “SEINFELD” A CELEBRATION OF INTOLERANCE?

Jerry Seinfeld is a comedic genius.  The weekly sitcom bearing his name had a successful run for nine seasons – topping the Nielsen ratings in two of those.  From 1989 to 1998 Americans rushed home to catch their weekly dose of the comedy and catch up on the most current phrases of Seinlanguage that the show invented.  Rumor is afoot that there is going to be a reunion of some of the cast for a one time reprise of the show to be forthcoming soon.

The cast over those nine seasons was so large that Cecil B. DeMille would have been envious.  Many of those who were engaged for the show played only in one episode.  But I wanted to look at those actors and actresses who were featured in two or more episodes.  There were a total of 212 of them.

Now as late as the end of the show in 1998, being “out” as a gay man or lesbian woman was not much in vogue, although Ellen DeGeneres might have broken the ice in 1997.  But that openly gay people worked in the entertainment industry and that industry had no problems employing them because of their sexual orientation had most likely been going on since Hollywood rolled the cameras for the first time.

Estimates of the number of our population who are members of the LGBT community suggest that as many as ten percent of our population may be sexually oriented this way.  Although my feeling is that it’s neither of interest to me nor is it any of my business what a person’s sexual preference is, it seems that there are many gay people, now including at least one pro basketball player and one college football player, who feel that they need to announce their orientation to the world.  That is, of course, their choice.

For years the straight population made certain assumptions about gay men –deciding that  because of an effeminate demeanor a particular man was gay.  In many cases these assumptions proved to be correct.  Add to that certain professions in which these men engaged such as florist, interior designer or hairdresser and without further need for additional evidence, some people would quip, “Fritz is as queer as a three dollar bill,” or, “He’s a little light in the loafers.”   Perhaps the one industry that could have cared less was the arts.  That would include the movies, television, theatre, opera, ballet, and the symphony.

Returning to our cast of 212 multiple episode actors and actresses who played on “Seinfeld,” you can imagine my surprise that only two of those have “come out” and are openly gay or lesbian.  Considering the fact that the industry often attracts gay men and lesbian women if for no reason other than its acceptance of their lifestyle, this truly surprised me.  Naturally, in an age where any and everybody seeks out a niche where they can view themselves as a minority and thus are persecuted and demand justice, I did not expect that result from my research.  This, of course, lends itself to the question, “Was there anti-gay prejudice employed in the casting of the ‘Seinfeld’ show?”

There is an element of intolerance written into the sitcom.  Who can possibly forget “The Soup Nazi” who refused service to anyone whom he didn’t like?  I’m frankly surprised that the FCC hasn’t already looked into this – considering their recent decision (subsequently deferred) to investigate whether our news programs are “properly serving the public” in the eight categories of news that they believe are sufficiently important to be part of those stations’ agendas and regular broadcasts.

Governor Jan Brewer (R – AZ) currently has on her desk a bill that would allow the owners of a business to deny service to people with whom its owners chooses not to do business.  Proponents say that it merely defines an owner’s rights in the same way that, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” does.  Gay activists make the claim that it is an open invitation for businesses to deny them access simply because they are gay.  I haven’t read the bill, but from the discussion that I have heard, both interpretations are possible.  So here’s a thought.

If I were an Arizona business owner I would simply disregard the fact that my clients are male or female, black, white, Hispanic or Asian, straight or gay and pretend that they were all – let me think – okay, they are all vampires.  Several television programs and a number of recent movies have been devoted to members of that group – and no one seems offended by them.  And I have yet to hear of a vampire filing a class action suit against anyone for discrimination.

I’m going to be sure to catch the Seinfeld reunion special when it airs.  I just hope it’s broadcast after the sun goes down.

LIBERTARIAN SIMPLICITY

Let me begin with a premise.  If a challenge exists, finding the most complex solution to it is probably not an effective response.  As evidence of this theory, let me offer the ACA legislation, more affectionately known (but no longer by Democrats) as Obamacare.

Much has been made of the fact that Obamacare is over 2400 pages long.  Now all of us recognize that’s a lot of trees that died for this legislation.  Put another way, the original act contains over 400,000 words.  That’s nearly the equivalent of the novel “War and Peace” in the original Russian.  Of course, Tolstoy had the cleverness to incorporate a plot in his epic work – something that Obamacare clearly lacks.

But let’s continue our analysis of this law.  You may remember the physics concept that, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Apparently that principle does not apply to legislation.

With a law as pithy as Obamacare someone has to decipher what it means and explain it to the legislators who passed it without bothering to read its contents.  Hence those in charge of administering it and writing regulations for it have, thus far, used up nearly 12 million of our perfect good English words that would have preferred to be out golfing with the president instead.  That is, by the way, twice the number of words in the Internal Revenue Code.  No wonder the IRS isn’t answering taxpayers’ question on the proper tax filing procedures.  Apparently, one of the BFOQ’s of working at IRS is not having a Certificate of Completion for the Evelyn Wood speed reading program.

Without a doubt the subject of Obamacare goes far beyond law and deeply into the innards of partisan politics.  Democrats accuse anyone who opposes it of being heartless, money grubbing and racist.  There is a bit of wavering on this subject by the Democrat senators who are up for re-election who voted for it and find that the results, thus far, have not been either what they or the president promised their constituents.  Republicans, smelling blood in the streets, have naturally stooped to conquer, citing instances of the disaster the law has brought on the populace.  They have a great deal of material from which to choose.  Meanwhile, the people whom the law was theoretically intended to help – the uninsured – have adopted a rather ho hum view of the law with less than one percent of them bothering to enroll through the end of January.  Perhaps their lack of enthusiasm and participation is that either they do not want to have health insurance or simply cannot afford it.

Without debating the merits or lack of them of the law and setting aside partisan politics, this provides an excellent example of the libertarian concept, “That government is best which governs least.”  Even some proponents of the law have admitted that it’s unveiling has been far worse than they anticipated.  One could include the president in that group since he has amended it twenty-eight times by the use of his mighty pen.  But this does raise a serious question – all politics aside.

I realize there are those who truly believe that government is the answer to all our problems – and others who believe that it is the root cause of most of them.  I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle of those two views, probably leaning more to the latter.  But whatever your political stripe or your view on the role of government, the rollout of Obamacare should give any rational person reason to pause.

By now we all know that the president repeatedly made promises about Obamacare which were patently untrue.  Whether he was ignorant of the truth or purposefully lied in order to sell the program is only moderately relevant.  If he were ignorant – he failed in his responsibility as chief executive and, if he were working in the private sector would have been fired.  If he were working in the private sector and lied to his shareholders (the American people in this case), he would have been removed from office.

Now health insurance is something which we are all mandated to own by the law and which any rational person hopes never to need to use.  Obviously, some of those who have insurance will find a reason to utilize it and others not.  So this issue only affects all of us on a theoretical basis.  But what if there were a crisis that affected everyone – a failure in the nationwide power grid, for example.  Given the track record of this administration, is there anyone who would feel confident that this government would be able to handle that crisis effectively?

Fortunately, I have a simple solution for the problems that Obamacare has encountered or created.

The president made it clear that, “He has a pen and a phone.”  (I guess that’s the original Obama phone).  So all he has to do is sign an executive order outlawing disease, accidents and genetic defects.  We will no longer have to fret about the uninsured since everyone will be healthy and the money we are spending repairing the website and expanding the bureaucracy to administer the law could be used to feed the hungry or clothe the poor.

You know, this simplicity thing, combined with the power of the pen has got a lot to commend it.  I think I’ll turn my attention next to Putin, Kim jung-un, and President Assad.  The sky’s the limit.  Well, at least if we don’t run out of ink.

HOW A RELIGIOUS REVIVAL IN AMERICA COULD TANK OBAMACARE

Once again HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made an appearance on Capitol Hill at a Congressional hearing.  I’ve seen her so frequently that I feel that I should be allowed to call her Kathy or, perhaps, Kit Kat.  She looked very stressed as she explained that she has asked her agency’s Inspector General to conduct an investigation into the outside IT vendors to determine if there was malfeasance in the way they performed their duties.

Hmmm.  Good timing.  Due diligence would suggest that the time to perform an investigation into a contractor’s background is before rather than after you’ve committed to spend $600 million with them.  But then due diligence would also suggest that you put a major contract out for competitive bidding and avoid giving business to a college chum who happens to have gone to school with the First Lady.  It’s called propriety.   Notwithstanding, government via the DOD has still figured out that $650 for a toilet seat is a reasonable price, competitive bidding notwithstanding.

If you’re one of the unlucky “small number” of people whose insurance contracts were cancelled by your insurer – 5.9 million policies and approximately 15 million people nationwide – you’re probably nervous about what you’re going to do come January 1st.  You had a perfectly nice policy which suddenly went away and now you’re having some difficulty finding a replacement.  Fortunately, the website is now working better than it did ten weeks ago – so there’s actually a chance you might be able to see what Obamacare has to offer.

And now you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “Self – my choices are getting a new policy with all sorts of provisions which I don’t want or need, paying a higher premium and having a huge deductible before I get any benefits.  Or paying a $95 penalty or 1% of my income as a penalty by the IRS – which can only be collected if I get a refund.  What do I do?  Should I just take my chances and hope I don’t get sick and disregard the law, choosing to pay the penalty and pocketing the difference to self-fund my own healthcare?  Oh, and if I do get sick, then I can sign up for Obamacare and since pre-existing conditions must be covered I am guaranteed the right to buy insurance?”  Well, that seems like a plan to me.  But wait, there’s a way to avoid the penalty entirely.

On page 1427 of the legislation which gave us Obamacare is an exemption from the law for two religious groups – Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites.  (They are also exempt from being subject to paying Social Security and Medicare taxes).  So all you have to do is convert to one of these two groups, start replacing your clothes with black homespun and you guys need to start letting your beards grow out.

I expect that as we get more details on all the “benefits” in store for us with Obamacare, we will see the populations of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana swell as more of us convert and become either Old Order Amish or Mennonites.  Yes, you’ll have to give up your cell phone and toss out your television (no great loss there), but on a positive note, you’ll learn how to build a barn and deep down, admit it, haven’t you always wanted to learn how to whittle?

SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP–DEAD

So in case you survived Black Friday and missed it, today is Cyber Monday.  This morning bright and early I logged into my Amazon account.  Alas, there were no special deals on either the Brita water filter replacements or Gracie’s Greenies Canine Dental Chews that I was prepared to purchase.  Nevertheless, I needed both items and within five minutes I had completed my purchase and received an email confirmation for my order.  Now that’s efficiency at its finest.

Fresh from this experience I decided to try www.healthcare.gov to see how “new and improved” the site was.  One of the issues which I had not seen and hoped to find in the latest iteration of the site was to be able to look at specific plans and find out whether my doctor was a participating physician.  I was, in essence, planning on doing some comparative shopping.  But I found that when I was referred to the Nevada Health Link, that information was still not available.

There was, however, a reassuring message on that web page that suggested that if I wanted to speak with a person and “have all my questions answered” I could call the toll free number and get the information I wanted.  As speaking with a person was my preference anyway, I decided to pursue that avenue.

So I called the toll free number, listened to the prompts and looked forward to hearing a friendly, helpful voice on the other end.  When I hit the third prompt, “If you have any other questions,” I immediately was thanked by the robotic voice and told that “my call would be answered in the order in which it was received and that my expected wait time was 43 minutes.”  As that was more time than I hoped to spend on hold I decided to try again later.

I made some oatmeal, went in the backyard and gave Gracie her morning treats while I ate my breakfast.  Charlie the mockingbird stopped by and I set out some food for him and watched him enjoy his meal and then entertain us with his singing.

About an hour had passed and I decided to try my call again.  On this second attempt I was informed that my wait time had increased to an hour and forty-seven minutes.  Years ago I had surgery to correct a bunion.  That entire procedure took less time than my prospective wait time just to get information.  And I sincerely wonder whether the person I might finally reach could actually answer my questions.

Being a persistent sort I will try again.  Perhaps midnight will be a time that offers a shorter wait period.  But I’m not certain that the phones are manned 24/7 so I might find that I’m asked to call back during normal business hours – which will put me right back where I was this morning.  Only time will tell.  But if I want to get the information it seems to me that with only three weeks to enroll in a plan or face a penalty, the wait times are likely to get worse as we approach that deadline.

But I couldn’t help thinking that instead of shopping for health insurance I might consider looking into prepaid funeral arrangements.  With all the difficulty facing the consumer who is mandated to buy health insurance, I’ll bet those who offer those services are probably ramping up their phone banks to accommodate those prospects who are tired of being put on terminal hold in their effort to comply with Obamacare.

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