Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Little History

Piss poor
They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery, if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor",

Don't have a pot to piss in
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low.

Bride's Bouquet
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell.  Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor: hence, the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married. 
Dont' throw the baby out with the bath water
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the
house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the came the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Raining cats and dogs
Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.  Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

Canopy beds
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.  

Dirt Poor
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt;
hence the saying, "Dirt poor."

Thresh hold
The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way;   hence: a thresh hold.

Peas Porridge
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Everyday they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

Bring home the bacon, Chew the Fat
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around
and "chew the fat".

Poisonous tomatoes
Those with money had plates made of pewter.Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Upper Crust
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust".

The Wake
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. he combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up; hence the custom of holding a wake.

Graveyard Shift, Dead Ringer 
England is old and not much land so the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guam: A good laboratory rat cage for the rest of the nation

My friends in the states would do well to keep an eye on Guam in these changing times. Guam is a microcosm of the U.S., a tiny incubator you might say, or perhaps a laboratory rat cage, where U.S. policies, primarily intended for a stateside population of 300 million, are inserted by force of law into a community .0005 times the size.

Whereas in the states, it may take awhile for the implementation of a massive federal policy such as the new healthcare law, otherwise known as "Obamacare", to be felt at the local level, the impact of such a policy on a community our size is nothing less than an immediate shock.

As expected, insurance rates are going up. You can't expect insurance companies to absorb all the new mandates of Obamacare (children up to 26, pre-existing conditions, etc.) and not raise their rates. Rates go up each year anyway, but the increases aren't much different than the cost of other services we pay for such as power and water, etc. But this year they are going up as much as 92%, and co-pays for government workers are going up as much as 300%.

Since salaries and wages are not increasing at a pace anywhere near that rate, and with more and more people are losing income, not gaining, people are incentivized to drop their insurance and go to self-pay. But what that really means is that more people will be showing up at the emergency room of our only public hospital, which translates into greater costs to the government of Guam, not to mention that real emergencies may have to wait in a much longer line.

This isn't a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention which is why at the height of the debate last March, most Americans opposed the health care bill and it's why Obama had to buy some Democrat hold outs in order to squeak it through. This is also when the Tea Party phenomenon exploded onto the scene. The Tea Party is nothing more than the silent majority that was shocked awake by both the reality of what was in the health care bill and the incredible intrigue needed to pass it.

But all of this is by design. Some say Obama doesn't know what he's doing. Obama knows exactly what he's doing. Type the words "single payer" and "Obama" into your search engine and there are endless references to Obama swearing that he is completely committed to a single payer health system and that he realizes that it make 10 or more years to get there.

First, let's define "single payer". It simply means that there are no other players besides the federal government. Bureaucrats will decide what gets treated, who gets treated, and what they get treated with. Insurance companies do that now, but in a free market, one can go elsewhere, however difficult that may be. But in a single payer system, there is no "elsewhere" to go, which is why wealthier people from nations that have this system often come to the U.S. for treatment.

Second, why does Obama say this will take 10 years or more, especially if it's such a great idea? He knows that the average U.S. citizen is not quite yet ready for a complete government take over of matters of health, life, and death. Citizens have to be eased into it. They have to want the government to take over that part of their lives or there will be revolution. It's called soft-despotism and it has been creeping into the American psyche and practice for the better part of a century.

This is why Rahm Emanuel famously said: "Never let a good crisis go to waste". He knew that the American people are more amenable to government intrusion when they feel insecure. The financial crisis created the moment. One would think that the first actions of the administration would have been to address the crisis, but instead Obama headed straight for health care, justifying this strange direction with the claim that no financial recovery was possible with out an overhaul of health care. It was a weak tie in. And America knew it, which is why the legislation was greeted with such upheaval and hostility.

The steps toward a single payer are quite simple:
1. Force insurance companies to provide coverage they can't afford.
2. Insurance companies are forced to raise their rates to cover the new mandates.
3. Force people to either have insurance or pay a fine to the government.
4. Make the fine less than the insurance rates.
5. People drop their insurance and pay the fine.
6. Insurance companies lose their customer base and stop providing health coverage.
7. The government then becomes the "last man standing".
8. All power over health, life, and death now is in the hands of the federal government.

It's a simple design, which is why so many people can see it. But beyond that we have the issue of the health care providers themselves. Under a single payer system, doctors have only one employer, the federal government, and they already know how that's going to turn out given 40 years of dealing with the government under Medicare and Medicaid. Some will still want to practice medicine, but you can be sure that many of the best and the brightest will look elsewhere and we will have an increasing shortage of doctors, especially the very good ones.

On Guam, the crisis will be immediately felt on October 1 which is when the current health care contract with the Government of Guam expires and the new one with the higher rates kick in. It is expected that many will just drop the coverage and opt for self-pay or just not go to the doctor. Since most will avail themselves of the public hospital for services, the cost to the Government of Guam will skyrocket.

As mentioned, this is no surprise, but I'm wondering, where are all the senators and the congresswoman, who were all singing the praises of Obamacare a few month ago? I have an email record of several conversations with Congresswoman Bordallo over the legislation in general and the abortion funding in particular. However, as a good party person, Bordallo swore that this was good for Guam. Anybody with a brain knew that it wasn't.

So now what do we have? As expected, the politicians are scrambling to blame the insurance companies. But by the sound of the public response, more and more people aren't buying it. Too late Guam. No one is even challenging Bordallo in the upcoming election. So she'll have another four years to bring us more such gifts.