Patio Life Returns

Life is good.

The Trickiest Part of Universal Health Care

Health insurance is not like other insurance. Take fire insurance. Chances are, your house will never burn down. But you pay a little bit each month so that if you should be the unlucky one, you will have the cash to move on with your life.

Health insurance is different. Sure, you are protecting against disaster, but it’s not if you will have a health disaster, it’s when. We will all of us get sick. So sick we might die. It’s just a matter of time. Health insurance is about all of us putting our resources together so the sick people can get better without bankrupting themselves.

For this plan to work, healthy people need to pay into the system. The Affordable Care Act, lovingly known as Obamacare, tries to force healthy people into the system by taxing them if they don’t have insurance. This is not popular, and I’m not surprised. The new plan proposed by the Republicans does away with that, replacing it with an even more ill-advised penalty for coming back.

The core of the problem is this: Your insurance is only as good as the group of people in your pool. If you’re in a pool with lots of young, healthy people, your costs are low. The insurance companies have been slicing us into literally thousands of pools, and have made rules to keep people who are already sick out of any pool at all.

Both ACA and the new Republican plan miss the point. The problem is not how to force healthy people into the pool that has the sick people. The problem is that there are too many pools. Insurance companies make a shit-ton of money slicing and dividing us, and it’s time to come to a simple realization: we’re all in this together.

One pool.

I’m still pretty healthy, but the insurance companies don’t come a-courtin’ the way they used to. I’m sliding into the riskier part of the actuarial table. Still, I work for a company that takes care of its people, to a level I’m not allowed to talk about. I’ve got good health care, though, and my company doesn’t spend as much as it might because overall its employees are a pretty good pool.

Chances are, I’d be on the losing end if all the pools were united, but I’m OK with that. More than OK. Excited at the idea. Excited that the emergency rooms across the nation won’t be clogged with people who needn’t have been there if they had access to basic care. Excited that maybe some of the homeless I pass each day on my bicycle may be able to get the care they need and, yes, get a fucking job.

Side note: the phrases “Get a fucking job, you bum!” and “They took our jobs!” often come out of the same mouth.

So let’s get back to the basics and realize that the offerings of both parties fail to understand the core of the problem. It’s not about pushing people into a pool that’s disadvantageous to them, it’s about getting rid of all the goddam pools.

One pool.

One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


When does School Let Out?

Recently I was riding on a path and ahead of me was a small bank of flood-deposited sand and gravel. It looked pretty solid, so I thought I could coast gently over it and be fine.


Plunk! and a scraped-up knee, bleeding down my shin as I plodded on to work. “Lesson learned!” I thought to myself. “Unless you have big, fat tires, that’s not the terrain for you.” So at the expense of a little flesh I became a wiser bicyclist.

Yesterday morning I was riding calmly through a little park. Many people walk their dogs on those paths, and I like to give dogs plenty of space when I come up behind them. It’s not fair to the dog to expect them to just step calmly aside when startled from behind. So when the human walking a pretty bulldog didn’t respond to my bell, I did what I often do: I left the sidewalk and circled around on the grass. I made a point of giving him a cheery “Good morning!” as I slogged through the lush lawn.

Only, this particular time, the deep green hid the fact that the step back up to the pavement was rather high. I hit it at too soft an angle, didn’t hop with my front tire, and spilled over the handlebars and onto the pavement. Plunk!

My OTHER knee is now scraped up, and I have a nasty contusion on my thigh where it hit the headlight attached to my handlebars. Lesson learned: Always assume that transition will be dangerous unless handled properly. So at the expense of a little flesh I am now a wiser bicyclist.

I just hope I reach the end of the syllabus soon.


Knives Episode 28 Published!

It’s been a while, for which I apologize. This episode was more difficult than I anticipated; on the surface it’s just a series of actions, but adding the nuances of Martin’s voice to narrative was trickier than it should have been.

Next episode has killing in it, so it should be easier.

Behind the scenes, my new health regimen has been a little at odds with my writing routine; so I’ve made the command decision to allow health rule breakage in cases where writing benefits directly. This might be the time to buy shares in Scottish distilleries.

In OTHER behind-the-scenes news, this will be the weekend I straighten out the patron-only content. I promise.

Please enjoy Episode 28: Down the Hole.

The Washington Video Game

You know how in a video game, one of those shoot-em-up things, you get to the Boss Lair and there he is, mighty and grotesque, sending fireballs and/or rockets at you. He’s right there, and so you fire off a burst of bullets/lasers/magical exploding crystals to finish him of.

But hold on there Sparky! All those shots are wasted. Why? Because between you and the Boss are the Protector Minions. Until you take care of them, your attacks on the boss are futile. Those minions are pretty badass themselves, and until they’re gone, you can’t kill the Boss.

In Washington, the Protector Minions are the Republican leadership in Congress. Two years ago, they (rightly) hated and distrusted Putin and Russia. (Rightly) hating Russia was part of the Republican identity. Now there will be no investigation into a foreign power influencing our elections, because the Protector Minions have formed a circle around the Boss.

At one point I thought that perhaps if something really terrifically damning came out about our president, that the Protector Minions would turn on him, but it’s too late for that. They have already overlooked too much, compromised conservative ideals too much. They burned their ships. There is nothing they can do to save their careers if Trump goes down.

Though perhaps, I hope, when the missing 19% ownership of the Russian state oil company is resolved, at least a few of the Protector Minions would see the writing on the wall. (You might recall that Putin promised Trump 19% of the company if he got elected. In December, a chunk that size + fees changed hands into a black hole.)

Correction: It would appear that what was offered to Trump’s friends was the brokerage of the 19% deal, according to the Christopher Steele documents. Still a massive pile of cash. Only some of the 19.5% is still missing, but the numbers don’t quite add up.

The question of the moment is not, “How do you impeach a president?” because the House of Representatives holds the power of impeachment and the Protector Minions will not allow that process to start. So first the House must be wrested from the Protector Minions. The real burning question is, “how do you turn enough of congress against the Protector Minions?”

Brief Movie Synopsis

Based on the trailer I saw, there’s a movie out with the premise, “A hydrogen bomb didn’t kill this thing, so we’re sending in a badass dude with a machine gun.”


The Sanctity of Life

There are a lot of people who voted for our current president with the logic, “he can burn the country to the ground as long as he kills the Affordable Care Act and overturns Roe v. Wade.” We all have our hot-button issues.

I have a friend who might die if the ACA is repealed. I’m not making this shit up to create a straw man, so let me repeat myself. My friend, someone I worked with for several years, needs ongoing care to stay alive and without the ACA he won’t get it. He seriously might die.

He’s an interesting guy; if I have my stories straight he once taught unarmed combat at an anti-terrorism school in exchange for submachine gun training. You know, just your average liberal snowflake. He used to sit outside the office on his lunch breaks playing exotic (to me) musical instruments.

I wonder if any of the no-ACA right-to-lifers out there would like to sit in a room with him and explain their stand on the sanctity of life, and why they are so intent on letting him die.