The argument over gun ownership is an ongoing problem in our country. The rhetoric between both sides continues bitterly. I have owned many guns and believe that all other citizens should be able to, subject to certain conditions together with some stricter legal requirements. To my mind, and I give not a hoot what the NRA thinks, the following would not belittle the meaning or intent of the 2nd Amendment.
All gun owners must be 18 years of age and must have a license to purchase and own firearm(s).
To obtain such license, he or she must attend a training program approved by the state and pass a test based on those required by the U.S. Army or U.S.Marine Corps.
Every firearm must be registered by the state it was purchased in. Such registrations can only be allowed to buyers who have a valid license.
No firearm of any type may be loaded to have more than six cartridges or shot - one in the chamber and five in the magazine.
No firearm can fire in bursts or fully automatic.
No firearm can be carried openly except when hunting with the appropriate hunting license or when in a state approved firing range. At all other times, when transported, it must be cased.
Carrying concealed licenses issued by states will require that all previously stated conditions have been met.
Exceptions to age requirements for a firearm user for hunting purpose may be made by states but not below the age of 14.
Exceptions to the firearms not meeting the aforementioned restrictions can be made by states for appropriately licensed dealers and collectors.
My record for getting our local gossip sheet, the Bradenton Herald, to publish the letters I send them from time to time is terrible. Over the last couple of months I’ve submitted at least four and only one has been published. One was way over their limit which is 300 words so I can understand that but the others I managed to keep within their limits. One that didn’t make it I converted to an item in my website and another I just trashed but, of the other two, the one that made it was published on May 9, 2917. The paper’s editor gave it a title reading “Kushners’ Beijing trip sends bizarre message to China”. Its content was brief, dealing with a recent event as follows:
“While a U.S. fleet is deployed to patrol the South China Sea with the assistance of Japanese destroyers, the Kushner family, visiting in Beijing, peddles visas for investments in New Jersey. What message is our government sending China?”
I signed it with my retired military rank and that must have had something to do with their accepting it. However, to my mind it just throws out a thought – it doesn’t try to suggest the solution to a problem nor try to educate. This next entry I had sent in earlier and I felt it was important to try and have people understand that some things in our healthcare system just wouldn’t work. I also managed to keep it at exactly 300 words. They didn’t publish it – go figure!
“ When oh when are our elected representatives, including their chief who is supposedly an expert “businessman”, going to wake up to the fact that continuing to expect a health care plan that includes commercial insurance as a basis and that requires such insurance to include coverage for all forms of pre-existing conditions, is impossible?
With the exception of life insurance, the first lesson learned by all insurance underwriters is that they cannot insure a burning house. This is a situation considered by insurers to be “adverse selection” in their lingo. Well, they could, but only if the premium for doing so would be equal to the cost of replacing the house plus a modicum of profit. The unique and rarely understood thing about insurance companies, excluding life insurance and a few other special forms, is that they are the only business that does not know the cost of its product at the time it is sold. It takes actuaries working with statistical data and complicated analysis together with such concepts as “spread of risk” and the protection of “reinsurance” to make it possible for the underwriter to determine the price of his company’s product. They have a saying in the insurance business that their underwriters are driving the car while the actuary with them is looking out the rear window telling them which way to steer.”
There is only one way to provide health care coverage to those that have pre-existing conditions and that is through a single provider concept such as a government supported national health plan, the cost of which would be borne by everyone. Some of that cost resulting from individual circumstances could be extremely high keeping an elderly person alive which could conceivably lead to the requirement for the use of “death panels”. Think about that.”
There is nothing more disturbing to me than not being treated as a customer should be and it seems to be happening ever more frequently. There was a day when one went to a service type organization, especially a medical service, and didn’t discover that the word “service” appeared to be totally unknown by members of the staff. Today, trying to talk to them by phone is practically impossible. Everything is automated and there is no one made available to talk to you – not even an “operator”. I’ve sometimes cheated and pushed the number button for some selection such as “billing” and, when a live person answers, apologize for pushing the wrong button, could she please transfer me to Ms. Smith, my Doctor’s nurse, which she does only to have me being told by an automated voice that she isn’t available and I should leave a voice message and I will be called back. I started leaving a lot of those only to find no one ever called me back. When trying again, under slightly different circumstances, I was either (1) transferred to a “Nurse Triage” who wasn’t there and I had to leave a message that was never answered or a “Surgery Scheduler|” who also wasn’t available but her voice told me if I left a message it would be answered in in 32 to 74 hours! The message I left her was never answered either, even after 74 hours.
I also noticed that the same clinic that had such wonderful telephone service also did some strange things when I finally got to see a nurse person. First, she took me and two other patients and parceled us out to three small, cluttered rooms which had a counter and one chair. Then I sat and waited until she returned and had me partially undress and try to void my bladder into a large test tube after she left. When she returned in about fifteen minutes I had had no success so she asked me to try again and left. The next time she returned also after about fifteen minutes and did some stuff like reinstalling my catheter etc. It finally dawned on me that she had been taking care of all three of us.
On another occasion I had spent the entire morning going through a bladder voiding test and the nurse monitoring the test told me we should be done before noon. During this test the bladder spasms, which is quite painful. Noon passed and she had not returned so I checked with the desk and was told she had gone to lunch and wouldn’t be back until one. I spent over an hour in agony walking in circles around the corridor outside the clinic’s office before she returned.
Then there was the time I tried to find out when some surgery was scheduled and got the phone of someone titled “Surgery Scheduler”. Her message said she was not available but I should leave a message and she would return it in between 32 and 74 hours”! She never did either, I wrote a scathing letter to my doctor and gave them a terrible review on their web site. Believe it or not, it worked. Not just because of me, of course, because they had received many other complaints and mine was one too many. They had apparently been taken over by a public equity investor whose main objective was profit
When you consider that this trend is affecting all kinds of businesses and organizations one can begin to understand the uproar of dissatisfaction being experienced by patients and-customers. There are so many now that, when you call their office, you cannot speak to anyone. All you get is a reference to another number which always tells you the department or individual you are trying to talk too are busy and you must leave a message worth your phone number and they won’t call you back. Too often you never get that call back. You can thank our wonderful new phone systems whose only accomplishment is to give some creep a means of interfering with your life by calling you for donations, surveys or other spurious activities and you can’t seem to take eliminate them even after the advent of “No Caller” lists. The gap that has developed between the customer and the provider has widened. Add to this the continuous pressure for profit reduces staffs and forces extra work on the staff that remains which makes it difficult, if not i, for adequate and compassionate service to be provided. In the case of medical clinics, the doctors who used to own them have lost control over their service. I tell them that their staffs have failed to extend the Hippocratic Oath principles to their patients
Are you as disgusted as I am over getting all these telephone callers that are trying to sell you something or subscribe or donate to something or, worse yet, trying to get into your computer? Well, I’ve got an idea for you that can cause some of these calls to become a game that will give you a lot of fun. This doesn’t, for obvious reasons, work with those that are automated but only when they are from some live idiot. In the case of the former I will simple lay the phone down as soon as I hear the recording start and go back to whatever I was doing. After a short while I check to make sure the recorded nonsense has run its course and is off the line and then I hang up. Why do I do this? By not hanging up immediately I keep their phone active and extend the time before they make the next call. If we all did this it would reduce the number of numbers they can call and possibly increase their costs.
I admit that isn’t much fun but, when I get a live caller, that’s when I can play my game. It’s a lot more fun than wasting time with Solitaire, Mah Jong or whatever other free game you’ve got on your computer. Simply put, I try to see how long little old me can outwit them and keep them on the line in order to get the same result. For example, if it’s for a donation of some sort I beleaguer them with questions about their organization, what they stand for, what territory they cover, what form they want their donation to be in, do they have a minimum, a maximum, etc., etc. I try my best to keep them from hanging up but if I feel that point is almost reached I tell them, “Oh, I should let you know that I only respond to requests for donations if they are in writing and are accompanied by a current financial report for your organization.” Then I hang up!
One call I get with some frequency, and which gives me the most amount of fun, is a man who says he represents Microsoft Technical service and tells me they have information that my computer has been infected with something and he wants to fix it for me. Lately I’ve been getting a couple of these a week. He speaks poor English and always sounds the same and I can always hear people talking – sometimes shouting – in the background. Here’s how my side of the conversation usually goes:
Who are you?
Oh, I see. You’re with Microsoft. That’s that computer outfit, right?
Why are you calling me?
Hello. I’m having trouble hearing you. Can you speak a little louder?
That’s better. What did you same your name is?
No. I know you’re with Microsoft. I asked for your name.
Well, I always like to know that.
Bill, is that right?
Where are you calling from, Bill?
I’m sorry. I didn’t hear that. Can you talk a little louder?
Thank you, that’s better. You said India. Is Microsoft in India? I thought they are in the U.S.?
I see, they have a technical service there. Don’t they have that in the U.S.?
I see, O.K. Well that’s nice. So, why are you calling me?
You say I have a problem on my computer? What is it?
You don’t know what it is? Well how do you know I have one?
You can tell that over the internet? Wow! That’s amazing. What is the problem?
I don’t understand that. Can you talk a little louder?
O.K., that’s better. Yes, I don’t like to have a problem. Well, can you fix it?
O.K., you have to find out what it is first? Can’t you use the internet?
You said you have to go on my computer? How can you do that?
You want me to push what button?
Can you speak a little louder?
You want me to push the “Fin” button?
Wait – I don’t see any “Fin” button on the lower left side
Oh, sorry, not with the cursor?
Oh, you mean on the keyboard. I don’t have any “F-I-N” button.
I see, you mean FN, but I don’t have such key or button.
No, I don’t have a Seetril button or key either.
Yes, I’m looking at the lower left corner of my keyboard and there is no Seetrill” key.
Oh, wait! Do you mean the CTRL key?
Yes I see that. You want me to push that?
Wait! What happens if I push that?
O.K., nothing, but then I have to do some more? What happens then?
You get on my computer? What do you mean?
Speak a little louder please. There is a lot of background noise.
That’s a little better. You mean you can actually do things on it? Wow! That’s amazing.
Yeah, I really don’t know a lot about computers. But wait, can you read stuff on my computer?
But you don’t actually read my stuff – only use some programs?
I don’t know if I like that. I don’t like anyone reading my stuff. I don’t even let my wife do that.
Yeah, I know. That’s what you say. But even though you say you won’t, you can.
By the way, what will you charge me for looking in my computer?
Well, that sounds good, “free” sounds good. What if you find something wrong?
Can you speak up, please?
You’ll fix it but won’t charge?
Oh, I get it. You’d do so for $ 150.00 for a whole year.
No. I don’t think so. I have a friend who’s good at fixing computers; I’ll have him look at it.
No, I don’t want to talk to your supervisor – he probably speaks English no better that you do.
Well, that’s not nice.
Yeah – to you to.
I hang up. Too bad, they haven’t called me since. I enjoy the game and can probably do better as I get more experienced at it. You can too. Not to worry, there will be other callers.
Somebody recently asked me how I was feeling. It was probably one of my kids. Only they have the audacity to ask such a foolish question of a nonagenarian. To avoid a lot of further conversation on that issue I always answer “I feel fine”. Maybe there are some of that advanced age in the world that have no ailments and always feel great. But I feel more like the ones I’ve known personally who number one. When he asks me that question I have to answer truthfully, “I feel lousy”. He always answers the question the same way.
I recently got a copy of my primary physician’s “notes”; something I ask all the doctors to give me when I visit them from time to time. It’s amazing how frequently I find mistakes in them. Most of them dictate their notes and either mumble or have a secretarial employee who suffers from some loss of hearing. This last issue if his description of me from head to toe had added a new problem to the list of the plumbing and wiring in my aching body that is no longer working as well as it should. That led me to consider my listing all my ailments as shown in the good doctor’s notes on a small card that I would give to anyone who asks me that question while I answer, “”Here’s a list of the things that are wrong with me. What the Hell do you think I feel like?”
Reviewed Problems (from Doctor’s notes)
Chronic lymphoid leukemia, Cancer Acute bronchitis
Hypothyroidism Urinary tract infectious disease
Hypercholesterolemia Traumatic hematuria
Mild cognitive disorder Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Glaucoma Shoulder, back & neck pain
Tinnitus Brachial (cervical) neuritis Benign hypertension Fatigue
Hypertensive disorder Unsteady gait
Atypical angina Dysphagia
Coronary arteriosclerosis Carotid artery stenosis
Irritable bowel syndrome.
I learned something shocking today. But first I have to explain an event that further convinced my opinion that the nearest hospital to us that I’ve had to use with some frequency is also the worst in our area. I’ve had a number of bad experiences with them and this was the most recent.
Earlier this year, while one of my daughters and her husband were visiting us I started getting bladder spasms. This had happened to me once before when I first had my Foley catheter in place for six months until I had surgery to solve the problem. If, for some reason, the catheter gets plugged up and the bladder is unable to empty it starts to spasm which is a very painful experience and can be dangerous if things begin to back up into the kidneys. It was 10 P.M. when they drove me to the Blake Hospital ER on a Saturday night. When we got there we found the waiting room crowded with what were clearly indigents and tourists. After checking in at the desk, we managed to find three empty chairs and started what was apparently going to be a long wait.
Around midnight someone came to me and said they needed to have a urine sample and I was taken to a small room where a lady gave me a container and pointed out the door to a rest room. I did the required with great difficulty and returned to my seat in the waiting room, At this point I still had the spasms but, over the next two hours it seemed that things were slowly improving . Around 2:00 another person came looking for me and said they needed a urine test. I told them I’d given a specimen about two hours before and they left to find what happened. They returned and told me the specimen appeared to have been lost or misplaced and they needed another one. I went through the same process again and, on my return, the three of us got our heads together and agreed this was ridiculous. We had by then been waiting almost five hours and had not had anybody look at me or try to help me so we went to the desk and told them we were leaving.
We’d only gotten part way to our car in the parking lot when we heard a shout and saw a young man running toward us and telling us to stop. When he caught up with us he said we couldn’t just leave but, if we insisted, I had to sign a form that he handed me on a clip board. We explained why we were leaving and he told us that a weekend night at the ER would always find it crowed and, if we had wanted immediate attention, we should have called 911 and had the EMT’s pick me up. I told him the last time I’d done this they had charged Medicare $655 for a ten minute ride and I was trying to save the government some money.
A quick look at the form on the clip board made it clear it was a very complicated release which, if signed, removed the hospital from any and all liability, etc. What he didn’t know is that my daughter is a lawyer and, after she read it, she said we wouldn’t sign it and he started pleading for us to do so – one got the impression he felt he would be fired if he didn’t get it signed. She finally told him O.K. but she would have to make some changes and took a few minutes to scratch out things and add others and finally told me it was now all right for me to sign it and the kid accepted it.
Well that’s a long introduction and maybe an unnecessary one but I’m trying to emphasize how nutty our health care system has become. Move ahead about five months and I get an “Explanation of Benefits” from Medicare which shows that the hospital had submitted a bill totaling $1,102 for my visit to the ER. Medicare shows that the charge was approved by them but they have only “allowed” and paid $ 83.42. “What the Hell!” I think. “This looks ridicules. Even though they only paid peanuts, the hospital never should have submitted a bill. Something doesn’t smell right.”
Every time they send such a report they enclose a separate page reminding us of all the things we should do and how to do them. One is a request to report a suspected fraud and, although I don’t believe this is a case of fraud; l am convinced the hospital was totally wrong in charging for a visit at which I was not helped, even though the amount paid was minimal. So I call the number given on the form and, after a long wait, have an unusually lengthy discussion with a lady who has to check with someone else a number of times to make sure she’s handling this important issue correctly. Finally she returns from one of these interruptions to tell me that there is nothing they can do about this. I’m shocked. I ask her if they are simply going to ignore someone having attempted to be paid for service not provided. She tells me that the system for determining payments is very complicated and, in an instance like this, makes no provision for challenging the payment and, if I think it is wrong, I should check this with the billing department of the hospital! “Yea,” I think, “That’s going to have me spend another hour or two on the phone and get me nowhere.” I give up in disgust.
Merriam-Webster defines the meaning of “mystique” as “a special quality that makes a person or thing interesting and exciting.” From my experience of working and living there for many years, I believe that Wausau, Wisconsin and its surroundings is evidence of that quality brought about principally by the nature of its inhabitants.
When the Klein family arrived there during the cold winter of 1960, we moved into a rental house on the west side that was located near a hardware store named Grebe’s and across the street from the family of one of the men that worked in the maintenance department of Employers Mutuals. We became friendly with them and some other close neighbors that we found to be helpful in getting settled in this new environment. I had been working as a branch underwriting manager in the Kansas City regional office of the Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company that had its headquarters in Wausau. Shortly after I arrived an incident occurred that opened my eyes to the unusual existence of the Wausau “mystique”. One morning at the office, which at the time was the building that now houses the city’s administration, I went down to our lunch room in the basement for our company approved coffee break and saw my neighbor sitting at a table with a cup of coffee. After filling my cup at the big dispenser, I joined him, and we chatted about neighborhood events. A few minutes later, the president of the company, Mr. Schweitzer, came into the room, helped himself to a cup and walked over to us. Greeting us both by our first names, he asked if he could join us, then sat and we continued with a three-way chat. Part way through it suddenly dawned on me that something very unusual had just happened – here we were, three individuals having a cup of coffee and chatting away with complete ease and comfort – one very junior new staff employee, one company maintenance man and the president of the company.
I should not have been surprised. My earlier experience with this employer, that eventually grew to be the Wausau Insurance Group, had given me clues. My two previous employers had been the Marine Corps toward the end of WWII and then a part of a year as a clerk for a large insurance broker in NYC. Next, I joined Employers Mutuals at their downtown NYC office and later moved to their main uptown office. I didn’t realize it at the time that most of the management was from Wausau – the regional manager and underwriting, safety engineering and claim managers and possibly others – all from near Rib Mountain. When I later transferred to their Albany office, I found the same situation there and also when I moved to the Kansas City regional office.
What I found especially interesting is that the employees in those offices, and many others I had occasion to visit over the years, that were not originally from Wausau, seemed to pick up those great work habits and attitudes from their Wausau co-workers. I had by happenstance found a group of people that worked hard, played hard, treated each other with respect and had their customer’s best interest at heart. I loved working for them. During those years I had some offers from other companies, but the temptation of a higher salary didn’t overcome my enjoyment for being where I was.
Eventually, locating and working in Wausau, emphasized that realization. It was not only the people at the company it was the whole area. Storekeepers, the police and fire departments, the health providers, the city government, other companies and their bosses and workers – most everybody seemed to have been cast from the same mold. Of course, there were exceptions, but they were very much in the minority. I don’t know what brought this about. Some say it is the continuing values established by the original settlers; mostly represented by northern Europeans. Although there had been many changes over the years, some major wars one of which caused the name of the German-American Bank to be changed changed to the First American Bank (now BMO), economic crashes, immigration influxes, just to name a few, Wausau’s character has not changed. I’m sure it’s location has helped. With a large lake practically downtown created by a confluence of four rivers and a good sized “mountain” a short bike ride away, everybody has nature at their doorstep. Fishing, boating, skiing, hunting all are just minutes away and four good seasons with winters that are “interesting” create an environment that adds to the good nature of its inhabitants.
My wife and I were part-time residents in more recent years; so-called “snow birds”, and now are permanently in Florida. We both miss Wausau. Recently one of our kids told us about “You Know You’re From Wausau” and we’ve enjoined visiting it. It appears from the interest shown and the content it contains that the mystique is still quite alive.
It seems to me, there are three types of people who are in charge of things - leaders, bosses and specialists - that run just about everything – businesses, governments, military, clubs, etc. Most are either one of the three although there can be a blending of these skills in one individual. For example, Eisenhower was one of our great leaders who had risen to that level even though starting as an expert in military matters.
A boss is someone who may be in charge of some activity within a larger organization such as a foreman of an assembly line or the owner of a small company. Bosses usually know the specific thing they are in charge of very well and have the tendency not to listen to the advice of others. I’ve known bosses of companies who argue against the advice of their accountant and give inadequate attention to the consequences.
A leader may be an expert in something but is in charge of many more diverse activities and the components that conduct them. In making decisions, he or she relies not solely on their own knowledge and experience but also to the advice of others. There have been many great leaders, such as Eisenhower, in government and business. The military especially puts heavy emphasis on “leadership” and its organizations are structured to support that concept.
Donald Trump, in my opinion, shows all the attributes of being a boss and not a leader, much less a great leader. His business acumen is questionable and his behavior toward his own party and even to his own staff disturbing. Let him go back to his T.V. expertise in “hiring” and “firing.”
Our problem goes beyond politics although its cause has a lot to do with the way politicians behave. It is not just about income inequality. Keep in mind that all the great employment benefits we old farts had – hospital and medical insurance, company credit unions, employer matching savings plans, etc. – are all history.
In my estimation we have gone from a reasonably fair and successful capitalistic economic system to one that’s gone bonkers. An individual that, through hard work and smart thinking, could produce something that would be successful in the market place and create income for him and those he chose to help him. Even after he “incorporated” the constantly increasing income would be distributed fairly to those that had invested in his efforts and those that helped maintain it. That algorithm doesn’t work anymore. Today we have a misdistribution of wealth. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Too many cannot find work with adequate pay and others work for wages that are inadequate.
Corporate executives are grossly overpaid. The board members of their companies are made of others just like them and see to it they get ever increasing salaries and bonuses of corporate stock that can be sold at inflated prices. Their shareholders don’t care as long as the company makes sufficient profit while keeping expenses, which includes the pay for their workers and the workers benefits as low as possible.
And then there are those who make unbelievably huge salaries for having produced nothing – except entertainment. Millions of dollars are paid to people who may be able to throw a ball but can hardly speak decent English. And, unfortunately, the costs to go watch them throw the ball have risen to levels that only those previously referred to executives can afford. The poor working slob can watch on T.V. if he can afford the cable company’s rapidly rising costs. It’s a sad U.S. of A.