Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Six Feet Under Problem


It is an interesting article over Detroit....and dead bodies.

I should note here...it's the Times of London that publishes this....not a US daily paper. For the record, over the past twelve months....the eight major papers of England....have carved out the gut of American news and now cover just about everything you need. They are stomping over the USA Today, the New York Post, the LA Times, and just about every single newspaper in America.

Folks die in Detriot....and up until this year....if you were awful damn poor...the city took care of the dead. It's a service that they provided because the folks in Detroit are facing huge finanical issues just surviving....let alone burying some relative.

Back in June of this year.....the $21,000 annual county budget to bury folks in town who were basically unclaimed....ran out. The city won't refill the fund. The city used to pay $700 for a box, a burial site, and just a plain ordinary marker.

The Times mentions this one guy....Darrell Vickers....who had an aunt die of natural causes....and no one in the family could afford the $700 fee to bury her. So the aunt sit in the morgue....waiting....for someone or the city....to rescue her (really, just to bury her). Later, Darrell's granma died....and his dad ended up paying for the cremation but with a credit card (you know the type....with 20-odd percent interest). Sadly, they still didn't have the money for the aunt....so she's still sitting....waiting.

The only bright spot to this mess....a number of local philanthropists....who typically donate to schools, libraries, pet foundations, etc.....have donated $8,000 to help to bury the dead.

So the morgue has gotten around to burying around eleven people so far.....and the city only has 55 more dead folks to go.....to get into the ground.

Stimulus money to help bury the dead? Well....you would have thought that some idiot in the city or county....would have just said..."hey, we need $50k....to get some dead folks decently buried". But no....you can't spend stimulus money on dead folks or burials. That wouldn't stimulate the economy.

Remember, this is the London Times telling you this woeful story....not Newsweek or Time. Get the impression of a third-world country? At least in Afghanistan....if you die....the locals wrap up the body....go out and find a open spot....and bury you.....typically within twenty-four hours after death. In Detroit....they can't or won't....even do that.

The picture I used for this blog? These are actually Civil War stones...for men who fought in the war and died. They weren't buried by the city. They were buried either by the family themselves or by the US military.

There's something wrong here. I don't want a charitable stimulus package to fix this and then start burying everyone in America...like some national health insurance fund. But on the other hand....you don't let some guy sit in a morgue for six months....waiting for a lousy seven hundred bucks to get them six feet under.

In the south.....we would have passed the hat around the neighborhood....collected $20 from the local insurance guy....$8 from some high school kid....$40 from the local butcher who sold the woman hundreds of pounds of beef over the years....and $20 from some political figure....just to get some guy buried six feet under.

2,000 Pages

Everyone wants a house. It's almost like a right....to own a house.

So this guy comes up and tells you of a new development. Magnificent development. One-acre lots. Gated community. Pool in each backyard. High-class kitchen. Two-car garage. Fancy solar panels on the roof. High-speed internet access free for each home in the mega-sized development. Free cable provided in each home.

The price? Actually....it's all affordable. It's very reasonable. In fact, it's down right a steal. Barely $150k for this deal.

So you go down and do a walk through a model home. You spend an hour or two with the sales guy. They have a special loan deal....and everything fits neatly into your entire budget and allows for everything you could dream of.

You suggest that you'd like to make the purchase. You show up the next day....and the sales guy is there with a 2,000 page sales contract. You act puzzled but you've seen the whole house, listened to the salesmen's pitch, and added up the numbers given to you. Everything makes sense. Yet, this 2,000 page document is standing there. You gaze through three pages....and then decide that your buddies are doing this.....your old neighbor is doing this.....and it all seems legit.

So you sign and start the process of moving into the house.

By the end of week one....a package comes with meter device which is required to hook up to your free cable outlet. The purchasing company has a monitor device and measures usage in some fashion. You say no, but the legal department of the company that you bought the house from....says it's in the 2,000 page document. So you hook it up. They monitor your viewing day and night.

The next week....a bill arrives for $3,000. It's a fee for yearly security. You thought the gated community deal was built into the purchase price....but it wasn't. You have to pay.

The next week....a guy arrives to mow your perfect lawn, and hands you the bill for $65. It's part of the mandatory "care" deal that you failed to see in the 2,000 page contract.

The next week....a complaint is lodged over your wife's wear appeal in the backyard. The guy is approaching the neighborhood management committee and complaining over her bikini. One piece is ok, but a two-piece is not. You argue, for your wife's sake.....but the committee overrules your objection.

The next week....the mortgage is adjusted up one quarter percent. You get furious but the 2,000 page contract has a line which says if "x" happens....then the percentage is adjusted.

Eventually, enough of you in the community are unhappy. These are the homes or lifestyle you dreamed of. You want to sell. But here's the thing....the 2,000 page contract forbids you from selling. Once into it, you have to remain.

You start to get miserable. You feel aggravated and upset everyday because the house isn't what you wanted. You go on a vacation and stay in a place where it's practically paradise.....but the problem is that you can't escape the house you own. So the vacation ends, and you return to the hellhole.

Every neighbor is now miserable and you all meet and chat about it. There are TV news people that come and go.....asking about your miserable feelings. You chat about it, but you really can't get out of the 2,000 page deal. You'd like to just own a cabin or a cottage in the middle of some rural community, but you are stuck right there in the house that you hate.

Days, weeks, months and years pass. You are miserable. You hate each and everyday because the 5-star deal that you were offered.....doesn't truly exist. You'd like to have a better deal....but you can't really accomplish that.

When you stand there and think about the universal health care package. It's the 2,000 page deal. You expected so much and thought that it would fix all your problems. In the end....it became your chief problem....over all others.

Just a moment to sit and pause over what happens next. It might be worth thinking about.