Sunday, 10 February 2013

Just a History Lesson

There is a little piece of history, which the media tends to skip over and easily forget whenever the topic comes up....but it's an interesting piece of American history.

Somewhere in the midst of the Nixon years....around the early part of 1974....Richard Nixon came out with an agenda.  It was a simplified plan.  The deal would involve all employers to offer some type of health insurance policy.  The government would step in....with vouchers....to help the 'poor' afford the intended policies.

The odd thing is that Republicans were generally on board.  The comical side of this story...is that Watergate basically stopped the entire agenda in its tracks.  Had Watergate never happened.....some type of massive national health insurance deal would have been put into place.

So you'd think that was the end of the story....but it's not.

In 1977, newly arrived President Jimmy Carter, starts his own health insurance agenda.  Oddly enough....Jimmy is frozen out of any advance...mostly because of Senator Ted Kennedy, who felt it wasn't going along the lines that Kennedy desired.  Infighting started to occur, and by the fourth year....Senator Ted Kennedy had decided to take on the President and ran a fairly healthy primary season against Carter.  Most people who've analyzed the 1979 primary and general election....will usually come to the bad primary blood being one of the three major reasons that Jimmy Carter lost to Reagan.

The Nixon and Carter programs?  It's odd....they rarely ever get mentioned today.  I would imagine that both would have eventually dumped folks into some Medicare situation, with limited funding, limited cost and the government unwilling to help supplement the doctors.....and the general outcome would have been less-than-desirable health care, but something better than nothing.

The curious thing is that no newspaper or media outlet will go back and mention theses events.

Sunday Political Chat Shows

I must admit....I have this love-hate thing about the Sunday political chat shows.  There's around a dozen of them now, and most are one-to-two star at best.

A couple of them have permanent 'experts' who show up, and after five appearances, you are convinced that they just don't know much about their topic, and you'd be better off with some guy off the streets of Provo, Utah.

Some of the shows will bring on journalists who pretend to be experts....but they are mostly dimwits who look good in a $500 suit or a $700 fancy silk blouse (with a $3k jade necklace hanging obviously).

Occasionally, they will find some big-name guy from the 1970s....bring them out to be the honest-to-God expert on American politics.  But after ten minutes....you kinda wonder if they ever knew were an expert on anything....even gas-grills.

I've come to regard the CNN Sunday political show as one of the weaker shows.  There's generally a slant to most anything they talk on.  You keep wishing they'd focus on a broad spectrum and lay out pure facts so people could make their own analysis.  Instead, you feel like you are at a Chrysler show-room, and getting the big sales deal over some car that you really don't feel happy about.

This Week, on ABC?  There was a time in the 1990s that it probably did a four-star job.  Today?  It's probably a show that you tend to mute through half of what they put on.  You might get better discussions from your local barbershop, or from the local garbage truck team.

The general question that I'd personally like to throw out...at both a Republican and Democratic Senator that appear on a political chat show....do you make your own personal budget for your household?  Course, I know both will affirm that they do.  Then I'd ask.....how do you make it?  They'd both spend seven minutes giving you the simplicity of how a budget works.  Then I'd ask if they could use any of that simplicity in building a national budget?  I suspect that both would just look at you and refuse to answer the question.

George Stephanospoulos?  I'm not sure how George ever got the job, or how he has kept the job...but he seems to just hang on.  I'm confident that ABC is kinda stuck.  They could replace him....but would you get any better numbers? And the question of contract costs come up.  I'm pretty sure that George is living comfortably, but not exactly getting rich off his show.

Face the Nation on CBS?  Well....I've come regard Bob Schieffer as a guy who has never asked a second follow-on question of any intensity in his life.  I would imagine that CBS would like to replace Bob, but then you'd have to pull out the checkbook and actually pay a fair amount of wage for the next guy.  I'm guessing Bob isn't on the high end of CBS's wage chart, and simply continuing because CBS really doesn't want him to retire.

Yeah, if it sounds like I'm likely to watch a Japanese monster movie on Sunday morning....more than a political chat show....yeah, that might be correct.

The Post Office Discussion

For around a decade, there's been serious budget issues with the US postal system.  It's best to describe them as a failed business that gets some cash from the government, and somehow survives on.  They'd like to make serious changes, from ending Saturday delivery, to deleting a fair number of post offices across the nation.

This past week....they finally said enough.....ending Saturday letter delivery, but keeping box delivery on....at least for a year or two.  My suspicion is that they will end the box delivery by the end of 2014....simply because of cash issues.

So this brings us to the chief topic....how can they survive?

The experts now admit that a huge cost problem is mail delivery in rural America.  It cost less to operate in urban areas....like Philly, or Nashville, or Provo.  When you look at Nebraska....where seventy percent of the population lives in small towns of a thousand or less....the postal operation is a fair amount of cash.

The other issue which most folks now point out....folks over fifty who don't do computers....still survive greatly on the postal system, and want the six-day a week delivery.  Folks in their twenties....for the most part....could survive with one-day a week postal delivery, and they even admit that.

I suspect that we will reach a point by 2020, where there is no Saturday delivery at all, and in some areas....no Monday delivery.  Some urban areas might even get to the point of accepting only a post office drop-off point where you weigh your box, charge the cost to a credit card, and dump it down a chute with a label that gets printed out, with no human contact ever existing at their regional post office.

I would even go out on the limb and predict by 2040....that in an entire county of 100k residents....there will only be one true post office in operation with two or three employees.  FEDEX and UPS will cover all packages by that point.  And most all of us will do business by email or internet.

It's an odd world we live in.  Even a $1 stamp won't fix this budget issue (that's only ten years away, if you can imagine it).