Category Archives: Rants/Opinions

Car dealers getting stiffed on “Cash For Clunkers”

The federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2 percent of the claims they’ve submitted through the popular “cash for clunkers” program, a Pennsylvania congressman said, calling on the Obama administration to help speed up the process.

This is typical government tomfoolery. According to the Department of Transportation, there are a total of 338,659 rebate requests under the “Cash for Clunkers” program; but only a staff of 225 to review the claims. That’s 1,500 claims per employee currently!

And the government wants to manage health care too………..

Ronald Reagan speaks out against socialized medicine [in 1961]

Recorded in 1961 and still worth listening to 48 years later.

Customer service is alive and well

It appears that retailers are now putting the customer first! You remember the customer don’t you? He or she is the person who supports you and your company by buying products from you or using your services. For awhile, it appeared that customer service went the way of the Model T. Now I’m not so sure.

A couple of days ago, I went to Lowe’s to purchase light bulbs for a ceiling fan. I did not bring the burned-out bulb with me, but thought I could find a replacement for it anyway. I found some bulbs, paid for them and went home. It was then that I discovered that I bought the wrong size. There are three bulb sizes for ceiling fans — regular, intermediate and candelabra. I bought the candelabra size instead of the intermediate. I returned to Lowe’s and returned the unopened bulbs for credit on my bank card. The clerk then called someone in the electric department to help me find the “right” bulb. This time I brought the old bulb with me! We searched high and low for its replacement, but could not find it. At this point I was ready to go somewhere else, but the sales clerk offered to call the fan manufacturer for me to find out what replacement bulb to use. Imagine, a sales clerk calling the manufacturer on my behalf! We went over to his station and he looked up the phone number on his log sheet. He called and, of course, was immediately put on hold. After a few moments, he was once again connected with the manufacturer’s customer service rep and asked the type of bulb I should purchase. That is when everything went off the track as the manufacturer needed to know the exact model number of fan that I had. I never thought about bring the model number with me so we were unable to get additional information. He hung up and then started going through more ceiling fan specs. After a few more minutes, it was obvious that Lowe’s did not have the bulb I needed. The clerk then suggested Home Depot, Menard’s and a couple of electrical supply stores for me to check. I thanked him for his time and effort and left feeling bad that I did not buy something from him.

I drove to Home Depot and was immediately met by a sales clerk in the lighting section. I repeated my story and discovered that Home Depot did carry the replacement bulb. I picked up the 2-pack of bulbs and prepared to check out. The clerk then asked if I wanted to see the CFL bulbs that would fit in the fan. I was intrigued by that as I prefer going the low-cost and ecological route whenever I have the opportunity. She took me over to the display fans and showed me the light bulbs that were now coming with the fans. I did end up choosing the CFL bulbs (although they do cost more) over the incandescent bulbs. I made an off-hand remark about the safe disposing of CFL bulbs and she said that Home Depot accepts the bulbs for safe disposal. She took me over to the kiosk in the store where CFL bulbs and batteries can be safely disposed.

Home Depot was always a place that I avoided if I could. I am not the most mechanically-inclined person and always felt a bit overwhelmed when I went there looking for something. Although the clerks in the past were helpful, they assumed that I had greater mechanical knowledge than I really had. Lowe’s entered the Chicago market a few years ago and promoted its customer service. Home Depot must have gotten the message as this recent experience has become the norm rather than the exception. In both stores, it is hard to spend more than a few minutes without someone asking if they can help.

I’m sure the recession is also impacting their level of service. Customers have so many choices these days. Stores such as Meijer now carry a lot of hardware items and there is always Costco or Sam’s Club for the most common tools or hardware items. I was just very surprised to receive what I consider to be very helpful service within 15 minutes of each other from the two major home centers. I will continue to shop at both stores.

Powered by ScribeFire.

The first “first”

There’s truth here!

Something worth forwarding

Update [August 13, 2009]: It finally dawned on me today this this e-mail list is the one under attack by the media and those Americans concerned about privacy. A few days after the inauguration, I sent a comment via whitehouse.gov about the loan modification program that was being discussed early on in the new administration. They obviously harvested my e-mail address for further contact as I do not recall being asked if I wanted to receive additional e-mail messages.

# # # #

I’m obviously on some mailing list at the White House (hope it’s not an enemies list!). I disclosed the earlier e-mail that I received from David Axelrod and now I have received this e-mail. I was also listening to today’s press briefing and it is obvious that the White House is attempting to correct the “misconceptions” about health care that are being disseminated.

A lot of these misconceptions are generated by the White House itself. For example, at the recent town hall meeting in New Hampshire, President Obama said that A.A.R.P. was “on-board” with his health care plan. A.A.R.P., however, said that — no — they have not endorsed any proposal. The Democrats have not helped their cause either at the locallevel as town hall meeting and constituent meetings have fallen into disarray covered happily by news outlets and bloggers. I’ve seen several videos about the meetings and posted one this morning about the Texas congresswoman who ignored a questionner and listened on her cell phone instead.

I think most Americans agree that some kind of health care reform is needed. But this package — with the cost involved and the way it is being shoved down everyone’s throats — is not the answer.

Here is the e-mail I received today from David Axelrod, senior advisor to the president:

Dear Friend,

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.

Thanks,
David

David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President

P.S. We launched www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck this week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we’ve just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health Reform Office tackling a viral email head on. Check it out:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform

  1. Reform will stop “rationing” – not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a “government takeover” of health care or lead to “rationing.” To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  2. We can’t afford reform: It’s the status quo we can’t afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  3. Reform would encourage “euthanasia”: It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  4. Vets’ health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans’ access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President’s budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  5. Reform will benefit small business – not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare “doughnut” hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts.  Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose.  Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details:
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/faq

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

  1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
  2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job.  Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
  3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
  4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
  5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
  6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
  7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people – one in every three Americans under the age of 65 – were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
  8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance – projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf

Visit WhiteHouse.gov

Powered by ScribeFire.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee talks on the phone as a woman asks a question

I saw this video several times yesterday on TV. I have not heard the spin from the congresswoman’s office yet about to whom she was talking. I’ll be curious how they spin this. Perhaps she was talking to Michael Jackson!

Cubs and Phillies

The Chicago Cubs are in the middle of a series with the Philadelphia Phillies. Twitter member @wpbc just posted a re-tweet that a sign outside of Murphy’s Bleachers says that this series is between the 1908 Champs and the 2008 Champs. As Cubs fans are painfully aware, the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908 and the Phillies are the defending champs.

The 2008 Champs currently lead this series two games to none with the final game set for Thursday afternoon at “The Friendly Confines.”

Powered by ScribeFire.

The Patrick Kane story

The Patrick Kane story keeps changing. Kane — the 20-year old winger for the Chicago Blackhawks — was arrested early Sunday morning in Buffalo, New York on charges of beating and robbing a 62-year old cabdriver. Kane and his 21-year old cousin gave the cabbie $15.00 for a $13.80 fare and, when the cabbie said he did not have $0.20 for change, allegedly hit him and took their money. Both young men were arrested and charged with several infraction including a felony. Kane was immediately chastised by Chicago sports media as another pampered and spoiled athlete who thought he could get away with anything.

I have to admit that I too was critical of Kane.

Beginning Monday, the story began to change. The attorney for the cabdriver came out and said the story was blown out of proportion. Then it came out that the cabdriver was driving on a revoked license due to possible DUI charges in 1999. Kane’s attorney said he client was guilty of nothing implying that it was his cousin who did the physical damage. (Blackhawk fans can understand this angle as Kane tends to shy away from avoid physical contact during a game!) It later turned out that the cabdriver locked the doors to the cab and refused to let the young men out until they paid him. (I think they call this kidnapping or unlawful restraint or something like that!)

My guess is that felony charges will be dropped and perhaps all charges dropped altogether. I have no idea what the legal drinking age is in Buffalo and there is no indication that Kane was drinking (although it’s curious they were in a nightclub area of the city). Since none of us were there that night, the real truth is blurred.

What is clear to me, however, is that Kane was guilty of bad judgement. No professional athlete with money, especially someone so young, should be out in a nightclub district at 4:00 in the morning. Only bad things can come of that. Does he have a right to be out? Unless he falls under local curfew laws, he has that right, but it doesn’t make it smart. There are plenty of men — and plenty of women — looking to take advantage of someone so young and so rich. I’m sure the Blackhawk higher-ups will sit down with young Mr. Kane and explain to him what life in the fishbowl called “Chicago sports” entails. I hope he will listen.

“It’s time for a reality check”

I received the following e-mail yesterday from David Axelrod, senior advisor to President Obama:

Dear Friend,

Anyone that’s watched the news in the past few days knows that health insurance reform is a hot topic — and that rumors and scare tactics have only increased as more people engage with the issue. Given a lot of the outrageous claims floating around, it’s time to make sure everyone knows the facts about the security and stability you get with health insurance reform.

That’s why we’ve launched a new online resource — WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck — to help you separate fact from fiction and share the truth about health insurance reform. Here’s a few of the reality check videos you can find on the site:

There’s more information and a number of online tools you can use to spread the truth among your family, friends and other social networks. Take a look:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

We knew going into this effort that accomplishing comprehensive health insurance reform wasn’t going to be easy. Achieving real change never is. The entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo always use their influence in Washington to try and keep things just as they are.

But don’t be misled. We know the status quo is unsustainable. If we do nothing, millions more Americans will be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or see their coverage suddenly dropped if they become seriously ill. Out-of-pocket expenses will continue to soar, and more and more families and businesses will be forced to deal with health insurance costs they can’t afford.

That’s the reality.

Americans deserve better. You deserve a health care system that works as well for you as it does for the status quo; one you can depend on — that won’t deny you coverage when you need it most or charge you crippling out-of-pocket co-pays. Health insurance reform means guaranteeing the health care security and stability you deserve.

President Barack Obama promised he’d bring change to Washington and fix our broken, unsustainable health insurance system. You can help deliver that change. Visit WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck, get the facts and spread the truth. The stakes are just too high to do nothing.

Thank you,
David

David Axelrod
Senior Advisor to the President

I’m not sure why I received this e-mail, but I assume my e-mail address is freely available.