For two days only August 21st and 22nd my book will be available free on Amazon. It will also be made available for Prime Members in the lending library. Hope you enjoy it and share with someone who might benefit from it. It will also be available in the Prime Member lending library.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
ANOTHER RAMIFICATION OF OBAMACARE I HAVEN'T SEEN DISCUSSED
A colleague of mine, Greg Gerber, wrote the following opinion in his daily RV Daily Report Newsletter and I thought I would share it with you. I have never seen anyone discuss the impact this horrible piece of legislation would have on the travel industry. Greg pretty much nails it in this following piece.
With the new state-run healthcare exchanges coming online within a few weeks, we are starting to see reports about the magnitude of cost increases for health insurance under the new "affordable" health care law.
I have seen reports of premium increases between 28 and 198 percent, based on the state. Let's assume it's all fluff and hype, and increases due to the law's mandatory coverage requirements and removal of pre-existing conditions only average about 25 percent.
Employers are unlikely to bear the full burden of the increased costs. Those that continue with private coverage, rather than shifting everyone to government plans, will likely pass a bunch of those costs on to workers, up to the maximum 9.5 percent of total income allowed by law. That, in turn, will impact discretionary income -- the lifeblood of RV purchases and travel.
Forget about that likely scenario, and let's focus on one nobody is really talking about.
Obamacare requires companies with 50 or more workers to offer insurance to any employee working more than 30 hours a week, or pay fines up to $3,000 per worker. The intent of the law was to force employers to cough up money to pay for health insurance for every full-time employee. The unintended consequence was that employers eliminated full-time positions.
Granted, many small businesses employ fewer than 50 workers, the threshold required by Obamacare. But, many firms and large chain stores do. So, a large number of people are impacted by this.
A report released today, which you can read by clicking here, notes that American businesses created 953,000 new jobs in 2013. But, 77 percent of them are part-time jobs. It is in that story that the unintended consequences of Obamacare will truly impact the RV industry.
If employers cut hours so that many workers are scheduled below 30 hours a week, a single employee will see a 25 percent cut in pay. This isn't France, so I can't see American companies being willing to pay full-time salaries and wages to part-time workers. But it is worse for families.
· Two workers x 40 hours per week x 4 weeks = 320 paid hours (the status quo)
· One worker x 40 hours PLUS one worker x 30 hours x 4 weeks = 280 paid hours, a 12.5 percent cut
· Two workers x 30 hours per week x 4 weeks = 240 paid hours, a 25 percent pay cut
If companies are forced to reduce hours to 30 per worker, does that mean the other 10 hours become a new part-time job? In other words, will a full-time position be reduced to one 30-hour job plus one 10-hour job?
I doubt it. I suspect the companies will expect the 30-hour worker to get 40 hours worth of work done in a single week. So, the new normal for "full-time" work will be 30 hours per week with 25 percent less pay.
But, most families will need to augment that 25 percent hit, which means someone will likely need to take on another part-time job.
Will a primary wage-earner need to find two 30-hour a week jobs, while the second wage-earner works the one 30-hour job? Where two people once worked 320 hours a month at two full-time jobs, will the same family now need to work 360 hours at three "full-time" jobs just to maintain the income?
The benefit will be those families will see a 12.5 percent increase in pay. If that isn't sucked up in higher taxes, they will have more money to buy RVs and go camping.
But, where will they find the time? If one person has to work 60 hours per week, that will likely include weekend work at a second job. Which families will invest in an RV, if one member must work every weekend?
Also, does this mean a new "full-time job" will mean six hours a day, five days a week. Or will it be 10-hours a day, three days a week. Six 10-hour days still doesn't leave time for much "weekend."
Or will employers just learn that it's impossible to get anything done with a reduced workforce and just suck it up, not offer health insurance and pay the $3,000 penalty per worker?
I have no idea how this will eventually play out. But, the statistics are showing that employers are finding ways around the Obamacare requirements. The problem is that employees don't have that luxury. They will remain at the mercy of a system designed to protect them.
Monday, August 5, 2013
EMPLOYER PROVIDED HEALTHCARE?
How did an employee benefit originally begun as a means to employ and retain top notch employees evolve into a mandatory cost of doing business for all employers? When did employers agree to become the caretakers of the health care needs of the country? Furthermore why should they?
It all began as a competitive offering benefiting the high achievers in their chosen fields, which mushroomed into a companywide benefit thanks to the intervention of government in decreeing that any benefit offered to one employee must be offered to all employees. "Thank you once again government interference." One of the incentives to excel was systematically taken away by a government regulation. Now instead of working diligently in order to attain the status required to receive these benefits, a person could just coast along on the coat tails of the achievers. Two things were thus accomplished; there was no further reward for success while mediocrity was equally rewarded. We wonder why productivity in our country has stalled. I contend that were it not for the advent of computers, robots etc which do not require additional costs for health benefits we would be frozen in a period of zero gain productivity.
Now we have come full circle. We have regulated ourselves back to a period where employers having been forced to include the ever increasing cost of employee healthcare in their operating budgets, when given the opportunity have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Under current regulations, it is less expensive for them to pay the comparatively insignificant fines than to provide healthcare for anyone. It also has provided companies with an incentive to change their operating plans to include more part time labor thus eliminating any costs whatsoever. "Thank you once again government interference".
Perhaps it's time for individuals and families to once again take responsibility for their healthcare needs. If we were to eliminate all government regulations, (aka interference in the free market system) don't you believe that competition among insurance companies, healthcare providers, and drug manufacturers would substantially lower our overall healthcare costs. For the truly needy for whom healthcare is not affordable, healthcare could be subsidized to some degree, though not entirely, through a pool of some sort provided by competing insurance companies. Perhaps some sort of health savings account with a higher deductible for affordability. Whatever we do the current state of affairs is a non-starter. We need to take the politics out of healthcare and turn it back over to the professionals in that field. We can no more operate a healthcare system than we can a post office or student loan program to name a few. Time to send the politicians back home forcing them work electronically, and while we are at it, enact some term limits, eliminate the perks and turn our government back over to the people. A little tort reform would be very high on my wish list also. We can return to the past when America was a productive, innovative and dynamic world leader before we became so full of ourselves.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Saturday, June 22, 2013
THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN OUR SCHOOLS AND THE WORKFORCE
I just finished watching a commercial sponsored by a College extolling the value of a college education in today’s economy. It occurred to me as I watched how out of touch they were with the actual marketability of a college degree in our post recession workforce. While there is no denying the overall value of a degree, to pitch this sheepskin as a valuable tool in securing a position is pure hype. Undoubtedly there are certain positions requiring a higher education for which there are an inadequate number of candidates, and I would urge anyone with the skill set needed to pursue both the education and the positions. However to broadly insinuate that in order to succeed you need a college degree is pure bunk. There are states out west that are offering huge hiring bonuses for welders, drillers etc for which experience and on the job training is far more valuable that a college education.
When America was in her greatest years, before we became too proud to work, get dirty and produce goods that we sold to the rest of the world, our educational system rather than belittle physical labor as a losing cause, was equipped to train everyone who passed through it, to not only pursue their dreams but to do so in an area for which they were best talented and equipped. Who but the oldest of us can remember high school woodworking classes, or yes even home economics which if nothing else trained our young women how to maintain a household budget? Trade schools were everywhere, teaching auto mechanics, welding, carpentry, machining etc. Today the goal is to load everyone with useless information required to pass an entrance exam to a college where in most cases they will waste the next four years of their lives going to parties, while accumulating debt which they will struggle with for years to come. Not to mention the tax dollars going to subsidize and guarantee these “low cost loans”.
It’s time to go back to that time when we produced the best automobiles, airplanes, refrigerators and televisions to name a few, putting millions of people to work at middle class wages. Let’s give up on the pipe dream that everyone in this country will work a thirty hour week, make a quarter of a million dollars a year, drive a Ferrari, put their kids through the best private schools and belong to the most prestigious country clubs just by getting a college degree. “It ain’t gonna happen”. We used to be the most innovative country in the world with the strongest and best trained work force producing products the entire world clamored to own. Isn’t it time we quit attempting to equalize everyone. There will always be people who thanks to a great gene pool will be the movers and shakers society needs and conversely there will always be a need for others to support their efforts. That’s just what makes the world go around. We desperately need to get our manufacturing abilities back on track if we ever again hope to dominate world trade. We aren’t going to do it with technology alone and expect everyone to have a job.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Several months ago my wife was diagnosed with renal cancer after extensive testing and diagnosis by our wonderful medical community. At the time her tumor was discovered, her health insurance was provided by her employer with very little monetary participation on our part. In a very short period of time the pain resulting from the bone lesions accompanying the tumor took their toll on her ability to perform her work functions and she was forced to resign her position. Your immediate thought would be that health coverage would be dropped and we would be on our own to supplement it. As a result of her employers sense of compassion and I suppose as a reward for five plus years of faithful service, this employer not only continued to supply coverage but paid for it for several months after she left her position. I know this doesn’t support the theory that all employers are out to screw their employees at every chance they get but it is nonetheless what happened and I suspect happens daily in the real world. As she is no longer employed at this company we will be converting to and paying for COBRA, allowing her to maintain the same levels of coverage until we are able to provide comparable insurance on our own. We have no expectations, nor should we, that our government will provide the necessary coverage. Why should we expect tax payers to provide our healthcare?
Our path to recovery and hopefully a cure led us to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL Here we experienced what I can only describe as the pinnacle of Patient – Provider interaction. If there ever was a group of more devoted, and caring healthcare individuals I don’t know where you will find them. From the valets who park your car upon arrival, to the experienced and specialized physicians to whom you ultimately are introduced there can be no finer. I am confident that Moffitt is not singular in the service it provides but it certainly has to rank among the top in the country. Altruism is certainly the driving force in this wonderful corporation. While undoubtedly a for-profit hospital they depend additionally on charitable donations to pursue the ultimate cure for this deadly disease.
My point is that we went from discovery, to treatment to hopefully a cure without the aid or assistance of our government. The only obstacles along the way were in fact those put in place by the government, liability insurance providers as well as the ambulance chasing attorneys who tremendously inflate the cost of doing business. This is the same government to whom we are shortly going to entrust management of our healthcare. Would they have allowed this wonderful hospital to treat her? Would they have made the reimbursement process so tedious as to discourage the great and total care they provide? Would they otherwise interfere in the treatment protocol in order to economize based on some criteria which remains unknown?
IMHO our current system needs some tweaking and adjusting but we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In order to contain costs and to allow the medical community to continue providing outstanding service; we need to work on deregulation, fraud, as well as tort reform. These are the primary drivers of our spiraling healthcare costs. We should make every attempt possible to overturn Obamacare and replace it with other more meaningful reforms. Minus government rules and regulations, the free market system is quite capable of providing us with the care we require at an affordable price.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I’ve been under the weather a bit with health problems recently, most attributable to inactivity and age. Enjoying my sobriety for the last thirty years, I have scrupulously avoided taking any type of medicine to relieve pain other than ibuprofen, Tylenol etc... I have always had a healthy respectful fear that the use of mind-altering chemicals including pain medicine, would lead back to abuse on my part and I wanted no part of that ever again.
A few days ago I injured by back to a point that the pain was intolerable. After an injection of some type of steroid and a prescription for more steroidal drugs, my doctor prescribed a codeine type of pain medication which I was to take in conjunction with the steroids. I will tell you that for 24 hours I was not comfortable with the feelings I was experiencing. Due to the excruciating pain, I had no choice but to take them until the steroids could do their job. It was a long 24 hours. With the pain ebbing somewhat, I quickly stopped taking them and switched back to my usual remedies with which I was more comfortable.
In the process of going through all this, my mind was reliving days of old. When that first codeine pill hit my system, I was thrown back into a period of my life I had completely forgotten. To say I was buzzed is an understatement. It only took one pill to reawaken those long ago lost feelings of indifference to my surroundings and the euphoria induced by this drug. I was truly stoned on one stinking pill. This insidious drug actually had me trying to remember the good old days when this feeling was a daily occurrence.
The good news is try as I may after 30 years of sobriety all I could come up with for memories, was the bad times. I clearly remembered the sick mornings, the missed opportunities, the social missteps and most of all the pain I caused my family. The mere thought of returning to that period in my life was enough to get me to suffer the pain I was experiencing and to dispose of the balance of my prescription. For some reason the “good old times” were no longer in my memory. Perhaps they never existed.
Reinforced in my mind was the knowledge that for this addict, one pill, one drink, and one snort is never appropriate or wise. I would not go as far as to say that I will never take another pain pill or narcotic medication should the absolute need arise, but I will always maintain respect for the danger these drugs present.