The Soapbox Archives:
I just heard about someone I know in the (local) dance business who is saving *hundreds* of dollars through "ObamaCare". I know that person so it's not just "friend of a friend of a friend" hearsay. Actually, over the years I've had conversations with local musicians about the high cost of health insurance and I had considered an umbrella organization that could aggregate all these individuals into a larger group that could negotiate a reasonable group rate. The Affordable Health Care Act was way better than anything I could have come up with.
Sure, there have been mistakes. Anyone who has worked with large database systems knows that they're going to run into snafus. Those in opposition to *any* change are quick to point out the mistakes and call for a return to the previous situation instead of fixing the problems. They'd rather leave all those people with high insurance rates or just no coverage at all. Other people, however, note that there were a lot of people who wanted insurance and couldn't get it; the new laws help those people. It's better to do *something* and make a mistake than to do nothing and let people suffer. Some of us learn from our mistakes and work to fix the mistakes and move on. Others would prefer the status quo and not do anything just because it looks too hard or too expensive. And let people continue to suffer.
In the event that you missed a previous soapbox, I have health insurance now. I would have gone with my default carrier that I had from previous jobs, but that would have cost me about 50% more than what I'm paying now for my new health plan. Some people believe in letting the "free market" decide the insurance rates, that is, figuring out how many people can afford health care and configure the rates to balance that. Other innovative minds came up with creating a new market for health insurance customers that encouraged health insurance companies to compete for that pool of new customers. Free market at work and most of us who need the insurance can get it cheaper now.
PS: It has to be said, though, that there are a lot of people who *hate* President Obama and would fight *any* ideas that he might have, regardless of their merit. A lot of us, likewise, hated George W. Bush (who probably ranks up there with the top 5 stupidest US presidents). However, we never wanted him to *fail* because if he had failed, he would have taken the rest of the country down with him. And we're not suicidal. We were patient and waited for our chance to elect someone better.
On one side, pro-choice supporters argue that people have a right to feel safe from harassment if they're going into one of those places for whatever services they're looking for. On the other side, pro-life (or anti-choice, depending on your point of view) forces are dismayed that their ability to get into someone's face to try to change their minds about getting abortion is restricted by the buffer zone and argue that their right to free speech is being limited.
Let's just make an obvious point: there is no *absolute* right to free speech. Try yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater and you'll see how much free speech rights you ultimately have.
Take a look at unionized strikes. When union workers picket a business, they're utilitizing their freedom of expression rights to argue for their rights. However, they do *not* have a right to harass (or threaten) anyone who chooses to cross the picket line and they do *not* have a right to block the normal transaction of business at that point. That's why there's often a police presence at those actions.
The courts have to balance the rights of both sides of those arguments. People who head into a facility that happens to offer abortion services should not be assumed to be getting an abortion (places like Planned Parenthood *do* offer additional services that the "pro-life" people would support); these clients deserve the right to be left alone.
The pro-life people who choose to be out there trying to talk people out of getting an abortion *do* have a right to express their opinion but people also have a right to be left alone.
Here's a question: You have a right to express your opinion. Do you have a right to make someone listen to you?
In our disposable society these days, it's really easy for people to just throw away things that don't work and buy a new item in the store. People always like new shiny things to play with.
There are those who appreciate taking the time and effort to fix things so they don't to contribute to the town dump if they don't have to. Others are quick enough to figure out how much money they don't have to spend if they have something fixed instead of being replaced.
One of the most common problems with new cellphones is the power jack being damaged so the phone can't be charged. Many new phones use the Micro-B USB port which really isn't meant to be plugged and unplugged so often. The old round two-conductor wires were so much more robust that they didn't break. These days, manufacturers don't have to provide a heavy-duty charger because the USB cables are so ubiquitous; it saves them a lot of money. I've had one cellphone repaired this way for $30, a bargain compared getting a new cellphone.
Recently, I damaged the power port on my GPS. I checked with the GPS company's website and they would normally repair this for about $49. Alright, I thought. I called them up for a RMA number and I was told that they don't repair GPS's that were that old; however, they would offer me a 20% discount on a new GPS. Hmmmm. I asked if a 20% discount on the company's manufacturer's list price was better than getting the same GPS from the Staples down the street. He couldn't answer that question.
The nice thing about a variety of devices using the same parts is that it's going to be easy to find someone to repair them. I took my GPS down to MegaMobile in downtown Boston (intersection of Washington and School Streets) and asked them to repair the power port on my GPS. They fixed it in a few hours on Saturday and picked it up on Sunday. I figured I must have saved over $100 on a new GPS and I didn't contribute needlessly to the town dump.