The Soapbox Archives:
On a slighty different note, though, I feel that reading is a way of exercising the mind. It makes people think and it can be good to exercise the mind by stretching their imaginations and opening up to different ideas. It makes people consider ideas with which they may not agree. Opening up one's mind can be painful at times, but they can help reinforce and justify one's opinions; it's much easier to defend your own opinions if you have real facts for backup. I especially like reading the editorials in the Globe and the New York Times because those papers have no problems with opinions that might not match their own political leanings. We can all learn to understand how other people feel about their beliefs instead of just writing them off.
A few editorials came through recently that caught my attention. I recommend reading them with open eyes.
After I started working last year, I tried to get health insurance again, but couldn't. It was a state law that I could only get health insurance during a window from July 1 thorugh August 15. I guess this was to prevent people from enrolling whenever they needed health insurance and then dumping it afterwards. Alas, the insurance business can't and doesn't operate that way. In my case, however, I was perfectly healthy and *wanted* full-time health insurance.
I missed the deadline in August of 2013, mostly because the agent who was "helping" me with it messed up so I had to wait until the next enrollment in October. I'm so glad I had to wait because I think prices went down and I ended up with a *better* package for less than what I was going to pay in August.
With all the people who now needed a health plan, quick-footed insurance companies came up with more creative products to meet the demand of the new customers. I had no idea that I could possibly get my new plan for less.
It's probably true that there are a lot of glitches in the system as everyone is trying to figure out the problems that pop up, but if we waited for a perfect system, we'd be waiting forever. And a lot of people wouldn't get the help they needed. I think it was better to give people (and insurance companies) a deadline and force them to get off their butts to do something. It's easier to fix something when you run into a problem than to spend forever trying to anticipate all the possible problems in the future. I find that to be the usual excuse for not doing anything.
Government *does* have a role in regulating the market. If left up to market forces, only rich and healthy people would be allowed to get health insurance and this would leave millions in the streets. By creating such a large pool of people who can now get some form of health insurance, Obamacare has inspired competition for this huge market; everyone wants a piece of this new pool of customers so this drives down prices.
I think that this compares to the CAFE rules where car companies were "forced" to create cars that had improved gas mileage. The car companies didn't want it and said that it wasn't possible or that it was too expensive. However, when the consumer was educated in the benefits of high mileage cars (and shocked by the rise in gas prices), this created a huge demand for hybrids and other efficient cars and the car companies decided that they wanted a share of this new market. It's impossible to come up with a breakthrough unless you actually try to do something. The alternative is to be stagnant and get left behind.
It's ineresting that Obamacare was modelled after "Romneycare" but the national Republican party seemed to gloss over that fact. I can't say it (i.e., Romneycare) had the same effect for me. There was no urgency to go out to buy health insurance, particularly when I was more worried about paying my mortgage. Granted, I was lucky and really didn't need it as much but my situation could have easily turned into a disaster with just one accident. A lot of other people weren't so lucky.
On an unrelated subject: when looking a high-mileage cars, don't let being "green" be your motive. There was a recent article in an issue of the Spectrum magazine, a publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, which looked at the environmental cost of *producing* hybrids and other high-mileage cars. It's not as clear-cut as you might think. There's a huge environmental cost to producing the light-weight car parts and large-capacity batteries. Of course, that wouldn't stop me from buying a Tesla Model S if I had the money.
Over on Routes 4/225 in Bedford/Lexington near Route 128, there's a police officer who's always working detail to direct traffic at the entrance to an office complex and will occasionally stop traffic to allow people to leave the complex. This police officer *always* wears white gloves so when he or she is holding his hand out to stop oncoming traffic, you can see the hand signal from over a 100 feet away. This gives drivers a lot of time to figure out what the officer is telling them to do.
One such poll that I saw last night asked if there should be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. I don't know what my opinion on the subject is, though I should say that I've been a legal immigrant since 1970 and a naturalized US citizen since 1978. I commented that neither the Pilgrims in 1620 or the Jamestown settlers in 1607 had visas when they showed up on these shores. Alas, that wasn't original; I took that from the comedian Carlos Mancia, himself an immigrant.
This morning, however, I was thinking. These days I get frustrated by all the people I run into during my daily life whom I'll classify as "dumbasses" (for example, Massachusetts drivers). One class of dumbasses in this country include all those who voted against their own best interests by voting against raising taxes on just the top 2% of the people in this country (i.e., anyone making more than $400,000 a year). That set off a line of thinking: Would I rather have all those stupid people as citizens or would I rather have people who were smart enough figure out how to sneak into this country?