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    Biloxxxi’s Keys to Riding MARTA


    2013 - 02.11

    I’ve been riding MARTA to and from work several times a week now since August. I think that’s enough to time to consider myself a seasoned rider. I ride the bus as well, which is about as scary a prospect as any of those softies in Cobb county can imagine. Given this and this article I read in today’s AJC, I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts on good ridership and keys to survival.

    First off, the biggest reason I ride MARTA is the God-forsaken traffic it Atlanta. I work roughly a dozen miles from where I live and rarely can I drive home in less than an hour. It doesn’t take me much longer than that to run home from work (which I’ve done.) The stress of not sitting in stop-and-go traffic for an hour cannot be understated and neither can the savings from avoiding that wear and tear on your car. I also don’t drive the world’s most economical vehicle, so it costs me about half as much a day to ride MARTA as it does to drive.

    Given this, here are some of my survival rules for navigating MARTA:

    1. Know your route. Know the route name/number as well as the final destination. This is doubly important on the buses. If you screw up on the train, you can just hop off and catch one in a couple of minutes going in the opposite direction, but if you get on the wrong bus, you might be waiting 40 minutes for one to come along going the other way. Also, be careful that you don’t get Northbound and Southbound mixed up when boarding trains. It’s easy to get turned around when you transfer lines. Especially if you’re boarding from the middle platform.

    PRO-TIP: Google Maps does a great job of planning your MARTA trip. Just input your Point A and Point B and click Transit Directions. You can input your departure time and it will do the rest. It’s usually easier than using the MARTA website itself.

    2. Buy a Breezecard. Keep it in your wallet. You can load it online without ever having to use the machine at the station at Breezecard.com. You look like a tool paying for your bus ride in quarters, plus sometimes the fare machine on the bus will be down and you get to ride for free!

    PRO-TIP: You don’t have touch the Breezecard itself to the sensor to open the fare gate. You can leave it in your wallet or ID badge carrier and just press that to the sensor. It’ll usually detect it. I’ve even had success leaving it in the case on my phone.

    3. Get your self some headphones and listen to music or something while you ride. Folks are usually pretty quiet on the morning buses and trains, so a lot of times I’ll just chill and drink my coffee and kinda take it all in. That dynamic is completely flipped in the evening, however. That’s when you typically have to deal with the more unsavory elements of public transit; people that have no concept of how to talk quietly, people that smell bad, people on cellphones, Bums, etc. Just turn on your headphones, crank the Bob Seger and work on some Nightmoves.

    4. Look like you you’ve been there before. This goes back to #1. If you know your route info and how the system works, you’re less likely to wind up in a situation you don’t want to be in. Don’t be freaked out by the bums or invalids or any of the other exciting new creatures you might encounter. Just treat it like you would a visit to Little Five Points; roll with it and head to the Vortex with all due haste.

    5. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, especially when utilizing the buses. The trains pretty much run on time, but the buses are subject to traffic just like you would be if you were driving. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to be at work at exactly 9:00. If the bus is a couple minutes late and I’m late to the station and have to wait for the next train, it’s no big deal.

    Also, pay attention to what’s going on in the city on any given day. If school is out, the bus I ride in the morning will be right on time. If it’s in session, it’ll be 6 or 7 minutes later than the advertised time. You’ve gotta be attentive to that sort of thing or you’ll be late.

    Some general common courtesy guidelines:

    If you sit on an empty row, always sit on the inside seat by the window unless you’re really sure no one else needs to sit next to you. It’s a total dick move to just move your legs and make the other person climb over you to sit on the inside. If you’re one of those folks that’s uncomfortable having someone sit next to you, stand up. You can usually get a good leaning spot at the end of each car where the luggage and such is supposed to go.

    Don’t take the seats for people with disabilities or old folks. If you do, you damn well better get up when someone gets on the bus or train that needs them. I’ve seen people get stared down for this. It’s pretty entertaining.

    Always be polite to your bus driver. Say hello when you get on and thank them when you get off. They’re the folks that get you where you want to go and they’re the folks that will slow down and let you get on the bus when you’re 30 seconds late to the stop and they’re driving off.

    When you’re at the train station and riding the escalators, move to the right if you’re just gonna stand still. Many folks are hurrying to catch a bus that’s about to leave the station and you’re just standing there blocking them. I’ve missed buses because some jackwad halfway up the escalator is blocking up the works.

    Please, for the love of God, don’t ever get into political discussions with random bus riders. You inevitably end up yelling to someone on the other end of the bus and it’s just awkward. (One particularly strange guy on the 36 bus loves to do this. Unfortunately, someone always takes the bait)

    That’s about all I’ve got for the time being. Really, the most important thing to remember is that MARTA is never going to give you the kind of freedom you have in your car, but in exchange for that you get less stress, save some money on gas, possibly the chance to get some exercise, and the ability to explore some new areas of your city.

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    Round Pegs and Cubed Holes: A Guide to Working “Inside the Box”


    2011 - 02.07

    It’s been a while folks. I got a new job and I’ve been insanely busy learning it in the last couple of months, but I have some good things in store for the future. And truthfully, for the first time in forever, I actually have a future, so that’s a plus. In the meantime, keeping to the (not so) current theme of job related stuff, here’s an article written by Woodshed Player Anna and Dalmartinez.

    ROUND PEGS AND CUBED HOLES: A GUIDE TO WORKING “INSIDE THE BOX”

    1. Cell Phone Usage

    1.1 While it is really never appropriate to have your cell phone on any setting other than silent or vibrate while in the office, it is especially inappropriate if you have any Journey song as your ringtone.

    1.2 Please do not argue with a bill collector from within your cube.  Step outside.

    1.3 Hey you, yeah you… the one talking to your wife on the phone.  As if it isn’t bad enough that I will now be signing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles until I go to sleep tonight because of your personalized ringtones, now I’m hungry for dinner at 3:37 PM because you are publicly planning your dinner menu and shopping list!

    1.4 I understand that your latchkey kids are home alone after 3:30, but step outside for your “Using the Microwave 101” teleconferences.

    2.  Eating in the Office

    2.1 Your leftover tilapia from last night is not an appropriate office food.  Our entire floor smells like my cat’s breath now.

    2.2 If you have to eat canned tuna fish for lunch, open it in the break room, or restroom, and drain it there.  It’s just not ok to leave the can of tuna water in your trashcan until the janitor comes at 5:15.

    2.3 Get your moldy crap out of the refrigerator.

    2.4 Thank you so much for bringing a treat for the whole office, but it’s been 3 weeks and the last cupcake that didn’t fare so well in the epic journey between your kitchen and the office snack table is still there. Nobody wants to eat it.

    2.5 Microwavable sausage smells like canned dog food.  Seriously, it does.

    2.6 Hardened left overs on your “cleaned” office fork are not left overs. I don’t want to eat it. Suzy doesn’t want to eat it. You say that you wash your dishes, but do you really? Clean that s*%t up!

    3. Respecting Personal Space

    3.1  Please don’t sit on any portion of my desk when you visit my cube.  I work there. I eat there. I nap there.  It’s sort of like the Levant to us Cube Dwellers.

    3.2  Don’t put your sticky crap in my trashcan just because I am lucky enough to have a cube on the main walkway.

    3.3  Ask before you borrow a pen.  That one was my favorite.

    3.4  My desk is attached to my wall.  I have no choice but to sit with my back to the entrance of my cube.  Don’t sneak up on me! I might be busy shopping for turkey kitchen accessories.

    3.5  We are in the same space.  I was just on the phone.  Please do me the courtesy of pretending like you weren’t listening to my work conversation.  It’s none of your business.  So no, I don’t want to discuss what I just discussed on the phone with you, it’s irrelevant to your job.

    4. Sound pollution

    4.1  Pandora is a fabulous free tool for listening to any genre of music.  Unfortunately, the house dance tunes just don’t get me as amped to do some filing as they do for you.  Headphones, please.

    4.1.1 If you feel yourself start to sing along, just pop out one of those         little earbuds.  You’re louder than you think you are.

    4.2  Wow, that documentary you are listening to sounds super interesting.  Almost as interesting as meeting my deadline and keeping my job.  Headphones, please.

    4.3  I get it, you missed the latest episode of Jersey Shore last night.  I’m not your boss, I don’t care if you watch it while you eat your Lean Cuisine, but headphones, please.

    4.4  You really don’t have to take your spat outside.  No really, I like to listen! Seriously…

    4.5  Self-assess if your laugh sounds similar to any noise made by any animal in the Lion King.  If you find this to be the case, work on a developing an “office laugh.” Save the hyena cackle for intimate conversations over pitchers of PBR.

    4.6  I’m thrilled that you have found your calling in music and that it amps you up to work harder, but this isn’t Don’t Forget the Lyrics.  I don’t actually want to hear you prove that you know chunks of this song, or any song for that matter.

    4.7  See 4.6, but substitute Don’t Forget the Lyrics with Rockband and singing with drumming on your desk.

    5. Personal Hygiene

    5.1 There are not real walls here.  I can hear, and smell, everything you are doing over there.

    5.2  Maybe try one spritz of White Shoulders instead of 5 tomorrow.  And stop making fun of my constant sneezing… it’s all your fault.

    5.3  Oh, your hands get a little dry in the winter time? Eucerin works a lot better than that Bath&Body Works Vanilla Nasal Warfare.

    5.4 I withhold my judgement on you taking 5 breaks a day to suck down your cancer sticks.  In return you should educate yourself on third-hand smoke.  It’s real!

    6. Avoidable Distractions

    6.1 Even though your headphones are in (thanks for listening to the advice above!), I can still see your head bobbing all over the place above my computer screen as you dance to the music I can’t hear.  Did I miss the memo that our office is actually a club?

    6.2 Just because there’s an “open door policy” in the office does not mean you get to barge in at any time and ask dumb questions.  Does opening the door simultaneously push the “brain off” button in your head?

    6.3 I’ll buy that perhaps hula-hoopping is a valid form of exercise, a group session is not office-appropriate, however.

    Sincerely,

    A Frustrated Cubicle Dweller

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    Reggie Rounds


    2010 - 06.16

    We got a thousand points of light
    For the homeless man.
    We got a kinder, gentler,
    Machine gun hand.
    -Rockin in the Free World
    Neil Young

    A couple of weeks back, I heard something on the Neal Boortz Radio Show that intrigued me. He was discussing the Minimum Force Bill currently proposed in New York with a caller who was a former City of Atlanta Police Officer. Essentially, this bill would require cops to “shoot to maim” rather than “shoot to kill.” The bill is misguided because once the situation has escalated to the point where a police officer has to pull the trigger, lives are in danger, and the situation must be ended ASAP. Shooting a gun at a suspect is a high pressure situation and aiming at gunman’s shooting arm is a difficult proposition, especially when that gun is pointed at you.

    What really interested me about the call was the conversation that followed. Neal asked the officer if he remembered back in the late 70’s when officers still used .38 revolvers as their service weapons and the Atlanta Commissioner of Public Safety at the time required the officers to use  Wadcutter bullets as the service rounds in their weapons. The officer did, in fact, remember this and explained the significance of it, which I will get to in a minute, but first let’s frame the picture of the late 1970’s in the City of Atlanta.

    From the March 22, 1976 issue of TIME Magazine

    To many Atlantans it smacked of capricious cronyism when Maynard Jackson Jr., the city’s black mayor, appointed A. Reginald Eaves as commissioner of public safety in 1974. A blunt-spoken black lawyer whose chief qualification for the job appeared to be his friendship with Jackson, a college classmate, Eaves seemed totally unqualified to command the city’s 1,500-man police force, then struggling ineffectively against a crime surge that had made Atlanta one of the homicide capitals of the U.S. But today the top cop is being cheered more than he is being jeered—even by some of his harshest early critics. Says Hal Gulliver, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Constitution, which vehemently opposed his appointment: “Eaves must be doing something right.”

    Last year violent personal crimes in Atlanta dropped 9.9%. Murders decreased from 248 to 185, burglaries dropped from 16,802 to 14,501, and armed robberies fell from 4,357 to 3,887. Overall, reported crime increased by only 3% in Atlanta last year, compared with an estimated national average increase of 11%. One big reason: Reg Eaves and his tough approach to “black on black” crime.

    In Atlanta, which is 60% black, crime had followed a grimly familiar pattern. Most violence occurred in largely black areas, where the city’s largely white police force was least effective. Eaves, now 41, took on his $34,000-a-year job with a simple conviction: “Blacks suffer the most from crime, and if given a chance to relate to the police, they will help fight it.”

    No Excuse. Eaves launched his campaign with characteristic directness: he demoted more than 100 acting sergeants and other commanders and installed his own team, promoting more than 30 blacks. He also increased recruit training from six weeks to 19 weeks, and required all cops to take “crisis intervention” classes to learn how to deal with domestic squabbles. Most important, he began spreading what might be called Eaves’ law through black high-crime areas: “No matter how poor you are, there is no excuse for knocking a lady in the head or stealing her purse.”

    A. Reginald Eaves is the name we need to concentrate on here. The article continues…

    His most conspicuous achievement has been to win the admiration of Atlanta blacks—sometimes with behavior that makes whites cringe. In one typical episode, notes TIME Correspondent Jack White, Eaves ordered an option-loaded car that cost more than the $3,900 the city usually allots for commissioners’ automobiles, then airily dismissed the subsequent howls: “I’m giving too much time and effort to this city to try to prove that I’m the good nigger. If I can’t ride in a little bit of comfort, to hell with it.” Eaves eventually had to pay the difference between the cost of the car and the city allowance, but his chutzpah had the desired effect. Says Black Councilman James Bond: “In my district, Eaves is a hero.”

    This article accurately paints the picture of Reginald Eaves; seemingly effective, but not the shining bastion of ethics that one might hope for. In any case, Reggie decided to require all APD officers to use wadcutter ammo in their .38 caliber service pistols. Wadcutter (and its close relative Semi Wadcutter) rounds are essentially target practice bullets. They’re designed to shoot accurately and put a hole in a paper target without a lot of tearing.

    Wadcutter

    You can see what sort of problem might arise when it’s time to shoot a perp with a target round. They’re underpowered and they tend to flatten upon impact without much penetration. This results in limited stopping power.

    Reginald Eaves’s  problem was that he had a lot of black-on-black crime, and an overwhelming majority of his officers were white, even with the promotions mentioned in the article above. Anytime violence escalated, and lethal force was used, there was the perceived problem of  “a white cop shooting another black man,” whether it was warranted or not. His solution to this problem was to have every officer use Wadcutter ammo in their service weapons, since they’d be less lethal. These bullets came to be known as “Reggie Rounds” or “Reggie Pellets.”

    From a handgun forum post:

    Same thing happened to a couple friends of mine on the Atlanta PD.

    This was back in the day when those no-goods Maynard Jackson and Reginald Eaves were in charge. Not only did they make the patrolmen carry .38s, they had to use lead wadcutters loaded in a reverse position (in other words, target loads) because Eaves didn’t want to hurt the criminals – his and Maynard’s constituents, I guess.

    The cops called these anemic loads “Reggie pellets.”

    Anyhow, these two guys I knew answered a call on a “demented person” – they walk in the front door and this guy on crank or angel dust came howling down the stairs swinging an axe. They emptied their .38s into him and it didn’t even slow him down. One of them grabbed a chair and broke it over his head, the other one beat him with his MagnaLite until they managed to get the axe away from him. Meanwhile, backup arrived – they managed to subdue the guy enough to get the handcuffs on him, all administering wood shampoos with all their might. (This was before the days of Rodney King.) They stuffed the guy (bleeding heavily) into the back of a patrol car, and he kicked all the windows out (meanwhile screaming like a banshee.) They had to chain him to a gurney down at Grady while they tried to treat him.

    All the officers involved went out and bought .45 Long Colts, but Reggie wouldn’t let them carry them. A lot of them carried them anyway.

    That story might be slightly exaggerated, but I’ve heard similar ones from APD Officers that work the bar beat in my neighborhood. The law of unintended consequences definitely reared its ugly head when Reggie Rounds were mandated. The idea of a less-lethal bullet sounds awesome in theory, but what happens a cop actually needs to put down a suspect? You wind up with four cops emptying their guns into a perp just to knock him down. That’s 24 bullets. It doesn’t look real good when you open the newspaper the next day and the headline reads: Cops Shoot Suspect 24 Times in Confrontation on Confederate Ave. (See Sean Bell Case in New York City.)

    The entire culmination of this post is this: guns are designed with one explicit purpose, and that purpose is to kill. Everyone knows cops carry guns and are authorized to use them if the situation warrants. If that isn’t deterrent enough, crippling an officer’s ability to quickly end a potentially deadly situation will have dire consequences. Cops are trained to shoot suspects in the torso because that’s widest target area of the body to hit, it also happens to be the most lethal. Requiring an officer to shoot a suspect in the arm holding the gun is the same as requiring the officer to use inferior ammo. The end result is innocent people get killed. Guns are made for killing quickly and efficiently. As the inimitable Buda so eloquently put it, “Guns are like condoms. You don’t buy condoms to show to your buddies.” Well said my friend. Well said.

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    An Interesting Microcosm of the Healthcare Debate


    2010 - 04.20

    Pretty much the entirety of the populace has been up in arms in recent months over the Healthcare Reform Bill. I won’t get into my feelings on the actual politics of it all, except to say that no actual reform was accomplished by the bill. There’s really only two ways that healthcare can work, the free-market way or the Government Option way. I happen to prefer the free-market way, because I believe our government is horribly inefficient and mostly incompetent, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact remains that the recent Healthcare Reform Bill still leaves us in that gray middle area we’ve been stuck in for the last twenty years. I.E. it doesn’t make healthcare more affordable or better.

    There are many “cost containment” factors in the bill, but price controls rarely work so I’m sure our premiums will still go up. My biggest gripe with the bill is the health insurance mandate that requires every individual to purchase health insurance. Other than the fact that I don’t think the government should be able to require you to purchase anything, I can see the logic behind the decision. However, there’s two things that really put the kibosh on that whole idea. 1.) Insurance companies can no longer reject you based on pre-existing conditions (At least once this thing kicks into gear in 2014). 2.) The penalty for not purchasing insurance is far less than the cost of the health insurance. This invokes a little thing that’s referred to as the law of unintended consequences.

    Here’s how this works: requiring that everyone purchase health insurance is supposed to add people to insurance rosters, creating a larger pool to distribute costs across. However, if you’re young and healthy like me, it might behoove you to forgo health insurance and just pay the annual penalty. Then when you leave a goodly portion of your epidermis on the pavement in a freak grocery cart accident you can just call up Blue Cross/Blue Shield and get you some insurance and they gotta pay for it.

    There’s always a chance that youngans won’t bail, but if they do, premiums for those with insurance will go up significantly. All that will be left in the insurance pool are high risk people who cost the insurance companies a large amount of money every year. The young bucks who fill out the profit margin aren’t there to subsidize the old-timers’ Crestor and Cialis prescriptions. Thusly, prices go up. I can illustrate this point quite accurately with my current job. Let’s take a jaunt through the wholesale tire industry.

    The tire industry is an interesting one. Most independent tire stores are run by grizzled old men who then hire fellow grizzled old men  or soon-to-be grizzled young men as employees. When these employees grow tired of busting tires, they either open their own shops or if they’re articulate enough, move up the chain into sales for a tire distributor. That’s the position I find myself in today.

    With the exception of a couple of guys that work in the warehouse, I’m at least 15 years younger than anyone in my company. It’s a similar situation at the other branches of our company. Many of the older employees have reached the age where the insurance company has to pay out on a regular basis; for doctors visits, prescriptions, treatments, whatever. I think five of my coworkers have gotten colonoscopies this year alone. That stuff adds up.

    In contrast, in the nearly three years I’ve worked here I’ve only been to the doctor once. I got a blood test, a checkup, and a urinalysis. (A lot of work for an ear infection, don’t you think?) I also got a generic Amoxicillin prescription. What’s that, maybe $250 worth of insurance payout, if that much? Bottom line, the insurance company profits off of me, which I have no problems with as long as my premiums remain reasonable. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.

    My first year here, the amount deducted from my weekly paycheck for healthcare premiums was $27. That’s between $115 and $120 a month, totally doable. That’s not much more than I was paying when I was independent and this is before taxes are taken out, plus the coverage is better and it offered dental insurance, which is a must-have for me and my tremendously British set of teeth.

    My second year here, they offered a two-tier health plan. I chose the least expensive option, with lower co-pays for doctor’s visits but higher deductibles for hospitals and specialists than the previous year’s plan. This plan ran roughly $37 a week. That comes to about $160 a month, and that’s no small amount of change. What kept me on this plan was the fact that I was using nearly $1500 worth of dental insurance a year, and since the premiums were paid with pre-tax dollars and the benefits were slightly better than the independent plan I’d previously had, I felt that it still made financial sense.

    In 2008, I made just enough money to put me into the 25% tax bracket, but due to the economy and the raising of my commission thresholds, in 2009 I made a lot less, dropping me into a lower bracket. This really cut into the benefits of paying for my healthcare pre-tax. For example, in 2008 I saved $6.75 in taxes on every paycheck ($27 x 25% = $6.75) but in 2009 I only saved $5.55 per paycheck ($37 x 15% = $5.55) despite the fact that my premiums were $10 higher per week. On top of that, any benefit I may have seen from a lower tax bracket was offset by the ridiculous amount of capital gains taxes I had to pay (the benefits of investing in a down economy).

    Yesterday, our company had a conference call to discuss this year’s healthcare plan. They’ve done away with the two-tiered system, leaving only the lower benefit plan I was already enrolled in. The only real difference to me is the price jumped once again from $37 a week to $44 plus $5 for dental coverage (This is the first time we’ve been able to just select or decline dental coverage). Grand total: $49 a week. That’s a bit steep considering what I’m getting and the fact that I expect to remain in the same tax bracket this year as last. I decided to explore my other options.

    My Current Plan (all the relevant stuff)

    • $44 a week plus $5 for dental, $212 monthly, $2548 annually
    • $25 co-pay for doctor’s office visits
    • $500 deductible on hospital visits, insurance pays 80% after that
    • $300 deductible on emergency room visits, insurance pays 80% after that
    • $500 deductible on out-patient procedures, insurance pays 80% after that
    • $5000 annual out-of-pocket max
    • Total maximum cost to me in a year $5500 (deductible plus annual max)

    I did some threat assessment and decided that since I haven’t been to the hospital in 15 years, the likelihood of me going in the next year is rather low. I skateboard, which increases my chances for a broken bone, but my mom works for an Orthopedic surgeon, so I’m gonna call it a wash. My eyes are good and I can purchase our company’s quite good dental insurance for $5 a week.

    Here’s my alternative plan, the Tonik Part-Time Daredevil Plan

    • $85.11 a month plus $5 a week for dental, $1281 annually
    • $30 co-pay for doctor’s office visits
    • $3000 deductible
    • Insurance pays 100% of hospital and out-patient procedures after $3000 deductible is met
    • $3000 annual out-of-pocket maximum
    • Total maximum cost to me in a year $6000 (deductible plus annual max)

    As you can see, my alternative plan costs roughly half as much and doesn’t sacrifice much that I’m likely to use. In a worst case scenario, if I’m in a bad car wreck and I wind up in the hospital for a few days, I’ll only pay a max of $6000. That will by no means bankrupt me. On the other hand, with my current insurance, that same incident can cost me up to $5500. Not a whole lot of difference. The difference in premiums  is all the stuff in between. An older person who is going to go for annual checkups and physicals and colonoscopies and the like will greatly benefit from my current plan. Me? Not so much. Even when you factor in the potential tax savings ($2548 x 15% = $382.20) I’ll still save nearly a grand. That’s a third of the deductible for my alternative plan. Additionally, I intend on using all of my allotted $1500 in dental insurance in my continuing quest to not have any real teeth to worry about.

    My current plan includes several extra benefits that I’m highly unlikely to use such as a prescription drug plan and some specialist coverage that doesn’t have such a high deductible. These additional benefits are used almost exclusively by the older workers in my company, and every year as the average age of our company creeps upward, more people utilize them and our premiums creep up with it. It’s a fact; old people cost more to insure, and since my company is dominated by older folks, with very few young, healthier adults to even out the mix, we each pay more each year for a little less.

    Besides demonstrating how to effectively compare healthcare plans, the point of this tome is twofold. 1. To demonstrate exactly what will happen if young people are able to loophole their way out of a healthcare plan when this reform bill kicks in. (BTW, I’m not advocating that we increase the penalties. If given my druthers, I’d say repeal it and start with something that makes sense.) 2. To demonstrate how a la carte health care plans are far more reasonable than their one-size-fits-all corporate counterparts. As always, choice and competition will lead us to the promised land.

    Addendum: It’s important to understand how group insurance rates are calculated. Here’s an excellent article that sums up my point and explains how your health insurance rates are calculated. The Tonik healthcare plan is so cheap comparatively because I’m a low-risk candidate with a high deductible. The insurance company stands to make a lot of money off me and others like me at a rate that’s mutually agreeable.

    UPDATE: I applied for the Tonik Healthcare Plan this morning and the total cost of my plan came to $114. A bit more than the $85 that’s advertised, but I’m at the upper end of the age spectrum for the plan, so I still think that’s reasonable. I’m going with it.

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    Hank Johnson is a Window Licker or Vote for Victor


    2010 - 04.05

    In light of recent events in the political spectrum, I’ve decided to be a bit more proactive in exerting my influence and standing up for what I believe makes this country the greatest on Earth. The first subject of my wrath is Hank Johnson.

    I’m registered to vote in the 4th Congressional District in Georgia. It covers most of DeKalb County, some of Gwinnett County, and some of Rockdale County, as well as a small portion of Atlanta. This district has a rather checkered history of electing ridiculously poor politicians. Cynthia McKinney, who you may remember from this Capitol Hill incident, was our previous rep. She’s as batshit crazy as the day is long. Fortunately (at the time), she was replaced a few years back by Hank Johnson. He seemed like he had some sense about him, maybe he could just lay low and not screw us over too bad. No such luck.

    Last week, during a House Armed Services Committee meeting, Johnson was questioning Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Fleet in the Pacific. Their discussion was centered around the impact of more soldiers being stationed on Guam. Here’s the exchange:

    This article covers the exchange in more detail. Now, in his defense, his staff did say he was joking about Guam “… tipping over and capsizing,” but either way, this exchange is painful to watch. His voice doesn’t change at all, and mostly he just sounds like he’s wasting Rear Admiral Willard’s time. I’m tired of this man representing my interests in congress. I’m sure many other 4th district residents feel the same way I do. Fortunately, a suitable alternative has presented itself.

    Victor Armendariz has been a customer at my father’s tire store for several years now. I bet I’ve rotated the tires on his truck fifty times over the last few years. Like me, he’s tired of all these dumbasses representing us in Congress. He’s decided to do something about it. He’s running against Hank Johnson for the 4th District seat.

    He’s running as a Republican, which is a tough road to hoe in this district, but the guy is legit. He supports the Fairtax, which is a huge issue in my book, and he’s also very pro-small business, which would be a nice change from the current administration.

    I’m not going to go into his stance on every issue, but check out his website and Facebook page and see what you think. Inform yourself on the issues and encourage your friends to do the same, then make an educated decision as to who you’re going to vote for in the fall. That applies to every district, not just the one I live in. Remember, elections have consequences.

    Victor Armendariz for Congress Website and Facebook Page

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