November 1 - Some Tweaking
We continue to work on the layout of this page to hopefully make it more enjoyable for you to browse and read. At the end of last month we add the "auto scroller" which is on the right side of the page. Hover you mouse over the arrows and they'll automatically scoll the page. Click the and it'll take you to the top of the page. At the top of the page is a "Page Menu" to quickly advance to any of the sections of this page. All of these features have not been added previous issues in the achives. We may do that when things slow down.
November 1 - We Went Over Budget.
We were off line for part of day last week. What happened is the we went over our allowed bandwidth of 3 giga-bites (GB) allowed by our website host provider. We didn't realize it until we went online to Bay-Journal.com and got the notice of what happened instead of our welcoming page. It was a complete shock as it was the first time it happened since we went online in April 2002. We quickly paid for some extra bandwidth and the site went live again. We ended up consuming over 4.7 GB of bandwidth last month which is 50% higher than any previous month.
Our traffic has been increasing along with the size of our website and the two use more bandwidth as they grow. We are a graphic intensive site which demands higher bandwidth. Each time a viewer looks a picture they will consume bandwidth equal to the size of the picture file. Pictures can run anywhere from 10 kilo-bites to 100 kilo-bites depending on their size. When viewers are looking at pictorials the bandwidth will be considerably high by several magnitudes than when they are looking at a page with only a few graphics on it. But, all of this is good because it means we are growing in size and popularity. We simply need to increase our allotment to assure we don't experience anymore blackouts.
November 2 - Affordable Healthcare: Going, Going, Gone?
Recently, I received an email a disturbing email from a friend, which he sent to numerous others as
well, about a proposal being considered by Congress to add a 20% co-payment on "lab tests" to Medicare
recipients. Itís a subject that our representatives have been kicking around for some time to contain the rising cost of Medicare. In other words, they are shifting more financial burden on those that program was designed to help... senior citizens. I use the word "shifting" because that is what it is, a shift from general tax revenues. But it is not a tax reduction for those who pay taxes! If you are a senior citizen dependent on Medicare, it is a sour pill to to swallow. You've paid taxes and saved for these golden years only to face unpredictable expenses associated with rising health care costs.
Senior citizens are not alone, everyone is affected by a decade long escalation of health care
costs. And, we are not any closer to a solution today than we were ten years ago. The approach to date has
been to shift the cost burden. Workers who once enjoyed health insurance at no apparent cost to them having an increasing awareness of the problem. Each year they are faced with having to pay a greater portion of this benefit or choose a plan option that is less costly. Unless the these costs are controlled, young workers will out of health insurance and take the benefit as income. As these numbers growth they will only expedite higher insurance premiums as fewer numbers support the total cost of health care.
This is a scary thought! Unabated, health care will consume an increasing portion of our overall
economy as it touches everyone and most everything. As fewer can avail themselves of health care, there
will be less demand placed on the health system. That will result in even higher prices and lost jobs
within the health industry. But, citizens will still have to pay for this higher health service even
though they will not be able to use it. It'll come from your tax dollars to assure health care for government workers -- in particular, the military.
What is driving health care costs to rise so rapidly? One study that I read said the primary cause
was you and I, we're using the system too much, thereby driving prices up? I have trouble
understanding this rational, typically higher demand means lower costs. The typical exceptions being in
products that are scarce or lack competitive market conditions such as a monopoly. And, isn't it better to see the doctor early and prevent a problem before it becomes an expensive treatment? I tend to believe
the problem is more related to how health care is financed. Our private health care service is an
insurance based system. As such you can opt in or opt out. As more opt out, the base supporting the
health care cost decreases. A decreasing revenue source and uncontrolled cost burdens means higher
prices. This can not go on endlessly because sooner or later the system as it exists now will go
What's the answer? Using my rational expressed above, it means we have to grow the user base so that
revenues are maximized to stabilize prices. I can think no way that our private health system is
capable of doing this as long as a user can opt out of the system. People with low incomes can not
participate in supporting the base because they simply do not the money to do so. Young people even
they can afford it tend to see it as a need they have in the distant future... why pay for it now! The
only way I can think of to overcome the problem of choice is a "universal health care system" where
general tax revenues carry health care costs. To do so, we need to move our thinking of health care as
"citizenship right" as opposed to being a benefit option.
The major arguments that have made against universal health care are:
We have the "best" health care system in the world. We are the leader in advancing breakthroughs
in healthcare science and knowledge because of our "free market" health care industry.
Universal health care service is inferior in application. Patients have long waits and they lack
access to the latest medical technology. The priority of universal health care systems is based on cost
effective care and not the best care.
This may be true! However, I have yet to learn what other option we have. It certainly is not to do
nothing as we await the demised of the best health care in the world. The idea of letting individual
create tax free health care accounts is not a solution -- its only another means of shifting money and
it is still optional. It does nothing to control health care costs! Putting a ceiling on liability
awards will help, but not stem the upward cost spiral. I'm left with only one solution, universal
health care that "assures" health care access to everyone at the lowest possible cost. The "best"
health care in the world has little value if you can not afford to use it.
What's most important is that each of us deal with this issue NOW! Sooner or later, it will affect
each us on its own terms and timing. Become informed as best as you can, then act on your knowledge to
let your representatives, employers, organizations and friends know your opinion. To help you get
started, I list some internet resources below that will help get you started. You'll find plenty more
doing a search of your own:
Effects of Health Care Costs Calculator (interesting)
Health-Care Costs Climbing (January 2003)
A study that blames us for rising health care cost because we're using it too much? (I don't agree, but put it here to be fair.)
20% Co-pay Proposed for Medicare
Study: Overhead pads health care costs (August 2003)
Soaring health care Costs at Defense portend future crisis.(September 2003)
18 November - Change In Plans For Floating Museum
The Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum Committee that has been working over the last few years to acquire funds to bring the Charles E. Adams ship to Bay City has opted for a different ship, the USS Editon, which is available at a lower cost and already in good condition. Unfornately, neither was built by Defoe Shipbuilding that launched many of these type ships into the Saginaw River. This is a significant difference of the historical value from the the presidential yacht that was built here and represents a real piece of the communities history as oppose to one that is similar in construction but built elsewhere. I rather these well intended groups merge their efforts to get the presidential yacht here and continue to work together to find another vessel built locally to join it.