Thursday, May 22, 2008

Retirement in the Twilight Zone


My third day of retirement was a bit strange.
It was a surreal moment.
I went into a local clinic to see about getting a skin problem on my hand examined.
I told the young lady at the little window that I was new and asked how soon I could be seen by a doctor.
She told me that the earliest I could be seen would be June second.
Good thing I was not bleeding to death.

I told her why I wanted to see the doctor (the skin problem) and she said that they would probably examine me then refer me to a dermatologist.
I thanked her and left without making an appointment.
If I was going to be referred to a dermatologist, I might as well refer myself. (for free)

Then I drove to a location were, according to the phone book, the office of a dermatologist was located.
Empty parking lot, dark building, big sign out front, “building for lease”.
So, I drove to another location where, according to the phone book, the office of another dermatologist is located.
Lots of cars. (actually only one lot, but still many cars)
Better luck here, methinks.
Sort of.

I walked into the nearly full waiting room and told the young lady behind the counter, that I was a new patient.
She asked my name, I told her and she began looking in the log book on the desk and looking in her computer.
“I don't think I will be in there,” I said.
“You haven't made an appointment yet?” she said.
“No. That's why I'm here,” I replied.
“Oh,” she said. “We encourage all of our new patients to call to schedule an appointment.”
“So,” I said, feeling the increasing weight of irony settling over me. “You want me to leave to make a phone call?”
“Yes,” the lady said.
The tone of her voice indicated that the absurdity of this circumstance was dawning on her.
“Okay,” I said and walked out.

Two questions hung heavy in my mind.
1) How does the office “encourage” new patients to call for an appointment if they are NEW patients and are not in regular communication with this office?
2) Would it not have been easier to schedule an appointment while I was standing there live and in color?

I went home and called some other dermatology offices.
The first and second said September was the earliest appointment possible for new patients.
It appears that there is excess demand for the amount of doctors in the area of dermatology in this locality.

So I called the office I had just visited.
A lady answered my query that I could have a appointment in July.
I was a bit disappointed.
I did not really want to do business with these folks because of their silly new-patient rules.

But that is how it is going go, I presume.
I will play the healthcare game.


Once again, the commanders of our petroleum corporations have been called to sit before a committee of our Senate and listen to the pompous airbags pour forth prodigious piles of blather about high oil prices.
The gist of the proceedings is that the Senators want to blame the oil companies for the rising cost of oil and gasoline.
Easy theater if one is uninformed – which the politicians are counting on.

The facts are another matter, to wit:

The rising cost of oil is the result of growth in other parts of the world, mainly India and China.
The petroleum-producing cartel – OPEC – is reluctant to increase production.
One reason is because they are near production capacity now.

What the news media and politicians do not want to tell you is as follows:

1 - Oil drilling in known reserves in the United States is prohibited on 68 percent of all federal land.
2 - They are prohibited from drilling in ANWR, where it is estimated there are between 4 billion and 20 billion barrels of oil underground.
3 – Environmental hurdles (read: costs) are so high that it is not feasible to build more oil refineries in the US.
4 – There are billions of barrels of oil under the territory of the United States that cannot be pumped out by our oil companies because of restrictions placed on them by the U.S. Congress.

Yet, these same congresspeople are grandstanding in front of the executives of the oil companies (and the network news cameras) demanding that they pump more oil so the price will go down.

The oil market is not a free market where supply and demand constantly interact with each other to find the most supply to meet the most demand at the least cost.

Supply is restricted and restrained by congress on one side and the oil cartel on the other.
Demand is expanding outside of the United States faster than it is inside the country.
Expanding demand against a fixed/controlled supply equals higher prices.
(remember – prices always follow demand in the supply-demand equation.)
Add to limited supply, the potential for disruptions in oil production in Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Nigeria, and you have more reasons for speculators to bid up the price of oil.
Which they are doing.

The “solution”?
The mentally challenged congresspeople want to add more taxes to the oil companies.
An “excess profits” tax.
Ponder this if you can:

Where do the oil companies (or any company) get their money (profits, excess or otherwise)?
They get it from those of us who buy their oil and gas.
If congress raised the taxes on the oil companies, where do you think the oil companies will get the money to pay the extra taxes?
Yep, you and me.

Remember this - ANY tax on a company/business is ultimately paid by the customers of that company/business.
Raise the taxes on a business and you have raised the taxes paid by the citizens who do business with that company.
This is why I am opposed to ANY taxes on business.
Because all taxes are ultimately paid by individual citizens.

We might as well let each of us see what we are really paying to the guvment instead of hiding our tax bill within our business transactions.

(takes a deep breath)

I'm better now.

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