Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things ain't what they used to be

Happy Monday

OK, here's the old codger ranting again about how things are not what they used to be.

Well, yeah. This week, things seemed to be not so good- all along the spectrum. There was nothing earth-shaking like my computer blowing up or other catastrophe.

It was the little things, like commercials. There were these two pigs eating a ham steak. That's so wrong for so many reasons, none of which had to do with my not eating meat in general and pig meat in particular. For the life of me, I can't remember what the spot was trying to sell, but that image was just so bad, so wrong.

Last week, we went into a store, one that is heavily advertised as a place that one remembers from childhood. Children, believe me when I say there was a time when department stores actually had people who helped you find what you wanted and knew their products.

I shave with an electric shaver. I don't really like it, but Jewish law says you can't use a blade so I do it. My wife bought this shaver for me and it's probably the best around. It came with a device that charges and cleans the shaver. To do the cleaning, it uses a fluid, an expensive fluid. So, off we go to this store.

Now, you will probably notice I haven't used the name. That's on purpose. I'm not really afraid of libel because I'm telling the truth, which is an absolute defense, but because it's not worse than other stores.

So, I went to this store because I had bought this fluid in this place when the store had another name. That store could trace its roots back to G. Fox & Co., a store that once had a policy that a customer was to be greeted with a minute of entering a department. Really.

So we went to this store last week to seek out the fluid. They didn't have it. They had the shavers, but not the fluid. I asked the children whom the store paid, probably at minimum wage, to be in this department. Now I could say that these kids were dumb, which probably is not the case. I could say they could care less about the customer, but were just interested in this conversation they were having. That would be true.

I asked this pair if they knew who sold the fluid, and of course they didn't. That didn't bother me as much as the attitude. Why are you asking us? Why are you bothering us?

Fortunately, another customer said he had had the same problem and had found the fluid at Wal-Mart, where I refuse to shop, and Bed, Bath and Beyond, where I found it.

Since I'm on this kick, here's a few other things that crawled under my skin this week.

Newspapers. Here's a cute monograph on what happened to newspapers. I don't agree with everything he says, but on most points. And, by the way,

Elections. Last week in New Haven, we had an election for mayor and the Board of Aldermen, which is the city's legislature. About 18 percent of the people voted. That was a joke, as was the ticket. There was no organized opposition to the longtime mayor. It's not that the mayor is doing a bad job. He's not. It's that there was a lot of time and money wasted on the election. There are 30 seats on the board, and there were real contests for two of them.

Bosses. Craig Dubow, the head of Gannett, my former employer, has a 20 percent approval rating among his employees, the few that are left. That probably has a lot to do with his dismal rating.

The fun part of this is that he is only the 21st most reviled boss in the nation, according to Glassdoor.com. The guy who runs LexisNexis has an 8 percent approval rating. As Maurice Chevalier sang in Gigi, "Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore."

Veterans Day

I hope some of the young, blond and banal are reading this. That's what I call what passes for television news anchors these days.

So, here it is again. This is Veterans Day. It used to be called Armistice Day, that day when The Great War ended. This is not the day we honor just dead veterans. That's in May.

So, please don't get it wrong again. Wednesday is the day when we honor all veterans, even those who are still alive -- especially those who are still alive. If you want to honor just dead vets, you have to wait until spring. Got it? Probably not.

Health care

I can't figure out why doctors, of all people, are against the health-care bill passed this past weekend by the House. The American Medical Association is for the bill, but doctors I know are against it. They also say the AMA doesn't represent them. Strange.

A couple of things. The bill is thousands of pages long, and most of that is gobbledygook that doesn't mean much to many people. It doesn't mean much to me.

There are two points I want to make, and then you all can have a tea party on my lawn if you want.

Point One: The administrative cost of private insurance is about 35 percent. The administrative cost of Medicare is 3 percent. So much for an expensive public option.

Point Two. It's not that uninsured people are getting no medical care. That's not true. They are not getting preventive care, which means when they do get medical care, it's usually drastic and costs lots of money. People who have no medical insurance come into the emergency room for everything from hangnails to heart attacks.

The problem is that those with hangnails are taking up time and space that could be used for real emergencies. You know, that's why it's called the emergency room.

So, instead of them paying say $75 for the hangnail in the doctor's office, we pay $500 in the emergency room. Notice I said we pay, not the patient pays. We, those lucky or old enough to have insurance, pay with higher premiums because insurance companies pay higher rates that include write offs of those charges rung up by those without insurance.

Making insurance possible for people who cannot afford insurance now spreads the cost out a little more. It makes sense. Do you hear that, Senator Lieberman.

Now, don't get me started on that guy.

Until next time...