Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why We Love The Government

203 Why We Love The Government

A form arrives in the mail from something called “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Instructions include stuff like “answer the questions in black pen or pencil because a computer will read your response.”

What IS the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? A phone call to its toll free number leads one to believe it’s a government agency and not some identity thief seeking personal information.

Why does it seem so? Because the voicemail menu is longer than the food menu over the counter at McDonald’s. And because said menu is barely comprehensible.

After a long wait, a guy comes on and when asked whether he’s a faker says “no,” which is what you’d expect any faker to say. Why is there “real postage” on the envelope with the forms instead of the “we’re the gov’t, we don’t pay postage” labels that you see on mail from other agencies? Mr. Centers doesn’t know.

Why does Medicare need personal information AFTER it issues the card? “Just routine.” That’s the same answer a cop gives you when you ask why he wants to know where you were at about 9:30 night before last when your neighbor got whacked.

There are no answers forthcoming. But based on its behavior, it appears this is a real agency, with no known purpose. Wouldn’t be the first. So at least the fraud and faker issue is settled. The form will be filled, using a special black pencil that only a computer can read (take them at their word.)

Someone designed the form. Someone arranged for its printing. Someone arranged for its distribution. Some machine has to be in house in order to read the reply. Someone has to be around to field questions from Medicare customers who think they might be being duped. Heavens! We could send another 20-thousand boys and girls to Iraq for that kind of money, and not have to go still further into debt.

Here in Moote Pointe, we have two apparently good public high schools across the street from each other, and both pretty new. The school board wants to tear them down, build one giant high school and turn the existing second school into athletic fields at a cost of something like $100 million.

The giant new school would not have more capacity than the combination of the present two, but would, says the board, “increase a sense of community.” Assuming that this is built and that it is the first public works project in American history to come in on budget, that’s an awful lot of money to spend on a “sense of community,” and doesn’t take into account the cost of disruption (which can’t be measured in dollars,) or the future needs of the area (into which scads of kiddies are expected to move in the next decade or so.)

You have to love the folks who insist that local government has it all over federal government. They’re the same animal, just different spots.

California and Pennsylvania are considering universal health care. The medical insurance establishment is up in arms. “A lot of uninsured people just don’t WANT the insurance,” they tell us. And it will cost too much.

Washington can help. Mostly by eliminating the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Maybe send 10-thousand extra people to Iraq and with the money that would have covered the rest of the 20-thousand proposed earlier, would buy some aspirin or chemo for uninsured sick people.

We have long made the point that government is not a business, it’s an infrastructure. It’s still true despite what the hard right wingers shout from within their imaginary worlds. However, the infrastructure is not fully sound.

If the present regimes were in power in 1940, we’d all be speaking German today.

The bridge needs more than a paint job.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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