Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Please spare me the "status quo" "throwing in with the oil companies" speeches. Of course I believe we should all be good stewards of our precious planet and strive to perfect cleaner sources of energy. There is however, no logical reason to do so at the expense of our economy. Real "Green" solutions will come from private sector innovation rather than government intervention (restriction and taxation). Example: At a time when Chrysler is all but gone and GM has been brought to its knees, why does Obama insist on ramping up CAFE standards? Obama is in Copenhagen right now with plans to offer a binding promise to reduce US greenhouse emissions by 83% without so much as running the idea by our Congress. Is anybody naive enough to think China or Russia will make any such concessions? Help me out here, these economically devastating decisions are based on what again?
Our children are being taught that global warming is fact, not scientific theory and certainly not political agenda. Conversely, The British High Court after finding numerous errors recently ruled that Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" could only be shown in schools with a preface identifying it as a political film and NOT a scientific documentary. Al Gore has turned this global warming scare into a global multi-million dollar business, won an Academy Award and received a Nobel Prize based on what again?
Climate change activists say the debate is over but "Climate-Gate" is real and it's big. Phil Jones has already resigned and Michael Mann is under investigation. Will their respective universities willingly give back all those millions in climate change research grant money? Not likely. Even NASA scientists who receive much of their funding for climate research may be culpable. Yet when asked by CNN’s Ed Henry about the matter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the question as silly. Debate over? No, I believe the debate and the controversy are just beginning.
My point is simply that our leaders should not be making policy decisions, laws, cap and tax bills or global treaties that will surely negatively affect our standard of living and even our very sovereignty . . . . . . . . . . . based on what again?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Now I see otherwise sane people once again wishing and dreaming the Obama administration will give them healthcare. WAKE UP! Nobody wants the "status quo", so don't go there. THAT is a myth, nothing more than a democrat talking point. The fact is the Republicans' numerous viable contributions to this issue have been ignored. Even a simple amendment requiring US citizenship for health plan participation was rejected out of hand. And you don't think we're going to pay to cover illegal aliens? Why then (on page 170) are they specifically exempted from any tax or payment? Partisan democrat "BIG GOVERNMENT" politics IS the status quo here.
"The public option is only one component of health care reform". Yeah, right. The so called public option is the very basis for HR3200. The bill is chocked full of steerage into the public option. Employers currently pay 10 to 15% of payroll for medical insurance and can't wait to dump their employees on the public option and take the 8% tax hit. As I explained in an earlier post, Section 116 gives the new Health Choices Commissioner (czar) the power to literally strip insurers of their profits by arbitrarily mandating benchmark loss ratios.
Why not limit care providers' exposure to lawsuit abuse - like we did for the airline industry?
Why not promote competition and make insurance policy forms approved for sale in one state recognized in all states - like we did for gay marriage?
Why not stabilize illegal alien ER patients and buy them a one way ticket HOME - like New York does for its HOMELESS American citizens?
Public funding for abortions IS in the bill but it already exists anyway - millions of our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood every year. Do not patronize me by saying it's not for abortion. WASTE AND FRAUD!
Speaking of waste and fraud, since we know it exists and we know we can fix it, Obama said so it must be true - what the hell is he waiting for? Fix it NOW! More smoke and mirrors. Waiting to use the alleged savings to fund the new bill reminds me of the stimulus package we had to have right now. Regardless of how the media tries to candy up the numbers, unemployment is still on the rise. Why are we holding 94% of the 700 billion? So they can use it for "spreading around" money in a congressional election year? How's that hope and change working for ya, Michigan? Your jobless number is close to 20%, yet congress sits on the stimulus. Unbelievable!
My point once again: healthcare reform IS needed and IS possible without a single payer system. The government does not manage ONE THING more efficiently than private enterprise and to say THIS administration's track record is less than stellar would be the understatement of the year.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
American Motorcyclist Association
When I voiced my concerns about HR 3200, I was told I was being silly and was referred to a moveon.org style "myth site". Here is my response:
Forget the “myth site” and just READ THE BILL. For example, beginning on page 24:
SEC. 116. ENSURING VALUE AND LOWER PREMIUMS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—A qualified health benefits plan shall meet a medical loss ratio as defined by the Commissioner. For any plan year in which the qualified health benefits plan does not meet such medical loss ratio, QHBP offering entity shall provide in a manner specified by the Commissioner for rebates to enrollees of payment sufficient to meet such loss ratio.
If a group’s loss ratio is above the line the insurance company must eat the loss. If a group’s loss ratio is below the line the insurance company must refund the surplus to the group. Insurance companies stay in business by making money on some risks to cover losses on others. It is easy to see that private insurers will not be allowed to compete with the “public option”. I could go on and on. Once we are forced onto the "public option", it can be determined that it is not "fair" to the taxpayers to have to pay for the increased risk posed by certain "behaviors" like smoking or motorcycle riding. It is a slippery slope. I love riding and I do not want to be penalized for engaging in it.
Nobody wants the status quo to continue. There are far better ways than a government takeover. HR3200 limits care providers' incomes and even the ability to build facilities, yet their exposure to liability goes unchecked. When Howard Dean was asked why no tort reform is proposed, he replied that they are afraid to take on the trial lawyers. In fact Trial Lawyers and bar associations are major contributors to the DNC and have a strong lobby against tort reform which might limit their fees. Professional liability "malpractice" insurance is a major expense to care providers that gets passed along to insurers and patients.I googled the words "HIPAA loophole" and stopped scrolling at 50 pages of reported problems with that piece of legislation. What makes you think HR3200 will be any better?
It has been several hours and I think I may have killed the thread.
While I'm at it, just in case this isn't clear enough, let me explain section 116 another way:
Let's say you're in the widget business and I am the government. I'm going to sell widgets too but I don't have to turn a profit and my widgets don't even have to be as good as yours. I will decide how much if any profit you can make on your widgets and when my widget business loses money I can make all widget customers yours and mine send me more than they already are. How long do you think you'll be able to compete with me?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It is my hope that motorcycling is for each rider exactly what he or she wants it to be regardless of the label anybody hangs on it. Whether it is measured by the hours of polishing chrome and waiting for mild sunny days to ride to
the ice house, or redline revs and track day knee dragging, or odometer clicks and calendar years, or campfires and mountain views, adrenaline or solace, camaraderie or solitude, it's whatever we do on two wheels to capture the euphoria we crave. Our passion for riding is what's "real".
It's never having to look back and say: I wish I had ridden today, I should have taken that trip, the weather wasn't all that bad, or I wish I could ride like that, or someday I'll . . . . . .
You shudder to think of or simply cannot imagine being without a motorcycle. You know you're "one", whatever one is, when your visor is clean and you twist the right grip and you look out at the sky and the sun or the moon and the stars or you see your headlight illuminating the fog or the mist and you love the smells and the thermal air currents and it revitalizes you and gives you that something beyond description. But if you know, if you understand this, then you're one.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Thanks to the efforts and voices of millions of concerned Americans, ‘‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009’’ as submitted by the house is being dismantled piece by piece. The infamous Section 1233 regarding end of life counseling among others has been exposed. This is excellent news but do not let your guard down just yet. Even if a watered down version makes it to Obama's desk, they can easily revise and add to it later. This freedom robbing control mongering tactic disguised as a health care bill has to be stopped cold.
This bill is incontrovertible proof of the intentions of this administration and this Democrat controlled house and senate when allowed to operate unfettered. Without this huge grassroots groundswell of opposition, this legislation would have been inflicted upon us before anyone had time to read it.
The good news is we have it in print now and each and every Republican and Independent candidate running for the house and senate in 2010 will quote form this bill to demonstrate his or her opponent's true nature. Of course we cannot assume the playing field is going to be level. Acorn and similar liberal activist organizations are still active digging up dead democrat voters and operating with billions or our tax dollars from the stimulus bill. And don't be surprised when the democrats try to push through an amnesty bill and give millions of illegal aliens a check and a voter registration card prior to the next election.
Keep up the good work America, there is still plenty to be done.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Several riders who have seen my trip photos have asked my advice on motorcycle touring and camping. I'm not "experienced" by any stretch of the imagination; on a scale of one to ten I would give myself a three. I have gathered some information that may be useful, though, and well, I have a blog - I must be long on opinion too.
I am a motorcycling pragmatist. Even the bike I ride was used and very inexpensive. Everything I buy, use or wear serves a utile purpose. I am not encumbered by any social, peer or cultural constraints with regard to the gear I wear and live in on a trip. Here are a few tips that I hope you'll find helpful:
I'll not spend much time on motorcycle ergo's because if you're reading this, you most likely already have the bike. To each his own but generally speaking, some bikes are better suited for touring than others. If the seat, bar or peg position becomes the least bit uncomfortable on day rides, it should be addressed - seat cover/cushion, bar risers, etc. An upright, slightly forward rider position is preferable. Of course, do routine service beforehand and know how many miles to expect from your tires and chain. Begin your trip with new rubber if possible. You can always throw that old tire back on later and wear it out close to home. Pack tools, headlight bulb, fuses, spark plugs, tire plug kit and an air compressor. I also carry tie down straps for that fateful truck or trailer ride to town if I break down.
Plan a destination, or don't. Make a list from the numerous online sources of possible places to camp. Just be flexible and don't push it. Don't try to go farther than you're comfortable riding in a day. Adhering to a strict schedule can take the fun out of it. Navigation with a GPS unit is ideal but I do just fine with a detailed road atlas and an old hand held Garmin that I use for little more than a clock, altimeter and compass. Let someone know your general route and schedule and check in at regular intervals. Remember, cell phone reception is not 100%. A GPS locator beacon like the "Spot" is advisable.
I'll spare the ATGATT zealot sermon here except to speak from a practical standpoint. A full face helmet will block the wind and ear plugs or earphones will reduce wind noise. Wind and noise equal fatigue. Those long days in the saddle will be much more pleasant and you won't be as tired at the end of the day. Consider wearing full armor, ankles, knees, hips, back, elbows, shoulders, knuckles for the simple reason that you'll be riding in remote areas alone. No delusion, in a collision, injury is a given, gear or no gear but at least in case of a minor "get-off" your chances of being able to get up and ride are greatly improved with safety gear. Yes, this happened to me several hundred miles from home. I went down hard on my hip, elbow and shoulder and thanks to my gear I was able to continue. Your gear should also be waterproof. If you're out there, you will get rained on. If it's hot, bring a hydration bladder and "cool" vest. If planning a cold weather ride, use thermals and electrics, at least grips or gloves but remember a heated jacket liner will keep your core warm without having to bulk up with layers and the warmth can be adjusted as temperatures change through the day. It's a small investment considering electrics can eliminate the end of riding season PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) for good. Winter happens to be my absolute favorite time to tour. I just turn up the heat and I'm good down to 20 degrees! I love the looks I get too!
Camping, for me anyway, is simply a means to stretch the moto-touring budget. I carry what I need to sleep comfortably and be protected from the weather. Although size and weight may not be as crucial, backpacking gear lends itself well to moto-camping. Selecting the right tent is paramount so don't scrimp here.
Here is my tent criteria:
- free standing two person (one + gear) and tall enough to sit up in to change clothes
- wind and water resistant - aluminum poles and full coverage rainfly with at least one vestibule (3.5 season rated)
- top names - Eureka!, The North Face, Big Agnes, Seirra Designs, Mountain Hardware, Marmot, REI, Kelty, etc.
On the road, I carry high protein snacks and energy bars and plenty of liquid and have one "sit down" meal each day. I do not cook much but I may in the future. Camp cooking can be very satisfying. I know a rider who buys a good cut of steak and a potato just prior to reaching the day's destination and prepares them on the fire. I've gone as far as coffee, oatmeal and various things on skewers. The MSR Pocket Rocket is a great camp stove and is so compact. Obviously the more cooking you plan to do the more gear you have to pack and wash. Sometimes however, eating out is just more practical. I also enjoy sampling local cuisine.
Well this is a start, although I feel I've barely scratched the surface. There is a wealth of information online. Surf the rider forums to see what works for others too. I'll add to this segment if there are questions or comments. The most important thing is to stop saying "someday I'll" and just get out there and do it!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I wonder how I would feel if only a few weeks ago I was a small town GM or Chrysler dealer forced by the Obama take-over of the US auto industry to close my doors and most likely file bankruptcy and send members my community home unemployed. How would it feel to see my former associates and competitors selling cars as part of this massive government spending scheme and why was I not allowed to participate? And now that I have been relegated to have to try to make a living by converting my once new car dealership into a second-chance-finance used car lot, how do I feel about the cars and trucks that might otherwise be my enventory being destroyed under this plan? I think I'd be pissed!
Who is running the show here and when are we going to stop the bleeding?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I welded the u-bar to a bracket that would take the place of the Bandit's grab bar and
I fastened the business end of the lock to the underside of the case with 1" conduit
This rig has been in place almost a year and has proven to be very convenient.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Most other risks we insure are somewhat finite. Collision coverage on a motor vehicle becomes less expensive as the amount at risk or the value depreciates. Liability risk remains relatively constant unless a change in "behavior" such as repeated accidents, speeding tickets or DWI increases that risk. Hopefully the amount at risk stated in our homeowners policy increases gradually as again hopefully the property appreciates in value. Due to tremendous advances in medical care over the last 2 or 3 decades which has dramatically increased life expectancy, life insurance rates have never been lower than they are today.
Conversely, medical risk is constantly increasing. As we get older and live longer we require more medical care. Private medical plans are issued by policy forms approved for sale in a given state. Inevitably, the claims loss ratio surpasses 100% in only a few years requiring an increase in premium volume. The rates go up. The younger, healthier insureds can re-qualify for a new policy form with lower rates while those being treated for illnesses endure exponential increases as that risk pool gets smaller.
The same is true for government plans with the exception the government can just print more money. Medicare was never intended to be solvent but rather an entitlement that will always require increased revenue (taxpayer dollars) to fund. State Medicaid programs are no better. Requiring millions more Americans to enroll in programs like these is NOT the answer. Any government run healthcare plan would have to include: (1) ever increasing taxes (2) some form of rationing such as waiting lists for or outright denial of certain procedures for individuals deemed at high risk of mortality (3) controlling certain "behaviors" such as smoking, motorcycle riding, eating fast food, etc. Legislation banning smoking, trans-fat and even fast food restaurants already exists in states and municipalities. Texas currently has a law requiring you to have your own health insurance to ride legally without a helmet. It will be too easy for the officials to say the increased risk posed by your diet, habit or avocation is not "fair" to the other taxpayers who are footing the bill.
By the way, the bill crafted by the house also contains verbiage that compels ALL Americans to join the "qualified" plan within a maximum of 5 years. Employer plans will be required to roll into the single payer socialized plan at renewal or at any scheduled change in benefits. Uninsured taxpayers (like me) must prove participation in the "qualified" plan on their tax return or face a tax penalty equal the cost of said "qualified" plan and be automatically enrolled. The statement that you can keep your private insurer if you wish is a lie. Small business owners (like me) will be required to furnish the "quakified" plan to employees or face a fine of 8% of gross sales. I barely bring home 8% of my gross sales. I and thousands of small employers will have to raise prices, lay off employees or close up altogether.
We must understand this problem IS short on answers but what this congress and this administration proposes is wrong and dangerous and irreversible. If they are allowed to enroll millions in a social plan no matter how unsustainable it is, no group of lawmakers will dare try to take it away.
A major expense to care providers is mal-practice insurance. Hey, why don't we let the government take over mal-practice coverage! Socialized mal-practice insurance! They do alright with flood insurance, right? Then the government can award victims what it deems appropriate damages and make the trial lawyers work for what they're expecting the doctors to work for! Yeah, that's it! Sorry guys, everyone has an opportunity to make a living but 40% of millions of dollars in insurance settlements is a bit rich. Frivolous mal-practice litigation drives up health insurance costs and tort reform is never going to be addressed by a democrat congress. If they really wanted to fix healthcare and not just control it, the bill would include a measure to limit doctor's and hospital's professional liability exposure.
The United States has the best most advanced medical care on the planet bar none. People come from around the world to be treated here, not the other way around. Sure it would be nice if we could get it for free but we can't. Tell your senator to leave well enough alone.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
After filling in a few logistical potholes and putting out a few fires at home and at the shop, I could see this trip becoming a reality. My gear is ready, the old Bandit is ready, ready enough and June 30th is the day. I'll try to avoid the play-by-play of a ride report here to concentrate on how these events moved me instead. It was good to be in the company of friends Taz and Jim the first two days. They made the otherwise long boring "getting there" leg of the trip much more pleasant. When they cut me loose in Colorado Springs I had to remind myself that I had intended to ride solo, at least some of the time and then welcomed the solitude.
I peeled off a layer of wet gear and let it fall to the floor in the Cascade, CO post office. The woman at the counter did not seem phased by this and gave me directions to the campground.
I met my new riding buddy Dom and his legendary '87 R80, Brigitta in Idaho Springs and we set out to conquer Mt Evans. This has to be the most singularly awe inspiring piece of real estate I encountered. I simply could not stop taking pictures.
Later as we traveled east on CO103 I watched as the wind drove the clouds up the side of the mountain toward us. I saw the clouds revolve in a vertical circular motion like perfect surfer's waves as they reached the carved out area which was the road we were on. I wish I could have captured an image of Dom shooting the curl ahead of me. I had never seen anything like that before.
Sure enough, Maria, Dom's '04 R1150RT led me through even more of what Colorado has to offer. It was a splendid 340 mile day.
Monday morning. The long grasp of the real world took hold and pulled me southward granting me respite briefly to camp once more in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Thirteen more hours of uninterrupted riding would put me home again. As therapeutic and revitalizing as it was, this long overdue trip has done nothing to satiate my longing to see and ride Colorado. It will certainly not be another 35 years until I see her again.
- KEN PHENIX
- Salesman/insurance agent more than 20 years turned baker. Go figure. My wife Julana and I bought a little bakery ten years ago and now she is the premier cake designer in this part of the state. In the past few years I have developed a love for motorcycling. Can you tell?