Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is Paid FMLA a Good Thing?

In the Oregon legislature there is a bill being debated that would allow those who file FMLA to be paid a percentage of their wage for up to six weeks. The suggested method of funding is through payroll deduction or tax of all those who work in Oregon. The question comes down to adding a new tax to the payroll structure in order to fund FMLA requests. The key source of debate focuses on the birth of a child but FMLA is used for a multitude of other reasons as well.

Without getting in a debate of emotional platitudes let us deal with the key issue of the bill. The bill basically set up a short-term disability policy for all those who work in the state of Oregon. This policy would be funded through small or limited taxing of all those who work in the state. The bill would require employers to record and transact the collection and distribution of these moneys under state rules and oversight. The bill does not formally declare how the state would manage or direct the funds. It offers no answers as to what cost to administrate such a fund or what guidelines would be used in its distribution.

The simple argument that society functions in a pay check to pay check roll and this loss of income under the current system would be too great a burden on the average Oregon worker. To simply suggest that employers offer short term disability insurance as a standard benefit to employees does not appear to be enough for those who propose the bill. I do not see the need for the state to duplicate what already exists in the general market. Short term disability insurance is already available under the regulations set by the insurance commissioner in the state of Oregon. Why does the state find it necessary to increase the tax base on everyone? Those who desire such a policy simply need to be made more available to it. These policies are generally low in cost and accomplish the stated goal far better then what is currently being proposed.

I find it excessive to force all those who work in the state to take on this additional tax burden. Once again the state in looking for ways to separate its citizens from their money in order to create another social program. If many truly are barely making it why do we further reduce their take home pay? Will we again need to raise the minimum wage in order to cover this new expense? As I have pointed out in many other articles I have written on the minimum wage that this simple tax is not that simple to render.

This new deduction will come with new reporting requirements. These will force an increase in the cost of doing business in the state of Oregon and ultimately reduce the competitive ability of companies operating in the state. These added costs will translate into reduced work force of increased cost of goods sold. These do no sound like the benefit will match the burden. Who will be willing to be the sacrificial lamb?

If the birth of a child is to be the poster issue, let us ask how this family intends on paying the cost of raising the child if they can’t afford its birth? Are we once again attempting to create a cradle to grave entitlement program without considering how we will raise the money to pay for it or at what cost?

Article of Interest

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Paramedical - The Fun Continues

Unfortunately, round two with my wife, completing her paramedical exam went no better. The company thought they would expedite my wife getting this done, by letting her have her blood drawn in the health care facility she works in, and told her they’d pick up the specimens there mid-morning. This way she didn’t have to reschedule, and she’d be able to use a competent lab tech. Yet an hour after the scheduled “pick-up” no one had arrived. During her lunch my wife spent time on the phone, trying to find out what happened, and so did her insurance agent. After these phone conversations, my wife was assured the pick up would happen shortly after noon. She had high hopes when she got a call asking about her location. However, an hour later still no one was there to take care of this.

My wife called back the person who’d promised to be there shortly, since she had the number now logged into her cell phone. She reached another staff member, who said that the original person was on the phone. Several minutes later, hold time, and another call back, my wife was informed of a new person who was “on her way, and is a lot closer to you.” When that person hadn’t arrived another 20 minutes later, my wife was getting frantic, because originally they’d told her if they arrived right away they could “save the specimens”. They hadn’t been refrigerated, as it was expected they would have been picked up that morning. It was now mid-afternoon. My wife called yet once again, and the person she’d talked to earlier asked in a surprised voice, “Isn’t Paul there yet?” “No” came my wife’s irritated voice. So, she was told they’d call and check on arrival time. They ask for my wife’s phone # again, which she’d left them several times already. After being on hold another few minutes, they came back on the phone and said quite confidently, “Oh, Paul is finishing up at another client’s office, and will be coming to you next.” [I ask you, why is Paul at another client’s office, when he was supposed to be coming to pick up those specimens immediately??!]

Shortly, she received a call from Paul. You will not believe the conversation—it went something like this: “Hi. I need to pick up your specimens tomorrow morning, so I need to know your address.” Incredulous at this point, my wife blurts out, with all the control in her voice she can muster, “WHAT? I just got off the phone with your manager about an hour ago, who said she was coming right over. I haven’t refrigerated or centrifuged any of this, which is what you guys were so worried about when I spoke to you just after noon. I need you to come pick up these specimens now!” Paul replied calmly, “Well, I’m already at home with my family and would have to bring all of them with me; it would be better to just come get it tomorrow .” After receiving instruction on how to save the specimens, Paul reminded my wife how important refrigeration was once again. Finally, the comment, “I don’t know how you got roped into this mess anyway. Someone should have come to your house, spent less than 15 minutes with you, and you shouldn’t have had to do anything with any of this yourself anyway.” Pleased with himself and without a second thought, Paul said he’d see my wife the next day “and we will get this all taken care of for you.”

When my wife obediently headed for the refrigerator, she discovered that there was no room for her “collection” in the lab refrigerator; the only cold storage left was the lunchroom frig. Sure hope no one goes looking for a snack. L

(names changed for obvious reasons)

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Surviving the Paramedical Exam to Acquire Life Insurance

I don’t know how many of you have taken out a life insurance policy but I would like to strongly suggest you do so. There are many phases in life that having life insurance may make a huge difference in the lives you leave behind. If you haven’t done this, get it done. If you have, make sure it fits your current situation by getting a review every couple of years.

In order to get a life insurance policy of any real value you are going to have to submit yourself to a medical exam of some kind. The most common is a Paramedical where someone comes out to you and takes blood, urine and basic vitals. The challenge is the phone interview by the examining organization and then the scheduling to actually do the deed. Be on your toes because this simple act can get very complex.

Sitting down to do the writing of the policy was easy. The wife and I decided to each get a policy. The lists of medical questions were very long and all encompassing. We were able to answer ‘no’ to almost everything so we passed the first phase. We paid our first months due and waited for the examiner to call.

My call came in a couple of days. They let me know the call was going to take about ten minutes and then we got going. After the basic information the medical questions started. I thought the policy questions were in depth. As the questions kept coming I started to wonder what level of privacy I would have left. Thirty minutes later and completely stripped of all privacy and have laid bare my entire life the interview part finally concluded. I was beginning to wonder if the policy was worth it.

The scheduling of the exam was the next major hurdle. I have a busy life. I don’t have openings in my day between nine and five. I use all seven of my days in a week to the fullest. Generally, my day starts at 5:30am and concludes somewhere after 10pm. I have a goal of six hours sleep and struggle to achieve it. These people wanted me to fast for at least eight hours and give them a half hour in their working window. Why haven’t these people figured out that this is everyone’s working window and they need to open their schedule to other times in the day? After four different appointments that never worked out for various reasons the day finally came.

I was surprised when I opened my door to find a gentleman in his late fifties wearing scrubs with his name embroidered on his chest. He had a grumpy disposition and a takeover attitude. This was a man on a mission and no one was going to deter him from his goal. His first goal was to get blood and he had a method. His attitude and determination to stay on task was a little much. I have the bruises to prove it. My wife didn’t fare so well. His method didn’t work on her. She is well bruised and will have to go through it again.

Between the wife and me we have seen a lot of blood draws. This might have been the worst. I can’t recall ever being on the receiving side of a great one. I look like a phlebotomists’ dream. They get all excited when they look upon my veins. As their enthusiasm goes up, mine plummets quickly.

Let’s hope that after all the abuse I get my policy without a hitch.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

How the terrorists may save America

It seems everyday our many media outlets do more to promote the enemy than my beloved America. You almost can’t open a newspaper without seeing articles that give aid and comfort to the enemy. Some may claim that we in America are split down the middle, liberal and conservative. The liberals seem to doubt that we are even at war. Clinton kept the whole thing as more of a police action and many on the left still feel it should be at that level.

The enemy has declared war on us. They have taken oaths and have swore on everything that they deem holy, to convert us or die trying. They find no greater honor then to die for their cause. Death is success and much is to be gained in heaven for their full effort. No room is left for negotiation and compromise. The only chance we have to win over our enemy is to grant them the death they seek. Our liberal left fail to accept the absoluteness of this battle and find the need to kill the enemy unacceptable. The enemy has given us three options to chose; our death, our conversion or their death. I personally prefer the later.

Many believe another horrific attack is coming. They have promised to attack us and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity. Our own government has seen to the means by allowing our borders to remain open. Some may argue the method with choices both nuclear and biologic but knowing our enemy there will be more than one target and they will be well coordinated. The one thing I am sure of is it will occur in major cities. Their stated goal is death of at least ten million Americans. The city offers them the population density that suits their goals.

How can such horrible acts result in the saving of America? The liberals, who fail to understand that we are at war, populate the cities. Their very existence depends on their ability to recognize the enemy and act, which they refuse to do. If the terrorists succeed the conservatives would rise to power. The balance would swing boldly to the right. The loss of millions of fellow Americans would be horrible but their sacrifice would change the direction of America. As Pearl Harbor galvanized America against Japan, so would this terrorist attack. All of America would throw its full self into defeating the enemy. The sleeping giant would fully awaken and the terrorist would find nowhere to hide.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Giuliani: Poor Choice of Friends

I really liked Giuliani as the Mayor of New York. He rose to the occasion and made America Proud. Having to lead a city out from under the devastation of 9/11, made him America's Mayor. This one moment, as powerful and life changing as it was, didn't make the man. He is a collection of his past and current life experiences. Giuliani has not always been a man to admire. I wont choose to dredge up the past but to point to the current business at hand.

Offending Article

Anyone who has any ties to Hugo Chavez or Citgo needs to cut those ties immediately. In this case we have a firm lobbying for this company and Giuliani has both name sake and stake in what this company does.
"Gain points with America Rudy, Cancel the contract or resign from the company."

There are many reasons I can't endorse Rudy Giuliani, but this slams the door closed.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lost and Found

My bag didn't show up the next morning, Surprise. I figured the courier didn't want to do the night ride and being the wise person, I purchased an outfit at Wally's. I also picked up the basic survival supplies, so I was ready for my day. When I returned back to my hotel, the bag still had not arrived.

I called the baggage people and asked what was going on. I knew there was a problem when they didn't need my claim ID number. I simply gave them my name and the buck passing started. How two people who started in different airports and ended in different airports got each others luggage was a puzzle that demanded unraveling. Here is the story.........

When I checked in at the airport and got my boarding passes and bag tags, a lady in Las Vegas was doing the same. The print command for the bag tags hit the network at the exact same moment and some how got swapped when routed back to the airport printers. Since it was the lovely bar code that only computers can read nobody knew the difference. My bag, unknown to me or the airline, was now listed as someone else's at a completely different airport and a different destination. She arrived at her destination first passing through Phoenix. I arrived at my destination two hours later passing through Phoenix. Phoenix was where the mix up got mixed up. The baggage handlers bar code reader said it need to go to San Antonio, so off it went. As the lady in the story waited for her little blue and black bag, unknown to her the big brown and black bag was now assigned to her. As she filled out a missing bag report a baggage attendant brought in a bag with her name assigned to it, MINE. Reading the ID card on the bag confirmed that this was not her bag. Hence the call to me.

The Rest Of The Story: The lady that answered the phone said, "Didn't someone call you and inform you that your bag was in San Antonio?"
"Yes," I told her, "that was yesterday. Why isn't my bag here, today?"
"She was supposed to call you today and tell you," she said.
"Listen," I said. "That bag was to be flown here last night and delivered to my hotel early this morning. Why is it still in Texas?"
"Well Sir..........." There was a long pause. "It was here last night but the tag said it belonged in San Antonio so we sent it back. The people there put a rush lost bag tag on it but the old tag was still there. The new tag came off somehow and since the old tag was still there........."
"That's just great," I said. "Could you possibly tell me how much longer my bag is going to tour America in your planes before you finally get board with this game and deliver it to my hotel?"
"It will be back here tonight," she said, " about midnight. Everyone here in baggage has been told to look out for your bag. We will send it priority courier up to you so it is there when you wake up in the morning."
"Great, that would be wonderful." I hung up the phone. I decided to make another trip to Wally's and buy another outfit. I had a lack of trust and didn't want this to effect the business I was in town for.

I called the desk at 5:30am and to my amazement my luggage had finally arrived. I now had my winter coat that I was in serious need of. Wally's was only stocking spring attire and a light windbreaker and a sweater wasn't doing it for me.

When I go home, I plan on asking the clerks at flight check in to verify my bag code. I also plan on asking for all the mileage my bag racked up to be added to my account. I might as well get something out of all the chaos.

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