Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Workers' Memorial Day 2008

Yesterday was Workers' Memorial Day, so I wrote this about coal mining in southwestern Indiana:

Some of my people were coal miners. I think about all of my great-grandfathers were. It ended there for the most part. My aunt married a coal miner though to continue the tradition. He was a union coal miner for over thirty years. He was a blue collar worker married into a family that had become white collar and I admired him for it. I remember when I was a kid I'd hear whispers of him being arrested for picket line violence. He'd come home with black eyes and busted lips in the late 70s and early 80s.

My hometown had been built on coal mining, but most of the Indiana mines closed in the 80s. My uncle had to drive a long way south to work and technically worked in Illinois as he mined underneath the Wabash River. By the 90s, the mining companies had succeeded in closing all of the union mines in Indiana. My uncle's union went on strike last spring at their mine just across the border in Illinois. On the first day of the strike, the company closed its operation citing old equipment. Hundreds of union coal miners lost their good paying jobs.

Indiana does not have a single union coal miner working within the state, but the mines are open again and doing better than ever. All of the coal is in southwestern Indiana, which just happens to be the poorest part of the state. There are young men who jump at the chance to risk their lives for 15 dollars an hour. My youngest cousin is one of them. He dropped out of college a couple of years ago because he has a tendency to collect baby mamas and needed a paycheck. He worked at a factory for a while, but actually paid money to attend "mining school". He's now a probationary miner and works at this dangerous job for around 15 dollars an hour. He is not in a union and probably doesn't even understand what one is. I have to wonder if he'll be any better off than my coal mining great-grandfathers were around one hundred years ago.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Inside the Hoosier Mind

A little snapshot into the minds of Hoosiers:

Should Indiana teachers slap students to keep order in classrooms?

Yes: 50.9%

No: 49.1%

Total votes cast: 6530

Indianapolis Star online poll

Note: I voted "no" twice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Company We Keep

According to Amnesty International, five countries were responsible for 88% of the world's executions in 2007. They are in order:

3)Saudi Arabia
5)The United States of America


Makes me want to hum some Lee Greenwood.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Universal Health Care

Universal health care. It has become one of the buzz issues of this Presidential campaign. The Democrats have embraced this issue while the Republican side has yet to address it. From what I have gathered the Democrats believe this is a good issue for the federal government to address with some 50 million or so people in this country living without any health insurance. Also from what I gathered the Democrats also wish to create a bureaucratic agency to oversee such a massive undertaking.

Before I begin with my opinion I want to clarify that I think it is important to indicate as a 33 year old man I have only had health insurance seven years of my life. I also do not have health insurance currently due to decisions entirely of my own choice.

But with that in mind, I don't think the Government needs to take an active role in this issue. For one, there is not a person in this country who is ever denied health care if they truly need it. You think I am wrong, go down to Methodist Hospital. Or any hospital for that matter. People without health insurance or without the means to pay are routinely given access to care regardless of their ability to pay. Also, for example, when a person is in a car accident have you ever seen the emergency persons look in the victim's wallet to see if they have insurance? No. They take them to the damn hospital for treatment. My point simply is that no one from my observation is ever denied health care if they truly need it.

Also anytime the Government takes on an issue the bureaucratic red tape and costs are staggering. In this age of a five trillion dollar deficit (due to reckless economic policies of the current administration and a costly un-necessary war), the United States does not need additional costs to bear.

So how do you address an issue that does need addressed? I believe the best way is for the Government to allow the private sector to tackle the issue. But how? By making it economically feasible to do so through the Internal Revenue Code. For example the Government could establish how much a person of a certain economic means should be able to pay for health insurance. For example, let's say a 25 year old man makes twenty thousand a year. The Government could establish that he should be able to afford health care in the amount of 50 bucks a month. But that is not how much it would cost if he were to try to buy health insurance on the open market. Accordingly, if he were to go to an insurance company they would sell him health insurance for 350 bucks a month (that isn't too far off from how much it would actually cost and that is part of the problem). But, if that same insurance company offered him the insurance for what the Government has established he has the ability to pay, the Code could then allow that same company either a credit or a deduction. So if the health insurance company offered him the insurance for 50 bucks a month and he accepts, that same company would then receive either a 300 dollar credit or deduction for each month he has the insurance. No new government agency would be established and compliance with the program would be passed to an existing agency--the IRS. Also keep in mind that these companies would presumably have increasing profits, which in turn means they are paying more in taxes. That would also mean a lower cost overall for the Government.

Just an idea. It will be interesting to see how this issue pans out in this election.
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