OT: r - I thought you should see this

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Larry Blanchard wrote:

That may be so, but how easy is it to deal with the Social Security Administration, or to my original comment, the Post Office or DMV? Ever stood in line at the Post Office? Are the clerks anxious to keep things moving? There's a good reason for that: customer service is *not* their prime motivator -- if you stand in line 45 minutes, they don't have any career status lost unlike if they were in private industry. Their prime directive is to not screw up. If you wait 45 minutes, that has no affect upon their job security; if they hurry things up in order to make sure the line moves through in a timely manner and are 45 cents short in their drawer at the end of the day -- *that's* a career detriment to them.
My point was that when you give something to the government, its motivations and approaches are completely different than dealing with a private company. It's already not an enjoyable experience dealing with health care providers now when having to work with a bureaucratic insurance system. People who think that turning that degree of power and authority to the government will make the situation better are wildly naive.
--
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough

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On Sat, 01 Mar 2008 23:03:21 -0700, Mark & Juanita wrote:

You obviously live in a larger town than I :-).
Seriously, the PO folks here have almost always been prompt, friendly, and efficient. Of course, I've never seen enough people in a PO here to create a 45 minute line :-).
I live in an area of about 400,000 people.
OTOH, our DMV, if anything, is *worse* than you describe :-). State vs Federal? Or just different personalities? I don't have an answer.
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My experience with over-the-counter services at assorted Post offices has been almost universally excellent, both before and after privatization--much better than my experiences with UPS.
I did have trouble with slow delivery and misrouting of post privatization mail sent through the Southern Maryland Sorting Center, but that situation improved after the Feds busted the drug ring operating out of that center.
Further, the US Postal Service has consistently been one of the lest expensive and most effecatious in the world and remains so today. Ben Franklin got it off to a good start.
I can't say the same for any state MVA/DMV offices, but those are state, not Federal employees or contractors.
I have no personal experience with the SSA, but what I have heard about persons seeking disability benefits is not encouraging. Last I heard they had a backlog of more than a year for ruing on applications, and a practice of denying every one regardless of the health of the applicant.
OTOH due to ridiculously poor regulation, (such as a ludicrous stndard for what constitutes a 'surplus') a number of private pension plans have been looted, or underfunded to destruction in recent decades.
--
FF

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Fred the Red Shirt wrote:

We have a post office here (unfortunately the one that handles our mail) where 30 to 45 minute waits are not unusual. Same was true of our post office in Texas -- suburb outside of Dallas.
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Mark & Juanita wrote:

Just to clarify further, the speed and dispatch with which the clerks moved (or move in the current case) was truly awe-inspiring. Any slower and they would be moving backwards. As I mentioned, there is a perfectly rational explanation for this -- it's not that these people are necessarily lazy or inefficient, they just spent a huge amount of time checking and double-checking themselves. There's no penalty to them if they make people wait a few extra minutes -- there's a significant penalty to them if they make a mistake somewhere along the way. That is my point, when the government or quasi-government agency runs something, the motivations and metrics by which they work is *not* going to be speed, efficiency, or customer service; it will be something more esoteric and that makes sense only to government officialdom. I sure don't want somebody handling *my* health care that way.
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OK, Mark, but here it reads as if you're saying they have traded speed for accuracy. Our local post offices aren't usually so crowded the waits are much over 5 minutes, but we've got a strange semi-experiment going with a few regional DMV offices, which are run by contract. Yeah, private contractors. IME, there is no difference whatsoever in speed there and in speed prior to the branches going private (our local branch is now private, located in the same building, and using most of the same staff). Of course, being a semi-rural area, Bedford doesn't yet have the population to create any kind of critical problem. Rush hour here, in town, tends to mean you have to stop at one of the traffic lights, but are behind two other cars.
What strikes me about all of this is that a level of criticality is not reached until population reaches a certain level in a particular area. It strikes me that groups in excess of a particular size, in fairly close proximity (AKA larger cities) are possibly ungovernable when today's standards of service are applied.
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On Mon, 03 Mar 2008 03:40:45 -0800, Charlie Self wrote:

Actually, that could be applied to the entire country. Can 300 million people be governed well from a central site? And soon to be 450 million if the predictions are right.
Science surmises that we evolved to live in small groups of 20-50.
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I think you are pretty close to spot-on. That's about how many gather around the spigot when a new vat of Erdinger Weiss Bier shows up at my favourite watering hole.
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Which is some of the reason it is so difficult to defeat tribalism in the Middle East and Africa, amongst other places.
The world is nibbling on its own ass right now. WIthin half a century, that nibble will be a gobble and may well reach the vitals. Over- population is the problem. Period. It is only a U.S. problem insomuch as every emerging--lovely bullshit word, that--nation like China is going to want the same level of lving that we have now. And that cannot happen. The resources aren't there. The faster countries like China grow and reach, the faster the entire world goes into decline...
Anyone got an answer? I sure as hell don't, beyond finding some way to reduce population growth below zero for a century or two. Wanna bet?
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I once took all the square miles of land in the Province of Ontario, Canada, deducted a certain percentage for lakes/water etc. and multiplied to get square feet. I then divided by 6.5 billion (Population estimate). Each man, woman, child would have a parcel of land approx. 60' x 150'. Each family of 5 would have an acre. (Please do NOT nit-pick over square inches!)
I know I didn't include farm land, roads... it only serves as a talking point.
Now take a look at how small Ontario is on a globe.
Overpopulation is only an issue when everybody wants to live on the same spot.
WHICH is why the busses in Belgium are 20 feet wide and only 4 feet long. Because everybody wants to sit up front.
Discuss.
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Overpopulation is an issue when everyone wants to live the way we do...sit up front, in your words, but using Ontario as a base and doing little else doesn't work, because someone has to grow food of whatever type to feed those people, someone has to manufacture clothing (and that's after growing the base material for the fabric-- polyester is doomed, as is gasoline as a fuel), and so on. Useful land, arable land, all come into play. Not many sane people want to set up shop and live in Arabia's Empty Quarter, and there simply isn't room for more than a few gurus on the top of tall mountains.
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Dave in Houston wrote:

My daughter last year was paying $750 per month for her single person medical coverage here in Buffalo. That was the least expensive plan available to her.
IIRC aren't railroad employees exempt from paying into the government's social security program as the have their own "Railroad Retirement System"?
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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As are University employees....
Mark
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wrote:

I can't speak for universities but I did pay into the Railroad Retirement System for 27 years. IIRC the combined contributions from employee (me) and employer railroad) were at a higher rate than what non-railroad employees/employers paid into the social security system. The payoff is that my railroad retirement pension is supposed to be better than what I could get from social security. I hope so; I'm counting on it.
Dave in Houston
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wrote:

Huh? I contributed to SS when an employee of Harvard and when at Cornell. Now maybe there are better universities where they don't pay ...
Some Federal institutions have or had their own system, as do some state colleges, I believe, but in the US private univerisities deduct and contribute to Social Security up to the maximum wage the law or IRS specifies .
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Sorry, my wife works for a state university and pays into SURS, private universities I have no knowledge of though.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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The OP should have specified state schools.
My wife is an elementary school teacher, and she pays into a state retirement, but not SSI.
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I paid into the Railroad Retirement System for 27 years including the 14 years that I was a company supervisor/officer. IIRC railroad employees along with the railroad paid a higher amount into the system than those who pay into SS and also draw a higher retirement income than SS. Since 1995 I've been self-employed and have paid FICA every year since. None of that has anything to do with health care.
As with most companies back in the 70s and 80s health insurance (and life insurance) was a paid benefit, part of your compensation just like paid vacation time was a company-provided benefit. But the company reached a point around 1990 where they capped how much they were going to expend for health insurance; said we are not going to pay anymore into your health care benefits than we are currently paying (nor any less as far as I know) so all future increases will be borne by the (non-union) employee. Because of the severance package I took when I left the RR I kept my paid-up health insurance for the 24 months over which I spread that package. But since 1997 I have struggled to find and keep health insurance and because I had major surgery in 2004 no one else will underwrite me for five years so I am hostage to my current provider which is what the country has (certainly I have) come to expect from the private [insurance] sector. - Dave in Houston
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Whether it's a good idea or not, national health care is socialist.
The second item makes her look about as socialist as Richard Nixon. At least it does to those of us who remember wage and price controls,.
--
FF



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On Fri, 29 Feb 2008 06:37:15 -0800 (PST), Limp Arbor

Howdy,
Could you say something more about which sorts of Socialism you oppose?
For example, would you prefer to see the interstate highway system privatized?
Thanks,
--
Kenneth

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