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I'm still here

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Sorry about the delay. Maggie's summer-school let out last Friday, so we now have two weeks of full-time-at-home-kiddo. Shelly's had some "drop everything" projects going on, so I've been Mister Mom for the past few days.

Thus far things have gone fine. She joined up with two summer reading clubs at the local libraries and read 15 books (just kids' early readers, so don't get too impressed), so we're up to our eyeballs in free kids' meal coupons. The libraries also have kids story-time on Tuesday and Thursday, so we're gonna be spending mornings there.

We also have passes to Six Flags, so we'll undoubtedly be spending some time enjoying the 100+ degree heat and riding the kiddie rides.

On another note, I'm really bummed for our economy, as it's really hitting home around here. We have loads of adorable stucco-sided strip malls around here that are sitting empty because they're designed for small businesses that just can't keep themselves open even if they're making a profit. One of my favorites was the Southlake Roly Poly, which was basically a Subway sandwiches, only rolled up like burritos. We went there quite often and knew the owners personally, as they were members of the local Chamber of Commerce. That was our regular dinner-place when Maggie went to swim lessons, as we could grab a couple of sandwiches and Maggie could pop into the bathroom and change out of her school-clothes.

Well, it's gone now. As are the hamburger place next to it and the Mexican food place on the other side of the parking lot. All small and family-owned. And gone.

There are two places where the economy's really hitting our business personally, and the administration appears to have done everything possible to make the situation even worse. That's gas prices and health insurance.

It used to be that making deliveries on Civilgrrl's dime wasn't a problem, as reimbursement comes in at about 0.37 a mile. That was enough to cover the cost of gas, along with the amortized cost of the vehicle itself as well as wear-n-tear. 37 cents a mile would cover all of that and leave you a few cents to spare. With gas at three bucks a gallon, though, I'm pretty-much making deliveries at a net loss, and that means that we have to make up the costs elsewhere, like charging clients for deliveries. And that makes clients unhappy, which affects our bottom line, especially if a client feels he can do better elsewhere.

And I'm driving a PT Cruiser. I can't imagine how tough things would be if we had an actual delivery truck.

Our health insurance costs have more than doubled since opening CivilGrrl, to over $10,000 a year now. And that's not even for good insurance! Our deductible is over $2000 and there's no dental, and Maggie's yearly checkups are only covered every other year. At this point, we're now looking at downgrading our insurance to a plan with a deductible around $5500 --basically it'll cover us if someone gets something really bad, but pretty-much nothing else is covered.

The Bush administration's plan regarding healthcare has been the following. . .

1. Put a cap on malpractice penalties. This was done under the auspices of being able to lower the cost of malpractice insurance to doctors, who will then pass that savings on to you, thus lowering the cost of your insurance. . .which didn't actually happen.

2. Make it illegal for insurance companies to make volume-deals with drug companies. The idea here would be that insurance companies could make deals with drug-makers for lower priced drugs that then could pass on to consumers, ala "Our co-pay for most drugs is $25, but it's only $5 for Prozac because we made a deal with ProzacCo". But that's illegal now.

3. Make available Health Savings Accounts, which make it more attractive for people to buy REALLY CRAPPY INSURANCE like the stuff I'm looking at buying. Basically it allows me to take a tax deduction if I put that ridiculously high deductible into a savings account.

Ultimately the only one of these three that didn't make things WORSE for the consumer was number three. The first two laws only benefited insurance companies and drug companies. Item number three will save me about $1500 off my taxes IF I actually was so sick that I spent all $5500 of my deductible in one year. Although given that the price has doubled, even if I did spend all $5500 of my own money and got the deductible, I'm still far worse off than in recent years.

I actually looked at the following option. . .

1. Dump health insurance entirely.

2. Put $5500 a year into a HSA and use that money to pay completely out of pocket if one of us needs to go to the doctor.

3. If one of us got so badly sick that we would require very expensive care (cancer, heart attack, etc), we declare ourselves insolvent and go on medicaid.

And I know I ain't the only person out there who's looking at doing that. I'll bet that's one of the fastest-growing kinds of "insurance" you'll find.

And the saddest part about that is that WE'RE THE FRIGGIN' AMERICAN DREAM! We're the monogamous mom & dad & kid who run a profitable small business. We're everything that every president has ever declared to be what makes America great. I can't even imagine what folks who aren't able to keep their businesses in the black (like the owners of the aforementioned restaurants) are doing.

Last year we had to fire our housekeeper because we couldn't afford to have her clean our house once a week. Her house-cleaning business is now gone. Far as I know, she's now either moved back in with her parents or she's working at Wal Mart for minimum wage and no health coverage.
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Yeah, the small business stuff has been suffering here too, although without (it seems) any kind of government blight. We're not in very good condition without being able to sell goods to you guys, and our dollar keeps jacking up so it's hard to sell to you guys anyway. I'm afraid our economy will go hyper-consumerist, something that our new Prime Minister is most likely rubbing his hands with girlish glee over.

The conservative plan to clean up the healthcare "welfare queens" is just as faulty now as when it was Reagan's idea (and fictitious story). And I think Americans (and now Canadians; several of our politicians are getting caught with their hands in the till of private medicine) are suffering for it. I dunno how we can make up for it. Society is regressing back to feudal levels of helplessness very quickly due to the progressive eradication of individual rights and support.

At least your kid is reading a lot. You should get her started on something more substantial, PDQ. Just... not Ayn Rand. I find it a bit too close to home right now.

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You know, I'm printing this off to show the wife. No internet at home yet, but this is exactly the thing I was most worried about when we move to the states. The whole health care thing.

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