Argue With All the Facts

My Flag Flies Everyday

Dear Senator Durbin;

I tried to call your Washington office today but the call volume was too high and the system shut me out. Therefore, I write this e-mail.

I listened to your argument today during the Health Care Summit. I have to admit that you are very eloquent in your speaking ability. Your argument about the cost savings related to Tort Reform however, is flawed. I am sure the statistics you quoted on the amount of money awarded and the savings are correct. I do not refute you on that point. I do, however want to argue that you have left out the invisible cost of defensive medicine that the medical profession practices every day, in every office and every hospital in the country. Medical staffs are loaded with highly paid people whose sole function it is to document everything a doctor does, prescribes, and orders. Hospitals are loaded with staff sitting at terminals documenting everything that occurs with a patient. Why? They document in order to defend themselves against a possible lawsuit.  None of this documentation comes cheap.

I do not argue that a doctor who operates on me and removes my right arm instead of my left should be punished and the patient compensated. I do argue that I should not have to be tested four times a year when, statistically, once would be enough.  As for documentation needed for payment, why should I have to pay a premium for a failure on the part of government run Medicare and Medicaid’s inability to maintain a fraud free system?

It is my opinion that the hidden cost of Tort reform is a thousand times greater than the actual awards granted for real mistakes.   

Do not support the Health Care Reform Bill for the following reasons:

  1. The cost of one trillion dollars will bankrupt the country. The accounting trick you are proposing to collect money for six years and to offer services for four years is bogus. If a bank wanted to collect your mortgage payment for six years before it let you into the new house you just bought, you would be writing a law to prevent them from doing it. Why be a hypocrite on this matter to sell me the idea. It is morally wrong.  I expect better from you. Do not support this bill.
  2.      I am positive that the Supreme Court will find the requirement that I purchase insurance by law is unconstitutional.  Why do you insist on supporting legislation that is so obviously flawed? Do not support this bill
  3. Say no, to a government takeover of the Health Care system. Why do you support a system that will give mediocre care to everyone in the country after openly admitting that we currently have the best system in the world? I also wish I could believe what I heard about this bill, giving me the same plan as the one you and Congress enjoy. What a dolt you must think I am. In addition, I did not hear anything in the discussion today that explained why federal funding for abortion is a basic right. Are you kidding me? Abortion is murder. If I came into your office and shot you dead, I would be arrested prosecuted and sentenced.  Yet the bill insists that it is the basic right of a grammar school girl to have the federal government (me) pay for the murder of her unborn child. I would sooner pay for the prosecution of the abortionist. Do not support this bill.

 Respectfully yours,

 Grumpa Joe

Prince Albert

             Grampa Jim left a ladder up against the farmhouse. It was a homemade ladder, and was very heavy.  I was too small to be able to lift it or carry it, so finding the ladder in place presented an opportunity.  Before I climbed up, I made sure Mom was doing something, and would not catch me easily.  Up the ladder I started.  Lifting my short legs up to each rung felt like stretching to my shoulder.  The first few rungs were easy. About half way up, I began to feel the bounce of the ladder.  I was terrified, but kept on climbing.  Once I got on the porch roof I felt safe again, as long as I stayed away from the edges and didn’t look down

            The main house had a gable roof.  The porch roof was flat but sloped down.  At the end was a door to access the attic of the house.  The door was square and low, and locked with a hook. It was easy to open. 

            I unhooked the latch, and pushed the door open. The space was the dark, and hot air hit me in the face.  It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.  I stepped onto one of the several boards placed across the ceiling rafters.  There was no insulation and the ceiling showed between the rafters.  One slip and I would go crashing through.  I was still small enough that I did not have to duck low to clear the rafters as I walked on a plank. A few steps into the darkness, I began to see the outlines of some very large, very brown leaves laying flat on the boards.  What are these and why are they here?  I asked myself. Then I remembered that Grampa had a few tobacco plants on the farm.  The dry brown leaves looked just like the tobacco I saw growing.  The attic was less of an adventure after that day, and I did not go back until much later, but for a reason.

            Gramps had a boarder living with him.  The rent kept Grampa Jim in Camels and his daily bottle of beer.  His name was Cszilag, Pista, which translated from Hungarian read Star, Steve.  For some reason, old country people call or refer to someone by the Sur name first, then their given name.  Steve Star became a central character in my life later on.  At this time, I got a brainstorm to play a prank on Steve.   He was a lonely old man who worked in the pickle factory in Coloma.  All we knew about him was that he liked to get drunk on wine.  He boarded with Gramps for many years.  When we came to the farm, Mom set the rules and he had to live by them or hit the road.  One rule was “no drinking”.  He lived up to the charge. 

            After supper, Steve enjoyed a smoke on his corncob pipe.  He sat on the log chairs under the willow and packed his  pipe with tobacco from a can of Prince Albert. The tin can was always in his hip pocket.  The Prince Albert cans were unique in shape because the fit into a pocket very nicely.  The hinged lid insured the smoker would not lose it, and it snapped shut.  Empty cans littered the house and yard.   Steve had a habit of leaving them wherever they became empty.  Gramps used them to store nails and screws, although they made lousy storage for those types of things.

            One day I asked Gramps what the leaves were in the attic.  After interrogating me about how I knew about them and lecturing me on the hazard of climbing shaky ladders, he told me it was tobacco.  Gramps tried the tobacco and did not like it, but left the leaves in the attic.  They were several years old, and so dry that the slightest touch caused them to crumble.  I got the idea to test the tobacco, but not by smoking it myself.  I found a Prince Albert can that looked new.  The ladder was still against the porch.  I snuck into the attic and crumpled enough tobacco to fill a Prince Albert can.

            While Steve was at work, I sneakily placed the can on his dresser.  The remainder of my day felt like eternity while I waited for him to come home.  We ate supper and he finally went outside to smoke.  He pinched a wad of tobacco for his pipe, and noticed that it was dry.  Smoking tobacco, I learned, is moist, even though it is brown from age.  He continued to fill and lit up.  It only took one drag for him to be convinced that something was seriously wrong.  I could not contain myself any longer and started laughing hysterically.  He looked at me as he puffed out and began coughing uncontrollably.  When he finally stopped, a string of Hungarian words, which I had never heard before came from his mouth. I can only assume that these were words on Mom’s list of ‘forbidden’s’.  At the instant that I burst into laughter, and Steve started cussing, I broke into a run. I ran as fast as I could to get away.  Steve Star had finally put it all together and was emptying the contents of the Prince Albert can on the grass.  When Gramps heard the whole story, he smiled.  When Mom heard the story, she scolded me for being so mean.

I Feel For Toyota

During my fifty-three year career in manufacturing, I developed a flair for solving a problem. It is not easy.  In order to find the root cause you have to continue to ask why until people think you are nuts.  My last job was manufacturing a product that we made in the billions. The item is relatively simple in appearance, but it is highly functional. The product is a cable tie. The original purpose of the cable tie was to hold wires together.  Over the years, people have learned to find many applications for this unique item.

My team designed the product, designed and made the molds that produced the product, and set the quality requirements of the manufacturing process. Often we received a complaint. Usually, a customer told us the ties were breaking. He wanted us to fix the problem. Our sales staff immediately replaced his defective product. Most of the time, it was a single package.  My engineers always asked for samples of the failures and any unused samples from the package that the failure ties came from. The failed tie often contained clues to why it failed.  The unused samples gave us some product to test in our lab. If we were very lucky, the Quality Control number was still on the package. That number allowed us to trace the manufacturing process variables.

Usually, I received a handful of broken ties from the complaint. With those samples, it became my job to determine what caused the failure.  I will not bore you with the details of how I proceeded, but if I could not duplicate the problem in the lab, I was looking for a needle in a haystack. Many times, we shut down our highest producing mold until there was an answer.  Talk about pressure to do something.  I can only imagine what is going on within Toyota right now, but I have a good feeling for what it is. I feel for the engineers whose job it is to solve the problem.

Currently, I drive a 2005 Toyota Avalon. I have rehearsed my reaction to a runaway acceleration many times. I only hope that if it happens that I have enough time to react appropriately before I kill myself or someone else. I have dubbed my car the Death Star. At this writing, I am listening to the Senate questioning of the CEO of Toyota. The man, Akio Toyoda from Toyota, said their fix might not be the answer to the acceleration problem. That is a nice way of saying they still do not have a clue about what is causing the problem.

I also studied the quality process taught by US guru Joe Duran, and utilized by the Japanese car companies. In this program, Duran taught that it is cost effective to shut a line down when you find a problem, and leave it down until you fix the problem.  That is a hard concept to swallow. Most manufacturing companies do not buy into it. Mine often did, but the justification for shutting down a mold had to be great. In Toyota’s move to stop selling cars, and to shut down their factories until they fix the quality problem, they practice what they preach. They will come out as winners in the long term.

In the meantime, I bet there are at least a thousand engineers running like chickens with their heads cut off trying to duplicate the problem. As they analyze every aspect of the design, they will come up with ideas that are very probably the answer, and they will implement solutions. They may even stumble upon the root cause and re-create the problem. That is when I will believe they have solved the problem, and until then I drive the Death Star.

One Vice In Life

     If Grampa Jim had one vice in life, it was smoking.  I never saw him without his cigarettes.  He carried stick matches to light up.  Occasionally he asked me to find him a match, but he was never without his cigarettes.  He smoked Camels.  I never saw him with any other brand.

     When Gramps did not have enough money to buy Camels, his second choice was a sack of Bull Durham tobacco with papers. When he wanted a smoke, he made one. He was an artist when rolling a cigarette. First, he opened the sack, and pulled a single sheet of paper from the packet. He curled the paper to form a trough, and carefully shook tobacco onto it. Next, he clenched the drawstring of the bag in his teeth and pulled the bag closed. I watched in amazement as he closed the bag while balancing the open paper without ever losing a single flake of tobacco. Once the bag was back in his shirt, he held the cigarette with both hands. Carefully, he rolled the paper into a cylinder. When he finished, the paper surrounded the tobacco except for a short edge. He carefully lifted it to his lips, and swiftly gave a lick against the exposed paper. He folded the moist edge over the cylinder, and welded it shut. He was ready to light up.

      Gramps grew tobacco on the farm. His friends grew tobacco, so he grew it too.  He did not grow much. I never saw more than four plants. The plant grew as tall as corn, and had large green leaves.  When the leaves were ready, he picked them, and strung them on a pole to dry in the attic.

     The leaves turned from green to golden brown during drying.  He crumbled the dry brittle leaves by hand into millions of little pieces. He stored the shredded tobacco in a bag until he was ready to make cigarettes.

     He had a second way to make cigarettes that utilized a little machine made of wood. It worked by turning a hand crank. First, he placed a sheet of cigarette paper into the machine, and sprinkled some tobacco onto the paper.  A single turn of the handle wrapped the paper around the tobacco.  Finally, he moistened the overlapping paper to make it stick together. This method enabled him to make several smokes at one time.

Problem Solved

     What a genius I am, I thought to myself. I am smart.  I have come up with a solution to a large segment of the illegal alien problem. Many of the illegal’s are coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. We try like hell to keep them out, but they keep on coming. It is not easy trying to secure a border that is 1969 miles long. Build a fence, is what some people say.  Others want to transfer our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to protect this border. In other words, let us build the U.S. version of the Iron Curtain. We could build guard towers every three hundred feet and staff them with border patrol people who will shoot to kill. Clear a swath several hundred yards wide along the border to give the sentries a clear shot. Even better yet, mine the field so the poor bastards coming across are blown up.

     Drastic measures have to be taken or the illegal’s will destroy our economy before Obama and his pirates can do it. The solution is so simple, but not one that is easy to swallow for either side. I began to do some research to find facts to support my premise. It occurred to me that I should Google the idea to see what is already available on the subject. Surprise, surprise, I got 43,600,000 hits on the idea.  I guess it was not such an original idea after all. Or, maybe I should say my idea has a lot of merit since so many others have had the same thought.

     The reason the illegal’s are such a problem, is that we have legislated too many ways for them to get all the neat free stuff we give to our own citizens. Health Care, Education, Food Stamps, Social Security, and driver’s licenses, are available to these people and they do not pay a cent for it. Well, let us change that by making them pay. How? Annex Mexico as the fifty-first state. Instantly they become citizens who are obligated to follow our laws, and to pay taxes. Since they have to get minimum wage like the northerners do, there is no advantage to hiring them in the upper fifty. That means the jobs they have now will have to be taken by the poor northern boys who are out of work. Maybe some of the Acorn people would like to do something productive for a change.

     Another advantage is that this move will stop the flow of manufacturing jobs to the south. Why? The economic advantage is lost. The jobs will have to go to some other third world nation. The liberal progressives and Obama will like that. Spread the wealth baby.

     The phone companies could program all calls north of the state of Mexico to open with “Dial One for English.” South of the border the call would say “Dial one for Spanish.” You know what? It wouldn’t piss us off anymore either, because we are all U.S. citizens

     The Federal Government could eliminate the US Border Patrol because there would be no need to check for jumpers any more. Think of those tax rebates we would get from that move. The Border Patrol people will transfer to the IRS. No doubt, we would need extra people to collect all those new tax payments.

     I could go on and on with lots of great reasons to annex Mexico, but with forty-three million hits on Google there are too many words occupying cyberspace on the subject already.

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