Thursday, 3 October 2013

Barricades and Barack Aides

money

Closing Down Sale, Everything Must Go

I've been looking more at the current American situation with the Government shutdown and I think I now understand the basic principle. Feel free to correct me if I'm completely wrong!

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29 comments:

  1. Yup NYK, I think that's it in a nutshell. I'm sure friends across the water will correct or advise if not, but I have tried to follow it too on TV, and I think that's about it. What a state to get into! And, when you think of the criticism of small European countries ie Greece, Spain, Ireland etc etc - yes, I know they had different problems and different reasons for going bust, but in the end, if government workers can't get paid, for whatever reason, try telling that to their families!

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    1. Looking at it on a personified (as opposed to personal) level, I guess the EU would represent the extended family available to offer help and support to its member countries. But I'm not sure, politically or economically, who the solvent relatives of the US really are. But there's still the health thing in the middle of all of this - capitalism and greed have led to almost entire nations being conned into consuming vast quantities of nasty products, be it food, drink, chemicals or drugs, and the buck has to stop somewhere. I would say that affordable healthcare is a top priority until someone finds a successful way of getting the general public to understand how they are unwittingly contributing to their own health problems. We can't all eat fresh produce forever, there simply isn't enough growing or rearing space, so we need safe substitutes and contingency plans for when it all goes wrong (in my humble opinion).

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  2. You summed that up pretty well with what is going on in the States. Couple of additions for you though, the politicians are still receiving their pay checks while "non essential" employees are sent home without pay. They make ridiculous amounts of money and don't be fooled by those who are donating the pay to a charity. The last time our government shut down was 17 years ago, but both sides threaten this every year. Also, the U.S. debt ceiling has been raised every year and I think the economists say this has happened the most since he took office but I couldn't say that is actually a fact.

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    1. Again, this is only my personal opinion, but shame on those politicians whose job it is meant to be to govern their country in a safe, secure and sustainable way. They have proven themselves not worthy. It disgusts me the amount of money even our own Scottish Parliament members receive. However, I do understand the reasons surrounding such ludicrous payments and likewise with the heads of global corporations and financial institutions. Some things might be so corrupt that high earnings and bonuses are the best way to keep it all under wraps as securely as possible. My belief is that working on a 'need to know' basis has been replaced by being paid enough to keep the secret. For everyone else (the non-wealthy), there's the old signing of the Official Secrets Act or whatever equivalent they have elsewhere. Personally, I'm happy with having signed that, (along with almost everyone else I know) rather than accept vast amounts of money to silence me. LOL

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    2. It's interesting to me to read what people outside of the states think about what is going on here. The reason behind the backlash with Obamacare (as it's lovingly referred to here) is the credits that people will receive for the plans they purchase. The Act also requires that every insurance plan carry a specific type of coverage and a certain dollar amount. The rub comes for the middle class who may not be able to afford the new coverage or qualify under the Acts provisions will have to pay a penalty to the government. As a nation people are worried (misguided actually) that we are becoming socialist government, yet they seem to forget about all the social welfare programs that exist now. I'm sure there is more to say but, nonetheless I thought your take on the situation was spot on.

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    3. I admit to knowing nothing about 'Obamacare', how it will work or how it will be run - but expecting more money from those who are already struggling through no fault of their own is just wrong, in my opinion. We are completely spoiled here with the NHS, no matter what anyone says about the service it provides. The fact is, it provides the service. In Scotland, we have free health care for all, free prescriptions, free bus travel for our elderly, free education, free childcare, free university education and even free housing and free cars - yes, cars! We have a minimum national wage, we get free income top-ups when we don't earn a specific amount (set by the Government), we have free income when we are unable to work, every single one of our pensioners has a guaranteed minimum income after Government agreed retirement age regardless of whether or not we pay into a pension fund during our lifetime, we have free TV licenses for the elderly and, in actual fact, we are far removed from being self-sustainable. We are also far-removed from the lifestyles of Londoners. Despite all of these things, we still have big problems with people abusing these free services and even bigger problems with companies and rich individuals affording the luxury of tax avoidance, yet, despite their extreme wealth, these individuals are still every bit as entitled to accept these free services provided by Government. It is a very ill-divided world, this we all know, but I'm still trying to work out where Americans emigrate to when they become so disillusioned with their own country that they want to get out of it. I have met only two American immigrants in Scotland, but I'm almost sure they each came here simply to have Scottish husbands. LOL (Absolutely no offence meant. Renita, can you confirm or deny this for me, please? :))

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    4. I can't say that I know much about Scotland, except that my favorite actor was born there (Sean Connery). The social security program here is paid for by tax payers but anyone can collect from the system whether you have paid in or not. Since I was in high school all of our math teachers and history teachers told us not to count on social security as part of our retirement and 20 some years later it's more true than ever. The Federal retirement age keeps going up here but with so many elderly living into their 90's or 100's its understandable. Not only that 70 today and 70 thirty years ago look so different. We also have a federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour, not sure how that equates to wages in Scotland. I had to google the term TV licenses but I see that is a government charge, which probably equates to the taxes I pay for my cable bill each month. How does that work if you are a Netflix or Hulu customer?
      We don't go anywhere, we just complain...haha! actually I think they move to Canada. Scottish husbands?? are those available, and do they have jobs? Heck I live in Wisconsin the weather must be similar at least it seems that way on the BBC programming. If I emigrated, it would probably be to Germany but that might make my French grandmother turn over in her grave. It's an interesting thought, I will have to ponder that for a bit.

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    5. National Minimum wage here is as follows:
      21 and over - £6.31, 18 to 20 - £5.03, 16 to 18 - £3.72, Apprentice - £2.68

      Our Government is suggesting that all under 25s should either be earning or learning and proposing a ban on housing benefits for them... who knows where they are all going to live when rent costs almost as much an hour as an apprentice earns! It's atrocious to even consider lumping all under 25s into the single category of 'young people'.

      TV licence is the tax levied on us to pay for the BBC, all other channels are paid for by advertisers or extra monthly subscription. Cable and satellite charges are over and above the BBC licence fee, so some people are spending £10+ per week just for extra TV channels!

      Retirement ages have been rising here over the past few years. Women used to be 60, it's now up to 67 or thereabouts now.

      Scottish husbands are available - in fact, my (ex) husband was apparently available even while married! LOL I haven't bothered to replace him.

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    6. Lol! I nearly spit my water out on that one!

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    7. Sorry 'bout that, just couldn't resist! LOL

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  3. I am an American living in Minneapolis, and what is going on in our government is a travesty and a national shame. We are being bullied by a small faction of the Republican party, the "Tea Party," who are holding the American citizens hostage. The Republican party is afraid to deal with this renegade and myopic bunch. In a nutshell, this group does not want the Affordable Care Act as it is or even in any way, shape or form, even though it was CONSTITUTIONALLY put into law. Since these schoolyard bullies did not get what they wanted, they decided the best way to exhibit their displeasure was to put 800,000 Americans out of work with a government shutdown. (This includes my son-in-law with a family to support). Of course, they still collect their pay and benefits while they hold the rest of us hostage.

    Those of you in other countries have no idea how broken and expensive our healthcare system is here. What we really need is a single payer system, such as you have in Scotland, but the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as it is alternately known) was more of a compromise to keep the huge insurance business (or the money-grubbing "gatekeepers" that they really are) happy. If you had a pre-existing condition in the past, you could not get healthcare from any of these insurance companies. I know this personally. I had breast cancer and could not get coverage anywhere. We are supposed to be one of the most advanced nations in the world, but over 50 million+ people have no access to healthcare. Their only option is a visit to an already overloaded hospital emergency room. Even people who have health insurance through an employer must pay for high premiums. When I lived in California, public school teachers had to pay $700/month for their health insurance.

    The opposition puts all kinds of spin and propaganda on this as if we are headed to "socialism." Socialism is already in place in many government programs, and it is NOT a bad thing. Your system of healthcare in Scotland is socialism. I find it incomprehensible how a nation with our purported wealth will not look after the healthcare needs of our citizens. It is truly appalling. Also, to refute other statements here, ACA costs will be on a sliding scale and affordable and even free for many of those living at poverty levels.

    Today, there are many testimonies from people who have healthcare for the first time in their lives after they signed up for ACA. Yes, sometimes I look at countries like Finland and Sweden and wonder why we just can't get it right here. I could go on and on about our astronomical college costs and unnecessary government spending on wars, space programs and other boondoggles, but that's for another day.

    Isabella in Minneapolis

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    1. Many thanks for a welcome contribution to this post, Isabella. It does make one wonder if you hit the nail on the head with, "I find it incomprehensible how a nation with our purported wealth will not look after the healthcare needs of our citizens." Perhaps all that glitters is not gold and the great nation isn't quite as great in the financial stakes as it would have many believe.

      I was saddened to hear that the young woman driving the car in yesterday's incident had been shot and killed, despite her having the baby in the car with her. At first, I seriously thought it was a Government set-up, attempting to prove to the outside world that US security measures are unaffected by the shutdown, but the later news of them having shot the woman dead and having her baby in care was sickening. Desperate people do desperate things, right enough. The US may be the land of the free, but it's a different kind of brave you need to consider living there when viewing it all from the outside.

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    2. That amount of insurance premium seems a little out of wack for a teacher's union to agree to but it's California and they have been a financial nightmare on their own for the better part of a decade.

      The young woman who was killed yesterday is truly a tragedy but it seems she may have been suffering from some sort of psychological break and it is very sad that she put her child in that situation. Seems her wish of "death by cop" was sadly fulfilled.

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    3. US $700 is about GB £436, so I suspect a mistake has been made, as that's more than I earn in a month!

      Haven't heard any more news here on the shooting incident

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    4. No, the insurance rate for California teachers in my district was this amount. That is not a mistake! Yes, it is a financial nightmare. You have no idea what a dismal state some CA school districts are in! My district had abolished all art, computer, gym, and music classes. Even in Wisconsin, I paid $350/month for a school district's insurance for hubby and me. And in that state, I worked as a teacher's assistant at only $10/hour!

      I think it is important for other countries to see just how expensive healthcare is here. My hubby works at a hospital, and his healthcare is free, but it costs us close to $300/month to have me on his plan, and we consider that quite a good rate. Yes, it is good because if our four children still lived at home, this would be the "family rate" and would cover all of us. As it is, I am the "family of one", so we still pay must pay $300/month.

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    5. I had absolutely no idea that the health care cost so much, it is gobsmacking! My only interaction with US medical assistance was during a vehicle collision, when a US airman ran into the back of me on base (I worked on US airbases contacted as civilian via UK MOD), so I was escorted to the US air force base medical unit. This was about 10 years ago, and the first thing I asked was how much to be seen? If I remember correctly, it was $120, so I kept my whiplash until it eventually got better by itself.

      Being self-employed and earning just what I need to live, I could opt out of paying any National Insurance by way of low income exception, but I keep up the payments voluntarily in the hope of some small State pension when I reach 67. It is a paltry amount, just over £10 per month. I could apply for things like Council Tax rebate (a discount on the monthly property tax) but I choose not to. If I rented my home I would be entitled to apply for rent rebate - partial payment of it by the State - but we saved and we bought outright as soon as was humanly possible, so I don't need to worry about that. My income is supplemented and the best way to explain this is to say that by supplementing the low earners, we can't transfer onto the unemployment figures. It's quite a crazy situation and I think that we are all well and truly spoiled in Scotland, no matter what anyone anywhere else says. If we strip away the cost of housing, the cost of living is relatively cheap IF you don't mind simple living.

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    6. I am going to contact my cousin who has been a teacher in CA for over 25 years. She has never complained about paying that much for insurance(and believe me she would have), and for most of those years it was her, her husband and two kids. Maybe you had Kaiser? Before I remarried I worked at an auto auction, made 11.25 per hour, paid $76.83 per month for medical, dental and vision insurance for myself and son. I paid 20% of costs after meeting the $2200 deductible. I had some co-workers who had Kaiser and they paid $400 per month for their insurance. Never could understand that one, unless they and their kids where always sick as a co-worker once stated it was cheaper to have Kaiser.

      In regards to the young women being shot...I agree with her family. She had no gun on her person, nor in the car. She did not need to be shot.

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    7. Wait. You were rear ended and had to pay?? On base???

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    8. Remember that each CA school district is in different shape financially. My district was in the semi-rural northern California Sierra foothills and rapidly losing money because of declining enrollment and the housing bust.

      Isabella

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    9. Oh, OK, that will make it even easier. My FIL taught in the Lake Isabella schools for over 30 years, and worked with the teachers union in Bakersfield. I asked my husband and he does not remember any complaints about such crazy high insurance premiums.

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  4. I totally agree with Anonymous above. The Affordable Healthcare Act was voted into law and upheld by the Supreme Court. This action by the Republican Party is a last ditch effort to dismantle and destroy that law without going through the democratic procedure of repealing it. The so-called Tea Party (Taxed Enough Already) want no government at all and these are the politicians who are leading the rest into heavy traffic and then wandering away.
    We seemed to have had $2 trillion to fight wars around the world but no money to help give basic healthcare to our citizens. All but the poorest Americans will have to pay for this coverage - it wont be free. Also running a nation is not like running a household no matter how simplistic that view is. What is happening in the u.s. today is not about money, it is about political ideology; one side wanting to better the lot of people, the other side; every man for himself.

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    1. Yes, Lizzie, we have a DEMOCRATIC process in place in our country for nullifying a law, just as we have a democratic process for putting a law on the books. The Republicans want to bypass this process, as you say. This is serious and seditious, in my opinion!

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    2. I listened to a live debate on the subject late last night - we have somewhere in the region of 5.5 million people in our entire country (Scotland) and last night I learned that over 55 million US citizens can't afford health care. That brings it home a bit. But I still think a budget is a bufget regardless of what it's for, where or how it's run. In a national or domestic household setting, similar principles can be applied - health, welfare and security of the household/country should be top priorities, as should ensuring there's a way of earning sufficient income to sustain that household/country. It's still a numbers game, but on one almighty, whacking great scale. I mean, I might need to find £1,000 (quarter of my budget) to keep the rain out part of the house but if I did that and, at the same time, my hot water tank blew up and my entire family arrived to stay, I would need to have a whip round to afford it.

      I think it's all relative - the more people there are, the more it costs along the bottom line and the budget needs to revolve and evolve to envelope the constant shifts. Etc., etc., etc... this is why I never pursued the topic of politics any further than social sciences foundation course level. It's beyond me. :)

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    3. But I do find it interesting in a, hopefully, non-offensive way.

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    4. One simply needs to look into just HOW the ACA was 'voted' into law to understand it was not under democratic ways...no Republicans were invited to that party. Some of us in the US refuse to fall for everything. The ACA was sold by our president as 'affordable', 'you can keep your current insurance', 'you can keep your doctor'...clearly not the case as we have seen in recent weeks. As the Minority Leader in the House, Nancy Peposi stated, "we need to pass the bill just to know what is in it" Where was the logic in passing a bill no one understood. Those folks should all be voted out of office. The ACA was created to fail...and fail big time it will in very short time. Hillary Clinton tried and failed to get socialized medicine while Bill was in office. You all watch, after the ACA fails, our government will move fast to create a single payer health care system....meaning more government in our life, just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated...go ahead goggle that one.

      I come from a long line of veterans, including my husband. None of them risked life and limb for the government to control everything we do and say.

      We would not have defaulted on our debt. The US takes in roughly 260 BILLION DOLLARS EVERY MONTH in tax revenue...the interest payment on our debt is roughly 23 billion every month. If more Americans and those here 'visiting' permanently would pay more in taxes (and do not blame it all on the rich, as 47% in the US pay NO taxes), there would be more money to pay for all the freebies many folks receive. Far too many folks here are getting a free ride, and those of us in the middle class are sick and tired of it. I think the big point with the 800,000 federal workers sent home as non-essential, is that our government thinks their jobs non-essential. So why on earth do those jobs exist? What part of maybe our government is too big and wasteful do some Americans not get?

      For now, my husband receives free medical and vision care at the VA. due to service connected disabilities, and also for now I receive TriCare Standard, which has no monthly premium but I do paid 20% of costs after I meet the deductible of $3000 for the year. We know in time the government will do away with our military insurance and the VA medical care. Under the ACA, if we just live on my husband's military pension, we would qualify for free medical known as Medical(we live in CA. and it is not a great way to have insurance). If we both go back to work, our monthly premium for medical insurance will jump to $568 per month. Clearly the message here (especially to our young folks) is not to work.

      This country (US) can not continue to spend like crazy. A budget is the law, but none has been made in years. We ARE going bankrupt and anyone who thinks otherwise will see that in time.

      Thanks for such a wonderful post on what those in another country think of all this craziness.
      jill

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  5. Yes, the basic solution to much of our problems in the US is increasing tax revenues. Everyone and their brother knows this. But who blocks this? Mostly the Republicans who protect their wealthy 1%. Why is it that the ordinary citizen pays a higher tax rate on his/her income than a wealthy person does on capital gains? In fact, since Clinton's administration, taxes on the wealthy have declined, and they fell even further under Bush Jr. (BTW, when Clinton was president, that was the last time the budget was balanced.)

    Just because most Republicans don't like it, the ACA is a step in the right direction. The USA is ranked 38th in the world in healthcare provision. No other industrialized nation disregards the health of its citizens as we do. There is so much rumbling about "entitlements" here, yet these same people will cry in outrage if they don't get their Social Security, military pensions, and Medicare. And please don't believe all the alarmist comments you read, such as the one preceding mine. That is all part of the Republican propaganda of fear.

    Now, the shut-down debacle is behind us, and the world has seen what the Republican party did. These Republicans cry about government costs, but this shut-down cost us 12-24 billion dollars. How absolutely hollow and pointless. This created lots of hardship for many Americans. The Tea Party is still fighting the Civil War, and this includes their latent hostility and racism toward our president. You just don't know how many of us over here wish that we had allowed these southern states to secede before the Civil War! We would have a modern, forward-looking nation now.

    Isabella

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  6. Time will tell Isabella, time will tell. And how dare you lump our veterans in with 'entitlements'. They earn their pensions and disability compensation. Maybe you would like to spend a day with my retired navy veteran or at the local VA hospital. You will then, and only then have a better understanding of why veterans were so upset. If you retire from your job, or are hurt on the job, you too would like to be compensated.

    Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers are all alike. They use Social Security and veterans as pawns.....as they are always the first to be told their payments will be stopped, which is funny in a odd sort of way. Both Social Security and military pensions are paid from separate trust funds that are not part of the current years spending, such as welfare is. Although, the president can decide to withhold those payments, as he threaten to do.

    For the record, I am a registered Democrat and have been since 1990, my husband is an Independent, not the Republican you tried to peg me as.

    Check your history. This country could not afford the southern states to secede, and no, we would not be a "modern, forward-looking nation now". Check your history, Isabella. Sadly, your words have much hostility and racism in those last two sentences.
    Jill

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  7. Keep calm, folks, this was just a simple blog post from a follower of a frugal lifestyle who lives on the opposite side of the Atlantic. I thank you all for giving me a basic picture of how deep the US problem runs. (I suspect many countries may have similar financial problems.) The comments adequately demonstrate how complicated the entire process of governing a nation in a way that suits all, especially when there's no simple, affordable way to balance the books during such a crisis, really is. I can only repeat what I have already mentioned both here and elsewhere - Britain is divided on most of its financial policies; I believe we have it fairly easy here, with so much taken for granted that many have completely overlooked the fact that they wouldn't survive without Government support in some way, shape of form. Others, however, completely disagree with me. :)

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