Real Lives are Being Affected—A Personal Story on Cover Oregon’s Impact
Editors’ Note: We receive lots of responses to Lane Solutions articles and opinions. Because we’ve been so concerned with the unintended consequences of Cover Oregon we were particularly touched by the story below. It’s from “Angie,” a Lane County resident who experienced firsthand the effects of this $248 Million disaster.
My brother is living with me and he is on SSI and also receives Medicare. He called the 1-800 number to see about getting help with supplementary insurance due to his health and income.
I wanted someone to know that whoever is answering the phones needs to be a little more considerate of the elderly that are calling. The guy that my brother talked to was very rude and told him he was not going to take him off of Medicare in order for him to get free health care and hung up on him. My brother was very upset. My brother was not looking for a handout and was not asking to be taken off Medicare.
I would like you to pass along this information to whoever takes charge of the employees answering the phones.
If you would like to talk to my brother his name is “John” and his phone number is (withheld).
I just thought maybe someone should know about this incident.
Lane Solutions responds: “Angie” – Now a lot of people know about your predicament. And like them, our hearts go out to you and your brother.
If any of our readers have ideas that could help Angie and her brother, please email Lane Solutions at Lane@HealthyCommunitiesOregon.com
The Government Student Loan Program is a Mess
– Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2014
…A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that as of the fourth quarter of 2012 only about 40% of student borrowers were paying down their loans…
…A whopping 14% of borrowers who were not officially delinquent had the same balance as the previous quarter and 30% saw their balances increase.
That’s because borrowers who can’t afford to pay down their loans can ask the government for a deferment or forbearance, which freezes their payments while interest continues to accrue. During a deferment, Uncle Sam pays the interest on subsidized loans. To qualify for either option, borrowers merely need to claim an economic hardship or return to school…Student loan debt nearly tripled to $966 billion in 2012 from $364 billion in 2004, but not merely because more students are going to school and taking out bigger loans. The Fed report’s major finding is that government programs intended to prevent defaults are actually causing many borrowers to rack up more debt. (emphasis added)
Our Response & Your Comments
Oregonians facing college also face rising tuition (30% increase between 2009 and 2012). Let’s look at how government’s good intentions are actually causing the problem:
- National leaders start with the premise “Every kid needs to go to college.” No – every kid doesn’t. We all know successful adults who didn’t go to college.
- Building off that flawed premise they set out to make it easier to go to college by dishing out wheelbarrows full of (your) money to directly pay tuition or loan money to students so they can pay for it. College presidents see this avalanche of dollars rolling their way, smile, and raise tuition to absorb it.
- As tuition continues to rise government gives and loans more and more money on increasingly generous terms. And the cycle – funded by us – continues.
So – Who’s making college more expensive? The same geniuses who set out to help kids go to college. Brilliant!
Website: Defining Delinquency Down – WSJ.com
We’re From the Government – We’ll Say Whatever We Want
The Salem Statesman Journal March 6, 2014
Over the protracted sobs of her mother and maternal grandmother, a Marion County Circuit Court judge Thursday today found no reason to reverse a decision made in January to reunite a 6-year-old girl with her father (Alfonzo Pantoja) in Mexico…
Grandmother Kerrie Lechuga argued that Pantoja’s Salem police record and a domestic violence conviction made him unfit to parent her granddaughter in a foreign country. Lechuga’s own daughter, Gloria Segura, has an admitted methamphetamine problem, is on parole and does not have custody of “Susana.” The child has been living with a foster family in Salem…
…(Judge Jamese Rhoades) acknowledged that sending the child to live in a foreign country might not seem like a perfect solution, but just because it’s not what the child is accustomed to does not make it unhealthy or unsafe. (emphasis added)
Our Response & Your Comments
Forget that this story touches on immigration. Our point is that government will use any argument to justify what it needs to justify.
Think about the last time you read about why we couldn’t deport a child to another country. The argument probably was “America is all she’s known. She grew up here. She doesn’t speak (insert language).” Sounds reasonable. How come it doesn’t apply to the little girl in Marion County?
Because “public servants” will say what they need to say – no matter how contradictory.
Remember when ObamaCare would create jobs? Now it’s causing people to lose jobs. But that’s OK – because they’ll be free to write poetry, start a garage band or otherwise “pursue their passions,” say those in charge.
Remember when ObamaCare wasn’t a tax? At least until the Administration saved it by testifying to the Supremes that it was a tax.
Our point – ignore the, uh, “fluid” arguments and use your common sense to decide if a government action is good or bad.
Where Cover Oregon went wrong: Guest opinion
– The Oregonian, by Charles Jennings, CEO of Swan Island Networks, Inc., February 22, 2014
…I decided to do a rare bit of housecleaning in my home office. As I was tossing out unwanted mail, I noticed the October, 2013, issue of one of the many high-tech trade magazines that periodically show up at my house, unsolicited. What caught my attention was a teaser on the cover about an article inside….
The project? Cover Oregon.
Here are a few choice quotes from the article:
Article subhead: “With the launch of Cover Oregon, state officials expect their commitment to design thinking to pay off.”
“Thanks to design thinking … the Oregon team feels a lot more confident of hitting the mark,” said Cover Oregon CIO Aaron Karjala…
As we now know, the result of all this balderdash was a high-tech train wreck.
But let’s be fair: Cover Oregon is hardly the first big government IT project to fail. The list includes the Affordable Healthcare website and various sustainable energy programs under President Obama; the SBInet border control project under President Bush ($1 billion spent, zero results); and countless others….
Our Response & Your Comments
“Cover Oregon is hardly the first big government IT project to fail. ”We wonder why?
First, There’s a nasty little secret about government. It’s that is sees its first job as (are you ready?)…creating more government. More government means job security, more people to hire who will produce more government and, best of all – more money, which will lead to more governmental functions and (you guessed it) more government.
When you or we need a new sofa, table saw or whatever, our kneejerk reaction is to go to stores, identify the best product for the lowest price and buy it. We don’t start building the sofa or saw ourselves.
Not so with government. Because they know that if they do it themselves they’ll need to hire people, managers to manage them, assistants to serve them and lawyers to defend them. Who will hire more people, etc.
Does it cost more? Sure, but they have an infinite supply – your money. Does it result in “IT train wrecks?” Yeah – but you’ll pay for that, too.
So remember “The Iron Rule of Government:” More government always means even more government – at your expense.”
Why Lane Co. Has Cavities & Micronesia Has a Dentist , Part 2
In Lane Solutions Issue # 58 we introduced readers to Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden, DDS. His goal was simple – he and his brother had spent $200,000 of their money to construct a mobile dental clinic. Dr. Hayden wanted to take it around Lane County, park it in rural, underserved cities and provide free dental service to low income residents. Sounds like a good deal. Right?
Here’s where it all went wrong. Rural cities didn’t want it. One said they had a zoning ordinance prohibiting shipping containers from being parked in town. Yes, Dr. Hayden’s clinic was a reconfigured shipping container. But inside, you could barely tell it from your own dentist’s office. Would the city give a waiver for medical or dental equipment? “Nyet,” ruled the commissars.
According to Dr. Hayden, who only wanted to serve the poor, about whom these cities say they care so much, the typical reaction was “Great idea – just not in my back yard.”
Watch for Lane Solutions Issue #60 and find out why a faraway island country welcomed Dr. Hayden with open arms – and open mouths waiting for a good dentist.
Why Lane Co. Has Cavities and Micronesia Has a Dentist
Ed. Note: This is the first of a three part series
Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden, D.D.S had a dream. He wanted to outfit a mobile dental clinic, staff it with volunteer dentists and hygienists, move it around rural areas in Lane Co. and offer regular, free dental care to low income Oregonians.
Here’s how it would work: Dr. Hayden would drive the clinic to a small town. He’d park it there long enough to meet local dental needs. Then he’d take it to nearby rural towns, parking it for a week or so. His goal was to visit these towns three times a year, providing regular dental treatment.
Was Dr. Hayden asking anyone to pay for his clinic? No. He and brother Matthew had already funded it with $200,000 out of their own pockets. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?
As ESPN sportscaster Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.” Because his dream would turn to dust.
What went wrong? Why would small burgs in Lane Co. not welcome him and his mobile dental care facility with open arms? And why does Micronesia have the dental care that Lane County didn’t want? Find out in the next issue of Lane Solutions as we focus on one town’s “Thanks but no thanks.”
Bill to Make it Illegal to Cut Hours to Avoid Paying Health Benefits to Get Hearing
– By Steve Benham, KATU: Feb 10, 2014
SALEM, Ore. – Concerns about colleges and universities cutting faculty hours to avoid paying health benefits under the new federal health care law has prompted state Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, to introduce legislation to make the practice for all Oregon employers illegal.
Senate Bill 1543 is scheduled to get a hearing before the Senate Health Care and Human Services committee today at 3:00 p.m.
Dembrow, who has taught English at the Cascade campus of Portland Community College for years, told KATU last week he’s heard “through the grapevine” and has read news reports that some community colleges “have been advised to reduce their teachers’ hours” in order to get out of paying health benefits to some employees.
Under the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”), companies that employ 50 or more employees are required to provide their workers with health insurance if they work an average of 30 hours or more a week…
Our Response & Your Comments
We’ll ignore the delicious irony of colleges, probably the single biggest institutional fans of ObamaCare, slashing professors’ hours to get out of paying for…ObamaCare!
Our larger point is that laws like these are the steroids that drive government hyper-growth. Here’s why…
First they pass ObamaCare, which is 2200 pages of dizzying complexities, dazzling contradictions and unintended consequences. Now you need more laws to clean up the complexities, contradictions and, most of all, unintended consequences. Thus emerges from the swamp Dembrow’s bill.
Then the new law demands more government to make it work. How do you prove in court that
State U cut Prof. Propellerhead’s hours to avoid paying his ObamaCare bill? Hire psychiatrists to muck about in his brain? Plus you need investigators to hunt down evidence. They need lawyers, offices and assistants. Plus you need new laws to empower the investigators and lawers. And the beat goes on and on – as government matasaticizes at your expense.
Oregon prisons, social services in need of millions of dollars as lawmakers adjust budgets
…When the Oregon Legislature convenes Monday, two large state agencies will be asking for tens of millions of dollars.
Lawmakers will revisit the 2013-15 budget to address collective bargaining costs, a record $40 million wildfire season and revenue forecasts that fell $70 million short of earlier projections…
Corrections officials say they need about $90 million, and Human Services officials say they need about $100 million to fill their gaps, though some money is expected from other sources…
The Oregonian, January 28, 2014
Our Response and Your Comments
Here are three rules to remember when you’re reading about government “needing” more money:
Government (at every level – city, county, state, federal) always needs more money;
Government can never do with less money;
You can always do with less money because of Rule #1.
As Ronald Reagan opined: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
Eugene senator to discuss wage gap
A report detailing the differences between poor and wealthy Oregonians is set to be released by Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, during a forum at the Eugene Public Library 6 p.m. Monday (Jan. 27).
Edwards authored a bill that passed during the 2013 Legislative Session calling for the Pay Inequality in Oregon study. According to a press release, Edwards plans to talk about ways to solve the “wage gap”…
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and Oregon Council on Civil Rights Chair Sunny Petit are slated to join Edward.
Salem Statesman Journal
January 23, 2014
Our Response & Your Comments
Here are some questions we’d like to pose to Sen. Edwards:
When the Census Bureau measures income it excludes payments such as Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (that’s where the Govt. gives money to people who don’t pay taxes). What would the “wage gap” be if those were included?
People move up and down the income ladder. A college grad may start by earning $25,000, hit a career peak at $150,000, then retire and live off a part time job, pensions and Social Security. What’s wrong with that?
Could part of the “wage gap” be explained by the fact that a person’s income can move infinitely up but can only go down to $0?
If I’m earning what my skills and experience warrant, what do I care what Bill Gates makes?
Conservative age-based funds in college savings plans serve up surprise losses
- Brent Hunsberger, email@example.com
January 14, 2014
Eric Hutchinson has been saving for his daughter’s college education for a dozen years. But in April, the Tigard resident decided to take advantage of the Oregon College Savings Plan‘s tax break.
He put $5,000 in the plan’s Age-Band 16 portfolio for 16-year-olds, which will automatically adjust his investment into more conservative holdings as his daughter Noelle gets older.
So, he was a bit surprised when he looked at the account balance just after New Year’s and found it held $4,980. Hadn’t it gained anything from the year’s run-up in stocks?
Our Response & Your Comments
How could your lose money in a year when virtually every stock market index shot through the stratosphere?
It’s simple – Trust it to the government.
To be fair, government college savings programs lost money because they are understandably conservative and become more so as students approach college age, so they skew towards bonds.
But there are a few simple truths here.
First, when you trust your money to the government you lose control over it, so you can’t start out conservative in Jan. and in March say “Stocks are the place to be, so I’m switching to them.”
Second, government programs are top down, rigid, one-size-fits all programs. And if they don’t fit you, it’s just too darn bad. Think ObamaCare, Cover Oregon, etc.
The final lesson: Nobody watches your money like you watch your money. Carve this into your dining room table and never forget it. Especially when dealing with the government.