If you're about to embark on the great adventure known as Medicare, prepare yourself. I suggest a small bottle of Maker's Mark, though your tastes may vary. First, you must apply for Part A and Part B. And even though you've been paying into it all of your working life, there are other expenses: once you get your little red/white/blue card, you'll want to apply for a plan that covers the so-called "doughnut hole", which reduces your costs for things that are not covered under Medicare Parts A & B. As well, you have to pay a premium for your Part B coverage.
My health insurance broker observed that this premium is generally deducted from your Social Security payment, which in my case would be an issue as I've not yet applied for So-So Security. This means that I'll have to pay it out of retirement funds, which means I'll pay from my online banking account. In my case, that will come to around $400 every 3 months.
Better than Obamacare premiums!
If you choose to pay this out of your pocket, here's the address:
Medicare Premium Collection Center
P.O. Box 790355
St. Louis, MO. 63179-0355
You'll need to include your account number, which is just your SSN followed by a dash and a letter (or two).
"Doughnut hole" coverage will run another $120 or so, but you buy that through Providence or Kaiser or someplace. As with all things run by government, this is bound to screw up, but at least I've relieved you of some digging for information.
According to a recent report from the nonprofit Truth In Accounting, a lot of public employees in states and cities controlled by Democratics may well be in for a rude awakening come retirement:
Of the 237 cities studied, 29 received an "F" grade, reflecting a funding ratio of less than 35 percent. Those plans cover many thousands of workers who cannot possibly be paid their full promised pensions, absent a huge tax increase (which would also come out of their pockets as workers).
Based on the size of its unfunded pension liabilities, Chicago is in the worst shape, with more than $62 billion worth of unfunded pension promises. Chicago has less than 33 cents set aside for every dollar promised.
The Chicago Municipal Employees plan is estimated to run out of assets in seven years, since it is only 20.3 percent funded. The police fund (funded at 25.4 percent) and the firefighter's fund (funded at 21.7 percent) will not be far behind. The Public School Teachers' Pension and Retirement Fund is in slightly better shape with 51.6 percent funding.
New York City is in second worst shape in terms of total dollars needed, with an unfunded pension liability of more than $61 billion, but at least it is 71 percent funded.
At another extreme, Portland, Ore., has set aside less than 1 percent of what it needs to pay its $2.9 billion of pension promises.
And at the state level in Oregon, the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is over $22 billion in the hole, and counting. That's what several decades of voting only Democratics into orifice gets you. At this rate, it may become necessary for Oregon public employees to contribute money into their own retirement accounts. That shouldn't be a problem; they'll just "negotiate" pay increases to offset the "burden".
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is seeking to eliminate 25 percent of the 15,000 employees at the agency. That's a good start, as only 6.5% are considered "essential", according to the government's own numbers. A lot of them don't really do much in the way of work, anyhow:
The most notorious case of misconduct was the EPA official who earned $120,000 and performance bonuses after being caught watching pornography for up to six hours a day.
The geologist in the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation downloaded over 7,000 pornographic files on an agency server and admitted to masturbating at work. He received paid leave for nearly two years after being caught.
And there were multiple other people caught viewing porn, drinking or smoking dope on the job, etc. It seems reasonable to suspect that the feds could do with a whole lot fewer EPA "employees".
It all boiled down to miscommunication and a cascade of blunders:
The plan was to truncate a secretive exercise with the Australians near Indonesia, to cancel Vinson’s visit to Perth and then head the direction of the Korean Peninsula — meaning Vinson would be off North Korea by the end of the month.
Changing an aircraft carrier’s schedule is not a small muscle movement. Host nations expecting a visit from the mighty U.S. big decks have to do a fair amount of leg work to prepare for the visit. Furthermore, a good number of sailors had family flying out to Australia to meet their sailors. An Australia port visit is the holy grail for sailors on a Western Pacific deployment.
The easiest thing to do, PACOM officials decided, would be send out a press release announcing the canceled port visit — making it easier for families to get their money back from airlines and letting all parties know why the Vinson wouldn’t be visiting the Land Down Under.
So that was the plan, and a press release went out from the U.S. 3rd Fleet on April 8. Unfortunately, two hours before that went out, Reuters news agency published a story that said the Vinson Strike Group, which was visiting Singapore at the time, would proceed from there to the waters off North Korea to send a message to the rogue Korean regime, which is poised to detonate the country’s sixth nuclear bomb test.
As the media feeds upon itself, the Reuters story set off a frenzy as other media set up for going to war. The New York Times reported that president Trump was re-routing the naval armada as his latest show of force - despite the fact that it was a PACOM decision that he had nothing to do with. Yet panic set in across a number of countries even as the Vinson group was heading south, not north. All the Vinson group was doing was skipping a port of call at Perth, but everyone was freaking; and two days later, Ferret-top really lit things up:
"We are sending an armada, very powerful," he said. "We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than an aircraft carrier, that I can tell you." The confirmation of the misleading narrative from the commander in chief — as well as the allusion to nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines — sent the crisis into overdrive.
Countries immediately went on high alert, as the NorKs added fuel by promising thermonuclear war. While all of this was going on, it apparently didn't occur to anybody to check the actual location of the strike force until Defense News noticed that it was crossing Sunda Strait in Indonesia on April 17 - 3500 miles away from the Korean peninsula.
It looks as though there were blunders throughout the U.S. chain of command, exacerbated by media more eager to be first than factual.
Why not, asks the long-suffering taxpayer. Congress, in addition to being a bunch of rich lawyers, is also exempt from Obamacare requirements:
Congress was granted, and still enjoys, an illegal exemption from Obamacare.
Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in 2013 to permit Congress to be classified as a small business — a designation that requires an enterprise to attest that it employs fewer than 50 employees. The House and the Senate obviously employ thousands of people.
One of the very few who refused to avail themselves and the staff of this exemption is, unsurprisingly, Senator Ted Cruz.
On the other hand, Obamacare is not sustainable, and so it will eventually implode.
It's long past time to stop referring to the masked street thugs as "extremists" and instead begin charging them with terrorism. Particularly in Berkeley, a large part of the problem may lie with theirmayor, who is himself a proud member of "By Any Means Necessary" and associates with Antifa, which is clearly aterrorist group as defined under federal law:
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
When these folks are setting fires, throwing bricks, bashing things and people with bats, hitting people over the head with bike locks and are now discussing among themselves the need to add guns and knives into the mix, they need to be prosecuted as the terrorists they are.
"Not getting disarmed is a big part of the problem, yes, but we need more than flags and bats," wrote one in the r/anarchism subreddit community page.
So the NorKs threaten, presumably differing to some degree from the super-weak pissy strike. Those folks are such cards! They're always going to strike mercilessly (usually against the ocean).
"Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary.
The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a "gross animal" and said a strike on it would be "an actual example to show our military's force".
The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.
The timing is impeccable, as I just stumbled across this image today: The artwork, by Sabo, is entitled "North Korean BBQ". Little Kim really doesn't like it when people disrespect him. But as he is in fact a pig....
The artwork, in the form of posters and fake advertisements, showed up Sunday around the Los Angeles Fox News bureau and Fox studios, timed for Tucker Carlson’s interview of Jenner during his show Monday night — his debut in the time slot previously occupied by Bill O’Reilly.