reverse threading

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explicitly divisive. [flawed wednesday]

explicitly divisive

“it ought to be…commemorated with….illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” (john adams on the celebration of the declaration of independence)

they had fireworks at the walt whitman mall on route 110 in huntington.  sometimes we’d go.  we’d park in the parking lot and watch fireworks overhead, my dad quietly admiring them, my mom zealously gleeful.  those times we left the charcoal grill, hot dogs, hamburgers, beans and chips behind, i loved anytime we went – a child who was innocently proud of my country.

they had fireworks over the lake.  we’d go every year.  we’d walk over to the rocks and, climbing up and over the top, we’d sit on a flat-top boulder, mosquito-repellent in the air, and watch.  in later years, people would set off firecrackers right near us and that was frightening as a parent with small children.  but i loved anytime we went – an adult in the middle of early parenthood who was mostly proud of my country.

for years now they had moved the fireworks that had been set off on one of the beaches to a spot down by the harbor, set off by the public museum.  we used to walk down with our blanket or chairs-in-a-bag, oohing and ahhing over a fancy display that belied the size of our city, but something stopped us the last few years.  it was palpable, the dismay.  red took on different meanings, especially in hatwear.  the pride of being-an-american was tarnished with the behavior of a new president who gloried in obnoxious, toxic-talk, whose example was nothing shy of injurious, who touted his own self-serving agendas.  we didn’t go to the fireworks.

last year they had fireworks at the ballfield on island.  we were days-new there and attended a barbecue late afternoon and in twilight hours, but we knew that dogdog and babycat, both getting used to the littlehouse, would be fearful of the loud booms in this place we didn’t yet know, so we didn’t attend.  we heard they were beautiful, but we didn’t miss going.

this year they didn’t have fireworks.  the city cancelled them because there is a global pandemic.  but people gathered nonetheless and the sounds that mimicked the soundtrack of a warzone went on for hours into the wee night. two yards over, the neighbor had m80s and a giant illuminating-the-skies display.  next door, the neighbors set off fireworks lower to the ground, while clapping their hands to the loud and raucous displays in the sky around us.

we had seen footage of the fireworks over mount rushmore the day before.  we had seen footage of the hate-speech given on a day of supposed-celebration for our country, but instead filled with chasm-digging language, filled with loathing and disdain, filled with the narcissistic viewpoint of a self-indulgent small unkind man whose anger granted him a job where the hatred others feel toward humankind is given a voice, is given power, is, sickeningly, given control.  yes.  footage of the fireworks and the pomp and circumstance in south dakota.  a new definition of the word “patriotism”.  embarrassing on a global scale.

we sat on the deck just a bit, but the thick fog of smoke made it impossible to breathe.  the many-families-of-children in the yard out back were screaming loudly and it made me think of earlier years, more innocent years, years when social distancing wasn’t a thing (although it’s hardly a thing now), years when we weren’t advised by intelligent medical staff to wear masks in public (again, hardly a thing).  it made me think of times i could point to the president of the united states and speak of him (no pronoun neutrality for there is not yet a “her”) to my young children, without disgust, without the rising nausea that results from listening to hate-talk, without explaining why he’s lied thousands and thousands of times to this country, without the intentional explicitly divisive vitriol coming from some sad place in his soul.  we went back inside the house and reassured dogdog and babycat.  we just could not attend, physically or emotionally.  what is there to be proud of?

i wonder whenever and wherever there will be organized fireworks nearby again.  the fireworks that encourage love of country.  the fireworks that make you have goose bumps of excitement and a sense of pride.  fireworks that remind us of the uniting of all people.  fireworks that speak to liberty and justice for all.  fireworks that are a recognition of “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

the explicitly divisive rhetoric spewed from the top down is suffocating us and is no salve for the wounds, new or old, that have been imparted on this country’s populace.

we will need to mend ourselves.

and maybe then – fireworks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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sticker, oh, sticker. [flawed wednesday]

marked license plate stickers

clearly there are a lot of people who own registered cars in wisconsin who do not read.

how do i know this, you ask?

drive behind anyone with a wisconsin plate and notice where they have put the year sticker.  people place these stickers all over the license plate.  when you start looking you will see a variety of methods – in the middle of the plate, stickered all around the edges, smack over the raised lettering. however, these stickers are delivered to you in the envelope pictured above.  this envelope leaves little doubt as to where to place the stickers – any and all of them.  they are not meant to fill in the white space on the plate, nor to cover the numbers and letters metal-stamped on the plate.

so do they not read?  that, in itself, i see as a bit of a problem.  somehow it seems necessary to be able to read and follow directions in order to be safely out on the road, driving around.

now, i would understand if the state of wisconsin department of motor vehicles just sent you a sticker in a plain envelope, without specific directions attached.  you might wonder, “golly gee, where does this sticker go?”  but to receive such clear and concise and labeled instructions, how is it that a vast number of drivers, supposedly responsible drivers, have scratched their heads and tore off the backing and stuck ’em anywhere they wanted?  what are they possibly thinking?  what is the point of this stuck-anywhere-sticker-thing?  is it a display of rebellion?  is it a display of apathy?  do they think it’s artistic?  i wonder.

because it just looks like they over-and-over-again don’t read the directions.  it’s not like you need cliff notes for the eleven words, “place year sticker here first time and at time of renewal.”  plus there’s the arrow.  pointing.  to the place the sticker goes.   what’s so hard about this?

it makes me wonder what else they don’t read or pay attention to.  in a world with a global pandemic, we surely need people to read, stay apprised, follow safety instructions and directions for flattening the curve.  we need people to be responsible and care about guidelines put into place, specifications to fairly regulate, to simply be in accord.

now, i can’t help but wonder:  are the people with stickers all over their license plates the same people – the customers at the corner store – who sneered at us because we were wearing masks during this pandemic?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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poof. [flawed wednesday]

BMI music moves our world

“music moves our world.”  bmi’s tagline: “we celebrate your talent.  we value your music.  we champion your rights.”

i don’t blame bmi.  as an royalty organization, it is trying to keep up with an industry imploding on itself.  the very same opportunity to ‘get music out there’ using online platforms is what is destroying opportunity to make a living ‘getting music out there.’

as you might guess, i just received a bmi royalty statement.  the check, which will come later in the mail and stamped with a 55 cent first class stamp, will cost them more per penny paid for the stamp than i will receive per performance play of my music.

because i am a specific-detail kind of person, here are the details of that:  if you take my check of $71.57 and divide it by the (just shy of 100,000) performance plays this particular quarter, it amounts to an average of .00074 of a cent per performance play (you read that 7/ten-thousandths of a cent).  it you take a 55 cent stamp and divide it by the check, it is .00768 of a cent per penny of the cost of the stamp (you read that 7/thousandths).  that’s 10 times as much as i receive per play.

to cite some examples:  there were 7530 youtube views of my piece ‘last i saw you’.  the royalties i earned for that are 66 cents.  CENTS.  the piece ‘i didn’t know’ yielded 49,085 plays counted on a few digital music services, which averaged $.00025 of a cent.  that is 2/10-thousandths of a cent.  way to make a living.

i’m not really sure anymore why i’m telling you this, except for the big word “awareness”.  i think most people are not aware of the explosively-good-explosively-bad impact that all these music services have had on independent musicians.  headlining musicians and independent musicians – a schism of differences.  yet, i’m not a person with one or two albums, new to the industry, eager to do anything to ‘spread the word’.  i am an artist with fifteen albums, multiple singles, in the industry for decades and who did all the eager-stuff for many, many, many years.  and like you, i want to believe that all the time and energy and writing and practicing and recording and sacrifice and thought and perseverance and education and experience and drive and hard work i put in might yield something in return now – dividends – kind of like how a retirement works.

in these times of chaos – a pandemic, an uprising of protests striving for equity in race, in gender identification, in sexual orientation, in all manners of humanity – it seems that one of the most unifying calls is that of music.  music does move our world.

why, then, is this so inequitable for us?  because i don’t know about you, but there isn’t one bill in my bill folder that totals $71.57 over the course of a quarter.  dog food alone costs $73.16 for a quarter.  there isn’t a bill that is merely for $71.57 for a month.  not the phone bill, not the mortgage, not home insurance, not health insurance (don’tgetmestarted!), not the gas/electric bill, not student loans (again, don’tgetmestarted!), not car insurance, not groceries, not wifi-cable.  too much information, i suppose.

with thousands of cds in boxes in storage in the cds-have-gone-poof world, i wonder, as i have written and you have read before, where to go from here.  most professional careers keep building, arcing in some positive direction.  i try to remind myself that this music is played hundreds of thousands of times, millions of times a year.  i try to remind myself of all the times i have heard that some piece, some song, some album, some concert, some performance has resonated with someone, that it has given them a moment of reflection, of peace, that it has buoyed them.  i try not to be jaded by people who burn copies of cds for their friends or who change their email every three months to access apple music streaming for free.

but as i write checks or click ‘pay’ online for the accountant, the doctor, the mortgage, the water, the gas and electric, the health insurance, the phone bill, the wifi and cable, the car and home insurances, the student loans, the groceries, i wonder what would happen if somehow each of those things went poof and there were free ways to access all of them.

and yet, it’s true.  music moves our world.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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“voter freud” [flawed wednesday]

voter freud

my sweet momma taught me to use a dictionary when i was very young.  “look it up,” she would tell me.  the dictionary held an esteemed place in our house.  if i didn’t know what ‘it’ meant or how ‘it’ was spelled, i knew where to go.  i developed a love for dictionaries, thesauruses, all manners of the tools of research.

now, it seems dictionaries have lost their status and spellcheck has become a way of life for those too lazy to ‘look it up’.  spellcheck has a few obvious limitations; context, usage and intent presenting the biggest challenges.  if only spellcheck and auto-correct could reach out of the device screen and (gently) slap the person committing the spellingcrime, life’s communications could be better understood.  punctuation joins the game of laziness and, i must say, punctuation makes a difference.  consider “i’m sorry i love you” or “i’m sorry.  i love you.”  there is a marked difference.

so when people, who never graced me, the nerdy-look-it-up-type, with even one word in high school but who have ‘friended’ me on facebook, post multiple nonsensical, poorly articulated and division-inciting arguments using the term “voter Freud”, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.  i want to post back “look it up!” but i refrain.  borrowing leonard pitts’ words, there seems to be a “matchless capacity for mental mediocrity” in the united states these days.

i suspect if this not-really-a-friend-just-a-friend-on-facebook was standing across from me (mind you, at least six feet across) she would be screaming at me in a loud raucous voice.  i wonder if she would call it – this thing she has taken from fox news and run full speed with, never looking to see if she had a spotter or even a bottle of water in her full-out sprint to falsificationland – “voter Freud” in person.  or would she actually say “voter fraud” in her zeal to make me a believer of her layered cake of conspiracies.

this is not just about lazy writing.  this seems an indicator of a bigger problem.  it’s the metaphoric tip of the iceberg.  i’m not just kvetching about spelling and punctuation, much as i wish that were the whole problem.  it’s an imploring plea to ask questions.  in today’s deep-fake world, a reminder to not make quick assumptions.  to not jump onto a band wagon stoked with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to quell those speaking out, enable dictatorial nationalism, silence what needs to be said.

in this pandemic-laden-chaos-wreaked-leaderless-divisive country of ours i would encourage research.  i would encourage fact-checking.  i would encourage dictionaries.  i would encourage more listening and less reactionism.  i would hope that each of us would understand that every word we utter, every word we write matters, every attitude, every nuance.  we are not in a world of one; we each affect and effect the next.  over and over.

and i don’t know.  last time i checked, john glenn high school in elwood, new york – more than four decades ago – had pretty high standards in english class, in sciences, in history, in math, not the least learning of which was how to use deductive reasoning.  i, for one, was paying attention.  because it mattered.  “voter Freud?”  indeed.  it still matters.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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mouths shut. mouths aloud. [flawed wednesday]

keep yo mouth shut

“and if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all,” my sweet momma would admonish.

yes, sometimes ‘you just gotta button it up’.  there are those moments you know it.  there are also those moments you knew it but the cat did not have your tongue and the reactionary in you reared its ugly head and you spat out something you instantly regretted.

wisdom has been passed down in quiet steadfast sages.  their lessons have been lost on many; their diplomacy skipped in dna strands, oft replaced by quick tempers and faster tongues.

as jen would say, “you can’t un-say/un-see/un-know it.”  good to remember.

one day, back in college, i had the good fortune of eating lunch with paul simon.  the chitchat was about many things under the sun, but i wish i had asked him a bit more about this song.  he said that in the inability of people to communicate, no one was listening to him and no one was listening to anyone else.  as we passed by captain mike’s and the irish pub and the beach and downtown a couple days ago, i thought he clearly wrote this song about now, the middle of this global pandemic.  who is listening?  who is speaking?  who should be speaking?  who should be listening?  why is the silence – truly in the middle of so much noise – so deafening?

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
i wonder about a world where no one is listening, no one is paying attention.  i wonder
what kind of world are we passing on to those behind us?  keeping quiet, speaking out, exercising verbal self-control, standing up, articulating for what is right in the face of adversity….
me and all my friends
we’re all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there’s no way we ever could
now we see everything that’s going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don’t have the means
to rise above and beat it
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
it’s not that we don’t care
we just know that the fight ain’t fair
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
and we know that sometimes it is simply best to keep your mouth shut.  to wait.  sometimes it is the right thing to do.  sometimes it is the only way through to the other side.
now you say it best when you say nothing at all.
silence speaks louder than words.  silence is, indeed, often golden.  insight, compassion, discernment, respect, knowledge, empathy, listening – all golden qualities of those who choose their words wisely, those who know when to keep their mouth shut.
archie bunker, of ‘all in the family‘ fame, knew he had a big mouth.  it got him good ratings, but carrol o’connor, the actor who played archie, said this about the main character:
“Archie’s dilemma is coping with a world that is changing in front of him.  He doesn’t know what to do, except to lose his temper, mouth his poisons, look elsewhere to fix the blame for his own discomfort.  He isn’t a totally evil man.  He’s shrewd.  But he won’t get to the root of his problem, because the root of his problem is himself, and he doesn’t know it.  That is the dilemma of Archie Bunker.”
 

wow.  why does THAT sound so familiar?

oh, did i say that aloud?

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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washed fruit and boggled minds. [flawed wednesday]

washed fruit

WRITTEN THE MORNING OF WISCONSIN’S PRIMARY ELECTION DAY – APRIL 7, 2020

“the court’s suggestion that the current situation is not ‘substantially different’ from an ‘ordinary election’ boggles the mind.” (justice ruth bader ginsburg)

i have lived in this state for over three decades now.  i have never been more disappointed or embarrassed.  or angry.

in the middle of washing every single piece of fruit and vegetable that enters this house, in the middle of disinfecting the mail and all packages, in the middle of mask-wearing and social distancing, in the middle of streaming or video-conferencing anything work-related, in the middle of a global pandemic that is eating away at people’s lives and threatens the lives of thousands more (if we could even somewhat accurately predict) this state’s officials  – wisconsin – has the gall, the audacity, the very blatant disregard of human life and human safety to continue to hold its primary election today, putting anyone at risk who goes to the very few open and staffed polls.  other options are confusing for people – drive-throughs, curbside – these make the assumption that voters have transportation and can go to one of the few places there are voting sites.  milwaukee, a city that usually has 180 polls, has 5 open today.  5.  for a population of half a million.  even if 50,000 people vote in those 5 places, that would mean 10,000 people a polling site, and yes – that is slightly higher than the recommended number of people present in one place at one time (10) during this PANDEMIC.  in one of the most self-serving moves of all time (although then we would have to ignore the skewed self-servingness of our previous governor) the republicans of this state (and i call them out because they ARE the ones who voted the postponement down) have decided that the people of wisconsin are dispensable.  with absentee ballots not even in all voters’ mailboxes, no opportunity to absentee vote later than today is being afforded.  the wisconsin populace is disenfranchised and it is despicable.  adding greater insult, the majority of the supreme court of the united states put its indelible signature on this atrocious decision.

i don’t even know what to say.  between the federal government’s response to this pandemic and the inbred infighting, the blatant aggression and ineptitude of the president, the pitting of the country’s states against each other (even reading that makes me nauseous), i feel grossly let down.  yes, justice ginsburg, it boggles my mind.  it undermines everything i thought this country was about.  it’s exhausting.  aren’t we all tired?

and where do we go from here? WISCONSIN, where do we go from here?  how will the coronavirus curve change now?  how will the inability of everyone voting play to the few who voted down the postponement?  don’t we already know?  do the leaders blocking a later date for this primary election really expect people to perilously exercise their fundamental right to vote yet not give a damn that people are putting their very lives at risk?  WHY ARE WE WASHING OUR FRUIT?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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devoid of color. [flawed wednesday]

red and blue america

this morning i am devoid of color.  like many of you, i had a day – for me it was yesterday – that shook me to the core.  in the midst of all the bootstrap-pulling and the sisu-garnering we are mustering, angst pushed its way to the surface.  i stood in front of my piano and it started.  it didn’t stop until i laid my face on the pillow to rest, late last night, and then it woke me in the middle of the night, poking me into the place where you stare into the dark, imploring your mind to stop.  if you were there too, in the middle of angst yesterday, we were in solidarity.

this morning i am devoid of color.  apparently, for the whole of my life, i have not been as brutally aware of the chasms in this country as i am now.  we are not really one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  and the rose-colored glasses that  birthed loyalty have slid off our collective faces.  this country is as divided as they come.  it is as inequitable as they come.  and woefully, it is as shallow as they come.

this morning i am devoid of color.  in the middle of a global pandemic the leaders of this country are failing us.  jousts of economic strategy are thrust into this health-terror; federal taunts of get-it-for-yourself set the stage, the precedent, a hideous example for a people intent on self-servingness.  we see the curtain pulled on what is important to people and we are appalled.

this morning i am devoid of color.  the in-fighting pales in comparison to the cavalier buttressing of parties.  yes.  “red and blue america are not experiencing the same pandemic.”  we can’t have conversation because that would involve honest communicating.  we can’t seek truth because who could then be blamed? we can’t even talk because we are too angrily disparate to talk.  tilting my kitchen chair back on two legs as we read aloud the news i feel the earth tilt under me and i hold onto the table.

we are not on the same page, we of this country.  this pandemic, capable of uniting us in working to flatten the curve of its dread, is further dividing us.  information is warped; information is withheld.  facts – facts! – are play-doh-molded into whatever pushes forth agenda.  there are two distinct camps of thought and nary shall they meet.  this has generated an opportunity, a ploy, for more polarity; we see it, experience it, up close and personal.  and, to add insult to injury, the great divide, the vast difference between those-who-have and those-who-don’t is exposed like a compound fracture.  despite sixty years on this earth, i have never seen it more clearly.  and it is staggering.

this morning i am devoid of color.  fear has drained the color from my face.  i want us, my husband and i, to stay healthy.  i desperately want my beloved children to stay healthy.  i earnestly want my parents-in-law to stay healthy, our siblings, our families, our extended families, our friends.  but the misinformation war has put us in peril.  this insidious virus is sweeping the globe and we are in danger.  that, at its root, should not be a question or a bargaining chip.  it should not be ignored nor should it be conflated to suit agenda.  it should be factual, pragmatic, cautious, proactive, seeking answers, results and healing of lives – indivisible – for all.

so many people in this nation, practicing goodness.  but this nation?  this nation has a choice to make.

this morning i am devoid of color.  i am deeply disappointed.  i am afraid.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the power of social…anything. [flawed wednesday]

think before you share

“think before you share”

SOME IDIOMS TO CONSIDER:

a two-edged sword.

it cuts both ways.

he said, she said.

off the record.

rumor has it.

the power of words.

heard it through the grapevine.

spill the beans.

the telephone game.

a little learning is a dangerous thing.

have your head in the clouds.

go on a wild goose chase.

dish the dirt.

add insult to injury.

can’t see the forest for the trees.

idle gossip.

baldfaced lie.

in bad faith.

stoke the fire.

trash talk.

get out of hand.

snowball effect.

jump on the bandwagon.

no love lost.

damn the torpedoes.

burn bridges.

a perfect storm.

boil over.

go down in flames.

AND THESE:

an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

a penny for your thoughts.

it doesn’t hurt to ask.

the fact of the matter.

through thick and thin.

even keel.

those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

hold your tongue.

don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

call off the dogs.

leave no stone unturned.

heart to heart talk.

change your tune.

blow the lid off.

know which way the wind is blowing.

straight from the horse’s mouth.

a stitch in time saves nine.

look before you leap.

bury the hatchet.

do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

love makes the world go round.

live and learn.

yes. “think before you share.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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closed circle. [flawed wednesday]

circle

a closed circle.

i remember way back in elementary school.  the girls were brutal.  if ‘they’ decided you were ‘out’ you didn’t have a chance, regardless of your best efforts.  expressions like “she took away my best friend” were rampant and hurt feelings prevailed.  outsiders of the ‘cool’ inner (closed) circle were left feeling inadequate and lonely.

this was not contained to just elementary school.  junior high and high school were examples of exponential closed circles, the occupants ‘inside’ becoming more versed with age on how to inflict emotional pain on those un-included.  never being one of the ‘cool’ crowd, i have watched from the fringes as closed circles have stubbornly restricted access to people with much to offer.  and then, adulthood.  circles still exist.  you step lightly.  everywhere.

a closed circle.

in our work, in our communities, in our world.  are we aware of them, these closed circles?  do we make an effort to be inclusive, to offer our hand, to embrace the outsider and bring him or her inside?

or are we like those children in the early arc of learning, gathered around the tetherball court or the four-square game or the hopscotch drawn on the asphalt?  do we point out the differences?  do we turn deaf ears to ideas that are not ours? do we refuse to play together, work together, listen and learn together?  do we act like others – somehow in some way unlike us – do not belong in our club, do not merit our friendship, are round pegs in our square-holed world?  are we closed circles?  have we not left the elementary school playground?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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healthcare.gov [flawed wednesday]

healthcare.gov

this could get ugly.  it could also get too honest.  and maybe too personal.  and too detailed.

this is the week.  i’ve been dreading it for months.  it is the final week to select health insurance for 2020.  sometime this week i will wait online for probably hours to take my turn, to take my turn to sign up for a plan on healthcare.gov. i have been awake all night on and off for weeks.

we are artists.  both of us.  neither of our jobs and none of the other work that we do provide health insurance or benefits.  we live in the state of wisconsin and have four options of healthcare companies on healthcare.gov.  an insurance agent pointed out that we could opt for short term health insurance (up to 360 days) instead of a regular policy, but those do not cover any pre-existing conditions, do not provide for physicals and most preventative care and are basically catastrophic plans.  hmmm.  as a grown-up who has been working my entire grown-up life, i would really like to have grown-up insurance.

so.  four companies.  bronze, silver and gold plans in each.  none of these companies provide nationwide coverage and a couple do not even allow for emergency room coverage out of network. two of those companies do not cover our doctors, professionals with whom we have established relationship through years; last year (2018) our coverage did not allow us to go to our own doctors, so we didn’t.  we paid for coverage and never visited the doctor’s office at all.

so let’s get more mealy here.  there are plenty of arguments about healthcare out there and plenty of naysayers and supporters -each- of the affordable care act.  are you even familiar with it?  if you would prefer not to know, i would stop reading here.  but if you really want to know more, please read on… but keep in mind, i love math and research.

we are 60 and 58 and healthy.  these four companies on healthcare.gov presented bronze, silver and gold plans that will cost between $1600 and $2800 per month out of pocket, which is a total of $19,200-$33,600 per year.  the $1600 options have deductibles between $14,000-16,000.  in many cases, this is what you must satisfy before the company even begins to pay a portion.   that would mean you have paid in the neighborhood of $33,200 a year for you and your spouse to be treated on a bronze plan, without figuring in the actual cost of the treatment.

let’s explore an example for example’s sake.

let’s say you make a combined salary of $70,000.  let’s assume a meager (and understated) tax bracket of only 20%.  $70,000-14,000 = $56,000.  now let’s assume you own a house or pay rent and your mortgage plus escrowed real estate taxes are about $1200 combined (also underestimated in most cases). $56,000-14,400 = $41,600.  add to that your utilities bills; let’s just estimate that at a lowish $250 per month, which is $3000 year.  $41,600-3000 = $38,600.  now subtract out for cellphones, home phones, cable, wifi again lowballing at $250 per month, $3000 per year.  $38,600-3000 = $35,600.  at this point you have not included any of your outstanding student loans or parent plus loans, nor have you subtracted out for home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, any kind of retirement savings or a car payment.  nor have you even considered food, clothing or gas for driving to and from work, even if you don’t drive anywhere else.  any outstanding rotating credit card debt or medical related costs that you are paying on installment are not subtracted.  but you are sitting at $35,600 usuable income.

so.  if you take the bronze plan you must assume that you have approximately $16,000 in the bank for the deductible and you must subtract $19,200 (27% of your gross income) from your $35,600 leaving you with $16,400 to cover all the aforementioned items we hadn’t subtracted and maybe perhaps saving a little to cover the percentages of medical expenses you need to cover post-deductible.  OR you can take a silver plan, which is in the neighborhood of $2200 per month or $26,400 year (38% of your gross income) leaving you with $9200 to cover loans, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, car payment, food, clothing, gas, etc.  you clearly can’t even consider a gold plan at $2800 per month (the most grown-up plan) because that would cost $33,600 a year, leaving you with a mere $2000 to spend on the rest of life (as listed above).  again, that’s assuming a meager 20% income tax rate and not considering state or local income taxes as well.

i’m sure you are beginning to see my point.

and then there are the subsidies.  yes.  if you earn below 4 times the poverty rate in your state, you are eligible for subsidies for this healthcare insurance.  naturally, the more you earn, the less subsidy you are able to receive.  that makes sense.  it feathers out as the numbers go up.  and then?  there is a dollar level – one dollar this way or that – that a granted subsidy would drop from hundreds, even more than a thousand or fifteen hundred to – ZERO – .  for instance, if you are granted a subsidy because of your level of income and sometime in the year (as you have worked hard to earn more to live a little better) you go over the healthcare cliff by ONE DOLLAR, ONE dollar, you will owe back the entirety of the insurance plan.  in the above case, that would be anywhere between the difference of what you paid in and the plan total of $19,200 or up to $33,600.

we are the poster children of this so-called sweet spot in the healthcare crisis of our country.  a bit older, working hard, multiple jobs, no job-provided healthcare.  not making enough to scoff at spending say $29,000-$33,000 (silver or gold plans) or even $19,200 (bronze) for one year of health insurance, nonetheless be able to actually budget that, but making a bit more than the cliff.  no ropes.  no guardrails.  just a cliff.

the professional insurance agent on the phone said she had “a lot of people your age in that circumstance.”  she suggested considering short term health insurance, the kind i mentioned above that precludes pre-existing conditions etc etc. etc.  that doesn’t sound like grown-up health care to me.  and the deeply disappointed, frustrated cynic in me asks this question – when will breathing be considered a pre-existing condition?

something needs to be done.  is the health of the people of this country important or not?  it’s a basic question.  with an obvious answer.   where do we place value?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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