Thursday, 22 December 2011

By on December 22nd, 2011 in personal

08:14 – I see that a Bellevue, Washington USPS employee has been ordered to stop wearing a Santa outfit while he’s delivering mail, although he’s been wearing that suit around this time every year for the last ten years. Now, I’m certainly a radical Grinch, and I’m dead-set against any religion of any sort having any influence whatsoever on government at any level, but this strikes me as faintly ridiculous.

Apparently, one of the guy’s co-workers complained, and the postmaster had no choice but to cite the guy for being in violation of USPS dress-code requirements. The guy says he’ll keep wearing the Santa suit, but admits that he’ll probably get in trouble for doing so. He shouldn’t. This is clearly an example of a personal rather than an institutional celebration of Christmas. Now, if the USPS painted mangers on the sides of its trucks or if it encouraged its employees to distribute religious literature during their delivery rounds, that’d clearly violate separation of church and state and would rightly be banned. But it seems to me that this is not much different from a government employee wearing a necklace with a cross or a star of David on it or playing Christmas carols on the radio while at work.

12:52 – Apparently there are still at least a few people stupid, gullible, and/or desperate enough to fall for the Nigerian scam, but someone would have to be brain-dead to respond to one that just ended up in my inbox. It starts out, and I quote, “This to inform you that UPS company Benin Republic have moved your consignment fund of $3.6 deposited in our office to be delivered to through our diplomatic agent who just arrived your Air Port with your consignment fund.” Wow! Almost a whole four bucks.

60 Comments and discussion on "Thursday, 22 December 2011"

  1. OFD says:

    He should be flogged and driven from the city gates. Bastard. Trying to spread some cheer in a dismal year.

  2. dkreck says:

    Hmmmm… I wonder what a turban would be considered?

  3. SteveF says:

    I have mixed thoughts about the government employee wearing a non-uniform uniform on the job; can see both sides. However, the problem would go away, or at least not be much in the public eye, if the government weren’t the employer here. Get the government out of the mail-carrying business and no one much will care what the mail carriers wear.

    Same goes for many excursions of the government outside of its proper sphere, especially the schools. Whether or not to have a prayer at the graduation ceremony would be a matter between the parents and the school administration, not a Constitutional issue, if the government weren’t running the schools.

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Oh, I agree. If it were up to me, I’d privatize everything, including the post office, schools, courts, fire and police departments, and so on.

  5. BGrigg says:

    Up in Canuckistan, Canada Post encourages children to write to Santa, and volunteers from the PO write back. The address is Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, HOH OHO. This has been going on for almost thirty years now.

    There was one sicko that wrote back pornographic comments, but he was quickly caught and promptly vilified by the entire nation.

    I’ve seen Canada Post trucks decorated like they are Christmas packages. We might be socialist, but we also have kids! American socialists seem much meaner than Canadian ones, Chicago must think itself a tough town.

  6. Paul Jones says:

    He should drop the santa suit but convert his official post office jeep into a sleigh.

  7. Rod Schaffter says:

    It’s lucky that Bob’s mailman doesn’t wear a Santa suit-he might accidentally get a missile intended for the real Santa… 🙂

  8. BGrigg says:

    And not available in Canada? I get so tired of that.

  9. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Thanks. I’ve read Guderian, so I suspect I’ll like this one as well.

  10. SteveF says:

    Wow! Almost a whole four bucks.

    You can feed a Nigerian family for a month on that, you heartless monster!

    Roy Harvey: Thanks! I usually take my Kindle when I leave the house, so I’m able to read in the odd minute standing on line or waiting for my wife* or whatever. Reading light fiction is all well and good, but I prefer something more informative or meaningful.

    And sort of on that topic, RBT is certainly correct that there are more Kindle books available for free from Amazon than anyone could read. What he’s not mentioning is that most of it is junk. I’m not an especially picky reader, but most of the free books are not worth reading. They would get a failing mark in any honestly-graded high school creative writing class.

    * Though that tends to be measured in tens of minutes rather than minutes.

  11. Steve says:

    Bob, privatize the courts and police?

    One of the only truly legitimate responsibilities of government is to enforce laws.
    I can see how a private fire department could easily work (it’s a kind of fire insurance model), but private police? It’s hard to charge individuals for that service, since their job protects everyone. When a thief a mile away is caught, it still helps you in both tasking a criminal off the street (less chance to potentially harm YOU later) and discouraging crime in general (since thieves know they can be caught.)

  12. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    It has not been my experience that most or even many of the free books on Kindle are junk. On average, I’d say that the free books I’ve read have been about equal in quality to those published by trad publishers in writing quality and superior in formatting quality. Trad publishers are dumping backlists into ebook form, even though in many cases they don’t have the rights to do so, and in many cases what they end up publishing is a crappy scan/OCR without any apparent editing; self-pubbed books tend to be considerably better edited. As to formatting, I remember only a very few self-pubbed books that had horrible formatting (paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences or even words, and so on) but quite a few trad-pubbed books that are simply terrible.

    What most people don’t understand is that:

    (a) publishers don’t care about writing quality and never have; they care about publishing books they think they can make money on. The two are almost entirely unrelated.

    (b) for every trad-pubbed author, there are literally a hundred (if not a thousand) unpublished authors who are as good or better than the published authors in every respect. Getting a publishing contract has always been like hitting the jackpot, and quite often the winner shouldn’t have.

    Furthermore, Amazon now encourages self-pubbed authors, including big-name authors who’ve been traditionally published, to offer their books for $0.00 as a means of getting more readers. It used to be that $0.99 was the minimum price Amazon would allow authors to set. Lots of self-pubbed authors went through hoops to trick Amazon into discounting their books to $0.00. (Basically, you had to cut your price to zero with one of Amazon’s competitors and hope that Amazon would notice the price cut. If/when they did, they’d price-match, so you got your book priced where you wanted it. But there was no guarantee that Amazon would even notice the price cut or, if they did, that they’d match it.)

  13. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, the police have basically two functions: preventing crime and cleaning up the mess from crimes they didn’t prevent. Which of those do you think is not compatible with private police forces? Not the first, certainly. Even now, some people/communities hire private police to patrol and protect them and their homes, and certainly businesses do the same. It can’t be the second, either. If you paid your subscription, the police investigate any crime against you or your property; if you don’t, they don’t.

  14. Miles_Teg says:

    Nigerian Scams.

    I was working late one evening about 10 years ago and could easily hear a nearby co-worker who had received a scam letter/e-mail and had actually phoned the scammers and had been taken in. He was asking questions but seemed to be on the hook. I didn’t know whether to get involved, and admit I’d overheard (but he was speaking quite loudly) or just let him get shorn. I decided to discuss it with the boss, who was also working late. We agreed to tell this guy, during a break in the phone calls, that he was about to be shorn, and that it was all a well known scam. We finally convinced him, but it took a while. Some people are just so gullible.

    My parents got a Spanish Lottery letter (a real, postal one) in the mid Nineties. It was an obvious fake but it amused me to read through it several times. I’ve also had an e-mailed scam letter that was really quite good; I think I actually kept it because it was so good. Written in well polished English and with a believable story line. I don’t think they even asked for money up front. I would still have happily throttled the people involved but at least it was one of the better scam e-mails I’ve received.

  15. OFD says:

    “American socialists seem much meaner than Canadian ones, Chicago must think itself a tough town”

    They ARE meaner and probably a lot dumber. Chicago? Yeah, that is where recently the Board of Trade let fly MacDonald’s employment applications out their windows in the thousands on the heads of Occupy Chicago protesters. In a really tough town there would have been pots of boiling oil. In Manhattan the hoi polloi sat on their balconies sipping their drinks and laughing. I guess they hadn’t read Simon Schama’s “Citizens” or anything else much outside of a financial prospectus, if that.

    “* Though that tends to be measured in tens of minutes rather than minutes.”

    I will see you one wife and raise you one daughter on that, sir. She used to, and still does at 19, keep me waiting for longer than that, and on occasion knowingly, deliberately, etc. I certainly bring reading material in both cases. Yet her 83-year-old grandma is always right on time or early. Western teenage girlz should be quarantined somewhere for a few years.

  16. Jim Cooley says:

    Saw the eye doctor today. $165 later and his advice was essentially, “You’re getting older. Quit bitching.”

    Eyes hadn’t changed enough to justify a new prescription.

    Did mention something I hadn’t heard of, though. When they replace the lens for cataract surgery, they can correct for myopia. So if I want my lenses replaced, theoretically I’d not need glasses or contacts for distance vision except for astigmatism, which is minimal. Something to think about. And since my eyes are so different (-5.75/-11.00), it would reduce the difference between apparent image sizes I see when wearing glasses.

    Ray, any comments?

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    Wow, I thought *my* eyes were bad. Mine are both in the -5.0/-6.0 region, I also have astigmatism. Can that be corrected for surgically? My ophthalmologist hinted that cataract surgery might be in my future. If it needs to get done it needs to get done but I’d kinda rather not. But if it means I could dispense with glasses (been wearing them since 1974) I could be tempted.

    Late and unreliable females…

    I’m on holidays at the moment but I had to set the alarm for 6.10 this morning so I could take my younger niece (25 yo) to work for a 7 am start. The bus would have taken forever to get her there, and my sister (Em’s mother) said she *really* needed a sleep in, so guess who drew the short straw. The niece was actually on time, for once. I was amazed, normally it’s a sure bet hat she’d changer her mind, or be late, or…

  18. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Of course, as you know, I totally oppose privatization of significant services. All one has to do is look at the rail system in Europe to see the damage done by privatization. Privatizing bus lines is worse in the UK, as my son was in Edinburgh for work/study in college, and to cross the city required using 3 different bus companies—paying full fare to each when transferring. When he first arrived, one full fare payment got you clear across town, but the bus companies got greedy and quit accepting transfers from their rival companies.

    However, the main fact is that government provided services are done at a non-profit level. Privatizing services means that the private companies have exactly the same costs as the non-profit, but then must add in an additional charge to the consumer for profit–which is never modest.

    And serving the customer? Forget it. Like our host points out with traditional publishers, the privatized companies soon reject their mission as providing (insert service here) and see their goal as extracting the maximum amount of money from the users of their service.

    Future planning? As the privatized rails of Great Britain have shown, rail maintenance is their last priority; building new lines to cope with increased future demand? Forget that. Just like the drug companies who cut back dramatically on R&D to insure revenue for their future, there will be no future planning for privatized services.

    Privatization is a problem in society, not the solution.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    Chuck, the capital governments invest to provide the kinds of services you’re talking about is not free. It’s either taken from taxpayers or borrowed on the markets for a price.

    Having said all that I agree that governments can and should provide some services because it can be economically efficient. For example, I think there’s nothing wrong with governments owning and providing electricity, water, sewage, gas and telecommunications infrastructure. Airports too, because most cities require only one and to have a monopoly situation in, say, airports allows the most obscene gouging of consumers. Sydney Airport in Australia is a prime example. It doesn’t usually make sense for two, three of four sets of sewage, water, etc pipes to be running around the suburbs. But I’m all in favour of allowing private power stations to feed in to the grid, private airlines to use the government owned airport and so on.

    You just have to keep in mind that services provided by governments are not free and there is nothing wrong with the cost of setting up and running such services being factored into the price charged to consumers.

  20. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Miles_Teg says:

    Chuck, the capital governments invest to provide the kinds of services you’re talking about is not free. It’s either taken from taxpayers or borrowed on the markets for a price.

    Where in the world did I say that the services I referred to were free? I said only that when provided by government, they do not include the added cost of profit, which IS an extra part of private companies’ charges in providing the same services.

    There is actually a watchdog group that has tracked the privatization of electrical service to my area. Outages have been more frequent (probably due to poorer maintenance) and are more protracted than when the state-owned monopoly provided the service. There is no doubt that telephone service has suffered dramatically in all of the trades and buyouts that have accompanied that area of service. I reported here at the time, that my near 90 year-old aunt and uncle had one telephone — their long-time landline, and were without service for nearly 2 weeks. They had no other phone, but got a cell phone because of that prolonged interruption. That was inexcusable for elderly people who are far more likely to need emergency services than younger folks. Since they reported the outage on my cell phone, I heard some of the conversations, and repeatedly, they were accused of having a problem on their own property. Turns out it was the phone company’s problem: the installers putting in U-verse service to the city, disconnected their telephone line at one of the distribution boxes a couple blocks away, in the process of installing the U-verse equipment. Great thing this privatization. Next thing you know, I will have to start paying to receive mail at my door, just like I do for cell phone telephone calls. In Germany, the caller paid the full freight for telephone calls, and the recipient party paid nothing — which is as it should be, with mail and telephone calls.

  21. Chad says:

    Usually one of the first snide remarks you hear in Internet forums when you mention being libertarian is something to the affect of, “Libertarian? Good luck with your free market fire department.”

  22. Miles_Teg says:

    Chuck wrote:

    “Where in the world did I say that the services I referred to were free?”

    You didn’t say that, nor did I suggest that you did. But a body that is set up by governments (with essentially free capital) that is competing in the market with private companies is at an unfair advantage. I think an integrated government owned transportation network is a good idea but competition from the private sector should be allowed, even encouraged. Since the private sector will have to pay interest/dividens on the capital they raise it’s only fair that government owned entities return a similar return on their otherwise “free” capital. The publicly owned airlines Australian and Qantas in the Eighties were prime examples. The government floated them with essentially free public money to compete with a private airline that ad to pay interest and dividens. Not a level playing field at all.

    I don’t argue that privatising public assets can lead to bad outcomes: When the Electricity Trust of South Australia was privatised (actually, leased to the private sector for 200 years because they couldn’t get an outright sale through parliament) prices went UP UP UP, reliability DOWN DOWN DOWN, despite the promises of the “free enterprise” government that made the sale. (This same government had promised faithfully that they wouldn’t sell ETSA at the election a year earlier.)

    Same has happened in many other Australian states. The only “success” story was in Victoria where the private enterprise consortia that bought that state’s electricity generators, distribution network and sales network payed *way* too much for those assets. That’s the only example I can think of in Australia where the sale of a public asset was good for taxpayers and consumers.

  23. brad says:

    I’ll have to land in the middle of the argument between RBT and Chuck. Edinburgh makes a great example, so lets stick with it.

    The bus services are private. As such, each one is out for its own good. Lucrative bus routes are served by all of them, leading to traffic problems as the huge number of buses choke the relative narrow roads. Meanwhile, more isolated areas are very poorly served, which kind of defeats the purpose of a bus service.

    On the other hand, Edinburgh’s solution to the problem is to build a light-rail line along the central route from the airport through the city centre to the harbor. They started this project, under government guidance, many years ago. They hired an local company – with lots of experience in sucking off the government teat – to manage the project, and a German company to do actual the rail laying.

    The project began. The German company did an analysis and informed the management company that they would need to remove all of the utilitied from underneath the rail lines, as otherwise the weight of the trains would crush them. The streets were torn up, pipes moved, rails laid, and then…nothing. Two years nothing, no news, no information, just nothing.

    Finally it came out. The rails were already sinking, because they somehow “forgot” to move some of the utility pipes. The management company got one of those magical UK injuctions/superinjunctions, to prevent the German company from telling the public what had gone wrong. In this time, the top-level managers of the management company bailed out with their golden parachutes, leaving their underlings to declare the company bankrupt and unable to meet its obligations. So now, Edinburgh is left to try again, many millions poorer; the rail lines have been torn up, so that the last utility pipes can be moved, so that they can start all over again.

    It’s hard to even figure out where to place the blame. A company was intent on ripping off the government. The top executives succeeded, leaving their underlings to take the heat. The project was well-meant, as all such projects are, but somehow the very fact of being a government project leads to this kind of disaster.

    – – – – –

    On a more cheerful note: Let me take the opportunity to wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Yummy Spaghetti Monsters, or whatever suits your respective situations!

  24. OFD says:

    “Libertarian? Good luck with your free market fire department.”

    There are volunteer fire departments all over the country, and especially throughout New England and New Jersey where I have lived. They seem to do just fine.

    And as for police and other “law enforcement” departments and agencies? I say get rid of them, speaking as a former cop. Well, at least get rid of them as they are currently constituted and run. This needs careful thought and planning.

  25. Raymond Thompson says:

    Ray, any comments?

    If cataracts are in your future do not hesitate to have an interocular implant to replace your lens. They will measure your eye with some laser machine to determine the proper lens. Once that is ordered the procedure is accomplished.

    To say the procedure is trivial is an understatement. Took less than 10 minutes, only one eye at a time. Although I see no reason why you could not do both. There are no stitches, no discomfort, no eye patch. Just no driving or work for the day. Followup the following day.

    The results are HPFM (Hocus Pocus Fucking Magic). The increase in clarity, the ability to see distance without glasses. I can see perfectly to drive my vision now being 20/20 from what used to be 20/400. I still need reading glasses but would have anyway even without the surgery.

    Don’t even hesitate when the time comes. If you can get it done earlier do it as the vision correction is worth it. Just follow the eye surgeons instructions to the letter as you will have some eye drops to take for a few days, mostly antibiotics, perhaps a steroid to control swelling.

    If would have known that cataract surgery was going to to produce the results it produced, I would have had it done three or four years earlier.

  26. Jim Cooley says:

    Thanks Ray. Definitely worth considering. Even though I don’t have cataracts I find glare, esp. at night, a problem. I guess new lenses would help with that, too.

  27. Raymond Thompson says:

    Glare has never been a problem after the cataract surgery. Part of the glare problem may be the start of cataracts. I noticed mine when I started having some glare and haziness around lights. The eye doctor had told me to expect cataracts so I was not surprised when he told me.

    When I had the one eye done the increase in clarity was so remarkable, colors richer, glare gone, distance vision outstanding, color more true, that I had the other done as quickly as possible.

    When dealing with photographs I was always told that my color corrections were too blue. I relied on a color calibrated monitor and white balancing tools but the images were much warm for my taste so I would tweak them. Not that it was bad, just not correct color. I found out whay after I had the one eye done. The starting of the cataract was affecting the color by blocking part of blue spectrum.

    I wish I could describe in words how much better my vision has become. The cataract surgery truly is HPFM.

  28. BGrigg says:

    There are volunteer fire departments all over the country, and especially throughout New England and New Jersey where I have lived. They seem to do just fine.

    But they are volunteer, not free market. Not the same thing, at all. They aren’t checking to see if you have a tag indicating a fully paid subscription. VFDs are the height of a properly socialized community, when individual members take on a responsibility, FOR FREE, for the betterment of the community. I’ve always thought you could apply that thinking to snow removal on residential streets and even foot patrols in your neighborhood to reduce crime. like Neighborhood Watch does. Though I hasten to add that I don’t necessarily want armed patrols unless the crime rate is so high to warrant it. In K-town, it just isn’t required, Detroit would be another matter. Indeed, Detroit might not be the place to implement such a system.

    There are problems with both systems. Publicly funded systems tend to be bound up in red tape and bureaucracy, which screws over the customer. And free enterprise systems, free of such encumbrances, tend to screw over the customer far more efficiently.

    BC has privatized BC Ferry, BC Hydro, BC Gas and BC Rail. Service has plummeted and the expense of each has shot up dramatically. And the four Chairmen of those corporations are now always on the list of the top ten highest paid people in BC. When they were publicly funded the costs were low, but they took forever to implement improvements as it was constantly being scrutinized for “transparency”, and we all bitched that the bureaucrats were overpaid.

    OTOH BC nationalized auto insurance and the costs shot up, the service dwindled and now it’s taken over licensing and fine collection. Haven’t paid your speeding ticket, no insurance for you! Got screwed over by the insurer and you can’t vote with your wallet, so you either suck it up or no insurance for you! Oh, and the chairman is often on that top ten highest paid people list.

    And of course, BC has socialized health care, or at least partial health care as eyes and teeth aren’t covered. Mired in red tape, swollen with bureaucrats, the cost to the tax payer is immense, and comically the heads of the various regional health authorities are often on the list of the top fifty highest paid public employees of BC.

    This reminds me of the old Cold War joke about the difference between Capitalism and Communism. In a Capitalist state man exploits man, while in a Communist state, it’s exactly opposite.

  29. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Ah, need I point out that government fire departments are a relatively recent thing? For a long time, fire departments were entirely private. If you paid the subscription, you got a plaque to put up. When a house caught fire, the fire department would show up. If there was no plaque, they watched the house burn, which meant almost everyone paid the subscription. There were often competing fire departments serving the same area, which kept prices very reasonable. And those departments routinely cooperated with others in their own areas and surrounding areas to put out fires that were too large for one department.

    The fallacy in Chuck’s argument is that government is hideously inefficient. (Nearly always ineffective, too, but that’s a separate issue.) When things are opened up to free market competition, the government-run alternative simply cannot compete. That’s always true of command-driven endeavors versus market-driven ones, and always will be. Why do you think the USPS has a monopoly on first-class mail and use of people’s mailboxes? Without that, the USPS would have disappeared long ago. And why do you think the average US public school system spends something like $11,000 per student, when those student could get a better education in private schools for half that or less?

  30. BGrigg says:

    No, just as you don’t have to point out that England and France have often warred. I’m well aware of how fire departments worked in the past. Most VFDs were born because those private enterprise fire departments had no interest in protecting everyone.

    I’m also aware that most of those private FDs were taken over from a lack of upgrading their fire fighting equipment, and from a lack of a unified goal, regardless of your claims of shared resources. There are also many stories about firefighters fighting each other, rather than the flames.

    I don’t dispute the superiority of the private school over the public. Don’t forget you are talking to an ardent home-schooler with one graduated student and another with one year to go. However, please provide links to private schools in your area that cost a mere $5500 per year. The ones here charge that for preschool, and from $12-14000 for grades 10-12, while the public systems claims a cost per student of $8,400. I’ve never heard of a cut-rate private school, nor would I want my children attending one.

  31. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Oh, good grief. You’re comparing list price for private schools versus actual cost for public schools. (Actually, the per-student cost for public school is nearly always understated, often dramatically.) If I went down to Bishop McGuinness High School, which is a few miles from here, I’d bet I’d find that a few students were paying list price, most a significantly discounted price, and more than a few next to nothing. I’d also bet the average would be significantly less than $5,500 per student. And the same is true of many other private schools, including ones with no church affiliation. Obviously, there are exceptions. Some schools don’t want students whose parents aren’t wealthy, but those are becoming few and far between. My own opinion is that pursuing “diversity” is ridiculous, but nearly all private schools seem for some reason to think it’s important.

  32. SteveF says:

    One issue with public school pricing is the buildings and grounds. One big advantage is that the public schools don’t pay property taxes. I’m not sure that they pay for the property at all, at least as appears in the annual budget; it’s very rare for new schools to open in this area so I don’t have first-hand knowledge. The annual cost per student generally does not include amortizing the cost of the building, renovations, and any upkeep beyond the basics.

    Similarly, operating expenses for school buses are included in the budget but the cost of the buses themselves is not.

    Public schools get funding from many sources, including federal grants, state money, and assistance for special needs students. These are often not included in the publicly-displayed bottom line. Instead, the total budget is presented in terms of property taxes and volunteer fund raising.

    All of the above is from first-hand knowledge in a handful of upstate NY districts. It’s in agreement with what I’ve heard of other school districts, though I don’t have any idea whether it’s a universal problem or merely widespread.

  33. brad says:

    RBT writes “If I went down to Bishop McGuinness High School, which is a few miles from here, I’d bet I’d find that a few students were paying list price”.

    I have to side with BGrigg here… Saying “I bet” doesn’t really qualify as evidence. Sure, private schools offer some scholarships, but only very well-endowed ones do this for more than a minority of their students.

    Now, maybe Bishop McGuinness is subsidized, since it is tied to the church (though the church isn’t as rich as it used to be). So here is another example in your neighborhood, with high-school tuition of nearly $15000. They do offer discounts for families in financial need, but the Steiner schools are not generally very wealthy, so most families will be paying full or nearly full tuition.

    I obviously can’t speak about this particular school, but we did send one of our children to a Steiner school here. The tuition was whopping – we were very glad when he finished last Spring. On top of the tuition, they expected parents to provide lots of free labor as well – helping run events, doing the annual “Spring cleaning”, etc..

  34. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The RC church does not and never has contributed much, if anything, financially to the churches and schools run in its name. The purpose of the RC church, like any church, is to accumulate wealth, not to disburse it.

    There was an article a couple years ago on CNN or one of the other news sites that laid out exactly how much (little…) the RC church contributed to the budgets of nominally RC hospitals. IIRC, most of them were in the 1% range, if that. The overwhelming part of their revenue came from the same sources as other public and private hospitals, and in fact charitable contributions were larger at some private hospitals that didn’t have religious affiliations. And the vast, vast bulk of the charitable contributions to revenue of RC hospitals were private contributions by individuals; the church itself contributed next to nothing.

    Now, I haven’t really looked into this, so it’s possible that the RC church spends gobs of money in, say, Africa, but I rather doubt that. And, of course, what money they do spend goes to further the RC church agenda rather than on effective health care. I mean, they’ve spent money on anti-condom campaigns on a continent ravaged by HIV. Geez.

  35. Dave B. says:

    In our small town, our local school corporation evidently has funding of about $8,000 per pupil from what I can find online. The local Christian school (not affiliated with a particular church) has a $4976 per year tuition. The prices drop for additional students, and they offer need based financial assistance.

    To some extent, I’m comparing apples to oranges, as the government schools are K-12, and the private one is K-8, and I’m using current figures for the private school and 2009 figures for the public ones.

  36. dkreck says:

    One thing to remember about most private schools is they have a much lower cost for staff than the public schools, yet in spite of this having much better performance. Somehow our public schools need more money and performance bonus money just to get average to poor results. It’s not that the staff is less qualified either. From my own experience it is usually the opposite. (note these are generalizations that overlook particular situations but are for the most part true)

  37. BGrigg says:

    Oh, good grief. You’re comparing list price for private schools versus actual cost for public schools.


    You stated $11K per student for public schools, and said that private could do it for half of that. I stated that BC’s cost is $8, 400 per student, and that local private schools quote a much higher price for tuition. How am I comparing anything that you aren’t?

  38. Raymond Thompson says:

    The prices drop for additional students, and they offer need based financial assistance.

    The school cannot do that if the student will be participating in sports. This is relative to TN but I suspect is close to other states. The school cannot even provide housing for a student who is in athletics. Someone else in the community can and it has been done for exceptional athletes. The assistance just cannot come from the school as the high school sports rules do not allow scholarships. Any kind of assistance in tuition or room and board by the school is considered a scholarship.

    If the kid does not participate in sports the amount of assitance is wide open.

  39. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    You stated $11K per student for public schools, and said that private could do it for half of that. I stated that BC’s cost is $8, 400 per student, and that local private schools quote a much higher price for tuition. How am I comparing anything that you aren’t?

    As I said, public school costs are routinely understated, often massively. For example, the state of North Carolina in theory pays for all costs for local school systems, and that’s the number that’s routinely quoted for per-student costs. But Forsyth County contributes a large percentage of our total schools budget as a “supplement” to what the state pays. Then you get into all kinds of federal funding and other stuff that was mentioned earlier. I don’t know about BC specifically, but I’d be very surprised if their nominal figures were anything close to what is actually being spent on public schools there. And you compare that understated figure with the list price of private schools, when most students don’t pay list price and many pay only a small percentage of list price, if anything. My ballpark number of private education costing half what public education does is probably, if anything, high.

  40. Chad says:

    Don’t forget, the American public education system also doubles as a daycare and “soup kitchen” for underprivileged families.

  41. Jim Cooley says:

    >>Don’t forget, the American public education system also doubles as a daycare and “soup kitchen” for underprivileged families. <<

    You've forgotten "special needs" children! I'll bet the incidence of "autism" is now greater than that of red hair. If I had a left-handed, lesbian daugher with autism, I'd vote for hope and change. Wouldn't you?

  42. SteveF says:

    You forgot “undefinable but very real food allergies”.

  43. pcb_duffer says:

    The Libertarian in my has to point out that delivering the mail *is* one of the functions explicitly listed in Article I Section 8.

    And my younger sister has three daughters in a private, religious high school in a large city here in Florida. She pays $16,830 / year, and would pay the same for any more kids. If she wasn’t affiliated with the sect that runs the school, the price would be $9,420 / kid / year with no upper limit.

  44. OFD says:

    On the subject of special needs children or whatever, let me say this: if I was in a school now exactly as the kid I was in real life fifty years ago, they would be drugging me and sticking me in some weird halfway classroom somewhere. I was the class clown, from first grade through high school graduation, and today would have long since been taken out of circulation. (or more likely shot by some other kid who didn’t like my jokes)

    “…My own opinion is that pursuing “diversity” is ridiculous…”

    Oh, we don’t “pursue” diversity; we worship the Goddess Diversity, and her equally lovely sister, Equality. At all costs. Jesus takes a back seat to these babes.

  45. Raymond Thompson says:

    was the class clown, from first grade through high school graduation, and today would have long since been taken out of circulation.

    Oh yeh, me too. Anything for a laugh or a prank. School was not challenging so the mind was left to find other pursuits.

    Even fired a weapon in school. A .22 rifle with a starters blank. Such blanks fired in a starter pistol produce a nice flash. Fired in a rifle produce about 10 feet of violent blue flame that will certainly frighten.

    Then there was the incident with the dynamite fuse that was hung in the (empty) paper towel dispenser (metal). Resulted in evacuation and the calling of the bomb squad. Never did brag about that incident.

    I would have been in jail, many times over. My uncle, who was raising me, was the chairman of the school board and his violent temper was known among the teachers. I think they did not tell out of concern for my safety.

  46. Jim Cooley says:

    >>Oh, we don’t “pursue” diversity; we worship the Goddess Diversity, and her equally lovely sister, Equality. At all costs.<<

    My left-handed, red-haired, autistic, lesbian daughter daughter takes offense at your intimation. Unless you retract immediately she will sue for defamation of character by means of sarcasm.

  47. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Don’t worry Dave, I think we can plea-bargain this.

  48. OFD says:

    Hey, Mrs. OFD is left-handed and red-haired! I doubt autism but ADD or Starfleet Academy graduate status is a definite possibility. Can I get a suspended sentence?

    Raymond, you and I would have had many, many boffo laffs. I also messed around with explosives of one sort or another, and disrupted too many classrooms to count. I probably have permanent detention and can’t go back to any class reunions or school visits down in MA for fear of being made to sit in some dreary Eastern-bloc-looking classroom again, and throwing chalk at the teacher.

    In elementary school through junior high my parents were called in, again, too many times to count. Failing grades always in Conduct, which they graded back then. And threatened with reform school repeatedly, not to mention expulsion. Cops at the house or investigating my ass numerous times, and they only knew the tip of the iceberg.

    So where does the AF put me for a specialty after boot? Yep, Air Police, soon to be Security Police, now Security Forces or some such. At the time, in hostile-fire zones overseas, the infantry of the Air Force. And gee, what sorta job am I qualified for when I come out? Yep.

  49. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, I have red hair (or used to…), am ambisinistrous, borderline Asperger’s, and in college I regularly had sex with lesbians. All of that should count for something.

  50. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “Cops at the house or investigating my ass numerous times…”

    Too much information Dave…

  51. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Peace on Earth, everybody. See you on the other side of the holidays.

  52. BGrigg says:

    Well, I have red hair (or used to…), am ambisinistrous, borderline Asperger’s, and in college I regularly had sex with lesbians. All of that should count for something.

    Were they lesbians before or after having sex with you?

    I’ve never had sex with lesbians, but I share many of their interests!

  53. OFD says:

    Same to you, Chuck, and You-Know-Who Bless.

    Sorry, Greg; the cops were not actually investigating my physical posterior; it is a vulgar American colloquialism, that’s all. Now take your mind out of the gutter, sir.

    Sex with lesbians, huh? Then they weren’t really lesbians, were they?

  54. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Were they lesbians before or after having sex with you?

    Well, by definition, they were Lesbians before and bisexual after. Lots of girls like to experiment in college, and I always enjoyed being their control.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that with one girl it went the other way. She was straight until, while she was my girlfriend, she decided to try having sex with another girl and ended up going full Lesbian. I suppose a lot of guys would have taken that personally, but it never even occurred to me that I’d “turned her Lesbian”.

  55. Raymond Thompson says:

    So where does the AF put me for a specialty after boot? Yep, Air Police, soon to be Security Police, now Security Forces or some such.

    I managed to test out and got the speciality I wanted without the AF having to guess. Was also able to skip tech school and went to my first duty assignment straight from Lackland.

    So what years did you do the most honorable service to your country? And I thank you for the service. My years were from June 1969 until December 1979. My real claim to fame is that I was assigned the last serial number ever given by the military. My induction was the last day of June and starting July the services converted to SS numbers. I was inducted in Portland Oregon and alphabetically was the last person on the list to get inducted.

  56. Miles_Teg says:

    RBT wrote:

    “In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that with one girl it went the other way. ”

    I’m sure you admitted two or three years ago that three of your former GFs had turned lesbian after their encounter/s with you.

  57. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    No. Several did subsequently decide also to have sex with other girls, but I think that was the only one who also decided to stop having sex with guys.

    I actually always liked bisexual girls back when I was in college. They’d sometimes bring a friend…

  58. OFD says:

    We are more or less AF contemporaries, Ray; I enlisted at 17 and was Reserve until Lackland the September after high school graduation; active from ’71 to ’75, inactive reserve until ’77 and then Army Reserve ’78-’80. They’d had the SSN set up by then, of course, and while I was still in “tech” school, i.e., the Air Police on the other side of Lackland, they changed the name to Security Police and divided us into two specialties, Law Enforcement and Security. The LE guys did the military equivalent of police work on AF bases and Security did air base defense and served in various roles in combat zones.

    My first assignment was up in central Maine during the dead of winter, defending fighter interceptor jets and nuke warheads from the commie hordes trekking through the snowdrifts in the woods in the teeth of -60 chill factor cold. From there to combat training in Texas and then RVN, base defense, what was left of MACV, and occasional “town patrols” at Ton Sa Nhut, and base defense and recon patrols out at Bien Hoa. Propping up the ARVN forces as they deserted in droves and we continued abandoning the country after winning the war under Abrams.

    Back to the World and a nice little gig at a NORAD radar site on top of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, Kalifornia, where I made sergeant at 19 and we protected the domes from the Symbionese Liberation Army, Black Panthers and the Zodiac Killer. Saw a lot of great bands, hiked all over Marin and the beaches, but couldn’t get laid to save myself.

    Dream sheet orders to Taiwan and northern Italy cancelled and immediately changed to orders for Thailand, pending completion of the very same combat training in Texas again, where the senior NCO cadres simply made me one of their own as a sort of assistant instructor. Then off to the Philippines for aircrew survival training and a succession of bases in the northeast provinces of Thailand near the Cambodian and Laotian borders, defending American air bases with Thai forces against the Thai Cong, the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Rouge. Moved from 8th AF to 56th SOW (military wing of Air America), and worked with FAC guys, para-rescue, JUSMAGTHAI, and USMC detachments.

    After getting hit, I got an early out, about five months early, and returned to snowy Maffachufetts in April of ’75, after which the dominos all fell in southeast Asia. From there to a succession of factory and cop jobs well into the late 80s when I finally gave it all up and went into IT.

    Thank you for your service, Ray, and welcome home!

  59. pcb_duffer says:

    My left-handed, red-haired, autistic, lesbian daughter daughter takes offense at your intimation.

    If only she were a quadriplegic, she’d have the perfecta!!

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