Author Archives: Dr. Eowyn

Coming your way: A fee to fill pot holes

Ravenous for revenue, spendthrift governments will raise your taxes and also turn to other avenues to raise cash, such as charging fees for doing what governments already are paid to do.

In China, corrupt local governments charge residents with hundreds of fees, including fees for catching rats and for the light bulbs in street lights.

In the United States, citizens of Duluth, Minnesota just discovered a new street improvement fee in their August utility bills. The street fee now joins other utility fees of water, sewer, storm water and street lights, which can total nearly $50 a month.

And those fees are on top of residents’ property taxes, which should lead one to ask what exactly property taxes are for.

Duluth-crosswalk-workDuluth’s residential households pay $5 a month for street repair

Tom Steward writes for Watchdog.org, Sept. 2, 2014, that the city of Duluth charges 24,200 residential customers $5 per month and 3,800 commercial customers $40 to $240 a month to fill potholes and repair cracks. Duluth even charges nonprofits for the curbside upkeep outside their doors.

The new street repair fee is expected to raise about $3 million per year. The city had considered raising property taxes about 30% over two years to fund road repairs before going in the direction of a street utility fee.

Duluth needs to fill a $16 million financial pothole left over from previous street upgrades. Compound that overdue bill with the Fond Du-Luth downtown tribal casino pulling the plug on $6 million in annual payments, which had gone for street work.

One of three City Council members opposing the street utility calls it a “casino revenue replacement fee” that will further stifle economic development and raise the cost of living. Howard Hanson, a council member who’s proposed a city-owned casino to make up the lost revenue, said, “I’m told owners of multiple properties, in particular, a restaurant group in Duluth, is paying upwards of $20,000 a year for this new tax. And that’s driving up the cost of our goods and services.”

Even city councilors supporting the fee acknowledge its broad unpopularity. “Most of what I’m hearing from people is, ‘Don’t do it, we don’t like it, find a different way,’ and it’s hard to come up with a different way,” Barb Russ said before voting for the street fund at the city council’s June 23 meeting.

Worse still, the new street fee won’t be the last.

Already, the Duluth City Council is thinking of more taxes and fees.

City councilor Emily Larson said next year when the new street fee comes up for reauthorization, there’ll be a virtual menu of local taxes on the table. Larson said at the decisive June meeting, ”Maybe that can include a local gas tax or a wheelage tax, maybe it could include a dedicated quarter percent sales tax. There are other options that we can and should be pursuing. In the meantime, this gets us one very small step forward.”

Jim Booth, a financial planner who’s running for county commissioner, said, “Government has to start living within its means, instead of this thinking that we have an unlimited amount of money. We don’t. And it’s exactly the people the politicians say they’re watching out for — the low- and moderate-income people — that they’re hurting.”

I wonder how many illegals from the ongoing “border surge” has the Duluth city government ​​blithely accepted?​

~Eowyn

How to put your children to bed using this ancient kung-fu technique

Too cute!

Source: America’s Funniest Home Videos

H/t Jimmy So Ambitious Wen-Birdboyz

~Eowyn

Caption Contest: Are you smarter than this dumb blonde?

This is the 81st world-famous FOTM Caption Contest!

Here’s the pic (h/t FOTM’s DCG):

Click to enlarge

POS hugs stupid blonde

Here’s a closer-up view:

dumb blonde2

About the pics:

NBC News reports on July 30, 2014, with the fawning headline “Woman can’t contain herself around ‘handsome’ Obama”:

On July 29, 2014, Obama met a woman at Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City who can’t believe how ‘handsome’ the president is in person.

You know the drill:

  • Enter the contest by submitting your caption as a comment on FOTM (scroll down), not via email or on Facebook.
  • The winner of the Caption Contest will get a gorgeous Award Certificate of Excellence and a year’s free subscription to FOTM! :D
  • FOTM writers will vote for the winner.
  • Any captions proffered by FOTM writers, no matter how brilliant (ha ha), will not be considered. :(

To get the contest going, here’s my caption:

svomit_100-121

This contest will be closed in a week, at the end of next Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

For the winner of our last Caption Contest, click here!

Seen any good pics that you think would be great for our Caption Contest? Email them to us! :D

fellowshipminds@gmail.com

~Eowyn

We have a winner!

. . . for FOTM’s 80th Caption Contest!

The caption submissions were hilarious!!!

This was a fairly close contest, with just 3 points separating the winner from the runner-up.

All the FOTM writers dutifully voted, each for his/her #1 and #2 captions. Each #1 vote is worth 3 points; every #2 vote is worth 2 points.

And the winner of the 80th world-famous FOTM Caption Contest, with three #1 votes and one #2 vote, totaling 11 points, is . . . .

Lola!!! Snoopy dance

Here’s her winning caption:

Kim Jong-Un

southsidebob is our 2nd-place runner-up, with two #1 votes and one #2 vote, totaling 8 points. Here’s his caption:

I just knew it! Political prisoners make the best lubricant.

One of Sig94‘s captions is in 3rd place, with two #2 votes, totaling 4 points. Here it is:

President Kim Jung-un seems to enjoy the farting poopy sounds made by the new tofu processor at the Nampo Glorious Bean Factory. The attending tofu technician and his family were immediately executed.

Brenda Leeann Springer and another Sig94 caption are both in 4th place, with one # vote, totaling 3 points each. Here are their respective captions:

Soylent Green goes Gangnam Style….

Denying reports that he had his politically powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek eaten alive by dogs, President Kim Jung-un, introduces to Asian pet owners North Korea’s newest dog food product, marketed as “Moist & Chewy Uncle Jang Song Braised Beef and Screaming Rice“. The attending dog food technician and his family were immediately executed.

LInn K, lou damico, and another Sig94 caption are all in 5th place, each with one #2 vote, totaling 2 points each. Here are their respective captions:

Making the ultimate citizen!

It’s the simple little things in life, like toffee manufacturing, executing family, starving his people, threatening nuclear war, that makes Kim Jung Un so happy

This photograph and the attached caption were gleaned from the North Korean Wire Services Bureau just before the wire services technician and his entire family were executed: “Chortling madly, President Until The Cows Come Home Kim Jung-un prepares his latest ultimate weapon of mass destruction by which he will rule the planet – the Ramen Butterscotch Noodles Of Death.”

Well done, everyone!

Congratulations to Lola!

Here is your fancy-schmancy Award Certificate of Great Excellence, all ready for framing! LOL

dancingbananaCarrotChilliMuffinPurpleBanana PineappledancingbananaCarrotChilliMuffinPineappleStrawberry

award certificate1

For all the other caption submissions, click here.

Be here tomorrow for our next very exciting Caption Contest!

Seen any good pics that you think would be great for our Caption Contest? Email them to us! :D

fellowshipminds@gmail.com

~Eowyn

Moose vs. Car

. . . and moose lost.

On July 4th weekend, 2014, a moose ran smack into a Hyundai 4-door sub-compact in Greenville, Maine.

Moose vs. car3

The moose died.

Moose vs. car2

Miraculously, the woman driver walked away with only minor injuries.

Moose vs. car6

Can you imagine this big fellow heading directly at your face?

Moose vs. car5

Check out the name of the towing service on the door of the truck!

Moose vs. car

H/t FOTM’s Ken L.

~Eowyn

Medicare may soon cover “death panels”

The expression “death panel” was coined in August 2009 by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, during the nationwide debate about the proposed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Referring to Section 1233 of HR 3200, the House version of Obamacare, which would have paid physicians for counseling Medicare patients about living wills, advance directives, and end-of-life care options, Gov. Palin expressed her concern that the proposed legislation would create a “death panel” of unelected bureaucrats who would decide whether Americans—such as her elderly parents or her child, Trig, with Down syndrome whom the vicious Left said she should have aborted —were “worthy of medical care.”

Sarah with baby Trig

The Left immediately demonized Palin and derided her claim as the “death panel myth.” Nevertheless, “death panel” instantly became a meme that penetrated through the minutiae of the 906-page long Obamacare legislation, arousing much public concern. As a result, the provision to pay physicians for providing voluntary counseling was removed from the Obamacare law that Congress passed and Obama signed into law in 2010.

But that’s not the end of the story, for Sarah’s “death panel” is back, via Medicare.

In 2010, Medicare added coverage of “voluntary advance care planning” in patients’ annual wellness visit to one of the myriad of regulations on how Obamacare is to be enforced. Altogether, Obamacare regulations are now 30 times longer than the law itself! But bowing to political pressure, Medicare rescinded that portion of the regulation, saying it had not considered the viewpoints of members of Congress and others who opposed it.

Now that Obamacare is (more or less) firmly in place and talk of “death panels” has subsided, Medicare is trying again.

The New York Times reports that next year, Medicare may begin covering “end-of-life discussions” if it approves a recent request from the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States. One of AMA’s roles is to create billing codes for medical services which are used by doctors, hospitals and insurers. It recently created codes for end-of-life conversations and submitted them to Medicare.

Dr. Barbara Levy, chair of the AMA committee that submits reimbursement recommendations to Medicare, said, “We think it’s really important to incentivize this kind of care. The idea is to make sure patients and their families understand the consequences, the pros and cons and options so they can make the best decision for them.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS), which runs Medicare, would not discuss whether it will agree to cover end-of-life discussions; its decision is expected this fall. But the agency often adopts AMA recommendations, which are developed in meetings attended by CMMS representatives.

If Medicare adopts the change, its decision will also set the standard for private insurers, encouraging many more doctors to engage in these conversations.

Wanting to avoid situations in which they have to decide for incapacitated patients who have no family or state preference, some doctors already conduct “end of life” conversations for free (i.e., unreimbursed) or shoehorn them into other medical visits.

Experts say if Medicare covers end-of-life counseling, that could profoundly affect the American way of dying. But the impact would depend on how much doctors are paid, the allowed frequency of conversations, whether psychologists or other nonphysicians would conduct them, and whether the conversations must be in person or could include phone calls with long-distance family members. Paying for only one session and completion of advance directives would have limited value, experts say.

Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the trade association America’s Health Insurance Plans, says some private insurers already are reimbursing doctors for “end of life counseling.” The industry, which usually uses Medicare billing codes, already had created its own code under a system that allows that if Medicare does not have one, and more insurance companies are using it or covering the discussions in other ways, including:

  • This year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan began paying an average of $35 per conversation, face to face or by phone, conducted by doctors, nurses, social workers and others.
  • Cambia Health Solutions, which covers 2.2 million patients in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington, started a program including end-of-life conversations and training in conducting them.
  • Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield of New York does something similar, reimbursing doctors $150 for an hourlong conversation and $350 for two hours.

End-of-life planning has also resurfaced in Congress. Two recent bipartisan bills would have Medicare cover such conversations, and a third, introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), would pay Medicare patients for completing advance directives. 

But few people think the bills can pass.

Dr. Phillip Rodgers, co-chairman of public policy for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, said, “People are so careful about getting anywhere close to the idea that somebody might be denying lifesaving care.”

As they should!

Burke Balch, director of the Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, said in a statement that many doctors believed in “hastening death for those deemed to have a ‘poor quality of life.’ ” If Medicare covers advance care planning, he said, that plus cost-saving motivations will pressure patients “to reject life-preserving treatment.”

It is unclear if advance care planning saves money, but some studies suggest that it reduces hospitalizations because many people prefer to die at home or in hospices. Dr. William McDade, president of the Illinois State Medical Society that had asked the AMA to create codes for the discussions, admits that cost-saving can be an “inadvertent” result.

Although “end of life” conversations do not lock patients into decisions and some people later change their minds in a crisis, evidence suggests that those discussions do make a difference. One study found that cancer patients who previously discussed end-of-life preferences with doctors more often received care matching those wishes. Other studies suggest planning lowers stress in patients and families.

What do you think?

Are you concerned that, if approved by Medicare, some doctors and non-physicians might use “end of life” discussions to sway the elderly toward an earlier death?

Once approved by Medicare, such discussions most likely will spread to Medicaid.

I’m always in favor of everyone taking charge of our wellbeing, being maximally informed about our medical condition and prognosis, and thoroughly thinking through our end-of-life scenarios by having a will and advance directives, and appointing a trusted family member with medical power-of-attorney. But I also fear that the federal government’s (via Medicare) institutionalizing “end of life counseling” will be another of those slippery slopes — or the proverbial frog in the slowly-heating pot of water — at which our government has proven itself to be a master.

~Eowyn

Pit bull saves kids from attack bees

Pit bulls have an awful reputation, justly or unjustly.

But here’s a true story about a heroic pit bull named Hades.

pit bull Hades

KPTV reports (via 11 ALIVE), Aug. 29, 2014:

An Oregon family says their pit bull is a hero.

It all started when some kids stepped on a bee hive while walking in the woods.

Jesse-Cole Shaver, 8, was with his sisters and other neighborhood kids, exploring a creek down a steep embankment behind their Oregon City apartment complex, when one of the kids stepped into a rotten log, unleashing swarms of bees.

Jesse-Cole’s big sister Jasmine was stung five times – in what could have been a deadly encounter because she’s allergic to bees. She got two injections from an EpiPen to prevent her body from swelling in reaction to the stings.

“It felt like a bunch of needles went into my skin, and I didn’t know what was going on until the girl started yelling, ‘Bees!’,” Jasmine said.

pit bull saves kids

Little Jesse-Cole was stung at least 24 times.

He couldn’t make it back up this hill to safety on his own. But luckily, their pit bull Hades came to the rescue.

Hades saw me and came and she dragged me up to the grass and then stopped and let me crawl on her back and then took me to mom,” Jesse-Cole said.

“I just heard a bunch of screaming, then I saw my dog dragging my son up by his pants,” his mom said.

pit bull saves kids1

H/t Clash Daily

~Eowyn