Great American Conversations
                   With The Alumni of RHS
                Issue 91 September 27, 2000

"Territory is but the body of a nation. --The people
 who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul, its
 spirit, its life." --Garfield.

Today's Features:

     Votes No on Banning Tavern Parking Lots
          By Larry Stone (71)

     Points To Ponder  
          By Mary Ray Henslee (61)
    (Re: The future of Medicare and relevant health plans).

     Wake Up America!
          By Patty Stordahl `72

     The OCA: Like Bad Pennies
          By Bob Carlson, aka Mike Clowes (54)

     Reading Comprehension 101
          By Tony Sharpe '63

     Missing My Point About Harry Potter
          By Jenny Smart Page '87

     Sharing Concerns
          By Steve Carson '58

Are you ready?  Filled your cup or glass, or golden
 goblet?  Great!  Now you can just sit back, relax
 and hear who's talking today! 

Subj: Votes No on Banning Tavern Parking Lots
From:   Larry Stone (71)

Re:  Jim Moran (86) and his anti parking lot scheme

Not everyone who goes into an establishment,
 which serves alcohol goes there to drink alcohol. 
 I often go in for lunch or dinner because many of
 these places serve excellent food at reasonable
 prices.  And if you think banning parking lots will
 solve the problem, you are so far off course it isn't
 funny.  Do you really believe everyone will leave
 their vehicle at home?  That they won't park in the
 nearest parking lot and just walk the few extra
 feet?  With that kind of thinking, you must be
 a politician.
                     - Larry Stone (71)

                               ~ ~ ~

Subj:    Points To Ponder
re Medicare & Senior Health Insurance Availability
From:  Mary Ray Henslee (61)

I am still into researching the Prescription Drug
 issue because its possible negative impact on the
 Medicare system concerns me very much and
 because I don't want to pass on any misleading
 information in this forum.  The more that I learn,
 the more that I find myself spotting misleading
 information being reported on radio talk shows,
 TV newscasts, and in the newspaper.  This is
 unfortunate because the average person under 65
 years old is not versed enough on the intricacies of
 Medicare to be able to recognize misleading
 information when it is being disseminated to them.  

Now that I know why 1/3 of the elderly are without
 insurance, I cannot help but question why this has
 been the case throughout this Administration.  The
 following are some points to ponder that occurred
 to me:

First Point to Ponder: I talked to a person at
 Humana, where my mother is enrolled, and found
 out some pertinent information.  I was informed
 that my mother is no longer being charged any
 premiums because of her place of residency, but
 that this is not the case in all Texas cities.  I was
 told that demographics determine the availability
 and cost of a Medicare HMO because of
 government funding.  People who live in rural
 areas are left out of the loop right now due to the
 formula that the government uses to determine
 their payments to the HMO's.  Given this
 information, I have to question why the
 government has not tried to pay the HMO's
 enough to include every region of every state. 
 Especially, in view of the fact that Gore is now
 pledging much more than this would have cost.  If
 every Medicare recipient in this country lived in a
 region that offered Medicare HMO's right now,
 everyone would only be paying a small co-payment
 for their prescription drugs and little or nothing for
 medical procedures.  Keep in mind that Gore's plan
 will only pay for half the cost of a prescription
 drug and it does not increase any other Medicare
 coverage.  This did not have to end up being a
 campaign issue and the present system does not
 have to be changed, just expanded.

Second Point to Ponder: Gore defends his plan by
 telling us that HMO's are pulling out of the
 Medicare system.  This is a disingenuous
 statement.  It may be true that some are pulling
 out, but he doesn't bother to clarify his statement
 by telling us why.  In my opinion, half-truths are
 worse than lies.  If they are pulling out, it is
 because the government is not negotiating
 effectively with the HMO's.  It stands to reason
 that a company cannot continue a partnership with
 a person or entity that is threatening and
 unreasonable.  A company cannot offer a product
 at a low cost without having stringent
 cost-effective policies in place.  To expect any
 different, is to expect something for nothing. 
 HMO's have to make a profit in order to continue
 with this partnership.  The government must pay
 the HMO's enough for the HMO's to be able to
 continue supplementing Medicare at little or no
 out-of-pocket cost to Medicare recipients.  The
 HMO's are not perfect, but they beat relying on
 Medicare alone.

Third Point to Ponder: Another tactic that Gore
 uses to promote his plan is to exploit people who
 have been denied insurance coverage or lost their
 insurance coverage due to health problems.  This
 may be true if they are enrolled in a standard
 supplemental policy that is meant for everyone
 because these policies do not give special
 compensations to Medicare recipients.  Once again
 Gore fails to finish his sentence.  He fails to
 mention that you can't be denied insurance
 coverage or lose your insurance coverage due to
 health problems under a government funded
 Medicare HMO.  Ask yourself how 2/3 of an ailing
 segment of our population would be able to get
 insurance if this were not the case?  You have to
 be on your toes when listening to Gore sometimes.

Fourth Point to Ponder: This point is the most
 troubling to me and why I continue my crusade.  If
 Gore were to get elected and manage to implement
 his plan, it would be so costly that there would be
 nothing left in the budget to pay HMO's to stay in
 the system and continue to cover the 2/3 that are
 now covered.  If Medicare HMO's go by the
 wayside, the elderly who now enjoy supplemental
 coverage at a low cost will be faced with paying
 $200 to $300 a month if they want to supplement
 their Medicare coverage.  This would mean that
 their once adequate income would become less
 than adequate.  They will find themselves in a
 catch-22 situation because if they don't choose to
 carry supplemental insurance, than they will be
 faced with higher medical bills due to Medicare's
 inadequate coverage.  In essence, 2/3 would lose a
 lot of ground for 1/3 to gain a little ground. 
 Almost all Medicare recipients pay into Part B and
 for Part C to be successful, I'm sure that the same
 would have to be true.  Right now 2/3 of the
 elderly have no reason to pay into Part C.  Do we
 really think that the government is going to
 financially support added Medicare coverage and
 the HMO's simultaneously?  I do not foresee
 continued contracting with HMO's if Gore's plan is
 implemented.  Why would Gore want to
 implement a plan that would take away far more
 than it gives?  Why a plan that would leave far
 more people with inadequate coverage than is the
 case today?  Why not expand upon a plan that is
 already in place and working for 2/3 of the elderly? 
 After reading some newspaper cyberspace forums,
 I found that some elderly people have already
 figured out that their HMO's may become history. 
 One woman wrote that she was satisfied with her
 insurance coverage and feared that her coverage
 might be jeopardized by Gore's plan.  Although
 some may see the handwriting on the wall, there
 are probably many who may be in for a rude
 awakening.  I am yet to hear anyone ask Gore if he
 plans to continue funding Medicare HMO's.  I
 hope that Bush asks this question during the

To: Ann Minor (70), I can understand your frustration
 at not having an adequate supplemental policy
 available in your area.  I have always assumed that
 Medicare HMO's were available everywhere and I
 am dismayed to find out that this is not the case. 
 When I wrote my Don't Mess With Texas entry,
 details of the candidate's plans had not been
 published in the newspaper yet and I suggested a
 tax credit be given to help pay insurance
 premiums, which is basically a welfare check given
 at tax time.  However, if the government has not
 negotiated with an HMO for coverage in your
 area, a tax credit would obviously serve no
 purpose.  A tax deduction is totally different and
 just as you say, it would serve no purpose under
 any circumstances because a tax deduction doesn't
 benefit those in a low tax bracket very much and if
 someone doesn't make enough to pay taxes,
 obviously there is no benefit at all. 

I think that it is Bush's hope to bring the elderly
 that have been left out of the loop for demographic
 reasons, or for whatever reason, into the loop, in
 which case you might see a good plan implemented
 in your area.  He is planning to subsidize premiums
 if necessary, not with a tax credit, but by payments
 made by Medicare directly to select plans.
These are the facts as I interpret them.  Someone
 please correct me if I have misinterpreted anything.
                 -Mary Ray Henslee (61)

                            ~ ~ ~

Subj: Wake Up America!
From:   Patty Stordahl `72

Regarding Bush or Gore.  America Wake up.  Why
 vote for the lesser of two evils.  Vote for
 conviction and protest.  We need a change and a
 real wake up call to the singular yet two headed
 monster going by the name of Demorepublicates.
 Vote for any one like Nadar or Brown but my God
 do not vote for fear.  Stand up and finally have
 your voice heard.  If enough of us do this, all
 parties will have to listen.  Lets shake up the
 government who has stolen our country through
 amendments to our constitution.  Flat tax,
 communities running their schools, government
 out of our homes and off our backs.  Tax hike-
 who can afford it?  Do I make over 120,000.00?
 No.  Do you?  Any less and Bush & Gore will
 screw us to the walls.  WAKE UP!
                     - Patty Stordahl `72

                               ~ ~ ~

Subj:   The OCA: Like Bad Pennies
From:  Bob Carlson (Mike Clowes) '54
Reply-to: (Robert Carlson)

[Moderator's Note: In Issue #90 of The
 SANDBOX, two lines toward the end of Carlson's
 piece, "Not Enough Evidence," were inadvertently
 transposed.  We regret any confusion that may
 have caused to our ever vigilant readers. 
 The following reprint shows those lines as they
 should have appeared preceded by sufficient text
 excerpted from the original article to keep
 everything in context.  -ap]

     ...We have an organization in this state known
 as the Oregon Citizen's Alliance.  The leaders of
 this group seem to be obsessed with the idea that
 unless we allow the OCA to protect us, we will be
 overrun by vicious, gun wielding homosexuals, or
 something of that nature.  Their current
 proposition is to make it illegal for schools to
 advocate or promote in any way the homosexual
 lifestyle (whatever that may be).  I guess I must
 have been living all this time with my head in the
 sand like an ostrich.  I wasn't aware that the public
 school system was doing any promotion of

    Now, don't get me wrong and claim that I am a
 defender of homosexuals.  I don't personally care
 for their lifestyle, but they are human and citizens,
 and should basically have the same rights as the
 rest of us.  What goes on behind closed doors is
 their business and not mine.  However, in order to
 have an informed citizenry, one should have a little
 knowledge about a lot of things.  I think it is
 confusing enough to try to figure out the normal
 ebb and flow of life without throwing a ballot
 measure like this one before me.

    One of the corollaries of "Murphy's Law" is that
 "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  If the school system
 is not now advocating or promoting homosexual
 lifestyles, why must there be a law against it?  Or is
 there something that we're not being told?  In
 previous campaigns for "anti gay" measures, the
 OCA informed the people that "the gay and lesbian
 community had an agenda to take over the world." 
 Geez, and all along I thought it was the
 "evil empire" of those dirty, rotten commies that
 wanted to take over the world.

                                 . . .

    So, what do we do with people who claim to
 "know what is best for everyone"?  I think a "no"
 vote is best indicated here.  Most of the citizens
 had hoped to have seen the last of this group a few
 years ago, but they're sort of like bad pennies, you
 just can't get rid of them.  I just wish they would
 stick to keeping us informed as to just which
 Teletubbie is the gay one.

    Well, that's my opinion, and I'm entitled to it.
           - Bob Carlson (aka Mike Clowes) '54

                                ~ ~ ~

Subj:     Reading Comprehension 101
From:   Tony Sharpe '63

To: Chuck Monasmith '65

I am really surprised that someone who clearly
 knows Biblical content, would distort the story of
 David just to make an editorial point. I have
 scanned past issues of THE SANDBOX re: Jenny
 Smart Page's alternative reading suggestions to the
 Harry Potter series, and could not find any mention
 of the Bible. She did suggest a series of books that
 are fictional, and were inspired by the last book of
 the Bible.

The most widely published, widely read, widely
 quoted, and probably widely misunderstood book
 in the history of this planet is not a fantasy, it is
 historical, and tells the truth. To set the record
 straight, the story of David is the story of a young
 man who became a great King, and then abused his
 power and authority to have an adulterous
 relationship with his soldier's wife. When she
 became pregnant, he ultimately covered up his
 deed by sending that soldier to his death. As a
 result of his actions, the remainder of David's life
 was truly less than fulfilling.  If you really like
 fantasy, may I suggest the Book of Jonah. It's the
 story of an ornery little man that gets swallowed by
 a big fish, and then regurgitated on shore just in
 time to deliver the greatest sermon of his life. It is
 fun reading, and the point of the story is much
 easier to grasp, or is it?
                    - Tony Sharpe '63

                             ~ ~ ~

Subj:    Missing My Point About Harry Potter
From:   Jenny (Smart) Page (87)

I think many of you may have missed my point
 regarding ol' Harry Potter.  

First, let's remember that this all came about from a
 fellow in the "daily Spudnut report" newsletter who
 asked for opinions, pro AND con, about the Harry
 Potter books.  He wanted to know what others
 thought about the series, and if they hadn't read
 them, why not.  Unfortunately, the con opinions
 weren't allowed in that forum.  I simply was
 wishing to let him know that not everybody thinks
 the series is okay, and that there are alternatives
 with similar attributes (good vs. evil, quick easy
 read, action, adventure, kid oriented, long book to
 give kids a "sense of accomplishment").  And
 somehow, this has become a "witch hunt", if you'll
 pardon the expression :)  

Second, so many of you are accusing me of
 wanting to "censor" this book.  I never made any
 mention (ever)! of censoring this book.  I have
 never stated that YOU or YOUR kids (or
 grandkids, or your cat for that matter) cannot read
 Harry Potter books.  Quite the contrary!  In my
 last statement, I clearly stated that you are
 welcome to read the book if you want to!  I am
 too firm of a believer in our constitution to EVER
 want ANY book to be banned!  That is the glory
 of living in our free society!  You can read what
 YOU want, and I will read what I want. And we
 can argue over who's reading the best book.  But
 when my opinion is asked (and I do have many
 strong opinions), I will state what I think. (But
 constitutional rights is getting off on another

Third, as for the personal attacks on my ability to
 raise my kids --- back off, folks, and don't be
 telling me what to do and not to do. I have high
 standards for my kids, and I expect them to reach
 those expectations.  How can I expect my kids to
 know right from wrong when they are 15 or 18 or
 21 (or whatever), if I don't lay the ground work for
 that now, when they're 7, 4 and 2?  I can't.  Its my
 primary duty as a person at this stage of life to be
 teaching my kids what our beliefs (spiritual, moral,
 ethical, etc.) are in our family.  And this includes
 not worshipping any thing other than the Lord
 God. How can I expect a 16 year old to
 understand that piercing a nipple and tongue is not
 something thought highly of in our house, if I don't
 start teaching that now, ten years before the
 subject ever comes up?  How can I expect an 18
 year old to not cheat on his biology exam, if I don't
 teach him now that I expect him to follow the rules
 of "Battleship"?  How often have we all been told,
 "you are what you eat" and "garbage in, garbage
 out"?  This goes not just for junk food and data
 processing, folks.  It can be applied to many
 different aspects of our lives -- including our
 spiritual lives.  Why would I want to expose my
 kids, or myself, to something whose whole
 foundation is against what we believe in?  I don't! 
 And therefore, we don't read Harry Potter in our

I don't need to read the book to understand that
 Harry Potter casts spells to defeat the "bad guy
 wizard/gobblin/spirit".  The fact that Harry Potter
 is a wizard-wanna-be-student, even if he is
 supposed to be a "good guy," doesn't make it any
 less offensive to me.  Does Harry Potter use his
 wits and ingenuity to help his "cause"? 
 Undoubtedly. I believe you when you say that it is
 an exciting read of a book, filled with action,
 suspense, and enticing characters.  I do give it
 credit for those aspects. For my kids, though, I
 choose to have a better role model than someone
 who calls on a magical spirit to help him out of a

Now, I know some of you are laughing at me right
 now, thinking "Ha Ha, what a foolish young
 mother.  What does she know?  She can't control
 her kids' lives like that!  She can't say that her kids
 are never going to smoke a joint or skip class or
 whatever...She can't control who her kids worship! 
 What is she thinking? Ha Ha Ha. How idealistic!" 
 And to that, I say this: You're right.  I don't know
 what the outcome of my kids will be in 10 or 15
 years.  But if I just throw up my hands now, and
 say what will be will be, then I never should have
 had kids in the first place.  I can't control
 everything that happens in their lives.  I know that. 
 But, I'm going to try my best to steer them down
 the right course of life, and to provide them with
 the tools they will need to successfully deal with
 the temptations of life when they do come around.
 And by doing what I am now for my kids, I believe
 that when they are 15 (or 9) and someone says,
 "Hey have a puff of this" or "Let's play with my
 sister's Ouija board," or whatever, my kid will be
 able to say, "No.  I don't think that's a good idea." 
 And then walk away, knowing the right choice has
 been made.     

Still standing firm in my decision not to read Harry
 (but you can if you want),
                    -Jenny Smart Page (87)

                               ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Sharing Concerns
From:   Steve Carson 58

For Anna Durbin: Sorry to hear the story of your
 Postal Worker [Issue 89] and probably should
 have qualified my comments about the
 unemployed, and was only responding from my
 point of view as an employer.  I also share your
 deep concern about the role of drugs in our society
 but would stop short of calling a drug dealer an
 entrepreneur.  The mandatory sentencing law must
 be revisited or serious consideration given to
 legalizing drugs.  
                     - Steve Carson 58

                              ~ ~ ~

That concludes this issue of The SANDBOX folks.
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