Saturday, January 11, 2014

Some weather; A little politics

We're having a veritable heat wave outside this weekend as, at last, that cold, very cold snowy, icy weather has parted ways.  At least for now.  Today (Saturday), though, isn't the nicest day of the winter.  We awoke this Saturday morning to icy rain and slick roadways and parking/walking lots.  The rain is expected to continue all day and into the night.  We seem to be in an early January thaw which will last at least into mid week.

My wife Sandra had to go to work early this morning because of a special platter order she had to fill.  She is a "platter lady" on days she works at her part time job in a local supermarket.  She left home rather early today, 4:30 AM, to allow for the expected icy driving conditions.  We have a police monitor and earlier this morning, a message that Route 22 was a sheet of ice was heard.

She called when she arrived and said the travelling wasn't as bad as expected ". . . if you didn't mind the car's rear end arriving first."  She also said it took her almost as long to walk across the parking lot where she works as it took to drive there.

Her experience this Saturday morning leaves me to caution you to use extreme care if you have to go out.  The morning news confirmed her observation as we were told numerous accidents have been reported this morning.

At least the weather folk tell us we could be looking at sunshine Sunday.  Speaking of weather folk, are there any more trite speaking people on TV than weather reporters?  "Out there" is one of their favorite phrases.  That is repeated so many times during a weather show that I've begun to shout back, "Where, pray tell, is 'There'?"  Where else do we get weather?  It's been quite a while since I've had rain or snow or ice in my living room.  And now a new one they've adopted.  "When all is said and done."  One of the most ridiculous interpretation of that would be that IF "all is said" and "all is done,"  there's nothing left and we're done.

I know that's picky and rather dumb, but I'm just so darn sick of the trite repetitious phrases weather folk use.

If anyone could find humor in all the snow and ice the country has seen over the last couple of weeks, a reporter on NBC News did.  The story concerned a town in Michigan, Hell, Michigan, to be exact.  The report said the entire town was iced over.  The reporter's concluding remark:  "I guess there will be a lot of stuff done this weekend."

In the news this weekend, we've learned after less than a week that nothing has changed in Augusta.  The Democrats and Republicans are serious squabbling over four major topics:  the budget shortfall, Medicaid expansion, welfare, and EBT cards.  Actually all four are spending problems within the Department of Human Services.

There's a huge shortfall in the budget and the Democrats want the Governor to explain why and to offer a budget to fix it.  Seems to me he did that last year when he presented a balanced budget that was over ridden by the Legislature and more benefits were added to the DHHS budget.  Now, of course, legislative denial is placing the blame on the governor.

Medicare expansion, according to one report, would add millions of dollars to the state's budget over the next few years.  Reports from other states say that expansion as part of Obamacare in those states have done exactly that there.  The President says the Federal Government will cover most of the cost, at least for the first three years, but that hasn't proven to be the case elsewhere.  Maine simply cannot afford to provide free or low cost health insurance to young men and women fully capable of holding jobs and buying their own.

This last week we learned of serious abuse of the EBT cards which are uncontrolled debit cards issued temporarily (remind you of the guy with the bridge for sale?) to buy necessities for needy families (TANF).  The report not only claimed the abuse of spending on non-needy items, like vacations, in bars, gambling casinos, and strip clubs, but provided the data to back up the claim.  Part of the money added to those cards each month comes from Maine taxpayers.

Maine is well known throughout the land as a haven for welfare benefits for non-residents and that's another area the Legislature is attempting, at least one side of the Legislature, to bring under control.

The Republicans want reform on these things; the Democrats want expansion.  And the battle is less than a week old.  The answers, of course, are somewhere between the extremes of the two sides.  I wonder whatever happened to discussion to resolve differences.


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