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14

So, I’m listening to this book, 14, on my iphone while I’m multitasking.  It got rave reviews and the premise sounded interesting.  An ensemble cast of characters living in a creepy old apartment building discover that there’s more to the building than they previously thought.  Like, they’re not connected to the power grid and yet, all utilities are included, with plenty of electricity to spare for the socket in the kitchen that just gives off black light no matter what bulb is screwed into it.

Anyway, I’m more than halfway through this sucker and so far, nothing is happening.  Maybe I’m expecting too much but I thought someone would lose an eye or die by now. And there’s no sex in this book.  C’mon now, you put half a dozen young nubile 20 somethings in the same building and nothing happens?  There’s hardly even a hint of mutual attraction.  What’s wrong with this generation anyway?  Nope, they’re all prowling around in the sub-sub-basement looking for clues.  Clues to what, I don’t know.  They should all be grateful that the rent is so low and the views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park Observatory are so spectacular.

Has anyone read this yet?  How far do I need to skip ahead before some real action takes place?

Stupid Insurance Companies

I’m wasting time today trying to find a more affordable health insurance policy.  The one I have is outrageous and it all has to do with where I live.  If I move one state over, my health insurance costs drop to about 1/4 of what I pay now.  The policy I’m looking at has a higher deductible and co-insurance but in many respects, it’s identical to the one I had with Wyeth before I left.  It wasn’t until I went to a European company that I discovered what I was missing.  But along with that coverage comes a walloping, gigantic price tag every month and that’s the group rate.

I can’t believe that NJ has sicker people than in PA but there ya’ go.  Someone is taking advantage of a river.

But wait!  There’s more.  Reader givens sent me a link to this incident involving a lifeguard in Florida.  The lifeguard was asked to rescue a drowning man.  So the 21 year old lifeguard grabs his floaty thingy and runs off down the beach, Baywatch style.  By the time he gets there, some other people had dragged the guy out of the water and the lifeguard stayed with the semi-conscious man until paramedics arrived.  Great, you say.  Happy ending, no one drowned.

Not so for the lifeguard.  Here’s his account:

After the rescue, Lopez said his boss asked him to fill out an incident report and then fired him for leaving his assigned area.

“They didn’t tell me in a bad way. It was more like they were sorry, but rules are rules,” Lopez said. “I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

According to the private company that now manages the beach for the town, the rescue took place on an unprotected strip of beach not covered by the contract.  The swimmers in that area are advised to swim at their own risk.  The contractor says the liefguard left his section unprotected while he went frolicking in the surf.  The other lifeguards say this isn’t true and that they were aware of the situation and covered the beach.  Two additional lifeguards have quit in protest.

It’s likely that this dismissal was prompted by the rules set down for insurance coverage for the beach.  I don’t know if this is the primary cause but I’m betting that it is.

Now, what could the contractor have done differently?  I dunno but firing the kid seems a bit extreme.  After all, a lifeguard is trained to save lives and to not attempt a rescue might have gotten him in trouble with Good Samaritan laws, though, this *is* Florida we’re talking about so maybe they have never heard of Good Samaritan laws.  The drowning man should consider himself lucky that no one shot him for being on the wrong side of the beach.

But there’s more to the story.  It turns out that the contractor gets paid $334,000 a year for guarding this part of the beach.  But it only pays its lifeguards $8.50/hour.  Really??  You go through all of the physical and first aid training and you get as much as a hamburger flipper?  There’s something not right about this.

So, I did some math.  If there are 4 lifeguards on the beach making $8.50/hour for 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year, that comes out to $70,720/year for all 4 lifeguards.  Let’s say the supervisor makes $16.00/hour.  That brings the cost to the contractor to about $104,000.  Add on an additional 10% for all of those employer related tax thingies (you know at this level of pay that no one is getting health insurance) and you come out to: $114,000.  Just to be on the safe side, let’s say that health insurance is included for some cheapo EPO with a $1500 deductible and 30% coinsurance for an additional $250/month per employee.  That comes out to an additional $15000 for a grand total of about $129,000.

What is the contractor doing with the other $205,000?  Maintenance on the beach towers and floaty things and first aid kits can’t be that expensive.  So, where is all the money going?  Is the contractor pocketing it or paying liability insurance?

And if they are pocketing a good chunk of the remainder, was privatizing the service really saving the town that much money?? And if taxpayers are so adamant about saving money, shouldn’t there be a cap on the amount of profit a contractor can make?  I’m just taking this thinking to its logical extremes.

Just curious.  How much do you want to bet that “privatizing” involves a lot of favoritism, kickbacks and corruption?