Maryland’s House voted to pass a bill that would allow localities to put up speed-monitoring cameras in construction zones in – they claim – an effort to increase the public safety in those areas. Personally, I’m with Delegate Shank who said, “This bill is more about revenue to our local governments than it is about public safety.” I have 2 other problems with this approach.
First, the project management of such constructions seems to think that they should put up the orange barrels and close lanes in any location where they intend to start working, rather than in zones where they are working. How many times have you gone past one of these zones where there’s no actual work going on? Pennsylvania is infamous for doing this but they’re not alone in the practice. If the legislature wants to use these cameras – or even just double fines – in these zones, then they’ve got to come halfway with us and deny the state DOT the ability to set up a “construction zone” anywhere that there’s no active construction.
Second, I question the speed limits that get set in places like this. Often times I see zones in places where the normal speed is 50 and they want to drop it to 25. That’s ridiculous. I understand that construction workers want to avoid having cars go by them at arm’s length doing 65 but it’s not necessary to make everyone crawl, either.
There’s more that can be done to improve the safety of the workers, too, besides just drop speed and hand out auto-generated traffic fines. It’d be nice to see them making those efforts with as much zeal as they work to pull cash from motorists.
You’re either for it or against it, but chances are you’ve at least heard of the health care approaches being put forth by the Democrats. (Obama’s and Hillary’s plans are so close they’re nearly interchangeable.) But what about John McCain’s plan for fixing our health care system? CNN Money has a re-print of a Fortune Magazine article by Shawn Tully (Fortune’s editor-at-large) on McCain’s plan and why it’s the best.
Putting it very simply (probably overly-so), McCain is suggesting that we re-tool things such that we don’t have people getting their insurance via their employers. The article goes into detail about how and why this has become the norm over the years but the large part of McCain’s plan is to 1) repeal the law that made getting insurance through your employer more effective than getting it yourself and 2) permit insurance plans to be sold across state lines. Point #1 is interesting in itself. It seems that way back in WWII a tax break was initiated to let employers start offering what most of us refer to as “benefits” in order to attract new workers. What that’s done is give employers more buying power in the insurance market than we consumers have. Literally speaking, a dollar buys Ford Motor Company (for example) more insurance than that same dollar would buy any of its employees. McCain’s plan wants to remove that advantage. Your dollar would buy every bit as much as your employer’s.
Point #2 simply says that an insurance plan approved for sale in Illinois would be available to a consumer in New Mexico. Blue Cross would be permitted to sell the exact same plan it does in Connecticut to people in Minnesota. McCain’s plan would provide tax rebates to consumers to deal with the effect of point #1, above, and I’ll leave it to the article to go into that for you. What does Tully think would happen at that point?
Besides eliminating the employer exclusion, McCain’s plan boasts another nice feature. It would allow consumers to choose an insurance plan that suits their stage of life. If you’re young and healthy, for example, you probably want the cheapest plan you can get. If you’re 45 and have four dependents, maybe you want something a bit more expensive and generous. Nine states, including New York, California, and Texas already require that as many as 50 benefits be covered, a list that ranges from in vitro fertilization to mental health services to prescription drugs. These requirements increase the cost of insurance; they’re a major reason young people have dropped their coverage. Under the McCain plan, insurers in any state would be free to offer the plans with a vast variety of deductibles, co-pays and benefits. UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans already provide a menu of packages tailored to groups as varied as Gen Xers and retirees.
Just as you change your IRA’s investment strategy and alter the insurance you carry on a car as it ages, you’d do the same with your health insurance. Some people would opt to maintain “comprehensive” coverage their whole life, preferring to pay to cover the risk as completely as they can. Others (younger folks, mostly) would opt for plans that cost little and rely on the likelihood that, at their age, they’re not at such risk for needing the insurance. As with investments, it’s a matter of risk tolerance and that control is placed into the hands of the consumer. That’s certainly not a bad thing.
There’s a problem with the McCain plan, make no mistake. While it would benefit most of us, there’s a segment of us that would feel the pain of this transition hugely. The explanation of that would require quoting the article so much that it’s better if you just click it and read it. The problems with McCain’s plan, however, are nothing when you look at the myriad of problems the Dem’s plans bring to the table. In typical fashion, they just cloak their issues behind new taxes and class-warfare rants.
As I keep saying in election years, be an informed voter. Take the time to read up on your choices and pull the lever at the polls in confidence.