Monday musings — health and eternal power!

– ”I must have more power!” – I was looking at Facebook and noticed an ad for a “Zero point” magnetic power generator that claimed to allow you to disconnect your home from the power grid by generating electricity through pure magnetic principles, not using water or air or any other sort of external force.

This is complete hokum, of course.

A perpetual motion machines– a device that moves forever without external force applied – is impossible except in a completely friction-free environment (example: Earth rotating around the sun, although tidal friction and tectonic forces are slowing it down as well, so maybe not), and a device that generates more power than it uses is even more impossible.

Anyway, while noodling around looking up stuff on this bogus electrical generator, I found a lovely web site for The Museum of Unworkable Devices (click here!)  which is great fun and very educational. It helps if you’ve studied a little physics at some point in your life, but the pictures and explanations are clear enough so you can puzzle things out with very little trouble.

– I’ve had lots of feedback on Sunday’s column about my recent colonoscopy. I was at a party Saturday night where a friend asked me what my column was about the next day, I told him, and he said he was looking forward to reading my “columnoscopy” and I slapped myself for not thinking of that.

– Tomorrow’s column is about the financial aspects of all this. A lot of people are screaming “socialism” about the plans to reform health care funding  in this country, but I think those people need to remember that we have already socialized the problem, if you define “socialism” as “passing the costs on to society as a whole.”

That is precisely what insurance does. The difference between that and a government plan is that private insurance companies take 15 to 20 percent off the top and, motivated by profits and greed, do their darndest to avoid paying our medical bills. Why the American people tolerate this cruel, inefficient system whose only goal is to enrich insurance companies is beyond me.

Anyway, that’s Tuesday. I’m sure it will draw flack.

– Sunday’s column also brought several comments from readers who have had cancer discovered by colonoscopies, and one guy who said it also turned up prostate cancer that had not been found by the usual methods.

Another fellow said that, after his colon cancer was surgically treated, he was missing so much of his sigmoid colon that he had nearly continual diahrea until he discovered a drug called Lomotil, which gave him his life back. It sounds like a prescription-strength version of Imodium. I’m missing my signoid as well (diverticulitis four years ago) and have some similar issues, but nothing imodium at times can’t handle.

Isn’t this just like a columnist, always writing about ….. This  reminds me of a joke about President Harry Truman where he was talking to some people one day and used the word “manure.” Someone asked his wife if she couldn’t get him to quit using language like that and she said, “Be thankful, dear. You don’t know how long it took us to get him to say ‘manure’ instead!”

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13 Responses to Monday musings — health and eternal power!

  1. TLJ says:

    comment test

  2. TLJ says:

    the mandate for everyone to have health insurance , or else! Ok, saying everyone [who owns a car, mind you] must have auto insurance, OR ELSE. But that’s apples and oranges. We all have the choice to own a car – we don’t have the choice to own our health. My hubby is working and we have health insurance through his work – cost about $130 per month. If he lost his job the insurance would go, too – but we would have the option to purchase same coverage for about $600 per month – yay! His unemployment benefits would be about half his wages, so we would be giving up such luxuries as groceries and utilities … then guess what!?! The State takes away our child for neglect. Then the State begins to garnish unemployment for child support and health insurance for the child. Hello living in the truck, goodbye child. Welfare State or is it socialism. I comfused. yes I am

  3. flatlander100 says:

    “The Museum of Unworkable Devices ”

    Reminds me of the old “Journal of Non-Reproducible Results” which was lots of fun, back in the day….

  4. Charles Trentelman says:

    You miss the point, Jen — if we had government, single payer, medical insurance that covered EVERYONE thennone of those dire things would happen — your hubby could lose his job without losing insurance, you wouldn’t have to go broke paying for mandated insurance, and the state wouldn’t take your kids. Instead of fee-for-services, the state would just put the entire medical establishment on a salary, tax us (ie insurance premiums) for the money, and there we would be.

    Yeah, a lot of insurance executives would be out of jobs, and a lot of claims adjusters would have to find someone else to deny benefits to, but I’m OK with that, for some odd reason.

  5. craig says:

    You’re right Charles except when has ANY government program been either efficient or ran for even close to the amount of money they claimed it would cost. The only thing they are great at is taking more money out of my pocket to give to to someone else that contributed to their being retained in office. No thanks!

  6. Just another note about colonoscopy. I have a dear friend that waited until his 70′s to have his first. I learned last week…he is on Hospice care. It’s a shame that he didn’t go sooner and entirely likely diagnosed and treated early.

  7. flatlander100 says:


    OK. The VA. It delivers more pharmaceuticals to its clients at a far lower price to them and cost to the taxpayers than any other pharmaceutical provider, public or private. Part of the reason it can do this is that it is permitted to negotiate with the drug companies for volume discounts. In the Bush Administration’s “medicare prescription” benefit, the government was specifically banned from negotiating such volume discounts for Medicare clients. Result: the medicare prescription benefit is costing taxpayers billions [yes, with a "B"] more than necessary.

    The notion that government operated programs are necessarily and always less efficiently run than private sector ones cannot stand up on the evidence. That said, it’s certainly possible to run a government program badly and even corruptly. The sex-for-oil scandal in the Interior Dept. is a good example.

    But I have faith in the private sector: I believe… I know… it can operate programs far less efficiently and far more corruptly than does the government. We have more than enough evidence that it can. Think ENRON just for openers.

  8. TLJ says:


    Is anyone in the government insurance industry-savvy, can they effectively run an insurance programs for the masses and will the insurance experts and those in the know take much lower paying jobs to run this gov’t run health insurance?

    I agree everyone should have insurance – too many people don’t get the care they need, and the uninsured are charged way more than those with insurance. Maybe a public option with sliding scale premiums to go along with existing insurance programs that work — but how will it be funded, if not with public money, Bill Gates Fdn or taxes?

    I don’t think I missed the point — just wondering who is going to pay for the premiums and cover the benefits, if not the taxpayers. If everyone got insurance no matter what, Insurance State or socialistic insurance – either way, who pays – that’s my main concern.

    Some guy in congress (can’t remember his name, Baucus or Raucus or Ruckus or something) the other day said something about over 800Billion in costs over the next 10 years – costs to whom? They keep insisting not taxes, I just want a clear concise answer – but I don’t think they have it nailed down yet, and won’t for quite some time.

  9. flatlander100 says:


    The government already runs a massive insurance program. It’s called Medicare. It costs less to run [that is, the percentage of expenses devoted to overhead] than commercial insurance programs because medicare doesn’t have to hire masses of people whose job it is to find ways to deny claims, nor do people on medicare generally have to file claims three or four times to get them paid. [I have insurance through a former employer as a retiree, and we routinely have to file claims two, three, and on more than one occasion in the past three years, four times. All the claims were eventually paid. United Health Care is the insurer. All that processing again and again costs millions. I've been on medicare two years now. One time --- once --- I had to refile a claim. So you're going to have a hard time convincing me that commercial insurers know more about handling claims and do it more efficiently than the government workers in the medicare system.]

  10. ctrentelman says:

    tlj — the government has LOTS of people who know insurance — in Utah the PEHP publically employee health plan covers nearly 200,000 government workers and does so without the massive overhead of private plans, and just as well, if not better. The VA, Medicare, cHIP, and the Federal Employee Health Plan that covrs all federal workers, all have LOTS of people who know health insurance.

    craig —As to any government programs that are run well — it always amazes me that the people who criticize government programs the most are government workers — politicians particularly. Perhaps they know how well they do their own jobs, I dunno.

    But the Postal Service can deliver a letter across the country in two days for 44 cents, and was making money at it until email finally out priced them. Private enterprise would charge you $10 or more to knock 24 hours off that delivery time. UDOT tends to keep projects within budget — Legacy would have been if the state hadn’t messed up its environmental planning.

    The government agencies i see around here — Forest Service, BLM — do a lot with limited budgets. Generally speaking, one man’s waste is another man’s critical service, like the mormon crickit funds that John McCain called a wasteful special addition to the federal budget until he got that phone call from the Utah Dept. of Agriculture who said “Not so much.”

    Medicare has a 4 percent overhead. Private industry insurance has 15 to 20 percent overhead. Which is more efficient?

    But, let’s be fair– you go out to Hill Air Force Base and ask for a show of hands: How many workers there are wasting government money. Take names.

    Let me know how that works out for you.

  11. TLJ says:

    hey I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything, I’m rying to figure it out – you guys can answer my questions and I can become more informed, okay? The politicos are the ones comfusing me.

    CT – both my parents worked out at HAFB, and they worked! My dad spent 22 years in the Air Force before the second career in electronics engineering – mom was a computer analyst; both with good work ethics. Whenever anyone would say “close enough for government work” you did NOT want to be around if my dad heard them.

    Sorry, off topic.

    So, are you saying that if I trust the government to take care of my insurance – they are not really working on it, they are wasting our money? I know if they got rid of the people whose sole job it is to find ways to deny a claim, insurance and health care would be better and less expensive …. I’m just trying to grasp the whole picture. Thanks for your input

  12. ctrentelman says:

    quite the contrary — I get VERY tired of people saying government workers are lazy, wasteful and inefficient — our legislature, when it argues against health care reform, says this ALL THE TIME and my response to them is “well, maybe you’re no good at your jobs, but most workers aren’t. Perhaps you should quit and give the job to someone who can handle it?”

    What I’m saying is that most of the overhead in the insurance industry is (a) people whose job it is to process claims, rejecting as many as possible and (b) executives and stockholdres who make a mint of money. Neither of these groups of peope, please note, puts one single band-aide on one single cut. Billions of dollars for not one iota of actual health care.

    I am a very conservative person. This massive waste drives me insane.


  13. laytonian says:

    craig asks “except when has ANY government program been either efficient or ran for even close to the amount of money they claimed it would cost.”

    You’ve never built a home, have you?

    OK, craig. How about you deliver that birthday card to Aunt Millie in Maine, for 44-cents. Make sure you write the address using #1 pencil on a dark green envelope, to “challenge” the postal worker.
    OR….you can always send that birthday card to Aunt Millie via UPS or FedEx in one of their envelopes costing at least $11.

    Or maybe, craig, you’d rather contract out the entire Department of Defense so that we rely only on Blackwater/Xe employees paid five times what a soldier makes….with no rules. But the late-night parties are fun!

    Or craig, tell us about how private business is ALWAYS the paradigm of honesty and efficiency. Make sure you remove all the rules, ala Milton Friedman or Ayn Rand.

    craig, how about them Val Southwicks and Bernie Madoffs! Why, they turned money into pure gold, didn’t they? They didn’t need no nasty commie-pinko gubmint telling them what to do and how to do it, did they? They were Free Capitalist successes, weren’t they?

    Yeah, I’d want Val and Bernie in charge of the government.

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