Saturday, January 29, 2005

You'll Never Be Welcome in North Dakota

Father forgive me, for I have sinned.

I moved from North Dakota in the middle 80's. Other less sinful folks stayed and payed penance. I desire to make amends. Alas, I never will be able to. I have committed the unforgivable sin.

I am unacceptable as an opinion giver because I didn't stay in North Dakota after having lived in ND for 40 plus years, started 5 businesses which operate today in ND and having farmed extensively. I'm unqualified. I am unclean, unaccepted.

There are categories of people who will never be accepted as real North Dakotans and will be shunned forever as "Outsiders".
The rule of absolute parochialism must be applied.

Those who have no say in North Dakota (ACCORDING TO ND PEOPLE) are:
  • 1. Those who leave and come back. We told you so.
  • 2. Those who move into town from the country. Thought you'd never lean you can't make it on the farm.
  • 3. Those who move to the country from the city. What makes you think you have what it takes to make it here.
  • 4. Those who left and now want to help. We stuck around when vermin like you left. You have no right to an opinion and we will treat anything you say in the most pejorative manner possible.
  • 5. Those who didn't grow up here (within 10 miles of wherever in North Dakota that is) and move to another area. We don't need your big money and ideas here.
  • 6. Those who decide to move to North Dakota who never lived in North Dakota. Particularly if you are from another country. Don't think your are going to change things around here. We know better.
The prevailing attitude is: We know better. We don't want your ideas, input, or influence.

  • What if the opposite were true?:::
  • What if having stayed in fact makes people LESS qualified to have an opinion?
  • What if the only policy makers allowed were those who left the state and returned or were not from here in the first place and had moved here? What if only they could vote and make policy decisions.
  • What if returnees (you have to have lived outside the states of ND, SD, MN, MT for at least 5 years) were the only ones eligible to vote or serve in the legislature or hold public office?

Would things be better or worse in North Dakota?

Contemplate and decide, however if you're from out of state your opinion doesn't count.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Professional Three Card Monty

I have never played 3 card Monty. It’s a sucker game. You know you can’t win. They win by diversion, confusion and complexity. About the time you think you know where the card is the dealer moves it. You can’t win. He holds the cards and you are always behind the next move he makes. He wins by keeping you confused.

The same is true of some professions. They live by the confusion that exists in their field. Even if they don’t cause it, they live on it. It’s professional 3 card Monty. It’s the pea under the walnut. It’s magic.

I am blessed/cursed to have a great deal to do with some of the more confusing components of existence.

  • The Law
  • Healthcare
  • Taxes

The law. I have been involved in some lawsuits. I have gone to court. The man that represents himself has a fool for a lawyer and a client. Lincoln said that. The complexity in the law has come to the point that if you are even in the most basic legal dispute you need lawyers. They work hard. But it is so confusing and so convoluted that you spend more than it might have otherwise cost you. That’s why so much of the law bent on settlement is basically legal extortion. If you sue someone you can collect because they don’t want to go to court. About the time you think you understand it you can count on the pea being under another walnut.
3 Card Monty.

Healthcare. I fell off a truck last spring and broke my arm. Not dangling. Cracked my wrist. I went to urgent care. 4 different doctors treated me; The one who looked at it first, the one who set it first, the osteopath who set it in a sling, and the x-ray doctor. Plus there were two different facilities. And 4 visits. The bill for all this came to somewhere between 800 and 3600 dollars. We got bills from the clinic, and notices of various types twice a week for months. The insurance company decided they would, wouldn’t, did, didn’t, wanted to, and didn’t want to pay. We kept all the paperwork in a file. It’s now 3” deep. That all happened 8 months ago. This week we got a bill from the clinic. The insurance company decided 8 months after the fact that they shouldn’t have paid something they had already paid. They want us to pay it. We will even though we had received absolution from the clinic paid in full. Now this. I challenge anyone to really understand this. It’s extortion by confusion. 3 Card Monty.

IRS and Accountants. I almost hate to bring this one up, it’s legendary that if you call the IRS about one problem 5 times you will get 5 different answers. That level of confusion is inexcusable. If you do your own taxes you are in the same category as the man who represents himself in court. I say that assuming you have some level of complexity in your tax form. I have had tax issues. I have had a few accountants in my life. Of the half dozen or so only two were worth their salt. They make their living by interpreting the tea leaves of the tax code to the best of their ability and way beyond your ability to deal with it. The IRS continues to move the pea under the walnut so that about the time you or your accountant believes you have a handle on your situation they reveal the fact that the pea isn’t where you thought it was. 3 Card Monty.

I don’t have a cure for this problem. I just wanted to complain and call it what it is. A con game you can’t win any more than you can win 3 card Monty.