Founder’s Forum: Points to Ponder

JB Lester

By J.B. Lester

Democracy Served. The January 6 committee has done its job and is showing a flagrant attempt to obstruct the counting of electoral votes and confirming Joe Biden as president. Donald Trump stood by and did nothing to stop the attack on the US Capitol and he should be held accountable for his dereliction of duty. I was proud to see so many Trump allies and Republicans who worked for the former president, testify, and tell the cold hard truth. They are the true stewards of our democracy. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger should be commended for their roles in putting country ahead of political party. No one is above the law, and I hope that in this case like any other crime, justice is served. The Republican party has an opportunity to rebuild on the shoulders of patriots like Cheney, Kinzinger and others who have come out against Trumpism. Never have I seen so many who were so afraid of a man who has no moral compass, no respect for law and order or the building blocks of our Constitution. Thank God we have a few people who find the truth more important than the “big lie.”

Where have all the workers gone? We called to order a pizza the other day and they weren’t taking orders because they were too short staffed. Everywhere you look there are help wanted signs. What the heck is going on? It’s like an alien ship came down and snatched up half our work force. Swimming pools can’t find lifeguards, schools can’t find teachers, towns can’t find more police, and every restaurant and fast-food place can’t find a worker willing to work for minimum wage. Of course, minimum wage is not a living wage by any means. But what happened to all the students who need summer jobs. I get it that some parents did not want them working during covid. But for the most part, covid is slowing down. Most workplaces are getting back to normal except they can’t find workers. No butchers, no bakers, no candlestick makers. I know anyone who got stimulus money from the pandemic has spent it all by now. People need to work. Commerce must prevail. Stop spending for a while and start working. That’s the answer to inflation. Otherwise, we will just have to wait for that UFO to bring our workers back down to Earth.

Backyard Retreat. After a hard day at the office or caring for my grandson mano a mano, I like to take a cold beverage and sit alone in the backyard underneath the redbud tree. Gently shaded, I can sit back in my Adirondack chair and take in the sounds and sights of my environs. A mama cardinal made a rather haphazard nest in the redbud above me but now that the baby has flown away, she doesn’t stick around to chirp at my appearance. My tomatoes, broccoli and squash plants are amazing feeble this season. I have tried to keep them watered using our rain barrel, but the summer drought has depleted my barrel and I have had to resort to the hose. I don’t think my plants like the chemicals in the hose water because they have all but stopped growing. Hardly any blossoms this year for the many pollinators that visit our yard from a neighbor’s beehives. Unlike the cardinal, the sparrows have made a giant nest the size of a basketball on top of the back deck ceiling fan. They win the nest-building award while the cardinal only gets a participation ribbon. The “Ojii” tree (Japanese Maple) is in the twilight of its life. But I have learned to prune it to keep the best feng shui flowing as I can. I don’t see as many butterflies this year on our butterfly bushes. Only a few monarchs and a large Victoria Swallowtail recently. Squirrels tightrope run across the telephone lines from pole to pole while chipmunks scamper from the beneath the rain barrel to under the back deck. The heat is oppressive so its time to put up the backyard blowup pool again. Put it up, take it down, trying not to kill the grass. I wish our whole yard was native plants. The purple echinacea now dominates our yard as they love the summer heat. A west wind cools the sweat on my brow as the sun takes a nap behind a enormous cloud. I need another cold beverage as I hear the call of the wild.

Retirement reality. It’s one thing to talk about and even announce your retirement, it’s another to really come to grips with it. Our Healthy Planet office in Webster Groves is shutting down soon. The new publisher, Susan Hunt-Bradford is going to run the magazine out of her home in Fenton. People have learned to work virtually over these past two years, so I imagine it will work just fine. For me, I am a get up and go to the office kind of guy. So having a home office will be a challenge for me. Relegated to the basement in our Webster Groves cottage, I will have to imagine a window where there isn’t one until we get the whole basement cleaned up so I can move my desk to the corner with the window. For now, it’s the spot near the cupboard just at the bottom of the steps. Hey, if Harry Potter lived in the cupboard under the steps, I am sure I can make this work. I will be working on the online version of The Healthy Planet for a while until the new publisher finds enough hands to take over my duties. I am happy to help as I need a retirement job anyway. It much better than being a greeter at Sam’s or Wal-Mart. No offense to the greeters at Sam’s or Wal-Mart. I am just not as friendly as they are. Retirement takes a plan and I need to update mine. I have always said to my kids, I don’t care what you do in life as long as you have a plan. So, I guess it’s time to heed my own advice. Words to live by for all who are retired or about to retire. Have a plan, keep active in mind and body. Love your new life.

Healthcare Shell Game. I had a PET scan a few months ago. It was one of the newest PET scans available and luckily it showed no return of my past prostate cancer. Good news. Then I got the bill. Wow, I read somewhere that many people don’t get this new PET scan because of the cost. I was charged $2000 which I thought was high but not outrageous. Then I read the details on what it was originally billed at and what the insurance paid. $26,000 and the insurance paid $24,000. I was told by my friend an insurance underwriter that these numbers meant nothing and there was a compromised settlement. He calls it shell game the hospitals and the insurance companies play. Then I was recently diagnosed with

AFib and quickly put on Eliquis (a blood thinner) so I would not develop a blood clot and cause a stroke. A good defense, but the price tag was $513 per month. Come on people, that a new car payment. Our healthcare system is so broken between the shell game the insurance companies and hospitals play and the high prices of prescription drugs. And yes, there is a generic for Eliquis, but it is not yet available in the US. Reasons unknown but certainly a drug company lobby could be at play. I complained to my doctor’s office, and I was told that I could get a manufacture’s card for a $10 copay. This should be common knowledge and I ask everyone who takes Eliquis to go to the Bristol Myers Squibb website and check it out. Why do we make it harder for people to afford to stay alive? Our healthcare system is broken, and my doctor blames it on Congress not taking more action to curb drug prices. I am not sure what to do about medical procedure prices and the insurance company and hospital shell game tango. As long as they are allowed to dance to this music, we will be on the hotseat waiting for this game of musical chairs to stop.