Bureaucrat Beat: Dear Mr. President, Trees Dying in the West, and Michael Moore on Cars

Dear Mr. President,

We know you have a lot to do, but could someone please walk into the Medicare offices and tell people that they simply have to re-imburse doctors and hospitals for health care? Pay them, already!

The Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom

Do you think this terse, to the point epistle will work? We will probably send it one way or the other since we hear so many horror stories from doctors and hospitals about the work they do and then don’t get paid, not to mention the complicated process to file for payment. Seems Medicare contracted with a company to handle their reimbursements and this contractor has done everything possible not to give money to doctors and hospitals.

We have also heard terrible tales of people without health insurance, fearful to go to the doctor, who then end up with very serious illnesses that could have been handled if dealt with earlier. Please, Mr. President.

Under today’s Irony Department, a report that says “trees are dying faster than ever in the old-growth forests of California and the mountains of the West.” The same report says scientists believe the tree death is linked to rising regional temperatures and the destructive forces of early snowmelt, drought, forest fires and deadly insect infestations brought on by global warming.

Hey, Caltrans, trees are dying. Maybe you should think twice about wacking down scores of trees to put in sidewalks.

The latest on the local Caltrans scene -the State Treasurer’s Office issued a list of Shut Down or Suspended projects due to no state money. One of them is called Manzanar 4-Lane Expressway. We called Caltrans to find out what this means. Suddenly, Caltrans refuses to give me any information because I was one of many Independence citizens who tried to restrain their tree cutting. They want me to use an attorney to get public information. I turned, instead, to Bob Todd, reporter and Operations Manager of KSRW.

Bob tried to get information for the public on that project. Caltrans’ response? “Bob, we can’t comment on the Treasurer’s website. It might be appropriate to contact the Treasurer’s Office. It is Caltrans’ policy not to discuss projects that are currently under litigation.”

Bob pointed out to public information officer Susan Lent that KSRW didn’t want to know about the Independence 4-Lane project, just Manzanar south of town. Lent said they’re all one project. This was news to us. So, does this mean the whole project area is shut down? We don’t know. Caltrans won’t tell us.

How sad when bureaucracies are so at odds with communities that they refuse to talk to them about their own streets.

Film maker Michael Moore has not refused to talk about the car companies and bail outs. In an open letter in December, Moore knocked Congress for slathering big finance and insurance companies will billions in bail outs and then giving car companies the cold shoulder. Moore has his own ideas. Here’s what he proposed to Congress:

1- Transporting Americans is and should be one of the most important functions our government must address. And because we are facing a massive economic, energy and environmental crisis, the new president and Congress must do what Franklin Roosevelt did when he was faced with a crisis (and ordered the auto industry to stop building cars and instead build tanks and planes): The Big 3 are, from this point forward, to build only cars that are not primarily dependent on oil and, more importantly to build trains, buses, subways and light rail. This will not only save job, but create millions of new ones.

2- You could buy ALL the common shares of stock in General Motors for less than $3 billion. Why should we give GM $18 billion or $25 billion or anything? Take the money and buy the company!

3- None of us want government officials running a car company, but there are some very smart transportation geniuses who could be hired to do this. We need a Marshall Plan to switch us off oil-dependent vehicles and get us into the 21st century.

This proposal is not radical or rocket science. It just takes one of the smartest people ever to run for the presidency to pull it off. What I’m proposing has worked before. The national rail system was in shambles in the ’70s. The government took it over. A decade later it was turning a profit, so the government returned it to private/public hands and got a couple billion dollars put back in the treasury.

Moore suggests that Congress fire all of the car chiefs and take over the industry.

Tough choices in Washington.

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.



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