So Why Are We Broke?
There are so many people in the public sectors screaming about money. We need more for the schools. We need more for the jail. Screaming to have a bigger piece of a finite pie. Of course this would be the gut reaction for most people. Happily not all. (I loved Mark Campbell's quote which basically said he's do his best with what he was given)
But the real question should be "Why are we here and what can we do to fix it?"
the subject could be an extremely exhaustive one. Obviously there are many aspects and many parts that need to be worked on for greater efficiency. But the causes can be generalized into two main items.
1)Lack of planning
2)Planning based upon flawed thinking
Often times we just accept things set in place by our predecessors without thinking about if these things are valid or not. This, of course, is destined to lead to big trouble. That where we are now.
I'd like to point out one of the root causes that seems to me is entirely overlooked. Without giving a complete history lesson or boring you with statistics here's what has got us here.
Way back around the end of the great depression there were laws put in place to tax those who were strong producers. It was thought that these successful company owners would reach a point of complacency due to their success. The government thought that these producers would soon fulfill their every desire and just stop working. Basically they thought that America's would be crushed by it's own success.
So to keep these successful people producing they taxed them heavily. Totally backwards thinking but nobodies fault. Government just didn't know any better at the time.
So eventually these producers started looking for ways around the heavy taxation. They lobbied congress for a loophole. They were given one.
Congress allowed companies to contribute health care benefits to an employee without being taxed on this. Seemingly innocent. Seemingly everyone would benefit. Right?
This set up what I call cancerous capitalism. Cancerous capitalism is caused by government subsidy because it gives an unfair advantage to some. It tweaks the rules of winning. When you change the rules of the game you change everything.
Now it became profitable to create expensive ineffective treatments. The more a company could spend on health care the better. It was all tax deductible right? It would have cost these companies way more to give their employees a raise and allow them to seek their own health care. So they welcomed the inefficient health care system that blossomed.
More money spent on health care and eventually the employees got less and less healthy. All good for awhile for the stockholders.
The problem is that cancerous capitalism is like any other form of cancer. It eventually kills the host.
So what is the answer? Well it's at least twofold the way I see it.
1)Get health care (sickness care) choices back in the hands of the consumer.
2)Put systems in place to help people be healthier.
We're now at a place where health care costs exceed profits in most companies. The costs are crushing our economy. This is at the root of why the economy fell so hard in its normal cycle. One sixth of our entire economy is devoted to sickness care.
Smaller economy, less taxes go to government.
Now it is pretty well known that not only are companies being crushed by sickness care costs but so are local governments.
Most of these costs can be attributed to lifestyle choices.
Wondering if this was true with our local Calaveras county government I spent a couple of hours the other day perusing the budget. Unfortunately the published budget (Here's 07-08 http://co.calaveras.ca.us/departments/auditor/final07-08/final_budget07-...)
is difficult to wade through as far as figuring out the efficiency of government. But I get the idea that there are some pretty substantial health care costs just like most other county governments. I just have a feeling that our county government does not operate more efficiently than others in this way.
So finally I come to my point.
My wife and I developed a workplace wellness program which is very easy to implement.
It is highly effective and we get emails all the time about how people that are using it at work are losing weight, being more productive, and feeling much better.
Studies show that programs such as this can boost productivity by about 20% (What would that do for our county?), improve morale, reduce the risk of computer related health problems, and drastically cut health care costs.
So in the hopes that our county would be forward thinking I offered the program to the county FOR FREE.
I thought it would be a great place to try it out in the public sector and hopefully also help the county out. This could be a big step in helping the county alleviate health care costs and operate more efficiently. Plus it's easy and free.
I spoke with Russ Thomas and Gary Tofanelli
when we first released the program in early '09. They said they would gladly look into it. They seemed thrilled with the idea that they could offer it to the county. I expected to hear something from them but a year went by and nothing.
So recently I emailed them. I'll paste the email below.
Now I know there is a lot that they deal with. There are a lot of squeaky wheels and I'm sure that they take a lot of time. I read about all the drama in the paper. I even saw a lot of it in the melodrama put on by the friends of the library. It seems to be how things are done around here. Drama.
That's too bad.
So anyway. My offer still does stand. I will still donate our workplace wellness program to the county and our school system in any way they would like to implement it if they so desire.
I didn't get it done through the supervisors.
However, being posted on this site, this blog will be emailed out to over 200 Valley Springs residents. It will go out to the facebook feeds of 361 local residents. And it will be read thousands of times from regular organic traffic.
Perhaps one of the people who reads this is in a position to take me up on this free offer
Just email me or give me a call 772-1760
Dear Russ and Gary,
Hope all is well with you.
I don't know if you remember but about 9 months ago Liz and I offered to provide Break Pal, our online wellness application to county offices at no charge.
We have been developing and promoting the system since then and it is going quite well. It looks like it is on the verge of becoming a very popular workplace wellness application. It's the first of its kind and has the benefits of ease of use and efficiency.
We are very excited that it is the first workplace wellness application that does not need the economy of scale to work efficiently. Statistics say that about 93% of companies and agencies with more than 200 employees have integrated workplace wellness but as the employee count drops below this the numbers drop off very quickly. Workplace wellness is nearly non-existent among small business.
There are more and more studies coming out on the subject. Most show about a 20% net increase in productivity for employees that exercise at work. Workers comp costs drop dramatically as do health care costs and absenteeism rates. It's now very well documented and I can point you to reports if you desire.
This caught my eye. This is from Paul Zane Pilzer (Paul is the economist who consulted on the creation of HSA's and HRA's for the federal government)
> The contractual sickness industry obligations to solely former employees now threatens the viability of many U.S. school systems and the ability of local and national government to provide basic human services. In the United States alone, this unfunded local and state government obligation to provide unlimited sickness care to former employees now exceeds $1 trillion, and the resulting scandal will make the $300 billion S&L scandal of the 1980s pale by comparison. The scandal may even be worse in Europe and other developed nations.
Liz and I are moving forward with getting this into a few test environments. We would like to get it into a government agency for trial and also a school system. There is some research going on around fitness in the classroom. We are currently talking to several schools one government agency (the department of trade and commerce of Botswana. I know that sounds like a funny place but believe it or not South Africa is the leader in workplace wellness. The new US bills which were recently passed concerning HSA's and HRA's were based upon legislation created in South Africa)
I'm wondering if you would still have an interest in trying this out in Calaveras County. We'll be issuing nationwide press releases once we see that this program works in such an environment and I'd much prefer those releases mentioned Calaveras County rather than Botswana.
We did offer this for free previously. I am going to have to raise the price a bit. My price is a link from a calaveras website.
Not endorsement, just a link
Let me know
Phil and Liz