Banks County Opinions...

October 4, 2000


Column
By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
October 4, 2000

Medicare worries
As this is the first time in many years that I will be voting, I've been looking into the issues and proposals offered by the two party's candidates.
Two of the major concerns are the Social Security and Medicare problems.
According to many reports and newspaper/magazine articles, the SS system will be bankrupt by 2025. An alarming forecast for those of us baby-boomers who will be of the age to collect during the '20's.
Republicans want to turn Medicare over to HMO's, to privatize it. Democrats want to bolster the current system and try to save it. To be honest, privatization worries me. HMO's worry me.
For many years now, I have been dealing with a chronic illness called "Fibromyalgia.". They call it a "syndrome," not a disease. (I haven't a clue as to why.) Briefly, FMS is a very painful, debilitating illness that has no cure. We "fibromites," (our affectionate term for us sufferers) have many symptoms that have to be dealt with through medication and sheer willpower. We wake up with pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments - any connective tissue can be inflamed. For some reason, as yet unknown, people with FMS don't reach what's known as Stage 4 sleep. That's the most important part of the sleep cycle. It's during that time the body mends itself. And that's why we wake with pain, dizziness and fatigue..
Imagine having the flu - now magnify that pain and general feeling of lousiness 20 times - add fatigue and the feeling of sea sickness- now you can relate to what we go through on a daily basis.
For the past 10 years, I have applied to numerous health insurance companies for coverage. I was turned down more times than I can remember. All because of FMS. Only one company would accept me, but the premium was so high, there was no way to afford it. Imagine having to pay $557 per month! (And that was nine years ago!)
That's one of the problems with being an individual searching for health insurance. If one is dealing with group insurance, as an employee of a company, you can't be turned downed. If you are out there on your own, you're in trouble.
Insurance agents I have talked to over the years tell me that even children with sickle cell anemia are refused insurance if the parents are self-employed or part-time employees. Adults with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and heart problems, to name a few, can also be turned down.
In other words, if the self-employed or a part-time employee has a serious illness or disease, forget about health insurance - you aren't going to necessarily be able to find coverage, affordable or not.
I did finally get health insurance, but they excluded any coverage for FMS.
Now, if the government decides to privatize Medicare, what will happen to people like me? People who have serious problems? Will the HMO's be required to accept us no matter what? And at what cost?
Some experts have looked into the Republican plan and say that the "voucher system" will not provide enough money for a person to pay for a decent health insurance policy.
If we have no income coming in as retirees other that Social Security, should it still be around, how are we to pay? It's a frightening thought. Money we have paid in all of our working lives will not be available to us.
Republicans say we need to take our retirement into our own hands. Invest our money. What they don't add is-"hope ya don't end up with a brokerage that goes belly-up or stocks that end up virtually worthless." There are no safe investments. No guarantees on a return.
Besides, who can afford to invest? Not people on low or moderate income.
Not most people who own small businesses and work for themselves. It's hard enough getting by day-to-day. Even when it comes to IRAs, it's hard for most of us to set aside much when we need to buy groceries, gas, make car payments and pay utilities.
All the while, what have the politicians to worry about? They'll be getting their tidy "nest egg" (hundreds of thousands, in some cases, millions of dollars) in the form of government retirement, paid for by us taxpayers.
There is definitely something wrong with this picture!
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

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Column
By Angie Gary
The Banks County News
October 4, 2000

Only 81 days...
I don't know about you, but I'm finished. Everything is neatly written out on my master list and packed up in a spare room. I've checked my list several times and I'm sure that I'm ready.
With only 81 shopping days left until Christmas, I'm certain that everyone has started their Christmas shopping. I'm happy to say that I'm finished.
It's really silly to wait until mid-December to start. It makes things too hectic and you can't enjoy the holiday. It also hurts the pocketbook when you try to buy everything at one time.
I have usually started my Christmas shopping when a new year begins. All throughout the year, I'm on the lookout for a bargain or something a friend or family member would like. The only thing I wait on are a few gift certificates, but I have a list and will pick them up in one outing a few weeks before Christmas.
My family has a Christmas vacation planned this year, so we wanted to have our shopping finished earlier than usual. This will give us plenty of time to get everything wrapped and handed out before we head out for our Christmas trip.
I consider myself an expert shopper. After years of experience, I thought I'd offer a few tips for you novice shoppers out there.
·Buy holiday decorations, cards and wrapping paper on Dec. 26. It is at least half off and you can store it in the closet until next year. I have a couple of those big plastic storage boxes that I stack on top of each other.
·Be on the lookout for sweaters and other winter clothes in the summer. Stores are trying to get rid of these items and you can get really good deals. It's always smart to shop for clothes in their off-season. I have bought bathing suits in December and coats in June at great prices.
·The day after Thanksgiving really is a good shopping day (no matter what you've heard). There are plenty of bargains and you can beat the crowds if you head out before dawn. It's usually still dark when I head out on the day after Thanksgiving, but I'll have all afternoon to nap. Many stores are open by 7 a.m. and the lines aren't long as most people are still at home sleeping off all of that food they ate the day before. Try to be finished by 11 a.m. and enjoy a leisurely lunch at a restaurant that is most likely not very crowded.
·Always ask for boxes. Most stores give them away free for each item you buy. It really helps out in Decmeber when you're busy wrapping and you need 25 boxes. They are also flat and easy to store.
·If you can't think of anything to get someone, what about socks and underwear? No, I'm not kidding. These are items that everyone needs. I usually don't think about buying these things for myself, but I always need them. If unsure of what to buy, think about the basics. If you have a friend who loves to take pics, give him a photo album or a frame. Photographers can never have enough of them. If your aunt wears contacts, give her a case of solution. It may not be the most exciting gift, but it's better than giving her a sweater that she might hate.
·As for all of those calendars out there­wait until Jan. 2 to buy one. There will still be plenty left and they will be marked down half price.
Enjoy these last few months of shopping and please remember that the gift is not the reason we are celebrating Christmas. It is only to let our family and friends know that we care about them. Don't ever forget that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. Her email address is AngieEditor@aol.com.


Editorial
The Banks County News
October 4, 2000

Father taking wrong action
A father is threatening to sue a school system in the Atlanta area because his son was thrown off of the football team after being arrested in connection with mailbox vandalism and car theft.
Instead of taking such a ridiculous action, the father should be adding to the punishment his son is receiving. By blaming the school system, the father is teaching his son the wrong lesson.
It is time for parents to accept when their children mess up and make them take the blame. A child or teenager will never learn responsibility unless they start suffering the consequences of their actions. The son needs to learn that his actions were wrong. He will remember this even more if he sits out the football games each Friday night.


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