Wednesday, 23 April 2014

An Unexpected Call

I posted earlier on troubles with getting my car repaired after a minor bingle.

I have been calling the car repairer every week about when I can expect to get the car back. I have had just about more than I can handle driving either a hire car or my daughter's "shopping trolley".

The Thursday before Easter, I get an unexpected call - the repairer tells me that the car is ready except for a couple of parts that are no longer available from the manufacturer, and that they can't buy anywhere.

Given past history, I have some difficulty believing this, so I make some checks myself over the weekend.

Several suppliers in the US have the items in stock - new.
Several other vendors in the US have the same items - used.
Even Ebay sellers here in Australia have used parts for sale.

I can't check with the manufacturer due to it being Easter, so I call on Tuesday. The parts are available (but not in stock in Perth) - order before noon Wednesday, and they will be available for collection Friday.

My next call is to the insurer. Their response is to arrange for the assessor to have another look at the vehicle, but that can't be done until Thursday - the day before the Anzac Day holiday.

So here I am, waiting to hear the outcome, and wondering just when I'll get to drive my car again.

It has been at the repairer for over nine months in total - six for the initial botched repair, and three and a half to make good their failings. I should have fixed it myself.

Monday, 14 April 2014

ID or not to ID

Should people have to identify themselves before being permitted to vote? By which I mean more than the current, perfunctory "Last name, first name, address" malarkey.

Apparently, voting is important, so they tell us (just exactly who "they" are is not germane); too important to demand proof that you are entitled to cast a ballot. Besides, the poor can't be expected to be able to identify themselves!

Huh? In this country, being "poor" (try looking up how that is actually defined some day) means that you are receiving some of my money (you know, taxes and redistribution and stuff), and to do so, the .gov GIVES you an identity document called a CentreLink card. I would be TOTALLY nonplussed if that was different in any other western country.

So you are either "poor", and thus have a FREE ID, or you are not, and you have some other form of ID that you may or may not have paid for - like a driver's license, a firearms license, a student card, a passport. You know, one of many official documents that come with a photograph.

Just exactly how is it a burden on the free exercise of your right to vote to make you reach into your pocket and flash a plastic card before getting to make your mark?

If it IS a burden on voting rights, then why is it NOT a burden on your right to free stuff to have to carry your CentreLink card to claim payments?

On a related note, I have discovered a way to win the war on poverty overnight.

Define being "poor" as being unable to afford tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, a smart-phone, and an overseas holiday because all the money that you EARN goes on food, shelter, clothing, and other essentials.

I bet you see a 95% reduction in the list of people living in poverty. Now give a million dollars (once) to all those left on the list - it would still be cheaper than the system we have now.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

To serve and protect ... themselves

The militarisation of the police scares me. That they dress up in black, arming themselves with tanks, smoke grenades, "flash-bangs", and automatic weapons is bad enough. That they then adopt the attitude of the soldier is worse.

A recent attempt in Victoria to arrest a man believed to have been involved in a violent crime is case in point.

Picture a small country town. Police arrive to arrest the man. He doesn't want to be arrested, and a stand-off ensues, leading to a siege. The Specialist Operations Group arrives on scene at about 6:00 PM, and about 7 hours later an explosion occurs, injuring two of SOG's members and apparently vapourising the wanted man.

What did the Superintendent have to say?

"The families of the injured officers have been notified and they are with their injured relatives, one of whom was admitted to The Alfred hospital and the other was taken to Geelong Hospital.
Both are in a stable condition.
“It’s of great concern to us. We judge the success of operations by the way our members return home safely," Supt Downes said.

You statist prick - success means that your members come home safely - what about the poor bastard that WON'T be coming home safely? The guy that is likely dead, without charges being laid, without benefit of a trial, and no conviction. We'll likely never know if he was the guilty party, because you'll close the case and investigate no further, and it doesn't matter to you because your team "returned home safely."

Given your attitude, I am not at all sure that the explosion wasn't one of your team playing with one of his "toys", and maybe not even accidental. If your sole criterion for success is coming home safely, then get a job as a mattress & pillow tester.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Truth in politics

I read an article - I don't remember where - that stated that the new NSW Senator from the Liberal Democrats believed that citizens of Australia should be allowed to carry guns.

Yes, yes, I now what you are thinking. I didn't believe that he said it either, so I checked.

From this ABC report, it appears to be true.

Of course, the report elicited all the standard strawmen, hyperbole, and false equivalences in the comments, along with the "I can't believe this guy was elected legitimately" BS.

I want to comment on ONLY one class of comments. It's MY blog, I'll post whatever I like.

"This appeals only to those neanderthals that want to kill someone".

This is a fallacious statement stemming from gross ignorance and preconception. I don't want to ever have to shoot someone, but I would carry a gun if the price for being caught doing so was not so high as "go to jail - for a LONG time".

My refutation is this:

Many people carry a fire extinguisher in their car. It's not that they WANT to have to put out a fire.

Many people also carry a first aid kit. It's not that they WANT to have to treat an injury.

How many cars come with a spare tyre, and related tools? Are you telling me that they WANT to have a flat tyre while on the way to the restaurant and dressed for dinner?

Many people have smoke detectors in their homes (more now that the .gov has made it compulsory). That doesn't mean that they WANT the house to catch fire while they sleep.

Those same houses all have RCDs (Residual Current Devices aka Safety Switches) installed. They certainly don't WANT someone to try and electrocute themselves.

Just about everyone has insurance. They are betting that a disaster will happen (just as the insurance company is betting that it won't). They don't expect to lose their possessions to a fire or flood or theft, let alone WANT a disaster to happen.

Sane people don't WANT to face possible disasters, but they DO want to be ready if it happens anyway. Insurance, extinguishers, fire blankets, first-aid kits, spare tyres, seat-belt cutters on the key-ring, the torch in the glove box - they are simply useful things to have in the event of an emergency or a disaster.

Why is a gun on your hip, that you likely never need to use, any different?

... and don' try the "but it's dangerous" inanity. Have you never heard of the number of people killed by cars every year?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Modern Customer Service

I like old cars - none of the modern electronic stuff (except ABS) interests me. I particularly loathe air-bags. So it should come as no surprise that my daily-driver is 25 years old. With no salt needed on the roads to clear ice here, and reasonable corrosion protection on a decent base, rust is not an issue, and I can get a lot more car for a lot less money, without a car repayment.

Of course that brings problems. Even regular maintenance can sometimes require parts that are hard to obtain, and they are sometimes exorbitantly priced even when available. Still, I'll stick to my older cars while I can.

Not so recently, I stuffed up, and collided with another car while trying to turn into a major road. The idiocy of reducing six lanes to four during peak traffic to allow buses to run on time is not discussed. Repairs were necessary to both cars, but what the heck, that's what insurance is FOR, right?

Off to the assessor, thence to a repairer, reputed to be THE premier repairer for that make. It takes SIX MONTHS before I get my car back. I check the stuff that I can, and force them to repair the problem items that I find (lights not working mostly) before I accept the car. Stupid me, I assume that the repairer has done the job right in the areas that I can't see. Well, I did until I had the chance to check it on a hoist.

What did I find? It's more a case of what did I NOT find. There were parts missing. Parts that needed to be removed to repair or replace the damaged parts, but that were not themselves damaged. They were simply not re-installed.

Missing were:
1) Engine under trays
2) Fender liners
3) Under-body moldings
4) Headlight washer hoses
5) External air temperature sensor and alternator cooling hose
6) Under bonnet warning stickers (I knew about these)
7) Headlight motor limit switches
8) Air-conditioning condensor

I complained to the repairer - no joy.

I complained to the insurer - no joy.

I complained to the Insurance Ombudsman - that got some results.

I just happened to have photographs of the car from all angles, including the underside, from before the collision, and from before it was transported to the assessor. When I presented these to the Ombudsman, along with current photographs of the "repaired" car, it was a slam dunk. The repairer was ordered to finish the repair, and the insurer was ordered to make any necessary provision to expedite the work.

Today marks three months that I have been waiting for the repairs to be  completed. It also triggers the penalty phase of the Ombudsman's orders. The repairer was NOT happy when I rang this morning to remind them. The insurer's drone-on-the-phone was too thick to comprehend the situation, so I insisted on going up the chain. The supervisor was NOT happy - with me. Apparently it's MY fault that the whole saga has not been resolved.

The supervisor's supervisor however was VERY unhappy, and apparently concerned about a negative finding from the Ombudsman, as he is falling all over himself to encourage me not to report the issue, but accept some largesse from the company instead.

I just want someone to commit to fixing my car, and let me get back to driving what I choose to drive rather than this shit-box hire car.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Orwell's Electioneering

It's that time again. The pigs with their snouts in the trough of the public purse are demanding that the other animals validate their position and confirm their right to govern.

If that's too Orwellian for you - it's time to vote (again) for those who will represent WA in the Federal Senate.

The last time we did this, some of the pigs weren't happy with the outcome, and protested, demanding a recount. The number of votes found in the recount was 1300 or so fewer than the original count, but the Electoral Commission pigs decided to change the result anyway. That made some other pigs unhappy with the outcome, so they protested to a different set of black-robed pigs, who decided that it was necessary to spend another twenty million dollars so that all the other animals could re-validate and re-confirm the right set of pigs this time.

I don't understand why this is being billed as a do-over. I know several people who were too young to vote last time, but will this time (remember, in Australian State and Federal elections, voting is compulsory). More oddly, the pigs running for election have changed - and some of those squealing for the right to represent Western Australia don't even live in the state.

We don't have Citizen Referenda, but if we did, I would get completely behind one that required all politicians to wear a pig costume when out in public - and declared open season on feral hogs.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Notes on Public Medicine

For any that actually read my scribbles:- please accept my apologies for my LONG silence here.

Now that has been said, I have some comments to make about the public health system in Oz, from personal first-hand experience.

I have been feeling generally unwell for months - more than the normal price of aging I mean.

Eventually, the pain in my belly helped me overcame the tendency of the majority of the male of the species to avoid seeking medical help, and I went to see a General Practitioner. Not having been to the clinic for *cough* several years, I had no preferences and saw the first available doctor.

He was excellent - thorough, knowledgeable, and experienced. Diagnosis - sigmoid diverticulitis. Treatment - mix of antibiotics. Followup - CT scan to confirm.

So, solved, right? Unfortunately not.

CT scan showed blocked blood vessels in the mesenteries of the gut, so off to hospital I go.

Now this is where it gets ridiculous. In Oz we have "free health care" funded by a "Medicare tax", and because of the amount I earn, the government requires that I have private health insurance or pay a penalty tax. All this means that I had a choice - private hospital a few minutes from home, or public hospital ten times further. Here's where my usual luck swung into action - the private hospital didn't have a surgeon available, and it looked like I would need urgent surgery, so off to the public hospital I went.

While ensconced on the "Acute Surgical Ward" I had:
1. IV antibiotics
2. IV blood thinners
3. IV pain killers
4. IV potassium supplements (also orally)
5. Multiple blood draws for tests

The one thing I did NOT have was surgery.

In all the time that I was there (several weeks), I did not learn the name of even ONE of the doctors that I saw. Bed-side manner was non-existent. I know that all of them received training in that area. After all, I know that it was part of the medical school curriculum in the seventies and eighties, as I had to pass it.

Public hospital, so I had nothing to pay, right? Wrong. Even with my private insurance, it still cost me thousands because the government only pays a percentage of the fee that the bureaucrats set in the first place, and it is illegal for my private insurer to cover the gap between the government mandated maximum fee, and the (lesser) amount that they actually pay.

If I had been able to go to the private hospital, the total cost to me would have been less than $20 - for the taxi to get there.

Public, single payer (ha!) medicine SUCKS!

... and the ultimate irony? The surgeon that was available at the public hospital ALSO operates at the private hospital - but when the query was made, the drone-on-the-phone assumed that the information in the database was incorrect, and modified it to what she thought was more likely.