Magic Pots Of Money

First published on the Wake Up Tucson Blog:

Over the last year I have taken issue with characterizations of politicians here in Tucson. Specifically the commendations and congratulations for spending time and effort focusing on, and eventually succeeding in, bringing federal grants to our local community (in the form of TIGER and other federal transportation dollars) for our newest, big scale, fun-time, public works project: The Modern Streetcar.

Without getting into a lot of other issues with this project let me state one simple fact that people seem to be missing: There is no magic pot of free money in Washington, DC.

Federal grants and project funding only come from our own pockets or from pockets in other communities.

To the former, why are we sending money to Washington just to have it sent back to Tucson? To the latter, why should Tucsonans be living off of anyone else?

However, the situation is more complicated than that simple philosophical construct. You could answer that you believe that both of those are wrong and you still would likely take the money. Why? Because you don’t want someone else living off of you either. If we don’t take the money, won’t someone else?

Nasty little conundrum, right??

Continue reading

Pima County Passes Smoking Ban

Oh fantastic…

Does anyone else remember those PBS brand commercials built around something like, “You Own This…”? Basically the gist was that the camera went swooping over the National Mall in DC and then the words would pass over the screen “You Own This…” The shot then faded to helicopter shots of Mt Rushmore and Yosemite followed by “You Own This…” It went through a couple of iterations on this theme, ending finally with a slow fade-in and light flare across the PBS logo and then a last drop in of that phrase, “You Own This…”

How patriotic, right?

I was always really offput by those… In my mind, we don’t own ANY of that. The US federal government owns those assets (PBS being a public-private partnershipy thing). We are given some access to those places and assets, but we don’t OWN them in any meaningful way.

Continue reading

Fifty Is The New Zero In TUSD

First published on the Wake Up Tucson Blog:

One of my father’s favorite quotes is from Woody Allen. I’ve heard it a couple ways but he always related it as “90% of life is just showing up.”

The older I’ve gotten the more I have come to find this an astoundingly important and fascinating insight. It (rather unexpectedly) says that doing the minimum or close to it is really a big deal in most of life.

In my firm I write insurance contracts for clients. What my client is looking for, and what they will pay me to do, is fill out forms and file them with insurance companies. There is a lot more that we do in addition to this, policy reviews, competitive bidding to ensure the best price, custom marketing, employee services, etc. But at the end of the day, the client (AT MINIMUM) just needs that paperwork done.

The flip side though, is I get NO credit, NO payment, if I fill out the application to 10%, 30%, 50%, etc. If that minimum standard is not met, I get ZERO credit.

For my job, Woody’s adage certainly applies. 90% of what I do is meeting that minimum effort requirement. Everything above that is icing, but anything below that is worth nothing, nada, zip, zilch.

Continue reading

Please Politicians, Stop “Helping”

First published on the Wake Up Tucson Blog:

As an insurance broker I am faced with clients every day preparing for and dealing with some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable: loss of their home, injury in a car accident, unexpected medical conditions and many more. My job is to place them into financial products that, while not eliminating their suffering, can at least help them avoid the financial ruin that will make it all the worse. Thus I help people face their fears and manage them… unfortunately I had to face a professional fear this past week and there was no way to manage it or deal with it. Over the course of 5 days, I received two separate calls from clients for whom I could not place coverage, whom I could not help. They were healthy children and I couldn’t provide coverage because of changes made to the health insurance market by the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Due to budget constraints and mismanagement, effective October 1st AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program) made changes to benefits eligibility.  As a result of these changes a friend and client of mine recently received a notification that her two minor children would be losing their coverage. She came to me last week as her agent to discuss options for replacing this insurance.

The second call came from two grandparents. Tragically, their daughter and her husband had died in a car accident several weeks earlier. Because of this they were taking in their 16 year old granddaughter. They called me because they were both in their 70’s and on Medicare, thus they needed an individual policy for the new teenager in their home.

As recently as a few months ago I would have been able to help both of these situations easily with policies that would have cost no more than tens of dollars every month ($30-$60); very reasonable and within reach of a working student and mother as my friend was, and a couple on a fixed income as the grandparents were.

But no longer.

Continue reading