Letters to Mayors part 1, the N

Dear Mayor,

As someone who has recently moved to this city, I am writing you out of concern. The public transportation I was promised upon arrival is broken.  This is a bold statement, when millions of dollars are invested in it.  Yet I have an offer for you.

Please come ride the N with me for a few days.

We will be late to our meetings, yes, but we will be late together. We will be frustrated as the train we are on is taken out of service half way to our destination, the final Giants home game of the season.  Yet we will have company in this as well, said game being a popular public event scheduled long in advance.

We may watch as the train passes us at the station, empty and headed where we have promised to be, without stopping, despite NextBus’ assurances, but we will have our cell phones, and be able to explain to our colleagues, clients, friends, and, in your case, constituents that it is not our fault, that the Muni is again unreliable.

And they will understand, because they warned us about the N, and because they too live in San Francisco.

Letters to Senators part 2, health care

Hello.

I am writing you on behalf of all Americans. Not because all Americans agree with me, I know they do not. However, I am writing on their behalf as well. I am writing because there is a serious disconnect in our country, specifically in our government, about those very US citizens.

Health care. There is a lot of meaning in those words, almost all of which is neglected by the current debate. The point of it all, of making people healthy, keeping them that way, and improving the human lifespan while minimizing suffering, seems completely overwhelmed by the problem: cost. What we need is not better insurance, or wider-reaching coverage. Somehow, with the floating of those two concepts, the actual need, for healthier humans, has already been removed from the stage. Cost and coverage have replaced care, prevention, and healing as the focal points of need. And that switch allows for more callous, crass and otherwise reprehensible behavior.

If the conversation were re-focused, so that the sentence “deny someone coverage based on existing conditions” became “do not heal someone who is already sick” the awkward nature of the argument would be more obvious. Does anyone in our country NOT want care when they are sick or injured? In a democracy, a country run “by the people, for the people,” how then can we engage in such an argument, where part of society can advocate a solution that simply does not hold with their own desires?

If everyone wants to be cared for when they are ill or injured, how can anyone be against universal health care?

Please, in our current debate remember that “coverage” is not “care” and “insurance” is not “healing”. Remember those who have worked their entire lives, yet never been offered health care by an employer. Remember those who were born with a disease or a disability, even a treatable one like asthma or poor vision, and yet are forced to pay constantly for renewed “prescriptions” that are simply a continuation of what they have lived with forever. Remember that no country in the world spends more, for less, and that no matter the risk, the system we have simply does not help the citizens of our country.

Thank you for your continued work for all of us.

Thoughts on words

Health care.  A lot of meaning in those words, almost all of which is neglected by the current debate.  The point of it all, of making people healthy, keeping them that way, and improving the human lifespan while minimizing suffering, seems completely overwhelmed by the problem: cost.  What we need is not better insurance, or wider-reaching coverage.  Somehow, with the floating of those two concepts, the actual need, for healthier humans, has already been removed from the stage.  Cost and coverage have replaced care, prevention, and healing as the focal points of need.  And that switch allows for more callous, crass and otherwise reprehensible behavior.

If the conversation were re-focused, so that the sentence “deny someone coverage based on existing conditions” became “do not heal someone who is already sick” the awkward nature of the argument would be more obvious.  Does anyone in our country NOT want care when they are sick or injured?  In a democracy, a country run “by the people, for the people,” how then can we engage in such an argument, where part of society can advocate a solution that simply does not hold with their own desires?

If everyone wants to be cared for when they are ill or injured, how can anyone be against universal health care?

Letters to Senators part 1, text messaging

Hello,

I am writing you about text messaging costs. I am sure you are aware of the high cost per text message Americans pay and the sliding scale based on text message plans for what is and will remain a fixed cost service. Text messaging takes advantage of the control channel that constantly communicates a phone’s whereabouts to the network, which means that text messaging requires NO additional technology, bandwidth or infrastructure. Text messages on the carrier’s backbone are a fraction the size of voice or email traffic. Yet carriers across the United States charge up to $0.25 per message. While they argue that most people have text messaging plans that is because they are forced to buy more messages than they use to avoid such horrible over-charging. Text messaging is a low- to zero-cost feature for the carriers, regardless of the number of messages sent, so the only way to increase revenue on this aspect of their service is to incentivize the customer to pre-pay the maximum amount.

When all the major US carriers charge the same rate for what is, again, almost a zero-cost service, it is a definite sign not only of collusion but of a business that does not have the consumer’s interests at heart, which is exactly what our government is supposed to protect us from.

To make matters worse, when a consumer purchases an “unlimited” data plan, that should theoretically allow “unlimited” use of data on their phone, this does not include text messaging, meaning the customer who has chosen to pre-pay for unlimited access is forced into additional charges for their text messaging use, despite the absolutely minimal cost and data use of these 160-character limited messages.

Please, help us and all Americans by fighting the US cellular carriers greed and dishonesty. Thank you very much for your time and your work on behalf of New Yorkers.