Are you making sense (or talking out of your butt)?


A few years ago, I was introduced to a significant difference between communities… specifically the comforts I had grown up with and happened to be accustomed to seeing offered.

In all honesty, the introduction came roughly twenty years ago, after one of the first moves my wife and I made together. The bottom line being… we had to arrange for a trash service.

(A ton of you reading this are a bit confused right now. Trash service? Really? That’s my big reveal. And… well… yeah…)

I actually believe that you are one-hundred-percent correct if you find yourself wondering what possible lessons exist from home waste management issues. This being especially true if you happen to have nothing but experience with town dump permits and fees, or the hiring of residential trash services for your needs. It is, so to speak, the normal way things are.

Curveball here is… Tuesday was trash day when I was a kid. City provided the service. And, the city still does manage trash pickup in that area today. I never—well, more accurately, I believe we are discussing my parents since they would be the homeowners of record, but you get the idea—we never had to call a company, sign up with them, and send off a check every month or quarterly or whatever in order to have a truck show up on Tuesdays. That was my norm growing up.

When it comes to the comforts of home, I’ve come to learn that the concept can be applied to many things. When I first arrived on a college campus, it also happened to be my first time living in an area where there was a deposit and return policy for plastic bottles. It was my first apartment after college that introduced me to heading to town hall to get a dump sticker for the windshield of my car. It was the first home with my wife that involved not only a dump sticker but also arranging curbside waste removal. And, for the record, let’s just mention how it was a real surprise when we first encountered well pumps providing the water for our house. Heck, I can tell you all about many pros and cons of heating by oil, propane or electricity. Comforts indeed. Standard comforts. And yet differences all over the place.

The point is, even if you are only living a few hundred feet apart, there can be significant differences that create scenarios where comparisons are not even remotely apple-to-apple situations. Extend the idea to different states and the possibilities increase. Go beyond national borders and we may not even be looking at apples-to-oranges being a fair summary of what’s at hand.

So. Back to trash removal. Differences between communities and the offerings that change when you move from one place to another. It’s a small, isolated concept that allows us to approach a larger one. Makes a bit more sense, I hope. Because that’s the stepping off point for this essay.

Before we move along… just for a moment… bit of a summary, with slightly new perspective tossed in.

Let’s say you and I live in different cities, and maybe different states. We have homes that are fairly comparable. Rough square footage match, with the same idea for the amount of land. If we compare bedrooms and bathrooms and even the shed out back… same. Your property taxes are higher than mine. Is that unfair?


But, there’s also a chance that I’m paying for trash service and you have it included in some way with your property taxes. And that might be just the start of it. Fire districts is one thought, with other services and fees and charges possible. In the end, we could be paying pretty close to exactly the same once everything is broken down and matched up. It’s just that you see it as one amount on one bill, where I’m addressing it as several items from several sources.

The trick is, a ton of people love talking about things without recognizing those concepts of bundling of charges as opposed to independent billing from multiple places.

(Got it? Cool. Moving on…)

Let’s meander… tentatively, carefully, slowly… into the glorious arena of universal healthcare.

If you want to investigate the subject, especially by digging deep in to material from other countries, there is plenty to love and hate about the subject. The problem is… at least in my experience… few people want to dig deep with their research. More people want to complain.

See… deep digging, let’s consider the hate it side of the coin… you begin to find out things such as not having choices when it comes to doctors, hospitals and treatments. Deep digging… you begin to learn about the baseline universal healthcare paying for baseline services, with additional costs coming along for what we might refer to as fullcare. (To create a phrase.)

I said tentatively, carefully, slowly, so I’m stopping here. Simple idea being, layers folks. If you want to be happy with it or frustrated by it, there is plenty to draw upon. More importantly than anything though, is if you want to critique others… or, more to the point, tear them apart… you should have a bit more than surface details. It’s not just whether or not you have medical benefits. What do those benefits cover? You should know about bundling as opposed to itemizing, if you follow the idea, and whether or not you are comparing apples.

Social media is an incredible source of such craziness, but it’s not the only source. I remember a co-worker complaining about a certain issue about twenty years ago. At first, having a brief conversation in the cafeteria during lunch one day, I thought a few of us had covered with her that there was a chance that what she was championing might backfire depending on the fine print.

(For this idea, let’s shift back to medical bills for a moment. Someone mentions something about guaranteeing coverage for certain conditions, and you think that sounds awesome. It always had been covered by your current medical provider, but the possibility that it might not be had been a concern of yours. In changing the system though, suddenly office visit co-pays and annual out-of-pocket deductibles were also adjusted. So, yes, the phrasing said your annual procedure would be covered… but between office visits and that deductible you suddenly found yourself with bills arriving for $1,000 or more to have the procedure that had never arrived previously. Back to the office…)

After that lunch, I stepped back and watched as that co-worker erupted for years over how much the situation was costing her. She shifted political parties. Went from praise to all out name-calling of presidents and senators and governors and so on. And it seemed like each time she shifted to a candidate, that candidate would get elected on promises of containing the rising charges and then her bills would go… up. The bills went up even higher, which ticked her off into a new round of screaming.

I don’t want to make light of her frustrations. Actually, when you go over the full story, I can completely appreciate her anger. Still, when you broke down her argument… when you really listened to her… she wasn’t hitting the real issues. Instead, it sounded a lot like (here we go, my words in a comical way):

I used to pay $3,500 in property taxes. Now I pay $3,700 because they increased it. It’s outrageous that they are charging more. What? Yes, I did have to pay $240 per year for trash removal. Did you know the city does that now and I don’t get a bill? Anyway, how do they get off charging me $200 more each year?

And yet, I see it all the time. Posts on social media where people are telling me taxes are going up to support new services or fees will be charged to pay for additional operations. News reports where a story hammers a particular position, only to see a major company with a really big interest in how that situation plays out that also manages to line up nicely with what the report stated advertising in the next commercial break.


Don’t tell me I need to wake up folks. Please don’t tell me that when you’re wearing blinders as you say it. If you’re going to accuse me of being an idiot, you should really make certain your information isn’t coming from your behind.


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