Monday, November 11, 2013

I became a number today. Yes, a NUMBER.

I've got an expiration date, and it's one year from the end of THIS YEAR, 12/31/14.
Nope, I'm not planning on dying, but, I'll be TOLD I'm now one of the millions who can no longer handle my own affairs, where health care is concerned.

Until today I've avoided everything with this mess called the "Affordable Care Act." (Obamacare.)  You see, I've always viewed healthcare as a "perk" of working, and a of having a marketable talent. It's always been a good thing for an employer to offer! (or, in my case for the past few years, for me to be able to AFFORD to buy, thanks to hard work!)

Today I got royally VEXED, CHEESED, HOSED, AND PI**ED etc as I have been drawn into this huge mess that is all over the news on  WION and every radio and TV station nationwide.

When I left my former employer and came here to  save WION radio from extinction, I didn't have coverage. I had carried it with previous employers, but, during our startup of WION by need, I lived on the principle of, "Pray you don't need it and Pay for coverage and services if you do!"  Along with that came the responsibility that MY BILLS ARE MINE, nobody else's. In other words, If I'm in the hospital, so be it! I know it's my bill!  I'll pay it, I'll find a way, it's my RESPONSIBILITY.  Having an income to pay bills, including those incurred through healthcare is a by-product of working hard at one's job, and earning either the cash to pay those bills, or the coverage which does the same.

A little history of Jim Carlyle.  I have NEVER been on unemployment since being out of high school. I have NEVER been without a fulltime job for longer than a few weeks, when I CHOSE to change my geographic location.  I have never been on any kind of "aid" from the state or the Federal Governments, except one time when my CPA said I was "automatically eligible" for home heating credit, and filed it on my behalf, presenting all the forms to sign on April 15th.  I pay for my own car, my cellphone, my life insurance, my entertainment,  and my conservative existence on this earth. (By conservative, I don't mean politically, I mean in terms of the methods by which I lifestyle in general.)  

When WION was put back on the air, we did it on a wing and a prayer. We saved the local bank's behind, (literally) by walking in and asking them to finance the station for us.  They were holding the station on behalf of  the estate of the deceased former owner. The license was nearly expired. Had we not arrived, WION would now be silent, having Ionia with NO radio station, and the land likely sold to developers; the towers brought down.

We overcame technical issues, building and grounds issues, image issues, and many others, but we did it on a shoestring, and have built it to enjoy the STRONG following it has today in West Central Michigan,  and even worldwide.  (The worldwide appeal is due to the unique sound of our AM stereo transmission and web-stream.)  We did it all!  And, we do it better than the big boys do, because we CAN. There's no corporate controller saying "no"....and we don't have to check someone in another state to get approval of changing the toilet paper roll in the restroom.  

There was one thing missing, however when WION started up in 2004, with me as it's Morning Host, Manager, and jack of all trades.  MY health insurance. It was a cost we just could not take-on at the time,  but the risk was mine, and it gave me a goal of building the station (the business) to the point of being able to afford coverage!  It was MY choice that the bills of the business (WION) came first;  MY risk of being in an accident or having health issues in my late 30's, MY risk of the business closing if my medical bills were bigger than budgets.  

In year number four, we were offered the chance to buy a sister station in Greenville, Michigan and we did. (WGLM.) It was already operating, and had a small staff. At that time,  WION had stabilized enough for me to afford my own health insurance, so I bought into their group coverage which we opted to continue when we bought the station.  Later,  I decided to buy my OWN coverage, and I've had it for quite some time, bought LOCALLY.  (we preach about buying locally  so much)...I've been happy knowing I have a local person to call regarding my coverage, and that I am the one who selected what was important to me.  I was proud of my business having achieved the level of financial stability that a commitment for health insurance was possible. 

Well, today, the letter came. My local representative has been informed that my plan will be "mapped to one of the new compliant plans which will include all of the "health essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act."  I am NOT pleased. I've already chosen  MY plan: bought locally, and, I'll come right out and say it;   If the new ACA rate is higher for me in this new, "everyone is ENTITLED TO CARE" situation, I'll pay the penalties and say to hell with insurance as long as possible!  My company's responsibilities comes first, and it can't afford additional costs incurred by a government with no clue what small business is like!   Business is tough enough these days without a sudden increase in my healthcare costs being mandated, and the control of my choice taken away.

In the last calendar year, WION radio has seen increases in utilities, music licensing costs, music streaming rights, top it off, a Michigan representative to our federal government wants to eliminate advertising as a "deductible expense!"  WION and many other businesses LIVE on advertising!  Advertising is needed for EVERY  business!  We're fighting on enough fronts already!  Health care, until today was not on the list.  I've worked hard, and have built-up  this businesses on which people now rely for their livelihood.  I've paid into unemployment, social security, and other required "employment taxes" all my adult life, never needing them or calling on them. Now this. 

You're reading one UNHAPPY business owner's blog......who has now decided to become an activist against this messed up plan! I don't believe in entitlements, or "give me's." It's gone way too far!  In fact, its a darn good thing I didn't get this letter last Friday, when in downtown Ionia, a canopy was set-up at a local check-cashing business and on it proclaimed the phrase, "On Aid? Get your FREE cellphone here!" 

Seeing that canopy upset me even more! Having a cellphone is not meant to be an entitlement. Neither is access to the internet by dialup,  broadband, or even having landline phones! 

A person can live without  free phones, facebook, free cable*, and even healthcare when necessary.  To me, the health care has always been a "benefit" of employment. Until today.

Certain things should be earned! They should also be your CHOICE.   And, if you've already bought a product by choice, (in this case, health insurance) WHY... why... WHY....should you be told you need to consult with the federal government on your decision? Sometimes I believe this age of "entitlement" was augmented when digital TV was mandated. Suddenly Americans were faced with not seeing TV unless they bought a little black box!  Oh, wait a minute, that got bought for Americans,  too: 

"Sure, we're the government! We'll make sure you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of television by buying you (all) a converter box for your TV, whether you're a millionaire, or on welfare! Here's your coupon for a free box!  It's our JOB as the government to make sure you're happy!"

Think about it!  They really did that!  The digital TV conversion verified that in our country, every citizen is  ENTITLED to watch television! I'm sick and tired of everyone thinking they're ENTITLED to the same things that I work so many hours-for!  (by the way, I never got a "free" converter box.)

Maybe I'm just asking too much of society.  WORK for your rewards. WORK for your perks and your livelihood.  Have a goal of being successful through hard work!  Good things will come. When this happens, we have a self-respecting nation of people proud to be working. 

That's how I thought it was supposed to be. That's what I learned, watching my very responsible parents raise our 4-person family on a factory worker's income, and I was never short of food, shelter, entertainment, or family fun.

Believing in those days ended  abruptly for me today when I got this letter. I'm now a number. A number in a pool of people  told (by their government)  they're not smart enough or stable enough to buy their own healthcare anymore, whose self-respect is being taken away, one government policy at a time.

Disclaimer:  This blog was written by the owner of radio stations WION, WGLM and WGLM-FM. It does NOT mean that the stations' staffs and other management or ownership reflect or endorse this view!  It DOES mean that as a media owner, I'll do all I can to tell listeners and my (few) readers what I believe is wrongdoing by those in power who seek to curtail the ability of hard-working individuals to have choice in important decisions.

Decisions.... which should be....100 percent...their OWN, and not the government's!

*(I've been told by a friend who is a Michigan landlord that in some  low-income homes without an antenna in Michigan,  people's basic cable is paid by the state! THE STATE! I'm sorry, "BUY SOME RABBIT EARS!!!!!!")