Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, April 1st., 2008

Umbrellas and Icebergs
FLASH – Corned Beef found to be a potent aphrodisiac by Einstein Medical Center research staff. See below for details.**

Tip of the iceberg
What was the tip-off that it was going to be so expensive?

We learned the other day that a person purportedly quoted $300 for a medical procedure (circumcision) was later charged almost $8,000 for the job. So far we have not heard CHC’s side of the story so jumping to conclusions is not a good idea. There may have been complications, or some other reason to charge such a seemingly high fee for a simple operation. Perhaps it was charged as a cosmetic surgery since the patient was 18 at the time. The customer is not sure what the flap (boo) is all about.

In England, a circumcision operation performed in a certified hospital runs between 1,000 and 1,500 Pounds according to HealthcareUK, whereas in India it can cost up to 2 goats. A hospital in Shanghai was reportedly charging the equivalent of $131 US for the job. I could find no information about comparative costs for an adult operation here in the CNMI, but a local Doctor said he could perform the procedure for $60 and a bottle of Jack Daniels (joking here). The typical fee for infant circumcision runs $250 here in the CNMI and is accomplished in minutes with the use of a medical device and the skilled hands of a Doctor.

On the one hand it seems prudent to pay whatever is necessary to get a quality surgical operation in so delicate a spot. On the other hand an increase in fees from $300 to $8,000 seems a bit excessive. CHC cited Operating Room rental fees and rising costs as the primary culprit in the case at hand.

The moral of the story is to get an estimate before getting an elective operation. A friend of mine (who’s life was saved at CHC, by the way) recently needed a heart artery bypass operation. He was quoted $150,000 in Hawaii and $12,000 for the same operation in a quality facility in Manila. Getting a quote ahead (sorry) of time saved him $138,000 for which I’m sure he can find a good use. So could you.

Circumcision tip: if they quote you $300 then charge you $8,000 maybe you should ask ‘em to sew it back on.

So how much do you tip the surgeon after such an operation?
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Not a bad payday

Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo has sentenced lawyers Reynaldo O. Yana and Antonio M. Atalig to 30 days in the Iron Bar Motel for charging what Govendo thinks is too much for their 'services'. He thinks they have contempt for his opinion. He is probably right.Mathematically, it works out pretty nice. At $1,285,500 in fees that pays off at $42, 850 per day in the hoosegow. Not bad pay by most standards. I wonder if they are eating hot dogs or caviar for lunch?
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Parasol Pete
Senate President Pete Reyes says he will continue to resist holding the annual Joint Session/State of the Commonwealth speech in the recent traditional venue, the Multi Purpose Center. He has quoted cost cutting as the reason he will not allow the Senate to participate in such an event if held there. We should all be grateful to Senator Reyes for thinking about, and doing something about saving precious resources in these bleak economic times. I’m not sure what the rental fees, extra security, chairs and a few hundred bottles of water costs over at the MPC but however much if we don’t spend it then we save it for other purposes.

On the other hand, Senator Reyes suggests the constitutionally mandated State of the Commonwealth address be held instead in the Chambers of the House of Representatives up on the Hill. That venue is so small that it will block access to hundreds of citizens who would otherwise attend the event and hear this important message. Even at the much larger (and properly air conditioned) MPC the crowd that gathers is SRO with just about every inch filled to capacity. In the much smaller House chamber only a small fraction of those wanting to attend will be able to do so plus it is hot and stuffy.Hey, if you really want to save money Senator Reyes, just hold it outside the Legislative Building on the lawn. Then we don't need to spend for electric lighting or aircon inside and everyone who wants to can attend. Give the Governor and the DC Representative a DPS bullhorn (already paid for) and let 'em rip. Attendees: bring an umbrella, and your own chair.
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Where the heck is Saipan?
Along with a group of a hundred or so other interested persons I attended the recent speech made by Dr. Leroy Laney, the chief economist for First Hawaiian Bank and a professor at the University of Hawaii. His credentials are impressive, the talk he delivered was an interesting but very general account of the state of the US economy and where it might be headed. He then went on to give some predictions about Guam’s economic reactions to the much heralded military buildup.

Dr Laney had just arrived on Saipan after spending a few days on Guam while putting together the first forecast report for that island territory since 2006. What got my attention and what troubled me most about this learned man’s forecasts was that none involved the CNMI directly.

In fact he disclosed that this was his first trip to the CNMI wearing his Chief Economist’s hat since the mid 90’s. He admitted that he “had not even heard the phrase Federalization of Immigration” until he stepped off the plane a couple of hours before delivering his remarks. Think about that for a moment. The Chief Economist for a company that controls about one third of the banking market share for our whole country’s economy hasn’t even looked at our numbers for over a decade. Things have changed just a bit since then.

To be fair Hawaii is a state with a population of millions instead of tens of thousands. They host 7 million tourists a year not a half million like the CNMI so the dollars flowing in and out of their economy understandably take most of this analyst’s time. Even so, one might think a glance in our direction once in a while might be in order.

Luckily we have Ed Stephens and Bill Stewart keeping an eye on the place for us.

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Quote of the week:
Hey, anybody see the new $5 bill that just came out? The
Treasury has taken steps to discourage counterfeiters, such as making it worth less than a dollar. -- Jay Leno, The Tonight Show. March 20, 2008.

** April fools joke. It wasn’t corned beef after all.


KAP said...

Why not the lawn? They've got enough tents.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

It makes sense to me, Ken. Plenty of room for everyone, zero expenditure.