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February 27, 2013
 

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE VIEWPOINT Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Page 4 B E T W E E N ] By Tom Merchant - Sentinel Tribune -- tmerchan@ncppub.com THE LINES Do you want ink with that? Have you noticed how many things you do or buy sometimes have additional fees? I am not sure where this all started, but banks and airlines have been tacking on fees for a variety things. Here is a recent conversation I over heard when someone was booking a flight on a cut rate air- line, I believe it was called E1 Cheapo Airline and Storm Door Company. The man wanted to book a flight to Orlando, Florida. The first thing the booking agent asked was did he want to fly economy or their famous El Cheapo rate. So the man asked which was cheapest. She replied well that depends on what ameni- ties you want. But economy is usually the least expensive. Then the man added I have some fre- quent flyer miles I would like to use. He then asked about round trip and one way fares. She said round trip fares are only available with our super duper saver deluxe package. He replies, all right what is that? For $49.99 you get a bag of peanuts, beautiful plastic sou- venir air line bag, and a pillow plus $10.00 extra for a clean pil- low case. She then asks if he would like a preferred seat loca- tion. He says no I don't think so. She replies, you might want to think about it, there are some pretty unsavory characters who fly the economy plan. OK how much extra will that be? She replied $24.95. She then asks if he would like a preferred boarding pass? He said what is that? She said you will be expedited through security for just $75.00. Well OK I guess that might be worth it. Of course there will be a $25.00 fee for a carry on bag, and $50.00 for each additional bag. She then asks if he will be golfing while on his stay? No he said, but why do you ask? Well there is a $125.00 fee for golf d.kbs . Of course most of our pas- sengers prefer to take our super hydration fee for the trip, it includes the best in local tap water for $9.95 plus $5.00 for a glass and ice. To which he replied no thanks I will just lring my own water. She replied arport security will only allow 3 omce bottles to be brought on the airplane so I would recommend using it spar- ingly. Plus there is a $20.00 fee for bringing on your own water. Oh alright I will take the hydration package. She then asked if he would like to have flight insurance for $79.95? If you crash on the third Tuesday of the month you will receive double miles. Which brings me to your frequent flyer miles, when do you plan on leav- ing? He replied Thursday April 10. She said oh I am sorry that date is blocked for economy rates. Would you like to change to our El Cheapo Super Saver rate? No I don't know if I have enough time, so how much is all this going to cost me? The grand total comes to $2,299.99 to which the man replied, I think I will just drive there. Well it seems there are getting to be an a lot of fees that business and government are adding to many products and services. Of course auto makers have been doing it for years with the many options and option packages that are available with just about any vehicle you buy. Although I must say that many of yesterdays options have become standard, like radios were optional at one time, automatic transmissions were once optional, but are stan- dard on most cars. Of course with all of the features that are standard there comes a heftier price tag too. Newspapers have not been totally exempt either. Many news- papers now charge for obituaries, we do not. About the only thing we charge extra for is to have a baby announcement put in, other- wise subscriptions and advertising are the only things we charge for. What other business gives away about 60 to 70 percent of its prod- uct for free, not many I'll bet! Have a great week and do good! Subscribe to the Sentinel Tribune Mission Statement The Sentinel Tribune serves the residents and business community of Cottonwood, Redwood, Murray and Lyon County and southwest Minnesota by applying its available resources to accurately and consistently produce a quality newspaper which thoroughly covers the news of the area, stimulates thought and conversation, delivers advertising mes- sages in a timely manner, and provides information of general value to its public. In so doing contributes to the overall quality of life and economic health of its readers, advertisers and community in general while stimulating the professional development of its employees. ObamaCare Embraces Health Savings Accounts By Dan Perrin Despite getting clobbered in the fiscal cliff negotiations, Republicans have something to celebrate this year -- the sur- vival of health savings accounts, or HSAs. They had feared that President Obama would obliterate this critical cost-saving tool. Sure, the president had promised that ObamaCare would not bar HSA-qualified plans from health insurance exchanges. But we had our doubts. Fortunately, we were wrong. A new regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services should put Republican fears to rest. Issued in November, the Department's proposed Actuarial Value Calculator has been tested and re-tested. Republicans and HSA experts can conclude only one thing from this math- ematical tool: ObamaCare is safe for HSAs. HSAs are accounts that allow the owners of high- deductible health insurance plans to save tax-free for medi- cal expenses. HSA-qualified plans offer low monthly premi- ums, which has made them the fastest-growing type of health plan in United States for the past four years. If initial results from private health exchanges operating in Minnesota are any indication, more than half of insurance buyers want an HSA-qualified plan. Republicans have lauded HSAs for years, both as a way to bring choice and savings to individual consumers, and as a method for keeping overall health care expenses from spi- raling out of control. The White House and Department of Health and Human Services appear to have also concluded, rightly, that for the health exchanges to work, the option to choose low-cost, HSA-qualified health plans must be preserved. No one has been more caught off guard by this conclusion than primed-for-battle political operatives like myself. In fact, the proposed health care regu- lations embodied in the Actuarial Value Calculator are so fair and reasonable that much of the Republican health care policy apparatus has been stunned into silence -- perhaps accounting for how little we've heard about the new regula- tion. Literally, with one draft rule, and indications that other draft rules will also permit HSAs, the Department has silenced a huge chorus of Republican critics of the President's health care plan. On Capitol Hill, health care aides to Republican Senators and Congressmen are asking, "what do we say now?" You can hear the delete button being pressed on whole para- graphs of stump speeches pounding ObamaCare. In a Washington, D.C., board meeting a few weeks ago, I heard this HHS rule being described as "the best Jedi mind trick, ever." Assuming the rules don't change, the implications are enormous. Inside the beltway, it means a new era of drtente has broken out in at least one comer of the health care wars. Republicans can say that one of their signature health care policies has been preserved under ObamaCare. Democrats can point out that the President kept his promise. More important is what hap- pens outside the beltway. Across America, current HSA owners will get to keep the plans they have. HSA-qualified plans will remain the least- expensive type of health insur- ance policy on the market. And Americans will have more health care choices than we thought they would. It's not oten in Washington that we get to say "everybody wins," but this is that rare occa- sion. Dan Perrin is Executive Director of the lISA Coalition. AI Bart... "Stories from the Batt Cave" Luna was an ice winter storm It was a day welcomed only by fracture clinics, collision shops, and meteorologists. That's what my neighbor Crandall grumbles each time we get an ice storm. Hockey games had been can- celed due to ice. Unintentional ice skating abounded. I don't dislike snow. Grandma stressed the importance of snow by saying things like, "Open winter, full graveyard." Other grandmoth- ers said, "A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard." The sayings alluded to the ruthlessness of a mild winter. There was a colloquial belief that a mild winter resulted in a higher mortality than usual. I don't know if statistics prove this. There are people, who when encountering abnormally mild tem- peratures, don't prepare as earnest- ly for cold weather as they should. This might result in illnesses, when the weather patterns change and the unprepared suffer the consequences of their laxity. The mild weather could bring about abnormal biolog- ical conditions (molds, fungi, insects, contagion, etc.) that could result in increased sickness. This belief might have originated on the assumption that weather balances its extremes. A wanner than normal winter would eventually be matched by colder than normal weather--perhaps during a grow- ing season. This might have result- ed in crop failures and food short- ages, leading to a fat churchyard. Fat churchyard or not, ice storms are nasty. In days past, my domicile would have been described thus, "He lives close to the main road." ' I II I walled, trying not to ski p, to : the mailbox on that main road to get the mail. I was dressed for win- ter, except for the lack of socks. I was sockless because the mailbox is south of the house. I was the Harry Nilsson song from "Midnight Cowboy" incarnate, "Goin' where the weather suits my clothes." I gathered the stamped stuff and headed back onto a driveway slant- ing uphill to our hovel. There's something in a Minnesota winter to offend every- one. It had thundered, it had rained, it had frozen, it was January. We had ice. The trees were glazed. The driveway collected ice as a beard collects crumbs. I walked while silently repeating the mantra, "Walk nice, there's ice." I took one step forward and slid two steps backward. I was Sisyphus on one of his bad days. I turned around and attempted to walk back to the mailbox. Before long, I had backed my way to the house. Safe inside my home, I looked toward the heavens and said, "Thank you!" I was thankful for avoiding an ice cream headache (brain freeze or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia) and for not slipping and falling on a cold day that looked like an ig. An ig is an igloo without the 1oo. Falling is a stunt that shouldn't be attempted at home even if you are a trained professional. I recalled the words of Meister Eckhart, a German theologian who lived from 1260-1327, "If the only prayer you say in your life is 'Thank you,' that would suffice." It was far from the only prayer I've uttered, but I hoped it would suffice. Later in the day, a friend called and told me about the cars he'd seen on The Weather Channel that were sliding helplessly on icy roads. He related their difficulties in such a way that it might have been a case of schadenfreude (shahd-n-froi-duh), a German word that describes a satisfaction or plea- sure felt at another's misfortune. I didn't want to wallow in the dark comers of an icy winter, so I worked. Robert Benehley wrote, "The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or per- haps." I'm a freelance writer. It's my job. If I don't write, I don't get paid. I love my job, but I took time away from impending deadlines to attend a cancer auction, to deal with paperwork (I'm affiliated with IHOP--the International House Of Paperwork) involving funding for a volunteer fire department, and to spend time in the company of vol- unteer fire and ambulance crews. I visited with volunteers at a library and took part in a Salvation Army board meeting while my wife did similar duty for the food shelf. My takeaway from those gather- ings was, "What a wonderful col- lection of caring people join me here on earth." There are so many volunteers (paid the minimum wage of $0 an hour) who strive to do good things. To help. To make life easier for others. Momentous accomplish, ments derive from small acts of kindness. Little things add up to greatness. For all those volunteers, I offer a simple prayer, "Thank you." A1 Batt 2013 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 http://albatt.net/ I I Ill Illllllll Sentinel Tribune Thomas Merchant Junette Merchant Joan Spielman (ISSN 8750-3905) Managing Editor Office & Production Ad Representative & Office Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINEL TRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redwood, and Murray $42.00 per year. Elsewhere in Minnesota $46.00 per year. Out of the state $52.00 per year. Canada and foreign countries inquire at the Sentinel Tribune Office. If wrong amount is submitted subscrip- tion will be pro rated accordingly. "Snowbirds" may put their paper on hold at no extra charge while they are gone, or pay $5.00 extra to have it mailed out of state. Missed copies cannot be furnished because the cost of mailing single copies is about $2.00. Any request for a back copy must include $3.00. Newstand price is $1.00 per copy. Copyright 2012 Sentinel Tribune a New Century Press Newspaper Mail Change of Address Notice to: P. O. 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