Monday, October 26, 2009

World Series Preview

As a Mets fan, I know enough about both the Yankees and Phillies to write an objective World Series preview. I can do this because in addition to being a Mets fan, I am also a BASEBALL fan. I know good and bad baseball when I see it.

I saw a lot of bad baseball this season, having watched every Met game through the end of July. After that, well, everyone has a limit. One sentence sums up how bad the Mets were this year....."Luis Castillo was our best player."

I watch some Yankee games during the season, and I read about them every day, and I listen to the FAN. I do NOT listen to them on the radio, since John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are un-listen-able, but I know the Yankees well enough to talk about them.

It's a funny thing about the Yankees, I root against them, but I like and appreciate most of their top players. I root against them because ever since George Steinbrenner blew into New York, the Yankees became all about winning by outspending, and using their money power to win, because apparently, baseball is about winning. Nothing else matters, the game of baseball doesn't matter, families enjoying the game doesn't matter, fair competition doesn't matter, and having the best player money can buy (at every position) is the way to go. I hate the idea that kids become Yankee fans "because they win", an idea fostered by their Yankee fan parents. Note to parents....this is not healthy.

That being said, the Yankees have some truly great, admirable players, who not only play at a high level, they go about it the right way. My favorites are....

Derek Jeter - When I'm an old guy, and some young person (hopefully) asks me who was the best baseball player I ever saw, Derek Jeter is the man. Statistics don't matter, if you know the game, and you watch enough, you know that not only is he a great player, he is a leader who makes his team better.

Jorge Posada - Switch-hitting catcher with power, super clutch. Plus, if you know about his son's hardships and his family's struggles with that, you have to root for him. I also like him because some people, even some of his team-mates, question his defensive abilities. He keeps proving them wrong.

Mark Teixeira - Wow, this is the guy I wish the Mets had gotten. On the famous "Luis Castillo drops the pop-up on the last out and the Yankees beat the Mets" play, Mark Teixeira was running all the way from first, and scored the winning run. Note to David Wright - would YOU have scored on that? Note to Met fans - would ANY of our current players have scored on that ball?

Mariano Rivera - He euthanizes the opponents when he comes in. He may never retire. He is not perfect, though as close as possible. However, if you get to him once, you better win that game because you are not getting to him again. Ultimate professional.

Andy Pettitte - How long has he been pitching? Fifteen years? It always looks like teams will hit him, but in big games they never do. He also told the truth about Roger Clemens, and about himself, and earned my respect for that.

You can have the rest of them, even A-Rod....OK, especially A-Rod. I don't have much use for Cano, or Melky, or Swisher, or Matsui. I feel kinda sorry for Joba, because he is destined to be "Mariano's replacement", and as much as the Yankees have ALREADY ruined Joba, that will finish him off. Sabathia is a great pitcher, but the fat man is a hired gun, and not nearly as much fun as David Wells.

It does appear that the Yankees will be hard to beat in the World Series. Now, about the Phillies.....

We (the Mets) play them a lot. I suppose it's not a secret, but let me say something about the Phillies.....They are TOUGH, and they fight hard. Position by position, the Yankees have a better team, with better pitching and a much better bullpen. But the Phillies come to play, and while they have three top players (Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard), the guys that beat you are Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez. I don't care what their statistics are, if there is a way to beat you, they will find it.

The Phils are vulnerable to left-handed pitching, so Sabathia and Pettitte should neutralize Utley and Howard. However, other than Mariano, I don't like the Yankees pen against either of those guys, in either ballpark.

Will the Phils actually pitch Pedro against the Yankees? It would be sad if the Yankees bomb Pedro, and while I'd have some regret if he pitches well, I must admit that would be my preferred outcome.

The Phillies have some guys who are either great, or terrible. Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge in particular. The thing with them is, IF they are on, they are hard to beat.

Baseball is a game of intangibles. It sure looks like the Yankees are a "team of destiny". That doesn't win the games. Clutch pitching, defense, and toughness wins games. This will be a 7 game series, the Yankees will win 3 blow-out games, and the Phillies will win the series in 7.

Whether I am right or wrong, I still love the game, and I will spend the winter thinking about Jose Reyes' hamstring, and other similarly important issues.

Monday, October 12, 2009

If The Analogy Fits.....

The people who are most vocal about the need for universal health insurance are those who don't have it. Generally they say they don't have it because they "can't afford it". Lots of people buy things they can't afford, and opt not to buy other things they probably could, but bottom line, it's a DECISION. I'm not saying it's an easy decision, but like many financial decisions, it involves allocating your resources and making judgments.

I recently heard a radio talk show caller say she worked two nursing jobs, made pretty good money, but did not have health insurance because it cost $500 a month. She was imploring the President and Congress to "do something". I wanted to say (well actually, I DID myself, while driving) "Uh, you do know that President Obama is talking about making health insurance MANDATORY, right?" This little tidbit is often lost in the discussion, or tossed in with phrases like "if you can't afford it, we'll help you".

I think a lot of people are in for a big surprise. Breathe easy, you're gonna get health insurance, but YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.....BY LAW!!!!

Can the government do that? Make you pay for something that has always been optional?

The closest analogy is motorcycle helmet laws. If you live in a State that has mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, it seems like a no-brainer (ouch, bad play on words). Everyone accepts it, you kind of understand that the government is making a law requiring people to protect themselves, and also not make us all responsible for their stupidity. If you live in a mandatory motorcycle helmet law State, you may not realize that such laws are NOT universal. Check out this map I love the comment on the bottom "When I Ride I Decide... Not the State or the Safety Nannies". Yes, there are people who think this way. People who believe in an individuals right to decide things for themselves. This is very often a Republican trait, and the little map looks like Bush v Kerry or Bush v Gore.

Now we have some irony. The Federal government is going to tell a lot of people they must carry health insurance. And they must pay for it, month after month. I think in other contexts this is called "a TAX". Most middle class people, most Democrats, are fine with taxes on "corporations" and "rich people", but taxes on themselves are harder to swallow. I can't wait for them to start asserting their right to make their own decisions about health insurance.

I know that a logical response to this will be...."Well, if people can't afford it, and the government helps out, then it will end up with employers paying, which is also a tax....the pernicious sort of tax that cripples businesses and job creation". I don't think this can be pawned off on small businesses, the stretched backbone of our economy. I don't think so because businesses make decisions too, and if this becomes the playing field, if it becomes OUR TAX....we're not hiring.

What about the "public option"? I think when most people hear this, they assume this is "the free public coverage that I can opt for". I don't think so. I think it would be something affordable.....that you will be REQUIRED to pay for. Still like it? Getting DMV-like service and having to pay for it? It may end up being a big boon to private health insurers because once people accept having to pay, they will probably splurge for the better service of private insurance.

All this health insurance stuff is all about getting more paying customers. That's always what insurance is about. All the low risk people (ie - young and healthy people) are making a decision to stay out of the system. Now the government is going to make their decision, you are IN because we all need you spread the risk around and make it affordable for everyone.

Damn it, we need more customers. And that is the 800 pound gorilla my friends, the 15 million hard working participants in our economy who do not have legal status, and desperately want it. The ones who are going to ultimately get legalized, and can then participate in our mandatory, you pay for it, health insurance system. They can all make a decision, stay and pay, or leave. They'll stay, and this is what will ultimately make the entire system work. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are surely onto this.

You can write it down.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Part Obama (and a lot of other people) Don't Get

Dear President Obama (and a lot of other people):

Ultimately, entrepreneurs drive the economy, not the government.

People who run businesses and employ other people know this. Most people who work for other people don't get this. President Obama works for the government, and as far as I can tell has always worked for others. So has Michelle. They don't get this entrepreneur thing. Neither do 89% of Congressmen (Yeah, I made up the stat, but it's probably right).

Being an employER is way different than "working".

I don't have a "job", I run a business. I don't HAVE a job, I CREATE JOBS. I haven't just created my own little job, I created three full time jobs, plus I contract out meaningful legal work to four other lawyers, plus my little law office puts tens of thousands into the economy in numerous ways. I figure I've created enough business activity to feed eight families.

If I come up with good ideas, if I market well, if I am bold enough, I will create more jobs. I am motivated to do this by several things.....I want to make more money, I want to provide useful services, I want to be known, I want to be remembered, I want to be part of our economy.

I KNOW, as all business owners know, that I will create more jobs, and help the economy, in the long term, WAY more than any stimulus package or clunker program EVER will.

You would think the President would know this.
You would think Congress would know this.
You would think the voters would know this.
You would think people who work know this (some do, but not most)
You would think State and elected officials would know this. (The only one I can think of who seems to realize this is Mayor entrepreneur)

You would be wrong.

Hey, I want the health care system reformed and improved. After all, my premiums are now going up to $1880 per month. That's right, my working friends, I PAY that every f***ing month! It's not one of my "job benefits", I PAY for it. As do most businesspeople, IF they can still afford it. Right now, I don't pay for health insurance for my employees, who seem to have it "through someone else". Crazy, but true, and quite common.

I hope I can create more jobs, and help knock down the unemployment rate. I hope hundreds of thousands of small and medium size business owners can do the same thing. I hope we can afford to make business ventures, try new ideas, be vibrant, make the working world exciting and wealth producing. I HOPE WE DO NOT BECOME A NATION OF CIVIL SERVANTS.

How many jobs can "stimuli" stimulate?

Are we in a good environment for new businesses to start? I used to wonder why more people who were laid off didn't TRY to start businesses. But I now realize why. You'd have to be crazy (or at least illogical) to try, when the taxes and health insurance obstacles are insurmountable.

Are we in a good environment for businesses to grow? Uh, thinking that "universal health insurance" will likely mean a mandate that employers cover all, or that universal coverage will increase taxes even further, makes me pause. Entrepreneurs across the country are collectively paused, and will stay that way, and will prevent the unemployment rates from coming down.

Maybe I will make the logical decision to "get a job", and make things safer and easier for myself and my family. I'd probably be a great employee, and I suspect a firm would hire me. Former entrepreneurs usually make great employees. Something about "getting it" comes into play.

If I decided to "get a job", I guess the eight families I feed will have to find another way. I guess if entrepreneurs and employers across the country make this logical move, unemployment will go up even more, and the government will eventually employ most people. Maybe we ARE destined to be a nation of civil servants.

Businesses are where real solutions come from. We need the government to help the Country by letting us do what we do, create real jobs and build a strong, competitive economy. Mr. President (and a lot of other people), you don't get it, and it's going to kill us all.


Barry Seidel
(proud capitalist)