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July 12, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: Both puzzling and pleasing ...

Not long ago a friend asked us why parents allow, and in some cases seem to encourage, their children playing in the streets. We must admit we did not have an answer to the question, having often wondered about it ourselves when we see children in the street. We were always taught that it was never a good idea to play in places that are basically designated for motor vehicles, such as streets, driveways and parking lots. However, it seems that message has changed over the years, which means drivers must be more alert than ever, especially in the summer when there are more people out and about.

Of course, we also often find ourselves puzzling over opinions expressed publicly such as in letters to the editor.

And while we do always admit someone is entitled to his or her opinion, we do tend by spells to find ourselves puzzling over the facts used to support a given opinion. For example, there recently was a letter to the editor of a daily paper in the area in which the writer supplied information about his health insurance premiums and came to the conclusion that capitalism no longer works. To support this conclusion, he wrote: “...I pay the exact same amount per month for both Medicare and a supplemental private insurance, yet Medicare provides me 80 percent of the coverage, and private insurance only 20 percent...”

And while there is undoubtedly no question that at this point in time, he does indeed pay the same amount to Medicare for Part B that he pays to a private insurer for a supplemental plan. However, what he has not included in his thinking is the cost for Medicare Part A, which he does not pay currently, but receives from the Medicare system by virtue of having paid into that system during his working career.

At the moment, Medicare Part A is valued, according to information online for those who, for whatever reason do not receive Medicare but are eligible to buy into the system at $451 per month. Thus, the actual dollar value of the letter writer’s Medicare coverage each month is something in the neighborhood of $551 per month. And when his supplemental premium is included, the total cost for health insurance coverage would be about $651 per month.

Thus, the Medicare cost, which covers 80percent of the health care, represents 84.6percent of the monthly premiums, while the private supplemental plan, which covers 20percent of the health care, is only 15.4percent of the total monthly premiums. Thus we would be tempted to point out that it would seem the cost of the private supplemental insurance is actually not out of line with the coverage it is providing.

Therefore, when looking at the total costs associated with Medicare, we suspect it is not the best example to use to decry the decay of capitalism.

And on a more pleasing note, we were most interested when we recently opened an e-mail from Hugh MacDougall to discover a little piece about Susan Fenimore Cooper, daughter of novelist James Fenimore Cooper which had been discovered in the July 2, 1850, edition of the Keokuk Dispatch located in Keokuk, Iowa, by Jose A. Munoz of Clarkston, Michigan. The article said: “A New Authoress.

- Miss Fenimore Cooper, a daughter of the novelist, is about to make her debut as an authoress, a book by her entitled ‘Rural Hours in the United States,’ having been announced in London.” We always find such discoveries to be fairly interesting. We thank Mr. Munoz for sharing his find as well as Hugh for passing it on to us.

Of course, we have learned that we never know when we are going to come across something of interest like this. For example, we had no idea that an e-mail which we received recently from our son would lead to yet another James Fenimore Cooper discovery as he seemed to ask a very simple question, namely what year did you go on “Man and His Land?” And while we did not instantly know the answer, we did determine it was in 1989.

And when checking exactly when in our 1989 appointment calendar, we came across a brochure for a celebration of “The Bicentennial of the Birth of James Fenimore Cooper, September 15, 1789.” And, although the celebration was listed on our calendar, we have no recollection of having attended it. Does anyone remember attending this affair? Please let us know.

We also would like to note that the James Fenimore Cooper Society, of which we have been a member for a number of years now, has redone its membership brochure. And as we looked it over we realized that, given the list of the major writings of James Fenimore Cooper, we still have a bit more reading of Cooper to do. So we consider ourselves fortunate that there is still some great summer reading time left which will hopefully include another Cooper work.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 607-547-8124 or by e-mail at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com

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