But first . . . WheelTug in Forbes this past Friday.



And Sweden:



I know we’re supposed to hate socialism.  The poor French!  The miserable Italians!  The total economic failure that is Germany!

But here’s another way of looking at it — not entirely fair, but to make the point:

Is it good to be the only developed country in the world without universal heath care?  To have the Republicans try more than 50 times to roll back the Affordable Care Act?



I’ve never been to Sweden — it’s on my list.  But since Americans are now not allowed most placess anyway, I recently enjoyed this five-minute tour of ten “forbidden places” that would not have been accessible even in the best of times.  (Thanks, Alan!)  Click here for others.



Sweden is home to the Nobel Prize.  Trump campaign misspells ‘Nobel’ Peace Prize in ad to fundraise off his nomination, which anyone can get.



One more thing on Sweden — COVID deaths there are now running at just one or two a day, per this instructive update.



And now . . .

Oh, Canada!

Steve: “If the Administration were serious about repairing the Postal Service, this is what they would do.  Canada had a similar crisis 25 or 30 years ago, with huge losses and slowed delivery.  They increased the rates for 1st Class Postage from  $0.45 to $0.85 over a few years.  (It is now $9.00 for 10 stamps.)  And began installing group mail boxes about every 2 to 3 blocks, each with 36/72  boxes for the individual homeowners. This is an inconvenience in Canada where in Nov-Feb you can easily get 6-10 inches of snow, but the system works.  It’s still not universal, but probably in 60-65% of all neighbourhoods. This made for more efficient delivery, thus reducing staffing requirements (mostly done over time by attrition).  Then they eliminated many if not all all of the stand-alone post offices, opting for leasing space in neighbourhood drug stores (who were delighted to have a small post office counter at the back of the store).  The drug stores compete to give them cheap rent as it is a big draw for them. They sold off the large downtown post offices and  mail sorting centres and rebuilt on the edge of town often to be close to airports to speed up effective shipping of mail.  If Trump really wanted to have a more cost efficient delivery system incurring less of a loss, he would do something along those lines.

“As to our health system, earlier this week a friend of mine was driving his vehicle when he blacked out, went through a red light at an intersection with the major highway, t-boning an SUV, spinning around  and then coming to  stop against a semi cab (not moving). Turns out he had suffered a stroke (or what they thought was a stroke) while driving. He lives in a small town the hospital stabilized him and ambulanced to a large teaching hospital 120 miles away. Turns out he had  a 90% blockage of his carotid artery, Once his condition stabilized, he was operated on (arterial transplant). He may or may not get a bill for ambulance but everything else was free (covered by Canadian health system).  “No-fault government auto insurance will take care of vehicle repair — he was one of the lucky ones in that he lives in one of three provinces with government-run no-fault (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia).”



Akeem Roberts in the New Yorker:



$300 BONUS:

Have a platinum card?  One big reason people pay crazy annual fees for them is the “free” use of airport lounges.  Yet with little to no travel, what good is it?  It turns out that if you call the “retention department” at American Express (reach them by saying you want to cancel your card), they are authorized to apply a $300 credit to your next statement.   I tried it Friday and — sure enough — am now $300 to the good.

I don’t know how long this will last, or whether platinum Visa and Mastercards will do something similar for you.  But it’s worth a call to find out.

 

 

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