Greetings from
The Publisher . . .

What’s Public? Disturbing? A Gift? & SDG&E Fires


Given today's world, the issues, the shouting and the national economic slowdown, Developing Resilience jumped out at me as a good main feature this month. Hope it's useful.

I know I seem to have a lot more to deal with these days. With redoing the kitchen, moving back into my office after painting top to bottom, changing plants and the physical landscape around (now that I don't have gophers to worry about), and looking at redoing systems in the office, changing computers and so on, there are a lot of decisions and timelines involved. Better busy than not, I guess, but when I got an email from Dr. Andrew Weil recently about removing/lessening wrinkles, my first thought was to wonder if this was the Daily Tip everyone received or if somehow he knew to send it to me. (

He has some interesting tips, but I really expected him to say, “not to worry,” or something like that.

It's not that I'm worrying a lot these days, but look at our world—our national, state, and local governments—and all the issues with gas—natural and petrol—water and electricity and their rising prices. Then there are the wars, having a job or business that's secure, vaccinations (yes or no), swine flu and the many who could get sick who don't have health insurance: Looking at what's going on, what in the world is there for any of us to worry about? Getting sick and having health care, perhaps. You know, having to face the insurance company's death panels that Gov. Sarah Palin warned us about.

Thank goodness relationships and families never cause stress.

No doubt we have plenty to worry about that can give us grief and stress. I've written about health and stress a few times. I do believe that since stress is one of the main causes of disease, everyone having health insurance would, by itself, reduce stress. The proof is that if no one in our society was worried about paying for health care, there wouldn't be any such thing as health insurance, would there? Not worried? Don't buy it.

After talking with a friend recently, I refined my theory some.

It isn't stress that causes disease. It's not being able to deal with stress. Stress, as mentioned, is potentially everywhere. It's part of life. And we know what's stressful for some is a great challenge or opportunity for others.

In the bigger scheme of things, for instance, what are a few wrinkles, when compared to an abundance of hair on the shower floor?

Whenever something happens that doesn't look like something I wanted to invite into my life, instead of getting stressed I've found it more useful to try to look for what the gift might be. Maybe it's the solution and not the problem. I'm sure I'm not alone in that, but when will we begin to think in those terms as a society?

Wasn't it a gift the other day when a small fire in San Diego County—that was quickly put out—was caused by SDG&E's power lines?

There it was right in front of all of us that putting a new power line through a back county full of dry trees and scrub brush might just lead to fires. Phew, glad we noticed in time.

Given that several of the horrific fires we had a few years ago were also caused by power lines, wasn't it great to have a gentle reminder before we start down the fiery path of SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink?

Yet another gentle reminder, before we get another big one, might be to notice SDG&E's desire to raise their rates to pay for claims against them—both past ones and future ones. Have they also made some decisions about the safety of those lines? As in: those damages are acceptable and our customers can pay for them!

What a great opportunity to take a look at whether having to build the need to pay such damages into their business model is the path we want to take. Certainly some smart business people might consider another route.

The whole question of “public” is something that keeps popping up for me lately.

For one, if SDG&E and other pubic utilities are all but given monopolies to provide us with gas and electricity, shouldn't the public also get to vote on who governs them? Why should it just be their shareholders? Don't those served by pubic utilities have an equal if not greater interest in how they operate? Aren't we all in their path of influence?

Unfortunately, we often do have representatives and governing boards that are supposed to represent us/US, but when there is a money trail too, you have to wonder if they represent money over the general welfare. Maybe we need some adjustments.

I had someone complain to me about what's public the other day. He wanted to know why all the good jobs with the great benefits and guaranteed health insurance and guaranteed pensions go to either the executives of the largest corporations, or politicians and those who work for the government. Over and over private businesses have legally changed their mind about paying for benefits to “lesser” employees (non-execs). Public judges have ruled that's okay as long as no public employees, including themselves, suffer such a fate.

My friend asked me, if we have term limits for those we hire (through elections), why not term limits for those “we” simply hire. Spread the benefits around. Put in term limits for public employees and let others share in the benefits too.

Unlike elected politicians, of course, it's not like every city, state or local employee is so highly trained that they deserve guaranteed benefits while the rest of us can so easily lose ours.

When it comes to some things, maybe either all of us are deserving or none us are. I mean, who pays for public employees? Shouldn't we all benefit?

Case in point: Isn't it great that local water boards are now looking at raising pensions for the MWD (MetWaterDist)? Now we can take another look at this. It certainly brings up the question of whether we should allow people/boards to determine their own pensions and benefits.

One of the defining characteristics of our digital age is how hard it is to hide information. We're hearing about so many new paths and options—and abuses—these days. For me, having more options can often be more exciting than stressful. Often being a significant distinction.

I wonder how things would be if we, meaning us/US, didn't have to make sure we were covered or protected from ruin if we were sick or too old to work. In other words if our basic needs were better covered, would we find so many examples of people trying to feather their own nests at the expense of others? Would we find utility boards or elected office holders giving themselves benefit packages far beyond what most people are given? Didn't we fix this once with regulatory boards?

I don't know. Maybe we have to be further down the road from the attitude of “what's in it for me” before we can even think about what works for us/US.

I know when I was a kid and I grabbed all I could at the expense of others, a sense of regret or guilt set in. There was the realization that taking at the expense of others was more disturbing than pleasing. Some of us learn that anyway. Some of us outgrew it.

I think that “disturbed” group is growing in number, they just don't shout as loud as the “undisturbed.”

Of course the big “public” issue these days is about having a public health insurance option. Personally, I don't think we should even be talking about health insurance. Who wants health insurance? Especially if you have to fight insurance company death panels to get it. When it comes down to it, people need health care—not health insurance. Shouldn't they be talking about providing health care? Offering those options?

The famous gang of six in the Senate crafted “The” health plan and it didn't even get the gang's approval. The gift is that it's obvious that a lot of people—elected ones—simply aren't willing to cooperate, period. What's unclear to me is why they all need to be convinced before anything can be accomplished. Isn't it like trying to convince those who never felt disturbed when taking all the goodies that that doesn't work in a group—if you live in a society with others? Can that be taught? It might be an inside job.

Maybe that's the gift, seeing such blatant greed. We know the nature of what we are dealing with.

I think the principle is not that we all agree on everything. Over and over, the U.S. Constitution points to doing what's best for most of us/US without hurting the rest of us/US.

Don't forget to tell Congress or the President what you think about health care.

In the meantime, the acupuncture lady I go to has been trained to remove/lessen facial wrinkles, so I'll be doing that—simply because it's so relaxing, of course. I'd name her, but I'd hate to do that and have her so booked I couldn't get my appointment. I'll share next month. Well, no one said sharing was easy.

Have a great month,