The choice on Medicare: Democrats want to keep it a government program; Republicans want to privatize it. Here are the facts:
Overhead: Two percent of Medicare's budget goes to overhead. Private insurers spend 17 percent. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.)
Controlling medical costs: Medicare medical costs grew at an average rate of 4.3 percent between 1997 and 2009.
Private insurance costs grew 6.5 percent per year. (Source: Congressional Budget Office.)
Top administrators at Medicare earn about $250,000 per year compared to the $20 million plus compensation paid to some insurer CEOs.
Who benefits from changing Medicare?
You? Or big insurance companies?
Don't be 'Key North'
As a resident of Traverse City and a frequent visitor to Key West, Fla., I've discovered many similarities between these popular destinations. Many are positive: sunsets, unsalted or salted; pies: cherry or key lime; music: Buffet or Seth and May; literature: Hemingway — or Hemingway. Heck, we even both have a cute, trendy "Old Town."
But there's trouble in paradise: Affordable housing is virtually non-existent, forcing local service employees to commute long distances along seasonally congested and dangerous highways. Long-standing shops and galleries have been uprooted in favor of an endless succession of gaudy and tasteless T-shirt and souvenir stores.
Quaint residences and stores have been razed and replaced with "vanilla box" and multi/use structures, many of which sit vacant. Bar brawls and disturbances are commonplace within the main visitor corridors, overtaxing the resources of the already-stressed police force.
Public oceanfront spaces are over-run by vendors and aggressive party goers, transforming once-peaceful areas into season-long waterfront carnivals.
Do these problems sound familiar? We must not forget the reasons why we — and seasonal visitors — come to this beautiful area. Otherwise, we will easily and sadly become "Key North."