Going to the Mattresses Again

It’s raining; it’s pouring. The old man ain’t snoring. Darn it.

I sure could use it, too. I slept pretty well, I think, until 5:13 when I woke for no apparent reason. I did go back to sleep and was dreaming at 7:00 when SWMBO startled me right off the mattress by imitating a fire siren. I.Did.Not.Get.Back.To.Sleep after that. I simply played possum until the alarm.

I don’t think my mattress is the reason I don’t sleep as well as I did as a kid but a mattress could well be the reason we don’t sleep as comfortably as we did as kids.

Mattress thoughts have been popping up lately. One of my misc.writing buddies was musing about how to choose one “for a friend.” Liz Arden built one for herself from foam blocks a couple of years ago. And I realized this morning that I have bought exactly one mattress in my life. Part of that may be my pugnacious parsimony.

The Good Housekeeping Guide to Buying a Mattress reminds us right at the start that a “big part of what makes a good one is very personal: One person’s luxury is another person’s backache waiting to happen.”

Even online mattresses can cost thousands of dollars. I simply won’t pay that.

Mattress sellers say we won’t find bedding that can stand up to a decade of daily punishment for under a grand.

Horse puckey.

Part may be that I just haven’t found anything I like better.

SWMBO and I came this >┃┃< close to buying a Sunline TransPort toy hauler this weekend. It’s a pretty good alternative to the not-so-Perfect Travel Trailer and it would be parked here today if I hadn’t built a spreadsheet to run the numbers. Sunline built light but this one was just too heavy for the new truck.

Stack of MattressesIn going through my checklist, I sprawled out on the brand new, pillow top, queen-size mattress and took about a nanosecond to realize that was the only part of the trailer that sucked. It made my back hurt to lie down and it made my back hurt to get back up again.

That would have meant I’d have to buy two mattresses in my lifetime.

<SMH>

The last load of family furniture came north when Boppa moved to the Keys in 1984. That included the full size maple Sheraton four poster bed with tester frame that my folks slept in and now we do. (We had previously slept on a bed I built from 5/4-inch plywood, “decorator” cinder blocks, and a mattress that came from somewhere.) A couple nights on the horsehair mattress my folks had enjoyed was enough to send me to the Scott foam store.

My dad had worked for Scott Paper when they made a foray into the urethane foam business. They opened an outlet store at the Chester plant for foam blocks cut to size for chair cushions, boat cushions, mattresses, and the like. I bought the “green” high density mattress foam, stuffed it into a bedsack, and violas played.

About ten years ago, SWMBO and I decided we needed something different so we tried a couple of the inner spring mattresses on the guest room beds but didn’t like any of them. Next, I replaced the bedboard on top of the saggy, custom made box spring. Finally, I moved the horsehair mattress that came with this bed back on it and put the foam back on top of that.

Wow.

Anyone counting on their fingers has just realized that we’ve used this block of foam for about 33 years. The horsehair under it is easily a century older than that. I lay down on the bed this morning (briefly … that has nothing to do with why this reminiscence is late going up) and realized it is still about the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever tried.

There’s a lesson in here.

Commercial mattresses probably work OK for maybe about half the population. The rest of us would do well to experiment the way Ms. Arden did with blocks of varying density foam. Or try the way I did with foam and horsehair. Or go with toppers on a conventional inner spring mattress. Something will work, but it will take some research.

That and the fact that I should probably go down to UVM for a sleep study.

 

Random Inflation

I live in the middle of the Florida Keys where I have flood insurance and windstorm insurance as separate policies from my “traditional” homeowner’s insurance.

The premiums went up this year.

Again.

A lot.

FEMA runs the National Flood Insurance Program which “aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners…” They have lousy aim.
The state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp provides windstorm insurance protection to Florida policyholders. The “financial responsibilities [imposed by the Florida law] drive Citizens’ commitment to quality customer service and rigorously sound financial management.” Their aim is much better since premiums have skyrocketed. They have 459,797 windstorm policies in Florida overall and 17,264 of the 22,663 wind policies here in the Keys.

When I realized how much my premiums went up and how much my Social Security didn’t, I got to wondering why. After all, these are all government programs, driven to customer service and affordability. And we know the government ties everything to the Consumer Price Index, right?

Inflation and its Effect on Premiums

The Bureau of Labor Statistics “is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy.” They collect and analyze that data and then tell us about it. We the Overtaxed People as well as the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, and State and local governments depend on BLS data every day. The Consumer Price Index may be their best known number among older Americans. Current Employment Statistics may be the most quoted in the press. They have more.

The official BLS inflation calculator shows there has been 14% change in the CPI since 2009.

The official Cost Of Living Adjustment (based on the CPI) increased 0.0% in 2009, 0.0% in 2010, 3.6% in 2011, 1.7% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013, 1.7% in 2014, 0.0% in 2015, and 0.3% in 2016. Because “inflation has been very low in recent years,” Social Security recipients did not get a COLA increase in 2010 or 2011. SWMBO, who received about the average monthly Social Security through that entire period, has seen her check increase 7.7% from 2009 through 2017. Recipients did (sort of) receive a cost of living adjustment this January but most saw no increase in their monthly check because the government’s own Medicare Part B insurance premium went up more than the COLA.

Meanwhile, my FEMA-run flood insurance has risen 75% from $1,173 in 2009 to $2,051 today. Citizens more than doubled my windstorm premium, a 224% hike, from $2,149 in 2009 to $4,816 last year. It will be even more this year.

The liberal ideal is “Medicare for all” because they say it will drive costs down, but if FEMA and Citizens are examples of efficient, affordable government programs, we should be very, very afraid of all of these “ideal” liberal programs.

 

The Legacy

Today is Barack Obama’s final day as President.

Politicians like Mr. Obama have get out front to talk about their legacy because they fear more than anything else that even their True Believers might hear the truth. On his last full day as President, here’s the truth. It is a Legacy of Failure.

The Legacy of Shame
• Aleppo. Benghazi. China. Iran. Iraq. Israel. NATO. Russia …
• Mr. Obama drew the line in the sand to Bashar al-Assad over his use of chemical weapons, then ran away. He spoke forcefully to Vladimir Putin, then ran away. He spoke harshly to Iraq in 2011, then ran away (that precipitated the rise of ISIS).
• Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said Mr. Obama will someday look back on his Syria policy “with deep sorrow and some shame.”


The Legacy of Broken Dreams
• “We [don’t have] an energy policy in this country that makes sense,” Mr. Obama said in remarks on the American Jobs Act in 2011. There is still no coherent energy policy. Sadly, the coherent energy policy is to bankrupt any energy producer not on the “friends” list. FAIL.
• The cost of college has increased faster than the rate of inflation. FAIL.
• China devalued their currency to make their goods cheaper and our goods more expensive. The Obama China policy was never to challenge them. FAIL.
• Health care policies have failed to lower health costs. FAIL.
• In 2008, Mr. Obama claimed his investments in green energy would create 5 million new jobs. FAIL.

The Legacy of Bankruptcy
• In 2008, Mr. Obama said that adding $4 trillion to the national debt was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
• On Jan. 20, 2009, the debt held by the public was roughly $6.307 trillion. Intragovernmental Holdings added 4.32 trillion bringing the total national debt to $10.63 trillion on the day of Mr. Obama’s own inauguration. The national debt stands today at 19,961,179,000,000 (>||< close to TWENTY TRILLION DOLLARS) and counting.

The Legacy of Ill Health
• About 9.1% of people in the U.S., or around 28.6 million, were uninsured in 2015.
• “If you’ve got health insurance, we’re going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2500 per family per year.” The average family premium increased by $3,065 from $12,680 in 2008 to $18,142 this year, a 43% increase.
• U.S. health care spending grew 5.8% in 2015 alone, reaching $9,990 per person. Health spending accounted for 17.8% of the Gross Domestic Product. It is now $10,384 per person.

The Legacy of Joblessness
• 86,591,000 men and women, young and old, either don’t have, don’t want, or can’t do a job. The Obama administration does not count them as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the BLS survey.

The Legacy of Lies
• “We will pursue the housing plan I’m outlining today. And through this plan, we will help between 7 and 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can afford-avoid foreclosure.” Uh huh.
• “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.” Okey dokey. (Obamacare alone is a legacy of deception unlike any previous government program.)
• “I cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011,” Mr. Obama said in 2012 on Meet the Press. Right. (Spending actually increased by $147 billion in that period.)
• “As president, I will work to solve this energy crisis once and for all.” How’d that work out for us?

The Legacy of Overreach
• The Environmental Protection Agency is the poster child for Administration overreach. The Supreme Court had to smack down the EPA over and over again including the EPA’s first limits on coal-fired power plant emissions, Sackett v. EPA, and more.
• EPA head Gina McCarthy was not concerned about the power plant emissions ruling. The regs went into effect “three years ago,” she said. “Most of [the plants] are already in compliance, investments have been made.”
• The EPA would send armed agents to incarcerate landowners for a spill similar to the Animas River in Colorado but now won’t pay $1.2 billion for the damages it itself caused.
• Now, the EPA has madly pushed through new regulations, not because they think they will work, but to create a mass that Mr. Trump’s EPA will have to correct, allowing the Far Green to decry a “rollback.”
• The EPA is not alone. In 2011, after Boeing had hired 1,000 new employees to work at its new factory in South Carolina, the Obama administration ordered the company to shut down the factory, because the factory was non-union.
• Armed SWAT agents raid the Gibson guitar factory, ordered the employees to leave, and seized guitars and other property from the factory, all without warrants or charges filed. It was later revealed that Gibson had not broken any laws.

The Legacy of Poverty
• In 2009, 42.9 million people had income below the poverty line. That was 14.3% of the U.S. population. The official poverty rate is now 14.5%. That means 45.3 million people in poverty, up by over 8 million since 2008.

The Legacy of Terror
• In December, Mr. Obama told us that “no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland.” Uh huh.
• He called the 2009 Christmas Day bomber an “isolated extremist.”
• The Fort Hood shooter who shouted “Allahu Akbar as he pulled the trigger” committed “workplace violence.”
• He called the 2013 Boston marathon bombing a “vicious attack” and directed the full resources of the government to Boston to find the source of that “terrorist act.”
No terrorist attacks?

The Legacy of Theft
• Mr. Obama stole General Motors from its stockholders — the government took a 60.8% ownership of the company and fired its CEO — then delivered ownership of the company to reward his voting block.

The Legacy of Wimps
• Even NBC’s Meet the Press questioned his manhood.


The Wrap Up
Mr. Obama brought a legacy of inadequacy and fear to America but he didn’t do it alone. There are still about 2,700,000 Executive branch civilians, 535 Congress critters, and about 65,000 people working for Congress in place and ready to keep on keeping on.

Mr. Trump has promised a clean sweep would start tomorrow but he has a lot to overcome.