Boy am I lucky. But you could be a lot luckier than me.
It was like winning the lottery, or so it seemed. For the very first time I got a real letter from United Propane of Paducah, KY. Up until now getting a letter from the company had odds like winning the lottery. Heck I entered their customer service lottery unsuccessfully several times: Posted on website several times, snail mail via the USPS, and telephone calls to the local dealer.
Today, I won!!! ……. Sort of. For only $79 and change, I don’t have to pay $239 for not buying their gas. That’s a win, I think. At least after reading about the experience of others who bought propane via United Propane, I got a much better deal. Keep reading and you might get even luckier and not have to pay United Propane at all.
Here’s what the losers look like.
Up in Maryland in 2009, here’s a story about real price gouging: http://forums.somd.com/life-southern-maryland/172792-united-propane-consumer-robbery.html
In 2011, it doesn’t look like they are doing any better: http://forums.somd.com/life-southern-maryland/235946-united-propane-st-leonard-horrible.html
For another view, see http://www.ripoffreport.com/fuel-companies/united-propane/united-propane-overcharged-fo-57f79.htm and http://www.ripoffreport.com/utility-companies/united-propane-gas/united-propane-gas-taken-cust-40659.htm
I shop around for the best deals on propane each year. A couple of years ago I switched to Amerigas after dealing with Economy Gas in Dickson, TN for 2009-2010. Why? Because their prices were too high. That’s simple, right? Not really if you deal with United Propane, the supplier for Economy Gas.
In 2009 when I entered into a contract with Economy, the first thing they did was replace a 500 gallon tank with a 350 gallon tank. That was so they could make more trips? … shoulda known something was up. Then they didn’t like my gas fireplace even thought it was converted to propane. I could live without it.
Propane is propane. It burned just fine. They filled my tank when needed. I didn’t have any problem, but my Dad did. Twice the truck driver ran into the ditch along his driveway. It’s a nice wide, nearly level stretch where the driver had the problem. The last time we had to get a tractor to pull the truck out. Now the ditch is too deep to mow. Inexcusable. Inhaling fumes?
In the summer of 2010, I could not get a competitive price from Economy Gas, so I told the office manager that I would not be using their services; I got a better deal. Now, I thought they would come get their tank. Nope. In September (a month later) I called again and told them to come get the tank. They said they would. Nope. I called again in October with the same request. They agreed. Well, they did in May, I think it was. In the meantime, the blasted tank was in my way.
You’d think by now this would be settled. It wasn’t. I got a bill for two years of tank rental, concrete blocks, a pig tail, and a penalty for NOT BUYING THEIR GAS! The bill was well over $200 approaching $300.
Propane is explosive, and so am I. They produced a copy of the contract. I hadn’t had a copy. Sure enough, they only allow contracts to be broken if they get a written request. I didn’t take well to that news. I wasn’t interested in paying an extra year of rental. The concrete blocks were mine. The pig tail—what the heck is that?—came and went with the tank. And, I was blowing fumes about being charged for not using their service when they acknowledged three times that I would not be using their services. Only in a lawyer’s mind can a verbal acknowledgement of a contract termination not be effective.
I wrote letters. I emailed their website. Over and over. I even sent them a bill for storage of their tank. Last month (June 2012) I finally got a letter from their collections manager wanting nearly $240. We went around and around on the phone.
Considering that their CEO made $2.3 million last year, I’m sure he has better things to do than worry about customers. They don’t allow their managers to talk to customers. So I wrote yet another letter by email back to their collections office so they could forward it to their lawyers for a determination.
I only have to pay $79 for not using United Propane.
All you have to do to be luckier than me is to avoid using propane gas from United Propane and their subsidiaries.
What happens if a state opts out of Medicaid, in one chart
If governors opt their states out of the health law’s Medicaid expansion — as many are now threatening to do — it’s the poorest Americans who would find themselves getting the rawest deal.
We treasure our individualism and freedom to choose. For those without insurance or hope of getting insurance, their choice is removed. They are either enslaved to a welfare system that is inadequate or to a job that provides inadequate compensation to allow them to make rational choices or to gain additional training for a better job. Furthermore, when life takes away their choices, it puts additional burdens on the rest of us. Of course, if you’re rich you probably don’t notice these unfortunate souls.
So, is Tennessee going to screw over those less fortunate to save a few dollars for the rich?
Veterans Day always seems a little strange to me. Like many of my age, I involuntarily served voluntarily. I know it’s Rah, Rah time for many good-hearted people who really want to celebrate our veterans. That’s good. But, it’s really hard to celebrate the veterans status that came about because of something we did that was dreadfully wrong even though some of what we did was justified.
I was a “Radar O’Reilly” in a finance unit, a job most people would envy. I saw rampant drug use, outrageous racial discrimination, loads of intolerance, and justification for a bad war. I knew people like me who were in service because we had to be; we did our jobs well because that was the best way to be a part of a unit and support our fellow soldiers, not because we approved of what the military was doing.
I’ve often felt that I did more for my country as civilian, career federal employee. Government services has been talked down so much over recent years, that people don’t know what the government does. They also forget that the military is also government, and parts of it are not greatly different than the civilian side. I’m glad the people support our soldiers today; the support could give way to the feelings of the ’70s quickly.
Because I was a good soldier, I got an all expense paid temporary duty (vacation) to tour Berlin as part of a military group. I saw history up close and in detail.
It was an spooky feeling standing in arm’s length of the Berlin Wall looking over the broken glass embedded in its top past the barbed wire and mine field to an East German guard tower with powerful binoculars trained on me as I looked at him through my telephoto camera lens. At my feet were memorial wreaths laid where people escaped East Germany, but never made it to live in the West.
While in uniform I crossed into East Berlin with my military tour group. Aside from the beautiful mall and buildings just past the checkpoint, the rest of the city remained much as it looked after the war. In government buildings we passed, more binoculars watched us looking for one of us to violate anti-photo rules of certain places. The eyes of the citizens told the story of oppression and guarded speech. I realized that they were people not very different than us. Fate had determined their lot, nothing more.
I saw the huge mounds of war rubble. I saw the bullet holes in the building and canal walls. I saw where thousands died horrible deaths in debilitating fear. I saw the monuments to propaganda on both sides as the Cold war continued; the fear was still real.
When the wall came down years later, it was emotional for me. I had been there. It was hard to believe. When I went back in ‘91, only pieces of the wall remained, now covered with political graffiti. Only traces of the wall remain, mostly remnants of the oppressed culture are in the hearts of the people. They have survived. As a Army sergeant in 1971, I can’t say that I did much to help the change. But, like thousands of others, I did my part. It changed my life and my views.
I’m glad to say that I did my job well—I supported my fellow soldiers. But, if I could fix history, I would not have needed to be a soldier and now a veteran. Celebration is a whole bundle of mixed emotions.
Robert Reich: The Republican Recipe for An Anemic Economy Through Election Day 2012 -
Mitch McConnell says they are going to do everything they can to defeat Obama. Sounds like the Republicans really don’t care about creating jobs despite all the talk about taking the country back. Decrease spending? Not with an extended tax cut for the wealthy—the deficit will continue to grow. Remember, the Republicans killed the surplus that Clinton left and started the rapid growth of the deficit and passed the deficit torch to Obama for him to put on the damper while restoring a broken economy. Let’s get serious about what the Republican agenda really is.
The real message from voters was “Fix this stinking economy.” But Republicans have no intention of doing so.
What is the Republican objective? They are pro big business. Big business is making money—what recession for the rich? They just used the middle class and tea party to get elected. Now, they’ll continue to pass the blame to Obama.
Republicans don’t believe in stimulating economies. They think markets eventually clear — once the pain is sufficient. Or in the immortal words of Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary, millionaire industrialist Andrew Mellon: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. People will work harder, lead a more moral life.”
Of course, Mellon was dead wrong. Nothing was purged. Instead, the economy sunk into deeper and deeper depression.
More recession ahead? The Fed wants to reduce rates even lower, even if it’s not working.
Lower rates won’t spur businesses to expand capacity and jobs because there aren’t enough consumers to buy additional goods and services.
Lower rates won’t push down the dollar and spur more exports. They’ll only spur more competitive devaluations by other nations determined not to lose export shares and jobs.
And lower rates won’t allow middle-class and working-class Americans to refinance their homes because banks won’t lend to families whose incomes have dropped, whose debts have risen, or who owe more on their homes than the homes are worth. That is, most of us.
Another burst bubble on the way?
It’s already started. Stocks are up even though the rest of the economy is still down because money is already so cheap. Bondholders who can’t get much of any return from their loans are shiftin—g into stocks. Companies are buying back more shares of their own stock. And Wall Street is making more bets in the stock market with money it can borrow at almost zero percent interest.
The true Republican strategy is counter-intuitive. They don’t want the economy to improve because that would improve the standing of the Democrats and President Obama. Their strategy is long-term growth of big business and the very wealthy—they want a plutocracy!
Could it be that Republicans want to keep the economy this way through Election Day, 2012?
So do you want to live in a society dominated by a few rich lords while the rest of us are peasants? That’s where we’re headed.
Robert Reich: The Secret Big-Money Takeover of America -
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the ultra rich are buying this country for their own interests. NONE of this is for the benefit of the poor and middle income people who often support these right wing tactics even though the outcomes work against their own interests.
Not only is income and wealth in America more concentrated in fewer hands than it’s been in 80 years, but those hands are buying our democracy as never before – and they’re doing it behind closed doors.
Hundreds of millions of secret dollars are pouring into congressional and state races in this election cycle. The Koch brothers (whose personal fortunes grew by $5 billion last year) appear to be behind some of it, Karl Rove has rounded up other multi-millionaires to fund right-wing candidates, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling corporate dollars from around the world into congressional races, and Rupert Murdoch is evidently spending heavily.
No one knows for sure where this flood of money is coming from because it’s all secret.
But you can safely assume its purpose is not to help America’s stranded middle class, working class, and poor. It’s to pad the nests of the rich, stop all reform, and deregulate big corporations and Wall Street – already more powerful than since the late 19th century when the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of cash on the desks of friendly legislators.
Credit the Supreme Court’s grotesque decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates. (Even though 8 of 9 members of the Court also held disclosure laws constitutional, the decision invited the creation of shadowy “nonprofits” that don’t have to reveal anything.)
According to FEC data, only 32 percent of groups paying for election ads are disclosing the names of their donors. By comparison, in the 2006 midterm, 97 percent disclosed; in 2008, almost half disclosed.
Last week, when the Senate considered a bill to force such disclosure, every single Republican voted against it – thereby revealing the GOP’s true colors, and presumed benefactors. (To understand how far the GOP has come, nearly ten years ago campaign disclosure was supported by 48 of 54 Republican senators.)
Maybe the Disclose Bill can get passed in lame-duck session. Maybe the IRS will make sure Karl Rove’s and other supposed nonprofits aren’t sham political units. Maybe pigs will learn to fly.
In the meantime we face an election that marks an even sharper turn toward plutocratic capitalism than before – a government by and for the rich and big corporations — and away from democratic capitalism.
As income and wealth has moved to the top, so has political power. That’s why, for example, it’s been impossible to close the absurd tax loophole that allows hedge-fund and private-equity managers to treat much of their income as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax (even though they’re earning tens or hundreds of millions a year, and the top 15 hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion last year). Why it proved impossible to fund expanded health care by limiting the tax deductions of the very rich. Why it’s so difficult even to extend George Bush’s tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of Americans without also extending them for the top 2 percent – even though the top won’t spend the money and create jobs, but will blow a $36 billion hole in the federal budget next year.
The good news is average Americans are beginning to understand that when the rich secretly flood our democracy with money, the rest of us drown. Wall Street executives and top CEOs get bailed out while under-water homeowners and jobless workers sink.
A Quinnipiac poll earlier this year found overwhelming support for a millionaire tax.
But what the public wants means nothing if our democracy is secretly corrupted by big money.
Right now we’re headed for a perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top, a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy, and a public in the aftershock of the Great Recession becoming increasingly angry and cynical about government. The three are obviously related.
We must act. We need a movement to take back our democracy. (If tea partiers were true to their principles, they’d join it.) As Martin Luther King once said, the greatest tragedy is “not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
What can you do?
1. Read Justice Steven’s dissent in the Citizens United case, so you’re fully informed about the majority’s pernicious illogic.
2. Use every opportunity to speak out against this decision, and embarrass and condemn the right-wing Justices who supported it.
3. In this and subsequent elections, back candidates for congress and president who vow to put Justices on the Court who will reverse it.
4. Demand that the IRS enforce the law and pull the plug on Karl Rove and other sham nonprofits.
5. If you have a Republican senator, insist that he or she support the Disclose Act. If they won’t, campaign against them.
6. Support public financing of elections.
7. Join an organization like Common Cause, that’s committed to doing all this and getting big money out of politics. (Personal note: I’m so outraged at what’s happening that I just became chairman of Common Cause.)
8. Send this post to your friends (including any tea partiers you may know).
Two Paths: Fury and Rebellion OR Fix the Inequity -
We have a very vocal minority of people that is very angry about the current situation—the Republican Tea Party. As usual, their rage is fanned daily by those who stand to gain at their expense. We can follow that path of fear and rage; I think it leads to many hardships down the road.
Or, we can fix the problems—of course, we have to agree on what the problems are. Sure, some of it is government; bad politics made it that way. Fixable. Some of it is business; bad politics made it that way. Fixable. Most of the problems stem from jealousy, envy, abuse of power, and greed—mostly greed. Greed explains the others. Not easily fixed because those in power don’t want to give up what they got.
Few of the people who are in a terrible rage are greedy people. They, like me, don’t really have enough to be greedy. Since we’ve never had it, we don’t even think about getting what we really don’t deserve.
That means fixing the problem means fixing the bad politics of the bad, greedy people who made the bad politics for their own purposes.
The first step is to start listening to some wiser heads who show tell us that we’ve fixed things before by using our heads, and we can do it again. Stop the rage. Start thinking. Stop following the wrong people.
The second step is to appreciate our accomplishments. The rage hides all the good things and tries to turn the good into a perception of bad. Good news today? Insurance companies can’t turn you down for a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies can’t throw you out because you cost them too much. People whose adult children (under 26) still live at home because they are in school or can’t find a job can cover their childrens’ health insurance needs. Bear in mind, that these good things will be made to look bad by the people who will not get quite as rich from insurance premiums. Too bad!
Watch the video. Click the title for the link.
“AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America’s Future”
The Odd Marriage of Christianity and Capitalism -
How many times do we have to talk about the dangers of accumulating wealth in this country. What dangers lurk?
Many self-professed Christians have gotten pretty comfortable with a no-holds-barred free-market capitalism. In a bipolar world when the most visible alternative to our capitalism was an atheistic and totalitarian Communism, I can understand the temptation to cling to the lesser of two evils. Now…
Effective Visitor’s Centers. Providing a Small Town Welcome that Increases Business. -
This is an excellent rural and small town tourism blog.
Some of the key points:
How are we doing? My thoughts below:
I found this interesting. If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test! —
Well, first of all, if a Republican makes a list, apparently women don’t exist.
Also, how do you “choose” a job with health insurance? Have you tried looking for a job lately? Or God forbid you can only work part-time - you get royally screwed in terms of benefits. And you can’t just “shop for it” if you have any pre-existing condition. Even without one, plans for women run upwards of $250 a month for the most bare-bones programs.
If a Democrat is homosexual, he or she demands equal rights, like human beings. If a Republican is homosexual, he or she campaigns for the Right and hides in the closet until they can’t take their self-hatred any more.
If a Republican is down-and-out, he or she probably has a safety net of wealthy family members to rely on. Or they’ll just collect unemployment like hypocrites.
If a judicial decision happens that a Republican doesn’t like, he or she gets red-faced and cries “Constitution! Founding Fathers! Christian Nation!” If something happens that a Democrat doesn’t like, he or she sighs, rolls up their sleeves, and gets to work changing it.
Here’s the bottom line, people: Society always moves forward. We take small steps backward (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… sigh), but eventually the progressives always get their way. A hundred and fifty years ago, conservatives would have choked on their pheasant if they found out that their great-great-grandchildren wouldn’t have child labor and women would be able to vote and minorities would have all the same rights as white people and schools and fire departments would be socialized.
A lot of people ask me if running this blog ever bums me out. It really doesn’t. These people, in the end, are always wrong. Always. We always get our way eventually.