Physical Therapy rip-off

Dawnie went to the doctor about her sore shoulder. She was referred to an orthopedic surgeon. He said try physical therapy. So she did. Many times she asked several different people how much it cost. Never got a straight answer. Her therapist was shocked to discover we had $5000 deductible. We just got a bill for $2000. Obviously the charge was high because the therapist thought it was covered by insurance; “nobody” was paying.

Is it such a mystery why medical care is so expensive? Too much system, not enough supply and demand.

If we had known we would be charged the same as “nobody,” we would have taken notes and done it ourselves. Thieves are way too comfortable in this world.

Illustration of the division of labor from the Wall Street Journal

Notable & Quotable: The $1,500 Sandwich

Sept. 27, 2015 4:28 p.m. ET

From an online post by Cato Institute researcher and editor Chelsea German, Sept. 25:

What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavor in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500. . . .

The inefficiency of making even something as humble as a sandwich by oneself, without the benefits of market exchange, is simply mind-boggling. There was a time when everyone grew their own food and made their own clothes. It was a time of unimaginable poverty and labor without rest.

Comment on Dan Neil column in the WSJ accusing VW of losing its “moral compass”

EPA, a branch of the government that lied about WMDs, attacked a country that didn’t threaten us or was responsible for any attack on us, killing possibly 500,000 souls, regulates us into poverty in so many ways, funds child murdering Planned Parenthood, confiscates our property without convictions, reads our private correspondence, unseats unsavory dictators, unleashing hordes of desperate refugees, enables radical religious zealots to overwhelm once peaceful landscapes, supports governments that do worse and then call them valued allies… intends to fine a car company because they allegedly cheat on a test of tiny amounts of pollution while saving the world huge volumes of wasted fuel.

Who’s lost their moral compass, Dan (author of entertaining but shallow car reviews)?

Yogi Story from WSJ

Updated Sept. 23, 2015 2:18 p.m. ET

He was a spectacular baseball player. That sometimes gets forgotten in all the folksy warmth surrounding Yogi Berra, who died Tuesday at age 90. The numbers are staggering, almost supernatural, something out of a comic book: 18 seasons as a catcher for the New York Yankees, 10 World Series rings, 14 Series appearances, 15 All-Star Games and three most valuable player awards. There’s never been a career like it, before or since. I once emailed the groundbreaking statistician (and “Moneyball” godfather) Bill James about Berra’s rank among baseball’s all-timers, and his response was instant and unequivocal:

“I certainly think that Yogi was the greatest catcher who ever lived,” James wrote. “I have no doubt of this, honestly.”

Statistics tell only a fraction of his story. Berra was the son of immigrants, a World War II veteran who had left a Yankees farm club to join the Navy and served at D-Day, a gunner’s mate on a landing craft support vessel. “I think his military service has been a little overlooked, because men like him really didn’t talk about it much,” Carmen Berra, Yogi’s wife of 65 years, told the Star-Ledger a year before her death in 2014. “It wasn’t a big thing to him…it was just what they had to do.”

Such humility defined his life. Yogi Berra was not a pretentious man. His exceptional talent didn’t yield the type of payday that is now customary for ballplayers today—Berra never made more than $65,000 in a season, and never had more than a one-year contract. His easygoing style and proclivity for malapropisms—actually, it’s not fair to call them malapropisms; they’re Yogi-isms, sui generis, many of them brilliant (“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” not even Twain was that good)—made him a beloved figure even to those who hated the mighty Yankees. Berra returned the laughs with a twinkle of self-awareness: Yogi made people chuckle, but he always got to be in on the joke.

He had lives as a manager, a commercial pitchman, an actor (that’s Yogi, with Mickey Mantle, Cary Grant and Doris Day in 1962’s “That Touch of Mink,” which they filmed during a Yankees West Coast trip). Berra had his battles—there was a memorable feud with George Steinbrenner that lasted for nearly a decade and a half after the Yankee owner dismissed Berra as manager in 1985. (Steinbrenner, acting on advice from Joe DiMaggio, eventually visited Berra to apologize, leading to an overdue thawing.)

As often with cherished public figures, the best stories about Yogi Berra are the quieter ones. This past May in the Journal, David Kaplan, the director of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center near Berra’s town of Montclair, N.J., gave a remarkable account of Berra’s relationship with a once-troubled local teenager named Carlos Lejnieks whom he mentored and helped get into Brown University. Today, Lejnieks is the CEO of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Newark.

I spoke to Lejnieks Wednesday. While he said that Berra had made a significant positive impact upon his life, he also knew he was not alone. “I know he did it in so many quiet ways for so many other people,” he said. “He was so understated.”

I met Berra once. In 2011 I went to go see the movie “Moneyball” with him. I don’t remember how I came up with the idea, but I know it took a long time to put together—Kaplan had asked if it might be possible to screen it in the museum’s screening room, but the movie studio was struggling to get a copy to us, and it looked like it would fall apart. At the last minute, we wound up seeing the Brad Pitt film at the old Bellevue Theater on Bellevue Avenue in Montclair. It was late afternoon. Carmen came, too. Yogi got a bag of popcorn and settled in the back of the theater.

I recall two things vividly about the screening: 1) Berra was friends with Art Howe, the manager of the Oakland A’s in the time “Moneyball” is set, and while he thought Philip Seymour Hoffman was a good actor, Yogi felt he looked nothing like Art Howe. The other thing—and this I didn’t know was coming—was that there’s a key scene in the movie in which the A’s reel off a record 20 game winning streak. And in the moment, they show real-life footage of the last American League team that had won 19 games—the 1947 New York Yankees, for whom Yogi played his first full season in the major leagues.

“I’d almost forgotten,” Yogi said afterward. “You get old, you know? But we did win 19 in a row.”

We all went to dinner at a restaurant around the corner. Yogi ordered scallops, and a vodka with extra ice. He talked about his early playing days and his first contract ($90 a month) and what they served the Yankees between games of a doubleheader (“a hardboiled egg”). He talked about going to Toots Shor’s with DiMaggio and knowing Connie Francis and Spencer Tracy. He talked humbly about those World Series titles and he reached over and showed me his 1953 ring, which was the only championship one he wore.

“I was very lucky,” he said.

He spoke about these indelible moments like they’d happened only weeks ago, and weren’t the memories of an extraordinary American life. To Yogi Berra, these were just fortunate things that had happened along the way. He didn’t view his life as extraordinary, which only makes it more so.

Write to Jason Gay at

But good news for…

Time reports VW’s diesel emissions test cheating will be bad news for diesels in the USA.
This has to bring up at least two questions:
Is it good news for oil companies? Diesel cars regularly get 30% better fuel mileage?
What about all those trucks? Aren’t they polluting? Why are they allowed to continue operating? Locomotives? Cargo ships?
Volkswagen just built a huge engine factory in Russia. Russia makes a good enemy for preserving establishment power. With radical Islam and Russia both about to pounce on our so-called freedoms we need the government and bloated military real bad.

Just when we were warming up to the idea…

…of buying a new Golf Sportwagen TDI. VW gets caught cheating on emissions tests.
A list: Ford C-Max Hybrid busted for cheating on mileage claims, no fine. GM fined $900 million for faulty ignition switch that killed 169 people. VW allegedly installed software that could tell the difference between road use and test stand programs. Consumers will get get less mileage in recalled and “fixed” cars. Emissions will accelerate the deaths of untold numbers of people by an infinitely small amount but burn more fuel which is the cause of the pollution in the first place. $18 billion fine, $37,500 per car.

Do you suppose if the vote to unionize VW in the USA had gone in favor of the union thugs things might be different?

EPA Accuses Volkswagen of Dodging Emissions Rules
No recall of auto maker’s cars is currently under way and agency says vehicles remain safe to drive
Volkswagen automobiles on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Sept. 16. The Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of using software to get around government emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act. ENLARGE
Volkswagen automobiles on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Sept. 16. The Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of using software to get around government emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act. PHOTO: KRISZTIAN BOCSI/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen AG of deliberately dodging air-pollution rules on nearly half a million cars sold since 2008, furthering an Obama administration crackdown on auto makers suspected of flouting regulations intended to reduce tailpipe emissions.

The EPA, which on Friday unveiled the allegations with the California Air Resources Board, alleged the German auto maker used software in the cars to get around government emissions tests. EPA officials said the software, dubbed a “defeat device,” made about 482,000 Volkswagen diesel-powered cars appear cleaner running than they were. The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to disclose design information to receive certification that their products meet federal air-pollution standards.

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency will be developing protocols to more efficiently screen for defeat devices.

U.S. officials said Volkswagen violated two parts of the federal Clean Air Act and could face sizable financial penalties of up to $37,500 per car, or more than $18 billion. It remained unclear whether the government would seek such an onerous penalty. The EPA in November 2014 hit South Korean auto makers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. with a record $100 million penalty for overstating fuel-economy claims and forced the companies to cough up another $200 million in regulatory credits.

No recall of the Volkswagen cars is currently under way and the agency said the vehicles remain safe and legal to drive. Volkswagen could have to recall the cars and fix them, officials said, though that could take up to a year. The EPA is working with the Justice Department and an investigation is continuing.

The auto maker, Europe’s largest by sales, said in a statement it “is cooperating with the investigation” but declined further comment.

Officials alleged Volkswagen used software that activates full emissions controls only during testing but then reduces their effectiveness during normal driving. The result is the cars can emit nitrogen oxides at up to 40 times the allowable standard, the agency said. Diesel-powered cars are a small part of overall U.S. car and light-truck sales.

“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the agency’s enforcement group. She later added: “These violations are very serious. We expected better from VW.”

Volkswagen’s apparent motivations for fooling the emissions tests were unclear. An EPA spokeswoman said it would be “premature to speculate on why VW did this.”

The cars include so-called clean-diesel vehicles marketed for impressive fuel economy without sacrificing driving performance. These cars have been a centerpiece of Volkswagen’s U.S. marketing efforts.

They include the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat with model years between 2009 and 2015. The vehicles have been sold in the U.S. since 2008.

California is separately probing the auto maker.

The most well-known defeat-device case dates back to the late 1990s. The EPA and seven diesel-engine manufacturers, including Caterpillar Inc., Detroit Diesel and Cummins Inc., announced in 1998 a collective $1 billion settlement to resolve Clean Air Act violations similar to those the EPA alleged on Friday. Those companies faced $83.4 million of penalties under the law, at the time the largest U.S. environmental enforcement action in history.

The International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit research organization that works with governments to cut air pollution from mobile sources, and West Virginia University researchers uncovered Volkswagen’s alleged use of defeat devices in research and testing over the last couple of years.

Drew Kodjak, executive director of the organization, said he doesn’t know of any other auto makers using such devices, but advances in technology may make it easier to use the software.

“Now that vehicles have electronic controls and are far more computerized than in the past, it is certainly possible that manufacturers can take advantage of this by installing defeat devices into their vehicles,” Mr. Kodjak said.

The publicized allegations against Volkswagen come amid an expansive push by the Obama administration to curb air pollution from an array of sources, including power plants, trucks and oil and natural-gas drilling. In August, President Barack Obama announced an EPA rule forcing power plants to cut carbon emissions. Earlier this summer, the EPA set new carbon rules for big trucks.

For auto makers, the EPA has coming emissions standards that require them to sell light vehicles averaging 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025.

Matt DeLorenzo, a managing editor at automotive information supplier Kelley Blue Book’s, said the EPA’s allegations could hinder auto makers’ efforts to the fuel-economy regulations, since diesels deliver mileage gains without the expense of electric motors and battery packs found on hybrids.

“From an industry perspective it may set back diesel technology as a means for auto makers to reach the requirements for high fuel economy,” he said.

Auto makers are seizing on a coming 2017 review of the standards with regulators, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the hopes of relaxing some requirements.

Falling gasoline prices have buyers flocking to gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles and are calling into question whether car makers can meet the emissions and fuel-economy targets. Regulators so far have indicated they are reluctant to budge.

The scrutiny over emissions regulations adds to a broader unprecedented government pressuring of auto makers, including for safety transgressions. General Motors Co. admitted to criminal wrongdoing and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty in the mishandling of a defective ignition switch linked to more than 100 deaths in a settlement with the Justice Department unveiled Thursday.

The Justice Department also is probing safety-equipment maker Takata Corp. of Japan over rupture-prone air bags linked to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries that have forced auto makers to recall more than 19 million vehicles, among the largest such actions in history. Regulators, too, have been hitting auto makers with fines for safety lapses.

The emissions allegations come as Volkswagen already faces tough challenges in the U.S. Analysts say Volkswagen’s key U.S. vehicles are too expensive and out of step with consumer tastes. The brand’s sales are off 2.8% through August compared with the same period a year earlier even as the wider market is sizzling. Industrywide sales are expected to eclipse 17 million light vehicles for the first time since 2001.

In recent years, Volkswagen has fallen behind auto makers it traditionally led in the U.S., including Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru brand. The German auto maker spends among the highest amount of money on sales incentives per vehicle sold, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Volkswagen has been planning to unveil new products in coming years to stem share losses. On Monday, Volkswagen officials were planning to host media in New York for a Passat launch celebration. It is unclear now whether executives will keep those plans.

—John D. Stoll contributed to this article.

Write to Amy Harder at and Mike Spector at

Our job in Syria should be…

…Stop the rebels, including the same people who bombed the WTC. OR, throw out Assad, who kept Syria in a state of relative quiet (compared to now) for years with his brutal dictatorship.

Another alternative: stay the hell out of there, unless you feel the urge and will fund it yourself and take on the job personally.

Update: The Russians have arrived to prop-up the Assad regime. What is our beef with the Russians? Their oil industry competes with ours? Their vodka industry? Their adult singles industry? What? Let them have Syria. I can’t think of a worse present to someone we don’t like. Even though I don’t hold anything against Russia myself, for those who imagine there is some problem with friendly relations with Russia, how could you beat a booby prize like Syria? Besides that they will be fighting ISIS, just like the Iranians. Life is good.