December 16, 2013

Holiday Blessings

By

Billy RichburgEvery major religion seems to have some sort of festival in the December-January time frame, and as far as I can determine, all of them are positive, upbeat, and “sharing” in nature. If you celebrate such a holiday at this time of year, best wishes to you and yours.

One of the best aspects of this time of year, for me, is the opportunity it affords me to stop, take a breath, look at the world around me (including all of the colorful strings of lights), and take stock of both my blessings and my whatever else (for it seems we never have one without the other).

These thoughts, then, comprise a brief litany of what I see as the good and bad in my slice of paradise: my community, my state, my country, and the world. If you think you might agree with me, read on and enjoy. If you think I have no concept of reality, you might want to move on to something else and just let this article fade into the ether (not the anesthetic, but the “rarified element” that once was believed to fill space).

 

Blessings and Anti-Blessings

I’m no fan of abject negativism, so I’ll not speak of “blessings and curses.” For me, the good things are “blessings” and everything else is – in proper accounting terms – an “anti-blessing,” that is, something that reduces or otherwise changes a blessing. So, if you still are reading, let’s get to it.

Blessings

I have a nearly perfect wife, two beautiful adult children with families of their own, a father still doing well, various other siblings and close relatives, and a handful of very close friends.

My home is in a community that barely felt the 2008 recession, and is growing at an extraordinary rate.

I live in a state that has no state income tax or personal property tax.

That state is in a country that follows the rule of law; it is a democracy where anyone can voice their opinion – as long as they don’t mind that half the population might disagree with them. (Remember, “democracy is the tyranny of the majority,” according to John Adams, who wrote that in 1788. Alexis de Tocqueville borrowed it from him to use in his seminal work, Democracy in America.)

And I am blessed to live in a world that is only marginally polluted, still has abundant water, and is not – to my knowledge – spiraling into the sun.

Anti-Blessings

My wife and I spend twice as much to live the same way we did 20-odd years ago, and I don’t see some of those relatives and friends nearly as much as I’d like.

My community has a perpetual water shortage; we ration year-round. I suppose every town has some sort of universal problem…

Our state legislature only meets every other year – we wouldn’t want to actually hurry with anything, you know, especially if it might cost money, since we don’t have income or property tax.

And, even if democracy is the tyranny of 50.0000003 percent, I’ll concede that it is far better than any alternative – like the tyranny of one, for example, or the tyranny of a single political party. As of 1:17 p.m. Central time on Dec. 4, 2013, the U.S. population was 317,184,605, and that means that 158,592,303 of us can tell the other 158,592,302 of us what to do, more or less. Or, you could argue that the one “swing vote” (the 0.0000003 percent cited above) moves all of us one way or the other.

And finally, the world is spiraling into the sun! I just read that! Of course, it’s going to take 3 billion years, but now I have something else to worry about (after all, 3 billion years, at 30 years per generation, is only 100 million generations.)

Summation

This little exercise was intended only to remind all of us that the world consists of things both good and bad. Obviously, it was tongue-in-cheek because I didn’t address some really good things – like quality of healthcare (even with ICD-?) or people helping their neighbors in times of trouble. These are things we tend to take for granted. Yet nor did I list any really bad things, like crazies with assault rifles going into schools or the fact that a U.S. veteran commits suicide roughly every 40 minutes.

My only admonition is that you take a few moments to make a real list of what is good and bad about your life, your work, your community and the world, and consider that – for most of us – the “blessing” list is so much longer than the “anti-blessing” list. And for the few of you for whom that is not true: Consider it a wakeup call.

About the Author

Billy K. Richburg, M.S., FHFMA is HFMA-Certified in Accounting and Finance, Patient Accounting and Managed Care. Bill graduated from the U. of Alaska, Anchorage and earned his M.S. in Health Care Administration from Trinity University, San Antonio, TX. Over a career spanning more than 40 years, Bill has held positions including CEO, COO, CFO, and CIO in hospitals ranging from 75 beds to over 300 beds, and in home health agencies, DME stores, and a home infusion company. Bill is a Board Member of the Lone Star Chapter, HFMA, and is Director of Government Programs for the Revenue Cycle Technologies business segment of MedAssets, Inc. His office is in Plano, Texas.

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Billy Richburg, M.S., FHFMA

Billy K. Richburg, MS, FHFMA is HFMA-Certified in Accounting and Finance, Patient Accounting and Managed Care. Bill graduated from the University of Alaska, Anchorage and earned his MS in Health Care Administration from Trinity University, San Antonio, Tex. Over a career spanning more than 40 years, Bill has held positions including CEO, COO, CFO, and CIO in hospitals ranging from 75 beds to over 300 beds, and in home health agencies, DME stores, and a home infusion company. Bill is a Board Member of the Lone Star Chapter, HFMA, and is Senior Director of Government Programs for the Revenue Cycle Technologies business segment of MedAssets, Inc. His office is in Plano, Texas.