Written by Russell Meyer
Published: November 15, 2004 at 11:24 AM
MGM/Mirage has finalized plans to build a huge new resort on the property they own between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo hotels. The new resort will be a combination of boutique hotels, a luxury condominium complex, and massive retail center. Project City Center, as the group has dubbed it, will be one of the largest developments on the strip, and one of the most ambitious. The condo complex will compete against the Jockey Club just across the strip, the retail portion will be competing against the newly completed Fashion Mall and Caesar’s Palace’s soon-to-be-completed expanded Forum Shops, and the hotel will compete against THEHotel, a property recently acquired by the MGM/Mirage group. While the construction never stops in Las Vegas, it’s great to see the MGM/Mirage group asserting their near-monopoly. In another 10 years they’ll have properties down the strip all the way to Los Angeles.
The annual gathering of amusement vendors and proprietors begins Monday with a week of conferences and presentations. IAAPA doesn’t usually yield huge announcements from parks or massive expansions from properties, it does typically give theme park fans a glimpse into the future as ride manufacturers display their latest and greatest advances in ride and attraction technology. With theme parks expecting to increase spending in the next few years, many 2006 attractions may be seen for the first time at this year’s exhibition.
Back to the Drawing Board
Orlando Sentinel 11/13/04
In another twist in this story, union members vote down a deal that would have settled their disagreement with Disney management. While Florida theme park operations are not in danger, the union membership has authorized leaders to call for the first labor strike in nearly 20 years. The main sticking point is on health insurance. Isn’t that a sticking point for all of us? Apparently, the increases in pay do not offset the increases in health care premiums. Unfortunately because of Florida’s “right to work” status, theme park union employees do not have much power as many of their peers do not belong to the union, and could keep the resort running in the event of a strike. Health care has become a huge issue in the country, and I can understand the Disney employees’ hope that their pay increases weren’t eaten up by rising health care costs.
Lest ye think me a right-wing fanatic, I agree that healthcare costs are out of control. but let's look at all the reasons and address them.
Canada, France and some other industrialized countries do have socialized healthcare. Sure, you don't have to pay, but there are some DEFINITE caveats...I get these from "Katie" (name withheld by request), my traveling nurse friend who has had the opportunity to be involved in the whole mess.
1.) Canadian doctors would give their right arm to practice in America--not just because of the better pay, but because the government so restricts the health services they can provide, that they feel as if they are just putting band-aids on broken arms and shuffling people out the door.
2) Getting an appointment to see a physician takes months in Canada, with many having to travel to America to get treated.
3) Taxes. No one can argue this point. The taxes needed to support the Canadian healthcare plan are THROUGH THE ROOF--I'm not just talking personal income taxes, but the taxes on business is oppressive at best.
4) And lest we think France is the model of perfection in the health care world, it's woes are in line with Canada's (except in France, the tax rate is higher). Last year during a heat wave, the government-run elderly-care centers didn't turn on the air conditioning (to save costs), and over a thousand elderly died.
4) During the 90s, the government put restrictions on makers of the flu vaccine--price controls, etc. Since then, most flu vaccine companies here in America have ceased to produce it. The government is now the director of flu vaccines. And we see what a great job they're doing with it.
Regardless if it's a republican, demoractic or "other" party running the white house, the truth remains that healthcare is a problem, but socialized healthcare might just add to the those woes.
Robert, your suggestion to establish some sort of national program for catostrophic needs does bear some definite consideration, though. Yeah, it too will force our taxes WAY up (regardless how well it's dispursed). But relieving individuals and businesses of bearing the sole responsibility of those costs is definitely something we need to consider. At my first job out of college, health care coverage was dropped because one employee's daughter had cancer and ate up all the benefits. Should her benefits have been cut? Absolutely not. But should mine be cut? Nope. I signed up under my then-wife's company, so I was fine. But some went without.
This is a VERY complicated issue. I think that both republicans and demorcats are so addicted to power and "winning" and crushing the opposing sides, that no compromise will ever happen--yeah, this is kind of pessimistic, but have you heard the back-and-forth in congress? What a bunch of inneffective dunderheads. If a proposal has a republican sponsor--no matter how good that proposal is--democrats will filibuster till the cows come home. If the proposal is put forward by a democrat, republicans will treat it like a ticking bomb and try to diffuse it, ripping it apart--just to find out it's just an alarm clock. TIMES UP!
Welfare was once proposed as a temporary way to assist those without employment...it's now become a permanent entitlement that is a wedge between parties, and an "addiction" that many recipients cannot shake. Will "free" taxpayer-paid health care be our next welfare debacle? Our next bankrupt social security? Will the government help us out or screw us over?
Okay, I'm now off my soapbox...folks, don't start namecalling and getting nasty. Robert raised some real questions and put out some definite suggestions. We may have different opinions about the "solutions", but we can't ignore that we're heading toward a definite meltdown.
Okay, let the hatemail begin.
Here in Ontario, I rarely give any thought to health care. If I am sick, I see my Doctor. If he can't see me as soon as I want, I go to a walk-in clinic the same day and see another doctor. Either way - it's free and simple, and I have never felt as though the treatment was less than suitable. We just had a baby two weeks ago, and the entire process - from initial doctor visit to ultrasounds to delivery and recovery - cost us $10.80 (for the phone in the hospital room). Not bad, especially considering I pay nothing out of my paycheck for this. As far as flu shots go, you can get one pretty much anywhere (work, supermarkets, shopping malls) for free…without lining up.
As far as taxes go, yes, they are higher (I pay around 25% tax, all told), but I don't feel that my standard of living is at all worse here than in Orlando (better actually). It's really a tough choice, as neither system is perfect, but forced to choose, I would pick this one.
The fact of the matter is, if you have healthcare already, national healthcare may or may not be better than what you currently have. (And if you have Kaiser, then it most certainly would be better!) But is anyone stoopid enough to think national healthcare would be worse than NO HEALTHCARE AT ALL, which is what is happening RIGHT NOW to millions of Americans? I didn't think so. National healthcare should be basic, and if you want more than basic, then that should be available at a lower cost. Pretty simple, no?
As for the MGM Mirage plans... Screamscape didn't really get it right. There will be a casino resort involved, naturally, and it will be the first phase. The rest will be built slowly up until around 2010. The complex will be HUGE, spreading from the Monte Carlo across Harmon Ave to the Bellagio. It's not going to be an unbroken line of MGM stuff lining the Strip, though, as it will have to build around stuff like the Seven nightclub, which should be fine, an in-progress condo project and the Jockey Club timeshares, which are ugly as sin. There's a computer simulation of what it MAY look like over at Vegas4Visitors. All I can say is I hope that is just an early mockup because it certainly doesn't scream Vegas! It probably is as the press release says that they will be partnering with world-renowned architects, so I doubt anything is set in stone yet. I hope they really do get "world-renowned" architects because it would be great to have something spectacular that didn't look like a damn hotel tower on the Strip!
And it's amazing that Fox news sucks so much venom from lefties. I like MSNBC and I do like Fox News (although I haven't seen it in months because I ain't about to pay the over-$100 per month for the cable package that carries it). CNN is a has-been. Does Fox lean to the right? Perhaps. Does CNN lean to the left? Yup. So it's even then. Stop yer whinin. And, Kevin, if someone actually has an opinion that leans away from yours, that does not mean he/she got it from Fox news or from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter (niiiiiiiiiice legs), etc etc etc. It might mean they HAVE ANOTHER OPINION from you. And furthermore, I listen to NPR most every day--and even the deaf, blind and dumb can tell which way it leans....so let's get off this "you musta got that from Fox News." Because I devour every news source I can get--and I spend Sunday reading The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (arguably, two of the most liberal papers in America), while I tape and watch Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press--I LOVE SUNDAYS. True, most people wouldn't waste their Sunday like this (yes, I'll admit to being a bit strange when it comes to my news gathering). But I'm fully aware of the health care debate, and I'm fully aware that universal healthcare, for all it's good intentions, would have irreversible repercussions that have to be worked out WAY before we plunge headlong into that quagmire. As much as I think it's a mistake, I also realize that it's almost an inevitability...it will happen, because people want more and more taken care of for them--that's not an insult (because I am of the "people" persuasion), it's just a fact. And people most always choose the path of least resistance. And people expect things for free. And people get fat. And people sue McDonalds. And people die and are put in the Darwin Awards.....
by the way, Kevin, thanks for the Vegas update....I'm planning on heading that way soon and need to know new things to do (besides lose all my money, which is a given).
Seriously though, I got some sweeeet double time stints going back in my day. Come back with an opening shift after one of those late nights, extend it to a double -- then keep it going until you start hallucinating or your body drops. (Please don't be doing any Thunder shifts, though. I made sure to stick to stuff like Tiki, Treehouse, Bear Band and Parade after the first 12 hours or so....)
If you ever read non-American news you will see how right of the middle most American news is. And why is that? Because big business pays their bills. And big business is right of the mainstream. Enough stories have aired and been published about major stories that never aired because they could possibly hurt sponsors. If you want REAL news about America, go to the BBC (which, by the way, recently pissed off Fox by showing Fox's election results and the the REAL election results). And to compare NPR to a news network is ridiculously pathetic. NPR is a radio SHOW, like Rush Liembaugh. There is NO liberal equivalent to Fox, so get over that lie.
I like how I suggested a solution to the healthcare crisis then I immediately got two responses straight from the rightwing mantra. Why is it the Repussycan party can only see things as black or white? Try reading everything this time: A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM CAN BE CREATED THAT WILL NOT AFFECT ANYONE WITH PRIVATE HEALTHCARE!!! This is already happening, people! Heard of Medicare? All that needs to be done is to expand basic Medicare-like services to those who don't have healthcare and find a way to pay for it. One of the biggest problems is drug costs, which aren't being dealt with because drug companies are Big Business, and we must allow them to make billions, mustn't we?
Plus, comparing anything to Canada is yet another example of comparing apples to Buicks. The entire country is larger than America, yet its population is lower than that of California. Imagine California's population spread out over an area 30 times larger than the current state. OF COURSE their healthcare system could use some help. So could the healthcare systems throughout rural California, but those people have a much shorter drive to major healthcare than most of rural Canada does. This lack of technology is blamed on the Canadian government, but private healthcare didn't have it before then either.
Plus, who anointed Canada as the Number One National Healthcare in the World? The US is practically the ONLY advanced nation that doesn't provide healthcare to all its citizens, yet all we ever hear about is Canada. Why is that? Huh??? Might it be there are highly successful national healthcare systems that are working. Denmark's is often considered the best in the world and it costs the government less per capita than Canada's. AND ours! Black or white.
Hey, I'm not all that thrilled about our moneygrubbing politicians being in charge of this either, but we are already paying far more now than we would by simply covering the ones who don't have it now. Forget those of us who already have it.
1. Post office? No.
2. DMV? No.
3. Iraq? No.
4. Social Security? No.
5. Welfare? No.
6. Vietnam? No.
7. Ahhh..never mind.
Um...Please let me keep my freemdom. Please don't vote my freedom away. Please go to France or Cananda if you want "free" health care. I don't want to pay the taxes for "free" stuff. Please, please don't vote away my freedom.
Also, can't we just talk about Theme Park's here?
Although we do have certain problems here (waiting lists for some type of surgery), we do not experience the social nightmare Robert is referring to. I know what I’m talking about since my father is dying of cancer. He has been treated very well, professionally with the very best technology available. We also received enormous support from the system (human, technical and technological). Social doesn’t automatically mean hell and communism. It can work!
To me, we could always debate for hours on healthcare and never come to an agreement because it all starts with values. Is healthcare a privilege or a right? Depending on our point of view this will influence the way we approach this issue. In Canada, although the pressure of the richer minority is very strong, we still believe it's a right no matter the cost. It doesn’t mean we don’t try to find better ways to manage and improve our system, it simply says we don’t use ROI to guide our principles. In fact we use the principle that life is superior to anything in this world. Being alive, in good health is the right of the human being no matter it’s age, race or wealth. It’s a matter of values, there is no right or wrong in this case.
That being said, there have been numerous attempts here to improve our social system and reduce the impact of the rising costs. Every citizen must now pay for a public drug insurance program. There is a fiscal exemption for the low incomes. They implemented regional health clinics that offer first aid services for minor injuries and health issues to reduce emergency room attendance. There are numerous programs that educate people to take the efficient action when sick. Every house in Quebec has a brochure on how to deal with minor health issues. There are numerous free internet sites to be consulted, several hot lines to be called 24/7 for free advice and coaching.
We believe here that education is the very best way to keep a universal access to healthcare while reducing it’s financial burden. This is why we educate people to stop smoking, better eat, exercise more and maintain good health habits. Many employers are now offering free health and well being clinics to their employees. We believe responsible and conscious people is the ultimate way to build a system that support people’s needs while being affordable to the majority. We can do it if we work together. Responsibility and unity towards quality of life can make the very best systems and places to live in the world.
A previous post is correct in saying that mandatory insurance tends to drive up the price, by increasing demand for policies. But in the case of health care (which is *not* mandatory in the United States), universal primary coverage could ultimately save the nation quite a bit in cash if it led to more complete immunization and better preventive care and early diagnoses through everyone getting annual check-ups. So that could lead to a decrease in the demand for claims.
(I know's that's basically a flip-side version of the plan I described above, but my larger point is there are alternatives out there, most not yet implemented anywhere, that could make sense for the United States... if only more Americans could get over the Pavlovian response that any collective action by Americans through their government is inherently bad.)
That said...My wife has a friend who lives in the Netherlands. He and his wife earn roughly 75K/year..they pay 52% in tax due to the socialized nature of the system. She needs surgery...they are on a waiting list.
For all their hard work they are penalized, receiving the same care and benefits as someone who does nothing and is on the dole. Believe me they are bitching as are their equally productive friends. Socialism works for those that don't. Or in other words, productive people work to make chain for the anchors.
Now lets talk themeparks
Now, back to theme parks...
So, in that respect, a discussion about health care, in this context, very much affects theme parks.
I know that many fans want only to discuss parks from the perspective of a fan. But there are also employees, suppliers and investors who play a role in making theme parks work, and I do like to see issues involving them raised and discussed on the site.
Meetings will be held at the Flying Unicorn... or some other ride Kevin hates.
And they call Disney's movie studios inefficient.
I second the motion that Celebration Hospital takes forevvvvvvvvvver to get its ER patients. Go Sand Lake if it is deathly serious, or find an urgent care walk-in center if it is not and you've cash or a credit card.
Good enough for me.
At what point to business owners in this country turn and start *supporting* a national health care plan?
Think about it: If you are a business owner, how badly would you like to get out of paying health care premiums for your employees? How many more people would you hire if you didn't have to pay their health care?
Sure, someone would have to pay for those premiums under a national plan. But the cost would be spread out among all Americans and all businesses -- and not fall just on those businesses that hire Americans. (Which would then eliminate one of the huge financial incentives companies have to outsource jobs, abroad and at home.)
If people hate the idea of a single-payer national plan, why not have the government set up a single-payer plan just for catastrophic expenses above a certain amount, say, $100,000 a year? That way the really expense stuff comes off the private insurers' books, allowing them to hold down rates and rate increases to employers. And employers could retain their choices for plan providers and consumers could retain their choices for their family doctors.
Take health insurance out of the equation, and American employers could start hiring again, more corporate profits could go toward wage increases in collective bargaining and employers and employees could both start breathing easier.