Everything you never needed to know

Catching up on the summer reading, means that you find out some really weird stuff. Stuff that you probably never would need to know. But that someone wants your legislator to know.

Like, a third of all homeowners insurance claims involve dog bites. The majority of insurance companies won't renew your policy if your dog has been the cause of an injury claim. And, the average dog bite settlement is $190,000 (which comes to about $1-billion nationally each year).

Another statistic from the mailbag: nearly 43 million Americans lack health insurance. That's an increase of 36 percent in the past 10 years. The majority of them, by the way, are employed. And the reason they lack insurance? Cost. With costs continuing to increase, statistics show that the number of uninsured Americans will increase at the rate of about 400, 000 people for every one percent increase.

With welfare reform across the country, welfare rolls are dropping. Levels range from an 84 percent drop in Wisconsin to 7.4 percent in Hawaii. The Heritage Foundation says the reason for variances is simple--states with immediate work requirements and strong sanctions have faster declines, and states with lenient sanctions have less decline. Massachusetts has seen a one-year drop of 18.4 percent.

Michigan will soon require welfare applicants to take a drug test before receiving benefits. The state, accused of discriminating against the poor if they test, will use Medicaid funds to pay for treatment of drug users. Test market starts in October.

Racing is still big business in Massachusetts. Even with the closing of Foxboro last year, racing generated $11.05 million in income to the state last year. That's in addition to the taxes paid of racetracks and the estimated taxes paid by the 10,000 people employed in the industry.

If you're interested in historic preservation, you'll want to be in Worcester on Sept. 24. That's the date for the Massachusetts Historical Commission's annual conference. Details are available at the commission's Boston office.

And if you're a typical woman, worried that someday you'll be destitute and a bag lady, mark October 2nd on your calendar. It's the first Green Purse conference in Massachusetts--a free, day long, everywoman's money conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. I know you'd have to get up about 4 in the morning to get there by 8, but it'll probably be worth your time. State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, and state treasurers across the country, are spearheading days like this in every state.

Women need it, if you look at the statistics. Nearly 90 percent of all women in the country earn less than $40,000 a year and less than a third of us over 55 receive any kind of pension at all. Some 41 percent of women worry that they'll be living at or near the poverty level because they cannot save adequately for retirement.

The nation's hunters annually spend some $15.7 billion on equipment, firearms,ammunition, clothing, reloading equipment, optics and accessories. Hunting and shooting related industries employ more people than all Sears stores. And more than 21 million Americans participate in shotgun, handgun and rifle target shooting--three times as many people than play racquetball, twice as many than water-ski, and about the same number of people who play golf.

A weakfish lives in Massachusetts waters in the summer. It looks like a large trout. Official name is Squeteague. Wolffish run as big as 52 pounds, don't school, have canine teeth. For great fish information ask the Division of Marine Fisheries for a copy of their saltwater fishing guide.

Do you know why a private business isn't likely to operate a lighthouse? Because it's a case of public good, not subject to the exclusion principle. In other words, the ships that benefit from a lighthouse cannot be excluded from the benefits if they decide not to pay for the benefits. So, a private business won't build a lighthouse because it's not likely anyone would pay for the service. So says the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Attention, Dr. Pain. Edentulism. Loss of all natural teeth. It happens most often in Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. Don't ask me why. But more than 40 percent of the people in those states have no natural teeth. (In Massachusetts? Somewhere between 20 and 29 percent of the people.)

How much did the Department of Environmental Affairs spend in the month of June (latest statistics I have)? $11,566,000. Under budget, believe it or not, by 67 percent.

Which doesn't make sense, at first glance. Then you figure out that they're leveling out spending for the year. And that's still good. Great, in fact. Under budget for the year by 35 percent, or $42,428,000. Other departments have had overruns (Transportation and Construction, $100,645,000 or 21 percent over budget, appears the worst.)

And now you know more things you didn't need to know just some 800 or 900 words ago.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014