Monday, April 26, 2010

Are we less free?

You betcha

There was a time when the US of A could brag about being a bastion of freedom. Now it is home to chest pounding, freedom loving fools who don't know any better. There was a time when Americans could look North to Canada and say, "Sure, they have healthcare and safer cities; but, look at the liberties they surrender." Not anymore. Now you have to watch what you say in this country for you never know when a member of any number of government controlled policing agencies is listening in. In Canada, wiretaps are hard to get. In America, they are unnecessary.

Free country, indeed.

Legalize it! Ctd.

Did you know that, in Canada--now listed as a freer country that America-- you can get a licence from the government to grow marijuana? I am serious. There are limits, you must grow for up to two people (three per household) who have prescriptions to smoke and you are limited to the number of plants you can have and you must have some sort of security system. All of which makes sense.
Here's the link for all you Canuckleheads up there:

Quote of the day

Every normal man must be tempted at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. --H.L. Mencken

Rant of the day

What the fuck is going on in the press. There was a time when every serious journalist could not wait to ask the toughest questions to anyone they could nail. There was a time when reporters spent weeks and months working to detect and uncover hypocrisy in elected officials. There was a time when H.L. Mencken said, "The only way a reporter should look at a politician is down." Those days are done.

Yes, reporters still try to detect hypocrisy, but only in the other camp. Now there are republican reporters who are dedicated to exposing democrats and there are democrat reporters who chase down nothing but republican stories.

Actually, it would not be so bad if it were to end there. The larger issue is the flip side. Those same republican reporters spend just as much time talking up their representatives as they do slagging the opposition. That this is done to the extent it is done today is new in open democracies. It is common in Saudi Arabia to have the local paper sing the praises of the local government. It is mandatory in the new Russia for news outlets to sing the praises of their leaders. It is wrong in the USA.

No politician should find a friend and ally in the media. That is bad for democracy and leads to reporters saying things that they cannot possibly believe and remain credible.

The list of reporters who openly state that they believe Sarah Palin is just as qualified to lead the country as the present president is long. Too long.

The list of reporters who insist that regulating the banking system will cause chaos in said financial system is equally insane. Have they no ability to look back? Does no one question the likes of Glenn Beck when he wants the country to return to the olden days, when women could not work outside of nursing, Phone Company or secretarial work? What good old days? When you could go out and beat up a group of homosexuals with impunity? Or run that black family out of town? Are these the good old days?

The tea partiers want liberty but never talk about the patriot act which did more to moderate American liberties than any single act in the past 30 years. That is insane. It is not healthcare that gives the government the right to listen in on your phone calls without a warrant. It is the patriot act.

There are simple obvious questions that should be asked every time a politician steps in front of a reporter. Why are they not asked? I don't get it. Sure the politician might reply "No comment." but that is a response that can be reported and commented upon.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Public Option Is Off The Table?

This brings to mind three quotes:
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. --Mencken

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. --George Bernard Shaw
Well, you asked for the status quo, now you're going to get the status quo --the 37th best healthcare system in the world.


People are crazy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Protect the Men in Blue (and Women Too)

Legalize it!

There is, today, a must-read op-ed in today's Washington Post. Find it here.

Both officers are members of the growing "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition".

We need more of this in the mainstream dialogue of this nation.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

End of Life Counseling

So, the townhall shouters have made headway. They have actually succeeded in having the house remove the "End of Life Counseling" section from the healthcare bill. Here's a question for each and every one of those who I will refer to in the aggregate as "the opposition". How many of you have "End of Life Counseling" clauses in your private healthcare plans?

Let me repeat that.

How many of you have "End of Life Counseling" clauses in your private healthcare plans?

The answer is, close to 100%. Seriously, death panels?

The supposed evil that you rally against is precisely what you are risking life and limb to protect.


Yes, that is right. You are fighting against what you are fighting to protect.

Your precious private healthcare plan offers you the same "End of Life Counseling" that President Obama is trying to extend to those with fewer privileges than you have.

Don't worry, your ill-informed rantings wield great power. The house has modified the bill for you. Keep up the good work, and for God's sake don't learn anything about what you are fighting for (or against).


Monday, August 10, 2009

A Heartbreaking Story

Click here to read a recent tale of a successful, well insured man who had an accident.

And still people line up to demand that the great United States of America preserve its 37th best health care system in the world.

The Number One Cause of Bankruptcy

It has been pointed out to me, in rebuttal, that my previous assertion that Medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the USA is not true. This is debatable, but the debate does not change the point.

The furor is over a study that many are trying to put into disrepute. The major problem that the detractors have is that the study was a peer reviewed, joint effort between the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Law School.

I would like to handle this in two phases.

First I will take the detractors criticism at face value, then I will present some stats from the Harvard findings.

17%. That is the number that the detractors say is the true percentage of bankruptcies caused by medical bills. 17%.

Remember, the people who are presenting this number are politically and/or financially motivated (prove me wrong) to come up with the smallest number possible and the best they could come up with was 17%. Well, let's suppose they are right. I am not sure they are making their point. If almost 20 per cent of all bankruptcies are caused by medical bills then there is a national crisis that requires immediate attention. End of argument.

Let me repeat. If the detractors are correct, there is still a national crisis that needs immediate attention.

Now here are some facts from the Harvard Study:
Medical Bankruptcy – Fact Sheet

David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Deborah Thorne, Ph.D., Elizabeth Warren, J.D., Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.

• In May 2009, more than 5,000 families filed for bankruptcy every business day. For all of 2009, the total is expected to reach about 1.4 million. The average personal bankruptcy involves 2.71 debtors and dependents. In total, an estimated 3.8 million Americans will be involved in personal bankruptcy filings this year.

• Illness and medical bills were linked to at least 62.1% of all personal bankruptcies in 2007. Based on the current bankruptcy filing rate, medical bankruptcies will total 866,000 and involve 2.346 million Americans this year – about one person every 15 seconds.

• Using identical definitions in both years, the proportion of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6% between 2001 and 2007.

• Most medically bankrupt families were middle class before they suffered financial setbacks. 60.3% of them had attended college and 66.4% had owned a home; 20% of families included a military veteran or active-duty soldier.

• Most medical debtors had some health insurance, but many suffered gaps in coverage:
  • 77.9% of the individuals whose illness led to bankruptcy had health insurance at the onset of the bankrupting illness; 60.3% had private insurance.
  • 69% of debtor families had coverage at the time of their bankruptcy filing
  • 60% of families had continuous coverage
  • Only 0.3% of the uninsured went without coverage voluntarily, i.e. because they though they didn’t need it – most others couldn’t afford it.
And still people line up to demand that the great United States of America preserve its 37th best health care system in the world.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"We're number 37! We're number37! We're number 37!"

Let me see if I understand this correctly.
  1. The USA has the 37th best level of health care in the world
  2. The USA has the most expensive health care in the world
  3. The number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the USA is medical bills.
So, The US has pays the most for nearly the worst and should a citizen get truly sick they will likely lose everything they, and perhaps their ancestors, have worked for.

That is the status quo.

Currently, if someone needs medical attention any action must first be approved by an employee of a for profit insurance company. This is scary: a company that profits from denying you treatment is in charge of deciding if you qualify for treatment.

The average bureaucratic cost of government health insurance (Western nations) is 4%. The bureaucratic cost of the current American system is 30%.

This is the kicker. An astounding number of very vocal Americans are demanding the status quo.

I always thought that Americans were, and were proud of, being number one. Not number 37.

Repeat after me, "We're number 37! We're number37! We're number 37!"

Why this is an issue is beyond me.

Okay, I hear the opposition saying they don't want some disinterested government employee standing between them and their doctor. Well, let us take this at its face value. I ask you, which would you rather have deciding whether or not you get an operation: a disinterested government employee or an employee of an insurance company which profits from your not having the operation.

Is it really that simple? Yes, it is. Let me repeat the three points I laid out at the top:
  1. The USA has the 37th best level of health care in the world
  2. The USA has the most expensive health care in the world
  3. The number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the USA is medical bills.
Now, make your case for the status quo.