AMERICA’S HEALTH CARE MESS (posted 12/23/07)
The elephant in the room—A National Health Care System. We just don’t want to engage in a thoughtful, reasoned debate about how to solve this nation’s health care crisis.
The Perversity of the insurance-based system in the USA
-Success of the system—as measured by the profitability of the Ins. Cos.-is directly related to the number of claims they deny, i.e., to individuals LACK OF HEALTH CARE.
The cost issue-we spend more than any other industrialized country with a national health care system(16% of GDP and rising dramatically), yet we achieve worse outcomes. Example: France spends about 43% of what we do on a per-capita basis and yet they live longer/have LOWER infant mortality rates. In Holland, the average height of people, previously less than the US after WWII, is now greater than in the US and it is assumed that this difference is directly attributable to better health care.
We are witnessing one of the truly great tragedies of the 21st century. Here we have the USA, the self-described “greatest nation on earth”, a nation that has developed the most sophisticated medical technology the world has ever known, routinely denying access to that capability. We hear on a daily basis instances where people are dying as a consequence of being denied a health care claim – by, of all things, AN INSURANCE COMPANY!!! A JUST NATION would simply not TURN ITS BACK in this way on those of its citizens who are in need!
All proposed solutions in the 2008 presidential race continue the practice of burdening American
businesses with the responsibility for healthcare, making us less competitive globally.
It’s interesting that the Congress grants itself a set of WONDERFUL health-care privileges and yet those very same bastards refuse to give us average-Joe-types the same privilege!
THE REAL NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE FOR THE UNITED STATES (posted 12/21/07)
America’s Financial house is OUT-OF-ORDER
-the Federal budget deficit (we’ve nearly doubled our national debt since 2000 and we pay about
$450 billion in interest each year, more than anything else except defense and health care)
-the US Trade imbalance (almost a trillion dollars every year)
-The decline of the dollar (lost nearly 50% of its value against the Euro)
-to start with, elect politicians who will tell us the truth. Example: we are told that the Fed. Budget deficit for FY2007 was around $168 billion. Yet, the Feds are borrowing (selling T-Bills) OVER
$2 billion a day—each and every day! And this doesn’t account for the fact that they are spending the Social Security surplus! The government is fighting a war in Iraq & Afghanistan by borrowing money from places like China. We passed a prescription drug benefit for Medicare and have no idea of how to pay for it (other than, once again, borrowing from places like China—sound familiar?)
-we need to get back to HONESTY IN BUDGETING. THE BUSINESS OF earmarks should be OUTLAWED; we should end the current practice of funding the Iraq war through he use of “SUPPLEMENTALS”, which do NOT hit the budget “bottom line” and are making the Fed budget situation worse by leaps and bounds. Also, we should outlaw lobbyists and make our elected officials subject to the same rules as government employees, i.e., civil servants.
-in 2000 we elected individuals representing a party whose basic philosophy was that “Government can do no good”. By putting people like this into national office, we have no right to expect anything other than the kind of rank incompetence we have seen for the last seven years-witness such instances as the response to Katrina, the Iraq war, exploding deficits, etc.
THE DEATH PENALTY: IS IT UNCONSTITUTIONAL? (posted 12/18/07)
It is clearly not, though it is an inherent failure of the criminal justice system itself in that it fails the test of the 14th amendment, i.e., to guarantee “equal treatment under the law”.
-Money is the key to receiving justice in our legal system: if you have money, you get it, if you are poor, you don’t.
-And this deficiency is seen nowhere more dramatically than in the application of the death penalty. Since the re-institution of the DP in 1976, no person of means has ever been executed. How such a system can continue to be used, despite its clear violation of the Constitution, is beyond me. It relates, I believe to the fact that, as with so many other modern-day challenges (Iraq, Social Security, Medicare , immigration , etc.) we are simply reluctant to confront the issue. The current case before the Supremes about “cruel & unusual” is almost laughable, mostly because, once again, we are talking all around the core issue.
-The fact is – and this is irrefutable – if you are poor– and especially poor and BLACK – there is a GOOD chance that you will be executed for certain crimes. If you are wealthy, however, you will never be executed no matter the crime. Equal treatment under the law??? That’s a laugh!
-It will be argued that the DP prevents crime but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this is true. Indeed, it suggests that we may on this issue be prisoners of our own middle-class mentality.
Us middle-class types clearly don’t commit crimes because 1) we know the difference between right and wrong and we choose the RIGHT way most of the time and 2) because of fear of punishment; I DON’T BELIEVE CRIMINALS THINK THAT WAY. (Full disclosure: My daughter was murdered in 1994 by two degenerates; I will never believe that these two think the way the rest of us do about these kinds of things).
-It is also wrong, I believe, to vest in any human being (s) the power to take a life (I am in this sense VERY PRO-LIFE) and this would violate the most fundamental of human rights. Once again, the nay-sayers will argue that there is no evidence that we have executed some erroneously. I say that is because there is no jurisdiction in the country willing to spend the money to prove that they did something do horrible.
WHEN TO FORGIVE (posted 12/16/07)
MOVIE: “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”. Holocaust survivor Eva Kor recounts her journey of forgiveness for the
Nazis who murdered members of her family. A very compelling, thought-provoking movie.
-The word forgiveness is, I think, misused in this context. Ms. Kor has made a very personal decision to get beyond her hatred for the Nazis and get on with her life. It is very important for any crime victim to do this, else they continue to allow their animus toward the perp to dominate them and thus, the perp wins again—and again!
-But forgiveness is but a part of the process of HEALING, something that must occur and which should be encouraged by our Criminal Justice System (CJS) to ensure that society, as well as its victims and perps alike, return to a state of wholeness. It must always begin with the perp feeling (and expressing) REMORSE. Then the victim can, at his/her discretion (the victim should NEVER be coerced into doing this), forgive the perp. Healing can then – and only then –begin. Otherwise, we become a society of walking wounded, nursing wounds that will never heal. Is that possibly why we experience more violence than other industrialized societies?
HOW TO SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY (posted 12/08/07)
There are any number of ways, but Bushie’s “privatization” ain’t one of them
-Benefits should be indexed to life expectancy(& the retirement age adjusted accordingly)
-Deduct Soc. Sec. tax from ALL income
-Invest the proceeds in gov’t-protected securities or some other way (Lockbox) to protect the fund ,
i.e., keep the Fed’s, hands off the surplus
WHAT TO DO ABOUT MEDICARE (posted 12/01/07)
We shouldn’t be considering fixes to this system by itself, as it is all part of the American system of Health care which is so badly in need of repair.
– We insist on compartmentalizing the system—SCHIP for kids. Medicaid for the poor, Medicare for the elderly, etc. When are we gonna wake up? We need to make a sea-change in the way we deliver health care and it won’t ever happen if we continue to take this utterly non-sensical incremental approach to health care (see my entry of 12/23/07 for my prescription for America’s HEALTH CARE crisis).
THE MEANING OF “PRO-LIFE” (posted 11/22/07)
I respect anyone who values human life. I differ with folks who are against abortion and am ardently pro-choice—I look at it as a matter of protecting the life and well-being of the mother. But I respect their view and their right to be heard in the marketplace of ideas.
I am also very much in favor of federally-funded EMBRYONIC stem cell research inasmuch as I see no substantive connection between an embryo and the real life that I value and treasure.
What concerns me are the inconsistencies I see in a great many supposedly pro-life people – here in the south particularly – in their specific views on the subject. A great many of the people I know who claim to be pro-life are 1) in favor of the death penalty, 2) support the war in Iraq, 3) support the NRA’s utterly insane insistence on every American’s totally free and unfettered right to own guns all the while ignoring the reality that guns in the wrong hands account for two-thirds to three quarters of the abysmally high homicide rate in this country.
The great mass of “imagined” pro-lifers also refuse to get involved in– or for that matter refuse to even show concern about – such devastating and disgraceful issues like INFANT MORTALITY here in the USA. We have very nearly the WORST record in the industrialized world on this issue, but to today’s RIGHT-TO-LIFERS, abortion is the only issue that they want to wrap their arms around.
THE GUN ISSUE (posted 11/16/07)
We routinely tolerate the wanton slaughter of 15-20,000 human being each year –EVERY Year – in this country. Why this would not have everyone clamoring for sensible gun-control laws is beyond me. We have declared war on international terrorism but somehow won’t do anything about the MUCH-GREATER threat from DOMESTIC terrorists. This is mystifying to say the least. It seems to me that we ought to regulate guns the way we regulate cars—you have to register it and have a license to use it. And any transfer of the item should necessitate a re-registration and a re-licensing obligation for the new owner. We have a right to expect responsible use of what is basically a dangerous commodity and we should empower the government to enforce reasonable standards of gun ownership.
The crime issue will of course not go away with the enactment of sensible gun control laws. There is a deeper problem that needs to be dealt with. The perp in the VA Tech case would very likely have resorted to other – more destructive—means to achieve his ends were he denied the right acquire a gun. We need to CARE enough about troubled human beings to respond to their needs ahead of the point at which they become so disaffected with society that they see no alternative but to resort to violence.
FAUX PIETY (Posted 11/13/07)
Gov. Sonny Perdue (only in Georgia can a state governor be called “Sonny”) has scheduled a gathering at the Capitol to pray for rain.
Wow! Bet that’ll help!!!
Why is it that the religious right seems to pray only when they want something—for themselves. Wonder if the creator on high might just be savvy enough to see through such self-serving motives?
Wonder also if the Guv might consider petitioning the Almighty for guidance on a higher, more noble purpose—i.e., to help us become better stewards of the environment/earth we have been entrusted with by our Creator. That just might eliminate the kind of crisis we now find ourselves in.