Archive for July 24th, 2009

What IS that new health care system that we are arguing about?

| July 24, 2009 | 9 Replies
What IS that new health care system that we are arguing about?

I’ve been wondering about this for months. What IS the new health care system that we are arguing about? How can I know if I’m for it or against it until I know what it is? That was one of the topics Bill Moyers discussed with his guests, Trudy Lieberman, director of the health and medical reporting program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Marcia Angell, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.

TRUDY LIEBERMAN: [Barack Obama] has essentially advocated is throwing more money into the current system. He’s treating the symptom and he’s not treating the underlying cause of our problem. Our problem is that we spend two and a half times as much per person on health care as other advanced countries, the average of other advanced countries. And we don’t get our money’s worth. So, now he says, okay, this is a terribly inefficient, wasteful system. Let’s throw some money into it . . . Into the same system. That’s his problem. The other problem, in the press conference, was that he was trying to mobilize public support for a bill, and we don’t know what that bill is.

Here’s a big problem with the current system:

MARCIA ANGELL: Well, that goes to the cause of the problem. We are the only advanced country in the world that has chosen to leave health care to the tender mercies of a panoply of for-profit businesses, whose purpose is to maximize income and not to provide health. And that’s exactly what they do.

Angell then strongly states that the system that Obama is apparently pushing doesn’t change this sad situation, even though 2/3 of Americans prefer the Canadian-style single payor system.

Is Obama going to change health care for the better? Angell says she’s not optimistic:

But what I would say this time around, and now I am going to be very pessimistic, Bill. This time around, I don’t think it’s going to happen because of the power the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies. I don’t think it’s going to happen. But I would rather see Obama go down fighting for something coherent and practical that the public could mobilize behind, than go down fighting for this amorphous plan that tries to keep these private insurance industry in place . . . Well, he will have to fight . . . I think he’ll go down. I don’t think he’s grasped the nettle. And I don’t think that even the best of the proposals that he is considering are going to be effective. And I worry about even the public option, because the power of the insurance industry is so great that I believe that they would use their clout in Congress to hobble the public option in some way.

What’s the only solution? Angell says it forcefully:

I think we have to go for a single payer system. You could institute that gradually. You could do it state by state. You could do it decade by decade. You could improve Medicare. That is, make it nonprofit. But extend it down to age 55 and age 45 and age 35. It would give the private insurance industry a chance to go into hurricanes, earthquakes or something. To get out of the health business. It could be done gradually. I think that has to be done. And it’s the only thing that can be done.

As always, Bill Moyers and his guests give you details and arguments that you won’t find in most news sources.

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U.S. visitor to Cuba begs to be arrested, but no dice

| July 24, 2009 | Reply
U.S. visitor to Cuba begs to be arrested, but no dice

This from MSNBC:

A U.S. citizen trying to challenge the ban on travel to Cuba on Friday bemoaned his inability to get arrested or cited — even after having his passport stamped in Havana and bringing back Cuban memorabilia.

And why is it, again, that we have an official ban on travel to Cuba? Are we afraid that we’ll be attacked by Cuba? I know that we’re edging toward easing up on that travel, but why not just get rid of the ban.

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This is why I don’t enjoy the though of going to city council meetings

| July 24, 2009 | 1 Reply
This is why I don’t enjoy the though of going to city council meetings

Have you ever gone to a local government meeting where citizen input was invited and it made you wonder about whether democracies are good ideas? As I watched this woman’s speech (to the Santa Cruz California City Council) on Reddit.com, I wondered whether it would ever occurred to her that she’d be more effective if she had command of any facts or if she performed a coherent analysis before standing up and talking.

I don’t mean to pick on her too harshly. She seems sincere. This does remind me of many government meetings where ill-informed citizens dominate. This is the price to pay, though, if you want to give well-informed citizens a chance to talk too.

These are only excerpts from the woman’s full speech. Therefore, this a very patient city council, indeed.

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To Read Or Not To Read, And Yet to Write—‘Tis A Conundrum Devoutly To Be Solved

| July 24, 2009 | 3 Replies
To Read Or Not To Read, And Yet to Write—‘Tis A Conundrum Devoutly To Be Solved

I’ve heard of this phenomenon, but never before encountered it directly. Excuse me, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the utter vapidity of this…

I have a MySpace page. Admittedly, I pay less attention to it these days in lieu of my Facebook page (all these Pages…for such a functional Luddite, it amazes me I navigate these strange seas), but I do check it at least once a week. I post a short blog there. And I collect Friend Requests.

I received such a request the other day from someone whose name I will not use. Unless it’s from someone or something I recognize, I go to the requester’s page to check them out. Saves on a small amount of embarrassment. This person had a legit page. Aspiring writer. Claimed to be working on several short stories and a novel. Great. I’m all about supporting other writers. Sometimes we’re all we’ve got. But I scrolled down to the section where he lists his interests and find under BOOKS this:

I actually don’t read to much but I do like a few. Twilight, Harry Potter, Impulse, Dead on Town Line, etc.

I sat back and stared at that and the question ran through my head like a neon billboard, “How does that work? Just how the hell do you want to be a writer and not like to read?”

So I sent this person a message and asked. I told him that to be a writer you have to love words, love stories…

Well, here’s the exchange, sans names:

Okay, you sent me a friend request, so I looked at your profile. It says you want to be a writer, but then under Books you say you don’t read much.

How does that work? You want to be a writer you have to love words, you have to love stories, you have to love it on the page, and that means reading A LOT.

You might just blow this off, but don’t. If you really want to be a writer, you must read. That’s where you learn your craft, sure, but more importantly that’s where you nurture the love of what you say you want to do.

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