Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is This The Cure For Health Care in America?

Oh Health Care Debate, is there anything you can't do? You stir up patriotic and religious fervor, you help the public and the elected communicate and/or curse each other face to face, you show off how brilliant and how dim we can be, you shape the nation's economic and physical health, you cause our imaginations to sparkle with dazzling illusions of nightmares or lush dreamscapes of unicorns and rainbows, you take the money from so many and disperse it to so many more as you loom large above us like a fierce king bestowing boons and banes to the worthy and unworthy. Oh Health Care Debate, how can we hate you?

Oh Health Care Debate - where do we go from here?

Last night President Obama pointed out some pointed facts which tend to blunt most of the current back and forth howls heard in the public squares (which now also exist as binary code). Such as the fact that he asked 5 committees to draft legislation and so far 4 have complied and another will soon. So there is no one bill, no one plan, at this point which is being scrutinized and none of them, not one, has been made law by Congress.

I do like it when Obama calls out his critics - "
I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now."

Much of the key issues being promoted seem quite valuable to me: no exclusions from insurance because of pre-existing conditions, no elimination or dilution of insurance due to illness; no caps on coverage while yet creating a limit on out-of-pocket expenses of the sick.

But what I hear from all of these current proposals are reforms for insurance itself and not really for reforming Health Care itself. I suppose I am part of a small minority of folks because it seems to me the best way to approach the problems are to re-invent the way we see Health Care: I do not think such care should be operated as a for-profit business. But I know such an idea is far, far away from what most people think.

And I did not like hearing from Obama that he thinks Americans should be required to carry health insurance - "
... individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. " Although he immediately added in something I do think is worth considering - "There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements."

And here is something from the speech which sounds quite good:

"Now, if you're one of the tens of millions of Americans who don't currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we've given ourselves. ... "But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don't have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up."

I suppose I would fall into that 5% crowd.

Maybe the result of all this debate and proposed legislation will be that health insurance costs will be more affordable for more people, that some of the fraud will be ended, and that we'll start to see health care in a different way. Maybe. If that does happen, then maybe we can actually begin work on changing Health Care from a for-profit business to an inexpensive system anyone can access at any time without worry of going broke or being turned away. Of course, maybe I just need treatment for my own delusions.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Beatles For Sale and I'm A Loser

Plenty of publicity surrounds the release today of a new music-based video game and a new digital remastering of all the Beatles albums, and publicity (and lots of it) has been a constant for the Band Heard 'Round the World since they launched their careers.

I don't know if I'll ever play the video game based on The Beatles, though the game controller set made to look like their actual guitars, bass and drums sure look tempting.

So yeah, I'm way past 40 years of age, pining for the new CDs of albums from the early to late 1960s. Of course that also means I was one of millions of people who would actually be there waiting when new albums from The Beatles were released and that was a stunning time to live my friends. Stunning. Their music seemed to take light-year leaps and the mood they set surely changed the world.

I was about 6 years old when I sat and listened to my first full Beatles album (the hysteria of their arrival in the U.S. in 1963 was already a legend in my home by then) and while it was not the first of their music I heard, it was the first time I sat down and just listened. What I heard made me a True Believer and I've been a fan ever since.

The album was called "Beatles VI" here in the U.S. but was called "Beatles For Sale" when the U.K. version hit the shelves and had more songs too -- I did not get to hear that full version until I was around 13 or 14 thanks to some audiophile friends who had gotten their hands on the UK import.

That album - as I learned over the years - was really a major point in their music, showing where they came from, as they covered songs by Chuck Berry ("Rock and Roll Music"), Carl Perkins ("Honey Don't) and Buddy Holly ("Words of Love") and other already iconic rockers and the album also had their own new take on rock music and pointed the way they were going in both style and substance with plenty of wit and romanticism for the last half of the 20th century.

The first three songs were the same on both releases and it was those three which blew my tiny mind (and one of the many cover songs on the album, "Mr. Moonlight", which has John Lennon howling away). Thanks to Grooveshark, I can share those songs with you -- and now I am going to the store and buy (yes, pay actual cash money) a couple of newly remastered Beatles CDs.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

You're Making the Mothers In America Angry

I noticed another truck here in East Tennessee this past weekend with the bumper sticker which reads "TN is for Jesus Not Obama". Funny thing though - that's never been a choice anyone I know (or don't know) has ever been given. Ever.

The rising (and highly publicized) anger of some Americans about President Obama has been both shrill and more than a little manic - I'm sensing a lot of fear and paranoia but fear of what exactly? The dissent bellows back the reply: "EVERYTHING!!"

Here's one huge, giant change I've noticed since President Obama has taken office: people who voice loud and angry dissent are not silenced, are not forced to stay inside designated fenced-in "freedom zones", and are even allowed to carry guns to their protests. That's a massive change from the previous eight years, when even sporting a shirt or bumper sticker could get the Secret Service crawling all over you.

I'm betting that's what really has some people terrified - they are being given enormous opportunity to offer their viewpoints but very few Americans are buying it. It's being told you're obsolete and that's always a bitter slab of American pie to swallow.

The last week saw the hysteria emerge anew as Conservative leaders and others of dubious intent whipped up some media frenzy over a speech President Obama was offering to kids in school. That may have been a huge mistake because now the Mothers in America are questioning the source of such hysteria and they're pretty mad about what they have learned. Here's two from East Tennessee:

Yep, according to Uncle C, all good Christian Americans will reject Obama’s attempt to indoctrinate America’s youth to socialist ideas (you know, ideas such as education is important, stay in school, be responsible, work hard and other pervasively evil, similarly socialist shit like that) by declaring Tuesday “National Keep Your Child Home from School Day.”

In Hawkins County, this will be followed by “Steve, the Republican Attendance Supervisor, Hauls Your Sorry Ass To Truancy Court Day.”

You know, America, I’ve been quiet about a great many things that have occurred in this country since Obama was elected. I guess I’ve been a little dumbstruck by this highly publicized war between the radical factions, by the polarization of the American people, by the resurgence of racism which is poorly disguised as political opposition, by the complete lack of intelligent discussion, mutual respect or common decency and the easy acceptance of the deceitful propaganda, which has taken it’s place – all things which should be insulting to any free-thinking intelligent person, regardless of party, but isn’t or doesn’t seem to be.

Literally. Dumbstruck.

I cannot count the number of times over the past few months that the behavior of the people around me or comments made by those closest to me have been so outrageously stupid, so painfully offensive or were delivered with such a wild-eyed fervor (the type which is normally reserved for snake handling or healing in the name of Jesus) that I cannot find the words to combat it.


"But this controversy isn’t about Obama’s remarks or his method of delivery, is it? It’s about Obama, period – and the message you’re sending, I think, is quite simple: OH MY GOD, it’s a scary liberal BLACK guy with a foriegn-soundin’ name – RUN for your LIVES! BEFORE HE DEVOURS YOUR CHILDREN!”

Well, I’m tired of hearing that message. I’m tired of feeling defeated by dumbasses. I’m tired of remaining silent while radicals cry wolf. I’m tired of the media making those idiots spokespersons for us all – and I’m reeeaaallly tired of Republican leadership allowing the moderates, independents and people with half-a-brain to be shoved to the left of the center because that’s the only place where they feel safe from the crazies, the Klan and the state party chairpeople. Don’t believe me? Keep promoting yourself as the party of Grand Wizards and even grander fruitcakes, see how far it gets you."

That's from DeMarCaTionVille

And from Southern Female Lawyer:

I am sorry, but there is NO WAY that this sort of crap is not at least partially race-based. Where was this fear and rage before? From now on I am calling it like I see it. Gloves off.

These are people who are afraid that they are losing their white christian hetero male advantage. They see a black President. They see hispanic folks at their grocery stores. They see gay couples on t.v. They see women in roles of power. In other words, they see change is coming and that there is NOTHING they can do to stop it. But that isn’t going to keep them from letting the wealthy and corporate interests use their fear and manipulate them. That won’t stop them screaming about ‘healthcare’ or ‘taxes’ or ‘constitution.’ Two of which have always favored the white and the wealthy. But you know what? The Constitution favors NO ONE above anyone else. We are ALL entitled to its protections. So suck it up people. You had your chance.

Change is here."

She also has another post you might like to read here.

Oh, and that speech which the President made today had some pretty basic and concrete typically Conservative components: Individual responsibility, setting goals, deciding to be your own boss.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide."

Full text here.