Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I'm taking a break from helping prepare for Thanksgiving. We will have 12 people today and 16 on Friday (our traditional left-over get-together with friends). We listened to Alice's Restaurant at noon....I wonder how widespread this tradition is. I decided to youtube "Arlo Guthrie Alice's Restaurant", and here's one for your viewing and listening pleasure

Of course, as often happens when I get clips from thing led to another, and I was looking at all kinds of related videos. With Arlo Guthrie came clips of "This Land is Your Land". That song feels very American and reminds me of Thanksgiving

Here's a young Arlo Guthrie with Pete Seeger

Here's something a bit later

Then I longed for the Bruce Springsteen version....which I suspect may show up at either the inauguration or at the Super Bowl

Then I found this one....Peter, Paul & Mary "If I Had a Hammer" very cool

I am thankful for anyone and everyone who reads my blog,
and thankful to live in this great country, where we collectively did the right thing, and thankful we had the opportunity to do it, and we did it, and
thankful to be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Happy Holiday to all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Two Wacky Ideas

I would pontificate about GM and Chapter 11, but much smarter people are already doing that. My brief take on way they are getting bailed out with this Congress and President, they should be forced into Chapter 11 with government financing on the reorganization. Resisting the bail out pressure will put President Obama to the test.

Sometimes it seems like the whole economy should file for Chapter 11.

Things have gotten so complicated that I am reluctant to contact President-Elect Obama about my two BIG ideas. These are things I have been thinking about for a few years. Maybe I am not the only one who has thought of these things, but for once, I have not googled them because I want to feel like I thought of them. I want to develop them. I want these ideas to be put into action because I know they will work, despite their apparent oddness. I might even let some think-tanks tinker with them, maybe perfect some of the fine points. There may be some possible flaws in these ideas, but I can assure you, they are misguided and can be addressed to the satisfaction of any clear thinking person. are the two ideas.....................

1. A cashless economy. I am proposing that we eliminate all cash money except one dollar bills and quarters. All transactions, and I mean ALL transactions, should be on credit/debit cards. I want everything in the economy accounted for and verified. No cash payments for anything. Nobody working illegally, nobody getting paid off the books, nobody skipping out on their taxes. I am proposing that EVERY single person pay ALL of the income taxes (and mandatory health insurance premiums) that they are supposed to, and I CHALLENGE anyone to show me how this will not substantially lower the tax and insurance burden on us all. I mean, you could probably balance the entire Federal budget just on proper taxation of restaurant owners and waiters.
The technology certainly exists to do this. A card for every legal American (oh, and I would grandfather in everyone who's already here, except criminals and people under age 65 who cannot speak English after a two year grace period...but that's another story), which will be security protected for each individual. ALL your transactions are on there....when it's time to file your tax return you just swipe your card and you know where you stand. When you get paid at work, your check is direct deposited. When you need "money" you can swipe your card at an "ATM" and get your dough on your card.
Oh, and don't tell me you don't want "big brother" watching you. I have no problem with Big Brother "watching" long as he is watching EVERYBODY. This is not about anybody watching anybody else. It's about making things FAIR. 'Cuz you know which part of our economy really needs Chapter 11'ing? All the stuff that's just plain not fair. All the things that really irk fair minded people from all perspectives. I don't like that my taxes are so high, and my crappy business owner health insurance is insanely expensive, but what irks me the most is that if everybody paid, these things would cost less.

My other idea is in the "foreign policy" area. I won't elaborate on it. I will just throw it out there for some thought. I personally think it would work, and would ultimately make the world a better place. Please think about.........

2. Israel as the 51st State.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Essence of "HEALTH" Insurance

Yesterday I visited my cardiologist for a regularly scheduled exam. It was thankfully uneventful, and since I was her last patient of the day, I was comfortable making some political/medical chit-chat. This was prompted by our review of my ever changing meds, which change not because my health changes, but because my carrier regularly switches presciption plans in an ongoing effort to save (their) money (undoubtedly at the expense of MY health and convenience).

I asked her what direction she thought Obama and the Democrats would take health care. I must admit, I expected her to talk about the dangers of "socialized medicine", so before she answered I threw in a preliminary "what we have been doing is not working".

She said, "You know which health insurer I find the best to work with, as a doctor?"
I said, "No, which one?"
"Medicare", she replied.

"How could that be?"
She answered, "Basically, they have a fee schedule and it is what it is. When we submit a claim, it seems to me they process it and pay it, efficiently. They seem to have very little waste, and studies have shown this is true. They are not being run "for profit", so they don't nickel and dime the doctors, and force that game where you put in high claims knowing they are going to be knocked down. It also burns me up when I see a retired doctor sitting as chair of Aetna, making $12 million a year. There's something wrong with that."

Wow! I asked if she thought nationalized health service would work, and whether quality of care would suffer. She did not favor nationalizing it, but said she felt strongly that McCain's talk about "the private marketplace" were the wrong way to go.

After I left, I could not stop thinking about this.

What really bothers me is the feeling that health insurance has nothing to do with health. It's strictly business. Do you ever feel they would "err on the side of caution" and approve something? Without a fight?
Would premiums ever, EVER go down? Even if profits went up?
Have you ever looked at the game that goes on between doctors and insurers? The one where various bills are submitted for say.....$4300, and the doctors are paid $382.....when you know you had high level tests and were attended to by at least six highly trained, caring, competent health care professionals?
Should health insurance be adversarial? Damn, it always is.

I'm usually not big on conspiracy theories, but I sense that these problems do not only rest with the health insurers. Am I the only one who thinks there is something fundamentally wrong with our "pharmaceutical" system? Well, it has something in common with the insurance industry....a profit based system based on OUR health.

Gee, I feel like half a socialist having said that. Let me go one step further....Would anyone argue that food and nutrition have at least SOME effect on health? The disrespect of the nation's health by our food purveyors is another example of profit and health not mixing.

Uh - how about cigarettes? Yeah, that too....profit and health not mixing. BTW, many are aware (and many are not) that President-Elect Obama has struggled with cigarette addiction for many years. I'd love to see him kick it for good and take a real stand against the industry. It's hard to imagine he didn't smoke during the campaign

In one of the debates Obama spoke in some detail about healthcare, concluding with "prevention". He is so right about this, but he will be fighting strong entrenched power. When the time comes, this issue can be taken in the right direction, and it will not come from the government, though they can lead, it will come from all of us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Top 10 Memorable Events....Where Will This Rank?

I was going to post a "post-election wrap-up", but so many smart people have already said and written so much, I'll keep mine brief. I especially enjoyed Frank Rich's column in The Sunday Times .

I can't resist a few quick observations....

I thought the choice was a "no-brainer", and was horrified by the possibility of racial stupidity actually deciding it. Thankfully, we did a collective "Do The Right Thing". As an aside, if you have never seen "Do the Right Thing" rent it!! It was groundbreaking because not only did it show white racism from a black perspective, it also courageously questioned many values in the black community.

Obama has incredible energy and stamina. Looks like he took a day off and is ready to get started.

I think Obama will bring in great people. Rahm Emanuel is just a start. If you don't know much about him, check this out

As an adjunct to dealing with the economy, I think immigration will be an early prominent issue. We're gonna need more taxpayers and more participants in universal health care!!

Look for "family values" to return to national discussion. When Obama talks about it, it will have an impact. One of the best things he said during the debates was that "Parents have to take responsibility for education and turn off the TV when necessary."

This election night strikes me as one of those all time "I remember where I was" moments. Will that last? Here's my list of top 10 memorable events (Personal events not included):

10. Mookie's gound ball going through Buckner's legs.
9. Iranian hostages freed.
8. The aftermath of Kent State....I was 13 years old and pretty "conservative". When I heard people justifying the shooting of college students, I changed my world view.
7. Watching the Watergate hearings drone on, when suddenly a Nixon aide said something about tape recordings, and thinking....WOW.
6. Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. A subway conductor announced it over the intercom.
5. John Lennon assassination.
4. Martin Luther King assassination.
3. Robert Kennedy assassination.
2. JFK assassination. I was in second grade. The teachers were crying.
1. 9/11

Obama's election may find a place on that list. How's your list? Will this election be on it?