The Healthcare Post

August 26, 2009

Healthcare.  The debate that has been raging in our country for well over a decade, when Hillary Clinton lost her push for universal healthcare during her husbands presidency.  Like so many conversations we have, this one hasn’t really changed.

It’s seems to center around several points:

  1. Should we, or should we not, ensure that every American receives health care?
  2. If yes, then should we, or should we not, ensure that every American has health insurance?
  3. If yes, then should it be payed for through taxation or through private corporations?
It really does feel like this...

It really does feel like this...

I have a feeling – at least locally – that we all want every American to get the medical care they need.  Furthermore, we all know that health insurance – the way it’s currently being run – is getting more expensive much faster than we can keep paying for it.  (It’s killing pension funds and certainly seems like the industry to be in.)

So the debate keeps raging.  Who will pay for it?  How will we pay for it?  There’s a lot of money to be made – or lost – and a lot of interests who want to keep it from changing.  This makes reform difficult, even before we start adding fear into the conversation.

I really despise politics of fear.  So it goes with the “death panels“, where fear, uncertainty, and doubt are thrown around in an attempt to muddle the debate and convince uninformed voters that change is bad and the government is trying to kill them.

I believe that you’ll never go wrong assuming that someone will act in his or her own best interests.

With that said, I don’t see it being in anybody’s best interest to kill me.  I do see it, however, as being the best interests of a lot of other parties to keep me near death.  Treatment is expensive and profitable, and the more treatment that can be provided (to me or to others) the more money there is to be made.  An ounce of prevention might be worth a pound of cure, but there’s much more money to be made in treatment than preventative medicine. 

So is it in my best interest to be beholden to private insurance companies to ensure that I get the care I need?  I’m almost certain that it’s not.  And with that revelation, I leave it as an excercise for the reader to determine how to fix this problem.


The Winning Team

May 6, 2009

“When I heard Specter switched parties, I thought he became a Republican.” – attributed to Jason Roe, GOP strategist.

I have long been an admirer of Arlen Specter, the senior senator from Pennsylvania. He and Patrick Leahy, both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are among my favorite senators. They both seem reasonably moderate, very intelligent, and I could listen to them both speak for hours. 90% of the time, they seem to “get it”, which is more than I can say for the rest of Congress.

Recently, Specter announced that he was joining the Democratic party, because, as he put it, he “felt the Republican Party had moved too far to the right”. Some say he didn’t think he could be re-elected as a Republican; I think he made the right decision. The Republican brand has been so weakened and damaged over the past eight years that anybody who’s left in the Republican party (no pun intended!) leans far more politically to the right than they used to. Would they elect someone like Arlen Specter?

In many ways I disagree with our highly dichotomous system of party affiliation. It seems that – in Washington D.C. – you’re either a Republican or you’re a Democrat. There’s no label for “moderate” or “centrist”. I know that, as the political winds shift, my personal label might change despite my views staying roughly the same, so I can certainly identify with his perspective.

There are concerns that he’s providing the Democrats with a 60-vote unblockable majority. I’m less worried about that. I don’t think he’s a party-line voter, and, when push comes to shove, I don’t think he’d vote with the bloc on important issues if he disagreed with them. (Still, I dislike any party having that many votes.)

In summary, I’m not sure this is really going to change anything; but I do think it’s interesting to watch.

Feeling stimulated

February 13, 2009

It would appear that H.R. 1 has passed both the House and Senate and is being ironed out before being presented to the President. (Note to New Hampshire residents: I’m not sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of Judd Gregg. He didn’t vote. Also a note to Minnesota residents: You might want to elect a senator at some point soon. It seems important.)

What is H.R. 1? Why, it’s the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”, an attempt to deficit spend $850-ish billion dollars in a way that will “stimulate” the economy.

I’m not sure this is a good idea. A little bit of debt is good for the soul. But with a GDP of $13.84 trillion, is having a national debt of over $10 trillion such a good idea? (And it’ll be over $11 trillion by the time H.R. 1 gets signed into law.) I mean, having a mortgage is one thing, but this is almost like having credit card debt that equals your entire yearly pay. (More, in fact!)

So while I’m sure there are provisions in the stimulus that effect me, I’m not sure that saying “figure this out” to the people causing the problems wouldn’t be a better idea.

And it begins…

January 20, 2009

Moments ago, our 44th president was sworn in.

Good speech. The president – “we the people”. Acknowledging the difficulties ahead, understanding the problems we’ve been having. Yet bringing hope. Our challenges “will be met”, and it won’t be someone else’s problem. We have to do it ourselves.

God, I hope this works.


January 20, 2009

Today is technically inauguration day. Though it’s just after midnight and our new president will be sworn in in just over 8 hours in a tremendous celebration of hope and history.

I know that I, for one, am eager to see what will happen to our nation. I’m optimistic. I’m also worried. There’s talk of another stimulus payment, which did so much last time. Can we really keep borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today? It doesn’t seem to have historically worked out so well.

So I enter the next four years cautiously, hoping the political pendulum doesn’t swing too far the other way. We’ll see, won’t we?

Assembling a cabinet

December 3, 2008

Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he’d filled several positions in his cabinet. The two most interesting thus far are Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Robert Gates for Secretary of Defense.

Soon-to-be-President Obama outlined early on his plans for a “team of rivals“, a modern-day interpretation of Lincoln’s attempt to fill his cabinet with his political rivals.

I’ve read several commentaries about his picks, but I can say that I like that he’s surrounding himself with competing ideas. Several reports show that the Bush Administration has fallen victim to “groupthink” several times (most notably in the decision to invade Iraq); this seems unlikely to happen in a cabinet filled with such vastly different people and competing viewpoints. It seems like ideas will be more challenged in this administration, and perhaps better plans will emerge.

Of course, I believe all these positions require Senate confirmation. I don’t think that would be much of an issue, however, as the Democrats now have 59 seats in the Senate; enough to do almost anything except the most objectionable. (They can’t kill a filibuster, thank goodness.) With 59 seats of the President’s party, Senate confirmations should be a breeze.

I’ll be interested in seeing the direction this takes. Some worry that it could be disastrous to have a cabinet filled with such competing interests; the worry is that the President will be undermined by his rivals’ politics. I think – for the first couple years, at least – he’ll be fine. We’ll see.

Old Pres, New Pres, Red Pres, Blue Pres

November 10, 2008

I heard on NPR this morning about Obama and Dubya’s very first meeting on the White House grounds regarding the impending transition. The men, according to NPR’s usually stellar reporters, were going to camp out in the Oval Office and talk about Very Important Things™ while Laura (Bush) gave Michelle (Obama) a tour of the “living quarters”.

I’ve been very enthused thus far regarding Michelle Obama’s demeanor and actions. She’s strong-willed yet supportive, upstanding yet not abrasive, and as we’ve been reminded of countless times, the first African-American First Lady. I’m ready to see a President be directly supported by a life partner, not just supplemented.

Yet here we are back again, the men smoking cigars and the women tending the house on a national scale. But at least it’s nice to know that the parties are making happy, right?


How cute...they match.