Sunday, November 08, 2009

Congress, give us healthcare!!

Personal stories of medical tragedies from Canada and the U.K. have circulated in the heat of the healthcare reform debate, along with myths and outright propaganda (e.g. Republican Chuck Grassley claiming that Ted Kennedy would have been left untreated, to die in the U.K.; Sarah Palin and death panels). Unfortunately, doctors in all parts of the world are not perfect. Iatrogenic disease (disease caused by medical [mal]treatment) is all too commonplace in all healthcare systems and will remain so at least until personalized medicine—a focus on each individual patient’s background and presentation—takes hold. For example, the Institute of Medicine has estimated that as many as 1.5 million people in the United States experience preventable medication errors, such as wrong diagnoses, bad treatment choices, wrong dosages, etc. that lead to negative consequences, including death. Hence, there are plenty of personal horror stories out there of mistreatment in medicine. Still, there is no excuse for a first world nation adopting continuing blanket policies that abandon the food or healthcare needs of its own citizens. That is not the same level of negligence as isolated case stories of bad medicine.

And indeed, the United States does not measure up in the statistics. Overall, the US is listed as 37th in healthcare, behind the United Kingdom (18th) according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the leading international health coalition. Ranking according to life expectancy also puts us behind the UK (14) and Canada (12), at 24, while we are second from the top in the amount of money spent on healthcare. The assertion that we have the “best healthcare in the world” is not necessarily wrong, it just needs to be followed by “for those elite that can afford that care.” A poor or middle class citizen would fare better in a socialized country, where the common man is given regular treatment and preventative care. The British have a system with an option to pay for additional insurance that offers further care benefits, beyond the basic public level that insures people no matter how rich or poor—all British citizens have the right to health care. In stark contrast, the current American system is hallmarked by refusal of insurance, and hence, care, especially for those with chronic conditions who have “preconditions". With regular checkups and good preventative care, the development of disease is identified and halted at an earlier stage, potentially leading to a longer life.

Inherently, the premise of the American system is wrong. The main goal of the insurance industry is profit; hence they endeavor to serve only the healthy in order to maximize their earnings. Thereby this allows the top insurance companies to pocket billions of dollars in profit, making them the most profitable industry in all of America in 2006. Instead, the health care system should be a service industry, focused on the well-being of the citizens of America, enabling us to be more productive and better contributors to our society. Oh, to live in a country where upon arriving to the hospital, the doctor’s first question is, “Where are you injured?” instead of, “What is your health insurance coverage?”

A call to inquire about the stance of our Congressional representatives, Senator Schumer and Representative Lee landed me in a discussion with an employee for the latter regarding why he was voting against including a public option. “The government should not be involved in healthcare” was quickly discounted as it was noted that the government already handles the healthcare for older adults (Medicare), veterans, and disabled Americans (Medicaid). The phone lackey then quickly retorted that the public option would be a financial loss to the US government (i.e. taxpayers) as, for example, Strong serves the Medicare population and operates at a loss to the tune of 7 cents out of a dollar. Inarguable facts, however, the populations in question are groups of individuals that require more healthcare than any other group: the elderly, veterans, and disabled. The public option would serve the rest of us, many of whom are healthy, thereby not requiring the same level of care, or on other words, the same expenditures.

The leading body of physicians in the United States, the American Medical Association, as well as others (e.g. The American Association of Emergency Medicine and AARP) support a public option for health insurance, as do the majority of American people. Congress, who do you think you are representing? Health insurance companies? I have never seen one of them at the polls in November.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


While words like socialism and nationalization (and even the C word!) get bandied around in accusatory tones, it occurs to me that Bush and his cronies got off the chopping block way too easy. I am not sure why developing a few socialized principles into reality, like making sure that the more than 40 million Americans who are over 65 years get health care (our frail parents, mind you!) gets lashed with so many negative responses. Does it occur to the naysayers that they will age, and indeed are doing so at this very moment? Are they so unwise to think they would never be in such a position when they are old, where health insurance becomes an extra instead of an essential? I'm sure our elderly did not conceive that this could happen to them either.

In contrast, the NY Times published an article yesterday detailing some of the executive privileges that the Bush administration took over the last six years (post 9/11). During this time, they took, "a broad interpretation of presidential authority, asserting as well that the president could unilaterally abrogate foreign treaties, ignore any guidance from Congress in dealing with detainees suspected of terrorism, and conduct a program of domestic eavesdropping without warrants." First of all, this has been presented as if it's new news. It's not. We've known about these unauthorized extensions to the executive branch for years now. What I want to know, is why there hasn't been more figure pointing, more attention, more labeling of what our government was oligarchy?...monarchy?...dictatorship?!!! Only once have I seen the mainstream media explore this path, in which, notably AFTER the 2008 presidential election, Bush administration was referred to as the "Imperial Presidency."

And meanwhile, we the people, what are we going to do about it? Step 1, change direction. Check: we've elected President Obama. Step 2: Ensure this executive exploitation of power does not happen again?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Single Mothers Rule the World

..well, at least you would think so, with the amount of credit that Ann Coulter gives them. Apparently single mothers victimize others according to recent interviews and her book chapter entitled "Victim of a crime? Thank a single mom." With that kind of blather published by Crown Publishing Group, I have gained real hope that I will become a book author, since my standards for content are incomparably higher.

Oh and another excellent supposition by the blatherer: the liberal media promotes single motherhood. Yeah, that's right, if you replace the word "promotes" with "supports"....just a BIG difference, actually. No one is ADVOCATING for more young ladies to grow up to become single mothers. Liberals don't dream up princess stories about becoming a single mom when they grow up. Rather, liberals are just practical enough to know that it happens, that it is REALITY, and they try to be supportive. What's the alternative? Is Ann Coulter promoting abortion? Or would she rather exterminate pregnant unmarried woman? What's the use in her rhetoric?

And that brings me to my next point. Her rhetoric is utterly useless. There's no solution that comes out of her blather, just as there's no wisdom either from that childless spinster. Truly, her suppositions are broad generalizations, and as always generalizations are false in many case and point examples. For example, she is blonde and skinny, so applying her (lack of) thinking approach, I would have to assume that she is a dumb, bulimic, bimbo, who can't drive.

Ooooo, I just slammed women and why do that; I'm female? Just another example illustrating why part of the reason the whole attack by Ann Coulter seems so hurtful, is because it seems that she's targeting her own. But really, considering what a venomous bitch she is, I guess she hasn't; she hasn't uttered a single hurtful sling at female snakes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Recently, in a social network conversation, I was told that my response was "scripted" and "liberal". I found myself plummeted back into the recent memories of the Republican propaganda machine, where good qualities were magically transformed into questionable traits. In this special take on the world, excellence in discourse is deemed "talking above the American public" and even meanness, and responses like "You Betcha" and winking is considered real American language. I guess a portion of the American public believes that international diplomacy is better done with being nice and showing a little leg? I can see that going over well in a visit to Parliament. Expertise, and heaven forbid, an advanced qualification is considered elitist in this crazy world. I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, as the US Census Bureau data for 2007 indicates that 2,496,000 Americans have doctoral degrees. Doctoral programs are very accessible to the middle class, and entrance and completion of a PhD are primarily based on hard work and commitment, NOT connections-as is implied by "elitist" (unless we start talking about the Ivy League.)

Still, should having spent at least an estimated 20,000 hours devoted towards the study of one focused topic deem you more knowledgeable than the average person and worthy of being listened to on your studied topic? Probably. In fact, it may even be considered wise to listen the thoughts of a person who has devoted their life towards the pursuit of knowledge (often without reasonable compensation, and thus, no other motivation than "to know"), of course, concerning their area of expertise. It will always disturb me to ponder how well respected the opinions of celebrities are: people who have risen to their status based primarily upon looks, connections, and acting/singing talent. I would hazard a guess that none of those qualities make celebrities any better able to logically think, weigh out risks and benefits, analyze data, manage a business, or apply both detail-driven and global perspective to decision making.

So right. Scripted. Someone told me what to say or even better, I just copied it from the internet? Wrong. How about, my answer was well thought-out and well-written, thank you very much.