There are two absolute reasons for fixing this country's incompetent, inefficient, and unfair medical system: cures and capitalism.
The first is the most important. Modern medicine, as practiced in this country, is about treatment not cure. The entire economic focus of our system is all about keeping patients in the system as long as possible, or until their money and insurance runs out. The last thing a hospital wants is to eject a patient from the facility with cash still untapped. As the current system becomes more stressed and over-committed to this amoral philosophy it is becoming more mercenary and greedy. The end result is that more prospective patients are wary of allowing themselves to be hospitalized for any condition, allowing treatable disease to become untreatable and creating less faith in the medical system.
Doctors, of course, have much of this to blame on themselves. Instead of showing themselves capable of healing themselves, they have demonstrated almost no capacity for self-regulation. Back at that 1950's turning point in US medical history when physicians chose to exchange being trusted, honored citizens for being rich citizens, practitioners of US-style medicine put themselves on the path to becoming poorly regarded and distrusted by much of society. Suppliers of medical devices and drugs have blazed that trail so well that it is paved and polished. Nobody but a complete fool would trust anything said by a drug company CEO about any subject more complicated than bribing a Republican Senator. Their smarmy ads are loaded with misinformation, make-believe illnesses, and the only honest information is contained in the long, scary list of side effects.
The medical system is close to a critical point in history. Genetic engineering is almost capable of absolutely curing many disabling and fatal diseases. Medical device and drug companies have vested interests in subverting these cures while society has exactly the opposite desire. For years, drug dealers have been in opposition to the best interests of society, where we are now presents a dramatic ramp-up in that conflict. At best, drug companies will pervert absolute cures into temporary respite, requiring regular treatment instead of a one-time application. More likely, the drug dealers will just repress genetic research to avoid having to deal with the possibility of cures. So, when science is nearly able to do away with disease, the medical system will prevent that from happening.
The second reason for fixing this mess is economic. The US economic system is as uninventive, unimaginative, and uninspired as it has been since the Great Depression. Our products are inferior and rarely designed or manufactured in the US. Our colleges are overstocked with business, social science, liberal arts, and basket-weaving students and professors and our engineering and science departments are staffed and attended by foreign students. The future is being manned by young people who "just want a good job," not by inventors or creative entrepreneurs. Universities are cranking out people who can manipulate investors, the tax system, and superstitions, but the people who might invent the next energy source, modernize our transportation system, or solve the major problems of the future aren't there.
Worse, much of the nation's great innovators have come from the working class and those people are desperately hanging on to crappy Home Depot jobs just for the insurance benefits. That goes not only for the inventors and grass-roots entrepreneurs but for the plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto repair technicians, and the rest of the support talent that every technical society depends upon. Nobody can afford to start a business today, unless they are deluded enough to imagine themselves and their families immune to accident or disease. 60% of US bankruptcies are due to medical expenses and many of those families were insured under our current corrupt and incompetent system before discovering how useless that overpriced insurance can be.
The best way to get America back to work is to get the medical catastrophe off of the backs of American workers. When creative, innovative people believe they can take a chance on an idea without risking the lives and security of their families, the economy will find the road to recovery. As long as Washington is more interested in protecting the interests of drug dealers and insurance hucksters, we're all screwed.
There are two absolute reasons for fixing this country's incompetent, inefficient, and unfair medical system: cures and capitalism.
Exhibiting her usual ability to see the world in a distorted perspective, she touted her crowd of 10,000 to be at least 40,000. I wonder if her quadruple vision is politically motivated, since she regularly managed to under-count Bush-era anti war protestors and still can’t manage the numbers for pro-public-option voters?
From the words of our local Loony Lady, in front of the US House of Representatives, “The American people overwhelmingly reject the government takeover of our health care. Last Friday a couple from Hawaii decided the time was so short they needed to get on a plane, come to Washington, to beg their representative to vote no — from Hawaii. What sacrifices freedom-loving Americans are making to get their government’s attention. And how big our government has gotten.
“They brought me this beautiful, precious lei and I’m reminded that the one who created this lei also created our freedom. Are we so insensible to the high cost our forbearers paid to purchase our freedom? Tonight, would we foolishly bargain those freedoms away? The American people, our forbearers, generations yet unborn are crying out to us tonight, for us to preserve their freedoms. Vote no on the government takeover of health care?”
Aaaahhh, what? Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made leis? Or did her mythical Hawaiians happen to be employed by one of those real Hawaiian patriots, HMAA (Hawaii Management Alliance Association), HMSA (Hawaii Medical Service Association), Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Summerlin Life & Health Insurance Company, United Healthcare Insurance Company, or UHA (University Health Alliance)? Pretty likely since Crazy Lady is the 21st biggest recipient (of 435 House members) of swag from the insurance industry. The health care providers aren’t nearly as impressed with her, since she is 230th on their list of graft-takers.
One of Nutty Lady’s biggest promotions is the plot to stuff Intelligent Design (sorry, Brad) into the science programs of public schools. If she really wants to do that cause some good, she should put some serious distance between Intelligent Design discussions and herself. She is one-woman evidence that that Designer wasn’t particularly intelligent. Any reasonably competent engineer would have tossed her into the factory seconds pile and stuck an alternative label on her so nobody would confuse her with the quality brand.
(Note to myself: I'm waffling between Faux News and a new one I discovered while Googling the Minnesota Nutty Lady, "ClusterFox.")
Academia likes to pretend that getting a degree isn't about employment, especially when many college graduates career-peak at Starbucks. However, University of California Santa Cruz just hit the Braindead Lottery on several counts with their ad for a Greatful Dead archivist. I realize that these are desperate times for people with degrees in alphabetizing useless stuff, but a new standard in petty uselessness has been set with the goals for this position:
"The Archivist will be part of a dynamic, collegial, and highly motivated department dedicated to building, preserving, promoting, and providing maximum access both physically and virtually to one of the Library's most exciting and unique collections, The Grateful Dead Archive (GDA). The UCSC University Library utilizes innovative approaches to allow the discovery, use, management, and sharing of information in support of research, teaching, and learning."
Now, I could be wrong about this (but I'm not), I bet you could get at least two over-degree-credentialed central California stoners for the advertised salary of $50-60,000. You could probably clean out the management staff of several Starbucks for that price. Regardless of the silly-assed goals for collecting the "works" of a pack of stoned, atonal bozos who managed to attract an even bigger collection of idle stoners who were desperate to spend mommy's money for 25 years, the credential requirement for the dude or dudette who will be packing up bongs, spent and bend needles, miles of badly recorded analog recordings, and thousands of dope-messaging t-shirts and storing them in the academically approved cardboard boxes where no one will ever want to see them again are amazing. You need a master’s degree to be able to use the alphabet? Man, talking about dumbing down the education system!
If there was ever justification for suing your alma mater for providing a trivial education at non-trivial prices, this sort of nonsense would be high on the list. By the way, good luck to Trina Cherisse Thompson in your suit against the Monroe College Office of Career Advancement. It's about time someone sued a college for academic nonsense. Like those fools who paid $750k for a prefab 3-bedroom in Riverside, the long welfare cue of folks silly enough to pay $70,000 for a bachelors (or more) in Information Technology or any number of business-related or the opposite purpose (Hi, all you liberal arts kids!) degrees is long overdue in our courts. If you can sue McDonalds for selling you hot coffee without requiring a sippy cup for the retarded (who are in the driver's seat in the drive-thru), you ought to be able to sue for any dumb thing a human will spend money for. I want my money back for my pet rock. I’ve had it for 20 years and it still can’t do a single pet trick, except “sit!”
The long list of pointless academic exercises that are passed off as being worthy of 2-to-8 years of adult study is amazing, you have to admit. However, getting back to UCSC's most idiotic waste of California's vanishing and over-stressed taxpayer dollars, even the most dedicated lover of academic trivia has to admit that this job is a stretch. Visit a trip to any library and do your best to find anyone there doing a job more complicated than every job at Wal-Mart. Now that I think of it, why isn’t Wal-Mart experience on that list of required experience for the UCSC job?
You can't get a political office in the US unless you have corporate money behind you. The overwhelming majority news comes from conservative corporate sources and most Americans get their information from these low-brow, biased, corrupt sources. Corporations are, by design, psychopathic and short-sighted. They don't care if they kill themselves as long as the parasites within are rich when the host dies. Who is surprised when an executive turns out to be a Madoff, Petters, Lay, Skilling, Fastow, Ebbers, Sullivan, or any of the other mobsters who wore suits and took up valuable space in corporate offices? Anyone who's worked in a Fortune 500 corporation knows that scum floats to the top of most corporate structures. It's not a surprise that some of these douchebags get caught, it's the result of contaminated government that most of the nation's CE?'s aren't in jail. Corporate crooks aren't the exception, they are the rule.
As for the flaws of government, Soviet Russia and both China's demonstrated how corrupt government can get. Like corporations, their fatal flaw was arrogance. Like corporations, that fatal flaw didn't show itself quickly enough to cause the biggest criminals much pain. Societies move glacially. You can get away with a lot in one human lifetime, if you create a big enough crime. Steal a loaf of bread three times and you're in jail for life. Steal an entire nation's wealth and you get a federal bailout and pat-on-the-hand regulations and a boatload of sympathy from Faux News and parades by the Teabaggers. Seriously, go figure.
If you're a mindless freemarketer I suppose you can imagine and anticipate a world government by corporations. Piles of refuse hidden away from the rich and heaped over the working class and poor. (They deserve it, right? They are poor.) Rivers streaming with floating garbage and saturated with chemicals, but there will still be bottled water and special reservoirs to supply the rich. Mountains cut flat for their minerals. Oil fields left as poisoned fields of contaminates for future generations (if there are any) to deal with. An enforced separation of infinitely rich owners and desperately poor slaves with no civil rights or hope for the second class citizens. A justice system (like our current Supreme Court) that enforces the worst traits of humans and human organizations and represses community and individual rights for the advantage of the rich and powerful. No invention, no creativity (the idle rich don’t have the inclination, ability, energy, or time for innovation), no future, and no hope for anyone who doesn’t already possess power and wealth. Sounds like the worst of communism, to me. Which is why I can’t tell the difference between a corporatocracy and any other totalitarian state.
The only state or world I have any hope for is a democratic one. Any system, including corporations, that are not democratic are useless and corrupt. That’s where I stand. That’s where I’ll live.
“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole
The idea that a corporation could, in any way, be less corrupt, more competent, more responsive, more valueable to society than a democratic government is insane and completely out of touch with reality.
It struck me that this might be the core problem with modern business (and government). In my experience, the closer you get to the top of American corporations, the more uninteresting the people become. I've been stuck in meetings with C's, vp's, directors, and the like and there wasn't a one of them that you'd want to invite to a party. Unless you expected your daughter to grow up to be a useless, dependent bimbo, you wouldn't want any of them dating your daughter. The only kind of sport you could imagine them playing would be the kind of activity that crippled old men suffer: golf, bowling, bridge, riding Harleys, and tossing dice in an alley.
So, with that as a background fact, maybe the solution to resolving the lack of ability, integrity, and intelligence in the nation's board rooms is to get rid of the boredom. The key to livening up business (and government) is to eject the boring people. The problem is, most Americans are timid, conservative people who freak-out when their dull little worlds are challenged. So, this is purely a theoretical exercise because we are clearly a dying culture with no more hope of rejuvenating ourselves than a body with a severed head.
Imagine, if you can, business, political, and cultural systems designed to remove the boredom from work, politics, and life. For starters, the corporate system has proven, repeatedly, to provide no useful value to society. It attracts mobsters to the top management levels, it produces useless trinkets that quickly turn into giant trash piles, it endangers the environment and the future of the nation. The existence of corporations, as they currently exist, restricts freedom and democracy. Worst of all, corporations are the ultimate conservative organization, far more so than even government, so they are coward-breeding facilities. If you want to bust boredom, you have to get past cowardice.
Minnesota tried a government experiment at busting boredom in 1999. We didn’t like it. Jesse Ventura shook up the state bureaucracy, rattled the cages of the vested powers, challenged our braindead media, and got more done in 4 years than the previous half-dozen Republicrat governors had managed. Like any good leader and intelligent citizen, he got out after 4 years and went back to living his life. The state followed Ventura with Pawlenty, a likeable, attractive, incompetent, hopelessly useless, and boring hack politician. He’s one of the douchebags the Republicans are hoping to pawn off on the nation in the next Presidential election. If you thought national politics are idiotic today, wait till you elect Polluty to national office. The nation’s IQ will drop as quickly as it did in 2000.
There are small pockets of communities and small businesses that work to remove boredom and boring people from everyday processes. If anything from this country survives into the next century, it will be their legacy. Everything else is doomed to fail and deserves that fate.
Reagan took offense to everything that resembled competent government or democratic regulation and the Fairness Doctrine was one of the first pieces of government that the senile bastard and his band of gangsters started disassembling when they slithered into office in 1980. That and deregulating the FCC's ownership rules are the basis for the coating that provided Reagan's "Teflon Presidency." Reagan bribed the media with overwhelming control of the nation's information sources and they rewarded him with near-universal approval for every idiotic thing he did. Reagan is responsible for the harebrained drivel spewing from Faux News and wingnut radio. The new generation of media "personalities" consider themselves neocons, but they are nothing more than ignorant liars with a corporate agenda. There is nothing "new" about being conservative and corporate spokespersons have been around since the beginning of that incompetent institution.
Democracy can not exist without information. Even more important, the information has to resemble the truth. The only way to obtain the truth is to the only way to do that is to make all of the information available to as many people as possible. If there is a single public information source that is allowed to lie about every important issue without responsibility or ethics (yeah, I'm talking about you Faux News), the system has a cancer that will destroy the nation.
The older I get, the less I care about economic systems. I do not believe that the USSR died because it was a communist country. I do not believe the USA was so successful for our first 200 years because were were a capitalist country. I believe the strength of a nation is directly tied to its dedication to democracy, as Webster's describes it " a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections." I'm pretty happy with Webster's secondary definitions, too: "the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority" and "the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges." Anything that weakens democratic rule, the strength and the ability of the "common people" to act competently as the "source of political authority" is the enemy of democracy and my enemy.
The FCC Administrator, Mark Fowler, Reagan's usual sort of appointee, ruled that the Fairness Doctrine created a "chilling effect" on reporters' willingness and ability to report on controversial issues. Rephrased in honest English, that meant they were unwilling to invent "facts" and lie about controversial issues because they would be called on their lies and look as stupid as they often were; and are. In a rare act of courage and corporate independence, Congress passed a bill enforcing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, but Reagan managed to remember to veto it before his nappy time. It came up again during Bush I and Pappy vetoed it, too.
Since then, the quality of discourse has continued to fall in the United States and the media has allowed itself to become polarized; with the overwhelming majority of news sources falling on the corporate right opposed by a few scattered and underpowered sources in the democratic center and a microscopic squeak from the the radical opposition from the left. Without a Fairness Doctrine, Faux News is allowed to say any crazy thing that comes into their tiny little heads and the closest thing to a correction we can expect comes from Comedy Central, since the MSM is solidly corporate. While I'm all for the idea that we should all switch to Jon Stewart and Steve Cobert for our daily news fix, I'd rather that the whole media provided useful information.
Congress needs to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and make it current with today's media. Any media that receives any government funding, including any publicly financed advertising or support resources, should have to live up to the standard provided by the original Fairness Doctrine: "allowing editorializing only if other points of view were aired, balancing that of the [network, newspaper, magazine, or website]." In fact, I'd go even further and force media to present alternative views of every aspect of the news. If a thing is worth knowing about, it's worth knowing everything about that thing.
In that spirit, comments on this blog are and have always been unmonitored (except for R-rated language and spam) and you can post whatever crazy opinion you have without even having the courage to identify yourself.
One of the nasty features of being old is having to hear people who weren't alive when history happened (or where alive, but were too damn dumb to know what was going on) tell me what happened "way back when." For instance, the fruitballs at Motley Fool have been trying to sell me on their brilliant investment advice by screeching, "When Ronald Reagan signed his $750 billion stimulus plan in 1981, it snapped the U.S. out of a deep recession, ignited a high-tech revolution, and signaled the start of the greatest bull market in history... " And so on.
Most likely, the speculators and con artists on Wall Street made a killing during the Reagan years. After all, he handed over the keys to every S&L in the country to mobsters (like one of the Bush brothers) and they made off with billions of taxpayer dollars (~$150B). Reagan raised the public debt more than 4 1/4 times--from $700B to $3T--and joked about it. So much for the "conservative economic policy" king. The GNP, always a contested statistic, rose fairly steadily during Reagan's terms. Since the average quality of life of the working class dropped steadily during the Reagan/Bush I years, I don't know what that meant. The fact is, most of us were better off before Reagan, unless "we" were building bombs.
Joe Conason wrote in Salon.com, "However historians will assess Reagan's responsibility, the record is what it is. Gathering dust in the news archives are thousands of clippings about the gross influence peddling, bribery, fraud, illegal lobbying and sundry abuses that engulfed the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon, to name a few of the most notorious cases." Dozens of Reagan appointees were prosecuted and jailed for corruption. Cheney learned his infamous "I don't recall" defense during the Iran-Contra hearings. If the President can get away with claiming senility as a defense, why can't everyone else? Now, our ex-Vice President uses that infirmity every time he's put in a position of recalling any past decision. Of course, when Cheney does remember something he's notoriously wrong, so it's probably true that Little Dick is senile and always has been.
What I remember about the Reagan years was economic terror. I was well-employed during most of those years, but I knew lots of hard-working, talented people who weren't. I knew several talented engineers who couldn't find work anywhere outside of the military-industrial complex. I knew doctors who were forced to quit their private practices and join HMOs because insurance companies squeezed them out of business. I knew lots of people, including myself, who held a couple of jobs and needed them to pay their bills. I knew people who lost a job and were out of their homes and on the street in a few weeks. Like most working class people, I lived in fear that I'd lose my job, be unable to find a replacement, and be unable to protect my family from poverty. Like my depression-era parents, I've lived in fear of being broke and on the streets for much of my life and it affected how I spent my money, where I saved it, and how much or little confidence I've had in personal security. Those twenty Republican years are the cause of that insecurity, 1972-1992, and the Bush II years amplified that insecurity. Carter didn't count for anything. Johnson-Nixon-Ford and Vietnam had bankrupted the country and Carter was in office with nothing to work with and no clue where to begin. Reagan promised a magic cure, but he was just more of the same.
The one thing I do know about Reagan is that I wouldn't invest a nickel with anyone who claimed there was a Reagan economic miracle. That is the kind of fool who is doomed to repeat the past indefinitely.
Anyone who is good for the speculators is bad for the rest of us. Anyone who is good for the military and its contractors is bad for the country. Anyone who conducts private wars, financed with drug money and siphoned tax money is bad for the world. Anyone who believes that making the world tax-free for the idle rich will "trickle down" prosperity on the working class is a fool and/or a crook. Reagan was all of these things and a lot more. I don't remember anything good about the man and his evil has lived on in the wingnuts and is doing damage to our democracy and economy every day.
In the public debate, a substantial number of "contributors" appear to be beyond proud of the fact that they are dumb as toast. People brag about having minimal education, the reading habits of a six-year-old, no technical abilities, and a fondness for a past that never was. It's as if being incapable of making a useful contribution to society has become a bragging point.
Another "value" the wingnuts appear to treasure is an independence of reality and truth. Limbaugh's claim that "thought police" got between him and his craving for an NFL franchise is pretty hilarious. Even the notoriously right wing, corporate NFL is put off by Limbaugh's racist craziness. The boy who said, "The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies." And, "They're 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?" And, "Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it." And who told an African-American caller to his show to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back." The man who called the President an "‘halfrican American" and the "affirmative action candidate" and who plays a song on his Faux News show that refers to the President as "Barack the Magic Negro" has a lot of nerve, or stupidity, in assuming that no one will remember or call him on his past statements.
Even dumber are his fans who think they can avoid being labeled "racist" for being his fans. You sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas, KKK'ers.
I think that's a problem with much of modern leadership. As we down-breed the nation into a pack of howling fools, the fools have sufficient numbers to affect/infect public policy. If the fools can find enough media spokespeople to present their case loudly and often, they infect even more fools and the pack begins to have enough mass that their fear factor pushes away anyone who isn't willing to dive into a fight for the truth. Most of the corporate media is right wing and those who aren't are infested with corporate ignorance and cowardice. Unless Obama brings back the Fairness Doctrine for all public media, the country is screwed. As long as the fools can lie about every subject without being called, on their own ground, for those lies, we might as well call this country "toast" and look toward a 3rd world future. Rush and his butt-buddies Rove, O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and the rest of the low-brow Faux News crowd are lowering the intellectual bar so far that it appears that Hannity's next "liberal" debate opponent will be a chimpanzee. I wonder what kind of handicap Hannity will require for the chimp?
The weird thing about America's dependence on dunces is that it is so counter-intuitive. You'd think pretty much anyone would look for advice from the most intelligent source they can find. You'd think that, but in America that has almost always been wrong. Adlai Stevenson was beaten twice by a notoriously inactive, ineffective, and intellectually limited Ike Eisenhower. Much of Eisenhower's appeal was that he was not an "egghead." Republicans actually bragged that their candidate wasn't as limited by intelligence and insight as the Democratic candidate. Our last three national elections were practically comedies of dichotomy. The Republican candidates, Bush, Cheney, McCain, and Palin, were so anti-intellectual that they were practically cartoon characters. Not a one of those buffoons were able to raise the level of public debate above grade school levels. That didn't do much damage to their electability. In fact, it might have been an advantage.
After 10 months of struggling out of the economic depression Bush/Cheney created, the brainless crowd are already arguing that Obama's intellect is a handicap. They are egged on in this display of ignorance by their retard Republican media cheerleaders from Faux News, but that is no excuse for listening to those idiots. In fact, there is no excuse for listening to anything Limbaugh and that band of fools says about anything. I think it's fair to consider knowing what Rush has to say about any subject as a failed IQ test.