Universal Health Care

July 22, 2009

I’ve barely scratched the surface in my attempt to get to the truth of this matter and I’ve learned that politicians cannot be trusted. But I already knew that.

I’ve also learned that journalist and talk show hosts cannot be trusted, but I already knew that as well.

I continue to be amazed at how solid arguments can be put together on both sides of an issue. Those ‘solid’ cases are usually built on half-truths and distorted facts. In many cases, the same statistics are used by both sides.

So, who do we believe?

I was once told not to believe anything I heard and only half of what I see.

The two videos below are prime examples of extreme sides of an argument. The first was produced by a union.

The video certainly painted Tommy Douglas as a superhero and Richard Nixon as a lowly dog. It seems that most liberals enjoy kicking Nixon. However, it seems to me that placing the blame on one man is not justifiable. There have been numerous leaders since then who did nothing to further the cause of Nationalized health care. A number of them were Democrats. Let’s be fair!

Speaking of Democrats, Al Gore wrote a book on the environment prior to being elected as Vice-President. For eight years he said nothing about global warming. Was he muzzled by his boss? Did Bill Clinton disagree with Al’s thinking?

Back to the subject at hand. Here is a humorous look at the other side of the argument.

Is this the reality that the union video ignored? I’ve heard of many Canadians coming to the U.S. to get treatment. I’ve read that Canadians have a sixteen percent higher death rate from cancer because it takes so long to get treated.

The union video states that Canadians live longer than citizens of the U.S. But I’ve seen studies showing that people in the northern United States live longer than their counterparts in the South. The extreme weather changes are credited with the longer life spans. Thus, a national health system probably has nothing to do with it. Living closer to the North Pole is most likely the cause.

So who are we to believe?

I’ve a good friend in London. He cannot speak for the Canadian system, but he lives with the English system, which is similar to the Canadian. Therefore I asked his opinion. Here are his thoughts:

The NHS isn’t bad at all. It suffers like all healthcare programmes by consuming too much money – but it’s generally recognised to do a reasonable job.

The current Labour government spent a shedload of money on the NHS a couple of years ago and brought down waiting times for all manner of operations. It also (by mistake) paid the doctors a huge raise, with no commitment in return. So the doctors were happy.

Here are some points:
1    Everyone is entitled to see a doctor and have hospital care, free of charge. A levy called National Insurance paid by employees and employers is supposed to pay for this (and more) but it’s not enough (check this).
2    For accidents and emergencies the NHS is superb. No private hospital can match it.
3    There are lots of private hospitals and health schemes. They’re of variable quality. Basically you pay for nicer surroundings and easier access to specialists.
3    You pay for your prescriptions, but this is a fixed fee (about £5.70 I think). Private patients pay more. Over 60 and children pay nothing (yippee!)
4    Old people are going to cost the NHS dear.
5    Some stuff is controversial – fertility treatment for example, and life-prolonging drugs which are hideously expensive and only work for a year. A committee called NICE arbitrates the subsidy of expensive medicines. It generally gets the balance right.
6    The Labour government made a huge mistake 10 years ago by bringing in a pile of ‘professional’ managers to run the NHS (previously it was doctors and nurses). This put the costs up massively but arguably without making doctors, hospitals and nurses any more available. The Labour government couldn’t manage its way out of a paper bag.
7    The biggest government IT project in the world is the NHS ITification. The aim is to put all doctors, pharmacies and hospitals online ia a private broadband network (called the NHS Spine) making patient records, etc available to everyone. Imagine the security issues. Predictably, it has cost billions (of pounds), made loads of IT consultants rich, and achieved close
to bugger all.

There’s lots more!

It should be noted that the taxes in England are much higher than they are here. And, according to Point 1, it’s still not enough to cover the cost of the program.

My friend is the picture of health and has little need of the system. He also leans to the left. I took that in account while reading the points he didn’t seem to be concerned with.

I think he is absolutely correct with Point 4 – old people will cost the system dearly. They’re (or should I say we’re) already putting a massive strain on Medicare – which is costing about ten times what our politicians predicted when they put it in place.

Point 5 concerns me. A committee (NICE) makes the decisions concerning life-prolonging drugs. What constitutes a life prolonging drug? Insulin?

This combined with Point 6 – government management sucks – are my biggest concern with any nationalized plan.

So, my jury is still out. I’m not convinced that Nationalized health care is good and I’m not convinced it is evil.

What I am convinced about is President Obama and his congress are trying to shove something down our throats and they don’t even know exactly what it is. I’m amazed at how many Americans seem to be unconcerned.

I’m also wondering what the reaction would have been if George W. Bush and his congress had tried similar ram-rod tactics. Were the Bush haters so glad to replace him that they’re willing to let Obama become the next Hitler?


Details We Don’t Need to Hear

June 30, 2009

In the last few weeks, the entertainment world has lost some true luminaries.

First it was Ed McMahon, then Farrah Fawcett, followed by Michael Jackson and Billy Mays. Three out of the four were easily classified as ‘natural’ although it would be nice if someday cancer can be removed from the list of natural causes.

Billy Mays grew up in McKees Rocks (a few miles from Pittsburgh) which was within ten miles of Crafton Heights – where I called home. Our age difference ensured that we never had an opportunity to meet while we were both living in Pittsburgh. That’s a shame because he seemed to be a real likable fellow.

All four of these celebrities lived busy stress-filled lives. While I have no way of knowing for sure, they all may have used some substance – prescription drugs, street drugs, or alcohol – to unwind from their daily grinds. However, it seems that Michael Jackson is the only one who abused those substances.

People might get upset with such comments, but when the nanny of his children tells reporters that one of her duties was to pump Michael’s stomach when he’d taken an overdose of drugs, we have to recognize that he was an habitual abuser.

But wait! The Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are already in front of the cameras – they simply cannot pass up a good photo opportunity – praising the man for all he did for popular music. When asked about Michael’s problems, they quickly point the finger of accusation at Elvis Presley. (It’s interesting that they didn’t show up in Memphis or wherever to help Elvis’ family plan his funeral.)

The “someone else has done something worse” tactic is used all too often by people who refuse to admit that their ‘hero’ could do anything wrong. The same happened when Bill Clinton finally acknowledged what he was doing with Monica. His defenders, rather than saying “that was wrong” pointed the finger at Richard Nixon.

Defenders of Richard Nixon are quick to point the finger at Franklin Roosevelt – after all, didn’t he die while spending a quiet weekend with his mistress?

Why can’t people simply say, “What he did was absolutely wrong.” And leave it at that. No ‘buts’ about it. Yes, the man was a tremendous entertainer, however, he sent the wrong message to many of our youth. Drugs and deviant behavior are fine as long as you’re a super star! Is that what we want our children to grow up believing?

But Wait! There’s more! If you act now, you’ll realize I’m paying tribute to the guy who convinced my step-daughter and my bride that laundry isn’t truly clean unless Oxi-Clean is put in with the regular soap.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work on the kitchen.


Michael Jackson’s Band Wagon

June 26, 2009

If you don’t mind, I’d rather toss Michael under the band wagon.

For many of us, yesterday’s bigger loss was the death of Farrah Fawcett who finally lost her three year battle with cancer. Even with her tremendous suffering, Farrah had the courage to put together a documentary of her struggle to demonstrate the importance of not giving up.

And what was Michael Jackson doing during the last three years? I really don’t know and I obviously don’t care. After the repeated accusations of child molestation, the plastic surgeries to make him look more like Liz Taylor, and his many other idiotic actions, I got tired of hearing his name.

In many ways, I feel sorrier for Michael than I do for Farrah. Farrah was battling a physical enemy. Michael’s enemies were mostly in his own mind.

When the Jackson Five first came on the scene in the late 60’s, I was a big fan of the young Michael Jackson. As time progressed and his musical style changed, I lost interest. Perhaps that was my fault for getting old. I quit listening to rock and roll music as it evolved toward what it is today. Somewhere along the line, I switched to country music which, today, is more reminiscent to the rock and roll of my youth. With country music, a story is told and I can understand the lyrics. (That’s how I know a story is told.)

The young Mr. Jackson was very good looking. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his appearance. But then his skin began to get lighter and his nose turned into something you’d expect to see on a Caucasian. In truth, it makes me wonder what his body looked like. How far down his neck did the doctors go when they turned his skin lighter?

Enjoying cookies and milk and sleeping with little boys. I don’t care how much of a Michael Jackson fan you are – that is beyond weird. It makes me wonder what sort of demons shared that body with the fabulous entertainer.

Yes. I called him a fabulous entertainer. While I didn’t care for his music, millions of other folks disagreed with me. They loved his concerts.

During the last American Idol, I thought sure Adam Lambert would win because, of all the other contestants, he was the best entertainer. He seemed to be a natural on the stage… just as Michael Jackson was.

Kris Allen is a very talented young man, but he doesn’t have the stage presence of Adam Lambert. I think Adam lost because most Americans thought sure he was going to win. So, they either didn’t bother to vote, or they voted for Kris to make it close.

I think a similar thing happened when Bill Clinton beat George Bush. Everyone was sure Bush would win, so many voted for Ross Perot… so that Bush wouldn’t win by a landslide.

Oops! I strayed off the original topic. My apologies.

Getting back to Michael, I always hate to see a person die before his or her time, but I can’t help wondering how much Michael’s demons contributed to his demise. In a way, he’s been fighting his own form of cancer for most of his life. Maybe that explains his weird behavior.

Numerous personalities have stated that most of us will long remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of Michael’s death. Some likened it to the death of Elvis Presley – another performer I didn’t really care for. Some even went so far as to compare it to the death of John F. Kennedy.

Sorry. That takes it too far. Both entertainers were extremely popular with their fan base, but the assassination of a United States President is more than a little different.

I have no idea of what I was doing on the day of Elvis’ death. I couldn’t even tell you the year he died let alone the month and day. Soon I’ll be in the same situation with Michael’s death (as well as Farrah’s), but I’ll never be that way when it comes to JFK.

I was a sophomore at Edinboro State Teachers College on November 22, 1963. I was at my off-campus housing when I heard JFK had been shot. I then walked into town where I got the word that he had died.

Come to think of it, it’s a bit troublesome that our culture puts more emphasis on the lives of entertainers than on politicians. No wonder our government is so screwed up.


Quote Quiz

April 24, 2009

Neal Boortz is a syndicated radio talk-show host whose home base is in Atlanta. Yesterday, on his website, he listed a number of quotes concerning our political atmosphere and climate. I’ve taken those quotes and turned them into a quiz.

The idea is to read a quote and try to guess who said it. Was it John McCain? Ted Kennedy? Queen Elizabeth? Or some other notable curmudgeon.

The way I figure it (and I hope you’ll tell me if I’m wrong) most people will find the quotes – and their authors – interesting and amusing. A few will get bent out of shape over this entire post. So be it.

Here are the quotes – numbered for your convenience. The quote-ees are listed below.

  1. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.
  2. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
  3. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
  4. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
  5. The biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats is the spelling.
  6. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
  7. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress.
  8. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
  9. There is no distinctly native American criminal class…save Congress.
  10. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
  11. I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
  12. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
  13. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.
  14. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
  15. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
  16. No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
  17. If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
  18. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!
  19. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
  20. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
  21. Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
  22. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
  23. The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
  24. Talk is cheap…except when Congress does it.
  25. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!

And the answers are:

  1. Mark Twain
  2. George Bernard Shaw
  3. G. Gordon Liddy
  4. P.J. O’Rourke
  5. Anonymous
  6. Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)
  7. John Adams
  8. Thomas Jefferson
  9. Mark Twain
  10. Voltaire (1764)
  11. Will Rogers
  12. Mark Twain
  13. Winston Churchill
  14. Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)
  15. James Bovard
  16. Thomas Jefferson
  17. Mark Twain
  18. Pericles (430 B.C.)
  19. Winston Churchill
  20. Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)
  21. Ronald Reagan
  22. Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University
  23. Ronald Reagan
  24. Anonymous
  25. P.J. O’Rourke

Finally, a special note to those who might have found this less than entertaining because it may have been slanted toward one particular point of view.

If you have quotes – humorous or otherwise – that present the other side, feel free to submit them and I will see they are published on this blog. I shouldn’t have to warn you that I will not publish anything that is vulgar.