Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The doctor is in

Few of us enjoy going to the doctor or the dentist. If you’re one of the people who falls into that category, I’d recommend that you play the tune listed below before you start out on the journey to your appointment. If may not cure you of whatever ails you, but at least you’ll feel better about the process.

Peanuts theme

To paraphrase Lucy (pictured above) there are times that all of us are a little nuts. Democracy, almost by definition, is going to be a messy process, which is why our country as a whole actually functions as “laboratories of democracy”. Under this concept, individual states are permitted to try bold experiments before they are either accepted or rejected at the Federal level. On occasion, some of those state experiments turn out to be a little goofy, which is one of the reasons that Jon Stewart has called Arizona “the meth lab of democracy”.

My years in Toastmasters taught me that there are often valid points on both sides of an issue, and an experienced Toastmaster can usually argue both sides of a topic convincingly.

The influence of BIG money into our political process has distorted how we function as a democracy to the point that it seems like we can’t seem to agree anything any more.

One topic that seems to generate consternation in some circles is the issue of health care, specifically the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010. Much of the controversy surrounding the law is related to lobbying expenses. In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent nearly $30 million in opposition to the law. Fortunately, groups in favor of the legislation (the AFL-CIO, the American Hospital Association, AARP, the American Cancer Society, and the NAACP Legal Fund) spent roughly DOUBLE what the opponents to the law did, which kept it a viable option.

Another major factor in the controversy surrounding the new health care act is the organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has been responsible for the passage of some very dangerous laws in the last two years. ALEC, naturally, is opposed to the health care act, which has caused 26 states to file legal challenges to it. Florida was the first state to file a challenge, but it has since been joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The discussion of the health care reform act has caused seemingly normal people to take extreme positions on the issue. If you listen to Representative Mike Rogers (from Michigan’s 8th Congressional District), you’d swear that the end of the world must be right around the corner:

I think I see him frothing at the mouth

By now, you should be aware of the fact that some of our Republican friends in Congress have trouble telling the truth. The fact of the matter is that Abraham Lincoln never said, "you don't make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak". The author of that phrase was actually a Presbyterian minister named William John Henry Boetcker, who published a series of "nuggets" from his sermons in 1916. The booklet DID include the phrase mentioned by Congressman Rogers.

One of the things that Abraham Lincoln DID say was this:“nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” Our chief obstructionist in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner, is under investigation by the SEC because he provided misleading information to the SEC about the benefits of the Keystone XL. Since Mr. Boehner owns stock in SEVEN Canadian mining companies, he would profit PERSONALLY if the pipeline ever got built. By itself, that's an ethics violation. If you've got a long memory, you may remember that Newt Gingrich was forced to resign the House Speaker position in 1998 after 84 ethics charges were files against him during his term of office.

Since Representative Rogers seems to think that the health reform act is "punishing business owners", he should consider a few additional facts. Under our current system, the medical needs of the uninsured are passed directly to us as taxpayers, or indirectly, through higher insurance premiums. To give you an idea of how big this problem is, gunshot wounds cost our society $126 BILLION a year. If we could somehow pass on those costs to the gangs that caused most of them, and reduce our societal cost by $126 billion, how in the world could that be considered punishing those of us who have health insurance?

The basic question that all of us are concerned with is actually a pretty simple question - is the health care reform act of 2010 a good thing, or a bad thing?

If you have LOTS of time on your hands, you can read the entire bill (H.R. 3962) yourself and make your own decision. The first PDF version that I saw didn’t HAVE any page numbers, but this one does - 1990 pages to be exact.

Even Norman Rockwell believed that you sometimes need to check out things yourself:

However, if there are some other things that you’d rather do for the next six months of your life, I’d recommend reading Fareed Zakaria’s TWO PAGE article that appeared in the March 16, 2012 issue of TIME Magazine

The highlights of his article are as follows:

1) Of all the major developed nations, the United States spends the highest percentage of its GDP (17%) on health care than any other country. In fact, that percentage may actually be even higher.

2) the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, came up with the idea of individual mandates in the 1980’s, and this concept was adopted by a man named Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts. For a period of time, Newt Gingrich thought it was a good idea also, but both individuals have since changed their mind.

3) Although many American business leaders talk about the need to reduce regulations, the single most important factor working against American business interests is health care costs. While American companies spend billions of dollars on health care costs, their German, Canadian, Japanese, and French counterparts spend next to nothing (at least in the author’s opinion). China, as you might suspect, spends a LOT less than we do on health care, as a percentage of GDP.

More exact figures (as presented by the website Visual Economics) can be seen in the link below:

show me the money

For those who consider the individual mandate on health insurance to be unconstitutional, they should consider the fact that our country HAS mandated compliance with other laws for the good of society:

a) In the vast majority of our states, automobile liability insurance has been mandatory.

b)If you're a citizen, and you want a job, you need to have a Social Security number so that you can pay taxes. Even illegal immigrants are forced to pay taxes, by virtue of the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

c) In order to keep guns out of the hands of people that are considered to be too dangerous to own them, the Federal Government passed the National Firearms Act in 1934, and virtually all states now require that gun owners must possess a Firearm Owners Identification Card.

By far, the most popular article that I’ve published on this website is an article that I titled “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”. It also discussed the health care reform act of 2010. To date, it’s had over 10,000 “page views” in roughly 100 countries around the world, which tells me that it’s still a pretty hot topic.

Regardless of what your opinion is of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 is, I’d think we’d all agree that we’d be better off if we could somehow figure out either how to use it sparingly, or not at all.

How to we do that?

The picture below gives you a clue:

Further details are found in the link below:

California Dreaming

However, the BEST advice that I can give you about staying healthy is this:

Don’t worry. Be happy.

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