First ‘scrap’: A special prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration. To disclosure, if I were Emperor of the US, I’d order a baker’s dozen of them up yesterday, January 20, 2001. Although a dozen would have been woefully insufficient, given all the thuggery that gang of thugs perpetrated, twelve might be as many as even an emperor would have been able to get away with.
But it just ain’t gonna happen; not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. Ken Starr was GOP payback for Nixon, and that Nixon was both warranted and necessary, while Starr was exclusively what I just iterated, is irrelevant to the practical politics of the game.
One: Sans the SP, the Obama team is riding high, and the only horizon in view looks downhill. Insistence on or reference to such plans would be spun by all the talking heads on the Right, by much of the public and almost every Republican in Congress as vengeful hardball partisan politics. Any hope Dems might have of pushing through programs would be dashed in the 60-vote necessary Senate.
Two. Both the administration and Congress have more stuff that’s w-a-a-y overstuffed to deal with right NOW that any prosecutorial diversion into territory with very little political upside just will not garner more than lip service.
The tally. No one would like to see George & Friends doing the perp-walk more than I. But, as I’m also capable of recognizing political reality, and as I can’t find the beneficial use of a head-against-a-brick-wall brain injury, I’m prepared to direct my wrath in areas more promising, and I urge others to do as well.
Second ‘scrap’: Healthcare reform. (C-SPAN video of Obama’s March 5 Healthcare Summit: http://www.cspan.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-R-16093)
Because everyone — every individual, every small business owner, every CEO of every conglomerate, and every government employee — has a huge stake in this one, I strongly urge everyone to stop by C-SPAN’s website and have a look-see.
The United States has the world’s very worst healthcare delivery system. Let me explain that, it’s sort of a mathematical look. By gross (word used both ways) expenditures, this country exponentially outspends every other nation on the earth. On a per capita basis we outspend every other nation, except Switzerland, at least twice. We still spend more than the Swiss, just not twice as much. But what we get for the beaucoup bucks is pretty nearly abject failure. We’re 41st in life expectancy, and never reach above 20th for any health standard.
Unless you’re going to be at least close to equally miserable for capital outlay, your business plan has to be judged an abject disaster. (It’d be like trading A-Rod and a hundred mil, for a 3d-string minor league player, to be named later.)
So, everyone is on board the Need-An-Overhaul Express. At least all the attendees at the summit were so full of evangelistic bonhomie esprit de corps that you could be forgiven for committing fun-house errors of perception. The hang-ups are in the myriad of details, and I’m concerned that those will prompt many to hang the idea out to dry.
Here is where I’m going to interject a couple facts, then an opinion concerning those facts. (Disclosure: For 15 years, prior to my retirement, I was a licensed, appointed life and health insurance rep, authorized to transact contracts on behalf of every major insurer.) The fact: 30 - 33¢ of EVERY private insurance premium dollar, whether it’s paid by the individual or the employer, goes not to 1¢ of healthcare, but to administrative and profit.
The Blues president, Scott Serota, last year earned multiples of $1,000,000, while at the same time subscribers were receiving premium increases above 15%. The only two functions served by insurance company administration is to separate the good-wheat healthiest from the not so perfect chaff and to DENY BENEFITS! The opinion I’d like someone, anyone to counter: Private health insurance companies serve no beneficial social function whatsoever, certainly not one worth 30% of what they’re being paid. Medicare’s administrative costs run less than 5%, and have no one on the payroll knocking down the kind of bucks that are de rigueur in the private for-profit health insurance industry. Granted, in a system where everyone is in, government admin costs will be higher than 5%, but in no case will they reach the wasteful stratosphere that’s today’s rule. Counter?
Like it or not, no matter your philosophical bent, medical care is being rationed now (See above paragraph at “DENY”.) and will be in the future.
Like it or not, no matter your philosophical bent, you already have “socialized medicine.” The uninsured and under-insured wait until there is no option but to refer to the ER. If the patient is covered by Medicaid, you pay. If the patient is not covered by Medicaid, you still pay; this time via higher premiums that get passed on to you in the form of reduced potential wages or reduced coverage.
A Confession: I’m a 14- to 15- cigarettes-a-day smoker, and have been for about 50 years. It doesn’t matter that I don’t engage the addiction anywhere indoors or in the midst of non-smokers, I realize I’m now more of a social pariah than someone with an evident infectious skin rash. Nor do I do anything but condemn the practice — strange word selection, I think I have it down now to a highly honed pastime — and counsel one and all to never, ever take that first puff. One of the cost-offsetting ideas advanced in the video-recorded breakout was to increase the federal tax to $2.00 per pack. I support that, but only on the proviso within the next paragraph.
The preceding duly noted, and in no manner rationalized, smokers no longer compose the greatest health risk to the common weal. That ignominious prize has now been seized by the obese among us; truly a growing population. They’re in your family. They’re your coworkers (provided you’re so fortunate to have a job), they’re next door to you. However the NIH prefers to call it an epidemic, as a pariah myself, I prefer “plague.” The health costs, from all related illnesses, that these folks are exacting are excruciating to the fiscal health of this nation. So, if the second-tier assaulters can be expected to pay a hefty surtax because of their behavior, why should the well-rounded first-tier members not also pay a heavy price for their . . . heft? And why should they not also — once again — be looked upon with disgust and disdain, “Ugh, you’re sooo _____”?