Health Care Hydra



We are going from the Caduceus to THE HYDRA

In response to the article on the “primary care shortage” (Arizona Daily Star ):

It seems there are two kinds of doctors out there: those who get into medicine to help people and those seeking wealth. Dr. Linda Williams at El Rio Community Health Center is clearly the former, flouting the big bucks of an overpaid specialist. Dr. Williams and others devoted to patients rather than salaries deserve our appreciation and respect. I am left wondering why an anesthesiologist or a cardiologist (invasive or otherwise) deserves a $400,000 salary. If they are honest with themselves, they are probably wondering the same thing. Student loans of over $200,000? School teachers often accrue bills at the end of their professional training around $100,000. Yet they earn an average salary of $40,000, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and manage to pay off their loans. Perhaps the focus here should be on what constitutes a “comfortable lifestyle.” I certainly want my surgeon to make a decent living and get a good night’s rest each day, but I don’t know if he deserves an Italian sports car and 5 days of golf per week. Perhaps they deserve more because they literally have a life in their hands. However, so do airplane pilots, yet the airlines have systematically slashed their salaries in the last decade. Once again I offer you our teachers as an example; they have lives in their hands. Do they deserve a summer home and four-day ski weekends? Perhaps we need to rethink our priorities.

The article also tersely referred to the expenses of “delivering medicines” that have outpaced physicians’ salaries, as well as the fact that many primary care doctors can’t afford to provide health insurance for their support staff. It is impossible today to discuss the medical field without stumbling over the pharmaceutical and insurance companies (the elephants in the emergency room). Just like it is impossible to actually receive medical treatment without eventually dealing with these devils. Perhaps the doctors, like the patients, are also victims of these leviathans. Medical care was once so simple: a patient, a doctor and a hospital. Now, we have a multi-headed hydra that will eventually consume us all, unless we work together to kill it first.

Lobbyists Are Good People Too, Just Not Good People First.

• Lanny Davis is a prominent Washington lawyer and a political analyst. From 1996 to 1998, he served as special counsel to President Clinton. From 2005 to 2006, he served on President Bush’s five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.


That is quite a bioblurb for a guy writing a piece on the virtues of lobbyists

However, it is an especially restrained piece of titulature since Lanny Davis is a lobbyist. A big successful one. Today on NPR he said he was a small-scale, part-time, temporary, seasonal lobbyist – Lobbyist Light. Davis went on to say that lobbyists aren’t bad people. They just work within a system with no transparency. That is like saying a thief is not a criminal because the houses should have better security systems. He says lobbyists are merely kind-hearted representatives sent to provide information for compassionate organizations like The American Heart Foundation. He glosses over some other lobbyists from other organizations – reps from massive, corrupt corporations like Merck or Phizer who provide skewed, erroneous industry reports usually submitted with large envelopes of cash. “Vote how you like Senator, here’s a few thousand dollars, and a ticket to Bermuda to think about it.”  Davis states that, “the First Amendment protects petitioning and communicating with government.”  I don’t think petitioning and communicating includes money drops or anonymous donations.

These in fact may be a corrupt minority.  However, just like a couple of pedophile priests, it only takes a few to ruin the reputation of the many. Moreover, if the righteous majority doesn’t condemn the shameless few, if they, in fact incubate and protect them and their illegal dealings, then they too are complicit in the crime. So maybe Lanny Davis is right, and there are some good lobbyists out there. It seems there just aren’t enough. Or maybe they just aren’t that good.

The solution is simple. There is no logical reason why any lobbyist ever needs to provide gifts or money of any kind to a public representative. So don’t allow them to do it. They can provide research findings and reports and information as they are supposed to and then leave it at that. Better yet, maybe our representatives can do more independent research into issues. Or, here’s a really wild concept, they could seek more direct input from their constituents.

Bush’s Departure Leaves Us All With The Bill

When Bush started his Presidency, one of his first major acts was to stand on a pile of rubble in New York and tell us all to go shopping.

His last major act, as he stood on a pile of rubble that was now the U.S. Economy, was to tell us all to pay the bill.

We did.

Republicans need to stop trying to distance themselves from Bush and Iraq. They embraced him. They followed him they lapped up his lies and asked for more. We all are stuck now with the dismal state of the nation he has created. I can accept my part in that, because we all let him do it. But it was the Republicans who asked for it. Now they try to pretend like they had nothing to do with his policies and all their destructive results. They try to forget that all of them, including their new pet John McCain, walked in stride and stood in support of Bush. All of them submitted to his ill-conceived schemes to make the world a better place. At home and around the world, he failed miserably. McCain failed miserably. The Republican Party failed miserably. And Republican citizens, the foundation of that Party failed, too. Now own it. Bush is your baby, heaped upon all of us. Iraq is your war of lies, heaped upon all of us. Now it is time to take ownership of it and do something to help heal these wounds. You got us into this mess, do your part to get us out. Support investigations.  

Put These Wall Street Criminals Where They Belong

Economic “Maestro” Alan Greenspan defended his record recently saying that the responsibilities within the Treasury Department are not an exact science, and nothing is foolproof. He explained that in forecasting markets if they get it right 60% of the time they are doing very well. So, 60% is doing very well? This means that normally they are probably correct about 50% of the time. Whether it is markets or weather, forecasting anything at 50% is not forecasting – it’s guessing. And that is what finance and markets are all about really. I admire Greenspan for facing this frosty panel and admitting he made a mistake. But it was his mistake that tells us more about our country than it does about him.

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

In other words he is saying that his mistake was trusting that people in charge would do the right thing. This is not a naïve presumption on Greenspan’s part. We want to believe that the few in these positions are working for the benefit of all, not the destruction of the entire system for their own personal gain. Yet, when a Chief Executive Officer leads a company to a massive financial loss and still earns a massive financial bonus, the motivation is purely personal gain. The Guardian reported that “leaders at Wall Street’s top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn for their work so far this year – despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash”. You and I would have a difficult time accepting these payouts now, knowing our neighbors are losing their jobs and their savings. These people are amoral and the majority of us can’t rationalize this behavior any more than we can that of a serial killer. They are wired differently. There is a place for people like this. We know who they are and where they are. One of them is now in Greenspan’s old office and politicians are lining up to shake his hand.

Where’s Powell Been? Oh! That’s Right, in Hiding.

Colin Powell’s recent endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President left me wondering where Powell’s been all these years. We haven’t seen much of him since… when was it? Hmm….. Oh! I got it! Since shit went south in Iraq. That’s right. Now I remember. He was a major part of the Bush junta that got us into the mess in Iraq. He was the kind-familiar, reluctant hawk with a dove’s heart who assured us a pre-emptive invasion was the right thing to do. In fact he had the “secret intelligence” that proved… oh, wait… In the end it only proved to be false and very likely manufactured.

Most people agree he was duped and played like a Stradivarius by his dangerous commanders. Eventually, he did jump ship as Sec. of State. But he could have done so sooner, publicly criticizing the Bush Administration. Alas he did not, and tarnished an otherwise seemingly impeccable career. So, he has laid low, in shame it seems, ever since. Now he comes back into the picture to put his weight behind the young contender from Illinois. Oh! And what is this? Ken Adelman too? Hmm? I thought I heard Scott McClellen sneaking around again recently, thinking his tell-nothing book might save his bacon.

If McCain wins, these guys have nothing to fear. They might have blown their chance for a top cabinet post, but they won’t have to ever worry about investigations or tribunals. In fact, they might all be blessed with quiet pardons. But banking on a McCain win at this point is beyond risky. If Obama gets in the office, he might push for steps to reunify all of us – by prosecuting the criminals who deceived us into this irrevocable war with all of its tragic deaths. Where’s Rummy hiding these days?

Joe The Plumber in Middle Class Denial

Joe the Plumber in Middle Class Denial

Joe the Plumber’s faulty logic is that he likes to imagine himself making $250,000 when he buys his plumbing company. He puts on confident and gruff airs like he’s Dick Cheney. He probably likens himself to Dick Cheney. He certainly likes to fantasize about being in the same tax-bracket at Dick Cheney. Be proud Joe. You are no Dick Cheney.

Conservatives like to talk about a level playing field with no referees, where the strong and the shrewd succeed. Yet today, it is only the conniving and manipulative who have a shot at wealth. The American Dream, that Joe the Plumber pines for, of working hard and making a fortune, is under the boot of corporations. In today’s world, Joe has about as much chance of becoming a wealthy plumber as his son does of playing in the NFL. Not saying, it can’t happen; just saying it is not very likely.

So, he pledges his allegiance to the conservative candidate, because he thinks by not paying taxes he will somehow start hob-knobbing with Bush, Cheney, and Limbaugh – all such self-made men. Meanwhile, he is shooting himself in the steel-toed boot because the Obama tax plan directly affects him where he really is, not where he imagines himself to be. If he really wants to pay less tax, he should embrace Obama, not reluctantly shake his hand, and then defend McCain and his fellow Republicans.

Obama’s the only candidate here who actually gives the middle class a decent shot at the American Dream. Throughout this campaign Obama has been, literally at times, the only candidate to even mention the middle class. And Joe the Plumber, you are middle class. Soldiering as a lackey for the conservative candidate, thinking he gives a rusty pipe fitting about you or your business aspirations, that’s just… well, I don’t want to call it low class. That’s just remedial class.

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Whoever Goes After The Wolves of Wall Street Wins

Except for the wealthiest Wall Street executives who were just saved by their own victims, most Americans are extremely angry. Some express this anger by hopping on the hate-wagon. Others are simply stewing, boiling quietly in resentment at those who did this. Both groups will undoubtedly reflect this anger at the polls. The haters are irrational and will never be swayed. However, the larger group of resentful Americans can be harnessed and directed toward reconciliation. This requires some direct action – a cathartic cleansing. Whichever candidate can appeal to this stewing, aggrieved voting block will win the election.

How can this be done? Identify the one thing everyone is seething about – the one group who obviously deserves the most blame for this financial crisis. This group has not only avoided punishment, they have been awarded support, funding and vacations. We have instead focused fervidly over which legislators have allowed this economic debacle. We have not seriously pointed our trembling, little fingers at the right people. The CEOs are the captains who set the cruise ship on auto and then got drunk, laughing all the way, as they sailed us straight into a mine zone.

Whichever candidate comes out – not loudest, but most seriously committed to– pursuing these criminals, will win over the undecided electorate; will win many supporters from the other side; and will solidify like steel a dedicated base. As senators, they are already in a position to do this. Which candidate can demonstrate his loyalty to the people, not the corporations? Or would both candidates be biting the very hands that have fed them so well?

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