Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You want tofu with that?

Sometimes even the ACLU has something useful to say. Although this looks like Windows 95 and is from 2004, it makes an unintentional point about current events.

You can imagine a Google database providing the same information if they had your medical records, but unlike the Feds, they are not in a position impose a healthy eating surcharge.

H/T MC

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canadian analysis

Following is an email from a friend in Ontario regarding health care. I think his comment on the Obamacare chart (scroll down, or click) is accurate. There is no reason the GOP would simplify it. Whether they can remains to be seen, but I've only heard a few relatively picayune criticisms from Dems on it so far. Just enough to be sure it can't be snail mailed.

Don's opinion is of interest.
Duane,

From a recent TOC posting - some of my comments are addressed to Americans in general, not to you - I know you understand the issues; I remain unconvinced that many others do.

I saw this chart when Boehner introduced it and looked at it from my Systems Analysis perspective. "Rube Goldberg" was my initial reaction, when I realized it was unnecessarily complex and virtually impossible to understand. However, unlike Rube's complex systems, which eventually got the job done, this one won't. Had I introduced such a chart to a team of programmers at any point in my career, I should have expected to be summarily dismissed after being subjected to the scathing ridicule of my peers.

The bottom line is that I thought it too complex (perhaps, intentionally) to be translated into any form of functional system.

In the eternal hope that intelligent life actually exists in Congress, I reviewed it again after your post on TOC.

My new analysis after a few Tylenol (cheap, because the US does most of the world's R & D and absorbs the attendant costs for "hangers-on" like Canada) - too complex (perhaps, intentionally) to be translated into any form of functional system.

Please don't use the "Canadian" model - it isn't all that good and the only reason it's "cheap" is because of rationing and excessive wait times. If that's what you want - go ahead, but I can assure you that you won't ultimately be happy with the result. I direct you to a PJTV clip where Steven Crowder actually goes to Canada to experience the benign warmth of socialized medicine - The clip is not hyperbole - it accurately reflects my own experiences with what we jokingly call "free" health care in Canada. You'll note that, on more than one occasion, the medical staff express their own frustrations with the system they work under and actually recommend private clinics. It is a sad fact that I can get much faster and much more effective care for my cats than I can for myself.

If our Canadian system is so great, why do an obscenely large portion of our Canadian-trained docs and nurses choose to practice in the land of the free (well, Obama's not done with you yet), rather than in the land of the free health care? That's supposed to be a rhetorical question, but in case you don't know the answer, it's because they can actually "make a buck" down there and are free to practice medicine as opposed to being underpaid white-coated civil servants. Let's not pretend that the medical profession is supposed to be an altruistic group benignly dedicated to some holy mission to save humanity - they're people like you and me who have invested heavily in their training and can reasonably expect to be well rewarded for that investment. They're not being adequately rewarded here in Canada either financially or spiritually because of our socialistic health care system, so they are making a totally rational decision. I hate it, but I can't say I blame them. And I bless the poor souls who stay here, regardless. They do their best (in fact, more than their best - I laud their dedication in the face of an impossible situation), but ultimately the Canadian health care system will collapse under it's own weight, as do all socialist systems.

The only good thing that might come out of the socialization of American medicine from a Canadian perspective is that maybe some of our Canadian-trained docs and nurses might come back home when they realize that they're screwed on either side of the border. The fact that I have to grasp at that straw saddens me greatly.

A proper review of health care delivery should include a full cost-benefit analysis. Current proposals would appear to be focusing on hypothetical benefits, while ignoring real costs. It's fine to increase costs as long as you are receiving proportional or increased benefits. But at some point, you have to draw a line and say, "this is the optimum sustainable price-performance model". And that "optimum" is unlikely to be ideal from a socialist point of view.

The fact that a portion of the American public remains "uncovered" from an insurance perspective is a moot point. You've heard the talking points. Many of them (the young and healthy) choose not to purchase insurance at this point in their lives (which is their personal choice and quite likely the same choice I would have made 40 years ago when mortality was not on my agenda) and many others aren't even citizens. Ultimately everyone is covered by either Medicaid or Medicare, the problem being that those costs are borne by docs and hospitals (not the Feds, you'll note) - that needs to be addressed, but not at the price of destroying the 85% of the system that appears to be working quite nicely.

Sorry, Congress. The health care "problem", if one exists, is not that difficult to solve if you have the guts to step very hard on few vested-interest toes. Unfortunately, "politicians" and "guts" are tough to combine in the same sentence unless you suffer from cognitive dissonance. This, in particular, calls for significant tort reform, an issue that is apparently off the table. Canada is awash in accountants - the US is awash in lawyers. Not sure which is worse.

Of course, this will never happen as long as Congress is held hostage, through campaign contributions and other forms of pressure, from the very groups that either don't want anything to change, want everything to change beyond recognition or are open to change as long as it improves their bottom line.

As you know, I was an elected politician for many years, but I can honestly say that getting re-elected was never on my radar. I did what I thought was the right thing to do with no regard for the screaming fringe elements on each side of every debate. If the public disagreed with what I was doing, so be it - vote me out at the next election. They never did, in fact, I continued to receive more votes in each election that I ran in. Not trying to blow my own horn, just saying there may be an MO here that more politicians might want to look at - never look at the next election - you can't satisfy everyone, so don't even try - just do what you think is best in the long term. If you're right, you'll be re-elected - if you're wrong, you're toast. So it goes.

From a broader perspective, the one thing that might well re-focus the minds of your political class from short term re-election concerns to actual longer term "good-of-the-country" issues is term limits. Imagine how much common sense might emerge if getting re-elected wasn't your primary goal in life and your legislative horizon actually extended beyond the next election. You do it for the office of President, now how about the rest of the clowns?

Unfortunately, I have no doubt that Obama will eventually sign some bill from the Congressional sausage-making factory that has the words "Health Care Reform" in the title. Whether that bill will have anything to do with health care reform remains an open question.

Don Seim,
Dromore, Ontario
Thanks, Don. I agree.

If anyone would like to get in touch with Don, send an email to info@theotherclub.org.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Take 2 lawyers, wait 2 days and let me know if things don't get better

Michigan Democrat Congressman John Conyers derides those who think representative government means knowing what you are doing to your constituents.



Another question Monica's husband might ask: "Why is it I assume I need to pass the bill today, instead of 2 days from now after I've talked with 2 lawyers?"

His answer can only be, "If I knew what I was voting on, I could be held accountable for my vote."

He should be held accountable in the first place for his nonfeasance.

From CNSNews, Nicholas Ballasy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stupid, yes. Calibrated, yes.

President Obama said, “The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.” By all accounts, Professor Gates was not in his own home when arrested (as the President implied), but was outside haranguing Sgt. Crowley and disparaging Crowley's mother. Neighbors who had gathered, along with a multi-cultural array of police, were treated to Gates' hysterical spectacle about endemic racism directed at prominent Harvard professors, "You don't know who you're messing with," Gates said.

The President acknowledged he did not know the facts, and repeatedly demonstrated it. Later, surprised to be called out for his subtlety deficit, he regretted the "distraction." He said, “I could have calibrated those words differently.”

This is undeniable. For example, he could also have said Gates acted stupidly by leaving his house to shout racist epithets at a police officer in front of his (Gates') neighbors. That would have required both knowing and caring about the facts, however.

President Obama might have recognized that the profiling, racial and class, happened in Skip Gates' head. He could have waited a day to acquire knowledge of Sgt. Crowley's career and to read a transcript of Gates being interviewed by his daughter before passing judgment. But carelessly, he chose to assume that the encounter happened according to his own prejudice, according to his own stereotype of the police.

Saying his words could have been better "calibrated" implies a thoughtlessness at odds with his mythos as a cerebral thinker and, in this specific case, as a pre-eminent healer of racial tension. The 1.5 second pause (following several other "thoughtful" pauses) before he utters the word "stupidly," and simultaneously exemplifies it, is what passes these days for Presidential cerebration. He took some care in selecting that specific word. Serious calibration had occurred. We heard how he really thinks.

His defense is that his initial comments were insufficiently calibrated? That they were "just words?"

As Paladin says, "As for Obama. He cannot help himself. With each passing week he inadvertently reveals more of his true character." Indeed, pathological narcissism cannot be indefinitely suppressed.

Some other comment you may wish to check out:
Mark Steyn: Obama knows 'stupidly' when he doesn't see it

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crowley, Gates and Obama

Barack Obama is President of the United States. Is he:

A. Simply the President - a position which would demand he not comment, without exceptionally detailed facts, about a friend's arrest in a local matter;

B. The Post-racial President - which imposes an absolute demand that he not use words like "stupid" after admitting he did not know the facts of his black friend's arrest; or,

C. The Black President - expected to comment without having the facts on the basis of shared pigmentation, social class and personal affinity?

I prefer Obama be A.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Detroit

$11,000 average home prices. Not a single chain grocery store in the city. $259 million deficit. 58% high school graduation rate. 100 vacant schools. Metro Detroit area unemployment highest in the nation at 15% in June, City proper unemployment 25% in May, both stats gathered prior to GM bankruptcy. (h/t Carpe Diem)

Detroit is a suppurating cancer epidemiologically traceable to the twin toxins of racism and statism. When it metastasizes, you had better be prepared. Why do I say "when," since it would seem that it already should have? Because the national entitlement mentality has had its expectations expanded vastly and the gap between reality and promises will affect Detroit more than anywhere else. Remember the woman swooning over not having to pay her mortgage or to fill her gas tank after a pre-election Obama rally? Multiply her disappointment by 3/4 of Detroit residents.

To those outside it would already seem like a version of Road Warrior-style apocalypse to live there. It will get worse if the yet unrealized predations of our national government are stymied. And worse yet if they are fulfilled.

Meanwhile, Detroit Police have time and money to assist in the funeral of some stuffed animals memorializing a twisted "man." Police officials are upset. (h/t James Taranto)

2 cruisers lead Jackson mementos to cemetery
Detroit -- Two hearses jammed with stuffed animals left in memory of Michael Jackson were given a two-car police escort Friday to the toys' burial at Woodlawn Cemetery, leaving police officials highly critical of the decision afterward.

...At the cemetery, the toys were unloaded from the tops of the hearses and from boxes inside the vehicles. They were then placed into clear plastic bags and then inside donated vaults.

The cemetery donated the equivalent of three graves for the vaults. A donated gravestone also detailed the singer's impact on the music industry and the world.

Jackson's songs played over speakers as a service was held. "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" played as the hearses arrived ...
Well, I've had more than enough, thank you very much. Couldn't they have at least cremated the stuffed animals so they'd fit in a single vault?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Idiot Canadian expats

It is a puzzle why they just don't take their angst and their millions of US$ and retire to Moosejaw to cement their unique piece of the mosaic instead of continually suffering in Podunk Centerville; all the while complaining that it should be spelled "Centreville" and that melting pots are, you know, passé.

It was never cold, but L.A.'s gold
seemed to trump their sense of self.
So they'd often say, in their hoser way,
that they'd rather live in Guelph.

These rich elite don't need or know "free" health care, and wouldn't use it on a bet. But the thought that somewhere someone who actually votes in the same country where he lives may not have the "correct" health care system drives the Canadian expat elite to pine for the land they can return to whenever they want.

Somehow they never do that, but they do feel honor bound to denounce capitalism, without which they would probably have had to experience the system they'd like forced on everyone else. I will note they aren't generally saying these things from their hacienda in Cuba.

Your tax dollars at work

Unethical activity by Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer?

$8.4M Sex, Lies & Texts Settlement Puts Detroit Lawyers on Hot Seat

What a surprise.

Mayor's salary - $176,000
Fraudulent settlement - $8.4 million
Running Hizzoner out of Michigan - Priceless

H/T Instapundit

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Alford - American Hero

The fabulous, in the original meaning, Babs Boxer is soon to star in a new version of Pride and Prejudice. This blockbuster, collectively written by the Caucus for Condescension to Colored People and produced by Senators Mediating Everything About Race, will appear soon at a rally near you.
Dates and times TBA. Sheets optional.

Here's the trailer...



Then check this interview.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

RI Tea Party update

Unbanned! July 15th

That didn't take long.

No word on the apoplexy quotient at the Bristol Fourth of July Committee.

Judging Sonia

Sonia Sotomayor may be as wooden as Al Gore and more prone to spoonerisms than George Bush, but even I have to admit that she is fundamentally clueless about the 2nd Amendment.

In answer to a question from Senator Leahy ... Well, let's have a shortened version of the pandering exchange:
LEAHY: Thank you. And in the Second Circuit decision, Maloney v. Cuomo, you, in fact, recognized the Supreme Court decided in Heller that the personal right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution against federal law restrictions. Is that correct?

SOTOMAYOR: It is.
...

LEAHY: ... We all know that not every constitutional right has been applied to the states by the Supreme Court. I know one of my very first cases as a prosecutor was a question of whether the Fifth Amendment guaranteed a grand jury indictment has been made applicable to the states. [?] The Supreme Court has not held that applicable to the states.

Seventh Amendment right to jury trial, Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines, these have not been made applicable to the states. ... but would you have an open mind, as -- on the Supreme Court, in evaluating that, the legal proposition of whether the Second Amendment right should be considered fundamental rights and thus applicable to the states?

SOTOMAYOR: Like you, I understand that how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans. In fact, one of my godchildren is a member of the NRA. And I have friends who hunt. I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller.
She acknowledges that many Americans think the right to bear arms is important. Someone she knows belongs to the NRA. She has friends who hunt. There's nothing in her answer that actually acknowledges we have a 2nd Amendment.

Let's walk through it. Indeed, the 2nd Amendment does not grant the right to keep and bear arms. The 2nd Amendment merely recognizes a right that existed before the Constitution was a gleam in James Madison's eye.

Ms Sotomayor's understanding that the right to bear arms is important to many Americans is as irrelevant as it is ignorant. Many Americans would like to have Nationalized health care, but that does not make it a Constitutional right. If no Americans considered the right to keep and bear arms important it would still be their right.

One of her godchildren is a member of the NRA? Perhaps this is very indirect evidence of the empathy she would apply to any decision before SCOTUS involving her godchild's rights under the 1st Amendment, but I doubt it.

She has friends who hunt? That must be in an Amendment I missed, because the 2nd Amendment has nothing whatever to do with hunting. That idea is a far-left-wing trope, invented in an attempt to lose fewer votes when trashing the 2nd Amendment.

The 2nd Amendment is about the right to self defense. The Founders assumed you have the natural right to defend yourself against individuals who would harm you and against a government that would steal your liberty. The 2nd Amendment does no more, or less, than acknowledge that you have this right, independent of the Constitution.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Petty politics vs. The Spirit of '76

In Rhode Island the Bristol Fourth of July Committee, members found here, has banned the Rhode Island Tea Party folks from the Bristol Independence Day parade - forever.

The Tea Partiers' offense was wiping their feet on an American flag, no wait, that was Obama's associate Bill Ayers that some sympathizers, who were independent citizens and not part of the Tea Party parade contingent, passed out copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence while walking alongside the float.

The Bristol parade czars determined, several days after the parade, that the Constitution and the Declaration are "fliers." Apparently, unless you pay $200 or $300 dollars per "runner," passing out fliers is against the rules, which state:
There will be no distributions or fundraising by any float applicant. No objects of any kind may be thrown, sprayed or otherwise distributed to spectators from any entry (i.e., candy, silly string, snappers, advertisements, etc.) Failure to comply will result in immediate removal from the parade.
Immediate removal did not occur, despite the fact that Jim Tavares, chairman of the parade’s float committee, claims to have "confiscated" several copies of the subversive offending Founding documents himself. I do not think he would claim not to have recognized them. This decision, then, seems the result of deliberation - probably political deliberation - because it's hard to believe the parade committee would claim they were owed an advertising fee in this case.

I can understand wanting to to charge local businesses an advertising fee to hand out offers to deliver milk and eggs (which were handed out, without approbation, so we assume the fee was paid), but I cannot figure out where copies of the Constitution are advertising for anything but liberty, or how they could be considered on the same level as candy and silly string. Apparently, a majority of the 109 members of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee do think one or the other of these characterizations is accurate.

Governor Carcieri is wondering about this decision, as is the Providence Journal.

Visit the Rhode Island Tea Party site for updates. Good luck to them.

Were I a RITP member, I'd consider legal action absent an apology. And though I am not an RITP member, I would contribute to a fund for the purpose should such a challenge be pressed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Taxation with corrupt representation

...or without representation period, if you think about it.

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe: Lawmakers, read the bills before you vote

...Steny Hoyer thought it was hilarious.

Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, is the majority leader in the House of Representatives. At a news conference last week, he was talking about the healthcare overhaul being drafted on Capitol Hill, and a reporter asked whether he would support a pledge committing members of Congress to read the bill before voting on it, and to make the full text of the legislation available to the public online for 72 hours before the vote takes place.

That, reported CNSNews, gave Hoyer the giggles: The majority leader “found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. 'I’m laughing because . . . I don’t know how long this bill is going to be, but it’s going to be a very long bill,' he said."

Then came one of those classic Washington gaffes that Michael Kinsley famously defined as "when a politician tells the truth." Hoyer conceded that if lawmakers had to carefully study the bill ahead of time, they would never vote for it. "If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes," he said. The majority leader was declaring, in other words, that it is more important for Congress to pass the bill than to understand it.
Do you think elected officials should be held accountable for the legislation they pass? I do, and I think it would be good if they were held accountable for ignorance. Anyone who admits they didn't read legislation they voted for should be ipso facto stripped of office.

Such a rule would certainly moderate a hasty legislative process to the approximate reading speed of Maxine Waters, and it would definitely wipe the smile off Steny Hoyer's smug mug. For accountability, we could have tests immediately following the vote to see if they had read the bill. Three successive grades below a "C" and the recall vote is automatically authorized in their home state. Who knows, long term it could also result in much simplification.

Hoyer says he has no expectation that his party will read the Health Care Nationalization bill and implies he doesn't care if anybody else gets to read it either. Truly, this arrogance should be punished.

We know our "representatives" didn't read TARP, they didn't read the Stimulus bill, they didn't read the Supplemental Spending bill, and they didn't read the Carbon Tax bill (1300 pages not even published until after debate started).

The Majority Leader thinks that's amusing. I don't. I think it clear evidence of taxation without representation. When taxes are imposed by legislators who have no idea what they are voting on it mocks the concept of representation.

Do you think you're being represented when the leadership laughingly encourages nonfeasance while practicing malfeasance?

Even Barney Frank, when he votes for something, reserves the right to change his mind because, "we were at the end of a very long mark-up on a very important Bill dealing with stopping predatory lending, and it did not get the attention I should have given it. I looked at it. I thought it was OK. I didn't read it carefully."

He can't even bring himself to say "I didn't give it the attention I should have," but if Barney gets a mulligan, so should the voters. Aside from the fact that the amendment he didn't read would have defunded ACORN, it is confusing that he thinks he should have read it at all: He is perfectly fine with voting for many things he's never read. And no wonder, it makes his job easier later if a bill is unclear or incoherent.

Frank and Boston bank defend bailout help
House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank yesterday confirmed a report that he asked a Treasury Department official to consider giving bailout money to Boston's troubled OneUnited Bank - which ended up getting a $12 million federal loan - but Frank said the action was a legitimate effort to protect the only minority-owned bank in Massachusetts.

...OneUnited was dealing with an investigation by bank regulators. In October, federal and state regulators entered into a "cease and desist" order with OneUnited, citing problems with inadequate capital, a failure to provide adequate supervision, and the bank's "excessive compensation, fees and benefits to its senior executive officers." The bank, for example, was required to stop paying expenses related to a California beach home and to stop providing a bank-owned Porsche SUV to executives.
Frank's defense was not that the bank was well managed but unlucky, or that it passed a stress test, or that not bailing it out threatened the US financial system. No, he justified his intervention based on skin color. He was not alone.

Waters Helped Bank Whose Stock She Once Owned
...Mr. [Sidney] Williams [husband of Rep. Maxine Waters] continued to hold varying amount of the company's stock. In the lawmaker's most recent financial-disclosure form, dated May 2008 and covering the prior year, Ms. Waters reported that her husband held between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of the bank's stock.

Mr. Williams also received interest payments from a separate holding at the bank, also worth between $250,000 and $500,000.

...In January, Ms. Waters acknowledged she made a call to the Treasury on OneUnited's behalf. The bank's capital, which was heavily invested in shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was all but wiped out with the federal takeover of the two mortgage giants, and the bank was seeking help from regulators.

OneUnited eventually secured bailout funds under the government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was set up later that month.
Ironic, no, that this bank needed a bailout because they believed Congressman Frank when he loudly insisted there was no cause for worry about Fannie or Freddie, institutions he promoted past on the same "minority" basis? "Minorities" who, more often than not, ended up screwed by Frank's policies.

And it goes on...

Sen. Inouye makes phone call, bank gets bailout money
When the bank bailout money was being distributed, Sen. K. Inouye discovered that the bank he helped establish and in which he had invested most of his personal wealth was not on the list, it took a phone call or two to fill its coffers.
Gov. Ritter Steered Stimulus Money To Ex-Employer
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has awarded some of the state's first stimulus money to his former employer in a no-bid contract.

Ritter hired his former law firm, the Washington-based Hogan & Hartson, in a no-bid contract to review stimulus spending, The Denver Post reported Friday. It said the firm was paid $40,000 in stimulus money through June.
FAA Approves Plan to Give Stimulus Funds to Airport Named After Murtha
The Washington Post reported last month on more than $150 million in federal funds that Murtha directed to the airport, which has six arriving and departing flights per day. Among the improvements, Murtha directed the Pentagon to give the airport a new, $8 million, state-of-the-art radar tower that has not been used since it was built in 2004, and $30 million for a new runway and tarmac so the airport could handle large military planes and become an emergency military base in case of crisis.
Fed up yet?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Canadians criticize Canadian health care wait times

Judging by a substanceless, profane, and interminable screed from a commenter who waits until his 3rd comment to admit he didn't actually read what he's commenting on, Kevin Libin appears to attract critics who fit the median profile of civility found at Daily Kos. Not the extreme Kos Kid, and certainly not any sample from democraticunderground or firedoglake. This is still Canada. A "bloody this" and a "bloody that" go a long way, and nary an f-bomb can be found.

For myself, I found Libin's article interesting in its demonstration that Canadians have, or should have, legitimate worries about their health care delivery. But, as he points out, any serious debate among politicians in Canada on this topic is verboten: The non-debate on health care
NDP leader Jack Layton, for one, sashayed to Washington in June to inform policy-makers how much more caring Canada's model is. "Founded on equality," he boasted, our system "ensures everyone receives good health care," producing a "better chance in life ... and opportunity." Maybe the Americans believed him, but Canadians - weary of stories of patients suffering while awaiting treatment, unable to work, addicted to painkillers - know better. The week Layton brought to Washington tales of our health-care Eden, came news that B.C.'s MRI waits had grown to nearly a year, as well as a study showing that Canadian patients were dying on lengthy waiting lists for surgery.

Waiting hardly creates more "opportunity." People stuck in sickened limbo aren't productive. That's why Ottawa hires private clinics to get federal employees back to work faster. And why one B.C. notary public not long ago offered cash to anyone willing to swap his 290th spot on his surgeon's wait list for something sooner: Knee arthritis had him doped on morphine, unable to properly work. Whatever money he saved waiting for our system to deliver him to an OR he'd lost in income and opportunities.
I have included some links to Canadian sources from the comments to Lipin's article:

Harper treated in Ottawa hospital
Asked whether he [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] had been "whisked" to the front of the line to get medical attention because of his political position, he replied: "I got whisked as much as you can get whisked in our health-care system."
Of course, the leader of Canada should have been whisked to the front of the queue. It is telling that CBC thinks this is an important question, and an important story. It says: Everyone in Canada knows there is a problem with health care delivery that could (subtext: should/had better) even affect the PM. If he "jumped the queue" it would be political fodder for the opposition. Harper would have been accused of attacking the warp and woof of Canada's identity. A Parliamentary debate would have ensued as to whether his condition justified any given treatment: Parliament thinks they are paying for it, after all.


How much is your health worth to the bottomline?

It doesn't matter who you are or how important your health is to your company. With a physician shortage as severe as the one in Ottawa, the hard fact is, without a family doctor, the only option are waiting two hours or more for an over-worked walk-in clinic physician who might only allow one health inquiry per visit, or going to emergency.

A report released by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario late last month revealed only 4.1 per cent of doctors in eastern Ontario are accepting new patients. This can be a scary situation for those who transfer to the Ottawa region.

It is no surprise that private industry has stepped up to fill the void for those willing to pay the price.

Ronald Bannerman, 61, knows the price is worth it from personal experience. As the vice-president of corporate affairs at MD Management, the financial membership services subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association, he signed on when his firm introduced the ExecHealth program for senior management personnel last summer. ExecHealth is an Ottawa-based private clinic which serves as a one-stop shop for preventive care.

... The $1,295 half-day assessments are designed for early detection and prevention of diseases such as cancer and heart disease by a team of medical doctors, nutritionists, nurses, physiotherapists and fitness experts. Clients are provided with a written health report which includes meal planning and personal training sessions.

President of ExecHealth Inc., Sanjay Shah said the services offered by ExecHealth since 2005 are not new, just new to the Ottawa area.

"Our model has been around for decades. But in the past, Ottawa has been too small to have a clinic like this. There are national law firms here who have this benefit for their partners, but the Ottawa-based partners couldn't take advantage of it because they have to travel to Toronto or Montreal to get it," Mr. Shah explained.
There is much to mine from this article, but I will make just one observation: It is entirely possible that the reason the Ottawa area could not support such a private clinic is competition from the government plan.


I jumped the queue: top doctor

When his five-year-old daughter's bone scan revealed a tumour that might be cancerous, the man who is now president of the Canadian Medical Association decided to jump the queue.

His wife, also a doctor, had taken their daughter into the emergency room of a Vancouver hospital after the little girl experienced a sudden pain in her leg, Dr. Brian Day recalled. The initial bone scan indicated a tumour, but couldn't reveal whether or not it was cancerous.

"The hospital said, 'We'll do a CT scan, bring her back next week,'" Dr. Day said. "To me, it's completely unacceptable, sending a mother home for six days not knowing whether her daughter has a malignant or a benign bone tumour. I made the phone call ... I made them do it that day."

Dr. Day's experience is one example of what he calls the "parallel public system," a system of social connections that make it easier for people in a certain class of society to get quick access to medical treatment.

He admits that he himself used the system when he needed knee surgery, jumping a long queue to get the procedure done within a week by a surgeon who was also his friend.

..."Fifty per cent of newly-trained orthopedic surgeons leave the country within five years because they can't get operating time ... (It's) our system, the way the hospital is funded, where the patient is a cost, not a value," he said. "The instant you tell hospitals you're going to get revenue for treating patients, they're going to start treating patients."
Since the Ted Kennedy version of the health care bill now worming its way through the House and Senate preserves the platinum-standard health care plan for members of Congress by specifically exempting those members from the health care they want to "give" to the rest of us, I'd say the Senator is intent on retaining the US version of the "parallel public system."

Look, Canada's health care system is a concern to Americans only to the extent some Americans, and Jack Layton, hold it out as an example of the benefits of nationalizing health care without acknowledging, and even actively denying, the drawbacks. Average Canadians hear Americans criticizing their heath care system and mostly don't like to hear it. I don't blame them.

It does bear repeating that I am not saying the US system is perfect or does not need change. It needs to be completely privatized. In such a case, I think taxing it as any other employer supplied benefit is a good idea, it will get employers out of the health care business. IIRC, John McCain was excoriated for proposing this, along with some offsetting tax credits, last year. Barack Obama said it was entirely off the table.
"McCain would make you pay taxes on your health benefits, taxing your health care for the first time ever, raising costs for employers who offer health care so your coverage could be reduced or dropped completely. You won't find one word about it on his website."

...He called McCain's plan "so radical, so out of touch with what you're facing, and so out of line with our basic values."
New table, I guess.

Oh, such taxation is off the table for Unions
:
Union members serving under collective bargaining agreements would be exempt, even though they often have the richest and most extensive packages of benefits. Union officials have told Democratic leaders of Congress that because collective bargaining agreements can last several years, they should be exempt from any tax because contracts can't be changed quickly enough to avoid it.
It sounds like these contracts are supposed to have some force of law behind them, but I don't get why that's a barrier. When the secured creditors at Chrysler and GM were screwed in favor of the UAW, contracts didn't matter.

Besides, if the Unions were willing to change the contracts it could easily be done in 60 days. If not, we could have compulsory arbitration, just what the Unions say is a good idea in the case of card check.

IAC, I hope we can soon stop paying attention to Canada's health care system, because nationalization of US health care will have been defeated again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

For the children

"Posterity -- you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it."
--John Quincy Adams

Today, we must put this differently:

"Posterity -- you will never finish paying the costs I incurred in order to promote community organizing as THE national priority. I hope you will make good on your involuntary servitude."
--Barack Hussein Obama

Cash for Clunkers

Mike Rogers told me in a newsletter that he was proud of his participation in this porkdoggle. "Cash for Clunkers" has stupid consequences. Who knew?

Go here and set the year to 1990. The resulting list will contain the cheapest cars you can buy that will garner $4,500 of other people's money. Some examples of cars Mike Rogers has decided are worth $4,500:
  • 1990 Hyundai Sonata
  • 1990 Ford F-150
  • 1990 Oldsmobile Silhouette
  • 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis
Market Distortion 'R U.S.?

Go to the site and play with years, makes and models. You could make a quick buck and then buy a new Ford.

Kudos to The Auto Prophet - Helping you optimize against the algorithm.

Links broken, fixed. Sorry.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Some Lansing Independence Day Tea Party images


The picture above, and the video below, are about 20 minutes prior to the official start. Above you can see quite a few people en route in the background. Having taken a shot from the identical position in February, which I counted by hand, I am sure there are at least 500 people here.

We asked 2 State Troopers about the crowd. One said 300, which must have been based on an hour prior. He did say people kept showing up. On our way out another Trooper said 800, which is possible, but I would put the number higher. At least 1,000.

Based on the April 15 crowd of 5,000, it would not surprise me if there were 2,000 today.

Capturing the spirit of the day.

video

...our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

This is the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, signed by men who fully expected they might lose their lives and their fortunes, but who would never lose their honor.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Sometime today, while you are enjoying your freedom, find time to read the whole thing. If you have guests, read it to them out loud. If you have children, read it to them. The 56 men who signed our founding document deserve your remembrance.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Attend an Independence Day Tea Party

Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

List of Michigan venues here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Omission accomplished

Yesterday, our President called the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns "a milestone." He said, "This is an important step forward as a sovereign and united Iraq continues to take control of its own destiny."

Heretofore our President has been a relentless complainer about problems He inherited from the previous administration, but He failed to mention that He inherited this milestone from George Bush. Or that He had adamantly opposed the strategy that made it possible.

Update: 8:20PM See also Obama Admits to Being on the Wrong Side of History on Iraq

Not just words

I highly recommend three posts at Powerline by Dr. Paul Rahe, Professor of History at Hillsdale College, where he holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage.

Dr. Rahe demonstrates that the discrepancy between our President's words and actions is not confined to the obvious - broken promises, and claims that 180 degree rhetorical shifts form a "consistent policy." Obama's facile disconnecting from his own words, his happily invoked personal cognitive dissonance, goes to the man's core. But that is only the most obvious level. The deeper signs are subtle, but highly revealing of his mind and character.

It is worth reading all of Rahe's posts in full. I include some teasers to encourage you.

Dr. Paul Rahe:

Obama's gestures
If we are to comprehend what is going on, we must pay close attention not only to what Obama says but to what he conveys in other ways. His tone is nearly always moderate but what he hints at and what he intimates by way of body language often convey the opposite.

...In the first of the autobiographies that he claims to have written, Barack Obama frequently speaks of himself as being in the grips of rage. We would do well to take him at his word.
Obama's gestures, part 2
President Obama does not have to announce whose side he is on. He can convey by gestures that he is inclined to help America's enemies and to harm our friends, and he has done so repeatedly with consummate skill.
Obama's tyrannical ambition
President Obama has one distinguishing feature. He is a man of rigid self-discipline.

...It is, in fact, a sign of his astonishing self-discipline that we know next to nothing about his life apart from what he chose to impart in the two autobiographies he published. For a long time now, for longer than we can perhaps imagine, every move he has made has been carefully calculated, calibrated, and choreographed. In this regard, he is in the fullest sense what every politician aims to be: a self-made (one might even say a self-invented) man. It is easy to see why someone like Evan Thomas should think him a god.
Professor Rahe is the author of Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect