Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where's my America?

Glenn Greenwald has another good one today about the Bush/Obama Administration and their efforts to keep secret their torture regime. I wish I could grab Mr. Obama by the lapels and scream, "Hey, Bud. This is what we voted AGAINST!"

First off, Ronald Reagan signed the treaty outlawing torture and requiring anyone with knowledge of same to arrest and detain the offenders. Instead, the Bush Administration tortured at will, usually to desperately find some means to justify their illegal, immoral, and unnecessary war against Iraq, the biggest Arab enemy to those who attacked us on 9/11.

Obama ran against this sort of crap in 2008 and won a landslide of electoral votes. Now he is trying to avoid at all costs holding anyone in the present or previous regime accountable for their actions defying United States and international law.

They are even continuing the Bushevik threats to cut off intelligence information to Britain if they don't keep quiet our torture history. Of course, their being complicit in it is an embarrassment to them, so they willingly comply. But does the Obama Administration really intend to place British citizens at risk for terrorist attacks if they have the temerity to disclose what they know about the law-breaking of the people the Obama folks DEFEATED at the polls last fall? Why? Are they continuing the practices they campaigned against? Wouldn't be the only thing they continued after campaigning against it. But that's grist for other rants.

I want to ask Mr. Obama, if I get to speak to him at a "town hall" or other such event: "Sir, is it true that you want to open the people of Britain to terrorist attacks if they disclose illegal activities of your predecessor?

"Yes, I understand that you want to look forward, not back. So does that mean we will shut down the court system and let all the defendants go so we can expend our efforts on looking forward and preventing crimes from happening in the future? In your words: 'look forward not back'?

"No? So then this is a country of men and not laws. The law doesn't apply to Republican Administration officials, then. We have completely undone the American Revolution and have gone back to the Divine Right of Kings. Only in this case, it's divine right of the Executive branch to hold themselves above the law with no accountability whatsoever. Is that it, sir?

"Sir, anyone who argues your position on this affair is beneath contempt. Good day, sir."

Wish I could confront him like this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Competition

Why is it that those who scream the loudest about wanting the public schools to compete with private enterprise through the voucher program also scream the loudest about NOT letting the government compete with private enterprise when it comes to health insurance?

So if the free market is more efficient than the government and can do everything better, then what are they afraid of? After all, haven't FedEx and UPS done well in competition with the U. S. Postal System?

And the argument that having to compete with the private sector will force improvements onto the educational offerings of the public school system--doesn't that apply equally to the health care system?

As I said, what are they afraid of?

Could it be that the private sector will have to stop hiring overpaid bean counters to keep from having to pay claims? After all, government bureaucrats won't have that incentive, so they will be inclined to pay the claims that come across their desks in the same way that the VA works.
Thus, the CEOs won't be able to feather their nests at our expense as easily as they did in the past.

Yeah, if it works for the public schools, why not for health care.

What are they really afraid of?

Friday, July 17, 2009

And Furthermore...

Continuing with the previous post, I submit that if they want to talk about people from other countries coming here for health care they can't get at home (at least not as soon as they want), then we can talk about Americans going abroad for health care they can't afford at home.

There are hospitals in Bangkok, Bangalore, etc. set up to cater to Americans who can fly over there and have their bypasses, knee replacements, or whatever, for a small fraction of what it costs over here, even taking air fare into account. Do they get inferior care because it is out of our country? Not at all. It is world-class in terms of both equipment and the training of physicians and staff. So, as one article (Fast Company dot com, April, 2008) says, it's a question of credit card vs. bankruptcy.

Now, if attracting people from abroad to receive health care is a measure, then ours isn't the "best in the world," is it?

So tell me again: What makes our system of health care the "best in the world"?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Best in the World"?

So they keep harping on how the United States has the "Best health care system in the world." So where is the data to back up that assertion?

The only thing I have heard is some anecdotal evidence of some people from other countries coming here to have medical procedures done that they can't get at home, at least not in a timely manner. So is that it? Those few, usually wealthy, people?

What about the rest of us? What about the almost fifty million United States citizens who don't have insurance, thus dragging down the system for the rest of us. Those who don't have insurance tend to put treatment off until they have to go to the emergency room. Thus you have up to a five-hour wait, while you're bleeding, in pain, etc. You don't have those waits in the civilized countries that have real health care. So the five-hour ER waits make this the "best in the world"?

What about access to doctors? The civilized countries that have complete health care for all have more doctors per thousand people. I guess if they don't have to worry about maximizing their earning power via gouging insurance companies for fees, then they don't have to gravitate to expensive specialties. So, maybe that's why they call ours the "best in the world:" more expensive specialists. So they might have a few more weeks to wait for specialized treatment in England or Canada. Is that worse than the extra five hour ER waits here?

They don't have those long waits for treatment, surgery, etc. in France, Germany, Italy, Japan. They have a different system, but they still spend half the money on health care that we do, and they live longer.

That brings up the next question: Is it death rates? Our death rates are higher at every age group. That means we have shorter life spans than the other civilized countries that have universal health care. Does dying earlier make ours the "best in the world"?

They spend half what we spend on health care, yet they have coverage for everyone, and longer life spans. Ours is the most expensive health care in the world. Does that inefficiency make ours the "best in the world"?

It's the most inefficient in the world, that we can say with confidence. When will we catch up?

I want to be healthier.

Let's see what we can learn from the rest of the world.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Enough Already!

Ten years ago Princess Diana died, and from the hoo-raw surrounding the event, you would think it was Mother Teresa that had died.

Oh, that's right, Mother Teresa DID die at the same time. But you would never know it from the media coverage going on at the time. It was All Diana All the Time.

I hoped never to experience another media circus like that again, but now that Michael Jackson is dead, the media circus is Princess Di times ten!

For three solid weeks I have had Michael Jackson crammed down my throat. It has gotten to the point that if I never hear the name again, it will be just fine. NPR, and event the BBC were in on it, for crying out loud.

Now, I don't hate Mr. Jackson. I rather enjoy some of his music, especially from the Jackson 5ive years. Even when one of his "grown-up" songs comes on the radio, I don't change the channel.

But this hagiography is ridiculous. The man had a troubled life, and lived it on the front pages of the tabloids. I didn't try to seek out any information about him, but you couldn't avoid it.

Now, you can't avoid mention of his death and his funeral. Last I heard they hadn't even buried the poor body yet, because they were so busy milking this thing for all it's worth.

Can I get a break from this without cutting myself off from radio and TV altogether?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth!

Two hundred thirty-three years ago today, a bunch of liberals (the DFHs of their day) took action against the oppresive government that would have preferred they sit down and let the Administration (the Crown) do what was best for keeping the colonies safe.

The Limbaughs, Hannitys, and O'Reillys of the day were arguing for loyalty--the divine right of kings.

Let us remember their spirit and keep the current Administration's feet to the fire. No more letting them get away with Bush policies of torture, spying on Americans, and bailing out fat cats.

Speak up, and keep the Revolution alive.