Saturday, June 24, 2017

I only wish I was this articulate

Alone among developed nations, the United States’ approach to health care is a hodge-podge.  There is Medicare for our elderly and Medicaid for the very young, the poor and the disabled.  The Veteran’s Administration serves our nation’s finest and the Indian Health Service does the same for our native American brothers and sisters.  For the vast majority of workers, the model we settled on after World War II relied upon employer-provided health insurance.

By the turn of the 21st century, changes in society were straining that model to its breaking point, especially for workers in the private sector.  Lifetime employment with one company was no longer realistic, yet changing jobs and insurance could expose families to devastating losses of coverage.  Medical bills became the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the US as the number of Americans without coverage rose.  Emergency room visits by the uninsured increased and those costs were being shifted, in a manner both costly and inefficient, back to those who still had policies. Two classes of Americans were developing: those insured and those not.

In 2006 then-Gov. Mitt Romney, with his Bain Capital market-driven instincts, teamed up with the Heritage Foundation (often called Ronald Reagan’s think tank) and the Massachusetts Legislature to enact a law designed to cover all of that state’s population with health insurance.  Soon afterwards, policy makers in other states including Alaska began to craft versions of that bill to fit the needs of their citizens.

The central idea of what was then called RomneyCare was rooted in a classically conservative principle: each person should be financially responsible for his or her own health care.  The role of government was to try to level the health insurance playing field through reforms, and to make private health insurance available to those without it at a reasonable cost.  I’m not saying the idea was perfect; but it solved several problems at once and delivered measurable improvements.

The elections of 2008 led to the introduction of a RomneyCare-type bill in the U.S. Congress.  That bill’s passage in March 2010 as the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare, led us to where we are today.  You can debate ObamaCare all you want, but its conservative nature is a matter of history.  Knowing this open secret of the pedigree of our current health care law helps make clearer the dilemma faced by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in 2017.  They couldn’t accept ObamaCare because of the last seven years of nasty politics, but there is no further room to move as you go further to the right on the health care spectrum and not be simply throwing people to the wolves.

Which is exactly what the bill before the Senate does.   Put simply, the question before our highest elected leaders is whether to tell millions of Americans to fend for themselves in the health care wilderness.

That’s wrong.  It does not have to be this way.  Health care may not be a right, in the same way as free speech or the right to bear arms, but most people would agree that health care is inextricably woven into our human existence.  Not as important, perhaps, as air, water and food, but still very very important.  And just as we work to make clean air and clean water available to all, the nature of health care seems to call out for a similar approach: collective action to protect a collective good.

The bill before our US Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, does not advance the public interest in health care.  It takes fifty years of slow incremental progress for millions of people and trades it for a big tax cut for a small group of wealthy Americans.  I can’t sit by and let that happen without raising an alarm.

This is the week for action on this issue.  Write Senators Murkowski and Sullivan.  Call them, email them, or speak to them in civil tones if you see them out in public.  Plead for them to say ‘no’ to this latest idea.  No. No. No.  Tell them to go back to the drawing board and start again.

Hollis French
Anchorage, Alaska
Okay, I've been all sunshine and light today basking in the afterglow of the East Anchorage High School Class of 1972 reunion last night, but I haven't forgotten how we live now:
From the Atlantic

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I put on my bib bike shorts today. They're the ones that look like something Russian weightlifters might wear, if Russian weightlifters routinely wear diapers.
The shorts have logged many miles over the last few years, hanging as they have on my bathroom door. Of course, they're spandex, but even so they seemed a little tight since I last wore them in 2010. I was in them for an hour or so, and the cushioning effect was really noticeable, but I think a big part of that was because I was sitting on the couch waiting for the team to get ready. By the time they did, the moment had passed for me and I put on pajamas instead.
Still, equipment familiarization is important and now I know how to crawl into the shorts and also how disgusting using a restroom is going to be since access to that area of the, equipment, as it were, is going to involve taking off everything except my socks and simultaneously keeping straps up off the floor. To be honest, I'm surprised that weightlifting doesn't involve more spontaneous outbursts, if you will, although that could be what all that padding is there for.

Life in a Northern town; It's the solstice and it didn't actually snow.

from Facebook

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In the Sixth Grade, our teacher, Mr. Martin, made us study the Constitution, probably because it was so new back then.
We had to memorize the Preamble and be able to answer questions about Articles, Sections, Paragraphs, and Parts of Government. Also Amendments, although, at the time, there were fewer of those.
But it has been like (literally) fifty years since those halcyon days and I've forgotten a lot, so maybe someone can explain by what authority the US has jets flying in the airspace of the sovereign state of Syria and shooting down a Syrian jet. Because Congress hasn't declared war and the Assad government hasn't attacked us, so what gives?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The ACA repeal bill passed by the House was breathtaking in its cynicism and mean-spiritedness as it tried to disguise a massive tax cut for the wealthy as health care reform. And now the Senate is ashamed to let us even SEE their version.
I hope our Alaska Senators will stand up for openness and a reform that improves access to health care.

Monday, June 12, 2017

One year ago today. Apparently I say this a lot.
Terrorism only works if we are terrorized. Fifty murders are a tragedy, but barely moves the dial on gun violence in this country.
ISIS is losing physical territory in the world, they are resorting to lone wolf attacks because that's what they can do. They do not pose the kind of existential threat that Soviet missles did, nor Nazi tanks. Invading another country, carpet bombing villages won't make us safer. Want to defeat terrorism? Don't be terrorized.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Because I just posted about Waukon, where Karen's family lives, I thought I'd share this link to the Cresco scouting report where she also has a fun branch of the family (Editor's* note: such a struggle between, "a fun branch," or, "the fun branch." Ultimately, I decided that everyone is fun in their own way; Misty and Ben, especially so.) I don't think I've ever been to Cresco, but I'm encouraged to read that they have a Mabe's which is ranked as one of the country's best pizza parlors, possibly because their cheese is probably made practically on-site. *As if.

from Facebook

Because I don't know exactly what I'm doing, I may be sharing this article from Chris more than once. Sorry. Or, not sorry, if I'm only sharing it once. Anyway, this is where we're staying the last night during RAGBRAI, and then maybe some more nights because it's where a lot of Karen's family lives. I haven't been to all the places they mention in this article, but I have been to several, and they are all as good as advertised. So, good news, today I finally squeezed into a pair of riding shorts. Bad news; I'm afraid Iowa cheese curds may squeeze me back out. Especially the deep fried ones at Mulligan's which are, probably literally, to die for.

from Facebook

These are the men and women that our president calls, "the enemies of the people." He's not fit to lick their boots. Although, now that I think of it, that would be a good place for him to start making up for the things he's said.

from Facebook