As I listen to the banter about the poor rollout of the Affordable Care Act, I am struck by some who are rejoicing at the fact that millions of Americans continue to struggle to find affordable health insurance.
These are the same people who, while rejoicing, offer no suggestions to fix the problems or any viable alternatives. Instead, they say we have the best medical system in the world, so why change?
To say the U.S. has the best medical system in the world is factually inaccurate if you consider how health-care systems are measured.
Look at studies comparing the health-care systems of various countries. On balance, Americans are getting less and paying more, and this is a direct result of the way we finance and pay for health care.
The words “health care” and “profit” do not belong in the same sentence, or even the same paragraph. Some with fiduciary responsibility to shareholders find business decisions and health-care decisions conflict.
When that happens, it usually ends up being bad for the patient, as evidenced by the fact that the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. is related to medical expenses.
If there is a problem with the Affordable Care Act, it’s that it didn’t go far enough. The legislation needed a public option at minimum; a single-payer system would have been the best option.
Now we find ourselves trying to make a hybrid system work, hybrid in the sense that we’ve retained the for-profit insurance companies. We are trying to compel them to operate within a set of rules they helped negotiate, but really don’t like.
We’re hearing that in nuclear negotiations with Iran, no deal is better than a bad deal. Unless the political climate in Washington changes, which isn’t likely, the same may hold for the Affordable Care Act, no legislation may have been better than bad legislation.
I hope I’m wrong. We will see over the next six to 12 months.
Free press in a free fall
How can a free press function if sources of information — people who want a more just world and are willing to tell the truth to journalists — live in fear they will be charged with crimes?
Our government would like to both dam and damn this information, so the truth can be held from the people, the government left to do what it chooses in secret, in collusion with other governments.
When the government uses pervasive technologies, approved by elected leaders to stop terrorists, to prosecute sources for the press, it places freedom of the press in jeopardy. People who want to tell the truth must be able to do so without fear of arrest or being charged with crimes of treason or terrorism.
The government, actually several governments, have branded Edward Snowden a traitor and terrorist for telling the American people about a network of worldwide surveillance held secret from the American people, and people worldwide. He must now hide in Russia. How many truth-tellers will step forward when the result is their banishment to Russia?
How does unlimited surveillance combined with a government bent on silencing all critics serve representative government and freedom of the press?
This is not a small issue. It is the greatest constitutional crisis of our lifetime. I ask for the same thing President Lincoln asked for in the Gettysburg Address, that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Easy money, hard numbers
In his attempt to belittle the tea party, the author of Nov. 28 letter “Dangerous manifesto” fails to recognize the questions raised by his own diatribe.
For example, with respect to the Federal Reserve, what is the answer to the easy money policy that we have seen since the recession? The Fed’s quantitative easing has led to an asset bubble in the stock market.
Every time the Fed hints at a pullback in its bond-buying splurge, the stock market retreats. When the asset bubble eventually bursts, will it be the fault of the Fed, or the “greedy bankers on Wall Street”?
Of course the entitlement programs have societal value, but it will be a societal disaster if we ignore the looming demographic train wreck.
On the one hand, the elderly are living longer, and the baby boomers are retiring. On the other hand, the birth rate is declining, and the number of young workers who pay for the entitlements is falling. Fewer workers are paying for more retirees who are living longer. It cannot go on.
The solutions may not be found in the websites that the author is viewing, but neither are they found by ignoring the facts.
Shopping on Thanksgiving? It seems our supposed national and personal prosperity has caused poverty of heart and soul.
This joyful season becomes more sad every year.