Friday, August 21, 2009

Into the Wild(erness -- sort of)

Heading out for a week plus away from civilization. When I return, I'd like the U.S. health care system to be fully reformed (including an appropriate primary emphasis on health rather than health care), the economy to have recovered, the troops to have returned from Afganistan, the globe to have stopped warming, U.S. import of McEwan's Scotch Ale to have been restored, and my dog's tail to be wagging. I am optimistic about one of those desires. Cheers y'all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The bed or the couch

The savvy parent gives a child a limited number of options that provide the illusion of power. "You can take your nap on the bed or on the couch". The kid happily chooses the more exciting option of taking a nap on the couch, forgetting for the moment that either way, he'll still be sleeping away his afternoon instead of playing outside in the back yard.

I feel a bit like that kid when looking at the current healthcare debate. It's become this polarized monster of a debate that wants to force us to either support it or oppose it with every ounce of fury (and even violence) that we can muster. Either you're an Obama-loving socialist democrat who will support anything Obama wants (regardless of how unrecognizably mutilated it's become along the way) or you're yelling "Keep your grubby hands off my healthcare! I'm an American and I like it just the way it is." The way the debate is presented by the media you're either in one camp or the other. You're with us or you're against us.

Like hell I am.

We're being fed a pile of (to use a FarScape-ism) dren. The "Obama" healthcare plan has no punch and would do little more than extend the current failed system to more people and plunge the nation further into debt (not that I think being in debt due to paying for healthcare is nearly as objectionable as being in debt due to war). At least in its early forms it was going to put some pressure on the big for-profit health insurance companies to actually get competitive and provide a quality product for a decent price (not that such improvements would address the underlying problems), but now that the plan has been castrated, it's just another expensive band-aid with an assortment of health insurance company logos blazoned across it.

And as for the current system? If you actually thinks that it's functioning well and should be left to continue serving us as is... well... you're probably not reading this blog.

So what else is there? Everyone rolls their eyes and takes a deep breath in anticipation of my long-winded sermon on the glories of government-run universal healthcare coverage. But wait, I'm NOT going to propose (yet again) that the government take over and institute a universal plan such as has been so successful in various European countries. Although I do think that such a plan is a feasible and potentially very successful option in some countries, I've given up on the idea that the US will ever achieve the degree of socialism necessary to make it fly. And I've (only very recently) begun to think that that's not such a bad thing, thanks primarily to an article from the September issue of The Atlantic. In it, the author, who is not a health professional, examines and discusses the underlying problems of the current US healthcare system more clearly and thoroughly than anyone I've previously encountered. He also proposes a solution that seems more reasonable and potentially compatible with the ideals and values of a large chunk of the population than any other that I've heard to date. I'd love to tell you all about it, but then that would spoil it, right?

So give it a read. It's well worth your time, could teach you something, might make you question previous positions, might confirm what you've known all along, and might even make you want to stomp your feet, shake your head, refuse to go to sleep on the couch or the bed, and run outside to play in the sunshine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Congratulations George!

A fellow enthusiast of science fiction, healthcare reform, and libertarian left politics, philosopher and online friend George Berger has posted an account (in English) of his experiences with the all-too-disappointing Dutch healthcare system on a Dutch news site here. His piece is embedded in the 6th comment, so scroll down to read it. Although I probably won't be able to read a word of the debate that it sparks (likely to be in Dutch), I hope that it's a lively one. His story is also available on the University of Washington's Population Health Forum here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009