Category Archives: Government

Apparently breaking a bone has something to do with preventive or primary care… or not.

However you feel about the ACA, arguments like this are not doing supporters any favors:

healthcare

You cannot ask a 20-something, “What happens if you break your leg?” Hear her response of, “I intend to take personal responsibility for that.” Start in on the emergency-rooms-must-treat laws, then throw out, “The. . . ACA is designed to reduce that most expensive kind of treatment by incentivizing primary and preventive care, because emergency room bills add up fast, and certainly not all of those charges incurred . . . would or could be paid.”

True: ERs cannot refuse you because you are uninsured or cannot pay.

True: The young person that breaks their leg may not be able to pay their bills out of pocket.

False: Primary and/or preventive care has something to do with this example.

False: The ACA will somehow reduce “that most expensive kind of treatment” when someone suddenly breaks a bone.

The emergency room thing is true, and had the journalist presented the idea that paying for insurance will prevent unpaid bills from effectively being foisted on taxpayers outright, that’d be fine. Instead, we are introduced with, “ERs cannot refuse care” and led into incentivizing primary and preventive care… Sorry, is there a vaccine to prevent us from breaking bones? Because if so, I’d like that, please.

The only way this works is if we’re not talking about “young invincibles” and are instead talking about the elderly population prone to osteoporosis.

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Stay Away from Floodwater: Why I’m upset about Sandy

I am terribly far behind on my challenge, but instead of specifically writing a challenge post, I wanted to write about something that has been bothering me for a while.

It concerns the events surrounding Hurricane Sandy.

I live in the United States, considered by many to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in the nation. There is only one reason that any person living in this country should have died in that storm – that reason is stupidity.

But that is not the only reason people died in and after Sandy. That makes me angry. Very, very angry.

In the last ten years of my life – the years I have been aware of what is going on around me – we have watched any number of disasters cause far too many deaths. Most of these disasters struck with little to no warning. Tsunamis, for example, are usually unpredictable. Seismologists and geologists (and whoever else) studying earthquakes are working to find more reliable ways to predict those disasters, but progress isn’t as fast as we all wish it could be. Weather prediction, on the other hand, is quite advanced. We may not be able to say with exactitude where a hurricane will make landfall days before it happens, but we can approximate the time of landfall and the general area. We can predict days ahead of time that a hurricane will develop, and we can say with almost complete certainty that it will hit one area or another.

We can estimate storm surge and its effects. We can say with near certainty what areas will experience flooding days ahead of time. There was plenty of time to communicate and heed the evacuation warnings for Sandy. Plenty of time for officials to make certain everyone would heed their warning except perhaps a few exceptionally stupid people, but it seems to me that officials didn’t work hard enough. I’m not blaming the deaths on officials, but rather on the anti-science bias of the American public and the clearly inadequate SOPs that led to people staying in places that should have been completely evacuated and to inept responses after the storm.

Getting on the television and telling people to leave their homes and stuff behind was and is not enough, particularly in areas unused to disastrous storms. If you tell an American living in tornado alley that there is a tornado touching down and they need to find shelter, they will find shelter. If you tell someone living in the flood plains of a major river like the Mississippi or Minnesota to leave his or her home because that river is on the verge of flooding, they will nearly always leave their home*. When a damn breached in Iowa in 2010 and residents of the area nearby had only minutes to evacuate, no injuries were reported. Minutes. Why do these people listen to warnings and heed evacuation notices? Because they have seen on a somewhat regular basis the effects  flooding or high winds can have. Talk to a Californian about earthquakes – many will tell you that if they had advance warning of an earthquake, they would absolutely heed it.

I grew up near the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. I grew up being told over and over again how dangerous floodwater is. To stay away from flood waters, even if it looks shallow, even if it looks like just an inch. Don’t ever try driving through even what looks like a small amount of water. I grew up watching clips of the very few people that don’t heed these warnings and discovering that I actually like being safe and alive. People who live in or near flood-prone areas better know what can happen when you ignore evacuation orders. We don’t worry about the possibility that officials are basically crying wolf.

I think in a lot of cases, the people of New York City and New Jersey that got caught in floodwater lacked that type of knowledge. I take for granted that everyone around me knows to stay away from flooding and to heed evacuation or emergency orders. When people here hear of a single person or family that tried to ride out a flood or just flatly refused to leave their home, we have a hard time feeling sympathy for them. We all understand how attached people get to homes and things, but in the end your home and your things aren’t going to come through the storm any better off just because you stay, and in staying you are a lot more likely to lose the most valuable thing of all – your life.

In places where floods and high-winds or other major hard-to-predict disasters are not a common occurrence, though, maybe people just don’t realize what they risk by ignoring warnings. That makes for a situation in which community leaders and officials need to get out the word about evacuations by doing more than just going on television. Whether that means going door to door or what, I don’t know. All I know is that it is shameful that in the year 2012 in the United States of America a hurricane predicted days ahead of time was able to take so many lives in one of the most developed areas of one of the most developed countries in the world.

*remember my stupidity exemption?

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Ads that send me into blinding rage will cease… for a while.

Every citizen of the United States (and any person that lives here, I suppose) can breathe a sigh of relief. No, not because Obama was re-elected. You can breathe a sigh of  relief because you will no longer have to see or hear those ridiculous campaign ads. (The ads I refer to in the title of this post were the “vote yes” ads about the marriage amendment that were full of lies.)

The election is over, and I’ve been waiting so long for the few months of relief we will have. Okay, it might be a bit longer than that. Regardless, I’m happy it’s done.

I can’t say I’m all that pleased by the results. Michelle Bachmann, for example, was re-elected despite proving herself to be as plastic and horrible as every other incumbent politician in her debate against her opponent, Jim Graves. Jim Graves is my ideal candidate – fiscally conservative, willing to make changes, but socially at the very least he is live-and-let-live (he’s a Dem, in case you have no clue what I’m talking about).

Believe it or not, my ballot was purple. I am one of those independents that often splits my ticket. Never have I voted for all Dems or all GOP candidates. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, I highly doubt anyone who has actually educated themselves about each and every candidate individually could say all the candidates of one party or the other are best qualified.

I have got to thinking after reading a few post-election articles here and there: the rigidity of our parties at this point in time is horrifying. I doubt if Jefferson or Adams, for example, would mind so much that we have two major parties. I do think they’d be appalled by how divided the parties are and how unwilling to compromise.

It’s not exactly a bright part of our history, but representatives from the developing nation were actually willing to compromise on slavery in order to come to an agreement. Obviously that’s terrible, but at the same time what happened to our willingness to compromise?

Occasionally I say something along the lines of, “I like that our government is inefficient and has a hard time getting things done.” On the surface, that’s true, but it’s not quite reflective of what I really mean.

I like having two parties that disagree sharing power because I like that there are at least two perspectives being brought to the table. It should be hard to get things done, not because no one ever compromises or changes their minds, but because it takes time to hammer out solutions that everyone agrees on.

I’m not talking about the toothless legislation that is so often passed that’s full of weird compromises and pork spending. What I mean is really getting down to the bottom of things. Sometimes the Democrats are right. Sometimes the Republicans are. In a functioning democratic republic, time should be spent convincing one another using evidence to show which policy ideas are good ideas. Those ideas should then be pursued.

Back to the rigidity of parties – people like to talk about China’s political system, often saying it’s a bad system. I don’t ever want to have their system, but the United States is coming frighteningly close. In China, it’s my understanding that dissent is not well-liked. More and more that is true about both parties in the United States of America. Parties practically disown you if you run with them, but act individually when elected. It’s a terrible trend and we need to stop it.

On another note, I read somewhere that Puerto Rico’s non-binding referendum may have come out in favor of statehood. Why the hell would they want to become part of this country now of all times?

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Marriage Equality: Please Vote No in MN this November

No, wait, make that plain old equality. It’s just in the guise of marriage equality for now.

Minnesota, my state, is voting on a constitutional amendment this November to define marriage as between one man and one woman. There are a lot of ads out there. A lot of billboards, yard signs, you name it. Vote Yes! Vote No! All over the place.

I have to admit I smile every time I see a “vote no” bumper sticker. I smile even more when it’s a Catholic “vote no” sticker because that says to me that at least some religious people understand and potentially value secular government. Or maybe they just don’t want to treat a particular group of people as second class citizens.

I am not happy that we’re voting on this amendment. In Minnesota only heterosexual couples are allowed to marry one another right now. Basically what that means is we’re voting on an amendment that would more or less reaffirm the current laws. Do you have any idea what a tremendous waste of time that is?

This also means we’ll be voting on whether or not we want the past to rule the present and the future. To elaborate on that: by putting a constitutional amendment up to popular vote today we’re basically saying the current popular values, if those values are in favor of the amendment, should rule the future generations no matter the values of future generations. If the amendment is voted down it just means people today have no say on the nature of marriage tomorrow.

Could you imagine if prohibition had never been repealed? If that value from the past had stuck with us? We’d be living under a world decided far too heavily by past generations. One of the issues I have with this amendment (and I have many) is that it is a blatant attempt to prevent future generations from making up their own minds about their values. An amendment to the constitution should not be so value-based as this. Allowing women to vote was a good amendment because it brought more equality into the world. Prohibition was a bad amendment, not just because it drove production and distribution of alcohol underground, but because it was an attempt to impose one groups’ values on an entire country.

Beyond that I would like to share what Mayor Cory Booker from New Jersey has to say about marriage equality:

We should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority. This is a fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for.

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