12 March 2017

"A White House Devoid of Integrity"

"A White House Devoid of Integrity" is the title of an article published in "Time" this year.  The article is dated 17 January - a few days before the recent inauguration (click here to read it) .

Now that nearly two months have passed with a new president, now that our legislative bodies are again in session, questions arise.  Is the situation really as bad as the article suggests?  More to the point, as the title suggests, is our president devoid of integrity?  Or is the question exaggeration and harsh critical opinion, perhaps voters remorse, understatement, or simply good healthy skepticism?  Will it get worse before we decide?  And make no mistake, it is our job as citizens, every one of us, to OBJECTIVELY decide about everything government is supposed to be up to, equitably, on behalf of we, the people - and not supposed to be up to at unconscionable cost to we the people.  That means it is our job to pay attention and educate ourselves about process so that when we question and advise we know who to talk to with as much brevity as possible, in effective ways armed not simply with opinions but with necessary facts . . . like specific concepts accompanied by facts that substantiate our opinions; like bill titles, numbers, and passages in question.

Part of our job as citizens is to put the skids on those in government, at whatever levels of government they are found, when they do not represent the integrity of our nation, state, county, and town.  I want to point out that more local levels of government, like city and county, though on a smaller scale, are complex because of the need to balance local decision-making between meeting the needs of the people, and being in accordance with the pertinent regulations and laws of all higher levels of government.  So we all have a big responsibility, at several levels, as people who are empowered to self-govern.  Self-governing means being part of the decision making process. 

Those of us who have taken the oath as part of our job, to defend our federal Constitution against foreign AND domestic tom-foolery that has reached the level of "enemy" attitude and behavior, took it as a serious lifetime commitment.  Given that elected and appointed government officials take that oath, it is our job as citizens to remind them of that responsibility especially when our nation's stated values, principles, and ideals are threatened, and worse misrepresented.  It is our job - be the threat by those outside our nation, by those inside our nation, or, sometimes, by those who serve in government when they choose to first serve their own self-interests, or a foreign nation's interest, or corporate interests, before equitably serving the basic needs of we, the people - ALL of us.

President Obama impressed upon a whole new younger generation or two of Americans, the value and importance of becoming involved in political process as the advisors to government which it is our responsibility as citizens, to be.  Learning how to do so effectively, by using the system to evolve the system is an ongoing process that requires patience, perseverance, and the acquiring of detailed knowledge about the issues we are willing to take on.  No one can take on every issue.  But if we all do as well as possible in our advocating for issues we can and do take on, then we can have faith in ourselves and our fellow citizens to have our entire nation's best interests in mind and at heart. 

Part of doing as well as possible is the persistent follow-up of making government officials accountable to us about what we have advised.  That means we need to thank them when they do take our advice, and we need to make them accountable to us when they do NOT take our advice.   To do so is to educate them and to be educated by them.  Only those folks in government who are willing to be educated by we, the people, their constituents, are worthy to serve us in the offices to which we elect them.  That means when those you advise do not represent your wishes, then it is your obligation to yourself and everyone else, to find out from them why they have not.  To do so is part of the ongoing debate which is also supposed to exist between the constituents and those we elect.  Everyone learns something which contributes to more satisfactory decision making.  It is part of the process of win-win compromise and good governing. 

Remember - good government it is not a competition with a winning side and a losing side, as political party leadership tries to lead us to believe.  We need to remind those in office of the bottom line which is that although political parties owe allegiance to those they agree to promotes as candidates, it is not the party to whom the elected owe their allegiance.  They owe it to we, the people - ALL of us. 

Remember, also, that we do not elect folks to make our decisions for us.  We elect them to make decisions on our behalves.  The not so fine line of difference is that when decisions are made on our behalves, we have been part of the process that enables our legislators to be able to do their jobs of representing our needs.  Talk to any legislator and almost all of them will say they need and want more citizen participation.  Without it they can not make informed decisions which reflect the needs of their constituents.  Without it the risk is that our elected officials will represent what the lobbyists request who are paid by large corporate, industrial, and professional organizations to promote their special interests in preference to the needs of the constituents. 

Good government is a process of civil debate, often length civil debate when all those who should be involved in it are involved in it.  It is designed to accommodate ONLY a win-win scenario which meets the needs of all Americans, equally.  Our job, collectively, as citizens, is for each one of us to to make the governing process happen as it should.  It is not the work of the faint-hearted nor the apathetic.  It is the work of responsible American citizens who stand up to be counted as such.

10 March 2017

Revamping the Affordable Care Act

Currently our legislative bodies are once again addressing the structure of the system of health care in our nation.  But they should be addressing the collective health of our nation of which the structure of health care is a part.  So if they  are going to take the time and make the effort to address the inadequate structure of the system of health care, then why don't they simply choose to do it right, and get to work on  presenting a not-for-profit single-payer national system of health care to which all have equal access?  In the long run it would be much more cost effective all the way around, and our entire nation would, collectively, be much healthier.

Revamping the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is like putting lipstick on a pig.  Don't get me wrong, ACA is better than what we had, but a far cry from what we need.  What we need is not what the current efforts to revamp ACA are dedicated to trying to produce.

Watching Speaker Ryan on C-SPAN, as he speaks from a health insurance industry perspective, he is doing his best "used car salesman" pressure tactic routine, the revamping of the Affordable Care Act.  In doing so he makes it abundantly clear that he buys hook, line, and sinker into the "old=sick" risk pool stereotype.  One has to wonder if those are the expectations Speaker Ryan has for himself in old age.

The old=sick conundrum was a pet peeve of mine long before I could be categorized as old! Why? Because it goes without saying that along with life style choices, taking good care of health throughout life, including successfully navigating through pollutants (in air, water, soil, food; industrial pollutants, insecticide, radionuclides, etc.) makes a good BIG difference in the amount of health care that might NOT be needed for medical conditions which might NOT manifest in later years . . . unless there is a cumulative over-burden of pollutants, exacerbated by unhealthy life style choices (including nutrition). 

Not all retirement aged folks are health insurance liabilities simply because of being elders!  These days the health effects of pollutants cumulate so quickly that young=sick too - like childhood obesity from poor nutrition (and polluted food and water), outgassing from furniture and carpets, chemicals in fabric softener, pesticide residue on everything, not only from growing and harvesting of produce, but also absorbed by and through packaging because of insecticide gas used by shippers (often
naphthalene which is very evident from the clinging "moth ball" odor). Then there is the myriad of inoculations, so many all at once, which in some cases have proven to cause medical conditions which never should have been unforeseen had there been adequate research.  Add to that serious medical conditions from industrial pollutants in which category we should also put at least some pharmaceuticals. 

And of course there is pollution from wheeled vehicles, also airplanes and rockets said to produce much more than that of wheeled vehicles, which brings us also to the effects of pollutants on climate.  That is a whole additional issue, also related to health issues thus the structure of our health care system.  The list of pollutants goes on.  Many of today's pollutants did not exist or were not polluting the environment of my own rural Grandparents when they were growing up and when they were raising their children.  Consider that in 4-5 generations since 1900 the variety and number of environmental pollutants has increased exponentially.  Pollution from coal burning is one of the few that has been reduced.  Government is not efficiently monitoring, outlawing, and enforcing policies which minimize the problems.  And worse some of the dangerous chemicals that have been outlawed are in use again, like DDT. 

Pollution really does increasingly effect everyone's health in negative ways - if not immediately, then cumulatively later in life.  One effective way to spend less on health care all the way around is to reduce and get rid of pollutants, especially "hidden" pollutants that are in everyone's environment over which we, the people, should take more control.  It is we, the people, versus government sanctioned polluters . . . and currently we, the people, are batting zero because we are not persistently asking questions until we get appropriate answers from our legislative bodies at all levels of government, who are not supposed to be representing corporate needs in preference to the needs of we, the people.  The polluters vs people game is "fixed", currently, and will remain so until we, the people, persist in speaking up about the problems.

It is simple common sense that pollutants cumulate and eventually lead to health problems.   It takes diligent work, including acquiring personal knowledge, to detox as we go through life, because until serious medical conditions manifest the "illness industry" wants to do little or nothing other than provide pharmaceuticals for symptoms which in many cases increases the pollutant load in a body, some pharmaceuticals creating side effects and medical conditions as bad as, or worse than the symptoms for which they were prescribed.   Those who have helplessly experienced the "illness industry" journey through life of loved ones, know exactly of what I speak!  

Worse, the medical insurance industry masquerading as health care refuses to cover holistic health approaches that deal with treating health problems more naturally when possible, and preventing health problems while creating and maintaining optimal health, at far less cost because holistic care can minimize the likelihood of serious medical conditions developing.  Simply put, no health care system is adequate without also covering cost effective holistic approaches to healing and maintaining good health.  But neither original ACA nor revamped ACA do that.  It is doubtful at this point that the single payer system we need to establish would embrace holistic health.  Although there is some movement in the direction of embracing and teaching integrative medicine at medical schools, we do not see that dimension of care reflected in any legislative discussions about what ACA provides.  Instead we see "the system" in our own nation as the  problem it is.   Compared to other nations it has become a for-profit institutionalized illness industry from which the insurance and pharmaceutical industries profit, and in doing so it leaves many patient needs unmet while it limits the adequate exercising of health care professionals' skills and abilities. 

Health, Education, and Welfare used to be a government department. And it certainly is the work of government to set and enforce minimal standards regarding all three, throughout the nation.  But for many decades government has been falling short in it's responsibility for all three.  Is it any wonder the department no longer exists as an umbrella for these three standard setting and enforcing areas of government policy?  Again,
currently our legislative bodies are once again addressing the structure of the system of health care in our nation.  But they should be addressing the collective health of our nation of which the structure of health care is a part.   So if they  are going to take the time and make the effort to address the inadequate structure of the system of health care, then why don't they simply choose to do it right, and get to work on  presenting a not-for-profit single-payer national system of health care to which all have equal access?  In the long run it would be much more cost effective all the way around, and our entire nation would, collectively, be much healthier.

We, the people, need to be asking where the profits from the exorbitant costs of the current system are going.  Even with insurance, dealing with a major health issue leaves people in bankruptcy.  Part of the problem is that people pay for convenience.  But, when did we become a nation of people who pay every cost for health care set by insurance companies that is asked of us, without question?  We pay without question because the more affluent among us can and because it is convenient - at least more convenient and less time consuming than questioning rising costs and the quality of health care.  Throw more money at it and it will improve, is the mantra.  Get more money and ask for more money, is the mantra in response.  It has become a vicious circle because the unquestioned costs become unquestionable costs of convenience for the more affluent.   And costs continue to increase for all as access to care decreases so that unless we do evolve to a not-for-profit single payer national health care system, a large majority of Americans will be left without access to even basic health care.  Because, it will simply not be affordable and because it does not adequately meet patient needs, but instead meets the needs of those who monetarily profit from the system as it is.  Who is profiting from the exorbitant cost associated with the system of health care?  Let's follow the money and find the problems.

One more time,
currently our legislative bodies are once again addressing the structure of the system of health care in our nation.  But they should be addressing the collective health of our nation of which the structure of health care is a part - a big part.   So if our elected legislators  are going to take the time and make the effort to address the inadequate structure of the system of health care, then why don't they simply choose to do it right, and get to work on  presenting a not-for-profit single-payer national system of health care to which all have equal access?  In the long run it would be much more cost effective all the way around, and our entire nation would, collectively, be much healthier which is what we all deserve.