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Archive for July, 2009

The Beer Summit, which includes President Obama, Harvard professor Henry Gates, and Cambridge police officer Sgt. James Crowley has been scheduled for Thursday.  President Obama has reportedly selected Budweiser as his beer of choice, Sgt. Crowley will have Blue Moon, and Prof. Gates either Red Stripe or Beck’s. However, the situation is fluid and these choices could change. Even so, I’ve been wondering if there is anything we can read into these beer choices. For example, President Obama chose a Bud – a good old American beer.  It’s a good Presidential choice – shows he’s all American.  Right?  Well not exactly – not any more.  Budwieser was recently sold to ImBev, a company based in Belgium.  So the President will be drinking, of all things,  Belgish beer.  Now, is that right? I mean if he’s not going to drink real American beer, like Sam Adams, what kind of a message is he sending? And if he wants to drink a foreign beer, why not have a Guinness? After all, he is a little bit Irish.  But come to think of it, have you noticed how he seems to be ignoring that? It’s all fine for him to kowtow to the Saudi Arabian head of state as a gesture to the Muslim world (of which Obama is not a part) and he has hastened to visit England and get chummy with the royal family (of which he is not a part) but he has blatantly skipped paying a visit to the old sod, despite the certainty of a hundred thousand welcomes, despite the fact that the Irish have even written a song about him: There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama.  But I digress….

What about the choice of Blue Moon for Crowley? Just what is that supposed to mean?  Think about it.  Is there a subliminal message here? You know – once in a blue moon? What does that imply anyway?  While we’re on the subject, remember the incident that started this whole thing? The question that has to be answered, and perhaps will be answered, is this: What should Crowley have done?  Or, to put it another way, what would a wise Latina woman have done? Which brings me to this: isn’t the term “latina woman” sort of repetitively redundant?  Isn’t Latina already the feminine version of the word, so adding “woman” is unnecessary?  And if so, what does that say about judge Sotomayor’s thought processes? Isn’t the use of redundant language enough of a reason for the Republicans to vote as a united block against her because it shows faulty judgment?  But I digress…

And Professor Gates.  First I had heard that he didn’t drink.  Now it’s he’s having either Red Stripe or Beck’s.  I hope it’s not Beck’s because that reminds me of Glenn Beck and then it conjours up all sorts of images of faulty reasoning – faulty reasoning that Sotomayor could never even hope to aspire to.   Or maybe it’s Red Stripe.  Red Stripe is brewed in Jamaica, the land of Bob Marley, the land of “One Love” and “Everybody let’s get together”.  It sure sounds appropriate, but does it sound like Gates?  Wasn’t he supposed to be flying off the handle and accusing Crowley of discrimination and just creating a general ruckus?  Why would Gates choose a beer like that?  When you think about it, his sort of personality sounds more like a Beck’s (Glenn, I mean) doesn’t it?  But I digress…

You know, none of this would be happening if it hadn’t been for that news conference that President Obama had and that reporter asked that question about the Cambridge incident.  You know what I would do if I was President?  I would cancel that reporter’s White House press pass for LIFE!  (This, by the way, is one of the reasons I am not President.) But come on. You know that was a setup question.  That reporter was intentionally pushing Obamas buttons and he took the bait – thereby completely distracting the country from the health plan issue and getting everyone to think about race relations and what kind of beer they like.  Clearly this reporter was a Republican Party plant – look, I don’t care about the evidence – I just know it’s true.  But I digress…

Now, let’s get down to the real issue.  Was Crowley right or was he wrong?  Was Gates right or was he wrong?  It all comes down to stereotyping – which both swear they don’t do, but I’m not so sure.  It’s easy to do that because most  of us use a type of reasoning that is often true, but not always true.  For example, try sticking you hand in a bee’s nest. You will probably get stung.  If you do this ten times, you will probably get stung ten times.  You learn to keep your hand out of bee’s nests.

Now try an experiment. Take a Sacagawea one dollar coin from your pocket and get ready to toss it in the air.  But first, let’s some initial conditions.  Let’s suppose you have already flipped your coin ten times and each time it came up heads.  What is the chance it will come up heads the next time you flip it?  The answer is 50-50.  It’s always 50-50 every time you flip the coin, no matter how long the last heads or tails streak was.

On the other hand suppose you know that blacks commit 80% of the break-ins in Cambridge (I’m just making up that number as an example).  What is the probability that Professor Gates broke into his own house? The answer is 100% because he did – but it was his own house and he was locked out, so it was OK.  But was Sgt. Crowley a bit biased because of the Sacagawea effect?  It can easily happen.  We can easily make the wrong estimates of probabilty, and I’m willing to bet that Sgt.  Crowley wasn’t completely open minded when he met Prof. Gates, even though he might think that he was.  I am also willing to bet that Prof. Gates wasn’t completely open minded when he met Sgt. Crowley. He probably has the same issues with probability.

So will everything be resolved when the glasses are drained?  Will everything just seem a little bit better – if not clearer?  Probably.

If I were to have any input to the occasion, I would suggest they all drink the Jamaican beer.  Then just relax, ’cause everything’s gonna be alright.

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She said she was stepping down for the sake of her State.  There were too many investigations, too much of the good people’s money being spent on her defense. She would do the right thing and pass the Basketball of State to her lieutenant governor.  But she’ll be OK, Alaskans, don’t worry – she’ll find a way.  But what about Alaska?  What will Alaskans do when Putin rears his head and flies over Alaska and then where does he go?  What about that? What will the Alaska newpaper industry do now? Remember how she said she reads all the newpapers and news magazines? But then she couldn’t recall the name of any of them?  Of course not.  Could you if your mind was so chock full of facts from non-stop reading of every possible news magazine and newspaper available in Alaska?  Of course not, you would barely be able to think straight or even talk in complete sentences because of all the information overload you would be experiencing.  Think of the financial impact this will have on the news publishing industry – who’s going take up where Sarah left off , who’s going to buy the newspapers, I mean all of them, like Sarah did?

Sarah won’t be suffering, because, inevitably, she’ll be back.  Look at her poll numbers.  A recent Gallup poll said that 71% of Republicans would vote for her if she ran for President. It is here, in these statistics where we can get an idea of something far more ominous than the stepping down of Sarah Palin.  Our process for selecting our supreme leader, our President, is badly broken.  Sure, we elected Barack Obama – our candidate for change – but the jury is still out on him, and we have some time to go before we can say for sure if we will get the change we thought we were getting.  But leave President Obama aside for a few moments.  Just think back in time…

There was George W. Bush – a C student from Yale who managed to dodge combat duty in Vietnam.  He could stir people’s imagination by alluding to high sounding principles, but in the end had neither the intelligence nor the principles we thought he had.  Then there was Bill Clinton – a smart guy for sure – but his principles were a little shaky and his definitions of commonly used words, like “sex” weren’t the same as everyone else in the country.  If we go back in time we find that a good many of our Presidents were by no means the best and the brightest, nor were they the most honest and brave. Some,  like Richard Nixon had obvious character flaws, and others, like Ronald Reagan had a hard time distinguishing between reality and the movies – “Go ahead, make my day”:  a President ( a former Hollywood actor) who received his guidance for running the country from old movie scripts.

So is this our meritocracy?  This is the land where anyone – literally anyone, it seems – can become President.  Is this a good thing?  What does it say about America that approximately 1/3 of Americans have already said they would vote for Sarah Palin to be President?  We have so many truly gifted, intelligent people in America who could undoubtedly perform admirably as President.  We have so many principled, honest, and forthright people who would work tirelessly for our country. But where are they?  Where are all the truly gifted people who have what it takes to be a legendary leader?

There is a flaw in our democratic system – a very serious flaw.  Somehow we have evolved into a system where, more often than not, we are forced to choose, not between the better of two individuals, but the lesser of the evils.  Why?  Is it the hidden oligarchy that pulls the strings of our government via its enormous wealth?  Has our system become so corrupt with big business and lobbyists shoving money at candidates and elected officials that no intelligent person or person of principle can even be considered for our highest office?  How is it that in a country of 300,000,000 people that, not too long ago we had to choose between George W Bush and John Kerry for President?  Is that truly the best we can do?  That, in itself, is absolute proof that the wheels have come off our system.

Is it possible that the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, has fallen so far that its guiding lights and inspiration are now Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck?  Is this some kind of a joke?   Is it possible that of all the potential candidates for President that Sarah Palin is the best the Republican Party can do?  Surely there are at least 299,999,999 other Americans better suited for the job.  But, it’s true – the majority of Republicans today want her.

The situation is truly sad, but Sarah is right, we shouldn’t cry for her, Alaska.

We should cry for ourselves.

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The little incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts has taken on a life of its own since President Obama declared that the Cambridge police had acted stupidly. Now the president of the Cambridge police union wants President Obama to apologize for his remark.  Should he?  Was he wrong? Could it be that the real truth is that the Cambridge police acted intelligently – perhaps even with a stroke of genius – when they arrested a man, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, for the crime of telling the police to get the Hell off his property?  Clearly, by the time the arrest was made the policeman was well aware that he was arresting the owner of the property and that the original call to 911 had been in error.  No one had broken into Professor Gates’ house after all.

So why was Professor Gates so upset?  Was he unhappy that the Cambridge police were trying to protect his property?  Of course not.  He was upset because he understood that he was being accused of breaking in to his own house and he believed the mistake had been made due to racial prejudice – something with which he is apparently familiar.  So what really happened? Who said what to who and when did they say it?  I’m willing to bet we’ll never know because each side will stick to their version of events.  We can only look at the facts and try to make our own determination of what really happened.

Let’s suppose you are Mr. Gates and you were sitting in your home, watching TV or something,  and the doorbell rings.  It’s a policeman.  The policeman says something like, “Good afternoon sir, we’ve had a report of a break-in at this address.  Are you aware of any break-in here?”

You answer, “No, officer.  I have no idea what you are talking about.  I’m all alone here.”

“I see,” the officer replies and looks at his notepad, “are you Mr. Gates?”

“Yes, I am, sir.”

“OK, would you mind showing me some identification just so I can be sure it’s you that I am talking to?”

“No problem.  There you go,” you  say holding up your ID.

“OK. Thank you very much.  Are you sure there is no one else in the house?  Do you want me to take a look?”

“Oh, no. I’m fine. Everything is fine here.”

“Alright then.  Thank you Mr. Gates. Have a nice day.” The policeman gets back into his car and radios his report and Professor Gates relaxes in an easy chair.

This is not what happened.  Why? Despite the stories from both sides, there is only one plausible explanation: the Cambridge policeman failed to communicate.  He failed to treat Mr. Gates as a person presumed to be innocent.  It’s understandable that this happened – after all there had been a report of a break-in.  Even so, he knew that the person who answered the door was not necessarily the criminal he was looking for. He didn’t have enough information at that time to make a decision.

All Americans expect to be treated by the police as if they are innocent – because they usually are.  The policeman knew this, but he failed to communicate – in fact he did something even worse: he communicated the wrong message. He communicated the message that he believed the homeowner was guilty.  He was wrong.  He then compounded his error by arresting the homeowner for being indignant about being judged without a shred of evidence. The police officer was doubly wrong.  We all have a right to be indignant when confronted by police stupidity, bias, injustice, or worse.

The police officer involved should apologize.  He screwed up.  He made a completely innocent homeowner angry and then compounded the problem by arresting the innocent man for becoming angry – in his own home. He should have just walked away.

Perhaps he should consider another profession, one where you don’t have to communicate.

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The fundamental problem with the President’s health insurance plan is that it is an insurance plan. So what’s wrong with that?  Shouldn’t everyone be insured?  Maybe, maybe not. Everyone should be able to get their medical needs attended to in a way that they can afford, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to giving everyone an insurance card.  The problem comes down eventually to resources, both physical and financial, and whether an insurance plan can really provide the answer for health care in our country.  The problem is the nature of insurance itself.

At the present time, about 47 million people have no health insurance in the United States.  That’s about 16% of the population.  I am willing to bet that the majority of these are people who can’t afford health insurance and who do not receive routine medical care and checkups.  It is therefore likely that this segment of the population has more medical needs than the remainder of the population on a per capita basis.  So what happens when we give everybody a medical insurance card, particularly people who have never had one before?  I expect that the number of people seeking medical care will increase by 16% compared to what we have today. Actually, because I expect these new people in the system will be less healthy, let’s make that a 20% increase in people seeking access to doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medicine.  Do we really have 20% excess capacity in our health care system? Can we instantly accommodate 20% more people in our hospitals?  Can our doctors accept 20% more new patients tomorrow?  Will we have 20% more flu vaccine on hand than we usually do?  I suspect the answer is “no” in all cases.  The turn on of health care for all will result in a very large increase in demand for health care, and I don’t believe we have made the slightest preparation for it.  I don’t seem to recall hearing that we have even thought about it.

The thing that’s wrong with the President’s medical health insurance plan is that it’s an insurance plan.  Insurance is a funny thing – it’s sort of like a reverse lottery where you put your money in the pot, but you really don’t want to win.  The thing about lotteries is that while you can have a big winner or several big winners, everybody can’t win big.  That’s because everybody only puts in a dollar or two and after a while it all adds up to a million dollars – for one person that is.  It’s the same with insurance – it’s just a sort of lottery that falls apart if everybody strikes a winning number.  Like with Hurricane Andrew or Hurricane Katrina, the insurance companies just fold up and go away when everybody files a claim.  They simply can’t pay when everybody needs their help.  It’s the same with medical insurance – the insurance companies don’t expect everyone to break a leg on the same day.  But what if the swine flu turns into a deadly pandemic?  What if a major water supply becomes contaminated?  What if a major population center suffers a devastating earthquake?  What if a new disease, like AIDS or worse, begins spreading through the population?  Will our insurance program protect everybody? No.  It can’t.  It’s an insurance program and by its nature it is intended to only help a small segment of the population at any one time.  It cannot cope with medical disasters.

But what if the program is a great success and everybody gets all their recommended exams and inoculations and they all get very healthy?  That’s bad too.  Why? Because then everybody will live to be a hundred years old, exactly what happened in Japan, and the health care system won’t be able to cope with the much larger population and all the old people who have all sorts of geriatric diseases but don’t contribute a dime to the program because they are retired.

So does this mean that we can’t have a working government health plan? No.  We can indeed have a government health plan that works – it just can’t be an insurance plan.  The only government health plan that could work for everyone under all circumstances is one that is based upon the government’s wealth -like all the gold in Fort Knox for example, or something else of value that the government owns in very large quantities.  Then the government would have the means to build the necessary hospitals and hire the necessary doctors and so forth in any eventuality.  A guaranteed health plan cannot depend upon probability calculations done by an insurance company.  We have already seen, too many times, that insurance companies, like AIG, go belly up just when you need them. Government insurance would be the same.

The question is: do we have the wealth to create a solid health plan for everyone?  I suspect we do, but we would probably have to slash our wasteful military budget and use the money saved to back health care.  Maybe we could fund our future military adventures with some sort of military insurance plan! It could be a plan that could fund the occasional war, but not constant war forever and ever. Hmmm…

Ultimately, whether we actually get a workable government health plan really depends a lot on our priorities as a people  – which, I suspect, is another problem with the President’s health plan.

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We just observed the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s becoming the first man to set foot upon the Moon’s surface! So where are the parades and the fireworks?  Why isn’t there anyone dancing in the streets? Didn’t that historic first step change everyone’s life forever?  Apparently not.  So what happened?  Why the lack of cheering crowds?  Why the, “OK, what else is on TV?” attitude?

The answer of course is relevance.  We set our foot (feet?) upon the Moon and then did nothing about it.  While NASA might have made all sorts of ancillary technological advances as part of the Apollo project, the little pile of Moon rocks that was retrieved from the lunar surface hasn’t done much to change our lives, has it?  We didn’t find any gold there, nor did we find anything of real value – nothing that would create a land rush anyway.  The fact is that, from a purely financial perspective, the Moon doesn’t seem to be worth a lot.

On the other hand, the Moon might have some really great military uses – if we had the right technology to take advantage of this ultimate “high ground”.  Don’t think our military planners haven’t already drooled over that prospect. The problem is having the right weapon systems that you could position there.  ICBMs really don’t cut it because they are too slow.  If you had an ICBM base on the Moon it would take a couple of days for the warheads to reach the Earth – so much for a surprise attack or a quick reprisal.  We’re better off just keeping our Minutemen in their silos.  On the other hand, speed of light weapons, like gigantic lasers are a whole different thing.  Imagine a multi-gigawatt laser on the Moon’s surface! Maybe even on the dark side!  It could zap our enemies in a couple of seconds from its spaceborne perch.  Yes, the Moon could be the next big step in our military capability – but in the end it all comes down to how much bang for the buck you get.  And right now, big bombs dropped by stealth bombers are so much more cost effective.  So, while I am sure there are some military planners who dream dreams of giant lasers in the sky, we don’t have much of an idea, right now, of what to do with all that space out there, let alone the Moon.

OK. So how about Mars?  That seems to be NASA’s more recent goal – when they are not reconsidering the Moon, anyway.  The problem is, however, the same with Mars as it is with the Moon: what do we do with it when we get there?  Unlike Columbus who was searching for a shorter way to get to India and the Far East, in order to cut the costs of trade, we don’t have a financial goal in space.  Of course Columbus got lucky and found the Western Hemisphere by mistake, with all of it gold and tobacco and such.  So the discovery really paid off for the kings and queens of Europe and the general European population. We probably won’t find any new planets on our way to Mars or the Moon, though.

Recently, we heard in the news that the planet Jupiter got smacked by something that looks like it was about the size of our planet. Now, if that sort of thing had happened to us, I suppose it might have ruined our whole day.  Even if the thing was only the size of the Moon it would probably hurt a lot.  Remember some years ago when all those movies came out about asteroids hitting the Earth?  Some scientists started a search, a real search, for Earth approaching asteroids. The idea was that if they found one in time that NASA or the military could launch a nuclear weapon at it and blow it up before it got here.  So how come the telescopes that search for these asteroids didn’t catch the planet Earth-sized thing that hammered Jupiter?  I guess they just weren’t looking over there.  But let’s suppose that these telescopes did find an Earth-sized asteroid heading our way, toward our planet.  And it was due to hit us next week.   Is NASA really ready to launch a nuclear interceptor at it?  Could the U.S. Air Force point a Peacekeeper missile at it and intercept it halfway to Mars?  I don’t think so. It’s not going to happen.

Now, come to think of it, that might be a useful mission for NASA – Protector of the Earth.  But, I don’t think they’re interested, even though the news about Jupiter shows that is might be worth considering, especially when you think about what happened to the dinosaurs.  But no, they would rather build space stations and play 2001 A Space Oddity for years and years.  The result is that the American people are about as excited about space as they are about the state of the economy in Khyrgistan.  The simple fact is that, not since President Kennedy, have we been able to state a clear vision of why we are dabbling in space travel.  With Kennedy it made sense, sort of: we were competing with the Russians – in all things – and space was one of those things.  It was all about showing the world who was best at everything, and we won.

These days, we don’t even have that as a reason to be interested in space. I suppose the military “high ground” thing will come along in due time – it always does. But meanwhile, NASA and the country need to come up with a coherent explanation of why we are spending all this money on space stuff.  The time has come for a sense of Vision at NASA, not just a desire to spend money and build stuff to go into space because they like to do that sort of stuff.  We need to understand why. What is the point? Why, NASA, why?

You know, Protector of the World may not be a bad idea…

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Today’s news brought the surprise announcement that the Senate had voted to eliminate any more purchases for the F-22 fighter aircraft. You may not be too familiar with this fighter because, while it was designed in the 1980’s it has never been used in any of our wars.  It is a relic of the cold war – a time when the U.S. thought it might someday be engaged in a shootout with either Russia or China.  Now, with both Russia and China looking more like U.S. business partners, its certainly hard to justify purchasing anymore of these F-22s for which we have never found any use at all.  But is it really possible the Senate actually made a decision based upon common sense and not the influence of lobbyists for the defense industry?  It’s hard to believe, I know. But never fear, Congress hasn’t completely lost its mind, the House has decided to stay the course. They want to put money in the budget to buy enough spare parts for the never-used F-22 for twelve more planes.  I wonder – are they actually contemplating building twelve plabnes from spare parts?  Or do they just want to be sure they have enough spare parts to last the next 100 years – just in case.  I can almost hear a sigh of relief from Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the plane.  Defense contractor welfare is still alive.

Speaking of defense contractor welfare, I wonder how we are using the USS George H W Bush, which was recently launched? Another cold war relic that was just completed, this baby netted Northrop Grumman a cool $6,200,000,000.  Not bad for a ship that is unlikely to ever face a Russian or Chinese armada.  The irony of this defense contractor welfare state we have created, through a host of lobbyists and oh-too-willing senators and representatives, is that we spend enormous amounts of money on things we never use and then we spend nothing on things our soldiers desperately need.  Remember the Iraq invasion and how Cheney said our troops would have the finest equipment and blah, blah, blah? Within a couple of months, our soldiers were scrounging in dumps for armor they could attach to their Humvees because they were driving these things into the middle of spontaneous battles with no protection at all.  And our coddled defense contractors didn’t have a thing on their shelves that help.  Did our lobbyist/senator/representative coalition give a hoot?  I doubt they were even aware of the problem – let’s face it, there’s not a lot of money to be made in manufacturing armor for Humvees anyway. So who cares?

Now the contractors are saying they have the perfect solution for the tragic loss of the F-22 from our dubious arsenal.  How about an new plane, the F-35?  Yeah, that’s the ticket!  Interestingly and coincidentally, this baby is also built by Lockheed Martin.  All we need now is a potential, or at least plausible enemy, in order to get the old production line rolling.  Maybe we could get the Russians or the Chinese to do something provocative – like in the good old days when there were any number of reasons to justify a bloated defense budget.  You would think that Putin could help out here, wouldn’t you? Just for old times sake.  All he would have to do would be to just glare at President Obama.  That’s all – he wouldn’t have to say a word – that should be worth at least a $500 billion contract for three or four F-35s, wouldn’t it?  I can hear the production line humming already.

There’s just one thing.  The F-35 is already obsolete technology – let alone the fact that we don’t have a plausible enemy to use it against.  Today’s aircraft technology has leap-frogged its way to a new generation of pilot-less planes.  We don’t really need fighter pilots anymore.  The Predator, flown in Afganistan and Pakistan, but piloted remotely from Nevada,  shows us the way of the future.  Pilot-less fighter planes can be made that can perform maneuvers that no human could tolerate, and they can go into extremely risky situations with no chance of losing of losing a pilot’s life.   They can be made faster, smaller, cheaper, and better than manned fighters.  Manned fighters are as obsolete as sailing ships and observation balloons.  I know fighter pilots hate this, let alone the bloated defense industry, but further manned-fighter production is nothing more than welfare for defense contractors.

Wouldn’t it just make more sense to take all the money we waste on useless systems built by our defense contractors and use it for national health care?  I mean, if we are going to have our lobbyist/senator/representative coalition create trickle-down welfare projects, why can’t they just fund welfare  that actually provides for our welfare directly?  Wouldn’t that just be more efficient?  The problem is that we ordinary citizens don’t have a way to shovel money to the lobbyists to prime the pump, as it were.  So, while we wait and watch our elected people in Congress agonize over the cost of health, those same senators and congressmen divert money to defense contractors to be used on profoundly useless systems- like the F-22 or the F-35.  If this wasn’t the way our government functions it would be a crime.

So, is today’s news a signal that the world has changed?  Has sense and honesty finally come to Washington? Hardly.  The old boy network doesn’t die that easily.  The F-22 might die, but I’ll bet we’ll sooner see funding for the F-35 than we do for health care.  And don’t be surprised if there is new funding for a whole new class of “nukula” aircraft carriers while they are at it, the first of which will be called the USS George W Bush.

I suppose the Navy will just call it The Big W.

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The simple fact is that, in the United States, unlike, say Ireland, citizens of this country are not entitled to have health care i.e. they are not entitled to be healthy.  It seems sort of strange that a country that professes to espouse other rights such life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is blind to a right for a healthy life.  It seems that you have a right to life – just not a healthy life – if you live in this country that professes to be the leader of the free world.  You might have the right to travel wherever you like on the country’s highways, and you can get a free education in the country’s public schools, but ask for medical help without being able to pay for it, and our hospitals may just leave you to die.  If you haven’t watched Michael Moore’s documentary on our failed health system, Sicko, take a look at it, you’ll see what I mean.

Now the Wall Street Journal has joined the fight against President Obama’s attempt to create some sort of national health insurance plan.  The scare tactics have been launched once again – the ones that have been so successful in the past in preventing universal health coverage for all U.S. citizens.  But why?  Why has this New York Voice of the Wealthy come forth to speak out against health coverage for all?  Try as I might, I can come up with only two reasons for the frantic effort to prevent such a plan.  The first reason is greed.  The second reason is also greed.

Let me explain.  It’s easy to see that in order to have health care for Americans who are in the lowest income bracket that someone is going to have to pay, and it won’t be the people in the lowest income bracket. We already know they don’t have the money to pay – that, after all, is the problem! So what is the solution? Tax the rich! An eminently wise solution.  As the famed bank robber, Willie Sutton, reportedly said when asked why he robbed banks, “That’s where the money is”.  It’s the same with taxes, you tax the rich because they have all the money and, besides, the rest of us are all taxed out.  It makes perfect sense, unless you are the multi-millionaire or multi-billionaire greedy, rich, good Christian, people of this country who would much rather spend their money in Monaco, or the Maldives, or maybe Palm Beach.  OK. I guess, I can see the sense in that.  The ultra wealthy have made their money and they want to keep it.  To Hell with everyone else… Perfect sense.  Very American too, isn’t it?

But wait, there’s just one other little thing about health care – it’s big business.  Actually is massive business.  There is a lot of money you can make from people who have diseases, you know.  If you have the secret elixir that will save their life, some people will pay a fortune for it – even if it only cost you five cents to make it!  If you have the secret knowledge of delicate surgical techniques and someone needs your skill to save the life of their child – think of how much money you could make by doing a little operation!  Yes, the business of providing health care is a moneymaker and a big one.  And then of course there are the insurance companies, close relatives of the Las Vegas casino operators, they’ll take your bet that you will get sick – if you are healthy, that is.  If you are likely to get sick they’re not interested.  And if they take your bet and later on you do get sick, they quickly lose interest in you.  After all, insurance is not about helping you pay for your medical costs, its a business where the insurer is betting that, on the average you will pay them more than they will pay you. How else can they make money?  Be reasonable.  They, of course, have no interest in the government somehow covering your medical costs and you therefore just walking away from their craps table.  In fact, that scares them to death.  How are they going to make money if you don’t place your sickness bet with them?

The problem is that the rich, greedy folks who don’t want to share their money, the rich medical industry who want to stay that way, and the rich insurers who know a good bet when they see it, are terrified of any sort of national health plan.  That’s because it will cost them money.  They don’t care a bit if it helps you.  That’s why they are so eager to try to convince you that you will suffer under any sort of government health plan. Now, all the old scare tactics, that have worked so well in the past, are being deployed once again, and the lobbyists in D.C. are trying their best to pressure our representatives and succeeding as usual.  I wonder how many of our elected representatives have secret Swiss bank accounts?

The simple fact is this: you do have a right to health.  It is a fundamental human right, but the greedy rich don’t want you to have your right to health. That isn’t surprising.  They didn’t want you to have your right to education in the past either.  Nor did they want you to have the right to own land.  Nor did they want you to have the right to vote.  The greedy rich only want one thing – your money.  And these powerful people, many of whom are descendants of powerful people, who are also descendants of powerful people, are working very hard to keep this right from you.  It is time to stop listening to the lies of the greedy rich, it is time for the American people to realize we all have a right to health, just as our European and Asian cousins realized a long time ago.

The issue is not about the freedom to choose your health care provider.  It is about your right to be healthy.

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