Saturday, March 27, 2010

Home Improvement

It's a nice day, and my neighbor has developed some kind of enthusiasm for home improvement. Unfortunately this involves cutting down a eucalyptus stump with a hand ax and a chainsaw. The problem is that the stump is five or six feet wide, so it's going very slowly, as well as spewing gas fumes all over the block. I hesitate to suggest that he needs to hire a professional stump removal service but, if he doesn't, he's likely to be at this until the end of May.

Dash and the other neighborhood kitties are going to be very unhappy about this. They regularly sun themselves and survey their domains from the stump.

Oh, tonight is Earth Hour. Everyone is supposed to turn off all the lights for an hour, beginning at 8:30 P.M. local time. We forgot about it last year but, in 2008, we discovered that we could easily see around the house (although we couldn't read or do close work) just from the ambient light in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the Health Insurance Reform

The only good thing about this bill is that it passed. Yeah, I mean it. It's not a good bill, in fact, it's awful, giving the health insurance industry everything it wants and the people very little of what they need, but had it not passed, the corporate media would have claimed that the people liked the system as it is now and don't want "government interference" in health care decisions blah, blah, blah. Now it's true that most people don't know that government spending on health care (through Medicaid and Medicare) already pays for more than half the system, but I don't see the corporate media telling them anytime soon.

What the bill really does is to require moderate-to-middle income families pay for health care they can't afford to use, a subsidy to the health insurers and to richer insureds. And in most cases the
government will subsidize this sham. But the plans so subsidized will be too expensive for these families to actually use them. Some richer folks will be able to get insurance, those who have pre-existing conditions, for instance. (Moderate-to-middle income families won't be able to afford the premiums or the co-pays.) And finally, finally, after more than 30 years, poor adults will be put back into the Medicaid system. The accounting staff at the local county hospitals are probably jumping for joy as I write.

It doesn't do anything about cost. And doing something about the cost of health care requires that we rein in doctor costs, hospital costs, drug costs, and the cost of administering and providing profit for health insurers. What Americans really should ask themselves is why they're overpaying doctors and hospitals, and subsidizing cheaper drugs for people in France.