Health and Care

What is the purpose of society? Quite simply it’s to provide the shared efforts of the population to facilitate increases in the length and quality of life.

Instead of every person doing all the things that life requires, we distribute the effort amongst the population, and each of us performs a set of tasks that can be consumed by all, allowing each of us to become skilled at specific roles, increasing effectiveness and efficiency, because we as humans, get better at the tasks we work at, and this allows much larger tasks to be undertaken.

If you had to hunt your own food, build your own shelter, protect your family, make your own clothes, design and build your own sanitation, life would be much shorter and harder. So over many thousands of years we have created a system whereby we can all work together for a common cause. It takes the efforts of millions of people working together to survive.

Laws, security education and infrastructure form the basis of society. We are all born, grow, live, age and die, and we expect society to help us at every stage.

Foremost in society is the ability to help people live a long and happy life. And for this we have developed an incredible science-based healthcare system. Most societies have worked out that everyone needs healthcare, and so pooling resources creates the best possible outcome for everyone.

And then we have the USA, where we seem to think that healthcare is a fantastic way to make money (it is not). Everyone is born, everyone lives, and everyone gets old and sick. Those who get old or sick are least able to care for themselves. The sensible model is to care for them in ways that everyone pays for and only those who need it at any given time consume. This is insurance, but you can’t allow insurance to be taken away because someone needs it. That defeats the objective. Who will pay for insurance if the act of consuming it, means you are barred from using it?

Every other country is working through this issue, but every single other one is moving towards a system of shared responsibility. Only the USA hasn’t worked this out yet.

Where are we today?

We don’t allow the government to negotiate medical supplies centrally, expecting everyone to pay list price.

We have incredibly high education costs for medical personnel, meaning that they must make very high salaries to pay back that unsubsidized debt.

We have very expensive health insurance, offering the lowest levels of payments, meaning that sick people end up consuming all they have earned in their lifetimes, and passing very little on to the descendants. Bankruptcy caused by medical bills is common.

We allow massive lawsuits to be undertaken against medical personnel meaning that medical providers must have very expensive legal protections, again driving up the cost of medical care.

We have a large proportion of the population unable to get regular medical attention, due to the high cost, creating lower life spans, and a lowering of the general health of the population. Where we really need workers to get regular help to stay healthy, we instead wait until people get sick and then provide the minimum services as maximum cost to triage.

We don’t offer sick leave, we generally provide very short annual vacation days and no parental leave, creating situations when sick people continue to work when they are sick, spreading disease, and lowering overall the quality of output , and parents and children are less healthy.

And we think this is acceptable?

Today people are complaining that wearing a facemask is an affront to their freedom. These are people who don’t know what freedom is.

Freedom demands you stay alive as long as possible, and have the best quality of life you can get for the whole of it.

Freedom demands that grandparents can see their great grandchildren be born and grow, can attend their grandchildren’s weddings. That they never go hungry, never have to fight for their lives, get to spend every day reading, watching and learning. Have a job they love, have friends, have family, have opinions, get to travel, have a lovely home.

Freedom comes from having a stable, caring society, where everyone is able to live and love for as long as practical.

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racist and sexist by nature

We are all racists and once you accept that you can be part of the solution.

The way our brains work is to compare whatever we see, to whatever we already know. And the way we process this comparison in any situation is affected by the emotional weight of our previous experiences.

Whoever you grew up with has a great influence on how you perceive the world. Anyone who is unlike those who you grew up with are naturally going to make you feel uneasy. It’s how the brain works. Until you can know for certain that someone is not a threat, then evolution has taught us to be wary.

Not much more than a hundred years ago some people were slaves, they were not educated, could not own anything, had no money and were not afforded the protections of the rest of society. Fifty years ago, certain people were still excluded from some places by their color or race, they were still excluded from many levels of society including education and finance. Even today there are still explicit barriers placed in the path of some people based on their race, ethnicity or sex. The criminal justice code has been tuned to impact some ethnic groups more effectively than others. There are schools with no children of color, and others with no children of European descent. This hasn’t happened by luck, but by social engineering.

There are still poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods. Poorer neighborhoods have higher levels of broken families, higher mortality rates, lower length of life and greater levels of anti-social issues. If your grandparents didn’t go to college, there is a lower likelihood of your children going to college. It takes an act of society as a whole to accelerate the removal of such disparities.

As a white man, I get to enjoy the benefits of these disparities every day. I don’t get a second look from any law enforcement officer. Shop and service staff assume positive intent in any action I take. In effect my life is boosted by my skin color, because others are actively discriminated against for theirs, giving me an explicit and implicit advantage.

My grandparents and parents actively supported me through childhood, through school and through university. I grew up in a great neighborhood surrounded by many levels of family, friends and people who saw me as “like them”. I learnt the skills of learning and was always being trained to be a valuable member of society. No relative of mine was imprisoned, I’ve never been stopped by the police, my trips through airports are simple, I never get followed in stores, I’ve never had an issue with financial services, I’ve always been able to get medical services wherever and whenever I like, I’ve never been turned away from an interview, I’ve never been denied by a buildings coop board. I can always use a premises bathroom without question. I like policemen and women and enjoy meeting them on the street. I’ve never been followed by security or neighborhood watchmen. I have what is called white privilege. I didn’t choose it, but by my inaction I guess I support it.

And I recognize that depending on the color or your skin your experiences may be very different, and I’ve never really done anything to change that either.

I am truly amazed by the decency of the millions of people of color who have not screamed at this injustice. If I was the one being discriminated against, I’ve not sure I’d be as serene.

It really is time for this injustice to be righted, and the generation that is just now gaining the right to vote, may well be the generation that resolves to make everyone truly equal.

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FIOTUS

Anyone who has ever watched a procedural cop show or has any dealing with the legal system knows the importance of protecting evidence from any form of corruption. If evidence is tainted by even a hint of coercion it can never be used.

This is the simple reason why investigators spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to validate a piece of evidence before they confront a suspect or a witness. In this way they can be certain that the witness or suspect’s answers to any question are not being influenced by any other elements (such as being paid for their views or pressured to give a specific answer), and they can prove it when it is presented in a legal proceeding.

If the White House had truly believed that a previous administration had used either undue influence to take a position on foreign company boards or to protect their interests in foreign companies by applying government policy in ways that rewarded members of their family then they should have asked the justice department to investigate. If course that very investigation would have quickly extended to include the business interests of the current Presidents family and their actions during this current term.

What the President could not have done, is exactly what he did do. He could not ask the leader of a county (or multiple leaders of multiple countries) which we are directly working with, to investigate the previous actions of American citizens, because there is absolutely no way that such a request could not be tainted with influence, and therefore cannot be accepted as evidence.

It was the act of what the Irish should term “a firkin idjot”

So Maybe we should rename the acronym for the leader of the free world from POTUS to FIOTUS

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Ultimate Power Corrupts

There is a presumption of corruption that pervades politics. And it’s critical for the process to work. We assume that every single politician is a lying, cheating piece of crap who will steal the country’s wealth at every opportunity. It’s a pretty valid argument and is a logical extension of the idea that power corrupts, and that ultimate power corrupts ultimately.

To handle the simple fact that every single politician should be considered corrupt, we have a checks and balance approach to government, where power is split between the executive, legislative and the judicial.

We demand that the executive and the judicial police the legislative and the executive and the legislative police the judicial and that the judicial and the legislative police the executive. It sounds dysfunctional (and it is) but it has proven itself to be the only system than curbs the human predeliction for self-serving power grabbing.

If the three parts of government fail to police each other then government fails. And the only recourse is to term limit every politician and automatically imprison every single politician at the end of their term for either the same amount of time they served in their political role or their entire life.

Government cannot function without aggressive and pervasive policing, we have no organization above the government (for example no king or queen) so we must demand that government continually look at every action of every arm with the desire to impeach any legal or ethical flaw.

If one arm of government fails to respond to any investigation, then they must automatically be disqualified from office. A government official that either fails to investigate or fails to respond to an investigation is just as guilty and must be removed from office.

The people demand nothing less.

The people don’t trust politicians, and thousands of years of human experience shows this to be reasonable response. A federal democracy with an imperfect electoral college based process, only works if we assume all politicians are going to cheat.

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What you think is irrelevant

Here’s an idea, everything you think about anyone is entirely irrelevant.

I really don’t care what someone’s reasons are to be who or how they want to be.

I don’t care if it’s genetic or choice.

I don’t care if someone wants to be he, she or zhe.

And I don’t care because all that matters is that that’s the way they are, either by design or choice.

At the end of the day, it’s who they/we are or who we/they want to be.

We’re all software encoded in DNA being run through meat and bone computers.

I don’t care which elements of the code came pre-installed or via a runtime upgrade, and it doesn’t matter.

I don’t care if you believe the software was written by an intelligence or as the result of random mutations combined with the elimination of the least viable by natural selection.

What we end up with is people who are what we all are, and some are fantastic, some are total assholes and most of us sit somewhere in between these two extremes.

I find the variance amazing and worthy of respect.

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The story of the evil witch and the naïve children. Europe with a Brothers Grimm Twist.

There once was an evil witch who wanted to rule the world. She knew that the people wouldn’t let her unless she was a little devious. She’d tried many different approaches, and eventually came up with a brilliant plan.

She built a house made of all the things that she know the people would want, and she offered it them for free, as long as they came and lived with her.

All the people had to do was come inside her house, and bring with them everything they owned. Then she would take all they owned in an exchange give them all they needed.

Many people moved to her house and happily gave the witch everything they owned and were given food, housing, education, healthcare, and a supply of little gold colored coins called euros which they could use to buy whatever else they needed from the witch.

The people were quite happy for a while, but over time they used up their supplies of euros and needed some more. So they asked the witch for some more. She looked at the people and frowned and said “I can’t just give you more euros, you will have to earn them. Give me something and I’ll give you more euros”. But the people had already given the witch all their gold and money, so they didn’t have any more to give. But the witch said “I’ll take your mines, your banks, your railways, your industry, your forests, and your children”. The people were shocked, but what choice did they have, they needed food, and services, so they gave more and more of their wealth to the witch, until eventually she owned absolutely everything and everyone.

There was a few groups of people who didn’t totally fall into the witches clutches. One of these groups lived on a little island just to the left of the witches house. These people really wanted all the free stuff that the witch had to offer but were worried about giving her all their money and gold, they visited the witch often (she really did have a lovely house), but decided not to take her money. Over time it became clearer what the witch was trying to do, and they had a choice – do we go for it and give her everything or run away?

They tried to run away, but the witch wasn’t going to allow that to happen. She chased them and tried every trick she could to convince them to join her.

Today they are still running, and she is still chasing. But this story is definitely getting closer to the end, at least of this chapter.

Will the people of the little island be able to stay out of the clutches of the evil witch?

If they do, will they be able to survive?

Some of the people are still wondering – Is the witch really evil?

What will the witch do, when the people living in her house, see that there are other choices?

What will happen next?

(43)

The War On Plastic Bags Is Just Obfuscation

war on bags

There seems to be a war on plastic bags, every city around the world seems to think that charging a small fraction of a penny to every shopper will cure the world of garbage. Let’s be clear, it will not.

Plastic bags have become the target of some sort of green war, but I suggest that these bags are not the issue at all, but have become the target of people who really do not want to solve the true issue.

Everything we buy is over-packaged. Fruit and vegetables come on polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays covered in plastic wrap, with a label on the outside. ALL of this packaging ends up in the garbage.

Every packaged product comes with an inner bag, outer packaging, all wrapped in plastic and with a label on the front. All of this packaging is garbage.

What you buy at the supermarket is often over 90% packaging, which is the waste that ends up directly in the garbage.

The plastic bag you use to transport your goods from the supermarket to home, will then become the garbage bag that you use to transport the garbage to the next step on its lifecycle (the trash can). If anything, this plastic bag is actually the least of the issue. The other choice you have of course is to buy additional plastic bags to line your bins, and this is just revenue for bag manufacturers.

Here’s how we fix the issue. Charge people for every bag of garbage they ask to be taken away by the refuse collectors. It’s simple, ask the consumer to place a tag on each bag, and charge them for the tags. The more you dispose of, the more you therefore pay.

At the same time make the supermarkets take back their packaging and have them send this back to the distributors and manufacturers on the trucks that are already delivering to their shops.

Sounds like a lot of extra work doesn’t it, and guess what the shops and the manufacturers will quickly find ways to reduce their packaging to reduce their costs.

Now you have less garbage.

It’s not the plastic bags that’s the issue, it’s the process that demands you bring all this packaging into your house in the first place.

Instead of campaigning to make people use reusable bags to shop, start to campaign to have wasted packaging reduced on every product.

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There are no simple fixes for complex issues.

You start by understanding the multitude of dynamics at play that create an outcome, and you look at what can be influenced to change the underlying conditions that lead to a situation.

For example mandating car insurance, driving licenses and annual inspections leads to safer cars, better drivers and the ability for accidents to be handled more simply. It doesn’t stop idiots from driving badly or drunks from killing people entirely, but it does reduce these things over time. As a drunk or crazy driver will have their license revoked and may even be imprisoned, others are then less likely to act the same way.

Countries that have regulated guns see less guns killing people – there are still murders, but less, and specifically less mass murders, and a lot less with guns. The total impact on controlling guns is less weapons available for theft, resale, lunatic fringe hoarding and general craziness. 

The simple and obvious flaws in having different gun laws across a country with open borders between states, doesn’t need to be restated.

You don’t have to solve every potential problem to solve the majority of scenarios. 

If your reason for wanting a gun I because you are scared of the government or are worried about people who look different to you, the issues are deep and demand a lot of long term work.

Just because there are no simple solutions to complex issues, is not a reason to take no action at all.

(5)

Brexmaggedon

History will not be kind to this decade.

Let’s be clear global warming is not a binary issue, but one that has been impacting the world for a very long time. Over hundreds of years governments have co-opted farming to generate revenue as opposed to food. Farmers in poor countries have been cutting down forests to grow cows, corn, oil baring seeds, tobacco and poppies. They have sold these products in exchange for money, which helped economies. But as weather patterns have changed and these mass crops failed to produce the volumes of previous years, along with the need to use ever increasing levels of pesticides and fertilizers or use expensive copyrighted genetically modified crops, these farmers have not been able to sustain their lives, and so are migrating.

The same has happened to desert countries which have become reliant on oil. Oil will not last forever, and so they need to invest their short-term wealth in new industries, some have chosen to become knowledge-based economies while others have reverted to using religious driven hate to grow a power base.

All of this movement of people and ideas has allowed right-wing focused sentiments such as xenophobia and racism to become mainstream. With neo-fascists appearing in the leadership of much of the world.

At the same time Europe was created as a Union, with possibly the most impressive social programs anywhere in the world. With free trade and free movement of people and laws allowing people to live their lives with greater levels of personal freedom than anywhere else in the world. But there was a price for these freedoms, which wasn’t that obvious initially, but is still there. Much of Europe was running these freedoms without a way of paying for them, and the way they were able to do so was by buying into the European Central Bank and the Euro. Quite simply every country joining the euro, had to ship all their money and gold to the European central bank, and in exchange were given huge piles of euros. Sounded fine, until it became clear that the costs of all the incredible social programs was greater than the about of Euros they had. So they needed more, and unlike when you run your own currency it isn’t as simple as just printing a bunch more, creating some inflation but being able to pay the bills. Instead to get more euros each country has to give more of itself to the European central bank, literally given them banks, mines, railways etc. It’s a simple idea, over time it will increase the power of the European union and reduce the power of individual countries. But some countries were not willing to give up control and didn’t want to join the Euro. This created a problem, because if a country isn’t being fully absorbed into Europe, then the big plan would fail. And so came the next issue of Brexit. The UK population wasn’t happy to become a full state of Europe, and wanted to trade and have the social benefits without the political cost.

But the UK is only one of a small handful of countries in Europe that actually pay more than they take, and if you take the UK out of the mix, it’s unclear that the other net-investors will have enough to cover the shortfall. So Europe needed the UK to either not leave, or pay a massive divorce bill to help cover the gap. And the UK was not willing to do either of these.

If the UK does leave Europe (and it really doesn’t matter to history if it’s hard or soft), then Europe is screwed in the medium term.  And if Europe can’t change their spending and funding model to balance the books, it will not end well. If they do change their spending to solve the problem, it also will probably not end well.

So between global warming, oil rich countries looking for their next phase and a broken Europe things are not well.

Now add to that the desires of other major world players, Russia (who is still sore from losing the USSR) and China who desires to become the leader of the world in terms of economics by breaking any and all treaties and laws they need to (copyrights, trademarks, patents, currency pricing etc). Add to ths the usual distribution of crazy (The Koreas, a bunch of countries no-one remembers but all end in -stan, and more)

And all the elements are set for a really messy period of instability.

History has a way of making events look ridiculous in the rear-view mirror, and frankly it seems that the people alive today are going to be remembered are possibly the biggest idiots of all time. The choices we are making don’t show any signs of being either sane or ending in any way well.

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No Problem Ever Gets Solved By Using The Same Logic That Created The Problem In The First Place.

Hearing politicians espouse about their new plans to solve student debt, healthcare, immigration or even war leaves me with a sense that they are all either frauds or simpletons.

Student debt has several causes, including the high prices of education, predatory lending, and the legal framework that has been placed on education, driven by lobbyists promoting the cases of those who sell education services. Strained vocal cords with impassioned pleas change nothing.

Healthcare is driven by profit, and as such is always going to find new ways to charge more. It doesn’t matter if it’s private, public or a mix, if you pay a healthcare provider more for delivering more healthcare then that is what they will do. The only healthcare systems that buck this trend and those that are focused on key outcomes such as the length and quality of human life. And those systems are “socialist” and it’s easy to scare people away from, and no one running for the office of president is willing to go that far.

Immigration has been the evil of empires for all time, and the USA is no exception. Our track record of care of migrants is among the worst in the world. From classifying people as white and non-white to signs stating Irish, Italians and Jews not welcome, to the sending back to Germany of ships full of fleeing immigrants during world war II who were subsequently murdered to the inhuman care of babies separated from their parents happening right now, we have never been a Bastian of care for those who most need it, and tears on stages changes nothing.

And the USA has been at war continually, with more wars happening right now than most people could even name. We have the largest military in the world, and it’s very busy, and yet we hardly notice. Wars only ever end when worn out warriors decide it’s time to put away the swords and talk peace, and politicians just get in the way.

I listened to 10 people on a stage yesterday, and the difference between them was tiny. And the difference between them and the guy that currently holds the job they are all after isn’t big enough.

Frankly I’d take any of these 10 over the Crook in chief we have today. But not one of them is going to solve the endemic problems we suffer from today. They probably will just make them slightly worse at a slightly slower rate, and maybe the world will survive a little longer.

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