It’s time to call BS!

Solving the US (and thus the worlds) economic woes

There is a ridiculous public discussion going on about this politically driven concept called the fiscal cliff. And I’m calling bullshit on everyone on this one.

The concept is that if the different arms of the US federal government cannot negotiate a compromise then a huge amount of bad things will automatically happen. These things include the removal of some previously negotiated tax discounts along with a wide range of arbitrary budget reductions.

The idea was to put a chunk of things on the table, that the negotiating groups all found unpalatable, in the hopes that they would then work together to avoid these things happening.

Of course the underlying issues of incredibly favorable contracts between government and a plethora of huge companies, that have driven social, legal, fiscal and security policies over decades are not even being discussed.

Here’s the thing, government seems to have become bought. The issue is that every new regulation that has been introduced over the lifetime of nearly everyone on earth today came with strings attached. These strings continually move money into large businesses at the expense of delivering the services that are needed. Some would call this the inefficiency of government; I on the other hand call it utter Bullshit!

There are many legitimate things that government needs to manage. These are the things that create a safe and viable society. Things like transportation infrastructure, education systems, security and a legal framework. But it seems that in every single area these processes of government are clearly contaminated by undue influence.

Yes, Medicare and Medicaid are too expensive, but everyone agrees that the ideas are sound, we need to take care of people. So where is the honest discussion about reducing the cost of delivering the services while actually making them better. It seems that hospitals don’t wont to be paid less for the things that they do (quelle surpise!), and would prefer to see people actually pay more for health and not less. The medical industry pays a lot of money to lobbyists to ensure that healthcare stays expensive. And this money is spent by these lobbyists to influence politicians.

Education is no longer about preparing children for the real world, by giving them grounding in the skills needed to learn new things and interact in society. Instead education is now about passing a test. And to make sure that every child can pass the same tests, huge amount of services have been centralized to re-train teachers to get children to pass tests. These services are run by networks of bureaucrats who report every possible metric to each other at immense cost. This cost is covered by delivering less teachers, less schools and less overall frontline services to children.
And what is the response when we see children leaving school without the ability to live in the real world, lets do more of the same, more rules , more tests, and actually lets move even more of the money into the hands of for-profit systems. Because clearly people motivated to be rich will be able to teach better than those motivated to teach.

When bridges collapse from disrepair, lets outsource roadbuilding to a private company who can charge $20 to drive on their new road. When the US rail system becomes the laughing stock of the world, lets just increase the prices and give the additonal money to private companies.

Wars are the best way ever discovered to move money from tax payers via the government to large companies. It’s very simple, wars need weapons, armor, transport, communications – tents, tanks, trucks and guns. It’s all-good for business. And if your friends are running the government then it’s easy to get a no-bid contract to deliver products at maximum profit. They will even ensure that taxes don’t go up so the average voter doesn’t know how much it all costs until it’s spent.

This might sound like some kind of lefty rant, but it is not. I am not blaming either of the two incumbent political parties here. This is a game played equally by both parties. The spin that each party puts on the game is just their way of winning a bigger slice of the pie for themselves and their friends.

There is so much money in politics today; it makes me sick to my stomach.

The average worker, be that a unionized worker, a sweatshop worker, a burger flipper, a business executive, a bank manager,a CEO, a teacher, fireman, policeman, soldier, a carpenter, plumber or anyone else, works damn hard everyday and is careful to live within their means. We – the working people are innovative, ethical and all have desires we strive to fulfill.

We all need government as a safety net and as a provider of key elements of the infrastructure. But it is wrong for the government to live by different rules. Politicians that make a living by taking money in exchange for influence are unethical and their behavior should be illegal (as it has been in the past and still is in other countries).

It’s easy for politicians to pander to the prejudices of the proletariat. Some people (many) hate paying taxes; others hate people of other religions, skin colors or sexual preferences. Others hate to see people with more than themselves. It’s easy to point at any group unlike you and see them as the problem, and it’s very easy to create passion against any other group.

Great leaders throughout history have been able to bridge these gaps and move forward. While despots have used these differences to create their own personal powerbase.

For a while it sounded like the tea party movement and the 99% movement both were making the same point, but quickly they both seemed to get overrun by extremists.

Plato

There are some great politicians out there that have the skills to get above the bullshit and actually solve the big issues. They are quite likely distributed amongst both of the political parties in play today, and even outside of them. I want and need to hear them calling out the bull-shit’ers and taking a stand.

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What the hell is going on with healthcare?

It seems to me that there is nothing more deeply personal than your health and that of the ones you love and care about. If you get sick, you don’t just ‘want’ to get better, it will become the most important thing in your life. It’s emotional, and will take precedent over everything else, and it should.

This means that any contract that you enter into about healthcare is loaded with stress and duress, and the basics of contract law are that any contract entered into under these conditions is not fair and equitable, and as such is not a fair contract. This may seem technical but it simply means that those papers a hospital or a doctor makes you sign saying that you are personally responsible for any costs not covered by your insurance shouldn’t be allowed. But yet they are.

The insurance companies, the hospitals, the lawyers and the doctors have created a special legal framework that is entirely weighted to their benefit.

And to add insult to this situation the American system means that the costs you are charged are list price, whereas the insurance companies get a massive discount on the bits they cover.

The costs of medical care in America are incredible, and the quality of the service is directly related to the amount of money you can pay.

Every doctor swears the Hippocratic oath. I’ve read this oath and frankly I feel that most US doctors are not living up to the spirit of the thing

Here’s a couple of sentences from the oath, they I’m sure your will agree are not the normal practice here in America :

“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

“I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.”

In this country today people die because they cannot afford to get timely treatment, others go bankrupt because the costs that are not covered by insurance companies consume their entire worth and then some. Millions of people don’t have adequate or even any coverage, either because they cannot qualify due to pre-existing conditions or just cannot afford the monthly costs and still be able to eat.

Some say that for these people there is always the option of going to the emergency room. Well there are two huge issues with this. Firstly the emergency room will just treat them to the point where they are not going to die on that particular day; this is not an answer to a problem, but a stop gap. And secondly the costs that are incurred by doing this are just passed onto the ones who do have insurance, as increased premiums which have the effect of making premiums higher and so making them ever less affordable, exacerbating the situation.

The issue (as I see it) is the huge amounts of money involved. No one wants to give up his or her part of this gravy train. But it is clearly unsustainable.

The concept of reform in healthcare driven by government seems to be the only way to break this logjam.

But the size of the powerbase involved has so far warped the political process beyond anything reasonable. They are many great improvements within the healthcare changes that President Obama has lead. But it is just a small step on a very long road, and some critical elements of any good plan are missing or just wrong.

The cost of healthcare is far too high, and the quality available (on average) is far too low. We need lower drug costs, medical services driven by results and not on a per service basis. And we need to trust that doctors are doing the best they can, by us accepting that suing doctors is not the first step in fixing a mistake.

Healthcare that helps avoid medical issues by preventative support has been proven to be the most cost effective and rewarding way to maximize the quality of life.

This is a very hard problem to solve, but it must be improved. When politicians use any change or proposed change as a political weapon, rather than trying to work together to find the best solution, they are failing everyone.

We all deserve better.

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