Archive for August, 2009

“How American Health Care Killed My Father”

August 31, 2009

An Atlantic article on a very relevant subject.  The header:   “After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here’s a radical solution to an agonizing problem.”

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Health Care Reform (the Whole Foods way)

August 16, 2009

Whole Foods, the (rather pricey) “natural foods” chain, is facing a boycott from some of their customers, because of an op-ed by their CEO John Mackey.  It can be found here,  on the Wall Street Journal’s web site (Aug. 12th):  “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare” .  I thought all his points made sense, as a preliminary step to any further health care restructuring.  Here are his suggestions:

1. Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

2. Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

3.  Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

4. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

6. Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

7.  Enact Medicare reform.

8.  Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

What would be wrong with any of those eight points?  But I don’t think any of them are part of the bill which the President’s allies are trying to push thru the Congress.

The Red Orchestra

August 11, 2009

“The Red Orchestra” was what German counter-espionage (Gestapo etc.) called what was a rather widespread anti-Nazi underground.  I recently finished an excellent history by Anne Nelson of die Rote Kapelle (to use the German-language term):  Red Orchestra:  The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler.

What’s particularly interesting is that this loosely-knit group didn’t consist of just “reds” in the political sense:  yes there were German communists, but also “half-Jews”, Social Democrats, Catholics, Lutherans (including relatives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer), aristocrats and conservatives– all more and more appalled as the Hitler regime went from brutalizing labor activists and communists to degrading and killing Jews, burning books and suppressing any independent voices.  And then the massive atrocities in Russia and Poland, which Orchestra members desperately tried to publicize.  Anne Nelson focuses on a few key individuals and how they extended their circle; and she makes them all come alive.

Reading this helped me realize it isn’t true that very few Germans tried to resist the Nazis; not enough did of course, but her account makes one wonder if he or she would have dared to do anything against such a massive terror apparatus.

After the war:  the East Germans and Russians first almost ignored these people, then tried to depict them all as orthodox, party-line communists.  And our side?  American and British “intelligence” (duh) tended to accept that they were indeed a bunch of “reds”, and protected some of their worst persecutors from facing justice at Nuremberg.

From spy novelist Alan Furst’s blurb on the dust jacket:  “Anne Nelson’s Red Orchestra, superbly researched and sharply written, is about the real, very brave people who made up this network– who they were, what they did, and the price they paid for their resistance to tyranny in Europe’s darkest hour.”

Radical Prescription (for health care)?

August 9, 2009

Well I haven’t posted in about a month (I doubt if the “blogosphere” has really missed me though).

This is on the subject of health care:  how to modify/reform/improve it?  Doctors Peter and Martin Weiss (I don’t know if they are brothers or father & son) have a document entitled   “Radical Prescriptions” which you can read online– or download the PDF version(92 pages).  I have read part of it, it makes good sense to me!  They make one basic point at the start:  the most critical problem with American medicinee is the uncontrolled inflation of costs– take care of that, and it should be possible to extend quality care to everybody.  Anyway, check it out if you’re interested!