Healthcare choice

Total Knee replacement : AP view (Xray).

Total Knee replacement : AP view (Xray). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell and broke my knee nine years ago. My doctor told me then that I would need a knee replacement in five years, so I am living and walking on borrowed time. Last night on NBC Nightly News, we learned that Brian Williams required knee replacement surgery which reportedly costs from $27,000 to $70,000 depending on local prices. Not very competitive are they. And one can’t go shopping for insurance either since insurers don’t cover pre-existing conditions. The healthcare insurers and the healthcare industry put their customers between a rock and a hard place. What I care about is the bottom line, how much will knee surgery cost me after Medicare and secondary insurance have paid the majority of the costs? That is what concerns me most and not knowing is causing me to postpone surgery as long as I can.

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Longevity

John G. Koch Family Business (MSA)

John G. Koch Family Business (MSA) (Photo credit: MissouriStateArchives)

In a healthcare environment, longevity is a tall can of Jevity, a diet supplement.

Everywhere else, longevity is how long you live. The GOP base is dying off, and the 1% including the Koch brothers want to keep them around for their votes as long as possible. Scientists know that some human tissues, such as the small bowel, do not grow old. Research is going on now to learn why and then apply that knowledge, possibly through gene technology, to the rest of the human body. If the Koch brothers are smart, and I am sure they are, they will use some of their vast wealth to speeding that research on human aging. Imagine the possibilities if Koch funded patents can keep GOP voters alive longer. The Koch brothers are already funding groups that are moving in the opposite direction, repealing Obamacare, to shorten the lives of the poor who presumably would vote Democratic.

How to recover our democracy

English: The western front of the United State...

English: The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted this before under the title, “Gilded Age part 2.” In order to take back our democracy from the special interests that dominate Washington, we must establish public financing of campaigns and tame the special interest lobbyists. Following is my proposal on how to accomplish both goals.

In The Gilded Age by Mark TwainCongressmen sold their votes for cash, stock and property. Corruption in the current Congress takes different forms. It is difficult to tell whether the current Congress is more or less corrupt than those of the original Gilded Age (we are living in the second Gilded Age). In Mark Twain’s day, US Senators were elected by state legislatures and therefore were more easily bought. Some on the Right want to repeal the 17th amendment that enacted the direct election of Senators by the people. That would be a bad idea, IMHO.

Corruption in Washington today is fostered by campaign contributions and the swarms of lobbyists who sometimes get their way by promising lucrative jobs after Congressional terms end. These are the five main lobbying groups that influence Congress to disregard the will of the people who elect them, listed in no particular order:

  1. Wall Street
  2. Wealthy/1%
  3. Israel supporters
  4. Military/industrial complex
  5. Big oil/gas

I believe that there are two things we can do to reduce corruption in Washington and to return the control of our legislators to the voters who elect them. First, we must get campaign cash out of the picture. I would do that with public financing of campaigns. All candidates would be required to submit petitions to be placed on the ballot, the number of signatures to be some fraction of the registered voters in the district or state. Challengers would receive more campaign funds than incumbents because incumbents usually have an advantage in name recognition. This would a good first step, but it would not be sufficient as long as Washington is overrun with lobbyists; voters lack lobbyists of their own. This is how I suggest changing that.

As a start, I would limit the number of lobbyists allowed to lobby government in Washington to 1000. I would divide that number into two parts, commercial lobbyists numbering 750 and public service lobbyists numbering 250. Each one would require a lobbying license to be heard in Congress. Public service lobbying licenses would be free and awarded by lottery. Good for one year and non-transferable, anyone could apply, but only individuals and true charities would qualify. No PACs posing as non-profits allowed.

Commercial lobbying licenses would be sold at auction to the highest bidders. Also valid for twelve months and non-transferable. If the average price of a lobbying license were $50 million, then the US Treasury would collect $37.5 billion in revenue each year from individuals and companies wanting to lobby government. Purchasers of licenses would be in the public record, and all contacts with government would also be required to be made immediately public in print and online. To prevent lobbyists from promising jobs to retiring legislators or regulators, those retiring from government would face a lifetime ban from ever owning a commercial lobbying license.

Sheep and goats

English: Hurricane, Utah, July 2009

English: Hurricane, Utah, July 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, my wife and I were driving in a rural part of Hurricane, Utah when we saw a pasture stocked with a mix of sheep and goats. I jokingly asked my wife how to tell the difference. She said that the woolly ones were the sheep. On the other hand, I look for the bony ones with horns which are the goats. Two different ways at looking at the same question. How do you distinguish between the sheep and the goats?

 

On turning 71

English: Gold and silver containers for small ...

Image via Wikipedia

There is old
There is gold
There is old gold
There is rolled old gold
There is bold
There is cold
There is bold and cold old gold
There is bold and cold, rolled old gold
Everything else is just a smoke
Old Gold cigarettes.

I tried cigarettes in college, but  did not adopt the habit. My lungs were exposed to enough second-hand smoke that I have a chronic cough, but I can still breathe. My father smoked cigars and a pipe until he quit cold-turkey in his 60s. But that was too late. When he passed away at age 75, he had great difficulty breathing due to emphysema.