Franklin Healthcare: How to Fix Healthcare in the United States

Health care in the United States is broken. Every individual deserves access to health care both preventative and emergency. This is a wealthy country, and the idea of letting people die for lack of medical access is unthinkable.

Let’s start with a few premises on healthcare:

  1. Healthcare is a human right
  2. It is in the interest of society to satisfy this right in the most cost effective and efficient manner

Let’s get past the rhetoric and look at the facts:

  • Over the past 15 years, health care costs have increased on average at double-digit rates, far out-pacing inflation. This rate of growth is unsustainable, and is quickly becoming one of the largest single costs for individuals and corporations alike.
  • An uninsured person visiting a doctor pays a rate that is nearly double that of an insured person FOR THE SAME DOCTOR. This is the person that can least afford to pay such outrageous rates.
  • Uninsured people, unable to visit a physician for preventative care, must resort to emergency room care which is orders of magnitude more expensive that preventative care and results in uninsured people not catching major diseases like cancer that are treatable early in the illness.
  • One major reason that insurance is so expensive is that the insured subsidize emergency care visits from the uninsured, who typically have no means to pay for such a visit.

So what can be done about it?

There are three angles to attack this:

  1. Universal health-care coverage
  2. Cost reduction
  3. Obesity management using hcg drops

Franklin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican no less, have proposed mandatory universal medical care for all California citizens. It relies on a combination of individual contributions, public funding, and corporate subsidies. I think that’s absolutely the right way to attack this. It doesn’t rely on nationalization, and it … Read the rest

Global Warming

It seems you can’t swing a stick without hitting a global warming activist these days. Now, when I first started reading about this phenomenon, I was pretty skeptical. After all, it was only in the 1970s that scientists were warning of another ice age. So I read a book called “The Skeptical Environmentalist” by Bjorn Lomborg.

Bjorn is a mathematician, and he digs into the available environmental data and starts to evaluate much of the published environmental literature. He finds that a significant amount of the public rhetoric voiced by the environmental movement isn’t so well documented. He then starts to look at the trends in air pollution, contaminants, mortality rates, etc. What he finds is that on most environmental metrics, were much better off now than in the past.

So, I figured, here is a real conservative thinker and I’ll bet he’s going to try to disprove global warming.

He didn’t.

The fact is, there is almost no scientific disagreement that global warming is real. And there hasn’t been much disagreement in years. But it has only been in the past 2 years that global warming has really captured the attention and support of the broader public.

I mean, if there is a single issue that has more far-reaching and (potentially) catastrophic consequences, I’d like to hear it. There is considerable debate on exactly how this will play out, how long it will take, and exactly who will benefit and who will lose. But what is clear is that there will be massive, global economic and geographic dislocation. Millions of people and families will have to leave the homes their ancestors have lived in for thousands of years due to drought, flooding or overheating (depending on where you live). There will be millions of lives lost. And frankly, … Read the rest

Out of the Box: Expiration of Laws

I have a radical idea that I want to open to debate:

All laws should expire every 20 years.

Now before you go off the handle on this, hear me out.

The first major issue with our current legal system I will illustrate by example. It is illegal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia to have oral sex according to SFSU. According to this analysis, “In Georgia, those charged and convicted for either oral or anal sex can be sentenced to no less than one year and no more than 20 years imprisonment.” Now, let’s be real. About 75% of the state of Georgia has violated this law. So why is this law still on the books in so many states? It’s pretty simple. There is no state legislator that wants to come out and take a public stance for o**l se* (although he/she would earn my vote). Now, this goes much beyond a few out of date puritanical laws. There are countless special interests that are continuing to get unjustified tax breaks, contracts, etc.

The second major issue is a little more subtle. Imagine you’re a legislator that ran a great campaign and got elected to office. It’s your first day on the job. Things are going pretty well. In fact, the country is doing just fine. But all the good citizens of your state elected you to PASS LEGISLATION. So now feel compelled to get busy and show them you’ve accomplished something. You dig around and come up with some asinine law, lobby hard, and pass it. In all likelihood, the existing legislation was just fine, maybe even better. But you had to do something, right?

Having all laws expire every 20 years solves both of these problems. First, all the old stupid laws would quickly … Read the rest

Refining the Democratic Platform

It occurs to me as I’m writing about US domestic policies that to this point I’m coming off pretty liberal-democrat. Well, in some cases that’s true, but in others, it’s not. Im a strong supporter of capitalism who recognizes that there are real and significant areas where this system either fails or doesn’t provide any solution. In these situations, I think it’s entirely appropriate for the government to step in.

I do believe the government has a strong role to play in individual welfare, for example

  • Providing equal opportunity to individuals with a high-quality education and protection from discrimination.
  • Providing universal access to quality healthcare.
  • Ensuring that those who are truly incapable of taking care of themselves are cared for.

On the other hand, I don’t think it’s the role of the government to

  • Provide unconditional welfare or support to those who are able bodied
  • Pitt the working class against businesses
  • Punish those who have seized their opportunities and done well for themselves through unreasonably high taxes

In my view, this is where individual responsibility kicks in. And that’s where the democratic party often gets it wrong. Once a society has provided an individual access to opportunity – through education, a fair legal system, etc – it is up to that individual to make the most of it. If the person seizes the opportunity, society benefits as does the individual. If the individual doesn’t seize the opportunity. Well, we need uneducated workers too. It’s just that, statistically speaking, their wages are going to be far lower than a college graduate. Don’t want to work? Too bad. Neither do I.

Our government, particularly under democratic party leadership, has spent decades trying to establish a system where individuals were no longer accountable for their actions. Don’t have a job? Don’t worry, the … Read the rest

Obama Cures Cancer

Barack Obama: makes your skin soft

Barack Obama: cures cancer

Barack Obama: stops aging

At least that is what you would think listening to his zealous supporters. I think everyone, Hillary and McCain included, is starting to realize just how inspirational a speaker Obama is. Listening to one of his speeches you can’t help but be reminded of the famous orations by Kennedy, Martin Luther King, or even Lincoln.

Why are so many becoming inspired by this one man? Has it really been that long since this country has had a truly inspirational leader? Yes, it has. Not since civil rights era politics has there been a speaker as compelling and gifted as Obama.

  • Nixon? Hardly.
  • Carter? Was elected because he wasn’t Nixon.
  • Reagan? Close. Positively engaging and a gifted speaker, capable of relating to masses of Americans on very simple terms. But he wasn’t a truly inspirational speaker. And he had no real dream of “hope” – unless you count hope of lower taxes.
  • Bush 1.0? About as bad as Carter.
  • Clinton? Again, close. Bill was incredibly engaging, and a master manipulator. And he did have a few lofty goals. But not quite in the league of the masters.
  • Bush 2.0? Let’s just say he can’t even say a four syllable word without fumbling it.

And maybe it’s because this time, there are hugely important stakes of a magnitude we haven’t faced in the past three and a half decades. And because Obama is not just on the right side of the issues, he’s capable of inspiring hundreds of millions of people to DO SOMETHING about them:

  • Global warming: “It’s the planet stupid”. The US has steadfastly opposed actions to save not only the world our children will inherit from us but also the entire planet.
  • Healthcare:
Read the rest

The Government Bailed out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

In case you haven’t noticed, the economy is teetering on recession, unemployment is at a five-year high, and home foreclosures are at an all-time high. And for once, it’s not only the little guy who’s feeling the pain. The largest corporations on the planet – Citibank, Washington Mutual, and Merril Lynch, to name but a few — have had to turn to foreign governments to bail them out. And these same banks have dramatically scaled back their lending practices to shore up their balance sheets.

The problem is, the US economy and everyday people desperately need the banks to lend money. Banks are the lubrication that drives the US economy. They not only finance large and small businesses, which in turn hire and pay millions of workers in the US, but they also provide mortgages and personal loans to everyday people like you and me. And over the past 12 months, they have dramatically tightened their practices, more or less shutting down the mortgage market while driving home prices lower. With less housing demand, builders have collapsed, laying off their workers. With less equity in their homes and higher interest rates, defaults have skyrocketed, with many people walking away from their homes.

That has had a ripple effect on the overall US and world economies. In fact, we are on the verge of wide scale economic recession and corporate collapse, which could take an economic toll never seen before (e.g., Trillions of dollars!). Without government intervention, the US economy could see a downturn on the order of the depression of the 30s.

Who the Heck is Freddie Mac and Fannie May Anyway?

Freddie Mac (“The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation”) and Fannie Mae (aka “the Federal National Mortgage Corporation”) are private corporations formed by the US government to add “liquidity” … Read the rest

Education Financing

There is a simple reason why education is failing in many districts. And it’s not teachers, governance, testing or any other of the major issues. It’s much simpler and more obvious. That reason is money.

The truth is, many school districts are funded locally. Only about 6% of educational funds are provided by the Department of Education. The rest is left up to the states, and many of them have decided to pass the buck and let the local property taxes fund local schools. That may seem like the ultimate in giving control to local groups. But it’s probably the most disastrous policy you could imagine. Let’s think about this for a minute.

Wealthier neighborhoods / regions have much richer tax bases. Obvious, right? That means that these neighborhoods have lots of money to fund their schools. Consequently, they can attract the best teachers, have lower student to teacher ratios, have better learning materials and better access to resources. Conversely, poor neighborhoods, often minority neighborhoods, have a limited tax base, can’t afford to spend money on extra teachers, have a higher teacher to student ratio, and sometimes can’t afford the basics such as textbooks.

The results are predictable. The children from affluent areas have much higher graduation rates, are much more likely to attend college and have higher lifetime earnings. The children from poorer, minority neighborhoods, tend to have lower graduation rates, lower rates of college attendance, and lower lifetime earnings. And they tend to live in poorer neighborhoods, where their children will suffer the same fate.

So much for the land of opportunity. So much for the land of equality.

One of the fundamental roles of our government is to provide opportunity. Not all people will seize that opportunity. And that is OK. But under the current system, it … Read the rest

In support of Dictators and Tyrants

Machiavelli would be proud. Despite recurrently using the spread of democracy across the middle east as a justification for the Iraq war, the US continues to support dictators, tyrants, and coup-leaders worldwide. Let’s have a brief history lesson. And I’m not talking about Eisenhower era support of Batista. I’m talking about much more recent history.

Remember the failed coup attempt to overthrow the leftist, though legitimately elected, President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez in 2002? The United States quickly came out in support of the coup leaders but quickly back peddled when Chavez regained control after less than two days.

Or how about Pakistan today. Purvez Musharraf took power in a military coup in 1999, ousting democratically elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and suspending the constitution twice to maintain power, most recently in November 2007. He has jailed dissidents, jailed a supreme court justice, and generally behaved like a military dictator. As for the argument, he is a strong ally in the war on terror, he only reluctantly agreed to oppose the Taliban under direct threat from the United States. Additionally, scientists in his country provided materials and training for building a nuclear weapon to Libya.

The United States supported the Shah of Iran (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), the last Shah of 2500 years of continuous monarchy rule. According to Madeleine Albright, “In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Irans popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Massadegh… it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.” While the Shah did succeed in modernizing his country and improving the rights of women, he also ousted and arrested political dissidents, which ultimately lead to popular unrest and his overthrow, which brings us to Iraq.

Once the Shah was … Read the rest

GM Bailout: Do GM, Ford and Chrysler deserve bankruptcy?

As much as GM, Ford and Chrysler claim the recent crisis is the result of nothing more than the short-term credit crunch, that claim is pure spin. The truth is much colder and harder than that.

  • Fact: GM market share peaked 40 years ago when they controlled over half of all vehicles sold in the US. They have lost market share nearly every single year since then, to the low 20s today.
  • Fact: Despite near unanimous agreement that fossil fuels are causing global warming, and the fact that the US was sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year to repressive middle eastern governments, some of which covertly funneled funds to terrorists, the “big three” automakers steadfastly opposed tighter fuel efficiency standards.
  • Fact: If GM, Ford and Chrysler had adopted stricter fuel efficiency standards, they would have a fleet of more competitive cars instead of huge gas-guzzling cars that nobody wants to drive, and they wouldn’t need this bailout.
  • Fact: Executives from the big three showed up to congressional hearings on their own private jets. When asked to raise their hands if they would give up their private for the benefit of their company, not one of them raised their hands. This is more symbolic than anything, but it shows how out of touch with public opinion they are.

So while the automakers like to blame unions, the credit crunch, or basically anything except their own mismanagement for the current crisis, the blame lies firmly and directly at the executive management’s feet. After decades of building cars that nobody wanted, the chickens have come home to roost.

Should GM be allowed to go bankrupt?

Yes. GM, Ford and Chrysler all deserve the situation they are in. In fact, in normal economic conditions, they should be allowed to fail completely. But … Read the rest

Invade Iran, Pay $10 Per Gallon for Gas

Let’s say it like it is. Iran’s president – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (try saying that three times quickly) – is radical. He believes that the Jewish Holocaust never occurred and that Israel as a country should be dissolved. He is an active supporter of Iran building nuclear enrichment facilities, despite the fact that his country has some of the richest oil reserves in the world and is in no need of an alternative source of energy. While Iran has repeatedly stated that this program is for “peaceful” purposes only, that claim is improbable at best.

While ultimate power in Iran has rested with the religious fundamentalist Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the fact that the Iranian people popularly elected a radical like Ahmadinejad is disheartening. Though perhaps not as disheartening to re-electing George Bush.

So the knee-jerk conclusion is that Iran is a population of radical Islamists which poses a serious threat to the western way of life. But dig a bit deeper, and you see that this is not the case, and worse, the United States has contributed significantly to the rise of Mr Ahmadinejad.

Failed US Policies in Iran

In fact, the radicalism in Iran has to a significant extent been exacerbated by misguided US policies and meddling.

As I wrote in my article “in support of dictators and tyrants ”,

The United States supported the Shah of Iran (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), the last Shah of 2500 years of continuous monarchy rule. According to Madeleine Albright, “In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Irans popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Massadegh… it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.” While the Shah did succeed in modernizing his country and improving the rights of women, … Read the rest