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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Obama Care

The debate over Obama Care rages on, and on, and on, we must restore our Constitution, stop socialism, end government death panels, etc. etc. There is endless political discussion completely devoid of any medical discussion. There is no talk of communicable pathogens, no talk of preventable disease, and no talk of our national health care system. The World Health Organization (WHO) grades the American health care system as 38th , and we are graded 33th in life expectancy , the American health care system is third world level. I have experienced direct interaction with the health care systems of Mexico, Britain, Japan, Singapore and Germany. Based on my experience, America has no national health care system. This lack of a national health care system puts everyone at great risk, every man, woman and child, every citizen and every noncitizen.
A pathogen is a disease-causing organism, opportunist organisms taking the field in battle ground Homo sapiens, organisms armed with evolution. We are large mobile bags of tasty proteins to a pathogen, they mutate and adapt, consistently defeating our best medical science. Medical science discovers a bactericide to cure tuberculosis (TB), within a few years Doctors are faced with multi-drug-resistant (MDR)tuberculosis. This is the standard story with all diseases. Microbes are constantly mutating, we create the environment that selects for the MDR microbe.
Understanding the deadly mechanism of a pathogen is expensive, slow and insanely complicated. I will pause while you watch this short video about HIV/AIDS ….
This is a retroviruses engaged in parasitic replication. At the end of the story, you die. This is one pathogen that threatens everyone’s health, and pathogens are a major reason we need a national health care system. We need major institutions engaged in medical research with disease monitoring and surveillance, without taxpayer funded, government operated agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), or the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; we are as helpless as a babe in the wilds.
The danger of a plague is the same today as at any time in human history, microbes and viruses mutate as fast as we develop better medicine, sometimes faster. Think of the bugs waiting to kill you, HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola, meningitis, swine flu, bird flu, viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Lassa, Ebola, Marburg, dengue fever, and yellow fever. All relentlessly seeking their opportunity to replicate and mutate, and we are maximizing their opportunities by providing an excellent unhealthy ecology.
Health insurance is not an inoculation against HIV or Ebola, for the individual it is access to professional medical care and medication. Without medical insurance access to medical care is limited, often the emergency room at a community hospital. The mother of an uninsured baby may have to wait hours to get measles inoculation for her child, missing work and losing part of her paycheck. Uninsured populations create a perfect ecology for pathogens. Once a pathogen finds a home in any sub group of a population, the entire population is exposed. Poverty, limited health care and poor diets are a welcome mat to pathogens. Pathogens have one historical friend, politicians. Doctors can detail the requirements for protecting public health, Senators can detail the requirements for reelection, and there is no overlap, no convergence between the two.
Republicans are intent on stopping Obama Care, to improve their electoral chances, they wish to disband the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a policy that polls well with their base. We need to inject the topic of national health care into our debate about national health care.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Confessions of a Low Information Voter

As with all buzz words, dog whistles and bumper stickers the term “Low Information Voter” (LIV), is very loosely defined. In general it refers to someone that votes based on frivolous and trivial information, lacking any informed intellectual basis for their choice. That is the best I can make of the Republican usage of the LIV term. The elegant simplicity of flawed logic wends onward to create a rationalization for losing state wide and national elections, ending with the belief that if not for the stupid voters, Republicans could have won the Presidential election. Assumptions accumulate while traveling this torturous path to LIV theory enlightenment, such as, all Democratic voters are LIVs, all minorities are LIVs, all food stamp recipients are LIVs, most women are LIVs, Republican voters are intellectually and morally superior, etc., etc. The loose ambiguity of the LIV definition allows near infinite room for mental tumbling and cerebral cavorting. Into this vacuous thinking rush talk show host and a supporting cast of “experts”. Cynically I think, “There is money being made here”.
If my starting hypothesis of the definition of LIV is correct, I have to ask “So what’s new?” I must ask who defines frivolous and trivial. Another example, my elected representative voted for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act which changes how combat pay is calculated, and being from a traditional military family, I was upset about this policy change. Does my concern get brushed aside as frivolous and trivial? Am I ignorant because I haven’t decided about Obama Care? Now any bickering blowhard can besmirch my LIV viewpoint.
All theories are attempts to explain observed events, then to predict future events. Since 51% of voting Americans are LIVs (no self respecting Republican would allow that a Democratic vote was based on informed intellectual thought), clearly a Republican outreach program is needed. A Republican political hegemony created by facts, logic and political awareness. Personally, I will be a challenge, I accept the theory of evolution; I believe the universe is more than 6,000 years old; I find climate change science valid; clearly I am an unrepentant low information voter.
I do not perceive the current Congressional Republican behavior as factual or logical. My current LIV perception is that Republicans are acting for narrow short term political advantage, not for long term societal benefits. My full perception is that all politicians operate from this principle; my reading of history suggests this true across all time, governments and nationalities.
What this poor LIV wants, dreams of, is that some leader will decide that good policy is good politics. That ideology needs to be replaced by pragmatism, I can accept “No pain – No gain” if there is a basis to believe there will be a future gain. My frivolous and trivial political awareness will naturally focus on another Washington, Lincoln, FDR or Kennedy when one appears, just as the LIVs of their time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

News you can trust

Our sources of important news events and political information are suspect. Some trust Fox News completely, and others trust MSNBC, while others go with CNN. Many believe they can listen to all sources and average the truth in the claims. Since single sourcing your news supply is self-limiting, because you have to live in a small box, an alternative is “the truth lies in the middle” approach. I decided to test this concept. I ask several three year old preschool children “what is 2 times 2”. The answers were 3, 5, 22, a “set of shoes”, “blue birds”, and one precocious child replied “3 and a half” with excellent self confidence. Averaging these answers produced the wrong answer, so much for “the truth lies in the middle” theory. Next I asked a sixth grader who promptly answered four. I checked with several other students ranging across the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. A consistent answer was four, with other responses of “is there a prize?”, “are you a child molester?”, and “why don’t you know?” I deemed these youngsters as showing great promise.
Examining data gathered in my carefully designed experiment some conclusions can be drawn. First, the correct answer is best provided by someone who has studied the subject, generally called an “expert”, and second, the expert should not have an agenda.
Employing these uncomplicated guidelines, I find few experts expounding among the many available venues of cable news shows. Some networks contained no experts by this measure. The definition of “expert” instead morphed into someone that displays zeal for the subject combined with the occasional polysyllabic word, bonus points awarded for consistency with the network’s agenda. The polysyllabic words denote great intelligence, and a loud voice denotes absolute correctness of the position. The network’s stated agenda will concur with a demographic segment which in turn ensures a profitable audience.
I and my fellow “low information voters” are universally aware of this flaw. But then, we are not the target audience, indeed, we are the vilified target of the target audience. One network’s carefully identified target audience requires enemies to maintain a social cohesion and a supportable self identification.
I don’t fall into the 20% that follow Sean Hannity, I don’t fall into the 20% that follow Rachel Maddow, and I don’t fall into the 50% that will follow both then average the difference, I fall into the 10% that follow the Animal Planet. I will visit the Science Channel, the History Channel, or the Weather Channel, with current events available from the Comedy Chanel. Major world events leak into my consciousness through Face Book or Twitter. As a true “low information voter” I am well informed, for example, I know that a woman can become pregnant during rape (The Science Channel), I know that the Great Depression ended with World War 2 (The History Chanel), I know that all politicians act political (The Comedy Chanel), I know that an American symbol, the Bald Eagle, is no longer an endangered species (The Animal Planet), and I know that Dyson makes the best vacuum cleaner (Midnight Infomercial).
As the prototypical “low information voter” I am not constantly stressed by some artificially manufactured scandal de jour, I am not sick and tired of being sick and tired, I am not frightful about some highly improbable, likely nonexistent threat, and I don’t hate 47% of my fellow Americans. I am quite content to lie in a hammock and read a book. All are welcome to this calm, low cost existence, feel free to join me. Turn off the news cable show, there is far superior entertainment available.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

You have been warned

The destruction of the American Dream is nearly complete, the work of our enemies relentless, and now, we have lost. Sell everything and move out of America, we are all doomed. There will be no God fearing Christian survivors. All retired people will be living in a single cardboard box under the over pass, fighting over the last dead rat. The government will finally destroy capitalism, causing the Dow Jones to crash below 200 in 3 minutes next week. Buy guns and bullets and cases of canned beans. Sell everything and sleep under your bed, then make your escape plans.
Big brother is watching everything (the Republicans watch your bedroom and the Democrats watch everything else). 4 million government employees are watching 316 million American citizens... all day… every day… nonstop. Every breath you take is noted, every penny you spend is marked, and every web site you visit is registered, for the government records all. Except for the 30 million illegal-Mexicans, the government doesn’t track them, these illegal-Mexican-Terrorist are part of the government’s plan to destroy our founding fathers constitution, using the illegal-Islamic-Mexican-Terrorist to take away our freedoms. The illegal-Islamic-Drug-Dealer-Mexican-Terrorist has just one purpose, to rape your daughters, take your money, burn down your home and steal your dog. The generational plan is nearing completion with the illegal-Islamic-Drug-Dealer-Mexican-Terrorist-Anchor-Babies trained in Kenya by professional Al-Qaeda insurrectionist specifically to kill YOU. The only salvation is in moving south of the border. There are no illegal Mexicans in Mexico, the Mexican government is not spying on all citizens, and the Mexicans are really very nice to American tourist. I suggest Akumal, in the state of Quintana Roo, with its white sand Caribbean beaches and low cost of living, from your hammock watch the calamity, also, Akumal’s crime rate is far lower than that of Houston, Texas.
This winter a worldwide pandemic will kill billions, a viral hemorrhagic disease starting in pigs, then spread by birds, transmitted thru mosquitoes, spread person to person with coughs, and eventually killing YOU. The government is hoarding the only known immunization drug, they will only allow certain citizens to have the cure, and you are not one of the privileged citizens. After the financial collapse the worldwide epidemic will finish off America (some foreigners also will die, but who cares?), they do this due of one thing, they hate our freedom, they hate our religion, they hate our exceptionalism, they hate our democracy, and they envy our sports teams.
Just a few years ago all this could have been kept secret, with today's internet the truth is available to all. The truth will not set you free, but it will scare you, be afraid... very, very afraid, and be sure to buy my new book “How to survive Obama’s secret plan to eradicate the human species”.
 You have been warned.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reason for American decline

The biggest danger to any Democracy is the politicians, those politicians elected democratically in a free and open ballot. A politician that is good at campaigning need not be competent at governing. Demagogues will win the election then damage the institution of government. Today we see the politician that has prioritized their concerns as; first self, second party, and then last comes country, short term political gain out weights all else.
This is not new. Ancient Greece was destroyed by the actions and decisions of greedy, self serving Greek elites. The Roman Empire was destroyed by greedy self serving Roman elites. The great Chinese Empires failed due to greedy self serving elites. The French Empire of King Louis XIV failed due to a greedy self serving political class. The list of governments that have failed by political suicide is complete, it includes all of them. Whether tyrannies or democracies all rotted from the inside allowing some alternative force to kick the government to the dust. Eventually the short term self interest of the politician lead to the destruction of the same self serving politician, along with their society. Again I will note this is true for all governments and all societies, none has survived.
The pattern is clear, fully documented and universal. I will deal with those governments that, by definition, are reasonably liberal democracies, the dictatorships and illiberal democracies are doomed by their initial structure. The liberal democracies start with the strength and support of that societies’ population, the elite receives the largest benefit but the common citizen also receives some benefit. Life improves for all. With the passing of time the elite consolidate their power, slowly excluding the mass of the population, the ruling elite become less responsive to the general population while concentrating on their own self serving needs. Eventually, the majority of the population no longer has any reason to support the elite. At this point the government has rotted from the inside and can be easily beaten by either external or internal adversaries.
Over a single generation, since the 1980s, America has become weaker by reducing the political representation of the middle class with the corresponding power solidification within a small class of a ruling elite. We have reached the point where the elite demand deification as “job creators”, claiming that which is good for the elites is good for the country.
A rating of best countries for business by Forbes rates American number 12, this serves the elite by reducing competition from up starts. The rating for best education by OCED has American number 14; the elite have private schools and guaranteed college legacy entry. The rating of the world’s health care systems has America as number 36, the elite are insulated by their wealth. One generation pass America lead in all categories, now America leads in no category. We are still the world’s largest economy, but even that will soon be passing. The elite have access to the international market, the middle class does not.
The right blames the left, the left blames the right, and those in the middle blame both, but all see the trend. The pattern is obvious and so is the answer. The elite have to allow full participation by all American citizens in the political process. This has never happened in human history. In the pass, once the elite have enough power, the elite destroy their own society which then destroys the elite.
There is a first time for everything. America is in decay but not yet rotten to the core. The vibrancy and strength has been chained but not defeated. The middle class can rebuild itself, if given a chance. Future historians will treat today’s American elite the same as historians treat the “last Roman Emperor”, which is mostly with scorn, they will be remembered as living in bubbles removed from the larger culture. It will be noted they blamed the working poor, which they identify as the 47%, never seeing their contribution and leadership to the downfall, a repetition of history.