Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Replacing Obamacare

October 10, 2017

President Trump promised to replace Obamacare, but so far has only suggested modifying it. He should replace the Obama approach to health care.

Medical costs cause the price of health insurance to be too high for some to afford. Obamacare attempted to deal with high insurance rates by forcing healthy people to buy health insurance.

A better approach would recognize that it isn’t practical for profit-making insurance programs to pay for expensive to treat chronic disorders such as those associated with alcohol or tobacco use. Special programs could be set up to cover such disorders.

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco should be used to fund programs for alcohol and tobacco related medical disorders. For example, a per gallon tax on alcohol products would go into a fund for treatment of alcohol related disorders. A doctor would certify that a person has an alcohol related disorder and health care providers would send health care bills for the patient to the alcohol fund in the same way bills are sent to insurance companies for payment. To simplify payment procedures all medical problems of a patient with an alcohol related medical problem would be paid by the fund because alcohol can reduce the body’s ability to handle problems. The fund would also cover medical costs of those who suffer injuries because of the actions of someone under the influence of alcohol even if the injury involved a preexisting condition. A police report that one of the drivers in a traffic accident was under the influence of alcohol would trigger payment from the alcohol fund even if the courts wouldn’t consider the drinking driver to be at fault.

Under the current insurance system people who never use tobacco or alcohol help pay for the medical treatment of those who have tobacco or alcohol related medical problems. Under my proposal only those who use alcohol and tobacco products would pay to treat medical problems related to alcohol and tobacco use.

Another type of health care fund would involve specific disorders, such as heart trouble or specific cancers that may be caused by various factors other than tobacco or alcohol. Government would use general taxes to finance treatment and conduct research. Other funds might come from non-profit organizations. Government might encourage non-profit funds by offering to match what they raise.

Each fund would operate in part as a research project. Paying for all treatments from a single fund would allow researchers to monitor and compare the success rate of various different treatments. Insurance companies are reluctant to fund experimental treatments because they can’t expect to benefit from them, but the federal government could benefit from knowing what doesn’t work as well as knowing what does work.

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Those Who Benefit from Economic Injustice Shouldn’t Complain

September 25, 2017

Those athletes who complain about the existence of injustice ignore the fact that they are part of the class whose members may benefit from whatever injustices are perceived to exist. What is considered an injustice varies from one person to another.

The use of local taxes to subsidize sports facilities can be considered an injustice. Some of the athletes using the facilities pay more in income taxes than some of the local taxpayers make in a year. The money teams save by not having to pay to construct facilities is available for player salaries.

If professional athletes are really concerned about injustice they should do something directly instead of whining about it like children For example, they might use part of their income to create jobs in high unemployment areas.

Criticism of President Donald Trump’s comments is unjustified. As the elected leader of the American he can speak for those who agree with him. Normally we can expect that some will agree with him and some will disagree.

 

Russia Sanctions Humiliate Hillary

July 31, 2017

I’ve been trying to find a logical reason for the Congressional vote for the extreme action of imposing sanctions on Russia.

Sanction supporters talk about what they call “fake news”,but the term is just another word for propaganda which governments produce all the time. We didn’t impose sanctions on the British government for its “fake news” stories about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Russian spying on candidates cannot justify sanctions because spying on political figures is a common government activity. Besides the CIA had already infiltrated the Russian hackers who were the alleged spies.

The only significant difference in the situation is that the person Congress is concerned about is a woman, Hillary Clinton. I believe Congress is upset because members think the big old Russian bear was mean to poor little defenseless Goldilocks.

Does anyone believe Congress would have taken a similar action if Donald Trump had been the alleged victim? Or, for that matter the previous losing Democratic candidate John Kerry?

Congress didn’t impose sanctions when Vietnam meddled in the 2004 election by producing story claiming that potential Democratic presidential aspirant Sen Bob Kerrey had participated in a war crime in Vietnam 50 years earlier.

Charlie Gard’s Parents Demonstrate British Fortitude

July 22, 2017

Americans  support Charlie Gard partly because his parents demonstrate the fortitude in the face of adversity that  Americans have long admired in the British.  Unfortunately for Charlie his doctors don’t have that fortitude.   The doctors prefer a white flag of surrender to a “stiff upper lip”.

If Charlie’s parents had been in London during WWII they would have come out of the shelters between bombing raids and taken  care of business.  I don’t know about his doctors.

The decision by Charlie’s parents to ask for American help repeats   another British behavior.  During the last century when “Mother England” needed help she turned to her powerful “child” the United States.

Old Medicine vs. New Medicine

July 16, 2017

Poor baby Charlie Gard and his parents are caught in the old battle between compassionless medical traditionalists who are satisfied with existing medical knowledge and the experimentalists who are trying to advance medical knowledge to reduce the number of disorders that cannot be successfully treated. Traditionalists who don’t know how to treat disorders tend to deny the possibility that patients like Charlie whom they don’t know how to treat can be treated by anyone. They are like selfish little children who don’t want to let other children play with toys they aren’t playing with at the time. Traditionalists would rather have a patient die than allow someone else to treat and cure “their” patient.

Traditionalists often call themselves “experts”, but they are incapable of being experts because experts must be familiar with the latest knowledge as well as the traditional knowledge. Development of new treatments can intimidate traditionalists because they don’t know if they can learn the new knowledge.

Traditionalists don’t understand that parents can accept a child’s death more easily if they know they have tried every possible treatment. Parents can accept death more easily if they know doctors have gained knowledge from their child’s death that might help other children in the future.

Do British Understand Importance of Medical Research?

July 16, 2017

The efforts of British medical personnel to prevent Charlie Gard from receiving experimental treatment implies they don’t understand how important participating in medical research is. All medical treatments begin as experiments. Someone had to be the first to be treated for rabies. Someone had to be the first to receive a heart transplant. Sixty years ago my grandfather had experimental treatment for skin cancer on his face that didn’t work as expected because, according to my dad, The doctor applied the radiation for too long. Decades later doctors used the knowledge they gained from treating my grandfather and others to successfully treat my father and his brother as well as myself for facial skin cancers.

Sometimes treatment developed for one malady can be used to treat another. American entertainer Jerry Lewis helped raise millions to develop treatments for muscular dystrophy. Doctor used one of those treatments to save Lewis from a potentially fatal heart problem.

We cannot tell in advance if Charlie Gard will benefit from experimental treatment. If he does not his parents will know that their son’s life served a purpose because knowledge gained from treating their son will eventually benefit the lives of other children just like knowledge from efforts to treat my grandfather’s skin cancer benefited his sons and grandson.

Was “Russian Hacking” a CIA Sting?

June 30, 2017

Until I found stories about FSB’s [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] arrest of Col.Sergei Mikhailov, I thought the claims about Russian hacking during last year’s presidential
election  were probably false.   I know  the FSB is unlikely to be as effective as the legendary KGB, but  I wouldn’t expect it to engage in the amateurish activities attributed to Russian hackers.  The CIA’s connection with Col. Mikhailov raises the possibility the CIA was operating a sting to discredit Donald Trump.
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For example,  the KGB wouldn’t have been satisfied with using hacking to get some emails from the Democratic Party headquarters.  The old KGB would have planted an agent in Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters.  This agent  would have occasionally downloaded documents, including summaries of meetings,   onto a zip drive.   Russians have been planting people in American organizations for 70 years. Why would the FSB switch to  a less productive means of acquiring  information?  A human agent can overhear conversations that contain information that doesn’t get into the computer.

The CIA could have used Col. Mikhailov for more than just a  source of information about Russian activities.  The association potentially allowed the CIA to use Russian hackers to spy on Americans or on “friendly” governments like Britain or Germany.  Those detecting  the hacking would blame the Russians rather than the Americans.  European governments would complain if they caught the CIA spying on them.  Using Russian hackers potentially allowed the  CIA to gain information risk free.

CIA could also have had Mikhailov send Russian agents to try to compromise American politicians.   Spy agencies sometimes have trouble resisting an urge to become power brokers.  The CIA has a history of involvement in other countries, particularly in the Middle East.  An agent of the World War II OSS [predecessor to the CIA]  admitted before he died that he was responsible for killing American World War II General George Patton.  Many Americans believe the CIA was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The following statement is not intended to accuse the CIA of attempting to interfere in the process of determining who is the President of the United States.  I merely want to point out its actions are consistent with that possibility.  The CIA could have used the Russian hackers to keep Hillary Clinton from winning the election and then used other Russian agents to discredit her opponent Donald Trump and make him appear to be responsible for the Russian hackers.

Is Special Counsel Robert Mueller obstructing justice?

June 22, 2017

American prosecutors often treat the concept of obstruction of justice as if the concept only meant efforts to prevent them from successfully prosecuting a case.  That concept of obstruction might be acceptable in a country like  Nazi  Germany or the Soviet Union, but it is not acceptable in the United States of America.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights to American citizens accused of illegal actions.

A prosecutor who uses illegally obtained information in an investigation is guilty of obstruction of justice.   The Constitution guarantees those accused of crimes the right to confront their accusers in court because the British government had allowed convictions based on anonymous claims that might have been fabrications. Government agencies wanting to obtain information by electronic eavesdropping must first obtain approval by a judge.      Eavesdropping information obtained without court approval may be considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and thus unusable by the prosecution.  The courts may prevent prosecution of individuals whose possible involvement in an activity is learned from “fruit of the poisonous tree”

Should American Military Employ “Comfort Women”?

June 11, 2017

“Make love not war” was a popular slogan in the late sixties.   Soldiers in many wars  have found that “making love” is a way to forget the realities of war.

Sex and war have been connected since the first time men from one village attacked another village to kidnap women.    Invading armies often have a problem with soldiers sexually assaulting local  women.
American military forces have an ongoing problem with male personnel sexually assaulting female personnel.

Although genes don’t control human behavior the way genes control the behavior of other animals,  genes do influence human behavior.    It may be significant that in species in which  males may fight each other to the death, the fighting is over acquisition of females.

During World  War II Japan decided to try to  prevent the rape problem by hiring women  to serve as “comfort women” who would provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers.   The size of the Japanese military hampered the effort to have an all volunteer unit.  Japan dealt with this situation by conscripting  women in the countries Japan conquered.  The controversy over the practice continues to  hamper relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Although I would not advocate the use of “comfort women”, I recognize “comfort women”  could provide an option for reducing rapes by male personnel.

Women providing sexual services would probably have a military job title like “personal therapist”.  The men they provide services to would be officially listed as “patients” and the “treatment” they receive would have the same privacy protection as other medical treatment.  Patients would have to pass some basic physical exam to make sure they don’t have contagious diseases or medical conditions that sexual activity might affect.   Therapists  would inform patients that a doctor or nurse might monitor their treatment by video.  Any monitoring  would be for quality control as well as to protect the therapists.   There are rare cases in which even young seemingly healthy athletes have heart attacks during strenuous activity because of undetected heart conditions.

Therapists  would receive  training as counselors and be expected  to watch for problems like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so men could  receive treatment as early as possible.
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Outside  the building where the services are provided therapists would wear the same uniforms as other female personnel during the time when they are expected to be in uniform.     To guarantee personal privacy their living quarters would be separate from where the work area even if the living quarters are in the same building.    Therapists would receive hazardous duty pay because of the disease risk.   They would have a clothing allowance for their “work clothes”.

I realize that some people will question  having the military encourage what they consider an immoral practice.   I would ask these people if they  consider war a more moral activity than making love.   What many ignore is that prostitution is a business relationship rather than a personal relationship.   Although some prostitutes enjoy their work,  they don’t become involved with their clients.  The “personal therapists” I’m proposing would be providing a therapeutic service to those who are asked to risk their lives for their fellow Americans.  How can that be immoral?

Part of the rape problem is the failure of   American culture to teach men that they should learn to control their sexual nature.  Instead American culture encourages men to expect women to serve their sexual desires.   Unfortunately it isn’t practical for the military to change men’s sexual attitudes.   The most practical alternative is to employ women whose profession involves serving men’s sexual needs.

Amazing Grace: The Perfect Hymn

April 18, 2017

“Amazing Grace”  is one of the most popular hymns because it has a simple message and readily lends itself to being performed  in different ways. It can be sung fast or slow, loud or soft.  Reporter Bill Moyers once did a PBS documentary about the hymn “Amazing Grace” which included several different ways of singing the hymn.   When I was in college I learned a version sung to the tune of “The Wanderer”.

I have heard impressive performances played on a magnificent pipe organ and on a simple harmonica.  It can be played on a heavenly sounding harp or on a jazzy trumpet.  I don’t know of any song I would rather hear on the bagpipes.  Or, “Amazing Grace” can be sung acappella as  Judy Collins did in a 1970 recording.

Some call “Amazing Grace” a white spiritual because  it combines English words with an African melody.  I had never really thought about where the melody came from until Larnell Harris mentioned it on one of the Gaither music programs.  According to Harris the melody is an Africa sorrow chant.

John Newton, who wrote  “Amazing Grace”, likely learned the melody while working on slave ships and briefly being a slave himself in West Africa.  When Newton wrote “a wretch like me” he meant it literally.  Newton’s sailing career began when he joined the crew of his sea captain father’s ship.  Newton served on various ships after his father retired before ending up on the slave ship Pegasus. He had so much trouble getting along with the rest of the crew that they eventually sold him to a west African slave trader who turned Newton over to his wife who abused Newton in the same way as her other slaves.  After a friend of Newton’s father rescued him. he returned to sailing and subsequently became the captain of a slave ship.  A religious conversion eventually led him to become  minister.  Decades later he became a leading advocate for abolishing slavery.