Predicted Climate Changes For 21st Century Could Stress Social Contract

Scientists are predicting global temperature rises of at least four degrees Centigrade over the 21st century. Such changes are unprecedented in recorded human history, but they have happened before. A picture has recently emerged of the implications for human life and its not a pretty picture.

For example, a massive flooding trigger which apparently has happened repeatedly in the prehistoric past is the periodic collapse of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

The Ross Ice Shelf as viewed from a ship. It is the size of France and 600 - 3000 feet thick.

The implications of a collapse on coastal areas and flood insurance programs (typical insurance exempts all catastrophic events from coverage) would be devastating. For example, rapid rises in sea levels can trigger "Noah's Flood" like events as large basins at low elevations fill with water. Areas like the large parts of the US Southwest, Southeast/ East Coast and central California have been underwater in the past.

Also, increased temperatures could render large areas too hot and dry to support plant life, trigering mass starvation and presumably, migrations of those affluent enough to travel. As much as 50% of the Earths dry surface could become uninhabitable. This might be offset somewhat by areas of the Arctic becoming cultivatable, but the liberation of large amounts of methane locked in deposits on the sea bottom could accelerate global warming rapidly.

"Massive ice shelf 'may collapse without warning'

The Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning causing a dramatic rise in sea levels, warn New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica."

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New VA Policy of Asking Veteran's Insurers To Pay War Injury Tab Bad Idea

Adding insult to their injuries, the Obama administration has proposed a new policy of asking health insurers to foot the bill for war injuries of veterans, despite blanket policy exemptions that have for decades, exempted acts of war from almost all kinds of private insurance coverage.

The LA Times has more here: "Plan to bill insurance for combat injuries criticized"

This new cost-shifting in billing policy seems to have already been implemented by the VA, and it is apparently already resulted in the US-based offices of many businesses becoming unwilling to hire veterans of any war, because they are afraid their insurance bills will rise.

Veterans groups are up in arms.

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Urgent! Write Your Congressperson: Medicare For All Bill Is Alternative To Wasteful Spending

Please write your Congressperson NOW asking them to support the National Health Care Act, H.R. 676 as an alternative to wasteful and outrageous government gifting to well connected banks.

National Health Care Act, H.R. 676 includes:

  • Comprehensive coverage for all, including doctor, hospital, long-term, mental health, dental and vision care as well as prescription drugs and medical supplies.
  • No premiums, co-payments, or deductibles that inhibit access to care and unfairly burden the poor.
  • Free choice of doctor and hospital and an end to insurance company and HMO dictates over patient care.
  • Pays for itself by eliminating wasteful private insurance administration and profit. A progressive tax would replace what is currently paid out-of-pocket.
  • Controls costs so benefits are sustainable through negotiated physician fees, global budgets for hospitals and bulk purchasing of prescription drugs and medical supplies.  A single-payer system would facilitate health planning to reestablish the balance between preventive and primary care on one hand, and high-tech tertiary care on the other.

Insurance companies have President Obama's ear. We don't.

It is urgent that people write their congressperson NOW to prevent a push towards "lock-in" that could prevent any change from ever happening at the Federal level and could prohibit the states from planning alternatives to federal endorsement of the WASTEFUL pirate insurance model.

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Massachusetts Health Reforms Failing Chronically Ill Badly, Harvard Faculty Study Shows


A recent study shows that Massachusetts program forcing all citizens to buy for-profit health insurance is failing the poor, middle class and especially the chronically ill because they cannot afford the allegedly "fair" prices inevitably demanded by for-profit insurers. (The health insurance industry takes 33 cents out of every dollar spent in the United States on healthcare, trillions of dollars a year.) Plus, those who can't also afford prescription drug insurance are being price-gouged on prescription drugs.


A group of 500 Massachusetts doctors has sent a letter to the Obama administration begging that they stop holding up Massachusetts as a model of healthcare success, because the system is failing the middle class and all of the chronically poor whose incomes are more than three times the federal poverty line (which works out to around $66,000 for a family with four CHILDREN (my edit))

""Any plan that retains private insurers will add layers of bureaucracy and fail to control costs, dooming the noble effort to assure good care for all," the letter said.

The Massachusetts healthcare law essentially builds on the existing health insurance system, where most people obtain coverage through their employers. It requires virtually all people to buy insurance and provides limited assistance to those who cannot afford it. President Obama and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus have endorsed aspects of the plan, making it likely to influence any effort to overhaul the national system.

The doctors' analysis -- written by Rachel Nardin, a neurologist and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, both primary care doctors and associate professors at Harvard Medical School -- questions the quality of data showing that all but 2.6 percent of Massachusetts residents have insurance, arguing the number is probably 5 percent or more.

The doctors also say that the new insurance available to lower middle class people imposes unaffordale out-of-pocket costs, particularly on the chronically ill. And they argue that because the new law is more expensive than anticipated, the state has prematurely cut funding for "safety net" providers who help the poor free of charge, leaving them without a last resort.

"Despite having health insurance, many Massachusetts residents cannot afford care," Nardin said at a press conference in Washington earlier today. She cited the example of a young diabetic from the Boston area whose costs went from nothing under the old "free care" system to $340 per month under the new law, consuming one-quarter of her take-home pay.

Asked how Congress and the White House might avoid Massachusetts' mistakes to create a better national system, Woolhandler and Nardin said the main lesson was that a Medicare-for-all style system is the only way to achieve universal health reform."

Thought that mandated health insurance in Massachusetts would include drug coverage? You were wrong.

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Looting of America spotlighted by NYT

Ive been trying to point out that we're being looted for some time now. Finally, the New York Times runs an article on it.

The Looting of America's Coffers By David Leonhardt

The article reminds me of a disturbing trend in contract law: the use of so called "bullshit promises". These are promises that the maker has no intention of keeping, but its very hard to prove.

I feel that many politicians promises, for example on healthcare, represent bullshit promises. In a very real sense, fraud.

We are being held hostage by these people. Hostage because we play by the rules, and they don't.

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New Movie "The Road" Explores Fragility of Human Society Now

Viggo Mortensen as The Man in "The Road"

This is from imdb:
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and, when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the southern coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. Nothing seems alive. They have nothing: just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other. 
Written by Anonymous

Plot Synopsis:

The world is in ruins after an apocalyptic event that is never described. A father and his son are walking south in an attempt to escape the increasingly cold...

There is a new movie close to release that shows the fragility of human, especially, American society in this era of global climate change. It was ready a few months ago, evidently, but its not been released.

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US Is One Of Only Three Developed Nations Without Universal Healthcare For All, OECD Report Shows

Salon has a good article about the ugliness of the US healthcare situation and how it could possibly be this way.

It's entitled "The questions our healthcare debate ignores".

"Last month, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued the latest in a long series of reports on our wasteful and cruel practices that ought to awaken a sense of national embarrassment."

DEPRESSING fact that is mentioned NUMBER ONE: "Among the OECD's 30 members -- which include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom -- there are only three lacking universal health coverage. The other two happen to be Mexico and Turkey, which have the excuse of being poorer than the rest (and until the onset of the world economic crisis, Mexico was on the way to providing healthcare to all of its citizens). The third, of course, is us."

(Here is the actual report from the OECD web site)

"The story gets worse as the details emerge. Although the public share of health expenditure in the United States is much lower than any other OECD country except Mexico, the public expenditure on healthcare is much higher per capita than in most OECD countries. So we pay a lot more in taxes devoted to medical care -- not including insurance premiums, co-payments, fees, and other health costs -- than taxpayers in those 27 countries that have universal coverage. Our public expenditure provides coverage only for the elderly and some of the poor (through Medicaid and the SCHIP program for children) while other countries provide universal coverage while spending less."

"How much less? Nations with comparable standards of living like France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, and Japan spend roughly between half and two-thirds per capita what we spend annually. They cover everyone and their results are measurably better. And the supposed downsides of universal coverage, such as lack of access to sophisticated medical technologies, are belied in many of these countries. For instance Japan has lower per capita health expenditures than the United States (and universal coverage,) but its citizens have greater access to MRI machines, CT scanners and kidney dialysis equipment than Americans do."

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Obama Avoids Two Most Important Questions On Healthcare: NYT

The New York Times has an editorial today that brings up some important points about President Obama's 10 year (used to be eight year) healthcare initiative.

63 billion dollars a year may sound like a lot of money, but compared to the 2 TRILLION dollars a year that Americans spend on healthcare now, its a drop in the bucket.

If we are to reach his stated goal of improving healthcare affordability and making healthcare efficient by 2019, we may need to spend a lot more. To get univeral healthcare, even more than that.

You know, The Canadian healthcare system works. That's why it's being ignored.

We could learn a lot from the Canadians. They all love it.

The lies we hear about it being dysfunctional are right wing propaganda which even the most right wing Canadians laugh at.

The New York Times puts it very well.

"President Obama has shown both courage and sound judgment pressing for quick action on comprehensive health care reform, even in the midst of the country's deep economic crisis. He has rightly stressed the urgency of reining in skyrocketing health care costs that are straining the budgets of families, businesses, and federal and state governments.

But his proposals, for all of their ambition, do not fully answer two central questions: how to cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans, and how to reform the health care system to reduce costs and improve the quality of care.

Mr. Obama has decided to let Congress thrash out the details of those issues, with the White House providing guidance along the way. Democratic leaders in Congress, many of whom are far more versed in the issues than the president is, will have to step up and fashion an effective bill. If they falter, Mr. Obama will need to step in with a clear vision and vigorous leadership.

To his credit, the president has tackled the first tough issue of how to pay for expanded coverage and systemic reforms. His budget has proposed huge expenditures -- $634 billion over 10 years -- as a down payment, and it clearly specifies where to find the money.

Half would come from raising taxes on the rich, another quarter from eliminating unjustified subsidies for private plans that participate in Medicare, and other big chunks from reducing payments to drug companies, hospitals and the home health care industry.

Yet even the administration admits that $634 billion will not be enough to reach universal coverage: some experts think it will take at least twice that amount. "

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Obama's new friends on HEALTHCARE: Bait and Switch Alert!


    disturbing words today

in the Washington Post about Obama's new "friends" in the quest to "settle" the healthcare issue, clearly by splitting the healthy's interests away from those of the chronically ill, in a game of "divide and conquer".

        "Ex-Foes of Health Reform Now Supporters Surprising Allies Emerge at Summit Hosted by Obama

    By Ceci Connolly Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, March 6, 2009
        Surrounded by men and women who made their careers killing health-care reform
, President Obama yesterday reiterated his pledge to enact comprehensive legislation this year, an ambitious undertaking many say is further complicated by the nation's dismal economy. "When times were good, we didn't get it done. When we had mild recessions, we didn't get it done," Obama said at a White House summit launching his effort to treat the nation's ailing health system. "There's always a reason not to do it. Now is exactly the time for us to deal with this problem."

    WHY? Because the lack of government resources to address the problem NOW will offer political cover for those who WANT US TO DO A VERY BAD JOB OF IT
. In the room was Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Tex.),

    who proudly reminded the crowd of 150 that he was instrumental in killing "Hillarycare" in the 1990s

And of course, Obama has had Jim Cooper, who was also instrumental in killing real universal healthcare in the 90s, by creating and pushing an alternative plan that was in retrospect, clearly designed to fail because it failed to deal with adverse selection caused by the healthy choosing to opt out. The healthcare plan in MA also has no answer to the cost of healthcare except that it lets the chronically ill, who are priced out of the market, get away with fines if they are caught not affording insurance.

    "Yesterday, he announced that he supported the principles that have been outlined by Obama. Also at the summit was Chip Kahn, who 15 years ago,
        as an insurance lobbyist
, helped mastermind the iconic "Harry and Louise" ads that attacked the health-care overhaul proposed by President Bill and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Kahn, who now represents hospitals, said Obama has "successfully launched the process we need to achieve health reform, which we all want,
        and brought together congressional Democrats and Republicans with stakeholders to begin to forge a consensus

And that consensus appears to be, deal with the least daunting part of the problem and not the core of it. THE SICK. This is exactly what I have been predicting here for over a year, that this would happen.

    "Karen Ignagni,
        who runs the nation's leading insurance association, told Obama, "You have our commitment to play, to contribute and to help pass health-care reform this year.
""That's good news," Obama said, sounding a bit surprised. "That's America's Health Insurance Plans," he said, referring to Ignagni's group.

How stupid do they think we are? Obviously, VERY.

    "Similar words of support came from lobbyists for physicians, drugmakers and the corporate sector.

    "We know where everyone stood. But they don't stand there anymore," said Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We're going to get some kind of an agreement here,
        whether it's two-thirds of what everybody wants or three-quarters of what everybody wants or who knows. If you don't get in this game . . . you're on the menu."

The percentage is one fifth of us are uninsurable. Approximately one fifth of Americans have chronic medical conditions like athsma or diabetes that make them virtually "uninsurable" outside of an employer group plan now. They are the ones who can't afford insurance unless they are in an employer group plan or subsidized high risk pool. (They are the ones that will cost a lot to insure, anywhere, through private insurance)

    Obviously, they cannot afford lobbyists, or paid bloggers to argue their case. They cannot afford the high priced PR consultants. They cannot afford to "get in this game" because they are sick. So, yes, their lives, their future, are on the menu. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. THEY WILL NOT BE HELPED BY THESE PEOPLE. BE VERY AFRAID... THIS IS NOT A GOOD SITUATION. THIS IS THE TEST OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, WILL IT BETRAY THE INTERESTS OF ACTUAL AMERICANS? THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING.

    "Obama used the summit, set in the gold-toned East Room and featuring a cameo appearance by the ailing Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), to make the case that it is possible to expand health coverage in America while bringing soaring medical bills under control. "If we don't tackle health care, then we're going to break the bank," Obama said."

Its no secret that the banks are breaking us, NOT the other way around. The timing seems intentional.

    "The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation, yet by numerous measures, Americans are in poorer health. Medical costs can cause personal bankruptcy and threaten the global competitiveness of many companies, Obama said."

    Well, President Obama is keeping the wrong kind of company if he actually wants that to change. It seems to me that these folk are the very ones with the largest vested interest in keeping things as they are.

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14,000 Americans Now Losing Health Insurance Every Day, Study Shows

Study URLs: sues/2009/02/pdf/health_care_crisis.pdf sues/2009/02/pdf/HealthCareinCrisisChart s.pdf

As many as 14,000 Americans are now losing health coverage each day, acording to a recent study released by the Center for American Progress.

Many Americans did not have any health insurance even before the recession began. During the six years of the last economic expansion, the number of uninsured Americans grew by 7 million, reaching 46 million in 2007.

Job and Health Insurance Losses

That number is almost certainly much higher today because the economy has lost 3.6 million jobs since the start of 2008. A one percentage point rise in the national unemployment rate causes 2.4 million people to lose employer-sponsored health coverage, according to Urban Institute researchers. Of these people, 1 million rely on Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program and 1.1 million end up uninsured.

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