Comments on Paying for Health Care

For most people who get sick, the illness is, as we say in RI, fate-appointed not self-appointed.  Since most illnesses are fate-appointed rather than self-appointed, it is ridiculous to expect the ill to provide for the cost of the care they need.

Sometimes, for example with smoking, a behavior leads to an illness.  Here the cost of the treatment could be covered by taxing the source of the cause of the illness.  These illnesses are then economic externalities.

One thing I noticed when thinking about health insurance, those costs that are payed by the government out of taxes (not including taxes to pay for health care externalities) are disproportionately paid by the wealthy.  For costs paid by insurance companies, those insured pay the costs.  That would explain why the wealthy are so against the government providing health care.

Charity

Here is another thought that has been running around in my mind for a long time.  I remember reading many years ago about a study that found that, when it comes to taking care of the helpless within a society, the larger the organization of the society, the poorer the care of the helpless.  (I would really like to know the source of the the article, but I do not remember.) In other words, with villages, the care of the helpless is good.  In big cities, indigents die of cold under bridges.  We really need to take the disparity into account when we form public policy.

The World Belongs to All

Prey

This has been on my mind for some time.  I took a course in international economics many years ago, at Harvard University’s Extension College.  I believe it was in that course that I learned about “liberal” economics – that lowering barriers to international trade improves the efficiency of supplying goods to markets.  However, there are a couple of problems with our current economies and liberal economics.  Liberal economics assumes open markets, but also free movement of labor – which we do not have in our part of the modern world.  But, the second problem is more basic.  We as humans tend to be prejudiced.

For some reason, we seem to be able to distance ourselves from and have a prey-like focus upon other people (or animals, or plants, or minerals).  If others are not like us (for example, women if you are a man, Hispanics if you are Trump), we can put that class of people in a place in our minds, disassociate ourselves from them, and do ugly things to them – like discriminate against them in employment.  I suspect discrimination is pervasive through human society because of this inherent ability and tendency.

I suspect we have this quality because, in the wild, we had to hunt to live.  If you are going to kill something for food, you have to be able to distance yourself from your prey and see the prey as an “other”.  In our modern world, we compete for jobs.  For all of our American belief in equality and freedom, and the many years of public disapprobation of prejudice, we still have a hard time accepting, hiring, etc., those whom we have classed as different.  And there lies the rub, the free movement of labor of liberal economics runs up against mass prejudice.  I am not sure what the answer is.

Rotation Diet Soups

A rotation diet

Six years ago, I began following a rotation diet.  Meats, grains, vegetables, fruits, sweeteners, oils, and flavorings are grouped by similar chemical structures.  While I no longer follow the diet strictly, I have found that matching the meats with the correct vegetables and grains gives results that tend to taste good.  Turkey (or flounder, sole, clams, oysters) matches with members of the nightshade family, rice, millet, nutmeg, apples, pears, kiwi, rice bran oil, corn oil.  Beef (or swordfish, lamb) with cole crops, amaranth, butter, ghee, mints, basil, black pepper, chocolate, stone fruits.  Pork (or cod, shrimp, lobster) with buckwheat, the cucurbits, the allium family, cinnamon, pineapple, melons, ginger, tapioca, pumpkin seeds, olives, olive oil, canola oil. Beans (or salmon, duck, chicken (I think)), the carrot family, sunflower seeds and oil, soybean seeds and oil, wintergreen, licorice, anise, filberts, grapes, bananas, citrus fruits.  Adelle Davis’s Let’s Cook it Right, is the source for the stock recipe.

Chicken Soup – for bean day

  • 1 recipe Adele Davis’s soup stock – made with wine vinegar and chicken bones and with 1 chopped medium turnip, 1 chopped medium carrot, and 1 sliced medium celery stalk as the vegetable parings
  • 1 lb raw chicken meat chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large turnip peeled and chopped (Turnips are actually on beef day, but the soup is still good.)
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks sliced

Make the chicken stock.  If there is time, let the stockpot sit in the refrigerator overnight.  The recipe is better if the stockpot is cooled and the hardened fat is mostly removed.

Strain the contents of the stockpot into a large saucepan, through a strainer.  You should be left with just the liquid in the saucepan.  You can discard (or eat parts of) the solids.  Add the three chopped vegetables to the stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the raw chicken and stir in. Bring back to a boil and simmer for five minutes.  Serve.

Fish and Potato Soup – for turkey day

  • 3 cups rice drink (original, vanilla, sweetened, or unsweetened – your choice – they are all good)
  • 4 medium potatoes quartered (to peel or not to peel – your choice)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 lb sole, frozen or fresh
  • Dash or more nutmeg

Put the rice drink, potatoes and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Boil slowly for 15 minutes. In the meantime, thaw the sole (in the microwave), if frozen, and chop into bite sized pieces.  After the 15 minutes are up, turn up the heat on the soup and, a few pieces at a time, add the sole.  Let the soup come back to a boil each time, before adding more sole.  Stir each time to mix the sole into the soup.  When finished adding the sole, sprinkle with nutmeg and let simmer for a few minutes. Serve.

Turkey Soup – for turkey day

  • 1 recipe Adele Davis’s soup stock – made with cider vinegar and turkey bones and with 2 chopped medium potatoes and a few crumbled dried hot peppers as the vegetable parings.
  • 1 T rice bran or corn oil
  • 1 green bell pepper cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper cored, seeded, and chopped
  • a few crumbled hot dried chili peppers
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • raw turkey meat (optional)
  • 1/2 C rice or 1/4 package rice fusilli (optional)

Put the oil in a large saucepan and put the pan over medium heat.  Put all the peppers in the heated oil, salt using a shaker, and sauté a few minutes.  Push the peppers to the side and put the raw turkey in the pan (if you are using turkey).  Salt, using a salt shaker, and sear the turkey, mixing the meat and peppers together.

Strain the contents of the stockpot into the saucepan, through a strainer.  You should be left with just the liquid drained into the saucepan.  You can discard (or eat parts of) the solids.  Add the rice or fusilli (if you are using rice or fusilli) and the canned tomatoes to the saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for until the rice or fusilli is cooked or, if you are not using the rice or fusilli, a few minutes for the flavors to merge.  Serve.

A Couple Poems I Wrote

The Normalization of Prostitution Angers Me

It started minor enough –
jokes about hookers –
Letterman –
most nights.

Are the writers being payed off?
Extorted?

The sexual exploitation of women,
men are loath to give it up.

Last night – The Big Bang Theory –
“What are you doing with that girlfriend?
You’re only with her for sex.
Don’t you know you can and
should pay for sex with a hoe?”

To me, prostitution, one of the ugliest
manifestations of a sexist society.

How much did the criminal mobs
lose when women were free?

 

Our Iowa Motto

From, mostly, the Center for Disease Control,
for 2013, for the USA – some deaths with numbers.

suicides, 41,149
motor vehicle accidents, 35,369
firearms (except suicides), 11,713
mothers’ – from the birth process, 729
war – in Afghanistan – US military, 119

18 from jihadist terrorist attacks

Every life is important – we count each one.

From
Dr. Low –
the incomparable Dr. Low,
we know that angry temper arises out of
a sense of being deliberately wronged,
not the accidental.

Iowa’s motto,
“Our liberties we prize
and our rights we will maintain.”

 

 

 

Some Things Reagan Got Wrong:

Trickle down economics:

Reagan believed that as the per capita gross domestic product of a country grows, in a free market economy, there will be a growth in income at all income levels in the society – the tide that lifts all boats, otherwise known as trickle down economics. In the period after World War II, up until the late sixties, the growth of gross domestic product corresponded to growth at all income levels. We were the economic engine that provided the goods that rebuilt the world after World War II, which helped our economy grow. World War II had destroyed the infrastructure of many countries, but not ours. Through the Marshall Plan, we also provided resources to help the other countries rebuild.

But, by the late sixties and early seventies, the baby boom generation was entering the work force, so the demand for jobs went up; a higher proportion of women began entering the work force, so the demand for jobs went up; and we started running a trade deficit – mainly due to our oil imports, because the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries cartel was able to raise world oil prices. And, the economies in Europe and Asia had recovered, so we no longer had the world markets that we had had before.

Our income growth started to stop with regard to personal median incomes. The median income for men was first greater than the median income for men in 2014, after adjusting for inflation, in 1969. From 1969 to 2014, male median income was on a roller coaster. (https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/tables/time-series/historical-income-people/p02.xls). Female median income increased, though, by a factor of about 1.8, from 1969 to 2014. (In 2014, male median income was larger than female median income by a factor of about 1.6.). The increase in median household income from 1969 to 2014 would have been from more households having two breadwinners. At the same time, more of the labor of bringing up children became paid labor.

The gross domestic product increased by a factor of about 3.4 from 1969 to 2014, adjusted for inflation. (http://www.bea.gov/national/xls/gdplev.xls). The population of those over age fifteen increased by about a factor of about 1.8. (http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk https://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/asrh/pre-1980/tables/PE-11-1969.pdf). So, there has been a lot of economic growth, but we have not been seeing economic growth trickling down to men and by just some to women – at least at the median.

Granted, taxes (federal, state, and local) and government spending as a proportion of gross domestic product have not come down over the last 35 years (http://taxfoundation.org/article/short-history-government-taxing-and-spending-united-states). Rather the percentages have fluctuated between about 25% to about 30% of gross domestic product for revenues and between about 30% to about 38% for expenditures.

The world will end in a nuclear fire:

From a show on the Public Broadcasting Network (I think) several years ago, Reagan feared that the prophecy that the world would end in fire referred to a nuclear holocaust. So Reagan worked to get rid of nuclear weapons (a laudable goal). More likely, our world will end in heat from the fires in our coal and natural gas driven steam turbines and our internal combustion engines, because of the greenhouse gasses we are putting into the atmosphere. Reagan, unfortunately, reversed the progress that Carter had made in moving us away from fossil fuels. We are years behind where we should be in dealing with climate change, because of Reagan (and others). And, because of Reagan, we have a generation of Republican politicians who refuse to acknowledge science and our, very good, understanding of what we are doing to our climate.

The problem is not not enough government, the problem is government:

When Reagan was 19 (1930) – the age near which our view of life is formed – the population of the United States was about 123 million, with about 41 people per square mile. By 2014, the population was about 319 million, with about 90 people per square mile, and we were far more urbanized. (Between 1930 and 2014, we added Alaska and Hawaii to our country, which added a lot of area – which diluted the population density.) Our population is getting denser (in more ways than one, given our lack of dealing with our – urgent – problems). Our nation is also a lot more urban now.

When masses of people live in close proximity, people have a lot of judgements of rights and wrongs. In Recovery International’s literature, Dr. Low writes and talks about how, in rights and wrongs, it takes an expert judge to decide who is right and who is wrong, and even then, the decision is just an opinion. Regulations help sort out the rights and wrongs.

We have seen recently in the economic expansion of China, the harm that business can do in a young and poorly regulated economy – from smog in the air to poisonous baby food. Our rules and regulations have grown out of similar problems in the past within our own country.

Even with our current businesses, our national lessons of smoking and climate change bear witness to the fact that big businesses are often unwilling to stop their businesses from producing in the face of harm resulting from the use of their product. We need to put limits on businesses, because business do not necessarily have a moral sense.

Protecting the natural world as our housing base, businesses, and farmland expand is also a real necessity. With more of us, we need to learn to live with the natural world and part of learning to live with the natural world is being regulated.

According to an op-ed by Robert Reich a few years ago, Republicans in Congress and their mission to cut taxes have starved the regulatory functions of our government. We have not had the funds to protect our people at the level necessary and legislated. Reich wrote that the result is the so-called “inefficiency” of government that Republicans like to say exists. Government agencies do not have the human-power to provide the services that are mandated by law. Republicans then blame government “inefficiency” for the poor or lack of or untimely services.

Desperation is a good motivator:

When Reagan was 19, the world was in, and near the beginning of, the Great Depression. Reagan had a good view of the effect of desperation on a society. In astrology, desperation is contained in one of the twelve houses – the eighth house. About one twelfth of our personal and communal lives should be about desperation. However, it is my belief that when a society deals with desperation on a mass scale, we get phenomena like Nazi Germany, the Taliban, and ISIS; all of which grew out of the aftermath of war. There is also the loss to society of the people who never recover after the desperate times – from those who commit suicide to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Yes, desperation can be a motivator, but it can also be very destructive of a society. We need to do what we can to reduce the costs of desperation, as a society, while maintaining the motivation generated by desperation.