I've been asked by some, regarding my last post, what my solution is for the problems that plague our current health care system. I was also accused of being too verbose - so, here is my solution, minus the qualifications that tend to make my explanations longer. So, no griping about sweeping generalizations - just ask for clarification. :) Without further ado, I present Dr. Daniel's Prescription for Health Care Reform.
With the number of people who are in this country legally, we cannot support those who are not. This extends to emergency care as well, because if we leave that open, we'll just have illegals using the ER for their everyday health care. Raises the stakes a little, but we can't afford to fix everyone “for free.” Additionally, insurers must verify citizenship for their standard policyholders. They are still free to obtain health care at their own expense.
End HMO/PPO Discounts
This is the #1 thing that drives the cost of health care for the uninsured. To get what they need, providers have artificially inflated their charges; so, when they apply the HMO/PPO discounts, they get what they wanted to begin with. Make these post-markup, post-discount prices the standard prices, and health care becomes much more affordable, even for the self-insured (AKA uninsured).
Choose Your Own Coverage
There is no reason that a single male should buy a policy that, by law, must cover OB/GYN services. People should have the ability to select only the coverage they need, and companies should have the right to sell it to them. Don't want prescriptions covered? Don't buy the coverage - buy the $10 90-day supply from Wal-Mart instead. This will let premiums be lower for people who only desire catastrophic coverage, and would bring health insurance more in line with homeowner and auto insurance.
Just the Total, Please
There is absolutely no reason that someone should receive 4 bills for one visit. However, go to the ER, and you'll likely end up with a hospital bill, a doctor's group bill, a radiology bill, and maybe even a laboratory bill. Funnel all billing through one of these; the hospital or doctor's office is the one I would pick. This will make it easy to get estimates and totals for the consumer, and I'm sure that, given this requirement, these organizations could come up with an efficient way to make it happen pretty quickly. I see this as a parallel to the standard “Nutrition Facts” labels on food - one bill from one place, with no hidden charges.
There you have it. Take four of these and call me in the morning if pain persists.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
Today's Albuquerque Journal (website) had a couple of front-page stories that caught my eye. First, the one full of good news was titled "Others' Message to Illegal Immigrants: Leave!" The Journal doesn't put their stories online to link to, so I'll quote enough of it to give you the idea…
States surrounding New Mexico have recently passed laws aimed at cutting off illegal immigrants from social services and jobs.
The goal? To drive them away.
In Oklahoma, where a set of laws known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act took effect Nov. 1, Latino churches have reported losing up to 20 percent of their members and Tulsa County alone estimates a population exodus of 25,000 people, mostly foreign born.
Sounds like that's a law that has actually done what it set out to do! And kudos to the Journal reporter, Leslie Linthicum, for including that oft-excluded qualifier illegal when describing the people being targeted by the legislation. (That wasn't the case through the entire article, but it was refreshing to see it.)
The instructive article was the one beside it entitled “Fast Track: Critics Say Rising Rail Runner Tab Slows Road Work.” The Rail Runner is pretty cool - I've ridden it with our Cub Scout pack. It's a light rail passenger train that goes from about 20 miles south of Albuquerque to about 15 miles north of Albuquerque, but will eventually extend to Santa Fe. It's been in operation just over a year.
The article had a lot of information about how it (and lots of highway improvements) came about, through legislation passed in 2003 called Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership (GRIP). The initial estimates for the Rail Runner was $90.2 million, but the current expected total cost is $420 million (plus $50 million in escrow, to address “issues” that may arise). This in and of itself has some folks upset. However, the way the GRIP legislation was written, funding can be shifted amongst the several projects - and, because the Rail Runner has such high visibility, money has been diverted from highway improvements to the Rail Runner.
The instructive part, to me, is the cost balloon. Whether the Richardson administration willfully underestimated the cost, or whether it has simply grown due to unanticipated costs, I don't know. It's probably some of both, and it's not really important to the lesson I think we can learn. As an example - New Mexico did not even apply for federal funding of the Santa Fe leg of the Rail Runner. Why?
Rail Runner officials last summer cited problems with grant program rules and the limited federal funds available as reasons for not applying for the money.
And the state was working on a fast track.
A legislative analysis from 2005 stated that the process of applying for federal funds could have delayed the second phase for up to several years - beyond the December 2008 deadline the Richardson administration had set.
“The project needs to be proposed and there are a lot of requirements necessary,” [Federal Transit Administration spokesman Paul] Grasso said. “There's an environmental review that has to be done; there's a cost effectiveness standard that has to be met. There are all kinds of things that have to be worked out in advance.”
Any government entitlement program costs more than originally estimated - every single one. It will take longer and cost more than the original estimate every time. So, when you hear politicians (especially now during campaign season) pitching their programs, remember that. $400 million today is probably $3 billion once implemented.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
Another busy time, another installment of “Plagiarism Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”. See, when we re-blog here, we're honest and up-front. :)
First up is an article about the cost of illegal immigration for Los Angeles County for one month, from radio talk show host and author Neal Boortz. The numbers are staggering.
Next up, a link to a pundit I never thought I'd link to, except as a set up to refute. However, Susan Estrich and I agree on this issue, which she details in "A Weak Moment for Women in Banning Larry Summers". (I don't agree that what he originally said was wrong - but the rest of it is spot-on.)
Via Morgan Freeberg, we have reports that "A Quiet Triumph May Be Brewing". Could it be that we've come up with a way to get most remaining al-Qaeda in the same place, then send them to their 72 virgins (or raisins, depending on the translation)?
And finally, we wrap up with some humor. Rachel Lucas learned to make thought and speech bubbles in PhotoShop, and produced a masterpiece she calls "Three Men and a Hillary". (Language warning in effect for the comments on that post…)
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
My last immigration post linked to an article about stepped-up enforcement of illegal immigration. Two stories that have come out in the past week underscore the importance of this. The first is an illegal from Peru that killed several college students. He had been arrested twice before and his immigration status was known, yet he was released. The second is a drunk driver in Texas who slammed into a car so hard, the thing burst into flames and killed an entire family.
I don't care how hard they work, and I don't care how much businesses think they gain from exploiting these people. None of it is worth stuff like this.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
Up to this point, I have not commented on the current “immigration reform bill” that is being pushed in Congress. I am quite disappointed that our President is pushing this - I would much rather see him attacking Social Security with the vigor with which he has now seemed to find. One of the problems I've had with the Republican leadership, and this President in particular, is that they are not using the resources at their disposal to educate the electorate. They assume that the nation is “split down the middle,” and they respond to the chest-pounding from the left with chest-pounding on the right, without explaining facts or educating the American people.
I can't imagine any Americans wanting this to become a part of our culture. However, none of the current legislation does anything to discuss assimilation. Rather than encourage learning English, we are actually translating government documents into all kinds of languages! How much money are we wasting on that? Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) took some heat for suggesting that Mexican immigrants turn off Spanish-language television stations and watch English-language stations instead. (Of course, he isn't an immigrant who decided to learn English… Oh wait - he is!)
But something I saw today just takes the cake. It's a report by the Center for New Community entitled “Indecent Proposals: Top 10 Most Offensive Quotes.” (I only link to it so you know I'm not making this up; also, it has footnotes where the source of each quote is found. I don't want to reproduce those here.) The entire mindset of this article is wrong - most of the people they quote do not hold “anti-immigrant” views, just “anti-illegal immigrant” views. It would be like saying that a British entertainer who talks about “lighting up a fag” is anti-gay. (In Britain, “fag” is a slang term for a cigarette.) But I digress… Suffice it to say, I'm not going to address the “anti-immigrant” label every time they apply it.
This is like shooting fish in a barrel…
“This nation desperately needs informed, reasoned debate on this issue,” said Rev. David Ostendorf, executive director of the Center for New Community. "The anti-immigrant groups and their supporters are clearly not interested in helping our nation move forward - all anyone has to do is turn on the radio to hear that these groups' values do not represent the values shared by the vast majority of Americans."
Turn on the radio? Isn't it talk radio that is completely responsible for the death of the first incarnation of the immigration reform bill? These folks are not the brightest bulbs in the pack, that's for certain.
WARNING: Graphic, offensive and otherwise inappropriate language follows:
Strangely enough, regular readers will know that I don't post graphic or inappropriate language, but I will be able to quote these in their entirety. It may be offensive to liberals, but in my exhaustive search through the Constitution, I haven't been able to find a right against being offended. On we go…
1. “We need the National Guard to clean out all our cities and round them up… They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughters, and they are evil people.”
- Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. As quoted in the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report magazine, Summer 2005.
It may be difficult to hear, and even more difficult to accept, but the links above address these very issues. Not all illegal immigrants do these things - but, deporting all illegal aliens would eliminate these as well, and then, maybe the law-abiding would-be immigrants could, you know, obey the law and emigrate legally.
2. “Mexican men have a reputation for leering and worse at little girls, which shouldn't surprise us, since sex with children is socially acceptable in Mexico.”
- Brenda Walker, California anti-immigrant leader and publisher. From VDARE.com article titled “Top Ten Reasons Why the US Should Not Marry Mexico,” January 1, 2007.
Again, addressed above, by someone who grew up there.
3. “My message to them is, not in two weeks, not in two months, not in two years, never! We must be clear that we will not surrender America and we will not turn the United States over to the invaders from south of the border.”
- Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), at the March for America, Washington, DC, June 18, 2007.
I'm guessing the “offensive” part of this is the “invaders” term. What else would you call a large-scale illegal incursion into a foreign country? La Raza is an organization dedicated to reclaiming the land “stolen” from Mexico (land gained through the Spanish-American War). Nothing offensive here - just the facts.
4. “I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence… just run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line…”
- Neal Boortz, anti-immigrant talk radio host on WSB-AM in Atlanta on June 18, 2007.
How is this offensive? Is this any different from the people who set up water stations in the desert so the illegal aliens don't die on the journey? And, tacos! Food that Mexicans are used to! I'm so offended - not.
5. “Terrorists are also walking in unopposed; our southwestern border is littered with Arabic papers and Islamic prayer rugs.”
- Jim Gilchrist, founder of Minutemen Project. From a press release announcing the forthcoming publication of a new book co-authored with Jerome R. Corsi, February 2006.
I don't know why this is offensive to these folks - terrorist bombs don't discriminate between legal and illegal status. In fact, this is one of the facts that motivates those who want the border closed. In this day and age, having an open door into this country, with sympathetic liberals aiding those coming across the border, and the Mexican government publishing comic books detailing how to sneak into this country - terrorists see an easy way into the country. They can just be part of the invasion!
6. "The brown toxic cloud strangling Los Angeles never lifts and grows thicker with every immigrant added. One can't help appreciate the streets of Paris will soon become the streets of LA. However, Paris' streets erupted while LA's shall sink into a Third World quagmire much like Bombay or Calcutta, India. When you import that much crime, illiteracy, multiple languages and disease - Americans pick up stakes and move away."
- Frosty Wooldridge, anti-immigrant author and activist. Summarizing an address by a KABC-AM talk radio host to the Federation for American Immigration Reform director's meeting, Fall 2005.
How is this any different than what happened with the inner cities back in the 60's and 70's? Undesirable element in, everyone who can gets out. Rather than an offensive ant-immigrant statement, this looks to me like insightful analysis.
7. “What we'll do is randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border...step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun.”
- Brian James, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KFYI-AM in Phoenix. Suggesting a solution to the immigration problem in Arizona while filling in for the regular host, March 2006.
The death penalty is a little harsh - but this is an understandable reaction, borne of frustration over our governments lack of ability or desire to control the border itself.
8. “Shoot him.”
- Phil Valentine, anti-immigration talk radio host, WWTN in Nashville. Advising Border Patrol agents to shoot undocumented immigrants during an anti-immigrant rally in Franklin, Tennessee, April 27, 2006.
Brevity is the soul of wit. But, we know from history that if Border Patrol agents shoot someone, even if that person shot at them first, they get thrown in the slammer.
9. “;We've got to make it in this country so (immigrants) can't exist here...We've got to rattle their teeth and put their feet to the fire!”
- Terry Anderson, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KRLA in Los Angeles. Speaking at a “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” anti-immigrant rally organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, April 22, 2007.
This one is just poor. Notice the “(immigrants)” in the quote - that means they substituted that word for what was actually said (more than likely “they”). Again, we're not against immigrants - just do it right. Don't try to jump line. If you love this country, why would you make your first act here violating our laws? Or is it just appealing since we don't actually enforce our laws?
10. “Our enemies are bloodied and beaten. We cannot relent. Our boot is on their throat and we must have the willingness to crush their ‘throat’ so that we can put our enemy down for good. The sovereignty of our nation and the future of our culture and civilization is at stake. The United States is a beacon of salvation unto the rest of the world. Our freedoms, our culture is mans salvation. If we perish, man perishes.”
- Joseph Turner, Save Our State (S.O.S), now a staff member with the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Message sent to Save Our State supporters on October 7, 2006.
Well, they may have actually found one that's “out there.” However, the “sovereignty of our nation and the future of our culture and civilization is at stake” part is tough to argue. The illegal immigrants, as a whole, are interested in nothing here but our money, and how far it goes in their home country. They care nothing for our culture, our laws, our traditions, or our history.
Unless I've missed something, these “Indecent Proposals” would actually make pretty good legislation.
On Monday, FBI agents broke up a terror plot against Fort Dix. A clerk at a video store alerted authorities when they dropped off video to have a DVD made, that showed them firing guns and speaking of the plot. They attempted to buy weapons from an undercover agent, and were arrested.
Now, there's news that three of the six arrested were in the country illegally. There were three brothers with the last name of Duka - they are to whom this is referring.
The Duka brothers were born in the former Yugoslavia and residing illegally in the U.S. Shnewer, a native of Jordan; Tatar, a native of Turkey; and Abdullahu, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, are legal residents. Eljvir Duka called himself “Elvis.”
So, there you have it. For years, folks have pooh-poohed the idea that illegal aliens (or, as their fans like to say, “undocumented workers”) represent a national security threat. Now, we have the first example of the fact that they do. Will Congress still push through their amnesty bill?
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
This year, the usual combined weekend of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday followed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is not combined, as the third Monday of January precedes the third Sunday by 6 days. Plus, this year provided lots of content on both topics, so the usual combined column will be split.
Sadly, racial issues were front and center during the past year. In May, the residents of New Orleans, Louisiana re-elected Ray Nagin, the governor during Hurricane Katrina. Like Dr. King, he had a dream too. His was nowhere near as admirable, though; he wanted New Orleans rebuilt as a “Chocolate City”. Although he apologized for that comment, regular readers will know what I think about apologies (and non-regulars can learn here). Comments such as this only serve to deepen racial divides, not contribute to Dr. King's vision of a nation where race is not even a concern.
In May, the “Day Without Immigrants” attempted to paint those who are opposed to illegal immigration as racists, rather than fans of enforcing our existing laws. I've written about this recently (see the 2006 Year in Review: The Ridiculous), so I won't expound on this too much here. These folks are attempting to equate their plight with those of blacks, using the same language. However, the truth of their situation is that they are here illegally, and as such have no standing to demand rights and treatment of American citizens. There is a way for non-Americans to become Americans, and cutting in line in front of those who are observing the law is not that way.
Come November, Michael Richards went off on a racial rant during a stand-up comedy show. This was followed by, you guessed it, apology after apology upon apology, with a side helping of apology. And again, these ring hollow with me. Richards' racism shows what can happen in today's environment of focusing on race and stereotypes - even a successful actor such as he can still harbor these feelings. Like Nagin's apology, his apology does not erase the window into the soul that his words provided. The words themselves are not the problem; the attitude behind them are. (Let me be clear - I'm not against apologizing to someone if you personally hurt them. Not all apologies are as useless as the two I've described above.)
Wrapping up earlier this month, the Duke rape case carried immense racial undertones. Many people were quick to believe the story, especially since the accuser was a poor black woman, and the people she was accusing were rich, privileged white men. Now, it turns out that the plentiful DNA evidence collected from the accuser exonerates the lacrosse players. When this story broke, several people suggested it was a ploy by the District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was up for re-election, to pander to the black voters in Durham, North Carolina. Even now, the accuser's family are still buying into the hype. The accuser's cousin was interviewed on CNN a few nights ago, and here's part of what she said, with the highlighting added by me… (In the transcript of the entire show, do a search for “UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE” to find the beginning of this interview.)
It's unfortunate that it's turned into race. But it's always been there. It sensationalizes the story. You know, it's got class and it's got race in it. And I think from day one, a lot of people felt that these were privileged young white boys, who felt like they could treat these young women, strippers or not - I think they had the mentality that they were superior to these young women. And I think that's unfortunate. And I think that that's just the world we live in.
Read the part I highlighted - even though these guys have been found guilty of nothing, they're still privileged white boys who were superior to the others! And that's just “the world we live in.” Incredible! I do agree with her conclusion, though - it is truly unfortunate.
But, these prove that racism is still a problem, right? I'm not so sure. Sure, there are still racists of every color, and there always will be; that's one of the pitfalls of a free society. But, people do not have to be hyper-sensitive over racial issues, either - that is a conscious choice, although our current society has some pretty strong conditioning towards that sensitivity.
Let me wrap up by sharing my personal observations, based on data from Census 2000. I'm white, and I've lived as a minority for the past 9 years in Montgomery, Alabama. This city is 50% black, 47% white. (Subtract “Hispanic origin” from White - they're counted both places.) For the next 4 years, I'll be living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city that is 40% Hispanic, 32% white, 3% black. In Montgomery, I've rarely felt unwelcome. When we go out to parks or the mall, nearly everyone I meet is friendly, no matter their skin color. We'll talk about our families, or crazy things our kids do. Sometimes, we'll even discuss contentious things, like the war in Iraq. Depeche Mode said it more than 20 years ago - people are people.
The only exception to this was in some stores and restaurants. Usually, this was just unfriendly service - and, this can't all be blamed on racial differences, as I've had woeful service from all races. The most offensive time (to me) was the store where two black customers in line behind me were checked out before me. In these cases, though, did I call my local city commissioner, or the media? Nope - I just kept my feet and dollars away from those establishments. That's the way a free society works - you're free to be a jerk, and I'm free to not give you my money.
I'm looking forward to Albuquerque. I'm not there yet, so I can't say this for certain, but I'm pretty sure that most folks out there are friendly as well. As we go around the parks, malls, restaurants, and churches of that city, we will meet Americans just like us - folks who want a safe nation, clean streets, and the best for their children. Apart from some loudmouths, Dr. King's dream is being realized every day; hopefully, common sense will begin to prevail among all the races, and the “racial offense” industry will begin to wither. If the money spent on trying to make people apologize or comply with some minutia of the law was instead spent on positive things, this nation would be much better off.
(To read previous years' columns, select the “Race” category from the sidebar.)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Daniel J. Summers
I'm going to be writing a 3-part series of posts entitled “2006 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous”. I'm posting them in reverse order, though, so that once all three are out, you can read from top to bottom and it will read correctly. Plus, that saves the best for last. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the most ridiculous things of 2006.
On May 1st, the issue of illegal immigration became the subject of a massive rally. Across the nation, legal and illegal immigrants did not show up for work, but rather took to the streets to march for “immigrant rights.” It infuriates me greatly how much this issue is misrepresented. First of all, no one (generally speaking - there are bigots everywhere) doesn't want legal immigrants here. From Germany to Japan to Mexico to Brazil, from Poland to South Africa to France, any legal immigrant is welcome, as well they should. What the proponents of illegal immigration are doing is equating illegal aliens with legal immigrants. It is true, we are a nation of immigrants - but with the current situation in the world, forcing foreign nationals to abide by our immigration procedures seems to me to be a simple security no-brainer.
Thankfully, this day did not achieve what it set out to achieve. Many groups of people made a point of purchasing lots of goods, and patronizing businesses that were open on that day. In fact, as one pundit points out, the main point of the protests (that America's economy needs illegals working in it) was proved false. And, in the last month, raids at Swift meatpacking plants have proved this again, as hundreds of legal Americans are applying for the jobs that are now open. (Note that in that last story, they still use the term “undocumented workers” - grrrr!)
Back in March, allegations were made by a stripper who performed at a party for the Duke University lacrosse team that she had been raped by three people at the party. There were many, many overreactions to this charge, as there always seem to be when sexual allegations occur - the accused become guilty until proven innocent. The season was canceled, and the coach resigned. As news began to leak about the case, allegations were made that the accuser was less than honest, and had actually had consensual sex later in the evening - hardly what a rape victim would do. There was also news that DNA collected did not match any of the accused lacrosse players.
This month, the stripper has had a child - a child whose DNA does not match any of the accused. District Attorney Mike Nifong has now dropped the charges. At the time, he had been accused of filing these charges as an election-year stunt; and now that some have been dropped, those who made those accusations have been at least partially proved right. However, none of this gives the team back what was taken from them; and, these baseless accusations of rape only serve to weaken the charge against the next alleged perp - a perp who might actually have done something illegal.
(Links: None - this is a family website!)
It was a banner year for the paparazzi, who managed to not only continue their tradition of invasive photographs of celebrities, but also photograph the nether regions of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears. While none of these women have been role models for many, many years, I guess they are now serving as role models - of what not to do. I don't follow pop culture all that closely (although I have been known to catch an episode or two of Best Week Ever) - much of it seems to bring one question to my mind, over and over again, that being “who cares?” But for those of us with children, who want them raised apart from this, we have to care a little.
That's not really all the things I found ridiculous about 2006 - but, those are the biggest ones that came to mind. Here's hoping the list is smaller in 2007.