Friday, June 26, 2009

The time has come for reform

Th present American health care system is a disgrace. Despite spending more than any other country in the world on health care, millions of people remain uninsured. Many other Americans face bankruptcy from their medical bills even with insurance. Clearly, we need reform. Conservatives, e.g. Rush Limbaugh, are denying reality when they say there is no crisis. When conservatives like George Will say, well it's only 45 million uninsured, and some of them are illegal immigrants, they're missing a huge point. How many millions more people would be uninsured without Medicare, which is a government program? My guess is that there would be 70+ millions uninsured now. (You may choose to believe the insurance companies would voluntarily cover the sick elderly. If so, I've got Washington National playoff tickets to sell you). The question is what to do, not whether something should be done.

Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist has written a series of excellent columns on the subject. He makes a great point: "reform isn’t worth having if you can only get it on terms so compromised that it’s doomed to fail." The Obama administration is bending over backwards to get a bipartisan bill. Why? Who cares if it's bipartisan? I want an effective bill that covers all Americans; which Senators vote for it is completely irrelevant. Right now, the best bill that can actually pass is the so-called public option. Robert Reich, in an excellent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, points out that the AMA, insurance companies, and drug companies all oppose this plan. That is the best argument for the plan I can think of!

My personal preference is for a single-payer plan, where there is no role for the parasitic middlemen insurance companies, but that has been taken off the table by Congress. The public option is the best possible option. Please support it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seems like a bad idea

Man-made earthquakes coming to San Francisco? See this story from the New York Times. (Link requires registration).

In the New Republic (I think a subscription is required for access), Jonathan Chait has made a brilliant criticism of a common "argument" against gay marriage. People on the right often say "Marriage should be between a mand and a woman," ad nauseam. As Chait points out, saying marriage should be between a man and a woman is not even a bad argument; it's not an argument at all. He uses this analogy—imagine a liberal in 2001 saying the Bush tax cuts are a bad idea because the top rate should be 39.6%. Of course, this would be a non-argument—you need to explain why the tax rate should be 39.6%. Try this link for the complete article.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Recall Arnold!

Dare to dream! This letter to the Union-tribune (San Diego) sums it up (the writer is one Louis A. Bajkai, fellow resident of my city of Carlsbad): "Many of the budget cuts advocated by Arnold Schwarzenegger would result in huge losses in federal funding to the state." Bajkai cites the examples of Medical, CalWorks, Healthy Families, and In-Home Supportive Services—whose combined cuts of 4.35 billion would lose California 9.1 billion. I'm no mathematician, but that doesn't make a lot of financial sense.

I wonder why Arnold is going to cut these programs; there are two possibilities, neither of them reflecting well on the Governor. The first is that he's so dumb he doesn't realize he's losing money by cutting these programs. The second is that he, like many Republicans, figures the recipients aren't voting for him anyway and wants to cut them out of spite. I can't read Arnold's mind, so I'll let my fellow California residents decide.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Specious logic; no to Judge Sotomayor

A local letter writer, defending Israel, makes this argument:
"Every administration since Harry Truman's has backed Israel and will continue to do so in the future. They cannot all be wrong." Well, actually, yes, they could be. This is (I think) the classic argument from authority, the authority being the U.S. government. (I happen to be pro-Israeli, but that's beside the point).

Now, to my main point, Sonia Sotomayor should not be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. It is not because she is a racist, as Rush Limbaugh, et al. have asserted. An unfortunate comment from thirty years ago should not disqualify someone. She should be rejected because she is an activist judge who will bend the law to her goals of a more progressive society. She champions identity politics over the rule of law.

I wish conservative opponents of Sotomayor would focus on that, rather than on the slim evidence of her "racism," an overused and abused term. She has explicitly said that judges make policy—it's her words, not mine. See this clip on Youtube!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Something's gotta give

From the New York Times on President Obama's health care proposal:
"Broadly speaking, he wants to extend coverage to the 45 million uninsured while lowering costs, improving quality and preserving consumer choice." I have a question: aren't lowering costs and improving quality ipso facto directly opposing goals? This seems too much like vodoo economics (if you don't recall what that it is, remember: cut taxes, increase spending, but voila, no deficits)!

The only relevant goal of a health insurance plan should be the best care. Cutting costs is just not as important. A little more spending on health care is fine with me. We can cancel farm subsidies anytime if we need more money.