Tag Archives: Obama

Healthcare and Privatization

Obama, like his Democratic predecessor Clinton, is trying to bring in healthcare reform in the US. There have been ferocious campaigns against it with people attacking the nationalized healthcare systems in Canada and Great Britain. Although our (Canada’s) system is not ideal, let’s compare a few things.

I have many many friends in the US. Some of them work for companies or must work for companies with good health plans. They may, even with these health plans, pay for various services and medications on top of the allotted amount. One friend had to drive two hours to a neighboring city to see a doctor who worked for that particular health insurance company. I have another friend, a doctor, who actually couldn’t find work because the insurance company she was with disappeared and the others needed no doctors. She didn’t want or couldn’t afford the overhead of starting her own practice so remained out of work. You never hear of a doctor in Canada who can’t find enough patients.

I have friends where both worked but their health plans only covered their two children. I know a woman who had ovarian cancer and after the surgeries and care owed $30,000 USD. I have a friend who is epileptic, who only by the grace of once being a coast guard, gets her seizure medication covered. I have a friend, a writer and reviewer, who is diabetic, with complications. He told me once, years ago, that he paid over $800 a month in health insurance. He is now in danger of losing his home because of his health issues. I have friends whose jobs don’t have health plans or very limited ones. They sometimes can’t get the simplest of tests done and what is a minor health issue can become life threatening.

The US health system is expensive and limits or ignores those who are of lower income. They get little help or often die because they cannot afford to treat their illnesses and injuries. And any time a person is injured, whether by their own fault or not, and even if they know it, they must sue everyone in sight to cover the costs of the health care. Suddenly no one is responsible for their own common sense and well-being. There are those who will take advantage of the system but many who are genuinely ill and injured must sue so that they can get better. And that drives up the costs of everything. It clogs up the court systems for years to come and we hear of ridiculous cases, such as the one about the guy who sued his yacht insurance because he had given his ex-girlfriend herpes. (I kid you not.)

Canada’s system isn’t perfect. We do have waiting lists for surgeries and MRIs. There are provincial governments like Alberta’s (under Ralph Klein) and BC (under Gordon Campbell) that have been whittling away at our health services, knocking out this and that and letting in privatization. Campbell took away chiropractic, massage and physiotherapy services (which were only covered for a specified number of visits) and decided that podiatrists and optometrists weren’t essential to one’s health. Of course, things like foot or eye problems affect people more as they age and affect seniors, so we know who suffers there.

But when I found out there was a class action suit against a pharmaceutical company for deadly affects of a drug (one I had once been on), I went to my doctor and requested a battery of tests to make sure I didn’t have any problems. My cost–0. Earlier this year I was exhausted. My doctor sent me for thorough blood tests. Again my cost is nothing. I can get X-rays or other tests or should I take ill I will still owe nothing. My friend who spent a year in the hospital, before dying, also owed nothing.

Surgery is free unless it’s cosmetic. What is not covered is dental. Why on earth it was seen to not be essential to health back when medicare was being form, I can only guess at. So people often want jobs that do have medical benefits for dental, eyes, physiotherapy and chiropractic, medicine (some is covered in BC if you have to spend over a certain amount). Not everything is free. And it can be hard to get a doctor because we don’t have enough. Some leave and go to the US to make more money. And yes you could wait a very long time for an elective surgery.

Some people in the US are fighting the medicare proposal. Do you really want to have to mortgage your home to have surgery, take out a loan to have a child, or suffer silently because you can’t afford it? Because the US already has private practices it is highly unlikely that these will go away. It’s unlikely that people will lose their health care benefits through their jobs. But what it does mean is that people will be able to get aid without having to suffer or bankrupt themselves. It does mean improving the overall health of the country.

Yes it could be expensive, and is costly in Canada. Our government needs to try harder at changing the system so that preventative health care is the first step, and that takes education. But it will burden the system less later as a person ages. People need to also take responsibility for their bodies and try to treat them better. Diet is a huge thing and with North America burgeoning with childhood obesity it would be the best way to head off higher costs and overtaxing any medical system.

One thing is for certain, a medicare plan wouldn’t hurt most people and would help them. It’s too bad people are so paranoid about it in the US. It could definitely alleviate a great deal of suffering if not all.

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Election Aftermath: A Rose by Any Other Name

I was caught up in the super insidious PSW OnlineGames Trojan Horse and worm. It’s taken several different software programs to remove the cursed bugs. Microsoft has done two priority updates to counteract this problem. So, due to the virus and not the shock of the election, I missed a day.

Canada spent $290 million on our third federal election in same years, to come out with a bit more of the same old same old: minority Conservative government with Liberals, NDP and the Bloc making up the opposition. And no surprise, we hit an all-time low on voter turnout: 59%. The lemmings in Alberta did pretty much as they have doen for ever, as did Quebec. Here are just a few of reasons that voters aren’t bothering to vote:

  • We’ll vote and it will just be the same.
  • We’ll vote but no one listens to us anyways.
  • Politicians make all sorts of promises and never keep them (in fact Harper wanted a mandatory election date and then went against his own rule)
  • Politicians don’t talk to us or have our concerns in mind. (I heard this from several people in their 20s–do politicians talk at the universities at all?)
  • All they do is call each other names and then get involved in scandals.
  • I make my opinion known by not voting.
  • We need proportional representation.
  • I can’t support anyone 100%.
  • Our leaders lack charisma.

Looking at this last point I have to say that Obama has inspired a nation and I bet the voting will be higher in the US than it has been in recent elections. I didn’t hear Elizabeth May of the Green party speak so I don’t know if she has the inspiration and charisma needed. Just listening without watching, I’d have to say that Steven Harper came across the strongest and most confident. Stephan Dione may have been stronger in French than English but he certainly didn’t have that charisma. Jack Layton would like to have it but all of the speeches I heard for any party were just not inspiring. Maybe that’s because they were always jabbing at each other and it’s hard to raise a nation’s love and will if all you do is harp. Charisma, great oration, may not mean you have the best platform or way of governing but it might involve more people.

The people who voice their discontent by not voting, to me, defeat the purpose. There will still be a government, there will still be things you dislike but if you vote, you can possibly get the lesser of two evils. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about the government because you had no say whatsoever in their formation. Just think, if 41% more people had vote (100% then) it could definitely have swayed the outcome.

Besides that, there was the new voter registration requirements. After reading over my card I discovered the notice the third time. The whole card, in maroon and white  doesn’t really set off this notice. A friend of mine went to vote and didn’t have her card because her husband had taken it. Well, it turns out that it was a waste printing such cards as most people didnt’ need them to vote. My friend was told that they don’t go by names but by addresses. So, in fact, one person in the household might have been able to vote for more than one person.

Of course my friend has never actually changed her driver’s licence to reflect her correct address (the house next door) so they wouldn’t take her name and her address because they didn’t match. So, she went home and got the requisite bills with the right address and got back a half hour before the polls closed and the line-up was out the door so she didn’t vote. Her fault but there are many instances of people who had similar experiences: the person who lives in a small island community where everyone knows each other but the people working can’t vouch for the person and the others were of a different polling station but in the same building. Another friend has a PO box for a mailing address but lives in a condo. She didn’t even try to vote. It didn’t particularly help the turnout for voting.

The Conservatives won because they were the only right-wing party with several left-wing parties. If you add up all the votes for the Liberals, NDP and Greens you’ll see that the Conservatives do not represent the majority of those who voted. Yet they’ll govern us all. But then again the whole country’s government can still be decided by the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The system is being seen as so broken that fewer people believe that they matter in the scheme of things, especially if they don’t live in central Canada. Maybe it’s time for a big change in politics, in attitude and in the voting system.

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Politics: If We Don’t Laugh, We’ll Cry

I don’t know about you but with all the campaigning going on, on both sides of the border, I’m feeling a strong futility in it all. Will Obama really bring change? What if McCain gets in? He’s a maverick liberal Republican but he brought Palin in as his running mate to get the redneck conservative, uber right-wing fundamentalist, female Republican vote. Whoever gets in will have to clean up the giant mess Bush has left the country in: soaring debt, crashing wall street and mortgages, war on terror (how I hate that phrase), loss of rights and freedoms, dropped dollar, reviled throughout the world…thanks, George, you did an amazing job.

In Canada Dion is considered not strong enough, Harper close to running a regime, not a government, Layton cleaning up after his pothead candidates and May (Green Party) moving up fast even if the party is still a little green. Promises tossed out like bird seed. Harper’s Conservatives making comments about ethnic people responsible for crimes, Dion proposing more carbon tax without bringing through other environmentally viable options.

And what does it get, billions of dollars…billions spent to promote themselves? What could all that money have really done for people, the economy, the environment? Alas, we’ll never know as it went to pumping up egos. Well sure it supported some spindoctors and campaigners but someone like you or me could never consider being the head of our country unless we’re multi-millionaires. And as we’ve seen, rich does not equal wise or competent

I’m going to go beat my head against the wall. But in the meantime below is a very funny spam for money going around. Anyone who falls for it wll be particularly stupid and deserving of losing their bucks. The other is a fun little piece by JibJab on campaigning. Does it say anything that I can’t seem to find a good funny on Canadian politics?

SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
DEAR AMERICAN:
I NEED TO ASK YOU TO SUPPORT AN URGENT SECRET BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF GREAT MAGNITUDE. (indeed, it will have a great magnitude when you realize what an idiot you’ve been.)
I AM MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AMERICA. MY COUNTRY HAS HAD CRISIS THAT HAS CAUSED THE NEED FOR LARGE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF 800 BILLION DOLLARS US. IF YOU WOULD ASSIST ME IN THIS TRANSFER, IT WOULD BE MOST PROFITABLE TO YOU. (Considering how bad Bush is with the English language I could see how someone might think the rest of the government is as equally inept. So much so, that they can’t transfer funds without the help of the average American.)
I AM WORKING WITH MR. PHIL GRAM, LOBBYIST FOR UBS, WHO WILL BE MY REPLACEMENT AS MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY IN JANUARY. (Lord help us. If he was nearly single-handedly responsible for the mortgage crisis, then putting him in charge of the treasury will be like a kid in a candy shop.) AS A SENATOR, YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS THE LEADER OF THE AMERICAN BANKING DEREGULATION MOVEMENT IN THE 1990S. THIS TRANSACTIN IS 100% SAFE. (Oh yeah, and so is that beach front property in Nevada. As safe and accurate as your spelling.)
THIS IS A MATTER OF GREAT URGENCY. WE NEED A BLANK CHECK. (Hahahaaa, oh yeah. I need a blank check too. Just fill in the amount. Perhaps Gram could send me one.) WE NEED THE FUNDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. WE CANNOT DIRECTLY TRANSFER THESE FUNDS IN THE NAMES OF OUR CLOSE FRIENDS BECAUSE WE ARE CONSTANTLY UNDER SURVEILLANCE. (Could that be because of the grand illegality of it all?) MY FAMILY LAWYER ADVISED ME THAT I SHOULD LOOK FOR A RELIABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY PERSON WHO WILL ACT AS A NEXT OF KIN SO THE FUNDS CAN BE TRANSFERRED. (What, Gram has no next of kin? Surely he could claim McCain as one.)
PLEASE REPLY WITH ALL OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, IRA AND COLLEGE FUND ACCOUNT NUMBERS AND THOSE OF YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO WALLSTREETBAILOUT@TREASURY.GOV SO THAT WE MAY TRANSFER YOUR COMMISSION FOR THIS TRANSACTION. AFTER I RECEIVE THAT INFORMATION, I WILL RESPOND WITH DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT SAFEGUARDS THAT WILL BE USED TO PROTECT THE FUNDS. (That would be the safeguards so that you’re not found after bilking people. But really anyone stupid to send all their account information deserves this. And who has account info for their kids and grandkids? My mother certainly doesn’t have mine. But if these spammers are successful perhaps they can take over the US treasury and fill it up in no time.)
YOURS FAITHFULLY MINISTER OF TREASURY PAULSON

http://www.peteyandpetunia.com/VoteHere/VoteHere.htm

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Politics: The Same Old Same Old

Well, the notice that Canada is going for its third election in four years was made just 24 hours ago or so and already it’s begun. The campaigning, of course. But worse…the name calling. Okay, it began before the official out of the gate date.

Driving to work this morning I already passed NDP folks waving placards. I’ve seen a few posters. That’s all fine, but I absolutely detest a political campaign that does nothing but poke at the other parties. A party should be campaigning on its platform, on what it hopes to accomplish. Yet time and time again we see the kids in the sandbox. There’s one shovel and one pail (are there even sandboxes anymore?) and everyone is fighting over it, throwing sand in each other’s eyes, and then getting down to hair pulling and fisticuffs.

Oh, I guess I’ll run but um…I don’t have my platform. Well, I do but it’s not very strong. And the voters aren’t going to like this aspect and I can only get through so many lies and false promises that I won’t keep once I’m in power. But in the meantime, I will use the good ole political smoke and mirrors and that is to drag my opponent down into the mud. Should he already be there, then I’ll try to look noble while doing it and stepping on his back.

Just once I’d love to see a campaign run on honor and value and what a party hopes to accomplish, not on how much mud they can sling. There have been some true lows in the past that cost parties votes. Such as making fun of Chretien’s crooked face. That went over really well, Conservatives. Probably won’t happen this time as Stephen Harper has whipped his party into shape better than a dominatrix. No loose lips until his spindoctors hand out the doctrine.

It was nice to hear that when critics in the US jumped on Senator Palin’s wayward family that Obama said, We don’t touch family. That, truly is refreshing. Talk about what you’re going to do, not what the other guy is not doing. I’d love to see courtesy and honor make its way back into politics. It’s the toughest road, but I wonder if any Canadian party leader can handle it.

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Canadian and US Politics

Well, it looks like both countries will be moving towards an election because Stephen Harper is going against his own wish of a set date for elections (as the US does) to avoid having his government raked over the coals in the next session.

People are talking about the excitement of US politicians as opposed to the same humdrum rhetoric of the Canadians. Actually, they’re most talking about the fresh new aspect of Obama than the same ole political claptrap of men in suits. Let’s face it, in most cases, it doesn’t matter if you vote Conservative or Liberal, because they’re really all going to do the same thing. That’s how Canadians see our politics and the last election had something like a 64% turnout.

Part of the difference is that we have leaders for our political parties throughout the four years from one election to the next. So we know that Stephane Dion would be the next prime minister if the Liberals win and that Stephen Harper will be if the Conservatives win and that Jack Layton will be if the NDP win. We get tired of hearing about them. There’s no mystery, (the two big parties even have a guy with the same name though one is anglo and one franco) no big rev up to who will win the race as the Republicans and Democrats do it. (It’s also a lot less expensive in the campaigning aspects).

If we look at John McCain, he’s a lot more of the same old boring with a full military background, though he’s considered a bit of a maverick. You don’t see military in politics as often in Canada. He pulled a surprise move with choosing a running mate who is a fairly inexperienced, new senator. And she’s a woman. When you look at it, he almost had to do this when the Democrats were going to make history either way, with either a woman or a African-American. McCain needs to make his campaign look fresh too and make history and the only way to do it is to have a female running mate.

Of course Canada had its first woman Prime Minister back in 1993 with Kim Campbell, who really was set up as the fall guy (or woman) for Brain Mulroney’s destruction. Mulroney, was in his own way, unknown to the Canadian public when he ran for office. He has that gift that Obama has; he’s a good orator, but then he’s a lawyer and they’re often practiced at acting. And Mulroney can definitely act. He did it recently when he was being investigated in the Carl Hans Schreiber affair. I didn’t believe a word of the theatrics though.

Obama is a great orator and Hillary Clinton is pretty damn good. Now Hillary is a lawyer too and in Canada, all the prime ministers since Lester B. Pearson (1963-68) have been lawyers except for Stephen Harper. (People always make jokes about trusting lawyers and yet we vote them in as our leaders.) He has degrees in economics, whereas Jack Layton, Stephane Dion and Barack Obama have degrees in political science. Could that be a sign of the new future; people who have actually studied how politics works?

All I can say is that like most Canadians, I’m sick and tired of the double speak, the hollow promises and lies. No wonder no one wants to vote. They think it won’t make any difference. A fresh new look would be good. Voting for the Liberals or the Conservatives is pretty much six of one, half a dozen of the other. But if Obama or Clinton were running here, I’d certainly be voting for either of them.

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