Category Archives: News

more politics

The country we live in.

If Obama, with a Democratic controlled Congress, couldn’t pass gun control legislation, there is no hope in hell that Trump can or will.  The only thing that can be done is executive orders, which rests solely on Trump.  You may remember he banned bump stocks (sp?) by this approach.

I suppose that is why the Democrats have been so focused on blaming Trump for the El Paso shooting rather than pushing for legislation that might bring change.

rant

Why do “undocumented” people come to the US?  For work, of course.  Instead of, or perhaps in addition to, imprisoning people discovered to be here illegally, they should start cracking down on the people who hire them and imprisoning THEM.  I personally don’t think people should be coming here illegally, but it’s obviously a big part of our economy.  If the illegal entry was eliminated, it could be replaced by expanded, SAFER legal immigration.  I don’t think you need to go chasing after people coming across the border.  If there were no jobs, only people whose lives were truly in jeopardy would come here, actual refugees.  Economic migrants would stay home.  Per WaPo, poultry companies were hiring undocumented immigrants intentionally.  If you read the article, the undocumented workers get arrested and the people who hired them get fined – $3000 a head.  That’s nothing!  To me, it means the US government is not truly motivated to stop illegal immigration.

Don’t tell me they (the poultry companies) couldn’t find Americans willing to do the job.  If the price is right, people will do just about anything.  It costs a small fortune for governments to build things in this country, because they hire unionized, US citizens.  We all deal with the consequences of that.  We can also deal with more expensive food.  And if people don’t like it, legal immigration would be expanded, or guest worker programs, or whatever.  (Even expanding legal immigration from poor countries would help, since it would increase the number of unskilled laborers in the workforce and depress wages, but not as much as bringing in undocumented people does, since they’d have to pay at least minimum wage and benefits.  Which in Seattle is $15 / hour.  And that includes tipped workers.)

on guns

I’ve been travelling regularly to Spo.kane recently for work.  This has been interesting for me, as I live and work in a bit of a liberal bubble.  I mostly read liberal papers.  (I’d actually like to read the WSJ, for example, but they are behind a paywall.)  I’ve begun to think of myself as a conservative because I find my views ARE conservative compared to the prevailing wisdom of Seattle politicians.  But leaving here is an eye-opener.  One of the things that has stuck out most for me is the amount of pro-gun signage.  If Seattle, you’ll occasionally see an NRA bumper sticker.  Certainly, my old company leaned conservative, being full of aerospace engineers, compared to the area at large.  But pro-gun and conservative (ie pro-life) billboards, bumper stickers, and signs in windows are everywhere in Spo.kane.  Well, maybe not everywhere.  But they’re around in a way that they just aren’t on this side of the state.  Living here, I just kind of assume that everyone favors gun control, or most everyone, because . . . why wouldn’t you?  But, they don’t.  They REALLY don’t.

The latest shooting doesn’t change my opinion.  I’d ban all manner of guns and pretty much reduce us to a state comparable to Ireland.  In my ideal world, your average LEO wouldn’t carry a gun, never mind ordinary citizens.  I’m pretty much a pro-gun person’s worst nightmare.  H and I donate a few hundred dollars every year to our local anti-gun organization (they’d call themselves pro-gun responsibility, but come on.  They’re anti-gun.)  Last night I suggested we move to Ireland after hearing about the latest massacre.  I hate it when people do that – bash the US and talk about moving, usually to Canada.  I think living in this country is an incredible privilege that most people under-appreciate, with or without Trump.  But people getting shot in the streets?  It’s just unacceptable, and I really see no end or improvement in sight.

election rant

The Dems seem to be having a contest to see who can be the most liberal.  Honestly, I think they are going to lose to Trump, which is really impressive.  It’s as if Obama had lost of McCain.  That election should have been a landslide given the vast dissatisfaction with Bush, and it was.  Once again, I would say the majority of the country is deeply dissatisfied with with Trump.  But that doesn’t mean we want, for example, to completely eliminate private healthcare.  (I think that’s extremely  unlikely to happen, anyway, given that many or most of the vaunted European countries actually have some degree of private healthcare alongside the public system.)  The extreme positions that Dems are trying to outdo each other with honestly could result in a second Trump term.  There is no Obama running.  Heck, I don’t even see a Hillary running.  (Warren, needless to say, is no Hillary.)

I am mildly amused that Jay Insley, a Washingtonian who you may not have heard of running for president, got the least airtime of all the candidates.  He held up funding to repair a dam that was threatening both my house and my place of work over some pet project of his, and I will never, ever vote for him.  I was kind of hoping he’d see some measure of success in this election, just enough to get him out of our hair here in WA.  He’s obsessed with climate change, which is totally legit, but even in my state, a veritable bastion of liberalism, has managed to do exactly zilch in terms of enacting relevant legislation.

From the Post, however, this is an interesting question:

— NBC’s Chuck Todd asked each candidate to name the biggest geopolitical threat facing the United States: Interestingly, de Blasio was the only one who mentioned Russia. Delaney, Gabbard and Castro said nuclear proliferation. Klobuchar was the only person to name Iran. O’Rourke, Warren, Booker and Castro mentioned climate change. “China, without a question,” said Ryan. Inslee kept his answer short: “Donald Trump.”

I think China, Trump, Russia and Iran were legitimate answers.  Personally, I’m torn between China and Russia.  Climate change, really?  Please.

healthcare thoughts

It’s interesting to me how supporting government-run healthcare has become more or less standard for Democratic candidates.  I can’t argue that people – all people – should have access to healthcare, but I feel a lot of people don’t understand that what people get with government-run healthcare is not the same as what we get here.  I can mainly speak to Ireland and the UK, so that’s what I’ll talk to.

  • If you are in the hospital in Ireland, you’ll likely find yourself on a ward.  If not, you’ll be sharing a room.  As far as I can tell, wards don’t even exist on US hospitals anymore, except maybe in the ICU or whatever.  Private rooms are not a standard thing like they are here.
  • If you need some kind of treatment for something that’s not life-threatening, you’ll likely have to wait.  A long time.  Here’s a random example of an article on patients waiting 9 months or more to get shots for macular degeneration.  I didn’t KNOW that people had to wait a long time for that treatment, but I guessed they did.  My dad has macular degeneration, and it’s terribly time-critical to get treated.
  • When my American grandma got cataracts, she made an appointment and got them removed.  When my Irish great-aunt got cataracts, she got put on a waiting list, and a year later, she got them removed.
  • In Ireland, people unsatisfied with public health care pay for private health insurance.  15% of health care expenditures came from private insurance, and 40% of Irish people have some type of private insurance.  My aunt found a lump in her breast.  She was unsatisfied with the care she was getting from the public healthcare system, so she sought private treatment and surgery to have it removed.
  • Healthcare is like an HMO.  I’ve enjoyed being on a PPO for over a decade.  As a kid, my parents had an HMO which was super annoying because you couldn’t just go see a doctor if you had a problem.  You needed a referral.  Not a huge deal, but public healthcare tends to follow the HMO model – your GP is a gatekeeper.
  • Education requirements are WAY less to qualify as a doctor in other countries outside the US.  It takes five years to qualify as a doctor in Ireland.  In five to six years, you can qualify as a surgeon or specialist.  That’s out of high school, folks.  I actually think this is a good thing, but unless the model is changed, doctors here are going to expect to be paid more.
  • GPs in Ireland make $77,000 a year.  GPs in the US average between $140,000 and $190,000 a year, depending on the source.  And we have trouble finding enough GPs even at that salary level.
  • As far as I can tell, Medicare is great in the US.  But the rest of us are subsidizing it heavily.  Not only that, I’d assert that the US subsidizes healthcare around the world through paying through the nose for pharmaceuticals and advanced operations and equipment not available elsewhere.  New treatments are debuted in the US, and after they’ve been shown to work well, they move to the rest of the world.  A random example of British kids trying to get to the US for cutting edge cancer treatment.  Cancer treatment is very effective in Europe, but many of those effective treatments were developed and paid for here.
  • Despite the fact that a full 12% of Americans are uninsured, cancer survival rates are comparable between the US and Europe.  12% of Americans don’t even have healthcare, but survival rates are the same.  Why?  Shouldn’t they be much higher in Europe?  (It varies with type of cancer; for some types, survival rates are higher in the US, others higher in Europe, but comes out roughly even overall.)

I honestly believe healthcare will not be any cheaper whatsoever if we go to governement-run healthcare in the US.  I suspect that globally, the rate of advancements in healthcare will declines.  I would LOVE to see the US stop subsidizing drugs for the rest of the world, and perhaps government run healthcare would enable that.  I do believe it’s a moral obligation of this country to provide healthcare to all its citizens.  I’m not sure Medicare for all is the way to do that.  Maybe it is.  If Medicare for all IS the right answer, I definitely would be in favor of a gradual expansion – gradually reduce the eligibility age and add in children at the same time.  So, year one, move eligibility to age 55 and also make all children under 1 eligible.  People could still retain private insurance if they wished, but I imagine many or most wouldn’t.  Private insurance would experience a slow decline over the next 30 years while it adapted to a role more similar to that which it plays in Europe.

 

vaccine rant

This is completely, wildly insane.  I hope she sues and gets a huge payout.  I’ve had various medical advice over the phone many times that I’ve declined to take because the situation on the ground changes.  A child beginning to act and look healthy is a perfect example of this.  The woman’s concerns about harrassment because she doesn’t vaccinate do call her judgment into question, but a doctor should not be able to call the cops on you because you fail to take your kid to the ER with a temperature of 102 “just to make sure” he’s OK.  And with guns drawn?  Are you f-ing kidding me?

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in communist Russia.

Another example: a town in NY refuses to allow unvaccinated *children* in public.  Now, in case your wondering about this “community” that has so many unvaccinated kids, it’s Hasidic Jews, you know, religious extremists with views most of us don’t agree with.  But to not allow them to go in public over the measles?  Are you kidding me?  When people came back from Africa with frikking Ebola they were still allowed to go in public (which I thought was nuts).  Also, why does this apply only to children?

To me, the next obvious step in the vaccination war is not hysteria over the 8% of children who aren’t vaccinated for the measles.  92% is more than enough to ensure herd immunity.  In my opinion, it’s not worth trampling on people’s civil rights to save less than one life per year.  How about we ban a few guns instead, given the 33,000 people die a year from gun fire?   The media loves to portray anti-vaxxers as yuppy moms who’ve watched too much Jenny McCarthy.  But many or most measles outbreaks occur in obscure religious communities or among recent immigrants – Hasidic Jews (2018), Somali-Americans (2017), and Amish (2014).  Other outbreaks have been imported from overseas.

Every time there’s an outbreak, there’s a rush to pass more restrictive laws impinging on people’s freedoms.  Why?  We’ve had consistent 92% vaccination for decades, which is more than enough to keep people safe.

Instead, the obvious next step in the vaccine campaign is to go after adults who don’t get vaccinated for the flu.  In a typical year, more than 10,000 people die from the flu.  According to the CDC, around 40% of adults get the flu vaccine, but they have a lot of uncertainty in the number.  This has been flat since at least 2010.  Even with the uncertainty, it’s pretty clear a hell of a lot of people are not getting vaccinated.  Why are companies not required to verify all their employees get vaccinated, or sign forms stating conscientious objection?  I am well aware that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but I bet that with 92% flu vaccine compliance hundreds and maybe thousands of lives could be saved.  It seems like this would be much better bang for our buck than passing draconian laws forcing a small minority of parents to vaccinate their kids for the measles or take them out of school.  They might better also step up efforts to get children vaccinated against the flu – CDC estimates less than 60% uptake for children on the flu vaccine.   Why is evidence of flu vaccine not required to attend school?

sad things

One of the things about the internet and social media is that you get exposed to so much tragedy.  The friend of a friend, a toddler, nearly drowned and was left with a brain injury a couple years ago.  My friend posts about it, and it breaks my heart.  Just the utter pointlessness of it and also hopelessness.  A little girl, age 2, dealing with a second recurrence of leukemia.  A girl who attended my elementary school died of leukemia.  I’m guessing anyone reading this blog who went to my school and instantly remember her name.  But she was the only one I knew of as a child.  Today, people share and you hear all these tragic stories.  No child should ever have cancer.  It’s just so utterly unfair and ridiculous and harsh.  It breaks my heart.  Then the father of one of the children who died at Sandy Hook committing suicide.  I wish I didn’t know about Sandy Hook.  New Zealand had a massacre and they changed their gun laws.  We lose 20 six-year-olds and change nothing.  But just thinking about that poor man and his beautiful child murdered just is hard to wrap my mind around.

On one hand, it seems absurd to get upset about the tragedies of strangers.  I’ve cried tears over these people who I’ve never met.  On some level, this seems ridiculous.  On the other hand, to not be moved by such tragedy, even of strangers, seems heartless and cruel and callous.  But I wish I could go back to the days when I just didn’t know about so many sad things.