Fear of change
David R. Colman’s OpEd “Hospital director tells truth about Canadian health care system” (BDN, Oct. 13) illustrates perfectly why we are unlikely to see real, meaningful change in health care in this country. It is because our people are so self-prepossessed that they are incapable of conceiving that any other country is capable of doing anything, including health care, better than we can. We, therefore, are unwilling to give consideration to advantages another country’s system might offer over ours.
It’s a stretch to call ours a “system,” because it evolved more from happenstance than design. We do have the ability to provide excellent care — we have educated and intelligent doctors and specialists, and probably the best technology in the world is available here. We just don’t have the best system for delivering that care equitably. We talk about equality, but in health care, we don’t walk the walk. Fear plays a part as well, and the health insurance industry is deft at exploiting it.
The 45 million or so without insurance represents about 20 percent of the population. That means that a significant majority, 80 percent, have some kind of insurance. It may be employer-sponsored, Medicare or Medicaid, or self-insurance. Whatever it is, we’re afraid of having it taken away or changed. Until that fear can be alleviated, we’ll be reluctant as a society to approve a major initiative in health care. And so far, we haven’t had the leadership we need to make believers of us.
The indications are that the Senate doesn’t want us to buy health insurance from a government-run program. I’m just wondering — does that mean we can’t get a policy from AIG?
Snowe no help on health
Dr. Erik Steele’s column of Oct. 20 extolling Sen. Olympia Snowe for her vote in favor of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care legislation was long on giddiness and short on substance. In fact, Dr. Steele had nothing to say about the content of the bill, preferring instead to lavish praise on Snowe for moving the “process” forward.
But the corrupt, anti-democratic process would have moved forward even without Snowe’s vote in committee, so hers was a meaningless symbolic vote for a 1,502-page legislative monstrosity. I doubt if Dr. Steele read the bill, but in any case he summarily dismisses opponents as pitchfork-waving special interests standing in the way of progress.
The process Dr. Steele so adores enables the Senate leadership to flush the content of the Finance Committee bill and use it as a shell into which legislators can dump new content. Senators made sure public participation in the process would be kept to a minimum when they rejected a proposal in committee to post final legislative language online for 72 hours before voting.
Snowe’s role in locking her constituents out of the legislative process on health care reform is reminiscent of her support for the biggest spending and borrowing bill in American history: the stimulus bill last February. That hideously bloated pork pie was enacted without a single public hearing and voted on less than 24 hours after the 1,100 pages of final legislative language was posted.
Memo to Dr. Steele: The “process” stinks to high heaven, so please stop enabling Sen. Snowe’s delusions of grandeur.
Every breath you take
Most of us realize that cap-and-trade legislation, pending in the Senate, will increase the cost of energy production, and thus the cost of operating energy-intensive businesses. They should consider a law more fair to everybody, which I present here.
The Environmental Protection Agency has determined, officially, that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, responsible for global warming. My suggested alternative legislation could be titled, “America Holds Its Breath, 2009.” Think about it. If Congress could tax our exhalations, say a penny for each tenth breath out, it would act as an incentive for breath holding and a healthier atmosphere. We could for a while continue inhaling without penalty. If the federal coffers weren’t reaping enough income, or if the world’s temperature rises, the government could ratchet down a bit, perhaps to every fifth breath or so, or in extreme circumstances taxing every breath.
By my calculations, this tax could raise trillions to reduce the national deficit, and concurrently eliminate 157,000 megatons of CO2 from our atmosphere, perhaps saving the planet. My computer program estimates that by the year 2159 the world’s temperature could be lowered by 0.1 degrees Celsius, plus or minus 0.1 degrees, which you will recognize as practically nothing, which it is. It’s our intention that should count. It might even earn me a Nobel Prize.
Alan W. Boone
Choose your battles
The present administration (or any, for that matter ) should stop trying to control news flow (as it has by criticizing Fox News). They would do well to remember the old newspaper adage, “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”
The BDN’s editorial of Oct. 28 concerning coffee meetings to decide city and town agendas, ironically appeared with the front page story about the sacking of City Manager Ed Barrett.
Who will be next? Obviously Chairman Gerry Palmer believes this closed door executive action is free from public scrutiny, along with councilors who share the belief that such actions should remain hidden, like Candy Guerrette’s sudden dismissal from the Chamber of Commerce.
Candy shunned a confrontation and walked. It’s disappointing to read that Mr. Barrett will do the same, so that Palmer and company can pursue this quest for a “new direction and vision.”
But, who are the people who have chartered these goals for Bangor?
Obviously, someone besides the council pulls the strings that motivate councils, selectmen and board members to reach these closed door autonomous executive decisions. Consider the auditorium survey vote.
No one on the Bangor council wields this power? So, who are the people who control city government, and decide the fate of municipal leaders? There always has been an unseen upper layer of a shadow government which pulls the strings in Bangor.
The tepid accolades afforded Mr Barrett by councilors betray the truth behind the decision. And, if (doubtfully) this decision was made by them, where was it made?
A coffee shop?