Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Health Care Reform I would Support

It has been so much in the news lately, and I am frankly quite tired of President Obama appearing daily on morning news shows and almost weekly at press conferences and repeating the same generic, non-specific answers to questions about health care reform. I am disturbed that his administration wants to ram through legislation that affects over 15% of the US economy, but refuses to take the time to speak about specifics with the American people.

But I refuse to be just another naysayer. The truth is, health care costs are out of control. US industry finds it increasingly difficult to compete with other companies around the world because of the overwhelming costs of providing employer health care. These are issues that need to be addressed. As far as I can tell, there is only one proposed plan that I see that actually reflects these realities and also the reality that health care reform will not be cheap and must be paid for equitably somehow.

Senator Ron Wyden (D) from Oregon has been proposing for several years the version of health care reform that I believe I would support at this point in time. The "Healthy Americans Act" is actually the one shot at actual, bipartisan supported reform going on around Congress right now. And as usual, it is found in the Senate. Wyden has been working with Senator Bennett (R) from Utah on the legislation. Basically, the legislation would effectively eliminate employer provided health care benefits. But what it would do in turn is create incentives for Americans to purchase their own health insurance with their larger salaries (that would come from converting health care benefits into increased salaries for employees) and to look for cost-efficient plans by creating tax deductions for participating in cost-efficient programs. Although it hasn't been covered as extensively in the media as other plans, some good articles on the plan can be found from the Wall Street Journal, NPR, this great article from Jacob Weisberg on Slate, and even the Huffington Post. Most of these articles indicate that Wyden's plan has zero chance of passing, which is too bad, because the numbers that I have seen on it actually make sense. Of course, that is probably the problem on the Hill, it is far too logical to be taken seriously. Most people are caught up in their own rhetoric than to think logically that the solution to the health care crisis has to take into consideration what might actually work. If the goal is universal coverage, then this plan would get you there while also addressing the reality of out of control health care costs. That should be what matters.

The complete proposed bill, the "Healthy Americans Act", (which is about 900 pages shorter than competing bills floating around Congress right now) can be found here. The Lewin Group's Cost and Coverage Analysis Report for the proposed bill can be found here.

Look, I live in DC and basically have no voting rights, so there is no represenative/Senator for me to call to tell them to support this plan. But I will have to pay the costs of health care reform like the rest of you. So do me a favor, for my sake, call your Senator and tell them to support the Healthy Americans Act, because it is the only bill I have seen or heard about that will actually do more good than harm.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Tardy July 4th Blog

For July 4th weekend in Washington, DC, Knightley, David and I were pleased that Sarah and Brian could join us for good times of tennis, baseball, and rooftop fireworks.

Knightley reminded us all about what makes America great - the diversity of its people. From our humble origins as poverty stricken immigrants from Eastern Europe -


To gansta rappers of the late 1990s -


We are all Americans.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Days When I Made Mixes

I really don't make mix CDs anymore. In fact, it has been several years since I have made a mix CD. I made many mixes back when I looked like this:




And also when I looked like this:

I was younger, more earnest and full of emotion. I wrote volumes of journal entries, documenting every emotional moment and was obsessed with finding the exact musical expression of what I was feeling so deeply. I was full of angst and emotion, and had the outlets of heartfelt music (silently swaying at Interpol shows downtown) and thoughtful, if indulgent, writing. When David and I started dating over a distance of 3,000 miles, my mix CDs could convey everything that I couldn't by close proximity with such titles as "David James is a Superhero" or "Monkeys and Volcanoes".

But then I moved to Seattle and my hair grew out. And as the years went by, I started obsessing more about the perfect eye cream to prevent the lines forming around my eyes from becoming more pronounced. I became content to listen to whatever song Pandora picked for me next instead of obsessing about the perfect follow-up to the Smiths or Belle and Sebastian. I stopped handwriting volumes of journal entries and became content with whatever limited information I could hurriedly type on weekend afternoons on my blog. Sure, technology made my life easier, I could remove the obsessiveness from making the perfect mix when I was confident that Pandora understood my musical tastes and preferences and would make those decisions for me. But at what cost? I realize, that I surrendered my own private sphere by no longer thinking in depth with the conveniences that technology afforded me.

So although I may be too old to stand for hours at General Admission concerts, waiting for Paul Banks to speak to me like prophesy from the stage, I am attempting to reclaim my youthful earnestness and feeling more deeply again. Maybe I can even put together a new mix about this.

Best Column of the Year

Everyone knows that Nick Kristof is my favorite NY Times columnist. But I think that David Brooks has outdone himself this year with his column "In Search of Dignity".

There is a reason why George Washington is my favorite President and why I admire Queen Elizabeth II so much and it can be summed up in one word that is "dignity." Our discourse in the public sphere is generally crass and course. In fact, there is a disappearing divide between the public and private sphere these days with politicians crying about lost soulmates on the twenty-four hour news cycle and women screaming their personal conversations into their cellphones in the public restroom stall next to me.

I for one want to live in the dignified world that David Brooks proposes.