Unemployment and Housing Data Point to Bleak

Existing home sales fell to 4.86 million units, about 2.6% below consensus estimates of 4.94 million units. The report also cited a huge deterioration in median home prices, down to $215,000 or down over 6% from last year. This highlights the bleak outlook for the housing market, as the housing market has yet to find a bottom. With mortgage rates set to only head higher in the coming months, I would expect more defaults on mortgages as there seems to be no slowdown in the turmoil of the housing market.

Weekly unemployment numbers also came in worse than consensus estimates, at 406,000 for the week ending July 19th, 2008. This can only mean bad things for the overall July unemployment numbers that come out next Friday, as some analysts expect the overall unemployment rate to head higher from the 5.5% that was posted in May and June. If you do not remember what happened the last time unemployment increased, just look back and you will see that the Dow lost well over 300. If we really are in a recession, it is also important to note that unemployment during a recession has always hit at least 6%, if not more. Being that the unemployment number is a leading indicator, it seems as though a recession could be imminent, if we are not already in one. That being said it seems even more likely that we will head into a consumer recession as consumers struggle to receive a consistent stream of income without a steady job, which they have become accustomed to over the past few years.

Spending habits will clearly have to adjust for this change in net income per household, which should weigh negatively on the economy, especially for discretionary companies. The further deterioration of the housing market will continue to weigh negatively on financials and home builders until there is a clear sign that there is a turn around in the hosuing and mortgage industry. It also does not help that commodities have had a huge run up in the past year, weighing on corporate profits along with food and energy prices on the consumer. I would continue to recommend staying in traditionally defensive sectors, such as Consumer Staples and Healthcare, as they seem poised to weather the current downturn since over 70% of Staples and Healthcare companies have reported earnings better than analysts estimates. With the strong possibility of a consumer recession, sticking with staple stocks such as Proctor and Gamble PG, Wal-Mart WMT and medical suppliers such as Becton Dickinson BDX, should continue to prove a beneficial strategy as these companies offer dividends and reduced volatility in one of the most volatile markets in years.

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The Canadian Healthcare System and Its Problems

The United States government spent $783 billion in 2006 on Medicare and Medicaid. If we went to a universal healthcare in this country, it would probably go well over a trillion dollars. And taxes would certainly increase. American’s want affordable healthcare or a universal healthcare system. This is going to be a huge debate going into the Presidential election. But, did you know that the U.S. free market system produces the most new drugs and techniques because the system provides incentives for innovation and efficiency? Did you know that under our current health system you can go to the doctor whenever you want, there is no waiting line? Well, that is not the case in Canada. Here are some criticisms of the healthcare system:

57% of Canadians reported waiting 4 weeks or more to see a specialist; 24% of Canadians waited 4 hours or more in the emergency room.

A March 2, 2004 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated, “Saskatchewan is under fire for having the longest waiting time in the country for a diagnostic MRI – a whopping 22 months.”

A February 28, 2006 article in The New York Times quoted Dr. Brian Day as saying, “This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.”

Canada’s shortage of medical practitioners causes problems. With 2.2 doctors per thousand population, Canada is well below the OECD average of 3.0, although its 10 nurses per thousand was slightly above the OECD average of 8.6. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation of thirty countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and free market economy.

Doctors in Canada make an average of $202,000 a year (2006, before expenses). Alberta has the highest average salary of around $230,000, while Quebec has the lowest average annual salary at $165,000, creating interprovincial competition for doctors and contributing to local shortages.

In 1991, the Ontario Medical Association agreed to become a province-wide closed shop, making the OMA union a monopoly. Critics argue that this measure has restricted the supply of doctors to guarantee its members’ incomes.

According to a 2007 article, the Canadian medical profession is suffering from a brain drain. The article states, “One in nine trained-in-Canada doctors is practicing medicine in the United States. If Canadian-educated doctors who were born in the U.S. are excluded, the number is one in 12.”

A February 28, 2006 article in The New York Times stated, “Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years before receiving treatment…Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services.”

In 2006, a Canadian court threatened to shut down one private clinic because it was planning to start accepting private payments from patients. According to The New York Times, although privately funded clinics are illegal in Canada, many clinics are opening anyway, because patients don’t like the long waiting lists in the government system.

In a 2007 interview on ABC News, Professor Regina Herzlinger of Harvard Business School said, “Many clinics all across Canada are illegal for-profit… They know they can’t get the health care they need from the legal system, so they’re complicit in creating an illegal system that’ll give them what they need.”

Sounds like they still have a lot of work. If you live in Canada and read this article please let me know if anything has changed or has gotten better, I would love the feedback.

Kevin Colby http://www.kevincolby.com

Cell Phone Radiation Linked to Autism

For the last few decades, the use of cell phones has been on the rise across the country and around the world. With the advent of micro technology and satellites, mobile phones have gotten smaller and smaller. In fact, some have reached the point where big people actually have trouble dialing a phone number because their fingers are too big to touch one key at a time! For that matter, some models of phones are so tiny that big headed people have trouble hearing from the ear piece and talking into the mouthpiece at the same time.

With those new phones have come other aspects of the technology. The biggest and most obvious – the one just about everyone sees every day is the cell phone towers. Between the towers and the phones themselves, there is a lot of radiation flipping about through the atmosphere. Well, the atmosphere is one thing, but our minds and bodies – that is quite another; and the minds and bodies of our children is quite another thing altogether!

Possibly, you may have heard about the increase in cases of autism in recent years. Now, based on input from doctors and teachers who deal with these cases, part of the increase is due to the fact that years ago children with autism were misdiagnosed. After all, autism covers a very broad range of maladies. Some children sort of “shut down”, they’re non-responsive and non-verbal. Others are very intelligent, but socially awkward; they’re known as “high functioning” autistic. The point being, today autism encompasses a wide range of developmental problems for children.

Yet, even allowing for the incorrect diagnoses of the past, it is still a fact that about one child out of a hundred has some form of autism. That is a very large increase over past cases. The question is: what is the cause? Here again, researchers say that part of the contributing factor is genetics; some children are predisposed to being autistic. Yet, they are also equally certain that there is some kind of environmental factor that sets them off. Debate has raged for years as to what the factor (or factors) could be. Some have said it is the mercury used in inoculations; some say it is our processed foods.

Based on studies of the human body, it is a fact that a child’s skull is thinner than an adult’s. So, what does this mean in terms of cell phone use? A child using or exposed to a cell phone will have the phone’s radiation penetrate into their skull much deeper than into an adult’s skull. This high-frequency electromagnetic field can cause increases in blood pressure, affect biological functions within the brain, and negatively impact the brain’s bio-electric activity. When you consider that a child’s brain is growing and developing, any outside influence that damages their neurons as they are forming networks could certainly lead to some form of neural damage.

There may not yet be a direct connection between cell phones and autism. But, when you consider the chance you are taking with your child’s health and future well-being, it is definitely in your best interest to minimize their exposure to cell phone radiation. It is a sad fact that there is no cure for autism, and some forms of it are quite debilitating. So, anything you can do to reduce the chances of your child ending up in poor health, it’s worth doing, isn’t it?

Educational Cell Phone E-Book by Paul Fitzgerald, EMF expert, graduated from NJIT in Newark, NJ. He has been studying EMF’s for over 15 years. He has done over 100 radio shows in 2006 and promotes promotes cell phone radiation reduction airtube headsets to the public for protection from cell phone radiation, go to Airtube Headsets To educate yourself go to EMF Radiation News

Our Health Care System – An Insider’s View

Upon completing college back in the early 1970s, I worked for a large department store in NY in the accounting office. Working full time, naturally, I was afforded a company group insurance policy which included health benefits, along with dental, and life insurance. At that time there were no HMOs, nor were there any physicians that did not accept any legitimate health insurance plan. During my childhood, my parents always maintained insurance coverage on both me and my sister through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NY. The insurance offered by my employer was also through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NY. It was touted to be the best health insurance plan around at that time, and cost me personally nothing to enroll. The employer paid the entire premium in my behalf, and although it did have a yearly deductible, and then paid 80% up to a specified amount before paying 100%, being relatively healthy it posed no real economic hardship on me, and I was easily able to cover my deductible, and small out of pocket costs for any tests or prescriptions I may have needed.

It wasn’t until I relocated to southern California in the mid 1970s, that for the first time, I realized just how much our country needed to revamp its health care system. Perhaps revamp is a poor term for what I observed initially, but eventually it would become a very well suited term for what would be needed. Of course today what is needed is a complete overhaul of our health care system, and a program that will allow everyone affordable and good quality health care. However, intiially, the programs in place were very good, and very affordable to those who worked full time. There obviously weren’t as many small businesses out there, and even the ones that were, could at least afford some type of health care coverage for their families. While I was living in southern California I met and married a young woman who had been afflicted with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, and was on Social Security Disability and State Supplemental Income. In addition she had Medicare and Medi-Cal to help pay for her medical fees and services which she desperately needed to keep her alive, and functioning.

Even back then, it took almost an act of Congress to qualify for those programs, and you had to have a redetermination every two years to see if your conditions had improved. Every two years my wife was subjected to an independent medical exam with a Medicare approved physician who reviewed all her medical records for the previous two years, and examined her, and then reported his or her findings to the Social Security Administration for review with his or her recommendations. Although my wife’s condition was only getting worse, and other than short periods of remission where her disease was in check, she was basically declining, and it was obvious it should would never be cured, still she would continue to be subjected to these exams every two years until her death in 1988. In was during this period of time that I personally became involved in the health care field, and saw first hand just how insurance companies worked, at least when it came to health care.

In 1981, I obtained a position at a very well known Hospital and Health Care center in southern California. My job was that of a Patient Financial Counselor, which entailed the discussion with patients and/or their families either prior to admission, during admission or at discharge, in order to work out arrangements for payment of the unpaid portion of their hospital bills. In most cases the balance owing was anywhere from a few hundred dollars to couple of thousand dollars depending upon the procedure done and the amount of time actually spent in the hospital. If the patient was covered by a good private insurance carrier, it was usually only a few hundred dollars. In the case where they were covered by Medicare of Medi-Cal, they ofter owed nothing. If they were indigent, and had no insurance at all, we had a social worker on staff who would attempt to get them on some form of emergency medical assistance to help pay their debt in full. However, that would soon all change with the cut backs in Medicare, and other social programs during the course of the Regan Administration. By the mid to late 1980s, insurance carriers were demanding second opinions on certain procedures, and PPOs and HMOs began to spring up all over the country. It was the beginning of managed health care, which has its own pros and cons. The biggest advantage to the employers who provided these programs to their employees of course was the costs. Costs for PPOs and HMOs were much less expensive than the traditional health care plans, and saved the employer thousands of dollars per year in costs. It was the biggest selling point for them, but left many employees with less than adequate coverage.

If an employer for example opted for an HMO plan, the employees found themselves in many cases looking for a new doctor as their doctor wasn’t a part of the HMO plan. At least with the ones who lucked out with a PPO plan could still see their own doctors of choice. The insurance just didn’t pay as much as they would if the physician was enrolled in their plans. With the HMOs, you had to sign up for a primary care physician who had to be a participating physician in their plans, or they would not pay the doctor’s fees. In addition if you had to see a specialist, your primary care physician had to get an authorization from the insurance carrier for that visit. The same held true for many procedures you may need to have, and again it was up to the primary care physician to get prior authorization, or the patient was stuck with paying the entire bill. It was during this period that medical groups or clinics began to spring up all over the country, owned and operated by the HMOs. It was their attempt to control health care costs, and manage health care for its patients. Since the inception of HMOs there have been all types of lawsuits filed against the HMOs for wrongful deaths and for lack of necessary treatment for their patients, but still they are going strong.

The question I pose is, when does good health care offset the costs? If a doctor deems it necessary for a patient to undergo a long medical treatment plan to help save their lives, or to give them a better quality of life, costs should be of secondary concern, and the patient’s well being should be placed first. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Yes, I agree that there are people who abuse the system, and run to the nearest emergency room for every little ache and pain when they are covered by a public medical program such as Medicare and Medicaid, but what about the ones who truly do have a need for emergency services, and often have to wait hours to be seen because the emergency room is filled with non emergent cases simply because they know they cannot be turned away just because they have no insurance or public insurance programs. The publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid need to start to review these non emergent cases, and refuse to pay for those services making the patient liable for any and all costs incurred for those visits.

In the 1990s, during the Clinton administration there was a push on for a complete overhaul of the health care system in this country. The concept behind the idea was to find a feasible way to offer affordable, good quality health care to all Americans, not just those who could easily afford it, or those who were already on publicly funded programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. Additionally, there was a proposal that would allow the insurance companies to receive government subsidies to offset the costs of insuring those who were considered to be high risk, or chronic patients. Several models were investigated, and in an effort to destroy any hope of resolving this issue, lobbyists and special interest groups claimed that it would be a form of socialized medicine and costs taxpayers billions of dollars, and would not necessarily offer better quality health care. In the end the only positive thing that came out of the whole deboggle, was guaranteed health care for children, and the allowing of either parent to take time off from work after a child’s birth without fear of losing their job or seniority. Even the bill which affords health care for children needs additional funding and has been lacking due to political pressure and budget restraints over the past several years.

In recent years we have been so concerned about fighting terrorism around the world, and our military and political efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan at the cost of billions of dollars, that the overhaul and reconstruction of America’s health care system has been put on the back burner. Even with a Democratically controlled Congress, the health care system has not gained any further support, nor has it been placed on anyone’s priority list. Only in recent months with the primary elections has the question of providing affordable health care for all Americans once again resurfaced and been placed on the candidates priority lists. There is no question in this author’s mind that something has to be done to protect Americans from the high costs of health care, and the ability to receive good quality health care services no matter what the persons financial situation. I am not proposing a socialized medical system, nor am I in favor of allowing non citizens to have free participation in any such system devised. However, for those hard working Americans who hold down jobs and pay their taxes, and especially those with families, need some type of guarantee, that they can obtain good quality health care when they need it, and at an affordable price.

No one wants to see people dying or not enjoying a good quality of life just simply because they cannot afford to see a physician when they really need to, or afford their medication that keeps them alive or in good health. However, we cannot afford to keep going the way we are just because we are a free enterprise system and allow for competition between businesses. While the health care industry is a business, just as with public utilities, the government does put controls on prices and price increases, and perhaps a similar program with the health care industry would work the same way. I just have a hard time swallowing the fact that we have billions of tax dollars to spend overseas on wars we can’t win, or have no reason to be involved in, other than the stuffing of someone’s pocket, yet we cannot provide affordable quality health care for our own citizens here at home. While this may be just my opinion, I think that there are many Americans out there who feel the same way, but believe that we are in the minority, and that no one in Washington, is really listening to us. Perhaps this next national election will show the bureaucrats in Washington that this is not the case, and really send a message to our political leaders that it is time for a real change.
Mark Sacks

Why Is Health Care So Expensive

There is a variety of opinions on how our health care system ended up in the mess it is today, and just as many ideas on how to fix it. Bottom line I wouldn’t count on a miracle solution that fixes everything.

I look at the problem different than a lot of people. Instead of asking how do we pay for the incredible cost of today’s medical care I like to study why it’s so expensive. Yes, there are modern facilities, equipment and procedures that help improve & extend our lives & have a tremendous effect on the price we pay. I still feel that if we look at history we will find some bad turns our country took.

In my opinion the first bad turn we took was at the end of World War II when employers started offering health insurance in an attempt to lure employees. This is a nice benefit but as more and more companies offered insurance the average person lost touch with just how much doctors & hospitals were charging. People looked for the best care not caring what it cost. This allowed doctors to charge whatever they wanted without any outcry from their patients. Insurance is paying the bill.

The next turn came when we changed our view of health insurance. Originally health plans were what we would call major medical insurance these days. If you have an oil spill in your garage do you call your home insurance or do you clean it up? The same was true with health care, people would pay for office visits but if you needed something big done your insurance kicked in. As we started expecting insurance to pay everything we further lost touch with the cost of our care.

Probably the most talked about problem is the parade of huge lawsuits that have driven up the liability insurance that doctors must carry. I understand wanting to be compensated if a doctor makes a mistake that effects your quality of life, but I believe that most of the settlements are excessive. This leaves us facing a few victims & lawyers getting huge pay days, the courts allow it and the rest of us pay the bill. There have been attempts to cap lawsuit awards but the lawyers have risen up to defeat them.

It doesn’t look like our government is going to fix the problem but one company has created a unique solution. Through the power of group buying they have negotiated huge discounts with providers and pharmacies throughout the country. They have plans that start under $20 a month per household and can save you 50% or more on most all medical expenses including hospital stays. Below is details on how you can save.

The fact is 7 out of 10 Americans are either under insured or completely uninsured. People are putting of procedures they need because they don’t have the money. Others are drowning in debt from hospital stays. Ameriplan offers a solution. This is not insurance but instead membership program where doctors & pharmacies offer huge discounts (as much as 50% or more) in exchange for the flood of business. They also offer advocates to negotiate hospital bills. The example that comes to mind is a gentleman that had a heart attack and no insurance. His bill came to $118,000, Ameriplan got the charges down to $33,000. This is still a lot of money but if you consider that insurance has deductibles and only pay 80% of the remainder the bill would not be drastically different. I would never encourage anyone to give up their insurance but for those millions that simply can’t afford it, this a wonderful alternative. Plans are…

Dental, Vision, Chiropractor, Prescription drug – $19.95 a month / per household

Medical & hospital advocate – $29.95 a month / per household

Plans 1 & 2 together – $39.95 a month / per household

For details click. AMERIPLAN

How to Get Universal Health Care

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they believe in giving Americans universal health care. I don’t believe them. Anyone who takes the time to understand universal health care should conclude that only a simple single payer system will reform the current outrageous system that benefits the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

The contorted plans from Clinton and Obama are not sufficient reforms. And what John McCain has proposed is sheer nonsense and by itself should cause any conscious American to avoid voting for him.

Fights for health care system reform are centered in Congress, as if legislators will do what they have never done before: achieve true, major and systemic reforms that only serve the public interest, not lobbyists and campaign contributors from business sectors.

Both Clinton and Obama believe that Americans have a moral right to universal health care. If this is correct and if this is what you believe, then achieving universal health care that covers absolutely everyone by making health care affordable to absolutely everyone, as it is in many other nations, requires a different kind of government action. What exactly?

We must expand the Bill of Rights as embodied in the US Constitution to include the right to affordable universal health care. The time has come for the public to conclude that the right to universal health care is as important and necessary as the right to free speech and all the other beloved constitutional rights. Common sense says that health care is a right, not a privilege.

After all, what good are our current constitutional rights if you are ill or dying prematurely because of a lack of good health insurance? Certainly the pursuit of happiness cannot be successful when individuals are suffering from poor health because of inadequate health care.

Why would sensible, caring Americans be against a constitutional right to universal health care? Are there people who would stand up and publicly condemn the right of all Americans to have first rate health care? The only ones I can imagine doing this are those now benefiting financially from the current unjust system, those blocking necessary congressional actions.

What Obama and Clinton should explicitly and loudly advocate is a constitutional amendment that makes universal health care a nonnegotiable right of all Americans.

Why has no member of Congress submitted legislation to get Congress to propose such an amendment for ratification by the states? Clearly, the only rational answer are the many business interests that have corrupted Congress and that benefit from the current system. The Constitution provides an alternative.

Article V provides an option never used in the entire history of the US, because Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and respect state requests. The Article V convention option was put in the Constitution because the Founders and Framers believed that one day Americans would lose trust and confidence in the federal government. With 81 percent of Americans believing the nation is on the wrong track and with so many millions of Americans lacking good health insurance and care, that day has surely arrived. And with abysmally low levels of confidence in Congress and the president, an Article V convention – a temporary fourth branch of the federal government – is clearly the right path to obtaining a universal health care amendment. A convention of state delegates could debate such an amendment and if they agreed to propose it, then the standard ratification by three-quarters of the states would still be necessary.

Yes, this would probably take a few years. But it would be worth it. The prospect of Congress, even with Clinton or Obama as president, achieving universal health care without business-friendly loopholes faster than the amendment approach is not good. The process of pursuing such an amendment, moreover, would help keep pressure on Congress to do the right thing.

If this sounds reasonable and necessary, then learn the truth about the Article V option at http://www.foavc.org and start talking up a universal health care amendment that Hillary and Obama should support.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through http://www.delusionaldemocracy.com – he is a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention.]

Healthy Confusion?

I am a resident of New York State, but if someone were to ask which state I live in, I would reply that I live in a “state of mental confusion.”

Mental confusion may sometimes be healthy, if it leads to questioning, enquiry and growth of wisdom. Perhaps that is why one of the wisest men, a sage from China was named Confused, Confuse Us or something similar, I am not sure. Talking about health, nowadays I am deluged with so much information about health matters that I do not know what to believe and what to dismiss, so I am totally contra-fused, excuse me, confused.

Our parents told us to play outside and breathe deeply; inhale a lot of oxygen, which was supposed to be good for health. Now however, when I go to the supermarket, almost every package label proudly proclaims that the food is high in anti-oxidants. Won’t an anti-oxidant reduce the oxygen in my blood and be toxic? I find this very contradictory and contra-fusing, sorry, confusing.

Also, when we were children, anyone who looked well nourished was referred to as healthy, while anyone who was slightly built was told to go and put some meat on their bones. This too has changed completely, anyone who does not look starved is told to reduce their weight. Similarly, we are constantly admonished to eat less fatty foods, since they contain cholesterol- but then we are told that some cholesterols are good while others are bad for us.

Ditto for sunlight; I used to think that exposing my skin to sunlight was very healthy- it helped synthesize Vitamin D and promoted healthy bones. Now, however it seems that sunlight has UV radiation which causes skin cancer and I am urged to protect myself with a sun blocker like SPF 15 or something similar. In a similar vein, we are often told not to use certain aerosols so as to preserve the ozone layer but when the ozone level is high we are told not to walk outside. So is ozone healthy for us or unhealthy?

Similarly, I used to believe that alcohol would ruin my liver, scramble my brain and lead to an early demise. However, I am now told that drinking alcohol daily, especially wine, prevents heart attacks. This had me confused for a while until I realized that if you die young from cirrhosis of the liver, you cannot die from a heart attack.

Enough of this unhealthy confusion, I think I will take a walk and clear my head, but wait- I better check the ozone levels, the air quality and the UV index, put on my orange reflectors and a nose mask before I step out of the house.

Rohit Khera

Politics And The Economy

The most crucial question in the minds of many Americans and people around the world today is: Who will be the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States this election year? Will it be Illinois Senator Obama, or will it be New York Senator and former First Lady Clinton? Whosoever it is, history is about to be made as Americans are gearing up to elect either the first woman President, or the first African American President of the United States of America.

Let there be no misunderstanding, the Democratic ticket will be Obama-Clinton, or Clinton-Obama. The Democratic Political Strategists would be silly and simply idiotic not to have this ticket to defeat the smooth, seasoned and polished Senator John McCain this November. Let us hope that these two Candidates (Obama-Clinton) will put their egos, self interests or personal aggrandizement aside and embrace what seemed to be a well needed shift in the political culture and socialization in the United States. The mandate of the people has spoken across this Nation. There is no doubt that the American people are ready to embrace change. What is most noble of our democracy is the fact that America’s laws and its people are an evolutionary process and one that is base on necessity. We are always trying to be better. What a country! With a Constitution just over 200 years old, the American people have demonstrated that the color of a man’s skin or one’s gender is of no more significance. What a breath of fresh air to see this young and brilliant African American and woman running for the White House. However, the question still remains, will it happen?

Let us not get carried away by celebrating any victory for the Democrats too fast. We still have those closet racists who still believe in this 21st Century that one’s pigmentation is a factor. How they will vote, we do not know. Then again, we have the black pessimists who still utter words like: “America is not ready for a black President.” How silly. We have the Hispanics who can be very unpredictable. We have the older voters who are set in their ways and generally make up the majority of our voting population. However, with a surge of young voters, will it make a difference in November? Can Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama pull it off this fall?

One thing for sure, the American people are galvanized by this shaky economy, anti war sentiments in Iraq, lack of healthcare, high gas prices at the pump, etc. People are losing their homes and jobs across this Nation in the millions. Those that seek the American dream through diligence are fed up and lost faith in their government. We have seen our noble Veterans begging in the streets and middle class jobs outsourced overseas. It is time to take care of the American people. Let us take care of home first then help where we can in the world after. We cannot afford to boast in our arrogance that we are the greatest Nation on the planet, yet we cannot provide basic healthcare and decent jobs to our citizens. We cannot afford to cast a blind eye to the world however. Let me remind those with short term memories what took place in Germany many years ago. We turned a blind eye to some disgruntled and ignorant folks in Germany at that time called the Brown Shirts. They became a formidable force known as the Nazis under Adolph Hitler that led to the destruction of over 5 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters lives. So while we should take care of America first, we must keep an eye on the world so that something as horrible as this will not repeat itself anywhere again on this planet.

As for Senator John McCain, the Republican Nominee for President of the United States, his service to this Great Republic is first class, invaluable and second to none. I applaud him wholeheartedly for his service to this Nation. I admire his impeccable character and the fact that he is not the conventional politician. He is a “straight shooter.” Senator McCain will say the same thing to people in 10 different rooms. You can rest assured that what he says in Room number 1 will be consistent throughout Room number 10. I like that about him. No one can ever question the veracity of Senator McCain’s words. Undoubtedly, he is the best qualified for Commander in Chief. However, timing might be a factor for this great American Hero. Senator McCain will have to unequivocally convince the American people that he will revitalize the economy, provide healthcare, deal with this immigration issue, create jobs and restore the middle class in order to win this election…straight up. While many Americans are concern about the war on terror and those that want to kill us for our freedom, the American people are crying out for jobs, healthcare, and to save their homes. Owning a home is the core tenet of the American dream. We must restore the American people and promulgate laws that prohibit corrupt banks, mortgage companies, brokers, etc., from taking the American people for a ride.

Come this November, invoke your constitutional rights and vote. Remember that many of your ancestors died for that privilege. Go into that polling booth and vote your conscience. One thing for sure, whether it be Obama, McCain or Clinton, the American people are ready to sacrifice and work with our duly elected President. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Patrick Pearce is Founder, President and CEO for Southeastern Development & Consulting Group, Inc., a Florida Corporation.

Patrick Pearce earned his BA degree from the City University of New York and his law degree (JD) from Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, New York.

Patrick Pearce works as a Consulting and In House Attorney with various Law Firms and Government Offices.
Website: http://www.sdcg1.com
Blogs: http://legalconsulting.wordpress.com

Health Care – Just Go To An Emergency Room

“I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” – George W. Bush, July 10, 2007, Cleveland, Ohio

This sentence has been ringing in my ears since July. Fool that I am, I did not understand just how easy it all is. Gee, my MS is acting up — any guesses as to what they’ll do for me down at the emergency room? How about this rotator cuff problem? I’ve been trying to get an MRI for three months only to learn now that I could have just walked right in! Oh, then there’s that little problem of individual health insurance coverage for a partially disabled person with a chronic illness. Guess they’ll help me out with that, too!

Oh, here comes that fantasy of mine again…

The members of all three branches of the United States government are stripped of their health insurance plans and all sources of income. Then they are assigned a salary equal to Mr. and Mrs. Average American. They are stripped of any special privileges of status. They are not allowed to quit this “game”, which shall last no less than three years.

During this period, regardless of pre-existing conditions, life-threatening diseases or catastrophic injury, they must muddle through as best they can under the current system. They, and their families, must choose a health care plan they can afford, wait for a doctor’s time and attention, sweat out extra tests which may be required and, if events so dictate, decide between purchasing their prescription medicines or maybe paying their mortgage, or food and clothing bills.

At the conclusion of the three-year period, this same group must implement a feasible plan making affordable basic health care available to all legal citizens of the United States. Failure to do so results in additional “game” time.

Yes, indeed, I do have a very rich fantasy life.

Mandy Crest

One-Eyed National Health Care

National health care might be a disaster, due to the cost and the complexity. A government-controlled system also creates agonizing moral dilemmas (read about the eye treatment ruling covered further down). Still, despite my opposition to it, I can see it’s a real possibility, and soon. Keeping that in mind, here is what we can do to solve some of the inherent problems and make the system work better.

What’s Your QUALYs Score?

Who gets what health care? That would be a tricky decision for any of us, but some might argue that the bureaucrats in the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) are pretty good at it. They are evaluate and approve treatments for the National Health Services administration in Britain (their national health care bureaucracy). After all, the life expectancy in Britain is about the same as in the United States, and the government spends less on health care while covering ALL citizens.

Making such decisions, of course, does lead to some interesting problems. One example: In 2002 NICE recommended that a certain treatment for macular degeneration be used only in one eye – the one less affected by the disease. What about the other eye? It is presumably allowed to go blind. They arrived at this decision by using “QUALYs,” or Quality-Adjusted Life Years.

How does this methodology for measuring the value of treatments work? Let’s look at a couple examples. A surgery that gives you an average of ten years of life is better than one that gives you five, and so scores higher on the QUALYs scale. Years added to life matter, but so does quality of those years. Suppose you could be saved by a treatment but be in a coma for six years, while another person could be saved and healthy for six years by some other treatment. If funds are limited (aren’t they always?), the latter would be approved.

Now let’s look again at the case of the eye treatment. The score for QUALYs is high for the first eye, since seeing presumably greatly increases the quality of life over blindness. But seeing with the second eye doesn’t boost the quality of life nearly as much, right?

We don’t need to get into the complexities of the system to understand the logic. Life matters, but quality of life also matters, an idea most of us can agree to. But it leads to some uncomfortable conclusions, doesn’t it?. For example a person with a debilitating disease or handicap presumably scores lower in QUALYs when considered for a life-prolonging heart operation. We might pass her over in favor of a healthier person who would benefit more according to the QUALYs score.

The real truth, normally ignored, is that there a financial limit to any national health care plan. As a result, we have to make decisions that can certainly be uncomfortable, and sometimes downright disturbing. What if a million dollars could prevent ten thousand people from getting a deadly disease, or that same million could be used to treat and possibly cure twenty people who already have the disease. Should we allow the twenty to die in order to prevent the deaths of ten thousand?

Of course, it’s easy to say we should cure the twenty AND run the prevention program. This may even be possible, and we certainly could pay for both eyes to be treated in the case of macular degeneration. On the other hand, we really can’t do everything. Honesty compels us to admit that perhaps going blind in one eye isn’t nearly so tragic as losing sight in both, and if treating just one eye for one patient saves enough money to treat another patient’s heart problem with a new procedure that saves his life, maybe we need to make that kind of decision.

Whatever utopian theorizing we do, tough choices will have to be made at some point if we decide on national health care. We’ll need to put a value on life, or on various qualities of life at least. Yes, we may even have to put a value on one eye versus two, or on eyesight versus saved limbs that might be amputated otherwise. In a market system medical providers compete to provide better treatments for your diabetes, but this will be, in part, a system where your diabetes competes with somebody’s migraine headaches or broken nose.

National Health Care – Some Suggestions

If we allow a market system of health care to exist alongside a government system, we could at least pay to have the other eye fixed. The rich will obviously get better care, but I don’t think we are such a petty envious people that we would vote against such a dual-system just because of this. The healthiness of the wealthy doesn’t hurt the rest of us. Also, we all would at least have the hope of raising money for whatever additional health care we desire. So let the market still exists.

There will also be the problem of demand. Free means higher demand, of course. At the moment I have a few teeth that I might have a dentist look at this week if the examination and treatment was free, but since it isn’t I’ll wait a bit. People often delay treatment because of the expense, but they also look for and find cheaper alternatives. That would change if we had free national health care.

There will be a big increase in demand. Naturally, cuts that might be bandaged will be more often be stitched if the service is without cost. A headache or sore throat that would normally be endured might mean a trip to the free hospital or clinic. Sadly, this would use government health care money that might otherwise pay for research or treatment for life-threatening illnesses, meaning more tough decisions.

How do we alleviate this problem of excessive demand? Design a system that isn’t free. After all, the problem isn’t that we have to pay for health care, since we find a way to pay for groceries, clothing and cable television without government handouts. The problem is the high price and unpredictability of health care expenses. An occasional surprise is one thing if it’s a few hundred dollars, but a few weeks in a hospital can eat up a lifetime of savings.

Address THIS issue, instead of encouraging people’s unwillingness to budget for unexpected, but affordable surprises? How? One way is to have national health insurance for all, but with a $500 annual deductible. When a person can’t afford this (it amounts to $42 per month) it usually suggests a budgeting problem, not a problem of over-priced care.

Have each person pay 20% of all costs beyond that deductible as well, up to $1,000 ($5,000 in costs). This would keep people from running to the doctor or hospital for every little thing. This also encourages them to look for cheaper effective treatments, so the system doesn’t destroy the usual incentive (money) for this creative process of health care improvement.

Prescription drugs shouldn’t be covered until the cost goes beyond that $500 annual deductible, and even then the patient should pay his or her 20%. People (even poor people in this country) find a way to pay for bigger expenses in life, and this would keep the system from being abused. What if some people really are too poor to afford even this? Address that problem through general welfare programs, rather than paying for prescriptions for tens of millions who can easily afford them.

I am not thrilled with the idea of a national health care system. On the other hand, if it is going to happen in any case, we at least make it sustainable and leave open more options for all of us. That’s what the system outlined above would hopefully accomplish.

Copyright Steve Gillman. For inventions, new product ideas, business ideas, story ideas, political and economic theories, deep thoughts, and a free course on How To Have New Ideas, visit : http://www.999ideas.com