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   Now in our tenth calendar year!
   PCR #478 (Vol. 10, No. 21). This edition is for the week of May 18--24, 2009.

"Terminator Salvation"  by Mike Smith
Standing in the Lonely Light of the Silver Moon  by ED Tucker
Around The Watercooler .... Universal Healthcare Is No Longer A Conspiracy .... Medicare & Social Security Going Bankrupt…fast .... Enemy Of The State: Rick Scott .... Montana Breaking Free .... Gps Tracking .... ....  by Brandon Jones
I Did Not Know That .... Do Be Do Be Do .... Now What? .... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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State of the Nation

Around the Watercooler
“Night at the Museum 2” is the buzz amongst the kids and “Terminator: Salvation” is ramping up in a disappointing start to the summer movie season. There seems to be some buzz about upcoming films, but nothing that rises above the herd.

American Idol and Dancing with Stars still seems to be lingering in the minds of many yet I can’t relate. Similar to the upcoming “Bachelorette”, I could care less and I’m still surprised at the enormous support these shows still garnish.

The attacks on Miss California have come to the forefront during this week, which is surprising since her stance on gay marriage mirrors our President’s. This discussion has evolved into a free speech debate instead of gay rights.

So, I didn’t want to put off discussing healthcare, especially with the proposed government interventions. There seems to be a lot of debate forming, but we still don’t have a plan from the White House.

Universal Healthcare is no longer a conspiracy
“Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said the real goal of the Democrats' healthcare reform agenda is to shut out the private health insurance industry.”1 So much for the debate over Washington conspiring over socializing medicine – sounds pretty clear.

Walt E. Williams, an economics professor from George Mason, wrote a great piece on government healthcare.2 The first line in Virginia Postrel’s piece is “If I lived in New Zealand, I’d be dead.”3

Sure, there’s some dramatic effect here, but the theme of Universal Healthcare pessimists is simple: rationing.

To quote Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

While the headstrong debate in the US rages forward, read these two articles and remember a couple of things from the various talking heads and politicians.

First off, “per capita” costs are not a fair comparison if the government eligibility denies treatments, prolongs treatment. We have huge cost control improvements that need to be made in the US, but I’d rather have an expensive option than no option at all.

Second, socialized medicine’s downfall is simple: you can’t cover everything on a budget. Priorities have to be made with the resources present, so someone will always have to wait: elderly, the diseased. Can’t rationing be corrupted into a form of eugenics?

Lastly, there’s the issue of service. Have you ever called the IRS or the DMV? Do you honestly feel government programs like Medicare or Medicaid are successful and the government can handle covering ALL of us, not just the elderly and the impoverished? If medicine is nationalized, will free medications (or cheap ones) from Publix, Wal-Mart, K-Mart etc…even be allowed to continue? How motivated will doctors and nurses be after having their salaries capped? This is the same Congress that couldn’t properly finance and administer plans to convert televisions to digitial.

1. http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=509278

2. http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/sweden-s-government-health-care.html

3. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200903/postrel-drugs

Medicare & Social Security going bankrupt…FAST
The collapse of our economy, more specifically, the reduction of contributing workers, has led to a report that the finances of Medicare and Social Security have worsened.

First, “Social Security will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2016, a year sooner than projected last year, and the giant trust fund will be depleted by 2037, four years sooner.”

Next, “Medicare is in even worse shape. The trustees said the program for hospital expenses will pay out more in benefits than it collects this year, just as it did for the first time in 2008. The trustees project that the Medicare fund will be depleted by 2017, two years earlier than the date projected in last year's report.”

So the current nationalized agencies are already racing toward bankruptcy and I predict: the news will get worse before it gets better. Fewer employed workers, less taxes due investment losses and an increase in the over-55 population, all spell imminent disaster.

Solution: Nationalize Healthcare?!?!

We can’t take afford to care for the elderly, especially with the baby boomers population surge, and yet we want to broaden the tent to include the rest of us. We need to make huge improvements to offer more services to non-insured patients and we have to develop a plan to deal with illegal immigrants who are bogging down emergency rooms.

After looking at their resume, I just don’t think the government is right for the job.

1. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Social-Security-and-Medicare-apf-15219531.html

Enemy of the State: Rick Scott
The former HCA/Columbia executive is spending $5 million to launch an ad campaign against the current healthcare proposals. Unfortunately, Rick Scott’s credibility has been tainted as HCA/Columbia was hit with the largest fines for Medicare fraud at $1.7 billion.1

Ironically in 1995, two years before the fraud scandal was publicized, Scott won Financial World magazine’s silver award for CEO of the Year and was on Time magazine’s America’s 25 Most Influential People in 1996.

The NY Times article has a valid point that a detailed plan has not even been made public even though the tenants of reform are clear – nationalizing healthcare.

Scott still has a strong presence in urgent healthcare and walk-in clinics despite his shady past. He’s fooled us before, but we shouldn’t let it happen again. Even if Scott brings valid points to the debate, he’s also brings a tainted past and a bias we simply cannot afford to ignore.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/us/politics/02scott.html?_r=2&hpw

Montana breaking free
Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer, signed HB246, a Montana Firearms Freedom act, into law last month. I don’t want harp on the details of the bill or the second amendment. I’d rather point out how Montana has superseded Federal interstate commerce regulation.

This bill has become an example or model for states to regain their power and separate from federal control. Texas, Utah and Alaska have already followed the lead of Montana legislators with similar bills. The Supreme Court overturned a California law legalizing medicinal marijuana because it’s impossible to distinguish the product from “made elsewhere.”

Stamp guns “Made in Montana” and they should be free and clear of the feds.

This is just the beginning of states to fight back to maintain their sovereignty from an overreaching federal government.


GPS tracking
Wisconsin courts have upheld the police use of GPS tracking without a warrant, while a New York court says “no.” GPS is not considered part of a search therefore, a warrant isn’t currently required.

How are courts handle new technology is significant with the raging debates over civil liberties and privacy laws.


Quote of the Week
Insurance is not medical care. Indeed, health care is not the same as medical care. Countries with universal health care do not have more or better medical care. – Dr. Thomas Sowell

"State of the Nation" is ©2009 by Brandon Jones.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.