Saturday, February 20, 2010
Reaching Out across the Aisle
It seems to me that Obama reached out and across the aisle from the very beginning. He took a proposal to reform the health care system that was very similar to a plan Republicans had presented as an alternative to President Clinton's plan. Obama's plan is very similar to the plan enacted in Massachusetts and to a plan proposed by some Republican legislators here in California a few years ago. The features of this "Republican" plan are as follows:
- Tort reform, to relieve doctors from excessive punitive damages in malpractice cases
- Require that everyone have health insurance, so that insurance companies can base their premiums on the entire population and not just the population that needs and buys health insurance. This feature provides that the cost of caring for the sick is borne by everyone, not just other sick people.
- Require that insurers insure everyone and do not reject applicants for insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
The Republican plan does not include the option of "Medicare for all," or any other non-profit plan sponsored by government. Mr. Obama was careful not to include such features in the plan he proposed, although when his more liberal or progressive supporters asked, he said he wasn't opposed to such features.
Obama proposed that the nation enact the Republican plan (of a few years ago) for reforming the nation's health care system. If that isn't "reaching across the aisle to Republicans" I don't know what is. I have to believe that the Republicans really don't want any reform at all.
Labels: Universal health care
Saturday, February 06, 2010
A crack-pot idea
But today our government officials are beginning to realize that these deficits are not simply temporary problems associated with the recession. They are permanent, structural deficits. They were put there by actions of the people at the ballot box. The public was convinced some time ago that government wasted a great deal of the money it collected in taxes. The public voted to place severe restrictions on the ability of the State and of the City to increase revenue by increasing taxes. In the case of the State, the restriction is applied to the legislature. A 2/3 vote is required in each house for a tax increase or for enacting a budget. In the case of the City (or county or other local government) a 2/3 vote of the public is needed for a general tax increase.
These restrictions were cleverly inserted in a popular initiative designed to permit retired people to remain in their homes in spite of the large escalation in the cost of houses and the consequent increase in the real estate tax. In spite of warnings about the consequences, the public enthusiastically voted for the tax relief on old mom and old dad. The consequences are here and it's high time to do something about them.
I write about Proposition 13, of course. It was part of the "Tax Revolt" of the 1970's and 1980's. The argument in favor of the tax revolt was that government was too big and the revenue needed to be reduced so that the elected officials would have to run the government on less money and thereby make it smaller. Unfortunately, the public kept electing officials who were not at all in sympathy with the ideology of "smaller government." These officials were concerned with the needs of the people who elected them and tried to find ways to provide and fund services that they demanded, such as better schools, better medical services, better services for the elderly, more and better libraries, more police, more fire protection, etc.
I have a crack-pot idea. These services are needed because the population of the city and state are increasing. Suppose we establish a State lottery with winners and losers. Actually, it wouldn't be a lottery. The way it would work is this: tickets would be sold to all individuals who wished to stay in the State. One could pay as much or as little as he wished for a ticket. A commission would examine the revenue and decide how may people could be serviced with that revenue. A cut-off would be established on the ticket price. If you paid less than the cut-off amount, you would lose your right to stay in the State. In that way the population could be reduced to the amount that could be serviced by the available revenue.
Of course, reducing population would reduce the next year's revenue and a new lottery would be required to reduce the population even more. Etc., etc., etc. In this way the ideal of reducing the State government to virtually nothing, the ideal of Howard Jarvis, would be achieved at the same time as reducing the population of the State to virtually nothing.
Isn't that a great idea?
The Improbable Me
The conundrum of my existence is more puzzling than the conundrum of my end of existence. When I cease to live, the cells in my brain that contain my memory will die and rot. Those 86 years of memories will simply vanish. Nothing will be preserved that I haven't written and saved somewhere. There is no probability calculation here. When I die, my memory dies with me.