12/23/09 09:18 - 18ºF - ID#50641
"No to Health Bill:"
It's a good article, make sure to take the time to read it.
I don't know what to do.... *sigh* this issue is so important to me, you guys have no idea how many hours I've spent reading about it, researching, calling my representatives, calling and emailing leaders in congress, talking to people, blogging about it, even working with my church on a statement of conscience about the issue.... damn, it really has been like a part time job. I know way to much about the personalities of moderate US Senators who aren't even in my state, and how much campaign contributions they get from the health insurance industry, and who their spouse works for....
Our healthcare system is just wrong, and the debate about fixing it has been disgusting. We have some shady double dealing Democrats in this Senate, and the Republicans have been no help at all... ok, I don't know if you want to hear my rant, because I'm too tired to be careful with my words. I keep struggling to use language you can play on the radio.
What kind of healthcare system do I want to see? Medicare for All !!!!! But that's just out of the question because nobody will make a profit except for the actual freaking doctors, oh that would be awful. We might actually spend money on medical care.
Don't give me that bull about socialized medicine and the magical free market, unless you can tell me this; What value does the insurance industry bring to the system? They're just middle men, skimming off a few dollars off the top (33%) for no reason except to create a few more millionaires in their corporate offices by denying people care. We spend 16% of our national wealth on healthcare, at least 5% more than every other nation on earth.
You're sick? Pay or die. Oh we're scared of 'rationing care', and 'death panels', too bad that's what we have now! They're called "Insurance Companies" they decide what treatments we all get, and how much to charge for them, but they don't even see the patient! Doctors actually have to hire an extra person just to call the 1-800 number for the insurance company to find out if they can treat their patients or not. oh screw it, I'm ranting.
Why not Medicare for All? They tell me that Medicare doesn't pay enough to doctors and hospitals. Gee, no way we could possibly fix that... uh, maybe, raise the payments? Seriously, I bet it's a lot easier to raise the Medicare payments than it is to get the insurance industry to take care of their customers. How about I take my $360 per month that I pay my healthcare company, I give $200 to Medicare to help pay doctors more, and I take the other $160 and put it in my pocket, because that's what I save by cutting out the Insurance CEO who is making a million a month by trying to deny people care.
We also need to get rid of the Fee-for-Service system, which pays doctors and hospitals to provide more care, not better care. This often leads to duplicating tests, expensive procedures, and excessive prescriptions. 'Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning' is bad for business. Our system isn't about keeping people healthy, it's about waiting to you're sick and then trying to cure you with heroic and expensive medical procedures.
Why is our system so stupid? and why is it so hard to fix it? I'm just watching the Senate in disbelief.
Truth is, it's not that hard to fix. Just lower the age for Medicare, every few years, until everyone is covered. Get rid of the fee for service billing system. And lower the cost of education for doctors so we have enough of them to go around.
Study that graph for a minute, it says that our government pays more per person than any other government on earth, and that doesn't even count what we pay out of pocket for premiums, or what our employers pay into the system. Over all, we're $2,000 more per person than the next guy, which is Switzerland. Yes, it really is that out of control.
And for all that money we get lame results.
So back to the current bills in congress. I don't know what to do. The bill in the House was mostly better, but in the Senate we have a bunch of corrupt senators who are willing to take us all down for their own greed and arrogance. And I'm angry with the Republicans for not even trying to be constructive. I watched the Senate Finance Committee hearings, don't try and pretend that Republicans give a damn about doing anything, they refuse to cooperate with Democrats on principle (that principle is 'you suck, I hope you fail, and bring the country down with you so we can have power back'). Arlen Specter was already thrown out of the Republican party, and Olympia Snowe is probably next if she keeps talking to Democrats.
alright, I'm rambling. I'm not ready to give up on Healthcare Reform, maybe this is just the first step. But I really think the first step should be lowering the Medicare age to 55.
I'll close with the statement on Healthcare from my church.
"We are deeply concerned that medical treatment currently provided in the United States, is beyond the reach of many people.
Our belief is that every person should be treated compassionately. Each of us has unique value, and all deserve to live to the best of our potential. Healthcare is a basic necessity of life which our society has an obligation to provide. Medical treatment should not depend on one's current occupation, income, race, gender, age, disability, or medical background.
Every person will require healthcare at some point in their lives, and should receive the treatment they need.
We seek a more just, sustainable and simplified healthcare solution."
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/10/09 04:11 - 22ºF - ID#50530
I am not taking my camera outside! Here's the view from my windows.
This is my front porch. notice that it has WINDOWS! all this snow came through a 2 inch gap along the bottom. There's a bird in there now too, and it can't figure out how to get out.
Seems fitting that the world is gathered in copenhagen to talk climate change.
this is not natural. it was 45 here yesterday!
Location: Buffalo, NY
11/06/09 04:49 - 39ºF - ID#50235
Healthcare Bill Moving forward.
I support the Healthcare Bill in the House. I wish it did more, but it's a good start. and it will help millions of people.
Here's a sweet breakdown from FCNL, the Quaker Lobby
AARP and the AMA have both endorsed it
that's a good sign. AMA is the American Medical Association, made up of doctors and hospitals and such. the AARP, most of us know, that's for retired people. So I guess we can assume, based on their endorsement that the bill will not 'pull the plug on grandma'.
I'd definitely prefer it over the Republican proposal that was finally released this week.
A key difference between the two bills is that the Democrats forbid companies from denying you based on preexisting conditions. Actually here's an in depth and specific look at what the CBO said about the Republican bill, from the NY Times
well, there's the best analysis I've found so far to compare the Healthcare Bill from the Republicans and Democrats, if you find any better links, hook me up.
and I'm not going to discuss Republican fear mongering right now because I'm being civil :)
Location: Buffalo, NY
11/04/09 10:16 - 38ºF - ID#50219
war on the environment
I just wanted to mention this.
the Republicans are boycotting the committee meetings for the Environment and Public Works committee.
That committee is trying to work on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. That's how we build a 21st century economy so we can start making solar panels and other cutting edge stuff in America. I think that stuff is kind of important. But the Republicans aren't showing up. This is a video from the hearing, notice that the bottom half of the table is empty. The only Republican is James Inhofe, he stops buy for 2 minutes, drops off a statement and leaves. This is the video of that.
one of the things I hate about politics is when people put loyalty to their political party over loyalty to the country and its citizens. I think we should be talking about the environment right now.
This is especially a problem in light of the fact that the World is meeting to discuss Climate Change in Copenhagen in mid December
We need to get our act together.
Location: Buffalo, NY
10/30/09 02:49 - 62ºF - ID#50154
South Buffalo Fall Photos / Healthcare
Now is the crucial point to make your voices heard. Over the next week big decisions will be made. The Senate needs to feel the heat.
You know why people always break their campaign promises? Because after the election the voters are out of the picture, and the politicians are in fundraising mode. So they listen to the lobbyists and they don't hear a peep out of us till next election.
We can't sit back and hope the politicians hear us screaming through the TV. We have to make phone calls and send emails to lobby and make sure people in Washington Listen to us.
To Contact Congress call this number and ask for someone, 1-800-828-0498 it's toll free, call somebody new every day.
Or you can write to them, type something up and send a copy to everyone. You can look at the letters I quoted in my last post for ideas.
Here are the Senators that may need a bit of persuading.
Joe Lieberman, Connecticut
Bill Nelson, Nebraska
Evan Bayh, Indiana
Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas
Kent Conrad, North Dakota
Mary Landrieu, Louisiana
Susan Collins, Maine
Olympia Snowe, Maine
I know none of them are in our state, but just shoot them an email anyway, that's how lobbying works. You find out who's making the decisions and you target them. If you know anyone in these states reach out and ask them to call.
Now the fun pictures
Tuscarora rd. Cute South buffalo Street that runs paralel to Caz Park.
Love the brick roads.
This is a little triangle park, off Tuscarora
Caz Park Casino
Caz Park Soccer Game
Location: Buffalo, NY
10/27/09 01:57 - 61ºF - ID#50130
Of course I favor Medicare for All, but we didn't go down that road, so you gotta fight within the realm of the possible, so I've been fighting for the Public Option. Go here if you're not sure what the public option is
Go here to read the news about yesterday's Public Option announcement from Harry Reid
Or just Listen to Harry for yourself.
I really loved that press conference, it kinda seems like Harry's got his groove back. He's straight up, and ready to get something accomplished.
The Senate bill includes a provision that was just invented as a compromise between 2 senate bills, one had a Public Option and the other didn't. The new provision is for a National Public Option but individual states can opt-out if they don't think it is good for their state.
I think the Opt-out Public Option is kind of, brilliantly democratic.
If the people of your state don't like the Public Option, you have the freedom to chose another way, nobody is forcing you to accept the new way. But most of the American people want to be able to choose a public option. Medicare is a public option for people over 65, and it works fine, why can't I buy some of that? A few stubborn senators shouldn't prevent the rest of America from having that choice.
The point of a Public Option is to give us a choice. A non-profit choice.
The main complaint against the Public Option (socialism, marxism, fascism, communism, BOO!)..... well ok, the main rational complaint against the Public Option is that it will hurt a particular state or community, senators complain that it will hurt hospitals in their state, or that their constituents are afraid of it, or some other version of I'm responsible for my state above all else.
This provision throws the state based argument out the window. Now your state can opt-out if it wants to, but at least pass Healthcare reform and give the rest of us a choice. Arkansas, North Dakota, Louisiana, and Indiana, you can do what you want, but give the rest of us what we want. And if your constituents don't want the Public Option why don't we give them the chance to say no instead of taking your word for it.
I think this is a responsible compromise, it's all about democracy, let the people in the states decide.
But we have to bring down the costs somehow, cause we're probably wasting $850 billion per year on Healthcare in America.
This video pretty much summs up why I think the Public Option is so important
I've been lobbying about this for a while, and so have the Quakers. I've been on the phone (1 800-828-0498) and writing letters.
here's my latest letter, I sent this to Harry Reid and Obama over the weekend:
I'm a small businessman in Buffalo NY, the healthcare issue is very important to me. We need healthcare reform that works. I don't see too many downfalls to the opt-out compromise, But I don't like the trigger idea, I'm worried that it is an empty promise. We need a public option to guarantee competition and bring prices down ASAP. I strongly oppose mandating that individuals or businesses buy insurance without a guarantee that we will be protected from fraud and abuse. The way I see it, no public option, no guarantee. You can convince the Maine Republicans to support the opt-out provision.
I'm also speaking as a registered Democrat, and my father in law spent weeks in Pennsylvania volunteering for the Obama campaign.
Here's the one from last week, this went out to my representatives and the important people in the Congress,
I'm urging you to pass healthcare reform that works. I'm a Small Business owner in Buffalo NY and I've been paying close attention to the healthcare debate.
I support a Public Option. We need a strong non-profit health insurance option in order to reduce healthcare costs.
We need successful Healthcare Reform. This is not about ideology or political philosophy, it's about what works.
We pay more for Healthcare than every other country in the world and we get less for it, that is the key problem. Healthcare Reform must address the inflated cost of healthcare, or it will be a failure, it will be a missed opportunity, and the Democrats will take the blame.
I've seen all the proposals, I'm looking for a bill that will improve the lives of ordinary people and business owners who are struggling to keep up with rising healthcare costs.
I think the Baucus Bill is ambitious, but does too little to reduce costs. It requires everyone to buy insurance, but we have no guarantee that the product we're being forced to buy is safe, effective, or fairly priced.
The way I see it, no Public Option means no guarantee. America's health will still be at the disposal of for profit insurence companies that have no incentive to reduce the prices they charge.
Insurance companies need competition, and Americans need a guarantee that Healthcare Reform is going to work.
Include a strong Public Option.
one more funny video, this is fair and balanced fox
I love the part where they say, "Obama's Healthcare Plan, Scarier than Cancer?"
Location: Buffalo, NY
10/24/09 07:39 - 49ºF - ID#50097
Summer fun picture stories
Buffalo Small Boat Harbor, took this picture on a bikeride with molly.
This is the Beach at the end of Tifft Street, right next to the Small Boat Harbor on route 5. We like having a beach so close to our house, we go swim and canoe. It's so nice on those 90 degree summer days, you just go down and dunk yourself in the water.
the Fam at the same beach,
Molly on the boardwalk. There's a boardwalk and a pier at the beach too.
Labor day in Cazenovia Park, this was so fun, I love parties in caz park and I love Labor. It was a big homey barbecue nothing fancy, but just having the community get together and party after a parade, it's one of those wholesome things.
The labor day parade, Mickey Kearns in front, I marched with them and handed out fliers, helped tie balloons, fun stuff.
My favorite South Buffalo party, the Irish Feis and Expo. they have like 5-6 rockin Irish bands, like Jackdaw, Seven Nations, Emish... they also have Irish dancing troops, 2 stages, local businesses, food, drinks. The party starts around 2 and usually goes till 10:30. Bring your own beer or they have good stuff on tap like Guinness Harp, Spaten.. There's also a whole section for local businesses to set up tables. Very grassroots community oriented.
the women from Emish, I actually went to Fredonia with them, and they majored in Music :)
Irish Fest crowd shot.
Blue Heron Music Festival, near Jamestown NY
Main stage, it was muddy the first day
Tent Setup, this is where we slept at the festival. Dry and cozy :)
Muddy ruts, cars and... cows.
Parking lot was a bit of chaos. I got splattered pushing somebody out. but I did not get stuck thank you very much.
lots of sun, no rain that weekend. This is the last day.
That's all for now :)
Location: Buffalo, NY
10/20/09 10:57 - 53ºF - ID#50066
Summer Garden Photos
Here's some of the summer in photos.
Our house with sunflowers in front.
Our front garden when we just started.
Our back Vegetable Grden when it just started.
The first plants
Mid Season, lookin pretty good
Tomatoes on the left fence, cucumbers in the middle, I think I'm switching them next year and making a bunch of changes, I grew a little bit of everything this year to experiment, now I know what works.
some daily harvest, pretty nice
One of our absolute favorite ways to eat fresh garden veggies!! mmmm
Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, classic italian dish, the taste is purely the ingredients,salt and pepper is optional.
cherry tomatoes, I'm growing these next year. Most of the other tomatoes got molested by squirrels. The cherry tomatoes are delicious.
I did not grow this tomato, it came from Molly's parents in the country, but it is huge!! almost 2 pounds.
Yes the sunflowers were 8-9 feet tall
Molly on the steps
Location: Buffalo, NY
10/05/09 06:31 - ID#49936
Bible too Liberal?
Conservatizing the Bible
It seems like the "Conservative Bible Project" is really just some dudes with a website. Maybe it's just a fringe project, but something about it just strikes me as wrong.
I guess it bothers me that many of today's conservatives act like they own Christianity. But Conservatives conveniently ignore core principles of the bible and Jesus' teachings. Jesus preached non-violence, and he helped the poor, and told people to love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus rejected greed, violence, the glorification of power, wealth.....
Some bible quotes to back me up:::::
"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. [Luke 12.15.]
Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 19:23]
You cannot serve both God and Money. [Matthew 6:24.]
If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. [Matthew 19:21]
"But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [Matthew 6:15]
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. [Matthew 5:9]
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you; [Matthew 5:44]
I guess that's the point right... the Bible has a liberal bias. "Blessed are the peacemakers"?!?!? That's some hippie commie pinko subversive stuff. (maybe they don't think that belongs in their religion)
I think the big idea behind the bible was to establish a guidebook that helps humanity live to the best of our potential. Martin Luther King described it as the "Blessed Community". That's what they mean by "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" the idea is that Heaven is in perfect harmony, achieving that on earth would create a Blessed Community.
I know this is a bit of a touchy subject, and the same people who defend low taxes and limitless wealth may also be the first to organize a bakesale for a friend in need.
But what we tend to see from the conservative movement, is indifference to the poor, an increasing list of enemies to hate, glorification of wealth.... And for people in need, of say, healthcare, we hear, 'you're lazy, you made bad choices, you didn't earn my mercy, I deserve more than you do.'..... I don't know if that's fair, I'm trying to generalize without exaggerating.
Here's some excerpts from the Conservative Bible Project
"Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning"
"Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the "social justice" movement among Christians. "
It just rubs me the wrong way. I'm no expert on the bible or religion. But I just wanted to talk about this for a sec.
Location: Buffalo, NY
09/16/09 07:01 - 62ºF - ID#49789
Healthcare reform that doesn't help
They released another Healthcare plan today, we waited all summer for this one because it was supposed to be magically "bi-partisan". The bill is proposed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, the Finance Committee is supposed to vote on the bill by next week.
I'm calling it the "Baucus Bill" because he proposed it and he's probably the only guy who likes it (besides Insurance Company executives). I'm sure he worked his ass off trying to get Republicans and Democrats to agree, and that's a fine goal, but if the bill doesn't work, it's useless.
The Baucus Bill is the worst of both worlds.... I'm reading more details of this plan as I write, and it just gets worse.
1) Everyone is forced to buy Health Insurance. If you don't you will pay a fine.....
2) No Public Option. You are forced to buy Health Insurance from a Private Company.
3) And you can't buy insurance across state lines.
If you can't afford Health Insurance now, you will be forced to buy it. How much is it going to cost? Nobody knows, but there's nothing in this bill that will make it cheaper. The government option would be cheaper, because they don't have to buy advertisements or pay bonuses, but we don't get a government option. There is no added competition for the insurance companies, there is no incentive for them to lower costs.
4) Some of us get tax credits or subsidies to help us buy insurance. how much and who, is a little fuzzy.
5) Medicaid Income eligibility becomes 133 percent of poverty ($30,000 a year for a family of four) Childless adults making up to 133 percent of poverty ($14,400 for an individual) would be eligible for the first time, after but not till 2014...
This is what bugs me, Health Insurance is expensive, confusing, cruel, and an all around terrible product... Now we are being forced to buy it, and we still have no guarantees that the government will protect us from abuse.
The Washington Post analyzes the cost to individuals more specifically "as many as 4 million of the 46 million people who are currently uninsured would be required to buy coverage on their own, without government help, by some estimates. Millions more would qualify for federal tax credits, but could still end up paying as much as 13 percent of their income for insurance premiums -- far more than most Americans now pay for coverage. People further down the income scale would receive much bigger tax credits, effectively limiting their premiums at 3 percent of their earnings."
Alright, so the government is forcing us to spend money, they do that with car insurance too right? Yes, but you only buy it if you have a car, and nobody forces you to buy a car.
I have a problem with this plan, even if the government picks up all of the tab. If the government told all of us, "Private Health Insurance is too expensive, so we'll buy it for you!" I'm sure that would make a lot of people happy, but it does nothing to control costs! All it is is a gift to the health insurance companies that allows them to keep doing things the same way. "yea but they have to cover all pre-existing conditions now", thanks... apparently we're giving them a huge bailout for the favor.
OK, well, this is not the final plan, this is one bill out of many, but there's been so much emphasis on bi-partisan love that this bill seems like the most important for now... and it's absolute garbage.
A Public Option government plan will be cheaper because it is not for profit, it does not have to advertise and it will have enough people to bargain with insurance companies. Co-ops cannot do that, it would take 8-15 years for them to be competitive.
How are we eliminating waste, inefficiency and redundancy in the healthcare system? That's how we bring down costs. The Baucus plan is useless because it doesn't save us any money, maybe years down the road when a couple of those state based co-ops get enough bargaining power to help people within that state.
We need more guarantee than that. A Public Option or Medicare for All would save us money because it eliminates waste and inefficiency, it could offer cheaper insurance, and it would break the private insurance monopoly.
We have to do something that works.
The news is mostly bad, I'm tired of it. I was going to post some pictures, but I'm still working on that. And in the meantime news keeps happening. I liked the president's speech on healthcare, I think his plan might work, but I don't know how we get there.
Sorry for the rant. I swear I'm going to post about something besides healthcare soon. :)
Location: Buffalo, NY