Saturday, September 26, 2009

Random Thoughts, Weekend Edition

I took a week off blogging, and it was nice to relax, but the world hasn't stopped to wait for me. Here are some highlights from the week that was.

PBS aired a must-see episode of Now, devoted to health care. I watched it, you can do so below. The episode highlights the horror stories, unfortunately all too normal in the U.S.A., of people who have been crushed by "the best health care system in the world" as Republicans shilling for the health-industrial complex like to call the tragedy that normal people call a disgrace to the nation.

While watching, I was asking myself: what have these people done that was so wrong that they ended up in their predicament? The answer: Nothing. It happened to them, it could happen to me, or you for that matter.

And talk about perverse incentives: The couple whose story is highlighted must earn as little as possible in order to be able to receive health care under Medicaid, lest their young daughter should go without needed care. They have had to turn down promotions and refuse raises, so they safety net that our maligned government provides to the poor would not be taken away from under them.

Their parents would like nothing more than to help, but they are buried under their own pile of medical debt: After two bouts with cancer, they are over $100k in debt, and risk losing their house.

Meanwhile, Dr. and Sen. Coburn (R-KS) preach about the fact that the government is the problem, not the solution, even as Medicaid was the only help the O'Reillys could get for their sick daughter. Unbelievable.

You can watch Now's report here.

In another health care horror story, Congressman and minority whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) told a woman who was asking what a relative without health insurance should do to treat the cancer she has been diagnosed with that she should try out one of the programs for indigent people (in other words, if you own anything let go of it and join the ranks of the indigent so you can get treatment) or that she should look for charities to help. Again, unreal.

Paul Krugman, the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, likened the United States, "on a bad morning", to Latin American countries (not a compliment, in case you were wondering, though one might say that some Latin American countries are at least on the right track these days). Krugman went on to say that we are not in good shape (an understatement) and that the American Dream is all but dead, at least for now, and that other countris are doing much better than the mighty U.S. of A. on many factors, including social mobility. Watch.

On Thursday, SNL nailed Glenn Beck down. If you have not seen it, watch this short clip:

To end this review of the week's best (and worst), Stephen Colbert puts Republicans (politicians and talking heads) to shame in this classic clip:

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