U.S. Politics: Universal Health Care

Recently my wife and I visited Washington DC and met up with one of her friends who lives there.  They were lamenting that the ACA actually raised their Health Insurance costs rather than reduce it.

Well…  That can happen.  And in the case for the U.S. it probably will happen.  Trying to introduce a Universal Health Care this late in the game to the U.S. is going to go through some growing pains so yes, you may see an increase but in the long run, once you have EVERYONE under the one umbrella, it should end up being way cheaper.

But Universal Health Care is not just Insurance coverage though.  In Canada, from what I know, all Health Care Institutions are Government funded which means Government dictates, or sets the costs on what operations, treatments, tests etc. should cost.  And these figures are determined based on how much the people working in health care are paid, how much machinery costs, how much medication and consumables cost etc.  So a fair price if provided.  So basically in Canada, doctors visits, hospitals and such are a fairly level playing field.

In the U.S., as far as I know, Hospitals are for profit organizations and can set their own prices for treatments and such.  This means one hospital could cost a patient a vastly different figure than a different hospital.  Not a level playing field.

Plus the drugs.  U.S. citizens are buying from Canada because the same drugs are way cheaper.  I do not know what is going on there, sounds like the government(s) in the U.S. are a bit gutless when it comes to the pharma industry.  But this is also another reason why ACA will have issues initially.  U.S. Health Care Industry is really in a mess.

Why is Universal Health Care good?  Insurance is a ‘socialistic’ ideal.  This is potentially what drives some U.S. people batty because they think ‘socialistic’ with ‘communistic’.  But all other first world countries have figured it out that a ‘socialistic/communistic’ ideal can also be a ‘capitalistic’ ideal as well.  They are not necessarily independent of each other.

So what is the ‘capitalistic’ ideal of Universal Health Care?

A healthy employee is way more productive than a sick one.  Which means your company is that much more productive.  Which means you company is making more money (hopefully).  So providing Health Care for your employees is in your benefit.  However in the U.S., the Health Care Insurance is often provided by the Employer.  Let us take GM for instance.  Back in 2015 it was reported that they were paying $2 Billion for their hourly staff (yeah sorry, old reference but times have not changed a lot, the company is still on the hook for the costs.)  That is a lot of money to spend.  Now if the the state/country provided Universal Health Care through income taxes like they do in some Provinces in Canada and like they do in most European Countries, the $2 Billion spent by the company could be used for something else or reduce costs for the company.  This saves the company money, which is a ‘capitalistic’ ideal.  +1 for Universal Health Care.

Universal Health Care means one insurance option to handle the well being of everyone.  With insurance, the larger the pool, the more likely it will weather a crisis.  Right now in the U.S. that pool is divided among many insurance companies.  This means an insurance company can easily be wiped out if there is an epidemic or something.  And because of this the cost for the insurance should be higher.  However it may not be higher currently because insurance companies in the U.S. can avoid insuring someone’s pre-existing condition.  Which is such a dick move for a Health Insurance.  ACA prevented that from happening which of course now forced companies to up their insurance premiums.  This is part of the growing pain and partly why some people saw increases.  But it is the right thing to do.  Hell, it is necessary.  Not insuring for pre-existing conditions is not much better than not having insurance at all.

But smaller pools will incur larger premiums because the risk is much poorer than one big pool.  So being ‘capitalistic’, our goal is to reduce costs, and to reduce costs of Health Care Insurance is to make one big pool to mitigate the risks.  Universal Health Care.  Capitalism = Socialism in this case.

U.S. Politics: Child Separation

More logic that does not make sense.

I work in software development.  In the past on numerous occasions we were faced with the problem of having to deal with data in either multiple locations or in one location.  Multiple locations looked appealing because it may have provided a speed improvement.  However there was a cost with separating the data.

  1. You have to maintain links between the data and ensure those links are not broken.
  2. The above links makes the code and design way more complicated and way more difficult to design and code up.
  3. Next developer in will make mistakes because the design and code is way more complicated.
  4. User has to be aware where their data is.  If they want to transport some or all of their data they have to transport data in both locations.  More headache for the user.

Having the data all together in one place makes it simpler.  Coding and design.  Plus it is also simpler for the user.  One location to worry about.

So when I heard about this child separation policy the “Trump” instituted back in April/May, I am thinkin, “wow, that is one dumb move.”  You have essentially doubled the infrastructure to house, feed, and service these people which means you are wasting tax payer money to do this.  Keeping the children with their parents/guardians means that the chore of taking care of the dependents is no longer your (government) responsibility but the responsibility of the parents/guardians.  Infrastructure is way less, simpler, and cheaper.

As a someone who claims to be a shrewd business man, POTUS dun f’ed up on this one.  This is one business case that makes no sense.

And now that he has to return the dependents back to the parents/guardians, he has just incurred more cost to the tax payer because, surprise, surprise, ICE or whoever is responsible, failed to maintain proper links between the two.  Even having to use DNA testing to make the matches apparently according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  Which means more expensive work needing to be done, payed for by the tax payer, because the links were not properly made to begin with.

Terrible business acumen shown by the POTUS on this situation.   This is not smart or genius.

U.S. Politics: Trump as POTUS

I find the current U.S. government odd.  It is and is not typical U.S. politics.  The blatant, selfish, short sighted, rich white man point of view of the republicans and the fanatic piss poor followers of these idiots is perfectly understandable.  That has always happened in the past and stupid does stupid.

The thing that I do not get is the blasé attitude toward the tampering of elections from inside or outside parties.  If anything U.S. has always been fairly vocal, if not fanatical, about its defense of their democracy.  So when I start hearing POTUS and other republicans dismiss the investigation of election tampering, it gives me the creeps.  A true U.S. patriot should expect fair and democratic elections and if there is so much of a whiff of wrong doing, you investigate the crap out of that!  It does not matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Libertarian or sane.  A true patriot defends their democracy and not dismiss it.

I still remember many U.S. based TV shows when I was growing up about a strict republican or military dad lamenting about “Commy loving bastards” for anything remotely socialistic or having to deal with communist countries in any fashion (Russia, China, Cuba, etc.)  Right now, POTUS is a Commy loving…  Bastard…  and the kicker is he represents the Republicans as well.  Where has the U.S. gone so wrong?

Trump…

A part of me wants Trump to win.  The part that is saying that the comedy from the comedians will be outstanding and that part that wants to see what method Trump will use next to shove is foot in his mouth.  However the rational side of me is melting inside on the sheer dread that this guy may be the next POTUS because of the complete unthinking, nonsense that is spewing from that same mouth that is occupied by which ever foot is currently being munched on.

Makes me wonder at what point will Trump followers realize that Trump is an utter embarrassment to the country.

I applaud the GOP representatives like Cruz who had the balls to not ‘endorse’ this buffoon.  The vilification from the rank and file to Cruz and others, the assertion that if you are republican you MUST support the chosen one no matter how much a fool he is, reminds me of the brain washing the Chinese did during Mao and similar communist regimes, or dare I go there, the Nazi regime.  It seems the political parties in the US; ok not just the US but it’s the US politics I’m talking about today; have forgotten about their freedom of speech.  Cruz and others have the right to voice dissent.

I hope people will eventually forgive Cruz and other and realize Cruz and others were actually right in their opinions.  Mind you, this is not saying I like Cruz and some of the others either.  They are crazy in their own way.

Prime Minister elbows someone…

The Prime Minister (PM) accidentally hit a fellow Member of Parliament (MP), and everyone is going ape over it.  So I decided to have a look at what actually transpired.  Having done that, I can only wonder why people are reacting so out of proportion to it.

From what I see of the video.  A Conservative MP was trying to navigate an aisle clogged by NDP MPs who were milling about there.  Look closely and you will  notice that one NDP MP is deliberately obstructing the path.  Making no effort to make himself ‘small’ to allow someone by.  From what I can tell it looks like Wayne Stetski of Kootenay BC.  Not many NDP men have gray hair and black glasses (at least from NDP’s web site.)  So the whole situation started life with an NDP, or potentially the lot of them clogging the aisle, being utterly discourteous to down right contemptuous to a fellow MP.

The PM seeing the plight of the Conservative MP comes up to help the MP being held up to navigate the aisle.  Unfortunately the PM didn’t do so as elegantly or with as much class as he wanted and the elbow happened.  However, looking at the group of NDP MPs that were obstructing the aisle, none of them made an effort to ‘move out of the way’ even when it became obvious that they were.  So it makes me believe that their behavior was completely intentional and that the above Mr. Stetski was being a bully, or dare I say, ass.  And because the NDP MPs made no effor to move, the elbow was almost inevitable.

It is true the PM should not have done anything in this case.  It is not his duty to keep order in the chamber but the person who’s duty it is to maintain order was either unaware or not doing his job.  Also the Conservative MP may not have appreciated the help either which I can understand as well but I see the actions of the PM partly in an altruistic sense even though it may be also in a selfish sense.

To me the only punishment necessary is an apology for his actions which I understand happened three times already by the PM.  But I would even go as far as making NDP MPs Stetski, MP Brosseau (who unfortunately got elbowed), and MP Thomas Mulcair (yup, that is the big guy at the left) to apologize for being very impolite to the Conservative MP and for not knowing better manners about blocking an aisle.  As I understand, they were asked to return to their seats for a vote an yet they seem to make no effort to do so.  An apology for showing contempt to the government or speaker who ever issued the request to return to their respective seats.

I feel ashamed for having supported the NDP if this is the ‘best’ way they can think of at being part of the ‘opposition’.  That is a thug tactic.  I would even say kudos to the PM for being a man of action to the embarrassing behavior of the NDP MPs.  Someone needs to call them out on their poor behavior.

What I also find a little embarrassing is Mulcair yelling in the PM’s face “You’re Pathetic!” multiple times…  Pot let me introduce you to kettle.

This is in no way to belittle the elbow that MP Brosseau suffered but she has to realize her part in the fracas.  She is not completely without blame here.

I cannot argue against his use of the crass language by the PM. But this looks like the PM showed the MPs who are offended the same amount of respect that they showed the Conservative MP.

I disagree with “the PM should be held to a more stringent standard.”

1. All party leaders had the potential to be PM. So they need to conduct themselves to the same stringent standard as the PM even if they are not PM at the moment or never expect to be PM. Not being PM does not excuse them from bad behavior.

2. All party members who are not the party leader also have the potential to be party leader. So even if they want or do not want to be Party leader, they should still conduct themselves to the same stringent standard.

As a result EVERY MP should be conducting themselves as if they were PM regardless if they are or not. There is no excuse to behave poorly. Moms should be embarrassed.

Yes, I will concede that the PM probably was not trained up enough to be an MP or PM and that shows an issue with how we prepare the MPs for the role. This does not excuse ‘career politicians’ for lashing out insults and who probably have gone through the ‘training’ a number of times. They should know better.

I will say the PM should be asked to take another course or training in being an MP and in ethics issues. He has already apologized so that part of the requirement is already done. More than this is not really warranted in my opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BVN5QzzaLI

Canadian Election 2015: Niqab

Now I know this may garner me a little bit of flack but I am going to risk it.  I do not often agree with the Conservatives but I do agree with them about their stance on the Niqab.  The full face covering that some Muslim women wear. The Conservatives are against the use of a Niqab.  NDP recently mentioned that they support it.  I do not know what the stance of the other parties are on this matter.

The argument being made by these women is that it should be protected by their freedom of Religion.  And this is where I have a problem.  They may believe it is mandated by their religion but a lot of Muslims will disagree and say that it really is a cultural mandate and not a Religious one.  Some may say I or we are splitting hairs but, I will admit if I am wrong, Islam teachings specify a ‘conservative’ dress code and not the over the top dress code you would get with a Niqab.  That was dictated by men in those regions of the Middle East due to whatever cultural reason.  In Canada, there is no cultural reason for a Niqab and so it should not be allowed.  Note, I am saying cultural not religious.  I believe the Niqab is cultural and not religious so it should not be protected under the Freedom of Religion laws.

Plus I would support Banks and Corner Stores who mandate that no face covering of any kind (Helmets, ski masks, Guy Fox masks, Niqabs, etc.) are allowed.  They do that to make it harder for robbers to hide their identities.  It happens in the Middle East where wanted men would hide under women’s garb to avoid capture and detection.  Who’s to say it would not happen here.

I understand it might be a cultural shock for the women to leave the house without one but it is something they should be encouraged to do here.  Canada is a pleasant place to live without bringing it down with oppressive cultural artifacts from less pleasant places.  And yes, it is an oppressive cultural artifact.  Anyone who really argues against it really never grew up in a freer society like Canada.

I actually find it rather sad for those Muslims who dictate a public dress code for their women.  I see quite a few near my work where they have a head scarf and their long…  I do not know the correct name but I will call it a “Moo Moo”.  I see their little girls and boys in normal clothes and cringe that eventually those little girls will be forcibly told they will have to dress like their mom one day and if not, there will be consequences.  This will bring a lot of confusion and heart ache for these girls as they see their brothers not having to abide by any similar nonsense.  It makes me worries that these families will eventually force their girls back to the Middle East to get married and fall in line with their “Culture”.  It is a cruel fate for them if that happens having lived in a society like Canada and then send to a place where their freedoms that they enjoyed here are next to non-existent there.

That is my stance.  It may not be a popular one but I just think that when “Religion”, or more correctly, “Culture” is dictating an unfair disparaging dress code and rules specifically for women, we should not stand for that.

Canadian Election 2015: POT!

Like the last point Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (JT) was getting a knocked by a Conservative attack ad about “Not being ready” partly for saying he would legalize pot.

Let us think back for a while, or not.  Sleeman’s does plenty to remind us of the prohibition era and how we once had a similar thought about alcohol.  Now it is legal, taxed, and enjoyed responsibly by millions.  There are a few that are not as responsible but then, all those tax dollars come in handy to fund the programs that deal with substance abuse and such.

But then there is also the medical benefits which municipalities are finally wising up to and are now allowing medical pot to be sold for those who suffer from cancer and other ailments that prevent them from properly eating or living.

Yes it is more serious a drug than nicotine but I would probably put it on par with over indulging in alcohol.  Both are equally bad when consumed irresponsibly.  But since we have alcohol, pot is not that different.

So legalizing it, we tax it.  Those taxes will help pay for the substance abuse expenses the government pays for already.  Police will no longer have to deal with the crime freeing them up to concentrate on more serious crime.

In the end, is it really such an out in left field thought?  Have Police, Hospitals and Doctors, and the sick indicated anything that this is such a bad idea?  Or is this just old fashioned prudish thought at work that “we just can not have that in our society!”

To me, it is not a small issue.  Legalizing pot could have a huge positive impact on our society.  Granted, I hate the smell, that would be the only reason I would ban it.  Which is pretty pathetic as a reason.

Disclaimer: I am not Canadian, so I cannot vote in the upcoming election.  That attack ad just irks me and makes everyone in that ad look like a glib idiot.

Canadian Election 2015: F35 Fighter.

I am not really a fan of politics.  Especially when all I see is attack after attack which just amounts to the people involved looking like a bunch of babies.  Grow up.  Work together and make something great.

One thing I recently came across was the stance on the F35 fighter purchase from Lockheed Martin.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (JT) wants to scrap it.
Conservative Leader Steven Harper (SH) started the purchase order so he is committed to buy them.  And basically saying that JT out to lunch in the process.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair (TM) says he’ll back the fighter because, basically, it has gone through a process and we just cannot back out so easily.  He might be right but still, seems like a very politic answer.
Green Leader Elizabeth May (EM), I am guessing, is also against the planes, but no real mention what they would plan to do if they were in power; or at least I do not see anything as definitive as JT’s statement.
(Sorry Bloc Quebecois, I do not really care what you think.)

Personally, from what I have read and heard about the F35.  We are better off without them.  Like in this Youtube video from the 5th Estate and there is something similar from 60 minutes if you google..  Around 27:10 sums up the plane from other places I have read and heard. They are not great for…  basically everything.  The newer Russian planes, the Eurofighter, the Super Hornet and probably our aging fleet of CF18s are probably better than these planes in some way or another.  This plane has been designed to fit too many situations such that design and specification compromises had to be done in order to fit the bill.  The end result.  Neat looking plane, shame it will put our pilots at risk.

So JT out to lunch?  I do not think so. Unless the Conservatives really bent over and let Lockheed Martin royally shaft them on the deal that backing out and buying an equal amount of half the cost Super Hornets will amount to about the same cost, then I would agree, JT “may” be out to lunch.  However, even in that scenario, we would probably have a better plane that that is way cheaper to service because the Super Hornet is not too different than the CF18s that we currently have.  So we have the expertise to maintain them and we do not have to re-equipe with entirely new hardware.

Hey, I am a guy, I like new toys as much as anyone else.  But if those toys do not add up or are way too expensive, then I am definitely not going to buy.  That is the reason I have a Denon receiver paired with a PS3 for bluray and Totem Arrow/Dream Catcher speakers instead of a Bang And Olafson with Bowers and Wilkinson Speakers.  (Mind you, I actually really like the look of the Totems over anything from BW but that is besides the point.)  I bought within my means.  Canada should as well.  Which means, F35 is not really our jet even though SH and the Conservatives would like to think it is.

So I think JT and EM are probably on the right train of though.  TM is being diplomatic I suspect.  SH is committed and, I get the impression, someone who will not admit to being wrong and will stay the course no matter how painful it will be.  A change in decision would appear, in their eyes, would be a very grave error politically.

Disclaimer: I am not Canadian but I live here as a Permanent Resident.  So I can not vote in the upcoming election.  I will say I am biased against the Conservatives mainly because of their record on stifling scientific research that does not agree with them, their obvious military slant as well as jails building.  This is by no means a claim of support for any party even though it might appear to be supportive of JT.  I do not take everything as it is given to me.  If it sounds off then I will “Question Everything, Trust Nothing, and Verify.” (Not an exact quote but was part of lecture I attended once.  Or in other words, “Think”.