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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, August 17, 2009

He's Heeere

Drop what you're doing and head on over to your nearest town meeting hall. Congressman Rick Boucher is coming to Southwest Virginia for a brief visit before he heads back home to his friends and neighbors in Washington D.C. and wants to hear from you.

If you have any questions about ... anything ... you might make one of these events.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
9:00 AM Edwards Hall
New River Valley Community College
Dublin, Virginia

Thursday, August 20, 2009
9:00 AM Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center
Abingdon, Virginia

I'll bet he's even got some pork money stuffed in his pockets to make y'all feel better about him and the company he keeps.

Wear your best duds, by the way. You don't want to make the Washington Post's "Worst Dressed" list.

It's All In The Demographics

The problem: 70% of all health care expenditures in the U.S. go toward keeping the elderly alive and as fit as possible.

70%.

Problem II: With each passing day the number of old people in this country grows.

Problem III: With the ongoing baby deficit, there are fewer and fewer young people in the labor pool proportionally to pay for the upkeep of the elderly.

Problem IV: With advancements in medicine, health care for the elderly has become wondrously effective and breathtakingly expensive.

Problem V: The elderly want and expect every advancement to be paid for by someone else.

"Someone else" being those young people in the labor pool.

Oh, add this into the mix: The elderly, more than any other demographic, vote .

With all that taken into consideration, one wonders what Barack Obama was thinking. He's going to improve care, reduce costs, and cover everyone? With no new taxes on those young workers? Is he back on cocaine?

Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, thinks there's a solution:
Telling Grandma ‘No’

If the Democratic Party’s attempt at health care reform perishes, senior citizens will have done it in, not talk-radio listeners and Glenn Beck acolytes. It’s the skepticism of over-65 Americans that’s dragging support for reform southward. And it’s their opposition to cost-cutting that makes finding the money to pay for it so difficult.

That’s because they’re the ones whose benefits are on the chopping block. At present, Medicare gives its recipients all the benefits of socialized medicine, with few of the drawbacks. Once you hit 65, the system pays and pays, without regard for efficiency or cost-effectiveness.

Medicare’s price tag, if trends continue, will make a mockery of the idea of limited government. For conservatives, no fiscal cause is more important than curbing this exponential growth.

Maybe Republicans will be able to cast themselves as the protectors of entitlements today, and then impose their own even more sweeping reforms tomorrow. That’s the playbook that McConnell, Brownback and others seem to have in mind: first, save Medicare from Obama; then, save Medicare from itself.

But for now, their strategy means the country suddenly has two political parties devoted to Mediscaring seniors — which in turn seems likely to make the program more untouchable than ever.

In this future, somebody will need to stand for the principle that Medicare can’t pay every bill and bless every procedure. Somebody will need to defend the younger generation’s promise (and its pocketbooks). Somebody will need to say “no” to retirees.

That’s supposed to be the Republicans’ job. They should stick to doing it. [link]
I winced when I read that last line. Republicans should stick to saying no to the elderly? Are these the same Republicans who voted in a massive entitlement for the elderly just a few years ago in the form of an oppressively expensive Medicare Part D prescription drug program?

I agree with Douthat's sentiment. The system is unsustainable. Especially considering the demographic trends.

But saying NO to all those people who have been told YES in the past is going to be darn-near impossible, even for the most stalwart politician (few of whom exist; see House VA-9 rep for prototypical wienie politician).

So we are where we are.

The real solution? Perhaps it's learning to live with the high cost of a great system.

If You Can Figure This Out ...

... you're a better man than me.

Three White House spokespersons quoted in the same article:
Administration Official: "Sebelius Misspoke."
By Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic

An administration official said tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "misspoke" when she told CNN this morning that a government run health insurance option "is not an essential part" of reform. This official asked not to be identified in exchange for providing clarity about the intentions of the President. The official said that the White House did not intend to change its messaging and that Sebelius simply meant to echo the president, who has acknowledged that the public option is a tough sell in the Senate and is, at the same time, a must-pass for House Democrats, and is not, in the president's view, the most important element of the reform package.

A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.

A third White House official, via e-mail, said that Sebelius didn't misspeak. "The media misplayed it," the third official said. [link] [my emphasis]
Three Obama officials. Three competing messages.

Get the impression there's some disarray in Wonderland?

* I particularly enjoyed that last quote from the official who felt the need to scold the Obama media for not following the administration's instructions and for getting off-message. How dare they.

Bad Timing

While Obama pushes hard to reform America's health care system, hoping to force upon it mountains of government control, the Canadians are looking to do just the opposite. Can there be a worse time for our President to read this news?
Overhauling health-care system tops agenda at annual meeting of Canada's doctors
By Jennifer Graham, Canadian Press

Saskatoon — The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.

Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.

"We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"We know that there must be change," she said. "We're all running flat out, we're all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands."

"(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now - if it keeps on going without change - is not sustainable," said Doig.

"They have to look at the evidence that's being presented and will be presented at (the meeting) and realize what Canada's doctors are trying to tell you, that you can get better care than what you're getting and we all have to participate in the discussion around how do we do that and of course how do we pay for it." [link]
Perhaps Canada will adopt a free market system that will keep costs low (don't think for a minute that health care there is "free") and bring much-needed improvements to its delivery system.

Hey, what a neat idea!

Wrong On Every Count!

John Kerry is such a loon. Give him a trendy crusade against a foe to whom he can brandish his steel and off he goes, like Don Quixote, slayer of monstrous giants of infamous repute!

Last month:

"We are here today to discuss a grave and growing threat to global stability, human security, and America’s national security. As you will hear from all of today’s witnesses, the threat of catastrophic climate change is not an academic concern for the future.

"It is already upon us, and its effects are being felt worldwide, right now. Earlier this year, a 25-mile wide ice bridge connecting the Wilkins Shelf to the Antarctic landmass shattered, disconnecting the Shelf from the Antarctic continent. In four years, the Arctic is projected to experience its first ice-free summer—not in 2030, but in 2013. The threat is real and fast approaching."

Alas.

It took Sancho Panza to break the news to the Man of La Mancha:

"It's a windmill."
Senator Kerry Misfires About Global Warming and National Security
By Christopher Monckton, Science & Public Policy

Senator John Kerry’s statement in early August 2009 about “global warming” before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs, was false in every particular, leading him to draw the incorrect conclusion that “global warming” was a threat to national security. The Senator got every fact wrong –

Wilkins Ice Shelf: Senator Kerry said the recent cracking of the thin “ice-bridge” linking the Wilkins Ice Shelf to the Antarctic Ice Shelf was caused by “global warming”. It was not: there has been no statistically-significant “global warming” for almost 15 years.

Arctic ice-cap: Senator Kerry said the Arctic ice-cap would vanish in summer by 2013 because of “global warming”. It will not, and, even if it does, “global warming” will not be the cause: there has been rapid global cooling for very nearly eight years.

Polar bears: Senator Kerry said polar bears were under threat from “global warming”. They are not: their population has increased fivefold since the 1940s, and they survived the last interglacial period 125,000 years ago, when there was no summer ice in the Arctic.

Famine and drought: Senator Kerry said “global warming” would bring more famine and drought. It will not: “global warming”, if and when it resumes, would cause the space occupied by the atmosphere to hold more water vapor, reducing drought globally.

Pandemics: Senator Kerry said “global warming” would cause worse pandemics. It will not: so-called “tropical” diseases can flourish even in Arctic temperatures. It is inadequate public-health measures, not rising global temperatures, that spread supposedly “tropical” diseases.

Natural disasters:
Senator Kerry said “global warming” would cause more natural disasters. It will not: hurricane activity is now at its lowest in half a century, despite warmer weather worldwide; and patterns of flood and drought are much as they always were.

Climate refugees:
Senator Kerry said “global warming would cause human displacement on “a staggering scale”. It will not: the only significant cause of human displacement would be rapidly-rising sea level, but this is not happening and is not likely to happen.

Middle East water supply:
Senator Kerry said “global warming” would shrink the water supply in the Middle East. It will not: water has been scarce there for 1000 years, and warmer weather is already moistening the atmosphere and greening hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of the Sahara.

Asian water supply:
Senator Kerry said “global warming” would melt the Himalayan glaciers, drying up the water supply of a quarter of the planet’s population. It will not: it is Eurasian winter snow cover, not the glaciers, that supplies Asia with its water, and that shows no trend in 50 years.

Sea level rising 3 feet:
Senator Kerry said “global warming” would raise sea level 3 feet. It will not: sea level rose 8 inches in the 20th century, is currently not rising at all, and will rise by little more than 1 foot in the 21st century. [link]

All that aside, this much is irrefutable: His wife makes good ketchup.