This is the place for my rants, raves, reviews and just general "stuff". May you be amused, enlightened, and perhaps even a little pissed off.


Death Panels? Already Here!

I watch the political fencing contest that is happening between the Democrats and the Republicans on health care and one of the dominant attack methods of the Republicans is to bring up the looming spectre of "Death Panels". As I understand it, those alleged "death panels" would convene to determine quite literally who would live and die based upon the treatments they allow. It seems to be getting some traction as an attack method, as its making the Democrats respond to it, however haphazardly.

The truly humorous thing is that the Democrats are letting the attacks work and not pointing out the simple fact that death panels already exist. After all, who determines who gets organ transplants. Who figures out which candidates are unworthy of a transplant due to factors that would affect the outcome of the transplant. For instance, chronic alcoholics will often find themselves on the bad side of a death panel when it comes to getting a new liver. I am fairly certain that its a group of health care workers that evaluate the issues against a relatively objective set of criteria, but ultimately there are subjective aspects for each of the participants.

Furthermore, the so-called death panels are entirely appropriate whether its for private or public insurance programs. Let's say, for instance, that a cancer patient faces certain death in the short term if they don't get a bone marrow transplant that optimistically gives them a 1/10% chance of survival. There are always more experimental treatments that give the faint glimmer of hope for tragically sick people, but often at extreme costs. For that 0.1% chance of survival the cost to the insurance company (public or private) is >$100,000 and that cost is borne by either taxpayers or other insurance policy holders, thus increasing the cost for all health care, all for a long shot at survival. Ironically, if that same person had the assets to pay cash for the transplant, they likely wouldn't do so to avoid bankrupting their family's future. The natural human inclination is usually to "go for it", if it's on someone else's tab. Perhaps it should be stated in a fashion more like "if you get the bone marrow transplant, $100k gets taken out of your grandson's school budget".

I seriously wish that the people making these decisions would use a little common sense and critical thinking skills. They are too busy thrusting and parrying to actually pay attention to what they are doing.


Red Herring Market

In watching the annoying hand-wringing of the current health care debate, I've noticed one thing. While watching
Senator Al Franken talk down an angry crowd, I noticed a strange uptick in the Red Herring market. I had seen it happen with other opponents and proponents speaking on the same topic, but it really didn't register. Each of the speakers brings up quite logical and intuitive things that are an utter load of crap. In Franken's case, he said that he had people come up to him and say that they would create start a small business, if not for some aspect of their health care setup that would not allow them to get insured, such as a pre-existing condition. Sounds sensible right? The problem is that most people dream of starting a small business but very few do a single damn thing towards that end. Not so much as setting aside a dollar for start, not read a brochure, and haven't even considered doing a business plan. So why is this red herring even introduced into the theoretically logical discourse. I can say that I am fully covered for lightening strikes, but lets not quibble over whether I am more likely to get hit, versus someone actually making a tangible move towards starting a small business.

I also noticed his mentioning of the old "I can't leave my job because of insurance" thing. Oh what a pity! It's just so horrible that they have to remain employed in perhaps a dead end job to stay nominally responsible for their families health care. In years past, men (and women) gladly stayed employed in jobs that were dangerous, and often deadly, (think miners and fishermen) to feed their families. I'm sure they would have loved to have more cushy jobs than the ones they have. Perhaps the whiners should take their pleas to the tons of unemployed people that would love to be employed. People need to do what they need to do to take care of their families. If it isn't what you want to be doing, figure out a way to do something that is more palatable. And stop whining!