Gas Prices…

24 04 2008

I listened to Bill O’Reilly ask a guest of his the other night on ‘The Factor’ who is it who puts the price on a barrel of oil? He couldn’t quite come to grips with the guy’s answer, for like most of us, we want somebody to blame. Someone we can name, point to and say “It’s THEY!” But, the sad reality of all this is, “They” is really “Us” … to a large extent anyway. Gas prices have less to do with the emerging China market or any dwindling supply, and they certainly have less to do with people driving “GASGUZZLERS” then we say and think. Supply and demand? Well, that’s a pretty much a crock; too, with the exception of as long as the demand is there, there is no incentive for prices to come back down… And those people telling you we need to increase the tax on gas to discourage consumption …well, we DO need to reduce our consumption…, but ALL THEY REALLY WANT IS YOUR MONEY! Paying more to make the price less isn’t really a wise strategy. Just the typical way many politicians think.

The supply is manipulated directly by the suppliers. OPEC, Venezuela, even us right here in America. The supply is manipulated by how many rigs are pumping, and how much stockpile they wish to keep. There is no real “shortage” of oil. Not in the near term anyway. Besides, we have some of the largest reserves of oil in the world right here in America. In the Gulf, off the California coast, and in Alaska. We’ve limited our domestic production for our own purposes. Worrying about the potential for harm to our ecosystem and beauty of our California coastline. Worrying about harming the landscape and wildlife of the vast Alaskan nature reserve. Those are decisions we’ve made and live with, but they do affect our domestic supply.

The real culprit, as for as Oil and gasoline prices go, is the market. Speculators and profiteers. Oil is a commodity, just like wheat, corn, or cotton. As long as someone is willing to pay the price that’s what the price will be. And apparently the demand is there to support the price, because someone is still willing to pay that high a price. Speculators buy oil with the intent of selling it later for a higher price. Oil Companies and refiners buy the oil to convert it to petroleum based products. We buy those products, and as long as we continue to they will keep producing them for us, whatever the price. Speculators read the market and try and forecast what we will be willing to pay for the end product. That’s how they make money, seeing just how much they think they can get out of the marketplace from people’s willingness to pay. And right now they are making a bunch of money. After all, it’s a commodity, and higher prices mean higher profits!

Gasoline prices are much the same, but are even more volatile. The demand for the supply keeps prices high, but there is something we need to take note of here – Oil company profits rose in direct comparison to the rise in price. Nothing else in the market has really changed. There is an adequate supply of crude to turn into gas. Undoubtedly, a couple of years back hurricanes Katrina and Rita put a dent in our supply, directly affecting our nearby gulf operations, from which we do get a goodly amount of our oil. And yes it did shut down refineries in the area. But the main effects of those hurricanes were caused by our artificially low refining capacity. That lack of refining capacity is a mechanism which the oil companies use to increase price by withholding supply. And the oil companies aren’t interested in building more refineries to increase that supply. Why should they when they can make more with less? Do you see anyone building more? No. In fact they have a lot of refineries shut down. The fact is that we even have a lot of regulations that discourage building those refineries. And they don’t complain about that because they aren’t really interested in building any new ones anyway. See, a big supply, or stockpile, would only increase volatility in the market that they can’t control. And if they can’t control it they don’t see any self interest in doing it, consumer be damned. The main thing that Katrina and Rita did was give them “reasons” to raise prices. Other than a short term ‘spike’ until local supplies could be replenished from an abundant world supply, it was just an excuse. Why do I say the world supply was abundant? Because about that same time Saudi Arabia cut its production, for they were pumping more than they could sell. But during that “crises”, with the outages, shortages, and all the long lines, the oil companies, or rather “Gas” companies, made record profits! If you think I’m lying just go check their quarterly reports.

Now I’m all for oil companies making profits. Those companies have stockholders and stockholders are people. Remember, when those companies make money, that’s people, maybe even you, certainly your neighbors, making money! And that means jobs, which means even more people making money. But, then again, we can cut off our nose to spite our face! Dollars are dollars, and more spent here means less over there. If I put more of my paycheck in my gas tank, somebody else is going to see less of it. The grocery store, or pharmacy, or local discount store…whoever, will have to take the hit. That’s what price gouging really is. When I have to divert more of my resources away from where I wish them to be, I’m being gouged. Especially when there’s no good reason for it. And when someone is making record profits when there’s supposedly some crises driving up prices, well….!?!

We need to worry about more than just our ability to fill our tank at the gas station. This current situation has the potential to harm much more than just our ability to run the roads. Our whole economy is at stake here. Almost everything we do is transportation based. The high cost of diesel fuel is driving up the cost of just about everything. EVERYTHING. Everything has a cost related to transportation. Take food, for instance. Farmers have to turn the soil and prepare the seed bed. Then plant. Then harvest. All of that has a fuel cost. Then after harvest they have to transport the crop to, say, a grain elevator (storage facility). Then it has to be shipped to whoever turns it into a usable product, such as flour, or meal, or can of peas…, whatever. Then it must be transported to a distributor, who then must transport it to the grocery store. Transporting that crop time and time again all adds to the cost, not to mention the fact that you then have to go and get it. Just about everything we do has a fuel cost added to it. And, to top that off, our economy is suffering right now do to the natural rise in prices associated with the rise in the minimum wage. We’ve just started that process, with another hit coming right around the corner. (Remember, too, our elderly, and those on pensions or other fixed incomes, got no such raise…their “check”, in effect, just got lowered.) And it’s our economy where our country is most vulnerable.

Oil will eventually run out. Artificially, or for real. Even so, right now there are still vast untapped reserves, even right here in the U.S. But will we want to tap those reserves? Even with all this going on …probably not. Is it in our best interest to diversify our energy supply with alternate fuel sources? Most assuredly so! It would absolutely be in our own best interest not to have to rely on one main source, or industry, for so much of our energy needs. But lets not BS everybody with SUV’s and China and other reasons for what we’re paying at the pump. We’re paying out the you know what for gas because that’s the way “They” want it. (And that’s why ‘they’ made more money in the last few years than ever before!) Remember though, “they” are “us”.

Gas prices will eventually come down, at least some. Why? Because we’ll get tired of paying the price, and they will have gotten out of the market what it could bare at the time. Supplies will change (artificially) and they will still sell it to us at a price that they know we’ll pay. And they will still make a profit …and a big one at that. You can do that when you control the supply. In the meantime we fuss and grunt and groan. Other areas of the economy suffer. The elderly and the poor suffer worse. Those that depend on travel for their livelihood bend over and bare it, or look for something else to do. And we wait, just like we’ve done many times in the past, till relief comes. And it will come. Because if they want to stay in business and continue to make those profits they can’t afford to bleed us dry. Even if we do diversify our energy resources, unless we drastically change our lifestyle in some very unappealing ways, the need for them will always still be there. And the price will still be what the market will bare.

So, when you think about something like adding taxes to decrease demand remember this, you’re only giving somebody else a chunk of your money. That, and putting the squeeze on those that aren’t wasteful, and already hurting from high gas prices. Many people are trapped by this situation, and those people are the vast majority. Why punish them to punish the few who are wasteful. If I can pay 50 – 60k or more for a big SUV, I’m not going to be too concerned with gas prices. And as far as generally reducing consumption? Consumption is jobs, and jobs are good things, so we must tread lightly there. The supply will still be what the suppliers and the oil companies wants it to be, and we’ll still be paying them what they want us to pay. And their profits will still be there. If they want to make X, we all know one way or another X is what they are going to make. The only ones suffering will be us. And just from one more reason.

What we need to be concerned with is getting the “Big” oil companies themselves to diversify into alternate energy sources. They have the pockets deep enough to do it. Some are, and that’s a good thing. If they can be shown that they can keep a hand in the marketplace while helping to reduce our oil and gasoline consumption we stand a good chance to make real changes in energy dependence. Especially our foreign energy dependence. Forcing lifestyle changes hasn’t worked and probably won’t. This IS America, after all. Being overly concerned with big cars or trying to force reductions in usages through taxation may sound legitimate on face value. Besides, change is best made when it comes naturally. But swinging swords at windmills will get you nowhere fast.

Are there legitimate reasons to worry about gas prices and the supply of gas and oil? Absolutely! That’s why what is happening now is such a bad thing. If there were to be a real shortage created by a geo-political crisis, this holding down of supply would cause a real disruption in availability. The stockpiles are just not there to help ride out a situation such as happened back in the seventies. True market prices would take over and prices would climb much higher. Then owning that big SUV would be a real liability. But remember too, it would all stem from the market being so manipulated in the first place. Now, THAT’s the reason we need to have alternative energy sources. Cause, as it is now, if everybody’s car got 50 miles to the gallon, or 100, the gas companies would see to it that there was only enough gas available to supply those cars (remember supply and demand). And at a price that they can make a hefty profit. So, what’s the difference what kind of mileage you get when it comes to supply …if you still need a part of that supply to go those miles? And again, any disruption…

…and they would still blame it on us.

-Al

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WMD’s. Where did the story go?

22 04 2008

The UN Weapons Inspection Team found, verified, and oversaw the destruction of  large amounts of WMD’s in Iraq after the first Gulf war. However, a fair amount of  WMD’s that the inspectors knew to exist went unaccounted for. Iraq, a country known to keep meticulous records on any and everything, claimed that those weapons had been dismantled, but any record of there destruction had either been lost, or gone unrecorded. The inspectors had no way of verifying it, but, the Iraqi’s assured the world, those WMD’s no longer existed. We didn’t buy it. The UN didn’t buy it. Germany didn’t buy it. France, England, Russia, Poland, and any other country you’d care to mention didn’t buy it either. And with the cat and mouse game that Iraq kept playing with the inspectors, we were positive that these weapons were hidden away and that Iraq also, most probably, still had an active WMD program. The high probability that those weapons still existed was a large percentage of the reason that we went into Iraq.  The fact that the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was threatening to give these types of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups was well known to our intelligence agencies. Hussein was known to be a outspoken and active  supporter of various terrorists groups, mainly in Israel. His supplying even one of these weapons to a terrorist group was too great a risk to chance. The UN Inspectors kept asking for more and more time to try to find those weapons, weapons they felt most assuredly still existed, but time ran out.

 

After our forces went into Iraq and failed to find those WMD’s, and finding only hints of any ongoing WMD program, our government began talking up other reasons we had to go after Saddam and his rouge regime. While in fact those reasons were many, the WMD aspect had been an ‘easy sell’. Although we found only a limited tie to the Al Qaida terrorist organization, just a couple of training facilities, Saddams ties to other terrorist groups was well founded. In fact it was discovered that it was actually Osama Bin Ladden that had rejected help from Iraq. Seems Bin Ladden didn’t care much for the Iraqi dictator either. But as far as WMD’s go, a bunch of people jumped on the “never existed, I told you so” bandwagon. The other reasons never mattered to them in the first place, THIS, was a political “got’cha” they couldn’t let pass. Sure, they supported it when it was popular to do so, and after all, it was for the good of the country. But that was back then, politics is now.

 

Now, however, its discovered we actually did find those WMD’s that the world was looking for. Over 500 of them! Recent, and ongoing finds of the very same WMD’s for which the inspection teams had searched, and what was a large basis for which we went into Iraq in the first place. The very one’s that the opposition claim now to have never existed. But, where did the story go?

 

I noticed on the news, after the story of their discovery broke, various officials voiced concern that some of these weapons had actually been found months ago but news of the finds had been withheld. Some, however, speculated that these weapons weren’t “current” weapons. Some even said that finding them wasn’t relevant. Some say they aren’t even the ones we were looking for. One outspoken member of that UN Inspection team which failed to find these weapons before we went into Iraq now says that these weapons are “old” and “degraded”, and finding them now is meaningless. Meaningless? But these ARE some of the very weapons that we were searching for all along. They were looking for past stocks of weapons that Iraq had been known to have possessed. Sure they are old, they date back prior to at least 1991; and we had been looking for them for almost ten years!  And now we discover that  we’ve actually found them, after we were told they didn’t exist at all! But again, where did the story go? It made the news, but what, for only a couple of days?

 

Is it possible that now its in nobody’s best interest to have this out there? Apparently a lot of people missed the story. It’s sure not something mentioned in the current election. And it’s still pretty much ignored on the blogs and message boards. The haters are still calling Bush a liar and same such BS. For sure the democrats have a lot riding on people not knowing that these weapons have been found. The republicans seem to want to avoid even the mention of them.  Has the administration spent so much time and effort promoting the other reasons for the war that they, too, don’t want to revisit this issue? Maybe they don’t want to play the “I told you so” game. Quite frankly, whatever this administration does will be spun by both sides. Maybe both sides just don’t want this out there for fear of it being used against them. Maybe “WMD’s” is now a pariah. Or perhaps the WMD issue is just “played”. Even the press doesn’t seem care about them anymore. Maybe too many analysis and editorials about them not being there have been written. Maybe too many apologies would have to be made. Too many high and mighty people would have to….?

 

We know that George Bush doesn’t play to polls, and its obvious that he really doesn’t care what the popular opinion of himself is. It would be so easy for him to throw this back into the face of those that have constantly harped about his taking us into Iraq. Rub the nose of those that have constantly called him liar, or worse. But he knows that history is on his side. History will record that they were there. He knows that the right thing for the country is more important than the right thing for the man.

 

Nothing changes the fact that those weapons have now been found. And President Bush was right all along. And President Clinton. And the UN, and Kerry and Gore and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Germany and France and England and Russia and Poland and Pelosie and Kennedy and Lott and Schumer and Powell and on and on. They were all right. They told us they didn’t exist, but those WMD’s were there all along. Bush didn’t lie after all.

 

What can’t be found is the story about it.

 

-Al





Immoral? Unjustified??

21 04 2008

 

The question has arisen, were we justified in invading Iraq? Some say yes, some no. Some stake there political reputation on repudiating it, calling for us to withdraw, not tomorrow, but NOW. Other warn of dire consequences if we do. Many argue that we were wrong to be there in the first place. But, haven’t we heard that all before? History repeats after all…, and it can be a mighty fine teacher, if we let it. Maybe they are right… maybe we should have solved this problem before it began.

 

In the 1930’s there where two politicians, one older and wary, the other quite young and brash. The younger of the two had big ideals and dreams for his country. He was proud of his people and sought to bring greatness upon them. He believed they deserved a place of greatness and honor among the countries of the world and boldly strove to achieve this ‘greatness’. The older worried about this young brash politician. He saw that his reach was large. His ideals a bit extreme. Dangerous even.  He tried to rally the world to take action against him. But the world saw it differently. The old politician was out of touch they said. His beliefs were old fashioned. Many said he was a “WARMONGER”. That HE was really the dangerous one. Ah, the new generation of politicians knew best! Yes HE was the one they needed to protect themselves against, the old ‘out of touch’ politician. HIS kind of rhetoric could jeopardize the peace of the region they protested. A hard won and carefully negotiated peace. And protest against that old politician they did. A million hands joined across Europe to protest against the “Warmongers!”. Who was that old politician? Winston Churchill. And the young one was Adolf Hitler.

 

I’m a child of the 1950’s. World War Two was a fresh memory in the minds of many that I grew up around. A question that often arose during my youth was why did it happen? Why didn’t they do something to prevent that war? Why didn’t we stop Hitler before it got sooo far? Everybody knew he was a madman, after all. We could have easily seen Germany’s build up to war, had we only chosen to open our eyes and look. But…our eyes stayed shut. After all there are “agreements” and “contracts” and what right is it of ours to meddle in the affairs of other nations. It would NEVER affect us anyway would it? Could it? Naw…if we bury our head in the sand it will all just go away…

 

Saddam Hussein was a madman. Every bit as mad as Hitler. He took power by the death of the man that brought him up out of obscurity. He seized and established his power by killing all who could oppose him, friend and foe alike. He maintained his power by killing anyone he suspected might oppose him. Untold numbers of people died. He’s killed Generals and Politicians alike, just to make a point. His own people he treated as an enemy. He gassed men, women, and children, just because their religion wasn’t the exact same as his. Their ‘tribe’ was not his. He made war against his neighbors out of greed. Again killing thousands. Yet…many say our fighting him was immoral. That WE were unjust in this fight. He had no gun to OUR head afterall…yet, anyway.

 

Too often throughout history the world has turned a blind eye to evil. Allowing unspeakable acts and making unholy alliances. Some in the name of ‘peace’. Many for greedy purpose. Often just because nobody cared. The killing fields of Cambodia comes to mind. And Vietnam. We stuck flowers in our hair while thousands of refugees, or “boatpeople”, died trying to escape the consequences of our “MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR” feel good attitudes, and the Jane Fonda’s of the world.  Uganda’s Idi Amin. Beautiful Sarajevo. We talked a good game in Somalia, but we left when the going got rough…and a few hundred thousand more died. Bosnia, Kosovo? NO NO! they said. We shouldn’t go. Europe’s affair, don’t go there!  And thousands had perished before we did. Ethiopia? The Sudan? Guatemala? Sri Lanka? The Ivory Coast ? Peru? Rwanda? Katmandu? Bulldozers and Bullets…Madmen with machetes…Bombs in baby carriages…Ireland? Lebanon? Israel? Palestine? Perhaps it’s not for what we did that they hate us so, but for what we did not do…And the list goes on and on… Armenia… Indonesia…

 

September 11, 2001 the push became a little bit more than a shove. Blind eyes were opened.  The effect WAS here after all. We could see now, clearly. We HAD to act. And act we did. We knew we could no longer stand idle and allow these thugs free reign. It was US they were after. And on top of that, their own people were suffering at their hands. But…time goes on. Our eyes grow weary…After all, we are talking about “over there” aren’t we.

 

Terrorism is the use of the deaths of innocents to achieve political will. This war is against those that would use those innocent lives as pawns in seeking their goals. They use raw fear as a political tool. How can one that calls himself moral say that this war is unjust? How can one that seeks to please God turn a blind eye to the reason for this war? How can one tell the people of Iraq, who have suffered so, that they didn’t deserve to be free of this madman? How can one wish to cast them aside now? This war immoral? It would be immoral not to fight this war! “Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality” – John F. Kennedy. Read that again. It’s those that stand by and do nothing to stop the Hitlers’ and Husseins’ of the world that bring shame, and allows the violence to continue against the innocents of the world! BUT, there is a right and wrong. A just, and unjust. And those that recognize right and justice MUST act. Boldly act to stop these madmen of the world, if we are to ever live in peace. Read Luke 10:30-37, the story of the Good Samaritan. Who are we? Do we just walk on by…? 

-Al 





Sorry world

18 04 2008

 Once upon a time great men made great speeches, and masters of logic would have great debates. A caring public would listen and read and form reasoned opinion on matters of great importance. Now we watch TV. We make people that look good on camera and have articulate speech patterns, pleasing voices and personalities into our source for what we know and believe. We don’t have a clue who really writes the stuff they read to us or why, nor do we really care. It’s whatever the talking head says that matters most.

 

The majority of the people only know what they’re told. Few read anymore. If the press gives a biased viewpoint to the public it naturally sways public opinion to that viewpoint. The danger lies in the fact that, while once upon a time our leaders used debate and reason in guiding our country in matters of great importance, they now lean toward polling as the main source of obtaining their position on  those matters. Therefore, even if fed out and out bulldooky, and even if our leaders know it to be out and out bulldooky, bulldooky is the order of the day. After all, most feel they are elected not to really lead, but to represent the “views” of the electorate. That’s also the  reason there are so few true statesmen today. And on top of that, if there are no more ‘leaders’, what, or who’s really leading our country? TV Ratings?

 

It’s not just the press. Television in general gives us imagery and information many times based more on good sound bites and being humorous than fact. Television is a media meant to appeal to folks and draw rating than to actually inform us of facts. Not everything out there is fun, or funny. At the end of the day, good guy’s seldom hop into their convertible sports car and drive off into the sunset. Some of the best won’t be going back home. Ever. And we can’t wish that away, just because it’s not pleasant. With reality there is a lot at stake. We can’t just click the off button on the horrors around us.  

 

If you find yourself staring at folks like Jon Stewart, nodding your head in agreement, you just might need to go on a diet. That a TV show folks. Entertainment, based on some wits bulldooky.  Bulldooky will make you fat between the ears.

 

Nowadays politicians oppose any and everything that “the other side” supports. News reports bring us teachers and students having sex. Mothers demanding the right to choose life or death for their unborn. Grizzly murders committed by loved ones. People “going postal” at work. People doing drugs in front of, or even with, their children at home. Twelve year old moms, Popular songs that glorify it all. As the song by Tim Wilson says, “It’s a sorry world”. You can get blown up in Baghdad at eighteen but you can’t buy a beer at the Hooter’s down the street.

 

The press fusses and fumes about cheerleaders acting like a bunch of spoiled kid, because they are a bunch of spoiled kids. We wring our hands at what happens each day in Iraq, yet we ignore what’s happening each night in our own cities. We keep a front page count of the deaths of our soldiers over there but not the deaths of our police right here at home. We demand accountability of our politicians but refuse to be held accountable for our own actions. We don’t vote. Or when we do it’s a just popularity contest, with the issues little more than slick advertising and spin. We’re quick to blame the easiest scapegoat we can find, but we refuse to change whatever it was that went wrong in the first place. All we want is something that will hold our attention, whether it’s a story about one of the thousands of kids that go missing… or one of the hundreds, or thousands of women that get murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each year. We may not pay attention to the one that happened down the street, but let it happen in some exotic local, or hook it with some heart tugging story, and we’re all ears.

 

In the last five years we’ve lost over 4000 of our soldiers in Iraq. If you watch TV or listen to the radio, or read a paper, you’ll already know that. But, can you tell me how many line of duty deaths our police had last year? What about firefighters? Probably not. Probably couldn’t even come close if you guessed. Aren’t these people our hero’s, too? Over 16,000 Iraqi’s died in 2006 due to violence. That’s all types and on all sides. Well, how many people right here in America died in 2006 due to violence? How many to drug violence alone? How come we can see the huge numbers of people we’ve got locked up in prison, but don’t notice the criminals operating right out in the streets? Right out in our neighborhoods and right in front of our own houses. Sure, we cry for police to take action, but we, ourselves, never seem to see a thing. All want someone else to do something about it all, …just not us. And do it somewhere else please, not in my back yard… where I might get caught up in it all. And please, for the sake of whatever entity you personally choose to enter here, let’s not offend anyone. We certainly don’t want to disrupt anyone’s psyche’ and have them become any more of a victim than society has already made them.

 

If we continue to bury our heads in the sand and ignore what happens around us the chances of anything getting any better is slim to none. We complain about fighting a war that we must fight, for it’s a fight for our very survival. Yet we seem to lack the fortitude to stick it out and see it through to the end. It’s so…, so unpleasant. War IS a dirty business. But you can’t just pick up your ball and go home if you get tired, or things don’t seem fair, or it’s not going just exactly like you thought it would or should. Not without some mighty unpleasant consequences anyway. Yet we have a war going on right here in our streets. And we complain about it too. It’s unpleasant. A dirty dirty business… but it, too, is a fight for our very survival. And one we can’t just walk away from. We can’t just pick up our ball and walk away from this either… for this fight, it’s just outside our front door. And it’s consequences are mighty unpleasant too.

 

It’s easy to recognize a terrorist attack. Everybody understands that threat and what it means to our people and our nation. But we are under attack every day. Being attacked from within. By our own greed and lust. And it’s tearing at the fabric of our country just the same as those that fly planes into buildings. That enemy is all around us. The terrorist enemy wants us to grow weary of the fight and give it up. Quit, and go home. That’s how he hopes to win. The enemy here hope we continue to ignore and overlook. Hoping that we won’t recognize that we’re beaten till it’s too late. It counts on acceptance and annoyance with the fight. That we’ll see those huge numbers of people in prison and be alarmed. Alarmed not by the crime that causes the numbers, but the numbers themselves. That we’ll convince ourselves that we’re better off accepting the fight as lost, or not worth the effort, and give up and give in. Then it will all be lost.

 

It won’t be the terrorist we lose to, but ourselves…

 

 

-Al 

By the way, in 2006 we lost 142 policemen, 106 firemen, and 21 EMS personnel in Line of Duty Deaths. That would average out to around 1250 First Responder Deaths during the last 5 years, right here in America… or almost  a third of the amount of soldiers we’ve lost fighting a war in Iraq





The wacky world of political popularity.

17 04 2008

It’s something that has always fascinated me. Why we find some politicians popular, some not. My lifetime started during the Eisenhower administration, with my earliest memory of a president being Kennedy. I remember liking Kennedy, even though I don’t remember whether or not my parents did. I remember, also at that time, that the elementary school I went to had a mock election. I can’t remember our elementary school having a mock election since. Perhaps times were different then…or not? Does it seem that politics now is much more a popularity contest? Or maybe it’s not what you do, but how you do it?

 

If memory serves Kennedy was popular with the very rich, and the poor, splitting the rest pretty much down the middle. His administration was dominated by the Red Menace, and didn’t really accomplish a whole lot. Though his famous quote was  “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” he’s most fondly remembered by a segment of our society that didn’t want to do much of anything for the country but asked the country to do almost everything for it. Kennedy is still hugely popular today, pretty much due to his looks and lifestyle and untimely death by assassination and not any great accomplishment, other than his handling of the Cuban missile crises. Despite getting us into Vietnam, and the Bay of Pigs fiasco, his image is almost untarishable, “Happy birthday mister President…”. ‘Camelot’. What he did do is inspire us. We the people may have been greatly cheated by his death.

 

Lyndon Johnson. Ignored, overlooked, pitied, and even despised. Poured our troops into Vietnam. Tried to run the war from the White House, setting the whole thing up for failure, and had to bail out of the job. Johnson did more to elevate civil rights then Kennedy ever dreamed of but Kennedy somehow got the credit. At the same time his hand up was also a trap for many, addicting them to a life of living on the dole. It would have been so easy back then for his ‘Great Society’ to have really created a great society, but it ended up as being really just a political patronage program, binding a large segment of the country with welfare and food stamps and no jobs to go along with them.  A bondage of a different sort. His administration ended with riots in the streets and Watts a smoldering ruin. It was a time of protest and political unrest. A nightmare time that somehow left Johnson fondly remembered by many.

 

Richard Nixon was hated by many. Not disliked, HATED. He is thought of by a large segment of our country as the worst single President ever. You even see it in the press, often listing him as the worst of the worst. His only accomplishment in office was ending the war in Vietnam and returning our troops and POW’s home like he said he would. And opening a dialogue with China. The SALT treaty, reducing nuclear missiles. Starting a dialogue of détente with Russia which was really the beginning of the end of the spread of communism. Formalizing civil rights and stabilizing our economy. And returning peace to our campuses and streets.  But somebody that worked for somebody that somehow worked for somebody that worked in some periphery position for him did something very wrong, like getting caught breaking into his oppositions campaign headquarters trying to get information that would help him win an election that he won in a landslide anyway, and he supposedly tried to ‘cover up’ his involvement in something that he wasn’t involved with anyway and….so we hate him. For that, and 55MPH speed limits.

 

Gerald Ford is loved by some, hated by others, and “oh yes, I remember him…” by many. Best or worst remembered for pardoning Nixon, for better or worst getting us as a country beyond Watergate. That, or for falling down a lot. He was without a doubt honorable. He was well liked and respected by his peers,  perhaps truly the right man at the right time, a good caretaker of the office until the next election. Really didn’t ‘do’ anything, which was most appreciated. Some girl named ‘Squeaky’ tried to shoot him. Another one did, too.

 

Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter was perhaps the nicest man ever elected to the office of President. He crashed our economy, bringing us some of the highest unemployment rates this side of the great depression. Interest rates climbed to unheard of heights, with prime rates into the twenty plus percent range. Inflation soared.  He mishandled relations with the Middle East causing  oil shortages, long lines, and high gas prices, and hatred and hostage taking  in Iran. He is literally loved by the people that were hurt the worst by his administration. He wanted so much for us but delivered so little. He was as honest as the day is long. He prayed and no-one complained about it. He told us he lusted in his heart, and we knew, cause we did too.

 

 

Ronald Reagan entered office with enough force of authority that the country of Iran immediately caved and sent our people home. He restructured and rebuilt our economy with a “trickle down theory” and “Voodoo” economics (both just basic economics). He elevated minorities and women into real and authoritative positions within our government. He decreased taxes. He broadened the Civil Rights Act to cover  the whole country instead of just the south as it originally was. He rebuilt a military that was virtually gutted by the Carter administration. The rich got richer. The poor got richer too. His ability and vision created economic growth which allowed the largest percentage of movement of the poor and minorities into the middle classes then ever, before or since. He won reelection by he largest landslide ever. He was the first to recognize and address the future problem with Social Security. He spent huge amounts of money to fix the problems of the past, spending  us into huge deficits. Still, the economy soared. He is literally hated by those he helped the most. Criticized by a press he supported. Vilified by a Hollywood of which he was a part. Despised by unions, even though he was a member of, and even President of, a union. Hated by feminists, even though  he did much to elevate them in rights and position. Despised by Blacks, even though they gained more socially and economically from his administration than perhaps any other. “Tear down this wall!” and they did. He, almost single-handedly  took away the threat of nuclear obliteration and caused the downfall of the “Evil Empire” of communism. When he left office the United States of America held a prestige throughout the world unmatched since the end of World War Two. He’s disdainfully remembered by many people and the press as an elitist and bigot.

 

George H. W. Bush. When he ran against Reagan he accused him of practicing “Voodoo Economics”. When the republican party chose Reagan as its nominee Bush thought maybe his future in politics was over. He did what a lot of us do when we suffer rejection, consoled himself with a beer. But Ronald Reagan showed him what a real man is. When Reagan could have cast aside his opponent and gone to his political allies he didn’t. He reached out to him, asking Bush to join him as his running mate. Believe it or not that was a stunning move at that time. When Bush became President he tried to continue his predecessors legacy.  The economy was flourishing. It was so good in fact that the democrats talked him into a “painless” increase in the Capitol Gains Tax. Investment in construction immediately halted. Thousands of projects and properties went unfinished and abandoned. Construction workers by the droves were laid off. The Savings and Loan  industry was  literally demolished. Having flourished under the previous administration, and with money flowing like wine and water, many of those in charge were caught living too high on the hog when the crash came.  He was distracted from these problems by an arrogant Iraqi dictator that thought he could take advantage of  the situation and invade his neighbor. Bush used  great skill in forming a coalition of many countries to push back this belligerent tyrant and free the country of Kuwait. But he let the tyrant off the hook, after all, it was “the economy stupid”. Even thought he put back into place the disheveled  economy that was strong and growing when he left office, it cost him re-election. He’s mostly remembered for being a nice guy with a nice wife (who, by the way, was a civil rights worker) who skillfully led us in the Gulf War. Disliked by that segment of society that dislikes republicans in general.

 

Bill Clinton. Smart. Smart enough not to change the way Bush was handling the economy, even though it was the economy that caused Bush to lose to him. His first few years in office he was accused of being more republican than the republicans on economic issues.  He modeled himself after his hero, JFK. As a Governor he was a complete failure in his first term and drummed out of office. Unbelievably, he went on television and apologized to the people of the great state of Arkansas and… was reelected! Everyone should have understood then just how smooth a talker he was.  His wife outclassed him socially, economically, and educationally. She was the rock he built his political career on. He cheated on her and she stood by him emphatically. When he became President he used wit, style, and a little bit of arrogance and created an almost unmatched power base.  He neither helped nor hurt the country very much, but depending on which side you where on, you’d swore he did. Glorified by a rich elite, he attacked the wealthy.  He dismantled the welfare state, yet still was a delight to those to who it catered. Hated by those that saw him as the Devil in disguise. He taught us all what doublespeak was. He bestowed the term “politically correct” upon us.  He showed us that what you said didn’t have to mean what you really said but what you wanted it to mean to whichever group your focus was on at the time. That “it” didn’t have to actually mean “IT”. IT could be whatever you wanted IT to be, it could. He led by polling. He smiled and we bought it. One can only imagine what the feminist movement and NOW would have said if the Monica deal had happened with a republican. Any republican. Or just about any CEO of any corporation … Heads have rolled for a lot less.

 

He looked us in the eye and said it never happened. His wife said it was a vast right wing conspiracy. He shuffled his feet, bowed his head and admitted it was true. And that it wasn’t the first time. We said okay. All was forgiven. He felt our pain. His administration was the first to speak out and act against filth in the music industry and was the first to try to censor it. Yet, you probably couldn’t find a rapper anywhere that wouldn’t vote for him tomorrow. Sadly, his last few years in office he gave into a lot of the special interest groups, increasing taxes and diverting money into “causes”. The economy started to suffer, especially in the areas of employment and investment. Overall, he left the countries economy fairly stagnate, but in pretty good shape, having early on joined with the republicans and led in reducing , then abolishing, the deficits.

 

George W. Bush rode into office having just barely survived one of the closest elections in years. He arrived however,  with one of the most ambitious  social and economic plans ever. Plans to elevate the educational level of every child in America. Plans to reform a broken Social Security System. Plans to create jobs, both here in America, and overseas, where vast sums had been spent on foreign aid. A plan to fight the AIDS epidemic, not just here but world wide. Plans to end poverty, fight crime, fix a broken healthcare system and reform an out of control tort system. He had big plans, and big surpluses to spend! Good times!. What he didn’t have planned was 9-11. Plans changed. Priorities changed. Although he got a good head start with tax reform and his No Child Left Behind Act, other aspects of his goals for us changed, or at least got shoved aside. We stood behind him as he led us well during those dark days, and we thanked the Lord it was him and not the other guy that we elected.

 

The world can turn oh so quickly however. It wasn’t long before his distracters pointed out to us that it was 7 whole minutes after he found out about the World Trade Center before he left that classroom full of kids. No matter that it took that long for the Secret Service to determine that it was safe to move and where to go.  7 whole minutes that I guess they say were wasted, somehow. Somehow it pointed to indecisiveness, they said.

 

When the African embassies where bombed by al Qaida during the Clinton administration, Clinton responded by somewhat blindly sending a few cruise missiles into a closed terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Bill Clinton knew full well the threat of Osama Bin Laden. Our intelligence agencies had developed a lot of info on him and al Qaida. One country even tried to turn him over to us, but Clinton passed. Also during the Clinton administration we fought a running verbal battle with Saddam Hussein. We didn’t just think he had weapons of mass destruction, we KNEW he did. Bill Clinton kept the heat on him and the U.N. kept its inspectors busy looking. Iraq kept up a cat and mouse game of blocking inspections, then allowing the inspectors in, only to find empty buildings. How do we know Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Because we monitored the destruction of a great many of them. Trouble was, not all that we knew they had  was there record of there destruction. They claimed shoddy record keeping. This from a country however that kept meticulous records on any and everything, no matter how minute or trivial. Clinton didn’t buy it then, and Bush didn’t buy it either. Fact is, the whole world didn’t buy it. The question was, just how long should we allow the inspectors to keep looking. We never found those weapons of mass destruction, so, it became Bush’s “lie”. Even though almost all of the intelligence was gathered during the previous Clinton administration it became Bush’s fault. They like to say “lie”.

 

We accused Bush of not doing enough to uncover the 9-ll plot before it happened. Now that he’s put into place systems that would have perhaps uncovered the plot we cry foul. He’s treading on our “rights”.  We accused his father of not completing the task by removing Saddam during the first Gulf War, then blame the son for removing him now.  We cry to pull out now, before the job is done, though  we know full well that only chaos  would ensue.  That, and the loss of any credibility we have as a leader and power in the world. There are those that say we only went there because of the oil, when we could have had the oil simply by ending the sanctions. 

 

Politics does create strange bedfellows. There are those that would have us believe that a man who went to Yale and graduated from Harvard with a rather hefty degree is somehow a stupid oaf.  Most of those that call him stupid couldn’t come close to getting into Yale, much less Harvard. The last election pitted one Yale alumnus against another. Both where ‘bonesmen’, both having been inducted into a secret society that only chooses the very cream of the crop for membership. Both served this country admirably during a highly unpopular war. Kerry chose his branch of service as a badge of honor, emulating Kennedy, but knowing full well at the time that the coastal patrol was seldom put in harms way.  Bush chose the Air Guard because it was an easier way of getting to be a fighter pilot, his dad having been a pilot during WWII. At the time he joined they pulled Guardsmen to active duty regularly. Both, however, were unarguably legitimate services to our country. The only confusion came from those with a motive. Some folks profit from such confusion. (By the way, they don’t let stupid people become fighter pilots)

 

If you go by modern thought on such matters George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton should be mortal enemies. Somehow they’re able to work hand in hand for the good of the country. No, for the good of the world. Perhaps, they somehow know something we don’t. Or, at least something we’re not supposed to. Like how hot the air really is in Washington, maybe?

 

One of those things that is often overlooked by we the people about the Bush family is their philosophy regarding life and service to their country. Contrary to the standard of most politicians, they are taught to go out into the world and make a mark. Make some money. Then devote the rest of there lives to public service. George W. took his business degree and went out and made his own money. Nothing but advice came from his father, just as George senior took nothing but advice from his. Both were highly successful before going into politics. We tell ourselves that that’s the way it should supposed to be, but somehow we ignore or overlook it when we talk about them, thinking somehow they didn’t earn what they’ve become.

 

Bush’s administration suffered a huge blow on 9-11. The economy crashed, taking  industries and stocks down with the twin towers.  The war on terrorism has cost a fortune. It’s created huge deficits. It ended the plans Bush had to use those surpluses he inherited. The money was spent to protect us, yet we fault him for spending it, all the while still demanding protection. Katrina blew away what was left along with the Gulf Coast. Bush was blamed, as if manipulating the weather was a Presidential purgative. The levee’s failed in New Orleans. The haters even said that Bush had them dynamited. Blame was tossed everywhere.  But it all really had to be Bush’s fault, they said. But, even with all of the above, our economy soars. Bush’s economic policies work! Stocks soar. Growth is at extremely high levels. Unemployment is less than ever, almost a whole percentage point below what is considered full employment. Inflation is almost negligible. Yet, Bush’s approval rating for handling the economy: only about 36 percent. That can only be described as baffling. Either that, or the public is being conned by those that oppose him. And don’t think that there aren’t those that oppose him in places that can do just that. Bush has never been a darling of the press.

 

They call him a liar, yet can’t point to a single example that can’t be immediately shot down. They say he is racist, even though he began his administration with dreams of elevating minorities threw educational opportunities and real fixes to societies problems; appointing minorities and women to more and loftier positions than any other President. He is supposedly extremely right wing but constantly does things that seem to disappoint the extreme right. They told us his tax cuts where supposedly only to help his rich friends, but somehow they created  growth and jobs by the score, just like he said they would. He promised to keep us safe from attack here at home, but we attack him for it. He has enough guts to take the heat for an unpopular war, knowing just how necessary it is to stick it out. He stays true to his convictions, but we aren’t used to politicians who won’t change their mind with the wind, so we call him stubborn. He told us in the beginning that the fight against terrorism would be long and hard, taking years and years to win. He told us at the start that many people might die in the cause. We wonder why he hasn’t been able to finish it by now. He asks God for advice, and we criticize him as a zealot. And just when we think we know him, he goes and does what he said he was going to do, and we are left shocked. Politicians aren’t supposed to act that way.  They’re supposed to care about their  legacy and image and poll numbers and such, aren’t they? 

 

-Al





Comments by Sheilah: Questions for the President

16 04 2008

Mr. President is busy right now, but these questions are easily answered, so, if you’ll allow me, I’ll fill in for him here. (He’s already answered most each one of these)

Sheilah asks –

Mr. President:

*Did you or did you not enter office with the intention of taking Saddam out no matter the cost? After all, we know he insulted your father and that’s grounds for war.
-I sent us into war because of the ‘threat’ that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam did much to further that belief, and even the U N Inspectors believed he had them, thinking that if we allowed more time they would find them. We were wrong. But even thought I was wrong you should remember, it was about the threat. Saddam STILL had the scientist, still had the raw ingredients, still had the equipment, and still had could have produced them. Produced them for himself, or for use by terrorist that we know would have loved to get their hands on a WMD. I did not trust Saddam. Did you? Enough to stake thousands of American lives on it? (How is it that you relate an assassination   plot with an insult?)

*Why in this last few months of your bloody presidency did you go to Israel?
-Because there was reason to believe that the time was right to go. No other President has made this step.

*Do you read the Bible? -Yes.

*Do you believe it? -Yes.

*Do you think you’re smarter than God, too? -Of course not, that’s why I read the Bible.

*Why have you done nothing to secure our borders?
-I have. We’ve started building fences along our Southern border. I’ve increased the Border Patrol. I haven’t turned America into a walled fortress, like some want, however. Like some grand East Berlin. See, walls across our Southern border might well slow the poor which stream across seeking employment, but it would do nothing as for as securing us from a terrorist seeking to enter. We’ve far too much coastline for that. Try to convince all our beach lovers that you want to wall off the ocean and see how far that flies.

*Why are we in debt to China?
-Because of our consumption rate exceeds our savings rate.

*Why are so many hard working and retired Americans losing their homes to foreclosure under your watch?
-Because many people overstepped their ability to pay there debts. Credit is/was too easily obtainable. Because we are so easily led to believe that we had to outdo the Jones’ next door. That we can’t live without the newest and the best “thing” someone tells us we “have to have”.

*Why did you wait so long to try to help and exactly how many have benefitted from your plan?
-Because it is not the place of the government to regulate it citizenry so. In a free society the government should only step into the marketplace as a last resort. The marketplace must be allowed to find its on way. I hope it has, or will, benefit all that need that help.

*Why are health care costs in this country so high most people can’t afford to go to the Dr let alone buy medicine, yet we keep bringing people from other countries in, fixing them, and sending them home free of charge?
-Supply and Demand. We have an out of control tort system that has hugely increased liability costs. That, and the industry being allowed to profit, and in return spend money on researching new medicines. Because the price is suppressed elsewhere those profits are sought on the open market here. While regulating the cost of meds, thru some national health plan, or outright regulation, might lower prices it would also decrease the money for new research. WE, in effect, are paying the price for those countries, such as England and Canada, which subsidize and regulate the healthcare industry. Many American’s ARE treated “free of charge”. Very very few people are “brought here”, as you describe.

*Why have you and Cheney and Rove been so secretive about facts the American people have a right to know? I know you’re the “decider” in your opinion, but this is still OUR country (I think)!
-What facts? Are these things you have a ‘right’ to know, or are they things you would ‘like’ to know? To be secure we sometimes must keep some things secret. It’s my duty to protect this country from harm. It’s also my duty to protect the Constitution. That is not as easy a walk as it sounds.

*How do you feel about Iraq?
-Better, now that we seem to have turned the tide there.

*Do you sleep well knowing you sent our finest into a war that would never end just so you could punish Saddam?
-That isn’t the reason I sent our young service people there. No President has ever slept comfortably while their country is at war. This part of the war WILL end. Probably  in the not too distant future. But the war on terror will take years.

*Do the people in Iraq get along today?
-I would like to tell you yes, but realistically I can only say better than a year ago. Years of pent up hostility isn’t easily settled. Saddam kept it repressed at the point of a gun, with perhaps hundreds of thousands ending up in mass graves. A minority ruled over the majority. Gone are the rape rooms and torture chambers that kept his people in check. The country’s future is now in the hands of their people.

*Was it worth all the bloodshed not to mention the cost?
-The cost of freedom is high. We can’t predict the future, nor can we say what would have happened if we could have changed the past. Would Saddam have produced a Weapon of Mass Destruction and used it? Or supplied it to one of our enemies? We know that market existed. It still does. What would that cost have been?

*How can you hold your head up and look in the mirror every day?
-Easily. I’ve done what I thought was right. I’m not perfect. No one is. But I do know that everything I’ve done, popular or not, has been with the security of the American public in mind.
 

*I find it hard to reconcile a guy who didn’t take his National Guard service seriously with this man who has sent so many of our military to their deaths…
-I joined the National Guard at a time when more than ten thousand of my fellow guardsmen were being sent to, or already serving in Vietnam. I held no exemption from being sent there. As far as my service, I flew more than the required amount of time and was highly rated by my peers and commanders. Are you trying to say that serving in the National Guard wasn’t an honorable thing? There are many thousands of Guardsmen and women that will differ with you on that.

*What has happened that their are so many murders here in the USA?
-Explain how I am responsible for the murder rate in America, if that is what you’re suggesting. I would tend to believe it has more to do with the liberalizing of much of society than anything else. Hate has become commonplace. Culturally our country has started to collapse. (The “anything goes” attitude of the last administration didn’t help either.)  

*Is that why you went to Israel?
-I went to Israel because the possibility that the time was right that major gains toward peace could be made there. If anything, perhaps it can help ease their murder rate from those horrible acts of terrorism.

*Was it to assuage your conscience over the death of Bhutto?
-Perhaps, in hindsight, it wasn’t good to have advocated her return to Pakistan at that time. The situation was polarized enough there to not have pushed her return on the situation. However my trip to Israel had nothing to do with my sorrow about the death of Ms. Bhutto. (It was being planned long before hand.)

*If so, you failed before you began….there is no comparison.
-? Why do YOU relate the two?

*Why is gas so high?
-Gas is high because of lack of refining capacity and the fact that gas is a commodity, and subject to speculation. There is adequate oil but a limited ability to refine it, especially in a timely manner. We have huge reserves of untapped oil in Alaska and off the shore in California, but are unwilling to go after it. That’s the will of the people. To drive down gas prices supply must exceed demand. As long as the refiners can supply enough to meet the demand there is no reason for them to increase supply, so prices remain high. However it’s the speculators that drive the prices up.
Many say we went to war with Iraq over oil, which is nonsense. If we had wanted Iraqi oil we could have had it very easily by lifting sanctions, which was why it was withheld. The stroke of a pen, not a war, was the way to obtain their oil.

*Why is the cost of living getting higher all the time?
-Because earnings keep increasing. To pay more in wages one must make more, to make more one must raise costs. Remember we just started raising the minimum wage again. That increase will eventually amount to an increase of about 40%, so in turn you can look for costs to eventually rise by at least 40%. While initially disruptive this equals itself out in the long run for wage earners. Only the numbers will have changed. But it drives our elderly that depend on Social Security, pensioners, and others on fixed incomes deeper into a hole. Do you really expect Social Security to go up 40%? How about pensions?

*What do you think the single most significant act you committed as this countries’ Commander in Chief will be forever linked to your name?
-The response to the Terrorist attack, and subsequent decision to try to end the scourge of terrorism that plagues the world.

*Do you HONESTLY think we are any better off today than the day you took the oath of office?
-No. Before I took office there was no 9-11 to be dealt with. No war. I began my presidency with high hopes for the future. For education, healthcare, many many things. But we as a country were robbed of that opportunity. 9-11 took our focus off those necessary  and important issues and caused me to focus on the threat to the lives of our citizens by those that would do us harm. I lament that. I truly wanted to be remembered for accomplishing those things. I got off to a good start with the No Child Left Behind Act, and several other programs, but I wasn’t allowed to focus the office in that direction.   9-11 cost this county a great opportunity. Frankly, with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention hurricanes Katrina and Rita, along with the several other pressures that have come into play, our economy should have tanked long ago. If not an out and out depression, we should have already seen a recession at the very least. But my policies have kept our economy strong and employment at near record levels. Just imagine what could have been accomplished if those pressures had not been at play. However, one must play the cards their dealt, so to speak.

*Do you read and study your Bible as God tells His people to do?
-Yes.

*If so, why do you not display a Christ-like demeanor?
-I try to. I am a man. I’m not perfect. But I do try.

*How does it affect the decisions you make (like the trip you made to Israel)?
-I pray, and hope for guidance, that I can be a means for meaningful change, and that accomplishments can be made so peace can eventually be found there.

 Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions for you… Sheilah.





Politics of Fixing Healthcare… or, A run for your money.

8 04 2008

I note a lote of talk about our “Broken” healthcare system from the current crop of Presidential candidates. Some advocate a form of socialized healthcare, similar to Canada or England’s. I don’t think that socialized healthcare is the answer to this problem, and it more than likely would create more problems than we at first realize. Problems in service, quality, AND in the research and development of new techniques and medications. You see, there is no “catch all” solution to the problem, …but the first step is defining the problem. It’s not healthcare in and of itself that’s the problem; it’s the costs involved.

There seems to be a lot of political posturing on this matter. One must ask, if the problem is costs, what cost cutting measures have the candidates proposed? Universal coverage? A national HMO? What does this REALLY do? That limits direct costs. So? What are the first places someone looks to when forced to cut costs? Services. So you don’t get the same quality. Jobs. They involve less people in the process. Research and Development. They shift available resources to receive the highest return, which would apply here as to make up for lost profits. Less would be spent toward future developments in the industry. That’s just basic economics.

In searching out the real answers to this problem the obvious starting point would be the causes. First and foremost underlying all this is the liability issues. A tremendous amount of our healthcare dollars goes toward the liability costs involved. So much so thart it has affected entire fields of medicine. It’s getting harder and harder to find doctors that will do certain procedures that have a generally higher degree of risk because of the high cost to insure themselves against the liability involved. We know that many doctors will no longer deliver babies. Some hospitals no longer even have neonatal units. Those are just a couple of examples. To attack the costs, which is why our healthcare industry is “broken” in the first place, one must address this issue.

A good starting point would be with medicine. Face it, industries are in business to make profits, and the production of medicine is a highly profitable industry. Why then, one might ask, do we need to do anything about cutting costs for such a profitable industry? Because the production of medicines comes with enormous liability costs. And as the Drug Companies are in business to make a profit, those enormous cost are passed on to the consumer. To cut the cost of medications we must cut the cost of the liability involved with their manufacture, sale, and use. As an industry that is regulated through the Food and Drug Administration, with years of independent testing done in most cases before approval, one of the first cost cutting measures might be to use this FDA approvasl as a limit of liability. Especially as far as punitive damages are concerned.

To reduce the high cost of our insurance one must reduce the risks. The main “risk” to we consumers is the high costs of medical procedures and medications, which after all is the reason why we need insurance in the first place.To reduce the costs involved with providing those medical procedures and medications you must reduce the liability costs. Reducing the liability costs to providers reduces the cost to insurers, which in turn reduces cost to the consumer, or policyholder, if you will. Sounds simple enough. Yes, and no. There are several “Buts” involved.

Certainly consumers deserve protection, but there should be some good faith limits to the liability of meds by such approval, especially in the punitive areas. People harmed deserve to be made ‘whole’ of course. Actual costs can be huge. Injuries and wrongs should be compensated and corrected. But it shouldn’t be a pathway to vast wealth. Too often those large judgements end up obstructing others seeking help, reducing services, or increasing costs. In the past we’ve seen valuable medications pulled from the shelves due to the potential of lawsuits and the high costs they might bring. We’ve even seen the misuse of medicines cost the industry huge amounts… remember phen-phen?

We depend on insurance to cover the cost. As a cost savings measure the insurance industry now often limits procedures and services. Tort reform isn’t an easy sell, however, because of its effect on trial lawyers and the strength of the legal communities involvement with the legislative process. But if its true cost cutting we the people want done in our healthcare industry this is a must. It may not be a cure all, but it is a cure-a-lot.

Also, one should note, that as we point to England and Canada, and the other countries with socialized healthcare, they themselves are one of the reasons our healthcare here in America is so high. The companies in those countries are still in it for the money… and lost profits there are made up for here. Recouped through increasing our costs for those same meds.

Fixing healthcare here really isn’t such a hard of a problem as we’re led to believe. Its the getting those standing in the way of fixing it to move that is the hard part. It involves powerful peoples piece of the pie, that’s the problem.

-Al

PS: Just as an example of the way lawsuits in general have gone “over the top”, the amounts of the compensation sought by Katrina related lawsuits is over a quadrillion dollars. A figure, I do believe, that would be hundreds of times our countries annual budget.

(I think a quadrillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000.00 )