CCTimes 3 July: Health "Final Days" & Jobs "Double Trouble"
Morning Report in Contra Costa Times of 3 July 2010
This issue has excellent, critically important articles with one solution in common: "The Final Days", which deals with problems in the last two months of life and "Double Trouble Looms for the Economy."
They are not the last word on their subjects, there may not be a "last word" because we do learn from painful experiences and grow, if we re not too overwhelmed by the pain. A key aspect both articles have in common is that, at present and maybe forever they, the issues, will not change, they appear as two more issues in which our Democratic System fails to lead to an ideal "answer". There is no Final Answer, a phrase that brings ugly memories of attempts to solve a "problem" in grossly inhuman methods.
Both articles point at issues in which politicians failed to find Reasonable solutions. Why? The causes were ignored but the consequences are painful to all -and continue, unabated.
1.Start with hospitalization rate data: "1,302 per 1,000... in 1996 to 1441 in 2005." Some with multiple hospitalizations, yet they all died. I was told, about 25 years ago, there was a maximum limit on funds and time, $100,000 per patient, in 6 months (?). Now, a third of MediCare costs are from these efforts. Did voters demand "best possible care, regardless cost" and pandering candidates responded, to win office?
2.CBS TV Nov. 22, 2009 The Cost of Dying: Patients' Last Two Months of Life Cost Medicare $50 Billion Last Year; Is There a Better Way? Many Americans spend their last days in an intensive care unit, subjected to uncomfortable machines or surgeries to prolong their lives at enormous cost. According to an oncologist, whose 70-year-old husband is terminally ill with cancer, helping people die at home might increase their comfort and create savings in our healthcare system. Some doctors decide where they will spend his final days, we all should.
3.Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctor and hospital bills in the last two months of patients' lives - that's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education. And it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact. Most of the bills are paid for by the federal government with few or no questions asked."
4. "Double Trouble looms for economy" Morning Report, CCTimes 3 July, 2010. Economists say we need 150,000 new jobs per month just to break even, others say about 112,000 jobs per month, the last month's gain was only 83,000 and a "double dip" Recovery -economy drops a second time, is here. We all know why lack of salaries lead to failure to buy cars, homes and stock shares. Books point out FDR "lost his nerve" (how'd they know?) and cut efforts to help the "transition" to Recovery, our President failed to convince world leaders at the April Summit to borrow and save their economy. And Congress refused to extend Unemployment ompensation for 15.3 million out of work in April. Our activity seems limited to wait, and wait, and wait, until all freezes over, this and next winter?
The only logical explanation I can find is that there is no short cut to reach the conditions at the bottom of a Depression, or a Recession. But, there is "dream-world" to return to the heady years after WWII when we were the one and only surviving technological nation. Wake up & Forget it!
What did we learnt from all Recessions and Depressions? Nothing?
The balance between salaries and prices is skewed by selfish "excess" but is relentlessly and cruelly restored by world Market economies. Don't tell him but Chairman Greenspan was right in his belief that "Markets Restore Order" what he ignored is that those that pay for the restoration pain are not the same people that profited from skewing the order in the global Markets:
The innocent paid, are paying and will continue to pay, while the guilty got Millions in bonusses from taxpayers for their work destroying our economy more that the 8/11 attack and, maybe, they laughed all the way to their Swiss bank? No wonder voters are upset! Great many were asleep at the wheel!
What can we do help USA Recovery? Specifically, salaries must drop until we can compete. To quote Oakland's Mayor Dellum, "You cannot demagogue our way out!" Salary cuts are essential in California and USA. We might reduce some but not all pain. Ideally, we should all share some of the pain to promote recovery. For example, if we had more efficient clean and cheaper cargo and passenger transportation networks, lower energy cost, lower taxes, etc. Can we do it? USA makes the most efficient commercial airplanes in the world, that's a start, we need more. For example: Fully automated assembly lines for products that compete with cheap world labor, we can reduce costs by replacing some skills with computer controlled robots, or there will be no Recovery -Your choice! Yes, we could import cheap labor, to Arizona?
We cannot compete with low wages, robots can be our equalizer but only if we build them and put them to work.
BART would be better if robots ran the train and BART had more Security and Maintenance crews! By 2020? The Robots are in trains, already.