January 6, 2008

US Media Ignore British Health Service’s ‘You’re on Your Own’ Mandates

I’ve said this before, but it merits saying again: We’ll know that the news we’re fed every day by the wire services, “newspapers of record,” and TV networks is fair, accurate, and complete when those in search of the full picture no longer have to go to the editorials of the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily to fill in Old Media’s yawning information and coverage gaps.

Among the latest pieces evidence that we’re not there yet — Thursday’s IBDeditorials.com opinion piece, which had this news from Britain’s National Health Service (NHS):

The British have found a way to shorten those long, annoying waits for care and lower the rising costs of their universal access system. They’ll let patients take care of themselves.

The London Telegraph reported Tuesday that the British government has a “plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget.” But it won’t come without enormous pain.

“Instead of going to a hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out ‘self-care’ as the Department of Health tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending,” the Telegraph explained.

So when is a universal health care system not actually universal? When Britain’s 60-year-old National Health Service can no longer support the weight of its clamoring clientele.

….. The NHS, though, is hoping to cut down on more than frivolous visits. It’s looking for patients with “arthritis, asthma and even heart failure” to treat themselves, the Telegraph said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown characterizes the policy changes as improvements that will allow patients to “play a far more active role in managing their own condition.” The British Department of Health calls it an “exciting opportunity.”

But what they’re really saying is “our universal health care system is broken, and you’re on your own.”

And we ask yet again: Is this the sort of system we want in the U.S.?

“You’re on your own”?

Where have we heard that before?

Try here (August 2007, in Iowa):

(Hillary) Clinton did not mention her rivals for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. Instead, she repeatedly attacked the current Republican President. Clinton criticized Bush for pursuing a “you’re on your own” society.

And here (November 2007, in New Hampshire):

(John) Edwards Announces Plan To Take On Health Insurance Companies To Help Families

We need tough new insurance laws to prevent abuses and ensure that Americans are no longer on their own against insurance companies.

There are numerous other examples from Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards elsewhere. And although Barack Obama (who yours truly prefers to refer to as BOOHOO — Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) appears not to have employed “on your own” rhetoric, his health plan clearly advocates aggressive moves towards socialized medicine.

How ironic it is that both candidates advocate reshaping the health-care system and, despite clever bells and whistles, making it resemble the clearly broken NHS. What reason is there to believe the America’s health care system would not devolve as Britain’s clearly has?

More importantly, why hasn’t Old Media aggressively reported on this devolution, and the effect of Britain’s real-world experience on the advisability of the nationalized health-care programs being touted by the three major Democratic presidential candidates?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Welcome to The Politicians’ Republic of Hamilton County, Ohio

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

County seat: Cincinnati

Home of: Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals, Skyline Chili, Graeter’s Ice Cream, La Rosa’s Pizza, …. and now, shady backroom two-party deals.

Nickname, effective this week: The Politicians’ Republic of Hamilton County (bolds are mine) –

(excerpted text presented in different order than it originally appeared)

Deal limits voter choices

In an unprecedented last-minute deal, the Republican and Democratic parties have decided not to compete against each for the two Hamilton County commission seats up for election this year.

It will mean that when Hamilton County voters go to the polls in November, they are likely to find:

- No name on the ballot opposing Republican Greg Hartmann – the county clerk of courts who is running for the seat Pat DeWine is vacating;

- Only the name of Ed Rothenberg – a Republican who won’t have his party’s backing – next to the name of Democratic incumbent Todd Portune.

….. As part of the deal, the Democrats also agreed not run anyone against Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and 10 of the 12 common pleas judges running for election – an easy decision for them, since the party had not recruited any candidates for those positions.

The Republican Party, for its part, agreed not to run a candidate against the Democratic county coroner, O’dell Owens. The Republican and Democratic parties in Hamilton County have been making deals for decades, but never before involving county commission seats.

Most of the deals have involved judgeships, such as the long-standing agreement not to challenge each other’s African-American judges, a deal which was broken several years ago when Democrat Cheryl Grant challenged Republican incumbent Kim Burke for a municipal court seat.

….. Leaders of both parties said they believe the arrangement – unprecedented at the level of county commissioner, the top-of-the-food-chain job in county politics – will benefit both parties.

But they both concede it is likely to anger not only many voters, but some in their own parties.

“I saw it as an opportunity for us to make damn sure we kept our majority on the county commission,’’ said Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke. “and we can concentrate our resources on picking up other county offices, which I think we can do.”

This should be cause for significant national embarrassment, if for no other reason than to deter all-too-comfy politicians in other cities and counties from doing the same thing.

It’s also the best reason I’ve seen yet for having a “None of the Above” choice on the ballot. Of course, that would be a choice that “wouldn’t benefit both parties,” so don’t expect the Politicians’ Republic of Hamilton County to adopt it any time soon.


UPDATE: This scripted endorsement process should have been a national embarrassment almost two years ago. It was ignored, despite yours truly having the script.

UPDATE 2: Obvious question, with an obvious answer — Since HamCo still leans red, which party’s presidential candidate is more likely to be hurt in the critical fight for Ohio’s electoral votes in November?

UPDATE 3: I think this makes Hamilton County the only area of the country that can officially be shown to have “White Flag Democrats” (on Iraq) and “White Flag Republicans” (willing to concede the commission majority to the other side in a county where GOP voter registration probably still exceeds that of Democrats).

Positivity: How an £85 suit saved this grandad’s life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

From South Wales, UK:

Dec 29 2007

IT was bought as an early Christmas present to keep the rain off – yet this blue and yellow suit saved David Davies’ life.
Early on Wednesday morning, the 51-year-old grandad became the first man known to survive being washed off the popular fishing rocks at Witches Point, Ogmore.
Experienced lifeguards say they have seen at least five fishermen die in the past 20 years at the beautiful but treacherous point.
Plumber Mr Davies, who has been sea fishing for just two-and-a-half years, survived because of his £85 suit, a calm friend and a brave lifeboat crew.
Yet at about 9.30am on Wednesday, as a giant wave hit him amid gale-force winds, the Bridgend dad of two and grandad of three thought he was done for.
He said: “It was as if a hand had grabbed me and the next thing I was under water, and, it may sound silly, but I just remember being surrounded by greyness.
“I thought I would never come to the surface. Because I had so many clothes on I thought that was it.
“But then the flotation suit started bringing me to the surface. I could see I was getting washed away from the shoreline but I could see my friend on his mobile phone and he gave me the thumbs-up. I thought ‘Just keep calm and wait for the lifeboat’.
“I kept watching my friend all the time.
“Apparently, I am one of the first to have been pulled out of there alive.”
Phil Missen, the lifeboat manager, said Mr Davies was the first fisherman he had seen who had survived being swept off Witches Point.

Go here for the rest of the story.