Monday, December 10, 2012

Dear President Benson

Thanks for letting University of Colorado alumni and students know your opinion on the recent Marijuana legislation passed by the voters and how it's effects should be limited on our campus. Sounds like a most reasonable approach. I think pot should be treated like alcohol [and guns] on campus --  students must be 21 years of age to come under the new Am. 64 (just like the laws on guns and alcohol), so it shouldn't be too difficult.  (Indeed, what a clever ploy to permit guns in a specific dormitory, which basically blows the 'concealed' part of 'concealed carry' law for anyone who chooses that dorm! And, by analogy, might you be considering designating a Pot Dorm??)

Seriously, President, Benson, do you think you might have overstated the case just a tad when you put your $1B figure on the cost to the University of Am 64??  When you address the alumni community, in particular, I think you may want to do a more careful job of calculating--lest it look like you are politicizing the fact that you are a disgruntled loser on this issue.   What about off-setting the value of  the loss of productive lives and opportunity caused by an unjust, minority-focused War on Drugs? And the cost of running so many people through an expensive 'justice' system for what are essentially victimless crimes or health issues?

You are, however, undoubtedly correct in stating that that is a conversation that needs to continue, as Jared Polis has also noted.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Post-Mortem for the GOP

The Fox pundits had lots of chances in the past to point to the GOP's demographic shortcomings that they now say cost them the election. If the party (or Fox) had actually used pollsters for their intended purpose instead of for propaganda, they'd have known what would happen.

I am wondering whether some of the country's ultra-wealthy will want to take a different tack in terms of how they use their $$ in campaigns.  There is a distinct irony here in all these folks spending all this money to protect their financial interests through the political system where they actually lost billions. Wrong investment strategy.

Ridiculous Talking Point Award goes to:  "Romney was better than his campaign"  (first heard from the mouth of Chris Robling, half of Chicago's WGN Political Duo). Romney was IN CHARGE of his campaign. It was HIS campaign, HIS hires.  What if he'd been elected and all you could say about him was that he was better than his 'Administration'? Puh-leeze.

The idea--thrown out in the President's acceptance speech--that Obama would want to sit down and talk with Romney is probably only about being gracious.  The unsuccessful GOP challenger landed his party's nomination essentially by default, after the ultra-conservatives were discredited one-by-one. I can't be the only one who doesn't see him as wielding any power in the party now. But seriously, based on the chameleon-like policy changes that marked his campaign, wouldn't we be surprised if Romney took any kind of leadership role in marshalling the GOP back to its center?  Or in anything?  Heck, he'd have to move to a new state to get even a senate seat... Well, maybe he'd like to live in Utah.  Looks like could win there.

Many are predicting the GOP will regroup or become even further marginalized, but regrouping toward the center has not been the GOP's strength since before Reagan. They have created a monster that many of us wish they'd dismantle, but perhaps if this election means anything, it means that if they don't dismantle, they will lose their voice. If you missed the stunned faces of  Sarah P and [some white guy in a suit] on Fox going on and on about their worn-out, racist-based, 'real American' saw, you can see it here via Jon Stewart's show.   Regrouping may not happen very soon.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Buzzword Bingo for Presidential Debate No. 2

Buzzword Bingo for Presidential Debate No. 2

Want to watch tonight's Obama-Romney debate, but still put-off by the last one?  Are you an Adult ADHD suffer whose afraid of going bananas before the 90 minutes are up? Solution:  Fidget around with Buzzword Bingo!

Here's the card for this one, folks.


Buzzword Bingo - Presidential Debate Redux

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Buzzword-Bingo for Veep Debate 2012

For the next debate, Vice President Joe Biden will debate GOP veep-hopeful and self-styled Budget Analyst for America Paul Ryan .

 To prevent lapses into boredom in the upcoming election debate series, here's a Bingo card you can use against all the expected buzzwords -- which is why I call it Buzzword Bingo.

  Enjoy!  And if you have suggestions for improvement, we'd love to hear them.

Buzzword Bingo - Veeps Debate 2012


Friday, September 7, 2012

I'd like to congratulate University of Colorado President Bruce Benson on his thoughtful essay entitled "Is College Worth It?" -- but I feel constrained to comment on one of the opening statements of that essay supporting the value of a college education:  "Many advocate an increasing focus on trade schools or community colleges, or no college at all."

'Community colleges' should not be placed in the same category as 'high school'.  Many lower income families use community college as a stepping stone to the more expensive four-year universities and colleges. I see the  US president's efforts to make it possible for more Americans to attend community colleges as well-placed and supportive of CU's broader educational mission.

Community colleges are not 'anti-higher-education,' they are part of higher education.

Whereas there is a misguided attack on higher education in the public dialogue, I think CU should see community colleges as its ally in countering this attack, for all the reasons stated in President Benson's essay.
                                                           * * *

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hospital 'Lobby' Takes on New Meaning

If you're over the age of 50, you probably know that AARP specializes in warning seniors about scams that can end up costing them their life savings. Perhaps AARP should be letting you in on what seems to be a scam run by your local hospital--one that affects not only seniors, but others, too.

I recently checked the cost of some potentially life-saving heart/stroke prevention ultrasound tests. A carotid artery screening that costs $60 at a non-hospital company (one of the traveling health test companies - Lifeline Screening, Inc., in this case), goes for (I hope you are sitting down) $1,931 at Boulder Community Hospital's Imaging Department. The aortic aneurism ultrasound screen, also $60 at the non-hospital company, is billed at $995 by BCH.

This seems off the charts to me and a highly non-transparent way of dealing with the problem of who pays the costs, who has insurance, how much insurance rates are, and all that flows from that.

Understandably, I couldn't remain silent when I spoke to the scheduler who quoted me the figures, so I gave her the $60 price at Lifeline. She rather graciously but somewhat edgily said "I don't set the prices, I just schedule tests." She also said she didn't know what the insurance company would pay, but those were the 'asking' rates. She was trying to assure me that no one really pays these rates. I wasn't convinced.

I feel like something is very wrong here. And I suspect it stems from the hospital lobby. Not the one at the entrance to the hospital, either; no-- the one at the entrance to the halls of Congress.

I'm aware, from some prior price-checking on MRIs and other tests (also huge discrepancies, though nothing like the carotid artery ultrasound noted above), that the hospital benefits from some special Congressional legislation [read: SPECIAL INTERESTS] that allows them to recoup extra costs and charge more money for the same services as a non-hospital health-care provider, for some policy reasons that don't quite pass the smell test. And, based on the Camera's recent story about rural hospitals struggling and urban hospitals reporting strong profits, I think the policy should perhaps be tweaked for the rural hospitals, but for the others, it's less clear that the policy should be continued.

Perhaps some healthy competition will change this, but I don't understand it and it doesn't seem right to me. People should definitely be aware of the lower-price options if they (and their doctor) decide such tests will be conducive to their good health---when I think of it---to avoid the possible heart attack they might suffer when they are quoted the hospital's prices!

I know these hospital rates are charged but often negotiated and that those who pay these rates are subsidizing folks who can't pay, but this doesn't seem right if the practice contributes to costs and premiums continually rising; and, more importantly, people should know they have options before they choose to have their tests at the hospital, regardless of whether they are uninsured, have high-deductible insurance or whatever.

Lastly, why is it more democratic for sick people to subsidize poor sick people, rather than having the costs transparent and subsidized by all (i.e., like the la single-payer healthcare systems in Canada and Europe)?