Bush Administration’s $950 million spent on Iraqi Universal Healthcare

As many of you know, a large number of Americans are not in favor of the healthcare bill passed last year. While many of those I have spoken with are basing their discontent on misconceptions about the bill, I would like to share this article with you.

In this short article, you will see that the United States spent $950 million on establishing a system of universal health care in Iraq in 2004. In 2004, in terms of government spending, $950 million was a more significant amount.

There is a quote in the article from former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson that reads, “Even if you don’t have health insurance, you are still taken care of in America. That certainly could be defined as universal coverage. Every American’s health care is far superior to what the health care is in Iraq.”

I have one problem with that quote: that’s not universal coverage; yes, you will be treated if you are in an accident, having a child, or are seriously ill. However, this does not include preventative care.

After reading the first article, read this from the Huffington Post, an excerpt from the Iraqi Constitution signed in 2005. In Article 31 of the Iraqi Constitution, the “right to health care” is for “every citizen.”

Many doctors have said that the best way to heal someone from cancer is to catch the cancer early—that’s the problem with the American healthcare system. I do not think it’s right that some in America are dying because of a lack of access to a doctor. I heard one conservative on television one time saying that not having insurance does not deny you access to a doctor—but for all intents and purposes, yes, it does.

While the pundit or congressman (I can’t remember which it was) probably has somewhere between a $10 and $50 co-pay at his physician’s office, those working minimum wage jobs without health insurance pay 10 times as much, if not more. For those of you new to math, that’s working 69 hours at minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) just to see a doctor. That’s ridiculous. That is not the America that I know and love.

While I believe the United States operates efficiently when major industries are controlled privately or by publicly traded companies, I do not believe that private industry should control whether you live or die. In corporate America, and this has been proven multiple times over the last three years, executives and high-level management are greedy—too greedy.

I also do not believe the government has the right to infringe on private industry and control the public health. I believe the government should have founded a co-operative where its members elect the Board of Directors, who in turn set the rates charged to its members. If members are not happy with the rates, they can simply not reelect members of the Board of Directors.

Whether the health care bill is altered or not, lives will be saved because of this bill. I do not want to listen to Republicans saying that its detrimental to America…saving lives of American people is detrimental to America? How?

If Republican congressmen hate this bill so much, they should join the 30 million Americans that would not gain health care coverage in 2014 if the bill is nullified. They should be denied the same access that they are denying to 30 million Americans that usually cannot afford coverage.

Disclaimer: I’m not a wholehearted proponent of the bill that was passed, but something needed to be done.

Special Interests

While I have always been intrigued by politics, I find the practice of having companies being able to donate to campaigns and other events hosted for politicians atrocious.

This practice has been around for ages, and it is not soon going away. I just think that since it the people who elect lawmakers, the people should be the people that benefit from his/her work. However, that is rarely the case and the reason that I find myself not wanting to work in the political world.

I found an article (via Twitter) to a list of corporations (and a few people) who donated to the inauguration to Texas Governor Rick Perry. I am hardly a fan of Rick Perry, but this by no means is meant as an argument against him–it’s an argument against special interests all together.

If you look at the list, you will notice there are multiple energy companies, and in fact, a large portion are companies that have money vested in Texas energy. These companies include: Exxon, American Electric Power, Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Devon Energy, Energy Future Holdings, Marathon Oil, Conoco Phillips, Spark Energy, and many more.

We’re using the energy industry as our example. Each of these companies, as has long been the practice of every company donating to a politician, expects something in return; no company in their right mind would just give money. They either want a return from the investment directly, or they want good PR aimed their way so the public will think they are a generous corporation.

I’m going to (hopefully, safely) assume that the companies that donated to Perry’s inauguration have the first objective I listed.

Texas is a land of vast energy resources–old-school (oil, natural gas) and new-school (if that’s a word; wind, solar, etc.). Each of these companies want to have their way when it comes to regulations placed on them. Each of these companies wants the Governor to allow them rights to produce energy in Texas. And quite honestly, as most politicians do, he will allow it.

Texas currently faces a debt crisis–somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-something billion. While the Governor, during the campaign, for all intents and purposes, denied this–he is now starting to admit the state is in trouble–big trouble. Proposing cuts to the tune of $1.7 billion from higher education is absolutely insane. If Texas is going to be a premier state in the country, we need to be expanding higher education, not reducing it by 7.6%. Now, I do realize that in a budgetary gap, you have to make sacrifices. But why couldn’t we first take away tax incentives offered to energy companies along with other companies who have become “friends” of virtually every elected official? Eventually, the cost of products would rise, but tax revenue would increase, and possibly the incentives could be offered again once the budget is balanced. Disclaimer: the preceding sentence are a theory. I have no proof to back that up.

Anyway, no matter what the industry or company, and no matter at what level of government donations are given to, special interests will always be around in some sort–we should just resign ourselves to that fact, and therefore citizens lose part of their constitutional voice in government.

GOP Playing Politics with Life

I had seen a teaser on CNN earlier today about the Senate not even being able to debate a bill that would give 9/11 first responders free healthcare. You can read the online article here.

It makes me angry that the Republicans think they can play politics with life. The Republicans filibustered the vote to enter the bill in for debate, and it failed 57-42 (60 votes are needed for this process, known as “cloture”). The Republican Party has gone down in my opinion, and I have already determined that what little hope there was for me voting for my incumbent Senators (Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn) just went out the door. After learning of the vote, I am appalled at their lack of human respect and decency.

Many first responders who rushed into the World Trade Center and stayed for days and weeks afterward were exposed to chemicals and toxins, and the Republican Party basically just told them they don’t care. There have already been cases of first responders dying because they could not get the proper care–they can’t afford it.

Would it not be fair to at least give them some benefits similar to VA benefits? Or at least give them subsidized healthcare? I mean, come on, they tried to save as many as possible and worked to clean the site of the worst terrorist attack on United States soil.

In one way of thinking, the terrorists have won yet again–more are going to die because of their attacks, and this time, the Senate Republicans are the ones who should be held responsible.

I am in no way advocating that all Democrats are a God-send. Many are  not. But they voted to help those who need the help.

The Islamic Community Center in New York

On December 15, 1791, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution came into power. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The last part does not really pertain to this post, but I wanted to post the Amendment in its entirety to try to diffuse possible beliefs that I edited it down to my liking.

Personally, I support the mosque being built in Lower Manhattan, not because I am, as some have said, “a Muslim sympathizer,” but because I believe in the First Amendment.  I do not believe that the government needs to get in the way of this Islamic community center being built in Lower Manhattan.  The building is currently not occupied and has not been since September 11, 2001, when the building (which then housed a Burlington Coat Factory) was severely damaged due to one jet engine falling into it.

I am a Christian, and therefore I do not believe that the way to Heaven is through the Islamic religion, but I do not believe the followers of Islam to be inherently evil as many, quite possibly a majority, of my friends and acquaintances have implied.

When you associate the attacks of September 11, 2001, with Islam, it is just like associating the Waco Siege with Christianity.  The 19 cowards that attacked the United States on September 11 where not followers of mainstream Islam but rather a radicalized part of it, just as the Branch Davidians in the Waco Siege were not a part of mainstream Christianity.

Those who argue that the Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan is a “tribute to our 19 brothers’ marvelous work” are just wrong.  There is no other way to say it–they’re wrong.  That is not the purpose of this facility, and in fact, the purpose is just the opposite.  The purpose of building the center is to open it up to the community.  The plans call for multiple activity areas inside the facility, with only the top two floors being dedicated to the practice of Islam.  The other areas of the facility are open to the public, no matter what your religion or creed.  The purpose is to show that Islam is not a religion that believes in the destruction of America.

Those that argue that it legally should not be there need to think about it.  If they’re Christians, would they want a church to be told where they can and cannot build a church?  If they’re Jewish, would they want to be told where they can and cannot build a synagogue?  I don’t think so.  Every religion would take offense to that because of the First Amendment, which makes the infringement of religion illegal.

Some of our founding fathers came to this “New World” because they were looking for religious freedom because their faith was being oppressed in Europe.  We, the United States, are now becoming the oppressor since we are calling for the government to step in and tell the Islamic leaders that they cannot build this mosque, which is just wrong.

European Air Travel Ban…my take on it.

Many have begun to question the need for the ban on air travel in Europe last week, which impacted thousands of travelers in most countries all over the world causing canceled flights, rerouted trips (if you were in mainland Europe), and a lot of stress. There have been stories in every media outlet that spoke of the plight of families traveling on vacation and trying to return home so the children could go to school, or of a business person who was trying to get back to work so he could seal a deal for his company, and this has brought about the question, “Was the air traffic ban necessary?”

To put it in the simplest term known to man, yes, the airline ban was necessary. This is one situation in which it is literally impossible for the airline regulatory agencies in Europe to escape criticism.

And why is this so? Because it was either take precautionary measures and ground all flights in the affected areas or you could take the “don’t do anything until something goes wrong approach” and well…do exactly that. The European Union could have waited to do something until a flight got into trouble flying through the volcanic ash and either incur severe damage after landing or possibly even crashing.

They made this decision based on the plight of British Airways Flight 9, which was flying from London, England, to Auckland, New Zealand, with five stopovers between the two cities. As the plane was over Indonesian airspace, it encountered large amounts of volcanic ash from Mount Galunggung, which resulted in the failure of all four engines almost simultaneously. As the plane kept traveling, the cockpit window was blasted and completely covered in the volcanic ash resulting in only a very small sliver of the window clear enough to be seen through. After descending from 37,000 feet to 13,000 feet, the pilots were able to restart the engines because they had cleared the ash cloud by then. The pilots then diverted the flight to Jakarta, Indonesia.

Who can blame the Europeans for shutting down the airspace? No one. It was a precautionary step—they did not want something bad to happen and then have a disaster occur. I would hope that we, everyone else, would have done the same thing in their situation.

In fact, they’re still taking precautions. The fastest way to get to Europe is to make a curve far to the north over the Atlantic when going from the United States to Europe; but right now, they’re making flights fly much farther south which is costing them more because the flights require more fuel because it is technically a longer distance even though it may not look like it on a map.

2012…The End?…Or A New Beginning?

This post really isn’t citing any article, blog, or show; I just have been thinking about 2012 lately, and what might come.

Personally, I do not believe the world will end on December 21, 2012.  I am a Christian, first and foremost, and in Matthew 24, the apostle Matthew writes that no one knows when God will return to earth, and that not even Jesus knows, but that only the Father God knows when the world will end.

As I said, I do not believe the world will end on 12/21/12 (122112…coincidence? I doubt it).  I believe the world will change on that day.

Recently, it seems that there has been an unseemly number of earthquakes, causing chaos in different parts of the world.  Maybe an earthquake will happen that will make California fall into the ocean–hypothetically or literally.  What I mean by hypothetically is that the economy there could plunge into bankruptcy–or beyond it.  Well, California is in horrible shape financially.

Maybe an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone will happen, causing the central part of the United States to be in chaos, leading to hold-ups of transportation and commerce nationwide, which would then lead to prices going sky-high and supply of many products being extremely low.

Maybe a volcano will erupt that will cause a giant ash cloud to go across the entire earth–think about the current situation in Europe, but on a much grander scale.  Right now, the airports across Europe (in 23 countries) are completely closed with all flights canceled and no planes are being allowed to fly over any of those countries–just like what happened in the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001, except that not even military aircraft are flying now.

Any of this happening could then make the United States fall into mass chaos and could knock us off our pedestal as the most powerful nation in the world.

Maybe Iran or North Korea will launch a nuclear missile against one of their enemies and cause the world to fall under a large plume of fallout/radiation.

Maybe 12/21/12 will prove a day of innovation that will change lives forever.  Could that day prove to be the day when cancer is cured?  Could that day prove to be when global warming is proven to be false?  Could that day be when evolution is proven to be false?

You probably won’t agree with many of these hypotheses, but I think it’s important to not just look at the end of the world.  Yes, the calendar ends on the day for the Mayans, but if you are of Christianity belief, then remember what is said in Matthew 24:42, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Tea Party Racism

I really should be working on homework, but when I found this article tonight, I couldn’t resist.

The Tea Party “Patriots” are once again causing more trouble just so they can see their redneck, warmongering faces on television and newspapers.

On Thursday NPR published an article about how the Republican leadership across the country is being encouraged to sever ties with the Tea Party Movement consisting of many right-wing citizens who are being led by former governor of Alaska and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

These “Patriots” (they’re closer to committing treason than being patriotic) openly spitting upon and yelling racially-charged phrases such as “n***er” at multiple African-American members of Congress.

Yes, we live in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” where, in theory, anyone can say anything they want, but we are also “created equal.”

One member of this right-wing, racist organization called Atlanta congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis the “n-word.”  That is wrong.  I don’t care about a man’s skin color.  First of all, it’s not like we can pick our skin color.  Second of all, just because a man is different doesn’t mean that he is any less human or less deserving than anyone else.

Another member of the Tea Party spat on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver; he then proceeded to confront the individual who did so, but did not engage him.

Another member of this spittin’ redneck organization called openly-gay Congressman Barney Frank a “f****t.”  While yes, he might fit the definition for that word, that is a very demeaning term, and no one should use it–just like the “n-word.”

I say all this not to slight the entire Tea Party movement, I’m sure there are plenty of people in the Treason Party, er, Tea Party movement that are not racist.  To any civil Tea Partier who does not think less of someone because of their orientation or race, I plead with you to find another party–yes, our government needs reform, but is it any coincidence that all of this protesting and anti-government fear in the United States is because we now don’t have a white President? NO!

Our government needs reform–there is no doubt in most peoples’ minds about that, but stooping to the level of an uneducated, racist bigot is not acceptable and should not represent our nation to the world.

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