Monday, November 30, 2009

Winning in Afghanistan

There is a lot of speculation, anger, and anxiety about what the President is going to say tomorrow on the war with Afghanistan. The anger is from both sides of the political spectrum. The left because they believed that he was going to get us out (the didn't pay attention during the campaign) and the right because he took too long to essentially agree with the generals that we could really use somewhere between 30 and 40,000 troops (reported to be 35,000). Unfortunately he is not going to say what I think he should say. I believe that the war is not lost yet. I would send the additional troops, maybe even more than 40,000 (Russia had at the height of their war 100,000 and that got them control of the cities). I would also publicly arrest President Karzai and all of the ministers and start over with an occupation government. Then we need to do what President Bush promised; rebuild the country, educate the population (men and women), bring rights to the women, and create an environment where a decent government can be established. I do not think that we should continue supporting a government that ranks #2 on the list of most corrupt governments. We probably shouldn't be supporting Iraq at #5 either (we are told that that war is winding down).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Global warming

Yeah the temperature fluctuate, precipitation amounts very, strength of storms go up and down, the number of hurricanes very, ... The critics of the theory contend that this disproves the theory. The proponents of global warming cite the theory is describing the weird weather events. What I know is that based on my study of the theory too many years ago to mention the weird weather fits the theory. Also, if you do winter sports you can't deny that something is going on. The winters have gotten shorter. They are not as cold. With the exception of the last 2 years there is less snow.

Deer population

Once again the hunters are angry with the DNR for lying about the deer population numbers. I want to ask these hunters if having a high deer population is worth the high car insurance premiums, the hassle of getting vehicles repaired, and the higher incidence of Lyme disease? I for one would like to see a lot less deer in the State for those reasons alone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Health insurance reform?

I've been listening to Howard Dean the last couple of days. He like everyone else is talking about health care and the "historic" vote to allow debate on the Senate bill. He was detailing exactly what I feared would occur. The bill really does nothing to control costs. What it does do is require you to obtain insurance either private or the new public option (no details on what this is going to look like). This is important because another provision requires insurers to take patients with pre-existing conditions and allows them to charge up to 3 times the going rate for a policy. How does anyone think that this is ok? Former Governor Dean said that in Vermont they have the same rule but limit the extra charge to 20% more, which he says works well. Once again what Congress has done is codify the status quo. Most pre-existing conditions are currently covered, but it is really expensive. Maybe limiting to 3 times the going rate is cost containment. Maybe as Republicans say some of the uninsured choose to be uninsured. Yeah, they would probably be paying some number 3, 4, 5, 10 times the going rate and have elected not to sign up. If we want to do something and I think the majority does why don't we copy from another country like say Germany. Germany has had universal care since 1890. There has been 3 chances for the German people to get rid of the plan (WWI, WWII, reunification) and if it was terrible wouldn't they have gotten rid of it? The German system is single payer, privately rule (300+ companies), and heavily regulated. Drug prices are less than ours and they achieve better results for less nmoney than what people in the US spend.

Just a word on Congressional cost estimates. We are not talking cost increase to run a single payer it is estimated that we already spend enough money to cover everyone. If these monies were shifted from profits to coverage and if there were increased regulations we could get this done spending what we currently spend.


Ah, it's budget time in the Midwest and being that I live outside of Madison it is always interesting. What I find particularly interesting is how during the Madison budget debate the people who complain the loudest don't live in the city. I'm sure that it is the same way everywhere. For some reason people who work in the city feel compelled to say the city is wasting money on this program, city workers make too much money, they are spending on X when they should be building more roads,... Well it's not your money. Obviously the city council feels that this is how they should spend their money. The region feels that they should have input on the city's budget but if the city wants to do something and ask the county for money the attitude is whats in it for us, we don't live there, we won't use it,... Sure we could have a better transportation system to get to Madison and then to move around once we are there. But, I look at it as for the population that lives in the city the system is fine. It is us in the outlying regions who have a problem and then for maybe 4 hours a day. All that I can say is that if you want to worry about the city move there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama destroys America

That is the phrase that I hear over and over from my conservative friends along with the incomparable I want my country back. The problem that I have and ask often about this is what has he done to destroy the country? The answers are always the same, "He's spending money that we don't have" or "He has created positions for people who aren't accountable (weren't elected)" Really, the previous administration transferred by some estimate $4 trillion dollars to financial institutions. At least Obama has put some strings on the new monies. Or how about the fact that President Obama has exactly one additional czar than President Bush and that is the pay czar (who is supposedly looking out for the taxpayer). I'll admit that I'm somewhat skeptical of all of the bailouts and buying companies (Bear Stearns (Bush), GM (Obama)). But, we were all told that the alternative was total collapse. The question is would it have collapsed. We'll never know. One thing is for certain that without the massive infusion of government money the country would look more like the 1930's than the 1970's. If you ask around there are a lot of people who haven't worked in months. In Wisconsin we lost our manufacturing base years ago, we are a State that relies on tourism. Well people are not travelling, not spending when they do, not building second homes when they can't afford the first one. The list goes on. I actually think that Obama has not done enough so I am mystified by the destroy America charge.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Unemployment compensation

I was reading about how the unemployment fund is bankrupt. Not a big surprise with all of the unemployed in the country with no end in sight. The article goes on the say that the unemployment premiums are going to go up to pay for the shortfall. So far makes sense, its an insurance policy with a loss problem so raise the premiums. The problem is not that the program failed, the problem is that the benefits keep getting extended by Congress. The program was not intended as a permanent solution. It was supposed to be a bridge to the next job or to general assistance. I say pull the benefit back to 12 weeks and let people seek out general assistance.