23 July 2009

C is for Co-operate

I have a subscription to The Observer magazine. It's a United Church of Canada magazine, and it's extremely well done. The articles aren't fawning or over-the-top. It's well written and well-produced. I don't always agree with the opinion pieces. No surprise there! Based on the letters, many people don't. Though I usually disagree in different ways because I'm young and the UCC is starting to fart dust.

Anyway, this months edition arrived yesterday last week (it took me a week to finish this with all the interruptions and a sick kid!) and I started to read over it. In the first opinion piece, Vanessa Hammond of Fairfield United here in Victoria extols the virtues of health care co-ops.

Here's how healthcare co-ops are supposed to work. One joins the co-op by purchasing a share, and then (usually) paying an annual fee. Government funded services are covered by the government, and then the co-op handles other things above and beyond government coverage, like physiotherapy, counselling, acupuncture, whatever. There tends to be a focus on preventative medicine, because co-ops tend to be better at math than governments (preventative medicine saves money).

Hammond's main thesis is that community-owned health-care co-ops provide the best bridge between the "overburdened public system, and private clinics that place profit before human need". I disagree. I think the public system needs an overhaul. Co-ops are good things. Take it from this socialist, I like them. I do. But not for healthcare.

Hammond says, "Co-ops are organized according to the wishes of their member-owners. Although all follow the principles of democratic governance, each responds to the needs of its community". Really? How? How can this be possible? If the members of the co-op don't democratically vote in a way that benefits the community, doesn't this necessarily mean that one or the other gets the shaft? For example, suppose there is a co-op downtown. There are a number of wealthy people, and a number of poor people who live in close proximity. From millionaires to homeless in one square kilometre. The co-op has a lot of wealthy people in it, and they discover that a disproportionate amount of the money going into the co-op is being spent on the poorer people in the co-op. What's to stop them from deciding to increase rates in a way that excludes all but the wealthy? Human decency? Don't make me laugh.

Healthcare co-ops are a surefire way to get little enclaves of good service for those who can afford it. There would be elite co-ops that are expensive to join, pay for the best doctors, and offer the best services. And there would be crappy co-ops, where the rates were lower, they offer very little, and only the bottom rung of doctors would work there. It's inevitable.

And then there's the fact that they're completely unnecessary. Our public system can do all of the things that the co-ops do if it gets properly funded. Preventative medicine would be a great start. Covering chiropractic and physiotherapy, podiatry, counselling services, offering nutrition classes and providing poor people with good quality food at lower prices (and there are humane ways to do this without it coming to the American food stamp program from Hell). Oh, and using nurse practitioners for many simple problems. Expanding the public health nurse program. Add these to the program and the number of people going to the doctor and ER for garbage visits will drop off enormously. There will be less surgeries for injuries. Less people spending weeks in psych wards for breakdowns. It is cheaper and easier to stay healthy than it is to recover.

Simply put, we'll have healthier people, and everyone will have equal access to the system.

I do have a few ideas for how to better run the system. First, to keep doctors here, set up a program with student loans and subsidies to universities. Government subsidizes medical school training right now. If a student isn't willing to work within Canada after graduating, said student doesn't get a subsidy, and pays full price for their training. If he or she wants the subsidy, then the student must work as a doctor in Canada for several years after graduating in order to repay the subsidy. Less years if the work is done in a rural area.

Second, to reduce the wait lists: let people pay to jump the queue. Stop, don't freak, there's more. :) If I have a metric assload of money, and I want to spend it to get my MRI tomorrow (during off hours), I should be able to. Here's the catch. I have to buy two. One for me, and one for the next person in line. The cost to run the MRIs is in manpower, not equipment, so we both pay to have someone there running the machine when it would otherwise sit dormant. It pays for someone to work, it reduces the waitlist, and it isn't just for the people with money. If there is a flaw in this reasoning, I want to hear it. I've been toying with the idea for years, and I can't find a hole. Tell me if you see something I don't. But I think it's win/win.

Co-ops are a dangerous idea. They allow for elite, quality care for those who can afford it, second-rate care for those who can't, and a good excuse for the government to make cuts. "Oh, well most people are covered for X by co-ops, and if they're not, there are a number of inexpensive ones they can join". Can't you just hear it now?

On a more personal note, I'm highly offended by the way she adds God to the equation, and makes it out like God supports co-ops. "Together, with Gods's grace and inspiration, we can only succeed". *snort* Puh-leeze. Like everyone who has failed in the past has just been lacking God's grace and inspiration. Yeah, sure.

21 July 2009

Greatest American Hero

Jimmy Carter. Oh, why aren't they all like you?

* Jimmy Carter
* July 15, 2009

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Wow. Just wow. This is a man who Gets It. I am incredibly impressed.

h/t to my friend Jenn. Hi Jenn! :)

13 July 2009

Hung out to dry at The Star

So, let me get this straight (pun snarkily intended):

Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress wears a t-shirt to a gay pride parade that reads "Nobody knows I'm gay".

The parade is the same parade he tried to keep Queers against Israeli Apartheid out of, but failed.

Antonia Zerbisias, i.e. the Star's only interesting read, cracks wise in a comment on her blog, "I didn't know he was gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that", clearly meaning, "He's not gay, so if he was there, it was a political move".

Farber blows a gasket, shoots off a letter to The Star, whining that he was misrepresented as gay. (No, he wasn't. And why is that a problem unless you're homophobic?)

The Star doesn't tell him where to stick it, but instead writes this ridiculous apology, hanging Zerbisias out to dry.

Is that correct? Am I missing something? Because that makes NO. FUCKING. SENSE. I don't for one second believe the "Jews run the media" shit that anti-Semites toss around (If that were true, Jon Stewart would be on prime time!). So what is it? Is the CPC that powerful?

There are so many problems with all of this, not the least of which is why an apology was needed at all. Suppose for a second that Zerbisias wasn't talking tongue-in-cheek. Suppose she really was saying she didn't know he was gay. Why would that require an apology? He was at a Pride parade wearing a shirt that said he was gay! He was photographed wearing it. She wasn't outting someone who wanted to keep his homosexuality a secret. Farber's complaint that she was misrepresenting him as gay is clearly bullshit. Clearly.

So it's political then. What motive could he have for wanting a smackdown on the Zerb? Perhaps the answer is in the question she asked in that very post (the actual post, Kathy English, the actual post. Not the comment). "Excuse me but since when did the interests of Zionist lobby groups determine who or what Canadians can see and hear?"

Well, I'd say that pissed him off nicely. Ironically, the answer is "since now".

This story is seen practically everywhere, but I saw it in these places first:

10 July 2009

Mash up

I have *so* not been interested in blogging lately. Too much going on, I guess.

For starters, I built a new computer in my copious spare time. YAY! TOYS!

I love that case. I love the two case fans, the bottom-mounted power supply, the quietude. Nice. The mobo is sweet. Not top of the line, but still nice. I haven't had a new machine in quite some time. Built one for Snap (my daughter) right before Pop was born. What a nightmare that was. I had a case with a short. OMG. It took me forever to figure out wtf the problem was. I took it to the good guys over at Gizmo's computers, and they got a kick out of the gigantically pregnant woman who dragged in the gamer box she'd built cursing and swearing about what a piece of shit it was. Ended up being me who figured it out though. Go me! Mind you, it was simple process of elimination...

Anyway, beyond box building, looking after my autistic 3 year old and my infant, working, baking (god, the baking just never ends when you're Celiac), cleaning, dealing with an insurance claim (*sigh* water damage from a leaking faucet while we were at that fucking wedding), I just haven't had time to get to the blog.

And it's not like I haven't seen a dozen stories and thought, "OOOOH! That's blog fodder" :)

Stephen Harper takes communion. *gasp* I'm not even Catholic anymore, but when I saw him hold out one hand, rather than both, and then not immediately eat it, I just gasped in horror. It's all those years of Catholic school. And he's not even Catholic! Damn dude.

And if that's not enough, there's the whole Stephen Harper is saluted story. It's in a number of places, but this one is the one I saw first.

Doesn't this guy know protocol? Or doesn't he care? Is it ignorance or disrespect? Must be one of the two.

In feminist news, there's the BC Supreme Court ruling that refuses to force the International Olympic Committee to add women's ski jumping as a sport. Okay, I have to agree with the ruling to the extent that it's not really on the government to force an international event to add a sport, but OTOH, it's an event being held in BC, and therefore shouldn't be so blatantly sexist. I hate the Olympics approximately as much as I hate Fred Phelps (I admit to some irrationality on that point), so on one hand I don't give a rat's ass. On the other hand, it pisses me off just how sexist the IOC is being. And don't give me any shit about how there aren't enough women doing it. That doesn't fly. There are other Olympic sports with less people in them.

Oh, and then there's Sarah Palin's baffling resignation. Oh Sarah Sarah Sarah, please run for President. The comedy fodder alone makes it worth it. And Tina Fey needs the work. (Okay, so she doesn't, but so what). The best part of Governor Palin's resignation was the riotously funny bit about how mean the media has been to her. OMG. I mean, she was the one who told Hillary Clinton to shut up about it and suck it up. Wasn't it something to the effect of "she needed to suck it up if she was going to run with the big boys"? (Too lazy/busy to hunt up a link) At some point, the other shoe is going to drop (or hit her in the head). I'm sure it wasn't just so she could do a run for president. Or does she think that that's why she had such a hard time running for VP? Because she was still trying to run Alaska? Hard to say. It's not like she's a strategizing genius. I mean, when I hear people say, "Well, this doesn't make sense, so it can't be...", I have to chuckle. Palin never makes sense. She makes sense as often as Cheney is compassionate. It might occasionally seem that way, but no. Just never.

There are a ton of other things I want to talk about, but alas, the 3 year old is hopped up on sugar and his sister Snap is understandably sick of looking after him so Mama can blog. :)