Perhaps you'd care to show me somebody who's trying to get out of the country, Mike. Sure, Bob. How many Mexicans can you count? How many Asians can you count? As often happens, you misunderstood my comment entirely. The US is the country so many are trying to get IN...other countries are where poeple are trying to get OUT. Where are they trying get to? HERE! Maybe our country is not so bad, after all, even with it's shortcomings.
Your earlier comment is a perfect example of why Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and the others are so popular. When conservatives speak of the country, they speak in positives. When Democrats, or liberal talk shows, speak of America, they speak in negatives. If there is a Rebublican white house, they speak in negatives against the administration. If there is a Democrat in the white house, they speak negative about life in America, be it health care, big business or anything they can point to and preach that it could be better if their government had more controls. They say things like "our health care is the least efficient in the industrialized world", as you just have. Do you REALLY think that, Bob? I've been in quite a few countries myself and I can assure you it's not.
If you want to be negative, trying being negative about the fact that your children and grandchildren are going to be burdened by a debt they will have to pay, thanks to Obama's spending spree. Now THERE is something to be negative about....
My fault here, Mike, apparently I didn't express myself well. I was talking about our conversation, where I felt you were asking if I was trying to get out of the country. I was not, which is the reason for the conversation about my time in Canada with my folks. I'm sorry you misunderstood. If I'd been talking about folks trying to get into this country, I'd have used a different article, such as "this." I might even have used a pronoun such as "our." It's not your job to know that, however. Oddly, it turns out I didn't misunderstand you at all; you misunderstood me. Instead of getting huffy about it, I'm trying to apologize. I'm the writer. I'm the one responsible for communicating clearly. My goof.
One thing I was quite clear about. That was that I think America is a good place, and that I love it. That does not obligate me to love everything my country does. The man who said, "My country Right or Wrong!" at least in that truncated version of the quote, was mistaken. Otherwise we'd still be practicing slavery now, wouldn't we? And criticism of it would get you beaten to death on the floor of. . .was it the House or the Senate? That was a wrong the founding fathers committed intentionally to bring about the signing of the Constitution. We still feel the effects of that decision today.
Since when is it unpatriotic to acknowledge reality and to either correct the problems or to change the situation in some other way. I happen to find denial of reality and the embrace of fiction in living to be a poor political survival strategy in the world today. If indeed it ever was.
I have no problem with speaking about the country in positives; I simply want the positives in which we're speaking about the country to have some relationship with reality, and preferably not one of opposition. The United States if a Fine country, perhaps the Greatest. I love my country. A lot of other country feel the same way about theirs, but I feel that my Country is special, and I'd offer my vote to her in the sweepstakes, yeah. I understand that a lot of other folks would disagree with me, though.
Our country is the freest country in the world. It's up there. There are a lot of Democracies that would like to claim the honor as well, though. It would depend on what criteria your using. Certainly we'd loose if we looked at the percentage of people in jail in our country. We have a very high proportion of Americans in jail compared to England and Canada. That doesn't sound like the freest to me.
Am I not supposed to be aware of this, Mike? Is my criticism of this wrong? I happen to think that it's something we really don't understand, but that it's not wonderful. I want to understand it and to change it. I'd like America to be the freest nation on earth.
So what's better, Mike? to assert that we are when it's not true, or to acknowledge we aren't and try to fix it? I know what my answer is to that question. I want to fix things.
The right wing obsession with this sort of thing even leads to the denial of the best science we have on climate and climate change. Not to mention population and population density and resource use. This is stuff that any high school sophomore should have a good grasp of from a basic class in biology, and a whole political party in the United States of America has, en masse, embraced fringe science on the matter and stuck their heads in the ground. Near as I can tell from listening to the rhetoric of some of the Right Wing Guys, they do it Proudly.
To speak truthfully about the state of life in America gets translated by the Right as speaking negatively about Life in America. But the last that I heard the truth is neither negative nor positive, it is objective fact. You may make judgements about the meaning of these facts that are negative or positive. But to get angry at the folks who insist on looking at the facts as a basis for joining conversation is fallacious as shooting the messenger. He didn't make the facts. He may in fact dislike the facts as much or more than you do.
The right wing solution here is to get rid of the messenger and assume that in nobody knows about the facts, that the facts aren't there. We will have weapons of mass destruction where we said there would be. The financial policies of the Bush administration and the debt the ran up would not get more and more difficult to deal with the longer they went unacknowledged and unaddressed. The environment would not get worse while we passed bills misleadingly called "Clear Skies."
Is there anybody out there?
I think that U.S. Healthcare is very poorly run. In fact, it is not run at all. Costs are very high, and if you'd like we can look up the relative costs of health care per person. Having lived in quite a few countries yourself, have you ever had the experience of talking with any hospital administrators in this country about what they think of the current health care system here? About the costs of drugs? About the cost of treatment? About the cost of malpractice insurance? About the effects of capitation?
Capitation is a great subject to get hospital administrators going on. Check out the amount of time it actually takes to have an antidepressant drug start to work. (Often ten to 14 days, sometimes more, sometimes a little less) Check out how frequently the first drug tried is effective for a particular patient. (the odds of any single drug for depression are about the same, the last I heard, and that was 66%.) Now check on how long Insurance companies allow for hospitalization for Depression. (Most frequently, 3-4 days.)
It's not uncommon for patients to need 3-4 drug trials to settle on a decent drug combination for treatment of depression. Frequent causes for admission are suicide attempts. Some drugs will actually increase the number of suicide attempts as the patient begins to improve because they now begin to have some energy and ability to plan while they are still profoundly depressed, and the combination is frequently lethal, They have energy to do what they only dreamed about doing before.
This is part of what you get when you have hospitalizations designed for profit and not patient care. There are also plusses, which are important. Hospitals are not great places to be sick, on the whole.
Countries who have actually planned for these things rather than planned for how much money they could make off of these things have consistently done better than the United States in terms of patient outcomes. Countries where the bonuses come from increased numbers of surviving patients rather than for the physician who uses the fewest hospital days will also tend to do better in patient and family satisfaction and efficiency, don't you think. Our system tends to reward for fewest hospitalizations. Again, this is not totally screwy, since hospitals are not the greatest places for patients to be on the whole. But they should be there when it's necessary.
Some things, by the way, work better under government controls. We've had some examples of that in Iraq, at least one of which I discussed with you before. Privatization of the dining facilities was terrible. The Army had them set up for the way they thought would work best for the troops. Halliburton was, I belief, the contractor on this one, and right away they saw places where significant savings and profit might be achieved. Most clearly, this business of running all these small kitchens in the field was clearly less profitable than running larger, more concentrated units. They didn't listen to Army objections.
Of course the army objections were there for good reason. You don't want to leave smaller places unmanned long enough to move troops to larger facilities and you don't want to concentrate troops in large facilities in hot zones because they make very enticing targets. Iraqi insurgents attacked at least one such dining facility in, I believe, Bagdad, with predictable and unnecessary loss of life. One might look at other Halliburton operations for other such examples of the failure of private enterprise to do the job that government does better.
Treatment and safety of both prisoners and guards have become, I believe, issues in privately run prison facilities. Cost cutting in some of these situations means placing people into increasingly more dangerous situations for the profit of the few. You could no doubt think of some examples yourself.
Lastly, I was negative about the spending spree from the beginning, while Bush was running up the debt and the situation that we are now having to deal with. Perhaps you don't remember my negativity about that, and my warning that it might lead to something like this? I warned that the mess wouldn't clean itself up, and that it would only get more difficult to clean up as we went along.
I confess I'm happy to see you joining your voice to mine at this somewhat later time, when things have gotten so much worse and actions so much larger have become necessary to clean up the mess that would have been very painful to clean up even back then. I can only imagine what dreadful things must have happened for you to have realized that we have to do something. Think of how much worse it will get if Obama doesn't do anything now and the situation continues to get worse. Think of how much larger a payback will be needed at that time, one that will make even this madness look like a walk in the park. And that's if this fix, by some stroke of fortune actually manages to work and be enough to turn the problem around. I suspect it's probably too little too late, but who knows, only time will tell. It's already spread well outside U.S. borders where Obama could hope to have effective control over it, and it doesn't appeared the the other world leaders are very interested in doing very much. I guess they figure, we broke it, we should fix it. I think that's pretty short sighted on their parts.
Sincerely, Bob Kaven