Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Failure to plan is planning to fail

On the irrationality of failing to plan for peak oil.

UPDATE: Jeff Rubin has an excellent concise explanation of why we're not running out of oil . . . we're just running out of oil that we can afford. And that is before even considering the environmental havoc that follows from trying to maintain an auto-dominated carburban culture. If Robert Rapier is right that $5 gas means a rush to embrace liquid fuels from coal then there's no hope for a stable climate future.

Excellent idea for more affordable housing/reducing sprawl

Backyard cottages OK'd in Seattle

Backyard cottages will be allowed in single-family zones throughout Seattle under an ordinance approved unanimously by the City Council Monday. . . .

Height limits would be set at 22 feet for most cottages. If a lot is more than 50-feet wide -- or 40-feet wide and adjacent to an alley -- units could be 23-feet tall. Units could not exceed 800 square feet - or 60 percent of the primary residence -- whichever is smaller.

The peak of a cottage roof could not be more than 15 feet higher than the peak of the primary structure. That provision is intended to prevent backyard cottages from looming over nearby structures in neighborhoods built on a slope.

The measure prohibits the construction of cottages on lots less than 4,000 square feet or located in a shoreline district. Also, the owners of the primary residence would have to live on the property for at least six months of the year.

"I think this legislation strengthens our neighborhood," said City Councilman Tim Burgess, adding it would help people provide housing for family members or to offer low-cost rental units. "That's a positive way to create affordable housing in our city."

WORD: Insurance parasites and the razz-ma-tazz of distraction

Awesome op-ed by a doc in the Big O. Excerpt:
Tobacco only affected the 40% of the population that smoked when the cigarette-cancer association began in the 1950s and the 20% of us who still do. The health insurance industry, on the other hand, affects every one of us. Its monopoly of health care financing extracts $500 annually from every citizen for its own administrative costs (not entirely devoted to lobbying and profit -- let's give the industry some credit), causes 45,000 annual deaths from inadequate access to health care (that's as many as die in automobile accidents), and precipitates most bankruptcies in the U.S. The money spent by our health insurance industry on administration could extend essential health care to every American. But we don't discuss that, do we?

Our health insurance industry succeeds as well in this century as the tobacco industry did in the last. Witness the congressional "reforms" -- all variants on a theme: Make every citizen buy our insurance. And if our price is too high, make our government buy it for them. All hail this great victory for free enterprise. But what about our health?

American spending on health care outstrips every other nation on earth, yet we lead in not one significant measure of public health. Can it be that our doctors, nurses and hospitals are that bad? Or is that we pay for them through private insurance? Our health insurance industry would have us believe our problem stems from spending too little on their profitable insurance, not spending too much.

The most brutal evidence of the insurance industry's success is the intensity with which all of us debate perennial unsolvable social challenges -- the role of government in private lives, how America's free enterprise system makes us special, whether tax dollars should fund abortion, whether people who work should provide free services to those who don't, how illegal immigrants sap our country's strength, the evil of socialist programs in foreign countries, the insidious threat of death panels, and the inherent inefficiency of any government to run anything. In short, the health insurance industry successfully diverts our attention from the root problem--that our method of financing health care through for-profit private insurance is driving our families and government into financial ruin.

So here we are, fighting not with the insurance industry but with each other: healthy against sick, insured against uninsured, libertarians against liberals, employed against jobless. Fear runs amok. Medicare recipients fear reduced benefits. Employers fear compulsory medical entitlements. Unions fear for their negotiated benefits. And everyone fears skyrocketing policy costs and decreasing access to physicians. We are paralyzed with terror.

Meanwhile, health insurance executives dab their collective brows, having successfully diverted us from realizing that their industry created and sustains our dilemma.

Can we escape this maelstrom?

Yes. With the health insurance industry spending $1.4 million daily on distractions, it takes grit to stay on target. But we must. We must demand our elected officials address the only three questions that matter: "What have you done to provide essential health care to all regardless of ability to pay, employment status or medical condition? What have you done to reduce costs? What have you done to improve our health? Everything else is irrelevant.

Can we stop the health insurance industry from killing Americans in this century faster than we stopped the tobacco industry in the last? Let's hope we don't have to wait another 50 years to find out.

Speaking of a broken system dominated by the health insurance leeches, an on-point documentary on the subject (intro video clip above):

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Salem Progressive Film Series: Health, Money and Fear

Doors open 6:15 p.m., film begins at 7:00 p.m.
Grand Theater, 191 High Street NE Adults $3, Students $2
America spends more than twice as much money on health care per person as other countries, yet gets much less in return. An ER physician looks at reasons for this and offers several prescriptions to cure the problem. For more information: http://www.salemprogressivefilms.net or 503-588-8713 or 503-779-5288.