Monday, May 10, 2010

Perfect for Salem -- The Electric (Street) Grid

Photo of a new-model trolleybus in Wellington,...Image via Wikipedia

1. Fate of electric trolleybuses hangs in balance
About one-fifth of all King County Metro Transit rides are made on an electric bus, powered by a nonpolluting trolley wire overhead. But the agency hasn't purchased a new trolleybus since 1979, and the day of reckoning approaches. Seattle Times05/09/2010

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

WORD: World of hurt coming to a government near you

A necessary point to grasp here: There is no free lunch.

Exceed carrying capacity = no quality of life

Overdrawn at the resource bank is no way to go through life . . . 

Every governmental organization that pretends to have the growth-facilitators-called-"planners" on staff should be tasked with doing some actual planning -- coming up with figure that represents the human population carrying capacity for their region, i.e., the number of people who can live there without diminishing the ability of future generations to live there while enjoying the same level of ecosystem services.

Would be an eye-popping exercise.


POPULATION MEDIA CENTER - "Estimating Impacts of Population Growth on Ecosystem Services for the Community of Albemarle County and Charlottesville, VA," produced by Advocates for Sustainable Albemarle Population, as far is known, is the first such study ever undertaken to examine the effects of a community's projected growth on its ecosystem services, and to suggest projected population sizes at which essential ecosystem services are threatened or impaired.  
This research examined the effects of local population increases on a selection of ecosystem services, including water and air related services 
"At a 50% increase in population (pop.186,429) services within the developing sub-study areas (i.e. Charlottesville, Crozet, and the Route 29 corridor) begin to decline markedly. Up to a 125% population increase (pop. 279,642), degradation of ecosystem services is contained within the developing sub-study areas; as population exceeds this threshold degradation becomes widespread, impacting all of the rural areas. It is important to emphasize that ecosystem degradation occurs unevenly across the study area. While ecosystem services at the level of the entire study area appear to be sustainable up to a 125% population increase due to the continued functioning of the rural areas, this masks the degradation that is occurring in the developing areas.
"The results of this . . . study clearly indicate that if growth continues, planners will have to balance the needs of the human population with local ecosystem health. We note that while careful development can continue in the short term, it clearly cannot be sustained forever without sacrificing important ecosystem services. 
"There are two main lessons that can be garnered from this research. First, . . . the importance of a development strategy that encourages growth and efficient use of land in the developing areas while preserving the rural areas. This kind of strategy has the best chance of offsetting the impacts of future population growth in the short term. A strong urban forestry program is also important for this approach so that residents in the more densely developed areas can benefit from the ecosystem services provided by trees. 
"Second, even with these land use strategies in place, unabated population growth and the accompanying land development will negatively alter ecosystem services across the entire study area, suggesting that the identification and maintenance of an optimal population size should be a goal for local decision makers."

The cynical exercise known as "health care reform"

Description unavailableImage by @mjb via Flickr

Tikkun has a nice summary of the gory details and a prescription for better.

The whole Obama health care reform charade finally removed the mask of the caring health insurance company and revealed them for what they are: mafioso who would rather see us suffer and die miserably with them in the picture than face a world that lets us live well without them.
After the Reform: Aiming High for Health Justice

. . . The Public Option Was Ruled Out at the Start

From the beginning of this process, it was clear that the administration and leadership had developed a strategy based on an outcome they believed they could achieve. The path was predetermined. All of the steps along the way, from the house parties that started during the winter of 2008 to the hearings, to the media spin, were planned so that the resulting "debate" was a drawn out performance of political theater. In order to disarm the corporate interests, the health industries that had opposed previous reforms were included on the inside.

In order to disarm the Right, bipartisanship was at the forefront. In order to disarm the supporters of a single-payer plan, who are the majority, a campaign was developed around a promised "compromise," the public option, and given tens of millions of dollars for organizing and advertising. The public option succeeded in splitting the single payer movement and confusing and distracting it with endless discussion about what type of public option would be effective.

Despite all of the attention, the public option was never meant to be part of the final legislation. As early as March 2009, Senator Baucus admitted that the public option existed as a bargaining chip to convince private insurers to accept increased regulation. And a year later, Glenn Greenwald and others confirmed that the public option had been privately negotiated away, although members of Congress continued the charade and "fought" for it.

Toward the final vote, supporters of the public option were hearing the same excuses that single-payer advocates have heard for decades. We are always told that single-payer is not politically feasible. However, we know that political feasibility can change. We are told to be pragmatic, yet we know that the reform being passed was not practical, in that it failed to guarantee health care to everyone and to be financially sustainable. We are told we are asking for too much and should accept incremental change. However, we know that the smallest effective step we can take in health reform is the creation of a publicly funded health system. Beyond that, there is much more to do in order to create a health system that raises us into the top ten in the world.

Profit-Driven Insurers Cannot Prioritize Care

While politicians claim that we have finally achieved comprehensive health reform and that now all Americans will have guaranteed affordable health care, we in the single-payer movement experience a sense of déjà vu. We have seen the same scenario occur at the state level from Oregon to Maine to Tennessee, and most recently in Massachusetts. Every state that has passed a health reform package has made these claims, only to find that within a few years they were unable to cover the number of people they had hoped to cover and that their health care costs exceeded their budget. The reason for this is that every state, and now our federal government, ignored the data showing that we cannot achieve universal and affordable health care as long as we retain private insurers as an integral part of health care financing. This truth has been documented both in practice and in numerous economic studies.

We cannot control health care costs, without severe rationing, as long as we retain multiple private insurers, because this model wastes at least a third of our health care dollars on areas that have nothing to do with direct health care: marketing, high CEO salaries, profits, and administration. We cannot guarantee that patients will be able to afford needed care using private insurers because the private insurance model is profit driven. These corporations profit by avoiding the sick and denying and restricting payment for care. Their bottom line is profit, not improved health. And no amount of industry regulation to date has been successful in changing that bottom line. Likewise, the new federal legislation is full of loopholes that will allow private insurers to continue to skirt the regulations.

The White House and Congress claimed throughout the process that we must retain private insurance because Americans desire choice, and this has been framed as choice of insurance. However, this is a false concept. No person can anticipate what their health care needs will be or which insurance will be best. Health care needs change the day a patient has a serious accident or is diagnosed with a serious illness. We all need the same health insurance: one that covers all medically necessary care when and where we need it. Those of us who travel and listen find that people in America desire choice of health care provider and choice of treatment: the two choices that private health insurers restrict. . . .

When it comes to health reform, compromise on the fundamentals is unacceptable because the human costs are continued preventable deaths, continued suffering as patients fight for needed care, and continued bankruptcy from medical debt as families struggle to pay for deductibles and uncovered services. In a study published in Health Affairs in January 2008 that looked at the top nineteen industrialized nations, the United States ranked the worst—we have the highest number of preventable deaths (101,000 each year) because we lack a health system. . . .

We Can Still Create a National Health Program!

. . . It is possible to create a national health program in which every person living in this country is able to receive the same high standard of medical care whenever and wherever they need it, without fear of financial consequences. We call this health security. Other advanced nations have achieved this goal. The United States has not, and is currently ranked thirty-seventh in the world for health outcomes. We spend more per capita on health care than every advanced nation, yet leave a third of our
population either completely on the outside or vulnerable to financial ruin should they have a serious health problem.

Physicians for a National Health Program, founded in 1987, educates and advocates for a health system that will improve our health outcomes and provide health security based on the evidence of what has worked in our nation and what is effective in other advanced nations. We envision a lifelong universal health system—much like traditional Medicare—that is nationwide. We envision a system that allows patients to choose where they receive their care, permits caregivers and patients to determine the best course of treatment with assistance from evidence-based data, controls costs in a rational way through simplified administration and negotiation of fair prices, and is progressively financed. Its publicly funded nature would make it transparent and accountable. Because it would be privately delivered, it would allow caregivers to compete based on quality of care provided. Private health insurers would be relegated to a position of offering supplemental plans and possibly providing administrative support.

. . . Please join us. You can learn more at or join the grassroots
movement at
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]