Monday, June 13, 2016

Donald Trump and the un-making of America amid the massacre in Orlando

He had every opportunity to rise above his constant rants and childish tantrums, but Donald Trump instead chose that moment to congratulate himself for predicting the massacre in Orlando.

While bodies lay cold and gallons of blood were still flowing across the nightclub floor, the presumptive Republican nominee showed just how small he was by Tweeting, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” Trump tweeted triumphantly mid-Sunday, “I don’t want congrats, I want toughness and vigilance.” (Politico/CNN)

Again, the FBI and Orlando police were still removing bodies from the nightclub.

He could have taken a breath and shown due respect to those killed and wounded, congratulated the Orlando police department, Sheriff's deputies, SWAT . . . anyone . .  for saving dozens of others trapped by the gunman inside the club, and held out a sympathetic hand to the LGBT community.

But no. The carnival barker couldn’t rise . . . couldn’t bring himself to see the events as anything but a way to congratulate himself and bark at Obama and Clinton. While gallons of blood were still flowing across the floor.

There were more than 300 people in Pulse, the popular gay nightclub, when the shooter entered, engaging a uniformed Orlando policeman working at the club.

The brave, the courageous and the supporters . . . That cop, massively outgunned, saved dozens of lives. Cops rush in when we all flee. Orlando police and Sheriff's deputies . . .The team that burst through the wall with their Bearcat armored vehicle and killed the shooter in a hail of gunfire  . . . The hundreds and hundreds of people who lined up to give blood . . . The doctors, nurses and first responders, as well as club goers, who saved lives . . . The outpouring of support from around the country and the world . . .

But Trump was unable to see the big picture and modify his usual antics, even hinting later in the day that Obama might be sympathetic to terrorists. That little twist of words encourages Trump’s rabid supporters to think that maybe Obama’s “Muslim” sympathies or even his “Muslim beliefs” were the reason he avoids saying “radical Islamic terrorists,” even though many terrorism experts believe that term inflames and divides.

“He could have appeared dignified, controlled, in-command, following the time-tested presidential path blazed by George W. Bush in 2001 and Obama on Sunday. Instead, he bellowed like Ralph Kramden throwing an I-told-you-so over his shoulder at passengers on his bus.” (Politico)

No matter whether or not one is a Trump supporter, his blindness to large issues, and his inability to grasp even basic knowledge about a wide range of topics is becoming more and more obvious. Even Trump enabler Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “. . . It’s pretty obvious he (Trump) doesn’t know a lot about the issues. You see that in the debates in which he’s participated.”

And yet here we are, an ego maniac touting his "incredible insight" into terrorism by bragging that he saw the Orlando attack coming. So did everyone else, Donald. We all knew there would be other attacks, and we also know that you insult the FBI and other law enforcement agencies by saying “our security is terrible.”

While he continued through the day with his self-congratulatory Tweets, and attacks on his political opponents, he offered not one solution to stop this type of lone wolf attack. Not one. Big, sweeping rhetoric, but not one solution or idea offered that might actually stop a crazy person from legally buying a couple of guns and unleashing hell in a nightclub.

Perhaps that’s because there are no easy solutions . . . As I said, these types of attacks are nearly impossible to stop . . . There is no communication between the potential shooter and anyone else, but only a cold determination to go kill people. Cops will stop potential threats here and there (As they did in Los Angeles over the weekend when they arrested a guy with a car full of weapons and bomb-making supplies.) Potential attackers may make mistakes that hit the law enforcement radar, but, as in the Orlando case, they may not.

Trump is unwinding the things that make our nation great. His ignorance, small-minded thoughts, twisted insinuations and petty personal attacks are not making us great again, they are making us more divided, fearful, petty and racially ignorant. Trump fans the worst flames of hate and prejudice and congratulates himself for knowing what we all know, turning what could have been a human moment into a day of self-loving. People died, Donald.

One man, two weapons and a slaughter in an Orlando nightclub.

Let’s take a minute to pray for those who died and those who were wounded, as well as their families and friends. Let them be in our thoughts.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sometimes it's a great meal . . . Other times it's a meal with great memories

If we’re lucky, we have in our lifetime had great meals that we will remember for a very long time. Perhaps a fancy restaurant, or a new cuisine that opened a whole new direction in your foodie world. Maybe we can’t remember the exact meal or circumstances years and years later, but those special meals kind of rumble around in our heads, often popping to the forefront when we repeat a similar experience or setting.

I have indeed been very lucky. I traveled with my family to Hawaii and through Asia when I was 12 years old, dining on new and strange foods in strange settings. Of course that was strange (as in new) to a 12-year-old, but in reality, it was simply a new experience, a new view on not only food, but the people who made that food. So we had new things, like sushi, shark fin soup and various other things that, back then, sure were exotic to an American kid. Of course, that kid, much to the chagrin of his father, ran his fingers through the flames of candles in a Buddhist temple . . . One also remembers enjoying a Japanese dinner and in the side room some of the waitresses were enjoying their own meal . . . hamburgers . . . Really? Just thought it was funny . . .

Certainly, my life has been a bit (or more) too food centric, but food plays a role in a lot of the things we do, not only because of the food itself, but because of the memories we have of the meal . . . food . . . friends or family . . . an event.

Sometimes a great meal is made great not only by the food, but the place . . . Think future son-in-law’s bachelor party at the Peter Lugar steak temple, or several days in New Orleans with Lisa for a work event and dining at places like Commander’s Palace, Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s Louisana Kitchen, or Pete Fountain’s jazz club.

While a product manager at E.F. Hutton, my assistant, Nicola, and I made it a point to hold a staff meeting (there were only the two of us) or a few at Nirvana, a wonderful restaurant overlooking Central Park in New York City. Nicola always got us a table next to the window and helped me wade through the menu filled with Indian delights . . . I had not much experience with Indian food, so a guide was very needed.

A vendor took me and Lisa to Jezebel’s in New York City, a delightful Creole/soul food/Southern restaurant decorated in an early 1900’s Louisiana plantation style, with wrought iron furnishings, porch swings and fancy crystal chandeliers, vintage posters and a warm, cozy atmosphere. We were hosted by a bank where Hutton had a few millions dollars in precious metals stored. One of our hosts was named Erin, which kind of steered us to that name for our Younger Child . . . We thought it was pretty, Irish-ish and was better than anything else we had come up with. Hey, Erin . . .

Sometimes, though, we have a meal that really isn’t all that fancy of great in and of itself, but somehow sticks in our minds . . .

I’ve enjoyed a burger alone at New Socials here in town . . . Dinner with Rebecca at Common Man . . . prime rib with mashed potatoes the last time (Fortunately she usually orders something I like . . . It’s a weird dynamic.) . . . Lunch there, too, with Erin . . . Kristin’s wedding at Round Hill . . . My two beautiful kids . . . Even just a sandwich here at home with them . . . It’s all about time. We catch it when we can.

Lone Star with friends again and again . . .Breakfast omelets at home and hand delivered to me and the Kilburns when Rebecca commandeered my kitchen on a visit . . . Or a special pizza that’s become a favorite when she visits to check on me and make sure I’m still breathing . . . (I am.) . . .

Sushi is often a favorite of mine . . . Sushi alone and enjoying the art on the plate, or with my sister and niece and enjoying the art on the plate and the company . . . Sushi with my former accountant and
enjoying the art, but not the sea urchin (sorry to all you lovers of the delicacy) . . . With Erin (who once misjudged the height of my truck when we went to pick up a take-out sushi order once) in New Jersey . . . Thanksgiving dinners, cooking the bird on the grill . . . Both girls laughing as I opened the umbrella on the deck and two bats fell out and flew away . . . I yelped like a little girl and apparently they enjoyed that very much . . . They still do.

Summer picnics at the Shakespeare Theater in Connecticut . . . Even canned chili for lunch at my parent’s house at Stratton . . . Those lunches with friends at the top of the mountain and in the Base Lodge were also fun. . . the bottles of Mateus didn’t hurt.

Or how about those Spam sandwiches at canoeing camp in Canada? We usually didn’t stop our daily travels to have a hot lunch, but Pete Morningstar (yep) and out counselors decided to stop and start a fire for a quick bite between long portages. That also lightened the loads we had to carry, so getting rid of a few cans was nice . . . Spam cans. Pete (our guide) started the fire and used a huge cast iron frying pans to cook slices of Spam . . . We took those charred pieces and slapped them between a couple of pieces of white bread and mustard . . . Damn were they good . . . We were tired, hot and sore from the portages and the paddling. It was a bright sunny day . . . I’m not sure I ever ate Spam after camp, but that day, whatever Spam is, tasted like the best meal ever.

When I was a writer at E.F. Hutton a bit more than 100 years ago, we'd been working on a rather arduous project and two of us decided to head to the small (very) diner at the lower level of 26 Broadway while we awaited final exec sign off on the job (an often arduous and political process itself). My friend ordered a cream cheese and grape jelly sandwich on raisin toast with fries . . . I seconded that and a picture remains in my head . . . flashing back more than 30 years. Freezing the moment.

Finally . . . hot dogs at the World Trade Center. I worked for Dean Witter for a couple of years and while we had a pretty good cafeteria, every once in a while a couple of us made the journey down the 72 stories from our offices to the street for some dirty water dogs from a vendor who also offered good sausages and homemade sides . . . Guess that’ll never happen again.

There are dozens of others . . .

I guess it often turns out that it’s not just the food, but who we’re with that makes some meals special. A place and a time. Every once in a while they get deeply etched in our heads. Time moves on . . . It’s relentless, and before we know it, those moments are gone . . . 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

In politics, generalities are easy . . . Maybe we should learn some specifics

We all love talking in generalities about things we hear or read in the news. We all do it, spit out our opinions based on what is going on somewhere else and someplace else. The world is a big place, and we can say whatever we wish from the comfort of our homes. But sometimes reality hits us head on, makes us sit up and notice that there are real people involved in, and affected by, all those laws and opinions we read about.

Here’s the generality . . . We’re passing and threatening to pass laws that will limit people coming into America based on their religion . . . We are threatening to deport immigrants . . . We are passing laws that allow businesses to aggressively discriminate against gays and put transgender people in dangerous, confrontational places (bathrooms . . . which new laws mandate can only be used by people “born” male or female and not by those who identify as male or female).

Here are some realities . . .

A friend of mine has been married to her husband for 13 years. Together they have 3 children, he works, and she owns a business. They own a home and 2 cars. He’s from Costa Rica. She’s American. For years he’s worked here, legally, with a green card, but the recent political rhetoric has caused them some concern. So much concern, that after some discussion, they decided it might be best for him to become a U.S. citizen, something they talked about in the past, but with a bit more urgency now.

Their recent discussions focused on concern that, for whatever reason, there might be a huge shift in immigration policy, a “reset” that might lead to deportation of immigrants here legally, or a shift in “legal” status that could also lead to deportations.

The end result is that he ended up becoming a U.S. citizen, passing the 100-question test that most of us couldn't pass. (Perhaps politicians should be required to take and pass that test before they can take office.) So the rhetoric makes immigrants, legal and undocumented, uneasy and often fearful of the future. As a country of immigrants, that should make us all anxious.

It is estimated that more than 13 million Hispanics will vote this year, compared with less than 10 million in 2008. 

Here’s another . . .

You could be in a restaurant and the waitress asks if you’re gay. Why? “Because we don’t serve gay people.” Do you answer? Tell her to bug off or tell her indeed you are straight, but your friend is gay . . . or that indeed you are gay, “Is that a problem?”

Frankly, it’s none of her darn business, but these new laws have created these situations. I would be livid if a friend of mine was ever denied service . . . let alone fired from a job, not allowed to rent an apartment or thrown out of a hospital because he or she was gay. Don’t laugh. There will be tense confrontations and lawsuits, court challenges and screaming politicians.

While children in America are going hungry, politicians are focusing their legislative might on bathrooms and selling wedding cakes.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The awkward and hateful reality of "religious freedom " laws

So how does one deal with these anti-gay “religious freedom” laws?

Just how are they “enforced” or managed? How does a business “know” a potential customer gay and, thus, shouldn’t be served because being gay offends the owner’s religious beliefs? What happens if a business owner isn’t cowering behind the “religious freedom” curtain, but a waitress in the business says her beliefs prevent her from serving the gay couple at the corner table? Likewise, I would be angry if I tried to go into a shop with a Christian friend of mine and he or she wasn't allowed in.

Personally, I find the whole thing appalling and repulsive. That someone can deny service to another person because of his or her religious beliefs fits not even a sliver of what should be. Nobody should be denied equal rights for their sexual orientation . . . Why is this different from being denied service because you’re black, or Asian, or a Muslim, or blonde?

We are a large country filled with an equally large diversity of people . . . People of all colors and creeds, beliefs, lifestyles and faiths. Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, atheists, and on and on, fill America from coast the shining coast. (Let’s not even get into the variety of beliefs within a faith . . .) 

I fundamentally oppose legislation that purposely and aggressively discriminates against any group of people. We need sometimes to remind ourselves that we are not a “Christian” nation as some would have us believe, but a nation founded on principals of fairness and equality. And while a person’s faith needs to be protected (and is under our Constitution), that faith should never be imposed on others, or used as a weapon to discriminate.

It’s easy and short-sighted to discriminate against other people . . . Not so easy when you are the one being discriminated against. What happens if a Muslim opens a restaurant and won’t serve Christians . . . ? Imagine the outcry. Or maybe an atheist opens a bakery and won’t make wedding cakes for people getting married in a church? Ouch . . . Hear the screams of outrage . . . Turnabout is fair play, of course. Enjoy the comfort of you couch while you watch equality dissolve into a bowl of muck.

So if I go into one of these “protected” restaurants, say, how do they know or not know I’m gay or straight? If I’m gay and they serve me, is their God going to punish them somehow? A case of don’t ask, don’t tell? Do they ask if I’m gay? I go in with a friend and she’s gay, but I’m not . . . Do they serve me and not her?  Again, how do they “know” our sexual preferences? Do we pick up a letter at the hostess stand . . . “H” for hetro . . . “G” for gay . . . “B” for bi-sexual . . . “U” for undecided . . . or maybe “C” for celibate . . .

We pin the letter on our shirts? How awkward.

Either you run a business for everyone or you get out of the business. I don’t care. You make cakes . . . You serve sandwiches . . . You sell books . . .

I don’t want to go to your church and you don’t want to go to mine.

These “religious freedom” laws are fakes. There’s no threat to your religion because some random gay couple wants to buy a cake. People are people, whether you like it or not.

So-called “religious freedom” is just a high-profile part of legislative discrimination. All people should receive the same protections under the law . . . That means we don’t discriminate against people on jobs, hotels, buying or renting real estate, visiting sick loved ones in hospitals, or any other such nonsense.

It’s wrong on the face of it and it’s wrong on every level of exploration. Our politicians are creating false barriers and divisions that pretend to raise people up because of their beliefs, while putting others down because of their beliefs. If your religion prevents my friend from having lunch with me, then fuck you, I don’t care.

Monday, March 14, 2016

With nary a fact in sight, Trump's carnival heads towards Cleveland

It could all be over for the Republicans tomorrow, as primary voters head to the polls in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri

A growing majority of Republicans are hoping there will be yet another chance to “stop Trump,” but their time has almost run out as the party that created him wrings its hands as he marches to the nomination.

Several things about Trump’s campaign are clear . . . The first is that the party should have seen this coming months ago. They should have seen this crisis in their ranks, the anger that Trump has been able to fuel to the boiling point. The fear of people and countries they see as the reasons for their anger and their job loss and their perception that nobody cares about their plight except Donald Trump. He hears them clearly and has fed each and every angry, fearful note possible . . . It’s all the fault of Mexican, crappy politicians, Muslims and stupid incompetent politicians.

Trump supporters cheer their champion’s outspoken, politically incorrect rhetoric. They cheer is “difference” from the usual rubber-stamped politics they see as ruining America. They see his fire and soak up his words like an old dry sponge sitting inside the edge of a sink. They love the fact that protesters “attacked” a Trump rally. They embrace his staged anger and cheer his “punch him in the face” screeches, because that’s what they want to do. In Trump, they receive the candy they so desperately didn’t get from the Great Satan of Obama, the man they see as “ruining” America.

What rabid Trump supporters see, however, is vastly different than what others see. Others see an ego manic fueling violence, hate and divisiveness. They see a candidate who has appealed to the worst of human nature. They see someone who has yet to outline any major policy positions, instead relying on short bursts of, “We’ll make America great again” or “Mexico will pay for the wall.” Ridiculous even on the face of it.

But the simple fact is that Trump’s supporters just don’t care.

Now, the protests, some of which turned violent, will continue, as Trump fans the flames more and more, simply because any protests harden his supporters even more. This not a man, observers say, who has shown even a sliver of presidential stature. So growing protests at what Trump calls his “shows” may embolden his supporters, they are causing earthquakes within the Republican Party.

Ted Cruz, who many see as an even more “dangerous” candidate than Trump, runs in second place, his far-right views alienating voters on a national level, but proving popular among a fairly wide swath of Republican primary voters.

Rubio? If he doesn’t take Florida, his home state, he’s done, his campaign turning into not much more than a large flash in the pan that never gained the traction it needed to excite voters and push through Trump’s circus.

Kasich must take his home state of Ohio or he’s done.

Though any predictions are probably at the least a dicey endeavor, there seems to be no reason to think that Trump can unify the party, let alone the nation. If he’s the nominee each and every word he has uttered is ammo for his opponent. While his primary opponents haven’t been able to dent the Trump tank, I’m not so sure that will be the case when we’re faced with the prospect of a Trump White House. Thus not only do republicans face the prospect of losing the presidential election, but also of losing its Senate majority, and possibly the House as well. At the least, the party will be seriously wounded.

If Trump doesn’t evolve into a person willing to take responsibility for his words (Can you imagine the outcry if Obama has said, “Punch him in the face” . . . ?) and threats to build a Mexico-financed walls, ban Muslims from entering the country, deport all illegal immigrants, eliminate a free press and a warped sense of first amendment rights that Trump feels only applies to him and not those who might disagree with him. (Please note that if you’re a Muslim already here . . . and a citizen who happens to be a Muslim . . . Trump wants to take away all your Constitutional rights. That, my friends is a war on religion.)

So here we are. It’s a process, and Trump has proved time and time again that a carnival barker can capture a large crowd with his barking if he’s barking what they want to hear. That’s the way it is, and we’ll see what happens not only tomorrow, but to the Republican convention.

If Trump fails to get the delegates needed for the nomination, there will be a floor fight, from which Trump will probably not emerge the winner. It’s a numbers game . . . and Trump’s opponents are playing prevent defense, hoping they can go into the convention with some delegates and come out as the nominee after a political cage fight. It’ll be an uphill battle from there . . . 

If Trump is currently polling at 40 percent, remember that is 40 percent of a party that now claims about one-third of registered voters. That’s 40 percent of one-third. That’s not close to a majority, and despite Clinton’s high negatives, I’m not convinced that a Republican candidate can beat her, let alone Sanders, in a national contest. Part of the ammo for Democrats will be Trump’s words throughout the primary campaign as evidence of where Republicans stand on some issues.

We march on.

Monday, February 15, 2016

We need to fire politicians who want to eliminate environmental protections

I guess I'm just an ignorant dummy . . . I don't understand the inner workings of a politician's mind. I always felt that one of the first goals of politics and government is to protect people. Kind of like a doctor’s goal of “do no harm.”

How then do some politicians rationalize that by trying to eliminate laws that make polluting the air and water and the very land upon which we live?

I hear and read the arguments . . . These regulations are too restrictive . . . too costly . . . too much government over-reach . . .

But those arguments focus on the short-term, not the long term. They ignore the big picture. Often that big picture means easing regulations now, usually to help and “unencumber” businesses. Does that make sense? If we lift restrictions, say on how drilling companies handle their fracking waste water, a toxic blend of water and chemicals, and companies can dispose of it however they please, then what’s to protect people in that area from being poisoned? Often companies will take the path of least resistance if they can, and that means they’ll dispose of waste as inexpensively and quickly as possible, as an example.

That’s because companies, as they should, are supposed to make money. Doing things cheaply, without being “encumbered” by regulations, means more money can fall to the bottom line. Fine. Unfortunately, it can mean the long-term cost of those business practices may not only be costly to the company, but to the air . . . or water . . . or land. If that happens, as we’re seeing with fracking, ground water gets polluted and that means people who once lived with good water now can drink or even bathe in what’s coming out of their faucets.

So while companies should, of course, make money, they also should bear the responsibility of their actions and policies. They don’t need to be handed freebies by government, or bailed out by taxpayers when they make errors, or when their businesses cause damage. BP and Transocean could have used a better and safer pump/well safety valve, but didn’t . . . That decision cost them tens of billions of dollars and killed 11 people. The blowout preventer valve they used had failed just prior to installation on the deep water well in the Gulf.

Similar, though not as devastating, accidents or failures happen every day . . . leaks and runoffs into streams, rivers and lakes . . . waste from fracking and landfills .  . . chemical dumps . . . air pollution from plants, and even runoff from farms and private homes. It all goes into the land, air or water and that means it goes into the things we eat, drink and breathe.

So while I understand some of regulations of these things might be considered by some to be “burdensome,” history shows that is political sword rattling, and doesn’t prove to be a challenge overwhelming or damaging to most businesses and business profits. Companies predictably complain that any “restraints” on their ability to do business as they wish will create a business environment that will destroy them. Businesses adapt, and adapt quickly. They need to do that to survive and prosper. Government change tends to be glacially slow.

So why do politicians continually challenge environmental oversight? As I said, I am at something of a loss. It’s one thing to be pro-business, but not anti-people. If politicians make laws that strip people of basic protections, like clean water and air, then what’s left? What’s happening in Flint, Michigan, is an example, except this time it’s the government that made bad decisions, overlooked and trivialized complaints and concerns from residents for well over a year, poisoning thousands of residents with high levels of lead.

Keeping people safe should be a primary focus of government at all levels. There need not be a conflict between the needs of business and the safety of the population at large. When I turn on my faucet, I should expect the water coming out to be safe to drink. The plant in town should throw stuff into the air that makes it unsafe to breathe, and the factory that just cl0sed should leave a chemical footprint that lasts for decades and costs millions of dollars to clean.

If politicians can’t keep us safe, then they should find new jobs. It’s up to us to make sure they don’t stay in office.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Medicare needs nips and tucks, then a roll out to everyone

Medicare, the government’s insurance program for people 65 years old and older, as well as younger people with disabilities, sets the standards for virtually all private insurance, but there are several big challenges within the system.

With some 50 million people on Medicare, a system they paid into when they worked, it’s a huge ($200 billion-plus) program. But it is far from perfect.

First, it doesn’t cover all medical costs. It generally covers 80 percent of allowed charges, though discounts often reduce the billed amount to less than that. Some things, like dental, are not covered. Prescriptions require a separate drug plan (Plan D), which is an additional monthly cost. Perhaps most importantly, there is no limit on out-of-pocket costs, so someone in the hospital for weeks, say, could easily have to pay $20,000 on a $100,000 hospital bill . . . and up and up. Most private insurance caps out-of-pocket costs yearly, often at around $5,000.

Also, each state has a supplemental insurance lrigram, which is designed to cover (in varying amounts depending on the plan selected) that gap between what Medicare pays and what an individual pays out of pocket. Unfortunately, each state has different companies offering the supplemental insurance and different requirements,, though the plans (Plans G, N F, etc.) are virtual the same (that’s mandated). In general, when one first goes on to Medicare, he or she can sign up for supplemental insurance and not be denied that coverage (usually offered by several companies all of whom offer the same overall coverage benefits). However, if one doesn’t add the supplemental coverage right away, then each state has a different set of rules and qualifications for the added insurance, so the rules change.

Some states allow all people to buy supplemental insurance, some require an underwriting approval (which generally eliminates anyone with health issues), and some offer a combination of both. New Hampshire only has one company offering supplemental insurance without an underwriting hurdle.

It’s expensive for those of us under age 65, but drops to half the monthly cost on the most complete plan after age 65. As with many of these programs, many companies (AARP/United Healthcare for instance), is not offered. As someone who is under 65 and disabled following an amputation (which is why I qualified for Medicare), it’s virtually impossible to make it through the underwriting process.
A national program would eliminate these state-to-state-differences, which would be a good thing for many reasons. First, it would offer the widest selection of supplemental insurance to the widest number of people and eliminate states that waffle on trying to legislate health care options within their borders. It would also prevent insurance companies from cherry picking from the 50 states and ignoring some states. So a national program would level the playing field.

If everyone was offered the same supplemental insurance programs no matter where they lived, it would level costs and slow increases.

Medicare for all?

Talk of a national health insurance program, often referred to as “Medicare for all” is clearly where we are headed, and it is, with slightly different approaches, where the rest of the world is as well. While we have the world’s most expensive health care system, our overall care falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.

National health care coverage without a state by state process would eliminate companies from cherry picking some states and ignoring others. (New Hampshire has stumbled since the beginning, initially launching a state insurance exchange with just one company, trying to move Medicaid to private companies and then killing that system before it got off the ground but well after people had signed up.) Make supplemental insurance options with coverage similar to what it is now.  Some people might not need the supplemental insurance, for instance higher-income people who can afford the 20 percent uncovered by standard Medicare.

Add supplemental . . . add foreign coverage . . . add maybe long term care . . . limit of say $1 million and can add to increase that.   Add dental . . . All can be “supplemental-type” add-ons to any national coverage . . . That’s much the way people buy private insurance now and very much like the way corporate insurance and benefit programs are presented to employees.

That way people get basic coverage but can add what they want and need and can afford.

Some type of national program is coming . . . It’s inevitable because the piecemeal system we have now allows to too many care and cost variations and leaves too many people uninsured, which means they often enter the system through the emergency room, the most expensive door for “regular” care. 

We’ll see more merger in the health care industry as corporations jockey for dominant positions in their fields . . . hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors . . . but don’t buy into talk about corporations suffering through ll of this. They won’t. That talk is like a coach talking to officials about a player on the other team . . . he’s just trying to set up the game to lean towards his team a bit.

By giving people more control over their health care and leveling the field nationally, all the while mandating coverage and acceptance of pre-existing conditions (one of the most important features of the Affordable Care Act) we can all rest a bit easier that we can pay for the health care we need and that paying for it won’t bankrupt us.