Friday, July 24, 2009

What happened to Paul Krugman? Has he converted to faith-based healthcare reform?

What happened to Paul Krugman? Just a month ago in Not Enough Audacity he aimed these memorable words at President Obama:
The point is that if you’re making big policy changes, the final form of the policy has to be good enough to do the job. You might think that half a loaf is always better than none — but it isn’t if the failure of half-measures ends up discrediting your whole policy approach.

Which brings us back to health care. It would be a crushing blow to progressive hopes if Mr. Obama doesn’t succeed in getting some form of universal care through Congress. But even so, reform isn’t worth having if you can only get it on terms so compromised that it’s doomed to fail.
His enthusiastic endorsement of Wednesday night's performance makes no sense.

What happened? Has he given up and become an advocate of faith-based healthcare reform? Faith that, somehow, the tangled mess of special interest giveaways moving through Congress can, somehow, possibly work? Having the faith to cite Massachusetts as a good example? Believing that, with the right cost controls, the for-profit sharks will mend their ways?

I guess he got tired.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I dreamed that, step by step, Obamacare went the way of Hillarycare, or worse

I Dreamed Obamacare Went the Way of Hillarycare or Worse
After President Obama's uninspiring health care news conference, I dozed off and dreamed that, step by step, Obamacare went the way of Hillarycare, or even worse -- in the sense that it might actually eventually be passed, in a form that discredits government involvement in healthcare for years to come.

In my heart of hearts, I feel Barack Obama is a good, caring Democrat who is trying his best to solve a major social problem. I felt the same way about Hillary Clinton and her 1993 healthcare initiative. Unfortunately, they both are pragmatists who believe that change is brought about by working within the system. There are times when that works. But not now. This is a time when the system is so corrupt that working within it just compounds the problem.

If ever a time when bold leadership was required to envision a new and better system, it's now. FDR came up with the vision of Social Security and got it enacted into law. He didn't turn it over to Congress and lobbyists for the brokerages, bankers and insurance companies to come up with a private-sector retirement program and a tiny little token "public option." We got Social Security -- and good thing we did, or our financial crisis today would be far worse. Ditto with LBJ and Medicare.

Obama never campaigned for single-payer, and originally I thought his pragmatic approach might at least produce something that was better than nothing -- something we could build on and improve in the future. Instead, just as in 1993, we're headed for something too complicated for anybody to understand and which relies way too much on a misplaced faith in market solutions and incrementalist tinkering.

The financial collapse gave Obama all the cover he needed, if cover was even needed, given the polls showing overwhelming support for single-payer, for him to boldly lead a campaign for single-payer, universal coverage and sell it to the public over the heads of Congress and an army of hospital, pharma and insurance lobbyists giddy with the prospect of looting the public treasury once again.

I wish he had.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The public library won't erase the book you borrow after you take it home

They Won't Erase the Book You Borrow After You Take it Home
Unlike, say, Amazon, which recently reminded people in dramatic fashion that they're not really buying books for their Kindle e-book reader but only licensing them, when Amazon deleted two George Orwell books from Kindles of customers who had downloaded them, over a rights dispute involving the publishers. (Reportedly, some customers had their term paper notes deleted along with the books.) Amazon refunded the purchase price to their customers' accounts, but still . . .

I don't think e-book readers are quite there yet, but I'm sure most of us will be using them someday. Until now, I had been leaning toward the Kindle. But it's going to take a long time for Amazon to regain my trust after that boneheaded stunt.

Licensing a book for a Kindle is like having it on permanent loan. That is, you don't really own it, you're just borrowing it. But if I'm going to borrow a book, I figure why not borrow it from the Madison Public Library (photo from the Sequoya Branch when it had its opening ceremony last December). Besides, their downloads are free.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

There's still time to get your free Blooming Butterflies tickets

There's Still Time to get Your Free Blooming Butterflies Tickets
Woohoo! Our two free tickets to the Blooming Butterflies show at Olbrich Botanical Gardens came in the mail yesterday (a $10.00 value). It's the annual event for which they hatch hundreds of butterflies and release them to fly free and live out their life spans in the Bolz Conservatory to the delight of visitors young and old. I won my tickets by answering a few quiz questions about Olbrich Gardens from their website. There's still time for you to send in your answers by July 29 and get your own free tickets. Just click here. If I can get the quiz questions right, anyone can.