Monday, July 03, 2017

A Modest Healthcare Proposal

It would seem one of the most vexing concern for the citizens and government of the United States of America would be healthcare. While many people feel that some sort of government run program that gave necessary access to healthcare, with a moderate and sensible tax rate in place would be ideal, those currently in charge, and many of their supporters feel that this is unacceptable. Anybody requiring the support of his or her neighbor, without that neighbor freely giving that support is unacceptable. More to the point having sick and poor people in the healthcare system is an undue burden on that system. This is evident by the rising cost of insurance premiums since the implementation of current healthcare regulations. This is why it’s prudent to evaluate each person by the severity of their health issues, the solvency of their insurance program, their fiduciary contribution to society, and the likelihood that they will be able to pay back any debt accrued from health care and treatment in a timely manner.

This will simplify who has access to healthcare and what healthcare they have access to. An individual (or family) below the poverty line with a broken bone may, given a reasonable amount of time, be able to pay back any debt accrued for their treatment within a few years, barring any other major crises. However the same person with cancer would not be able to pay back the debt within a reasonable time, even with insurance.

In this proposal somebody with a potentially fatal, but treatable and costly illness has three options presented to them when it’s first implemented: the first is do nothing. The sickness will eventually kill you, and it may be a slow painful death, but as long as you’re able to keep working and have family and/or friends willing to support you, you may just wait it out until the inevitable happens. The other option is to save up and gain assisted suicide in those states where it is legal. If you can pay for the cost of assisted suicide, and there is no law barring it where you live, then of course you can seek it out. The third option - and this is an option I assume that those that are currently on any form of welfare would be forced to comply with - is simply volunteer for execution. Now these executions would take place semi-monthly, and would be mass executions. So as not to pour salt on the wound of being forced to seek out execution because one cannot pay their healthcare debt, mass graves will be dug for all those who are to be executed. Though families and friends who want to pay to have the bodies of loved ones transported back to them for proper burial may do so. And it’s safe to assume cremation may be offered at cost in some markets.

Now for the first few years all of these options will be voluntary. Some people, even most people, will probably let nature take its course in the hopes that some sort of windfall comes their way. This seems reasonable., but once this program is rolled out into full swing, financial assessors will be needed at each medical facility or through private insurers to determine the likelihood of payback within the specified timeframe. Those that are deemed to be financially insufficient will be given a week to a month to sort out their affairs, and then be forced to comply with execution. There is a simple reason for this: Organ harvesting.

The cost of the executions, financial advisors and burials (or cremations) though intended to be done in the cheapest way possible will still require money for the workforce and equipment. And while some people may be completely useless in death due to the severity of their illness, many will still have some valuable organs than can be harvested and offered to those who planned better financially, or were just fortunate enough to be deservingly born into wealth. The organs harvested from those who need healthcare at a level they couldn’t not afford will be offered at fair market rates. Those that can afford the new heart, the new liver, retinas and so on, will be contributing to the unfortunate, but necessary system set up for the poor.  And while the poor will still be a burden (how could they not be?) they will be able to contribute to the system for those that can afford it.
Of course there would be several levels to this healthcare system. The top level would have full access to every modern drug and treatment available. The bottom level would only have access to basic vaccines, and low cost treatments for minor ailments that may or may not be effective. Then there would be, at the very bottom, what we call 0 level recipients. These individuals being the homeless and indigent members of society with no close network support of family or friends to help support them. People who find themselves with in this level would be given a short time to climb back up to the next tier, or would be summarily rounded up and executed during the next scheduled purge.

There is more to it than what is written here. Details of what each level provides would need to be detailed, and of course insurance rates would have to be calculated for each level. But the basics are here: no individual would be cause for undue burden on the healthcare system any longer, because they would either be able to pay for their treatment through insurance (if they qualify) or out of pocket. Or their organs would be harvested to be sold into the system. There would also be an option for family members to volunteer for execution to have their organs harvested to cover the cost for other family members, and of course selling a kidney, lung, or even a portion of a healthy liver would be acceptable contribution to help cover healthcare costs. Each person would be accountable for themselves, but could volunteer to help others if they desire.

This is the only fair way to approach health care, to make sure that each person is paying into the system either through cash or through blood. In the long run, I feel it could become a model that other countries could emulate.*

*This is meant to be satire, F. G. Shaw has no desire to see this nightmare of a proposal implemented in any way. And while he believes that most things should be on an open market, his stance is that healthcare should not be one of them. And affordable and decent health care should be available to all people. He also feels the current system is lacking, and the proposals currently in the House and the Senate are a nightmare. He otherwise spends his time working, playing games, watching cartoons and podcasting about them.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

The perplexity of climate change.

I've been quiet here for some time. I keep meaning to post more, but lack of motivation or time or perhaps just a general malaise prevent me from doing so.

A lot has happened in the last couple of years. First and foremost we have an authoritarian man-child as President of the US. I have a number of thoughts about that, and about the conspiracy of Russia involving themselves in our election, but that will wait. The most significant thing that has happened recently is Trump pulling us, the United States, out of the Paris Accords.

The Paris Accords are (briefly) a set of agreements each country drafts for themselves (each country will have different goals) to help curb the rising temperatures. There's a fund that countries contribute to, to help poorer countries meet their goals. The US was set to donate a great deal to this fund.

But all of that is for another time.

We pulled out of the Paris Accord because.... Well presumably because it was unfair to the US economically. That's one of the things we were told. It's debatable I suppose that it is or isn't, but... I'm not an economist any more than I am a climate scientist, which is where I defer back to both groups on this issue. The climatologists (and most at that) say the earth is warming due to green house gasses in the atmosphere. Economists (many, maybe even most) say that the Paris Accord will likely, in the long run, not hurt the US economy Sure, they know more than I do, though economics seems to be a bit more "fortune teller" like in it's efficacy. I'll come back to this eventually.

So maybe we pulled out because Trump (and apparently many of the GOP) believe that climate change is a hoax. That seems more likely. Not that it is a hoax, that seems very unlikely, especially when you have the military and pretty much every climate scientist employed within and without the US government saying that it is a legitimate concern. And those scientists are only some that are concerned about it. No it's more likely that Trump doesn't believe in it. His daughter Ivanka has indicated she does. But I get the impression that even she is someone that Trump barely listens to.

It's also likely that people with deep pockets have made it apparent that Trump has much to gain by pulling out. I think, honestly that is most likely, and between this and a combination of the above... here we are.

But not believing in climate change? It's odd to me. We, as a species, are able to destroy mountains. Create islands. Cut down entire rain forests bigger than Alaska (there's something you can't deny we did). But the idea that any of our actions my inadvertently be the cause of the climate to go up several degrees is beyond our scope? That just doesn't make any sense.

People have been debating this for about 15 years now... well longer, but the deniers have been taken more seriously the last 15 years. Which is funny, because before that most people accepted it, even though there wasn't as much evidence (still plenty though) as there is today. But because people with deep pockets, and heavy investments stand to lose a lot of cash if their industries are regulated and phased out the deniers have been given equal footing. And now it's a debate here in the US (and in Britain oddly enough).

I'm not going to debate. The idea that we shouldn't stop polluting because it's not hurting the climate is stupid. Even if climate change was a hoax (it's not) we should cut down our emissions because it's unhealthy. That's a no brainer. Well, it should be. Cities all over the country are chocking on air pollution, but no worries, it doesn't cause global warming so it doesn't need to be addressed?

I'll have more on this later. Probably even with links!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day.

It's Mother's Day.
Mother's Day has never been a holiday that I've been particularly diligent in celebrating. When I lived away from my mother I would call her, or barring that instigate a long conversation on IM to chat and wish her a happy day.
And that was that.
When I moved back I may give her a little gift (finances allowing), or take her to lunch. But she never made the day a major event. Occasional grill out, or my siblings would do something. She wouldn't. She'd take the phone calls, and visit with visitors happily.
She's gone, and this is the third mother's day she hasn't been here. She'll be absent for all subsequent Mother's Day remaining in my lifetime and the lifetime of all children her grandchildren.
I miss her. But I don't miss her more today then I did yesterday or the day before. Me missing her is a daily event. Some days is only momentary, other days it's a constant niggling in my mind, and still others there's an open wound that aches.
My mother was amazing. She effected so many people through out her life through her crafts, her advice, or her customer service, and the is telling. I still converse with many people about her. And that warms my heart. She was somebody I (and many people) admired. She was my friend, a confidant and adviser.
I am, and will always be at a loss without her.
I have my memories.
And that's something of value that can be shared.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What could have been?

There's potential everywhere, and the great tragedy of life is most of it is untapped, undiscovered or underutilized. A small group of people, for instance, might become the creative force for how comedy is done for generations. Or perhaps an artistic movement. Or maybe a vast array of scientific discoveries.

I think I had that. I think there was a group of us, while maybe not out to change the world necessarily, definitely could have made more great art than we did. Those of us who started out on these blogs back in the day.... 14 years ago for many of us... most of us don't keep up any more. There's one that does. Drasago. He's still there creating. Still writing on his blog. Working on plays in whichever capacity. A few still are... just not together. I can't help but feel a linchpin was lost and let everybody drift and the potential we had together has waned.

Perhaps not.

Perhaps we never had that potential. But I'd like to think we did. I'd like to think that all our potential waned when we parted ways in life. But maybe I'm just propping up my own importance. Those that are still pursuing art, still chasing the drug of creation, they didn't need me to continue, obviously, but perhaps there's something missing with out my influence. With the others who stopped.

When I gather with these folks, after a decade or more apart, and spend time in their presence I feel that tremble of creation. I don't know if they do as well, or if it's just projection on my part. But I feel it.

And melancholy grows for what might have been. What would have happened if we never parted ways? None can say. That's not how life played out. There are those still pilfering away, those that are silent and who have stopped the race, and those.. like myself that occasional dabble.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Her Laugh and Smile.

*I had thought I had this on the blog, it appears that I did not. I am rectifying that. This is about my Aunt Sharon and was originally written on July 17th 2014*

I remember being afraid of Aunt Sharon when I was very little. I'm still, to do this day, not sure why. I think it may be simply because she wasn't inclined to take any guff, and I was a precocious child at times, well very talkative (I still am). Perhaps it's because I knew that she would get after me if I got outline (and justifiably so).
I remember going with dad to see Aunt Sharon now and then, she'd be in her kitchen, which reminded me of grandma Shaw's kitchen, the deep rich smell of coffee in the air. Aunt Sharon would sit in her chair smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee with dad while they bantered back and forth. My father would make some jibe at her, and her eyes would narrow for a moment before she filled the room with laughter. Her laugh was deep and hearty. Genuine. It would bring a smile to your face just to hear it, if not beg you to join in t, laughing with her.
I remember her and grandma playing cards. I'm not sure, but I suspect she enjoyed cards as much or more than grandma did. A few times they let me join in. There was a competitive razzing that went back and forth between the two of them. I saw the razzing with my father and uncle A.D. as well. It must be hereditary. She always had a twinkle in her eye. She enjoyed the game almost as much as she enjoyed the time spent with those playing the game.
I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't seen aunt Sharon in quite some time. She has been in my thoughts of late though, and I had intended to see her in the next few weeks. But intention is not action and missed opportunities can never be won back. I have only myself to blame for that.
I keep her in my memories now, next to mom and dad, aunt Evelyn, grandma Shaw and grandma Jennie, and all the the friends and family that are no longer here. I'd like to remember her laugh and her smile.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What a life!

There was something about Uncle Cliff that made me want to be around him. I remember as a little boy being eager to see him whenever he would come up to my Grandma Shaw’s house to help my father with a project. Or being excited to see him when dad would have me tag along with him to aunt Sharon’s house and he was there. There was something about him. A twinkle in his eye. A smile in the tone of his gravely voice when he’d say “Hi Frank.”
Being around him and my father as a youngster seemed like I was sitting in another era. A time when old cowboys roamed the countryside. Listening to their stories (never were any actual cowboy or old west related) took me back to when they were younger men. I didn’t fully comprehend the tales, which may have been for the best, but I listened eagerly. I’d watch him and my dad work as well. Pitching in when I could. It wasn’t often that Uncle Cliff and dad would work on a project together. But it seemed the two of them could work circles around a dozen men half their age. I don’t hold an unlit candle in comparison to either man. Uncle Cliff seemed like a work horse. Unrelenting and thorough. Eager to get the job done, but not to the point of wearing himself out before he was close to finishing.
It wasn’t a common thing. At least it wasn’t common for me to be around them both while they talked and discussed bygone eras. I came at the end of everything. An epilogue to a generation that have now reached reached their 50’s while I tag along in the distance near their children’s ages. I missed out getting know some of my aunts and uncles and cousins in the same way as my siblings because of it, but it didn’t matter with Uncle Cliff. I think the reason I wanted to be around him is because he made you feel like he wanted you around.

There was also the horseshoes. Or the Shaw Reunion horseshoe tournament that was held every year at least. I was always excited to watch Uncle Cliff play. I heard this and that about his abilities. He had played in many tournaments, and there were times the man seemed like a wizard with the horse shoes. He had a knack for floating the shoes in around the post.
“ding” “ding”
Ringer after ringer. It was uncanny. He wasn’t perfect. He had his off years certainly. But I think he was by far on more winning teams than he was on losing teams. Or at least on the team that took second place. He seem nonplussed by all of it. He would jokingly scoff at us for bragging him up like we did. Often tell us that he was likely to lose. It was never false modesty with him. He was simply humble.

    I remember thinking that he always looked the same. His skin dark and leathery from hours out in the sun. I don’t remember him aging from the time I was little till… well just recently, the last few years. He still had the same smile in his eye, the slightly hunched posture, and the pleasant gravelly voice he seemed to always have. He slowed down, but he seemed to look the same. Until my Aunt Sharon’s funeral. It had been some time since I had last seen him and he appeared old then. That was the first time I remember ever thinking that Uncle Cliff looked old.

I read about Uncle Cliff’s life. What he accomplished. The adventures that he had. I can’t help but feel that stories could be told for days around the fire about him. To some he was a bartender. To some he was their ditchrider. To others he was a hunting companion. To many, and most importantly, he was father and grandfather. To me he was a wizard at throwing horseshoes and a fierce worker who I enjoyed being around. It’s hard time losing such a man. But what an amazing life.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Look at Paul Thomas Andersons' There Will Be Blood.

Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is methodical and menacing, from the opening scene in which the main character Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) breaks his leg while mining silver, to the final brutal scene. It's visually compelling, with a spot on soundtrack to help punctuate the drama.

The film opens with Daniel Plainview mining for silver, then jumps ahead a few years where we see him and a team of men mining for oil. Digging the hole out by hand. Using a weighted drill bit attached to a makeshift wooden derrick to punch through the muddy earth and then excavating the oil out of the hole with wooden buckets. It's during this scene that the father of a young baby is killed by collapsing equipment when the derrick breaks. Daniel takes the baby, adopting it. The film jumps ahead about 9 years and Daniel and his adopted son H.W. giving a speech in front of the large congregation of a town. He's trying to sell the townsfolk on the idea of letting him put oil wells on their land and after a short period of questions and answers he and his partner Fletcher (Ciarin Hinds) decide to move on due to the savvyness of the locals. Here they are approached by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) who offers to sell them info of a region that has not been tapped yet: his family farm and the surrounding area of Little Boston.

Taking the guise of a  hunter, Daniel and H.W go to the Sunday farm that Paul told them about. Their guise fools the family initially, and after some hunting and scouting for potential spots for oil, Daniel goes to Abel Sunday and offers to buy the farm pretending to only want to settle down on the land. The ruse is seen through by Eli Sunday, Paul Sunday's twin brother. Eli forces Daniel to up his price and promise to donate $5000 for the church that Eli ministers.

After buying up leases to all the properties in the area but one, owned by Bandy (Hans Howes) and promising the townsfolk a lot of things, Daniel builds his first derrick and prepares to drill the first well. He's approached by Eli who asks him to allow him to bless the site at the ribbon the next day. During the ceremony Daniel gives a basic, informal and insincere blessing, slighting Eli.

Paul Dano's Eli Sunday has an air of smugness that is befitting the character.  Eli doesn't appear in a lot of scenes, as Daniel Plainview is the focus of the film, which is partly a shame. Though Paul Thomas Anderson doesn't waste those scenes in which Eli appears however, with each one progressing towards the final outcome.

Then the accidents begin: first some workers are unable to secure the bit correctly, fumbling with it and dropping it down the well on the worker below, killing him. Then there's a gas blowout that ignites the rig on fire burning it to the ground, while the initial gas explosion makes H.W. deaf. This moment in the film showcases the cinematography better than any scene: from the gas blowout to the derrick burning down at night, it illustrates why Paul Thomas Andersons films are so visually compelling. Eli goes to Daniel telling him that none of this would have happened if Daniel had let him bless the rig. He then demands the $5000 dollars he had asked for initially. Daniel beats Eli, dragging him through the mud, humiliating him. 

A man claiming to be Daniel's half-brother Henry Plainview (Kevin J O'Conner) arrives, asking for work. H.W. tries to burn down the house after the arrival of Henry. So Daniel decides to send him off to a private school. Daniel takes Henry on and together they survey a route for a pipeline to the ocean. During the survey they attempt to secure permission from Bandy to take the pipeline across his property and fail. Once they reach the end of the route Daniel begins to suspect that Henry may be an imposter. Finally holding him at gunpoint, Daniel get's a confession out of him. In his rage Daniel kills him. The next morning he's confronted by Bandy who tells him that he'll let him take the pipeline across his property, but only after he confesses he's a sinner and is baptized in the church.

Daniel agrees, and goes to the church to be baptised. During the baptism Eli humiliates him getting him to confess that he's a bad father for the accident that left H.W. deaf and then sending him away. Daniel accepts this fate, but shortly after sends away for H.W. to come back to him. This scene, like so many in this film is amazing. It builds slowly over a short period of time to an intense crescendo. There's glee in Paul Dano's face as Eli get's Daniel to confess over and over again that he's a bad father. And Lewis' portrayal of Daniel is one of rage. Rage waiting to be unleashed.

Daniel Day Lewis is an actor that embraces his characters fully. He becomes them. I have yet to be disappointed with a performance by Lewis, and in this case I'm more than impressed. Lewis' Daniel Plainview is ambition, greed and madness rolled into one explosive envelope. Each scene progresses the descent into evil and the final capitulation is both brutal and satisfying.

The film jumps forward 15 years, an adult H.W. marries his sweetheart Mary Sunday, younger sister to Paul and Eli. After the wedding he goes to his father and asks his father to dissolve the partnership as he wants to move to Mexico and start his own oil company. Daniel, in a fit of anger tells him the truth about him being an orphan and tells him never to return. Shortly after this he's visited by a down on his luck Eli and the ultimate scene plays out to a brutal conclusion.

If the film has a weakness it's the other characters. This is a world that only exists to tell the story of Daniel Plainview. Eli and H.W. factor into the story as important elements but the other characters are little better than background material. The film is so focused that they hardly seem to matter other than to help populate scenes. But that also serves as a strength as there's not a lengthy cast of characters to keep track of, and those that do move into Daniel's life maintain their importance only for the few scenes they're in. This isn't to imply that the actors don't do well, there are no poor performances, just that each are overshadowed by the two phenomenal performances.

Paul Thomas Anderson has managed to make a film that is captivating. The visuals are as engaging as the acting and script is and every moment of this film feels important to the narrative. There simply isn't a wasted moment. It's one of the few movies I actually wanted to watch again right away, and that's saying something. Of his movies that I have viewed this is far and away Mr. Anderson's strongest work, and that's amazing because even his weakest film is worth watching.