Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On the Healthcare Debate Pt.1

My friend and reader of this blog Bob recently asked me to do a post on my take of the healthcare debate.!

First of all the Republicans are reaping what they sowed. The American people have consistently voiced healthcare reform as one of their top issues over the years and in two terms of a Republican led administration, it failed to even register on President Bush's radar. Now President Obama is the one in the driver's seat framing the debate and the Republicans once again look like the party of "no".

Second, the fact that our healthcare is tied to employment is one of the reasons we are in this mess. During World War 2 when wage freezes were implemented, companies needed to find non wage package inducements to lure top employee candidates. In the following decades the American healthcare system got hopelessly entangled with employment benefits. Is your employer responsible for your car or home insurance? People have been afraid to leave their job for no other reason than the status of their family's health insurance. Healthcare reform must include the delinking of healthcare from employment.

One of the reason's President Obama has lost some steam recently on healthcare is because he has been more focused on providing a government run single payer option rather than addressing the real problem of skyrocketing health costs.

In order to drive down costs, insurance has to go back to what insurance is supposed to be for; those unplanned catastrophic events in our lives. You get cancer or heart disease, health insurance comes to the rescue. You don't use insurance for a 5 minute check up at the doctor's office. You shouldn't have to produce an insurance card if you have the flu.

Take for example; auto insurance.

What is it for?

You get in a crash or your car is stolen, insurance kicks in and takes over. You don't produce an insurance card everytime you tank up for gas. Can you imagine what your auto insurance would cost if paperwork had to be submitted and administrated everytime you needed wiperblades or an oil change? This ridiculous use of insurance for mundane issues is what has driven up medical costs beyond all reason.

Personal story: A couple years ago I had to have a nuclear stress test. It was a 2 hour test using a pretty expensive piece of medical machine. Fortunately I DID have medical insurance because I saw the bill paid for by the insurance company and my little exam cost US$ 5000!! Now I'm not saying such a test should be cheap (maybe $500)... but $5000??

And that not the kicker. Just to show you how screwed up and out of control our system is, a week later I get the signed diagnosis from the doctor. It was a single line that basically said all was OK. Doctor's diagnosis cost? ...$200
You think if you pay $5000 for a test the diagnosis would be included...but not in the insane crazy world of the American healthcare system.

Well...lets make this a multi-parter. I have a lot more to say on this subject especially on the current debate in congress right now...but I actually have work that pays the bills stuff to do now!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hillary's Claws Strike In Africa

Watching Amy Pohler on Saturday Night Live parody Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can be REALLY funny. Watching Hillary Clinton act as if she were Amy Pohler mocking herself in real life...mmmm less so!

Thats the way her behavior came across during an interview in Africa recently. Pohler's Clinton is an insecure, power hungry woman who is frightfully sensitive to any perceived slight that would imply her political career is nothing more than an extension of her husband Bill's.

So when a question from the audience (wrongly translated) asked her what she thought her husband's position was on a diplomatic issue, an obviously irritated Clinton (channelling Amy Pohler channeling Hillary Clinton) shut the audience member down with a small tirade reminding everyone that SHE was Secretary of State and not Bill Clinton.

This whole situation was quite damaging for Clinton and I believe her future aspirations for the Oval Office. (Oh yes, she will run for President again)

Clinton could be forgiven some irritability as she crisscrossed Africa giving multiple speeches in multiple settings in multiple countries. Anyone of us could be guilty of lashing out a bit in such conditions.

And yes in her perception of the inquiry (the audience member had meant to ask what Mr. Obama thought not Mr. Clinton) the question did seem to cut across her authority as Secretary of State but this is the ONE area Clinton needed to remain stoic despite any feelings to the contrary.

I for one have grown to have a grudging respect for Hillary Clinton over the years. I'm no fan mind you but have often tried to remind those friends of mine who live in the political spectrum to my right that Clinton is, in fact, fairly centrist. She often received harsh criticism from those on the Left for her more moderate positions...positions that were often conveniently ignored by those on the Right who were to busy burning her in effigy.

However some of my friends fears have also revealed themselves to be true. Hillary's actions in Africa re-enforced the notion that she indeed struggles with insecurity and sees her relationship with Bill as being competitive rather than complimentary....who doesn't stand on her own but instead lives in the shadow of her higher profile (and far smoother) husband.

In the end, this incident will come back to haunt her in the future...mark my words

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In Memorium: John Hughes

I'm a product of the 80's! When the decade started I was 13 years old and when it was finished I was 23. During those years the movies of John Hughes were hugely impactful and defined our generation.

Hughes, who passed away yesterday of a heart attack while taking a walk, was the writer / director of a number of movies that were formative to many of us "children of the 80's". The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off to name just a few.

Perhaps my favorite John Hughes movie however, was one of his least remembered, and that was the Kevin Bacon - Elizabeth McGovern film, "She's Having A Baby". For me it was the classic movie describing the trials and tribulations that nearly every young married couple goes through.

So good-bye Mr. Hughes, you left us WAY to early...but we have your movies, many of which had a large impact on many of my generation.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This Test MUST be wrong!!

My Political Views
I am a center-left moderate social authoritarian
Left: 2.39, Authoritarian: 1.1

Political Spectrum Quiz

Noooooooooo! I just took one of those "Where are you Politically" tests and I was shocked!. I always consider myself right of center but according to the 30-40 questions I answered...I'm...I'm a liberal!

Say it ain't so Joe!

My Culture War Stance
Score: 3.25

Political Spectrum Quiz

As expected, I came out right of center on cultural issues like homosexual marriage and abortion. I think what put me on the left (at least according to the test) was some of my positions that ultimately come through my Christian filter on economic matters. I feel very strongly about individual responsibility and often that is where my Republican brothers like to stop on the issues.
My Foreign Policy Views
Score: -0.06

Political Spectrum Quiz

However I also have the commands of Christ to look out for the disadvantaged members of society. Of course how we do that is open to endless debate but I do think it changed some of the test's answers for me that a few years ago would have been a little different.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I think every husband has faced it at some point. You flop down on the couch with a cold beer in your hand and begin to watch some sports on TV. Its been a long day and you confidently put your feet up on the coffee table with the cool feel of satisfaction. All seems peaceful and perfect.

And then she appears!

She's standing in the doorway...eyes glaring with lasers that seem to bore right through you. Your heart rate quickens...your breathing becomes shallow...a sweat bead forms on your brow.

Its your wife...and she ain't happy!

"Surely there is something more productive you could be doing around this house than sitting on the couch and watching TV" she announces with that tone which causes panic to grip the soul of any man married for any length of time. "There's dirty dishes in the sink, a broken fixture in the bathroom, laundry to be hung...yada...yada...yada" (At this point it becomes the sound made by Charlie Brown's teacher)

No doubt thats how President Obama must have felt this week during his much publicized "Beer Summit" with Professor Henry Louis Gates and police officer James Crowley when he attempted to clean up some of the damage he brought on himself with his ill advised input into a local law enforcement situation.

No sooner had the three men sat down over some suds to work out their disagreement (AS MEN DO!!) than Mrs. Jan Larimer, co-Chair for the Republican National Committee, laid into the President for the boy time when surely he had more productive things to do around the White House. Says Larimer, "We are at war and Barack Obama is talking about beer in the White House" and then went on to say, "the president needs to focus on more important issues."


I have already blogged on my criticism of Obama and his "acted stupidly" comment and knew the moment he said it, he was in trouble. But for crying out loud, if the President of the United States wants to sit down with a couple guys and work out some issues over a cold beer, he should be able to do it without some nagging man OR woman breathing down his neck.

Besides, if the President is busy relaxing with the guys, it means he's not spending money we don't have on things we can't afford!

Anyhow...thats all I have to say about that...Cheers!