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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Billions and Billions of Canadians Seeking American Health Care

There's a comment on my last post saying how Canadians are so dissastified with their health care system that they are forced to come across the border for treatment that's denied them in their own country.

Lots of people trot the Canadians out when opposing the proposed public option in health care reform. But aside from the Canadian woman on the Republican attack ad, I've never heard any actual Canadians saying this. Of course, I don't know anyone in Canada, it's a long way from Wilmington, NC.

I realize that medical records are confidential, but if a huge amount of Canadians were seeking treatment at American hospitals, wouldn't someone in hospital administration notice it? Wouldn't someone write about it in professional journals articles with titles like "Dealing With The Influx Of Patients From North Of The Border?"

Now I've heard plenty of American health care horror stories. After being diagnosed with an agressive form of breast cancer, Robin Beaton was dropped by Blue Cross for misinforming them about her medical history.

President Obama often talks about his mother struggling with insurance companies as she was dying of ovarian cancer.

And my own healthcare story--I didn't have health insurance for close to five years. I was lucky, I managed to avoid getting sick until I got full coverage with a call center job at GE Capital. But the worry was always there. Once I slipped on the ice, falling flat on my back and my first reaction was "Oh, God, now I've got a pre-existing condition."

So if you're a Canadian, share your health care story with me.  I don't want to hear from anyone who knows someone who knows a Canadian. I just want comments from real Canadians.

Do you like it? Do you hate it? Have you experienced both the American and the US systems? Do you want what we have?

Set the record straight.

Posted by judy5cents at 3:12 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 8 October 2010 6:50 AM EDT
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The Publishing Industry's Dirty Little Secret

You walk into Barnes & Noble and see a display of the latest John Grisham novel. Stacks and stacks of the same book. Next to it is a tell-all memoir by a famous axtress. Next to the tell-all memoir is self-help book promising to change your life.  And next to that...well you get the idea.

Not all those books get sold. At $25-30.00 a piece, hardcover books are expensive and the books have to be pretty damn good read to pursuade people to part with their hard earned money. 

What happens to the books that don't sell? You'd think the bookstores would do what retail stores do. Whatever doesn't sell gets marked down, and marked down again, then sold to Big Lots or to any number of businesses who deal in overstocks and resales.

But that's not what happens in the publishing business. The books that don't sell are returned to the publisher. The publisher, in turn sells what it can to the resale people, who sell them back to the bookstores. Eventually, a good number of them end up in a landfill.

In the process, nearly 200 million pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, not to mention the damage done to the environment by the books dumped in landfills.

Which is why I'm proud that my book Caviar Dreams is produced by the Print on Demand (POD) process. The books are stored electronically, and printed out as they are ordred. A print run could be one or a thousand, and there are never more printed than somebody is willing to pay for.

I've heard that the traditional method of printing out a thousand books at a time is cheaper than the POD process, even with having to deal with the returns.

Posted by judy5cents at 3:12 PM EDT
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Monday, 10 August 2009
Death Panels!! Rationed Care!!! We're All Gonna Die!!!!

And it will all be the government's fault.

I don't understand how conservatives like Sarah Palin can make the leap from government run health insurance to death panels. I guess it's the same sort of logic that Reverend.James Dobson used to connect the gay marriage to legalizing bestiality. 

As for the warnings of rationed care, we've already got that.  If you have health coverage, your insurance company does it. Ever have an MRI? You can bet someone at the hospital or imaging center will call your insurance company to see if they'll pay the bill. If your insurer says no, you could still have the test done, but you have to pay for it yourself. That could be anywhere from $1,000 to $3500.

If you're stinking rich, it's not a problem. You get your test done and pay the bill when it arrives. But if you're like most of us, that's a big chunk of change and you have to make a choice. You can either go into debt (or deeper into debt than you already are) or not have the test at all.

Of course there's a lot of self-rationing of healthcare as well. People who are uninsured will often deny themselves or members of their families medicine or visits to the doctor because they just can't afford it.

Despite what the conservatives say, the American health care system is not the best in the world.  According to the World Health Organization, the country with the best system is France, the United States comes in 37th. That ranking is based on a number of different factors including overall health of the popluation and fairness of financial contribution.

Here is the one great truth that I hope all our elected officials keep in mind when working on health care. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States is the inability to pay medical bills. We are the only industrialized country in the world where that happens.

We've got lots of nifty tests and a whole host of options available to us if we get sick. But they all cost money and the price just keeps going up. Having health insurance gives you the illusion that you don't have to pay for it. But you do. You pay for it with higher premiums, with job losses (GM's generous health care benefits to retirees helped bring the company down), with increased health care cost that occur when hospitals pass on the cost for caring for the uninsured to everyone else.

I am not optimistic about the health care reform. I don't have much faith in my elected representatives. Between the pharmaceutical lobbyists and the screaming "grass roots" anti-death panel movement, whatever passes--if it passes at all---won't make much difference in fixing the problem.

And for the record, I have excellent insurance through my husband's employer. I also know that we are just one layoff away from losing it. So are all the "Hands Off My Healthcare" fokls, but they don't seem to get that.





Posted by judy5cents at 3:17 PM EDT
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Monday, 20 July 2009
Remember Where You Were 40 Years Ago Today?

Assuming that you were around and cognizant on this day in 1969, you know exactly what you were doing. Watching Walter Cronkite giving updates on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. 

I was 13 and my father was painting my bedroom (a dazzling shade of green which I loved and my parents hated, painting over it with a tasteful Federal blue once I moved out of the house). I ran back and forth between the television in the family room to my bedroom with the latest news on the Apollo astronauts. Looking back, I'm not sure if there was much to say. "They're getting closer." "They think the landing will be in two hours." "They've postponed it until this evening."

As it turned out, it was past midnight when the lunar module landed. We went up to my grandparents' house to watch it on their color television, not realizing that the broadcast would be in black and white. Still, it seems fitting that I was watching this historical moment with three generations of my family, including my grandparents who were both born before the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk.

My younger sister saw it too, but she was at 4-H camp and watched on a counselor's tiny black and white portable set, along with everyone else at camp. Four years later, history would again be made while she was at camp, and she would watch a president's resignation speech on another counselor's tiny black and white portable set.

These days, if something historic happens at camp, I expect the kids will just whip out their Blackberries which they'd clevelry smuggled in. 

Anyway, it was an experience I shared with the world. Everyone over 50 knows what they were doing when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. Everyone went out that night, looked at the moon and marvelled at the fact that people had actually been there, walked on it and left a flag and their footprints in the dust.

And then we all began sentences with "If we can put a man on the moon., why can't we....."

Why can't we indeed?

Posted by judy5cents at 11:28 AM EDT
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Saturday, 11 July 2009
And I Got A Prize Just For Showing Up

This morning I dragged my family out of bed at 6:30 to drive downtown so I could run in the annual Wilmington Family YMCA Tri Span 5K.  I appreciate their sacrifice of their Saturday morning. I'm glad they were there to see me cross the finish line having run 3.2 miles in 34:03 (nearly four minutes less than my time last year).

And just like last year, I came in second in my age group (50-54). Even though I ran faster than the previous year, apparently the other 50 to 54 year olds are running faster as well. And that' s good.

I love running. It's fun. It's exciting.  And I got a nice blue aluminum water bottle and a round of applause. If I can do it, you can do it.



Posted by judy5cents at 11:51 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 July 2009 11:55 AM EDT
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Monday, 6 July 2009
Say What?

I'm going through Sarah Palin withdrawal.  She was the politician I just loved to hate and her misguided antics and rambling attacks on various bloggers and talk show hosts provided a constant source of amusement.

Now she's up and quit on me.  Last Friday, she announced her resignation (I think that's what she did, I'll probably have to play the CNN clip again to be sure) offering lots of reasons why she's leaving the post to which she was elected, although none of them sound particularly reasonable.

Somewhere in there, among the references to girl's basketball and refrigerator magnets, she mentioned there was a problem with too many ethics investigations, that people in the press were really mean, that her family wanted her to leave and it was all for the good of Alaska. 

There were ethics probes last year. People in the press have always been really mean. And this is the same family that said "Go for it, Mom!" when the McCain campaign offered her the vice presidential spot on the GOP ticket. I would think being the governor of Alaska with its total population of around 627,000 would be a much easier job than being vice president of the country. Especially if the president were to drop dead of a stroke, which men in the 70s have been known to do.

Anyway, as with all things Palin, there has to be a back story. Something she's not telling us, something she has up her sleeve. Like a lucrative talk show deal. Or a plan to run for the senate.

Then again, maybe she's had enough of politics and wants to spend more time with her family.

Like Governor John Sanford, who spent the weekend with his in-laws in Florida.

Couldn't resist posting this photo of me as Sarah Palin. I felt like $150,000 bucks but I kept wanting to shoot a moose.


Posted by judy5cents at 12:59 PM EDT
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Friday, 26 June 2009
Iconic Death

In case you've been under a rock for the last 24 hours, Michael Jackson dropped dead of heart failure.

A sudden unexpected death can do wonders for your image. Yesterday morning, Miichael Jackson was a long faded star, his glory days decades behind him.  Beset by financial woes and accusations of child molesting, he was the object of much derision due to his creepy appearance and often bizzare behavior.

Now he's much beloved. An icon who will be greatly missed. Millions of people are gathering to mourn his loss and profess their undying love.

Watching the news footage, I can't help noticing that a lot of these mourners were born long after Michael Jackson topped the charts with albums like "Thriller" and "Bad."  I suppose they heard his songs once in a a while on their parents' Mellow Rock stations, but for them, Michael Jackson had always been a "has-been," they have no memory of turning on the radio and hearing "Don't Stop" or "Beat It" for the umpteempth time that day. What is exactly do they miss? He was never there when he was there.

And of course, he had the gall to die on the same day that  Farrah Fawcett lost her long publicized battle with cancer. Poor Farrah. After all those death watch specials, she had to share the obituary spotlight with the King of Pop.  And every single story about her death featured ancient footage of her one year on "Charlie's Angels," a show that they don't even show on cable.  Her whole life comes down to just a poster, a cheesey television show and a hair style. All from thirty years ago.

I still think Michael Jackson is weird and creepy, and his life was a cautionary tale about the perils of too much fame and wealth too soon. And Farrah Fawcett was more than a swimsuit model. 

But, they are now both dead, and beyond all of the hype. And eventually we will be too.

Posted by judy5cents at 3:16 PM EDT
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Thursday, 25 June 2009
And She Was Endorsed By Andy Griffith!

Back in the early months of 2008, I didn't think all that much of Bev Perdue, who is now the governor of my home state of North Carolina.  The Democratic primaries here were pretty nasty, and I voted for the one guy on the ballot who'd run no commercials at all. But I voted for her in the general election.

Now, Jeez Louise, am I ever glad we've got her.  If you do a quick Google news search of Bev Perdue, you'll only find stories that pertain to her job as governor. "Perdue Wants Tax Hikes,"  "Perdue Expected To Attend K-12 Funding Rally In Greensboro," "Perdue Job Approval Plummets."  

There's nothing about her gallivanting around the country attending events she wasn't invited to--events that would be a long, long way from Raleigh, by the way.  She doesn't get into feuds with late night talk show hosts. 

And unlike the governor just across the state line to the south, Ms. Perdue has the sense not to go off to Argentina for five days and advise her aides to tell everyone she's hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Since last year's Republican convention, I've had a great deal of sympathy for the people of Alaska. when the outspoken, inept, and blatantly ambitious Gov. Sarah Palin burst on to the scene. How embarassing is it to see your head of state on the Today Show insinuating that David Letterman is a pedophile?

Now my heart goes out to my fellow Carolininians to the south.  Gov. Mark Sanford seemed smart enough, even though he also showed himself to be blatantly ambitious when he drew national attention for his desire to use Federal Stimulus money to pay down state debt. But who knew that all the time he was talking about fiscal responsibility, he was also sneaking off to write steamy e-mails to his Argentinian girlfriend about the curve of her hips and the gentleness of her kisses?

We've all  said it before. What the hell was he thinking? And flying down to Argentina for God's sake! What if the plane crashed? What if he was kidnapped by drug dealers or war lords or whatever is they've got down there in Argentina these days? What if there were a coup? He's the governor, for crying out loud! Didn't he think someone would notice he was gone?

The answer is always "Well, I wasn't thinking." No, there had to be some sort of thought process going on when he made the plane reservations and found his passport and drove to the airport.  Plenty of time to say "maybe this isn't such a good idea..."

Anyway, if you live in a state other than Alaska or South Carolina, take some time out to appreciate the fact that your governor is busy doing gubnatorial things, like fighting tax cuts, or supporting casinos or releasing stimulus spending reports.

North Carolina may not approve of the job Bev Perdue is doing. But we're proud of the fact that she's doing her job and not some boy toy in Argentina.





Posted by judy5cents at 1:37 PM EDT
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Monday, 22 June 2009
What's Wrong With England's System?

My husband grew up with socialized medicine. He misses it. Although he has excellent insurance through his employer and he has no issues with the quality of medical care he's received here in the states, he does have one huge problem with our market driven health care system.

Here it is: if he loses his job, we join the ranks of the uninsured. If one of us gets sick with something serious like diabetes or cancer or heart disease (we're both in our fifties, so that's entirely possible), he could lose everything he's worked so hard for all these years. 

That doesn't happen in England.

According to a recent story in Reuters, more than 60 percent of bankruptcy cases are due to the inability to pay medical bills.  That number is staggering, if you consider the fact that most of these people were contributing members of society, working hard, paying their taxes and building a life until a disastrous illness took it all away.

Medical care and medicine should not be subject to the same economic rules as automobiles and cereal. If you can't afford a box of Rice Krispies you buy the store brand. Or you have toast and peanut butter. Or you skip breakfast all together (although I don't recommend it).  We can shop around for cereal, but who shops around for a cheap doctor?   And there are generic drugs out there, but how are we to know if we really need this drug or our doctor was persuaded by the drug company rep to prescribe it even when the expensive brand is not needed?

Who's going to pay for this kind of system? We will, with higher taxes. Isn't it worth paying five or ten percent of your current income so you can keep your house if your wife is diagnosed with cancer two weeks after you're laid off from your job? And we're paying for medical care now. We pay for it in higher costs for hospitals that absorb the expense of caring for the indigent. We pay for it with higher insurance premiums. Rising healthcare costs was one of the issues that brought down GM.

If your employer doesn't have to shell out so much to the insurance company, he'll pay you more. Everyone wins.

Of course, I don't expect a single payer system to get past any of the "Fiscally Responsible" Republicans in Congress. (Trillions for defense, not one penny for socialized medicine).  I'm resigned to the fact that whatever reforms they come up with will be everyone's third choice, hugely complicated and in the end, will make things worse.

That's what America is all about.

Posted by judy5cents at 4:45 PM EDT
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Sunday, 14 June 2009
Taking The Brown Acid

In 1999, the newspaper in Albuquerque, New Mexico commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival by writing a story about the experiences of local residents who were there, including my older sister Betsy.

She said she talked at length to the reporter about what those three days of peace and music were like--the rain, the camaraderie, the performances, being there when Jimi Hendrix played The Star Spangled Banner, etc. When the story came out, the reporter only used one quote, an offhand remark she'd made about having taken the infamous "brown acid."  For all of Albuquerque, my sister was perceived as an aging acid freak.

That's what happens when you talk to a reporter.  Out of a twenty minute conversation, only one or two sentences appear in print and not always the ones you'd like. 

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a reporter doing a story on lapsed bloggers for the New York Times Style Section.  On Sunday, June  7, it appeared on the section's front page, and damned if I wasn't taking the brown acid myself.  Not much I can do about it, other than sound Palinesque and try to convince you all that my remarks were twisted and taken out of context.

That's why politicians stick to the talking points, as my sister Nancy pointed out.

So I'm taking my obscure little platform here in cyberspace to set the record straight.

I sepnt most of 2005 and 2006 blogging because it was fun. I have a background in journalism and it was like getting to write the op ed piece every day.  Did I want lots of followers and comments? Yes, I would have liked them, but it wasn't something I wanted to actively persue. Why did I stop? It got old. It got pointless. With so many people online writing blogs, who has time to read them?

Blogging became a tremendous time sucker.  I'd spend an entire morning researching, writing and editing a blog, while the dogs weren't walked, the carpets weren't vacuumed, and the laundry piled up. 

As I told NY Times Guy, I am not so full of myself as to believe that there were people out there whose day would be ruined if they couldn't read my blog.  

The internet is an immensely huge attic full of boxes. Some contain priceless treasure and some are just full of junk. My blog is just one of those boxes stashed away up there, gathering dust.  If you find it, it's up to you to decide which category it falls into.

Something I did notice, the article generated a lot of snarky comments on a lot of blogs. Not mine, of course.  I wouldn't have known it if I hadn't gone looking (dumb thing to do, by the way). Which brings up the fact that the blogosphere has its own Gossip Girl mentality, You'll rip a person to shreds on your public forum,  but you wouldn't dream of saying it directly to them.

Looking back over the posts here, I know I've been guilty of that myself. I have given up on blogging, but I still make comments on other blogs. I hope I'll keep in mind that the person we're all calling an idiot may have had his remarks taken out of context, or miscontsrued or out-and-out fabricated. 

Of course, Sarah Palin is always fair game.

Posted by judy5cents at 1:07 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 June 2009 12:15 PM EDT
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