Watching the Health Care debate here in the USA, is quite laughable. I was born and raised in Australia and have lived in the the USA for nearly a year.
The Centre and Left (Democrats) call it Health Care Reform, the Right (Republicans) and Libertarians call it Social Medicine. As a person born and raised for the most part in a government run health care system like the Medicare System in Australia I can look at this from a fairly good perspective.
Here are some things to consider about Australia Medicare:
- It is far from perfect: Doctor make mistakes, hospitals are sometimes underfunded.
- Most Australians pay a 1.5% Medicare Levy on Income and people below income poverty line pay nothing.
- The fastest way to NOT to get elected or to get thrown out of government is to try to change Medicare in Australia from a public system to a private system – even incrementally.
Here are some hard facts (from statistical data) about the US Health Care System
When I continually hear people say that “the USA has the best healthcare in the world” I think these people are at best ill informed or at worst just liars. If you look at the statistical data – it is obviously wrong
- Most Expensive: It costs more than 3 times as much as most western countries to have private health care in USA.
- It costs the government more per person for a private system that most countries that already have a public system including Canada and Australia.
- USA has the highest costs as a % of GDP of all countries at 16% (Australia is 8.7%)
- USA peoples life expectancy is the lowest in all of the western world.
- USA has the worst infant mortality rate of all of the western world.
So after looking at these figures – even if they are out by a few % in each category – it is plain to see that the US Health Care System is completely broken. The first thing all parties have to agree on is this simple fact, if there is no agreement here, then I am afraid it is pointless moving on.
The second thing that must be considered is how to fix it. This is where these different groups will fundamentally disagree and that is fine. However, if the government can pass policies because it has the numbers, it has every right to do so. If the people disagree then they can be thrown out and things can be reversed.
Australia has a far from perfect system, but pick up any newspaper on any day of the week in Australia and you will see the government of the day getting battered from pillar to post over health care. Each successive government knows that by failing its people on health care it will inevitably fail themselves and get booted out of office, and that is a good thing.
There are many things that federal governments have no right to be a part of in modern society. The 20th century saw governments running roads, rail, telephony, electricity, mail and santization. Later in the 21st century most federal governments sold off these assets and rightly so – as long as they did not create monopolies.
There is no justification in holding onto these in the 21st century. However, I firmly believe the future of any economy is in the education, security and health of its people and these should always be controlled at the federal level for the good of all the people of each country.
I had the pleasure of playing at the same club as Matthew and I still remember someone telling me one day he will be a champion, it was 1991 and I think he was 16 years old. There was a man on the field kicking to him and he was leading and marking the ball. He was tall, skinny and fast. I also played against Matthew a few times, twice for Clarence and once when Tasmania played Richmond, when he was an established AFL player.Matthew was tall, fast, had amazing endurance and was one of the best pack markers the game has seen in a long while. Even forward greats like Tony Locket, Dermot Brereton or Jason Dunstall were not really very good pack markers. He was also nearly impossible to tag as he was exceptionally fast for a man his size, matched with incredible endurance. I can remember some games where he led around exhausted rivals and just appeared everywhere, boy Matthew Richardson could be exciting. But then can think of days where he would completely dominate and then all of the sudden an umpiring decision went against him or a team mate didn't kick it to him effectively and he left me bewildered by his tantrums, which almost always affected his play for the worse. Damn he used to frustrate his fans and yet, we always forgave him. So what memories do I conjure up when I think of Matthew Richardson as a player? I am sure there will be many writers and football people telling us he was one of the greats of all time and they will not be far off the mark, however for me, he falls short – even as I write this he frustrates me. Think about your first thought when someone mentions his name! My first thought is that Richardson was shaky whenever kicking for a goal he shouldn't miss, he was fine from 50 yards out, but anything easy, you could just see he wanted to get it over and done with. Secondly he was a little dodgy when it counted, this maybe a little harsh as he didn't have too many games where Richmond had to win, but if you look back over the 10 or 15 games during his career where a win could mean the finals, Richmond always lost and for the most part Richo didn't play well and for me, that is what makes a champion, being able to deliver when it counts. Think of all the recent greats that do it, Wayne Carey, Gary Ayres, James Hird, Andrew McLeod and Peter Matera are all champions that did it when it counted. Matthew Richardson didn't play in the team s these guys had, but he had at least half a dozen chances to lift us into the finals and from memory failed each time. This does not a champion make. Now these are terrible thoughts to have for a guy who really wore his heart on his sleeve and played some of the most amazing games of football in a Tigers Guernsey. You see Matthew Richardson was Richmond and when I think of Richmond FC since 1982 I am left disappointed. I cannot think of a year since 1995 when Richmond started the year with a team that couldn't make the finals. Every pre-season was filled with hope and every post season with disappointment. I remember the hope John Northey brought the club as a coach. Back then Richmond were a bash and crash team that no one wanted to play but everyone wanted to watch, they were relentless and downright dirty. But we sacked Northey and got Robert Walls, who from his players I have spoken to, puts you to sleep with his endless diatribes and research sessions. So Richmond lost everything they gained and forgot that when all else deserts you, when you are tired - passion is everything! We then moved onto Jeff Gieschen, Danny Frawley and Terry Wallace – nearly all of these men got the Tigers to within a game of finals. I remember these crucial final home and away games and they all ended in disaster. I can even remember losing the final home and away game, when all we needed to do was to beat the bottom team to make the finals and you guessed it, we failed. As for this year? Well we now know one thing, there is not one player left from the old guard so maybe now Richmond can move forward and possibly make the finals?
Aside from my parents, few people have the impact on my life as Carl Sagan has. Whether it be writing about UFO's, Comets, Stars, Religious or his documentaries like Cosmos Carl Sagan has been a part of my life since the day he died.Yes, the first I had ever heard of Carl Sagan was in December 1996. On the 9th of November this year Carl Sagan would have celebrated his 75th birthday and we are the poorer for his not being here. if you would like to find out more about Carl Sagan then there are some great resources online from Wikipedia , The Carl Sagan Portal and WorldCat . He has many great quotes attributed to him, but this is my favorite. Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Carl Sagan Read more about Carl Sagan Day here.
I am not a fan of any laws or rules and regulations, however this one did amuse me. Britney Spears is currently touring Australia with a number of concerts. Apparently she is upset because a politician made a comment that they should pass a requirement for all live acts to clearly indicate on all tickets whether the shows are actually live or mimed/lip synced.I love it, begs the question however, would Cindi Lauper, Boy George, Madonna, Kylie Minogue or sister Danni ever have got off the ground, if they couldn't lip sync? I was at a live performance where Danni Minogue did sing live and aside from giving her full marks for bravery, it was a performance that had me feeling sorry for her, it was unbearable. Of course, she is now a TV talent show judge! I think it is an unenforceable regulation, as the people who go to these type of performances deserved to be deceived :)
I often find myself in a debate about climate change. Even within my own family there is a variety of views. My view is not so much about who is right or wrong, it is about what happens if either side is wrong. Sometimes I speak with friends and family about these issues and it frustrates me that they are on one side of the argument not because of their understanding, but because of their ideologies.I will let you know my position from the outset, I believe that climate change is caused predominantly by humans, I don’t believe the extremes, but I do believe we can and should do what we are advised. Who am I to question the men and women scientists that dedicate their lives to research and data, sometimes in the most inhospitable regions on our planet? A friend recently purchased two books from Amazon.com and delivered to my door, I never asked for them and at first did not know who they were from. These books were from the other side of the climate debate, I dislike the term ‘deniers’ because that implicitly deems them to be wrong by default. However, I was not pleased to receive these books, in fact I was furious. To understand why, you have to understand my rules. I have only a 3 rules in my scientific research, the first being that the person must submit their findings to be openly peer reviewed, the second being that their livelihoods not be adversely affected by a finding either way and the third being that they are qualified in the field of discussion, whether through schooling or experience years in that field. The first book was called Air Con by Ian Wishart and it only takes a few minutes of research to realize this guy has some serious problems when it comes to reporting facts, he often writes books for the sake of being on the other side of the argument and has no experience in science or climate science, he also dismisses evolution in favor of creationism and Intelligent design, so as you can see, this man automatically disqualifies himself from being anyone to be taken seriously. So out goes that book. The second book however is a different story, I have read some of the work of Ian Plimer and actually really like his writing style and he has got the qualifications needed to question or challenge the science! This book ‘Heaven and Earth’ is his take on global warming and last night I sat down and read the first few chapters. However, I cannot take his word and it makes it hurt because he actually is well respected, educated on the correct fields of science. But he is a director of 3 mining companies and he has admitted that his companies will be adversely affected by any legislation. I will continue to read this excellent and mostly factual book. However I cannot trust between the lines as we all know that authors all stamp their feelings on a book – even a purely research book and he is no different. I will continue to research and hopefully will find some more authors whose livelihoods do not depend greatly on their opinions, however for now, my debate will be stymied by people who think that Polar Bears are not endangered and that the hockey stick controversy is actually a controversy. I don’t believe all I read or hear, in fact I do believe that the debate has gotten ridiculous with each side trying to discredit each other so much that this is all that ever gets reported. I am also very skeptical of the approaches of the UN and most Western Countries to reduce CO2 emissionsm, but I am in favour of a start, however small it is. What if I am wrong? There is a reasonable probability for both sides to be wrong, from my perspective, we may finally end our dependence on oil and coal, we may finally harness the sun, wind and water’s energy where it makes sense to do so and possibly a few companies will no longer enjoy the riches they have taken for granted for decades.
However, if any of my friends and family on the other side are wrong and keep in mind it depends who you listen to, then the consequences seem to be a little more severe. Given our limited knowldge on these subjects, I prefer to trust the majority of people actually doing the research.
I am creating a new WordPress site for Singer Songwriter Sally Seltman at the moment. Whilst I am organizating all of the content from her site I have been listening to her music. I have to say it is gorgeous background music whilst you work. You should check it out at http://www.newbuffalo.net . It reminds me of a movie called ‘Once’ ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_%28film%29) with the legendary Irish Rocker Glen Hansard who is the principal writer and lead singer of ‘The Frames’. A friend of mine took me to see ‘The Frames’ for the first time in Sydney, I think in 2008 and I had never heard of them – it was without the doubt one of the greatest live shows I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. Since then I have purchased all of their albums and I am a serious fan.Do yourselves a favor and look and listen to both.