Monday, September 28, 2009

Some Words of Wisdom - Courtesy of Geoffrey Canada

To learn more of the amazing Geoffrey Canada, the leader of the Harlem Children's Zone, one can read within their website: or read a wonderful book: "Written by New York Times editor Paul Tough, "Whatever It Takes," is a compelling, in-depth look at the ground-breaking work of the Harlem Children's Zone and its leader, Geoffrey Canada."

I was lucky enough to hear Geoffrey Canada speak last Friday locally. I'd like to share several things he spoke of which I found interesting.

He mentioned how the Rhode Island legislatures noted that the average annual cost of caring for institutionalized (e.g. delinquent) adults was $39,000/year vs. $95,000 for children. To save money they decided to lower the age where "children" became "adults". Unfortunately, it didn't work, because they discovered that most of the "new adults" had to be isolated from the general adult population, and the cost for such care was an average of $110,000/year. Canada noted that the lesson for Rhode Island wasn't that there was a real need to Prevent Children - from needing to be institutionalized in the first place!

Canada spoke repeatedly as to how as a child he had Naively thought that there was a "plan" to make things better. He noted as an adult consulting with several presidents and others who seemingly had "power" that they didn't have plans for ending poverty and educating poor children and sought his and others' advice.

His message for the local organization he spoke in support of was that you/we need to bring about change, not to wait, expecting that others will do what needs to be done. He spoke of needing to reach for challenging, difficult goals, and to be accountable in building research based programs to radically change things for the better.

To tackle 96 square blocks of Harlem with a goal of making all children ready for college when the grow up is a tough job to take on! Geoffrey Canada is an amazing man - not a super man, but a man doing a great difficult job trying to bring about radical, positive change!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Healthcare Reform - Some Realities

1. Uninsured People Get Coverage:
a. They pay a Lot for the coverage - such as: $300-400/month - individual, $700-1400/month - family, or
b. Their coverage is extremely poor - such as $2500 annual deductibles, or
c. Those who currently have "subsidized" coverage (e.g. most employees and retirees with employer based coverage) - will need to pay significantly more for their coverage or
c. Federal tax monies will need to cover "the gap" - which is large

2. Costs of Medical Care won't go down or stop going up substantially unless:
a.) Prescription drug costs - are significantly reduced - drug company advertising is significantly curtailed - and limits on costs result in seriously reduced costs,
b.) Diagnostic tests - are significantly reduced
c.) The profit margins of insurance companies and medical providers are substantially reduced in many areas,

3. Medical insurance is not a "free market":
a. There is No incentive for insurers to cover high risk individuals and families and a strong incentive both to Not Cover them and to try to force them to pay huge amounts when they have coverage,
b. The current medical insurance system logically results in market dominance by one or several companies in much of the U.S.
c. There is no logical way that lower income individuals or even mid-level individuals can afford decent health insurance coverage that isn't subsidized by some entity

4. Certain individuals and families need catastrophic healthcare protection to cover the costs of extremely high ongoing medical needs - e.g. - paying $2000/month for medication is Not affordable for most people or paying 20% of costs for surgeries and ongoing treatment can easily be $100,000/year or more for people with serious medical conditions.

5. Presuming that a single payer health insurance plan is not "political expedient" - it would be logical for the U.S. Government to "subsidize" all approved health insurance plans to cover catastrophic costs. Logically this should protect both individuals/families and health insurance companies. The costs for this should be paid for by taxes we all should be paying.

6. Healthcare should be a Right - not an "option".


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Two Issues - in One Day - Interesting Parallels


1.) The U.S. Supreme Court takes up (3 weeks before its normal start date) the challenge to McCain-Feingold where a "documentary" on Hillary Clinton was not allowed to be viewed by the American public within 30 days of a relevant election because it was determined to be a "campaign advertisement" and because it was fully funded by private corporations.
2.) President Obama will speak live before both Houses of Congress seeking the passage of major healthcare reform legislation this fall.

A key question in the Supreme Court is whether corporations and unions should have their "rights" limited in election campaigns.

A key question for President Obama, Congress and the American People is how various "vested interests" are now affecting the legislative process in this key issue.

In both cases the "rights" of us as American (USians) rest largely in the balance. If the rights of "people" vs. "money" do not significantly prevail now, the larger issues of how Money Buys Power will be very clear (again). What results will we have? I don't know!

It seems likely (however) that "victory" and "healthcare reform" may well - if "successful" result in "victories" where the basic high costs and high inflation in the medical care industries will continue fairly similarly and where Obama and his supporters will later on be blamed for the incremental improvements together with serious problems (likely the costs) that may result.

Similarly - no matter what the Supreme Court decides, it seems unlikely that the result will greatly help reform our elections and how they are funded.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I'm Proud of My Son - First Day of School Today

I'm very proud of my son as he begins his first day as a public school teacher in one of the best high schools in Chicago. As it's now about 10:25 a.m. in Chicago he should have just completed his first two periods of the day - AP Biology Class (2 periods long).

He's been very, very successful in school and the beginning of his work, training with the Chicago Teaching Fellows over the summer. I wish (him) the best!

Son, I'm very proud of you!