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Archive for March, 2019

Healthcare

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

So the Trumpcare legal drama continues? I thought the Republicans had given up on their quest to destroy Obamacare, [wikipedia.org] maybe because it’s not newsworthy enough to make the BBC World Service daily anymore… Anyway, I don’t want to talk about the attempts to repeal Obamacare or Trumpcare, I want to talk the apparent lack of healthcare among people my age even under Obamacare.

Obamacare was passed in 2010 and in the years since I have been asked, three times, to contribute to not one, not two, not three but four separate GoFundMe [gofundme.com] campaigns to cover health expenses for people I went to high school or college with. GoFundMe was, coincidentally also founded in 2010 and according to Time Magazine [time.com] one third of all campaigns are now for funding health related expenses. That’s $650 million in funding!

For me, 100% of the campaigns which people have reached out to me over were healthcare expense related. One was a Kidney transplant, one a liver transplant and one was expenses for surgery needed due to a hit and run accident and the last was living expenses to avoid foreclosure because someone had fallen into massive debt to fund their fathers cancer treatment. (aside: I don’t know a ton of people my age in the US but two of them needed organ transplants before they were 40. WTF?) All of my friends and coworkers have made it through their funding issues. That’s great but what happens next time?

Post Obamacare, shouldn’t an organ transplant, even if it was likely caused by some pre-existing condition, or back surgery needed due to a hit and run be covered by even basic insurance? These are the type of things that fall under “it’s never going to happen to me but that’s why I have insurance” right? I don’t know if my friends chose to remain uninsured post Obamacare and pay the tax penalty but I think it says a lot about the state of the US healthcare situation.

To counter this, I will give the example of the wife of a friend. She is Singaporean, he is from Sweden and the family moved to Sweden six or seven years ago. A year or two into their relocation she was diagnosed with throat cancer. Being in Sweden, even not being a citizen, she was fully covered for all expenses and her job was held for her while she took a year off (I think she went back before the year was over but she had a full year if she wanted it).

Can you spot the difference? Americans need to open their fucking eyes. America is not the be-all, end-all of how things can or should be done and this ongoing train wreck of healthcare is a prime example of the bad that needs to be fixed (and for the record; guns is in the same category). It would help if a decent amount of Americans spent some time outside of the US to have something to compare our state to or paid attention to how many measures of things-that-matter that the US is not at the top —here’s a few cherrypicked examples:

Human Development – the UN Development Programme [undp.org] ranks overall human development [report.hdr.undp.org] the US ranks 13.

Developing Humans…

The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network [unsdsn.org] attempts to measure Happiness [worldhappiness.report]. The US? Number 19 this year… and falling over the last few years.

Why are the Nordics so happy?

Education? The OECD [oecd.org] ranks countries in their Program for International Student Assessment and the US raked average or below average (last results were released in 2015).

Admittedly I have issues with the Singapore system…

Ranking in the top 25 of all of these reports is something of an achievement, there are 195 countries in the world after all. I’ve been in Singapore for 15 years now and I have retained my US citizenship because I do think that America is a great country but as these measures show America is not worthy of being called the greatest. People should be a bit self critical and not blindly patriotic to the point of not wanting to do better. The current situation with toxic partisan politics and citizens who’s only information is soundbites and social media memes do not inspire confidence in me that the people of America are prepared to address these issues.

With regards to healthcare; I’m all for the individualism that is a key element of the American psyche, you should work for what you want and the government should not be forcing you to do things without good reason. But the cost of no healthcare is not just paid by you and yours. It’s paid by all, often in money to treat those who can’t pay, but also in opportunity, dragging the whole society down over the long run. And here I think the government is justified in intervening and making healthcare universal. Single-payer vs. Obamacare vs. Trumpcare vs some other solution yet-to-be-designed is where congress needs to do its job.

Looking up at lamps

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

A few years ago I was waiting for my coffee in a Starbucks and while I was standing at the pickup counter I was playing with my phone. I think at the time it was an iPhone 4 so, yea, a few years ago. Anyway, I took a photo of the lamps hanging down. The photo was awesome, these two bright lamps floating in darkness. Over the intervening years I took quite a few similar shots looking up at lamps. Some were very cool, but over all the phone camera was not up to making great photos so I never shared them. But the cameras have gotten much better and now in have Lightroom Mobile to even take “raw” photos for editing.

Armed with better camera and editing software I revisited the original Starbucks:

Untitled

I have taken a lot of up-lamp shots. Looking like a fool in restaurants and bars and shops craning my neck back to look up with the phone or holding the phone out over and over to take a photo where I can’t see the screen and then checking on the alignment of the shot. Five, six, ten tries to get the shot. Here are some of my best:

APC_0475.dng
APC_1419_dng
APC_1544.dng