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Established 1973 — Last updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014, 9:21 AM
Policy & Practice News –
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Permanent Editorial?
The U.S. wastes $1.6 Trillion/yr on inefficient health care spending compared with the 2011 OECD per capita average, which becomes extra overhead on everything U.S. workers make—resulting in offshoring jobs. Let's adopt more efficient practices instead of cutting Medicare and Medicaid coverage as part of some "Grand Bargain"
2011 US per capita health care spending was $4390 more per person than in France (acclaimed as having the best healthcare) and $5169 above the OECD average without better results. (Ref. 2009, 2007, selected 2007 with avg. doctor visits showing we're least cared for for the money, 2003 and 1998.)

Lastly and importantly, health worker pay is NOT the problem.

[Sorry I didn't date this, which has been updated over time, my anger unrelenting. It was posted in early 2010. A similar editorial re. triple-play communication services is also much deserved, since many OECD countries pay half as much.]
The climate crisis has such bad timing, confronting it not only requires a new economy but a new way of thinking.
Naomi Klein in Common Dreams
Five offshore windfarms and three biomass projects will provide millions of homes with clean power
Adam Vaughan in The Guardian
At a time when the still sluggish economy has sent a flood of jobless young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.
Walter Hamilton in The LA Times
The first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement, spanning 50 years of activism. Chronicling the largest movement of the 20th century, the film tells vivid stories about people fighting – and succeeding – against the odds, from the Grand Canyon to Love Canal, from the oceans to the Amazon. A film by Academy Award-nominee Mark Kitchell.
After being criticized for assessing environmental hazards only by the state's 1,800 ZIP Codes, Cal/EPA issues scores for its 8,000 census tracts.
Tony Barboza in The LA Times
As recent Medicare data show, the way that doctors’ treat it does, and those choices have huge effects on the U.S. and personal budgets.
STEVEN RICH in Wonkblog
Adam Vaughan in The Guardian
The experts named 12 chemicals—substances found in both the environment and everyday items like furniture and clothing—that they believed to be causing not just lower IQs but ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. Pesticides were among the toxins they identified.
James Hamblin in The Atlantic
A new study of adolescents found that those who derive joy from selfless deeds were less likely to be depressed over time. [Posting this made me feel good.]
OLGA KHAZAN in The Atlantic
National Geographic via YouTube
$500,000 study paid for by federal government says biofuels made from corn residue release 7% more greenhouse gases in short term
The Koch brothers and large utilities have allied to reverse state policies that favor renewable energy. Environmentalists are pushing back, but the fight is spreading and intensifying.
Evan Halper in LA Times
Louisiana has 300,000 wells connected by thousands of miles of pipelines which oil companies (finally) admit are leaking at least 300,000 barrels of crude each year. [Ponder similar leaks from the proposed XL Pipeline...]
Climate-change advice.
The fact that so much time has been wasted standing around means that the problem of climate change is now much more difficult to deal with than it was when it was first identified. But this only makes the imperative to act that much greater, because, as one set of grim predictions is being borne out, another, even worse set remains to be written.
The coal industry, the politicians, and the big spill.
In West Virginia’s abundant history of disasters, the Freedom Industries spill was unusual; there are no casualties to count, no floodwaters to fight. It was an accident with no clear ending, and, more than two months later, the most basic question remained unanswered: Is the water safe
EVAN OSNOS in The New Yorker

A.C. THOMPSON and JONATHAN JONES in ProPublica | Ref.
Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us [long, print & study; 3:38 video]
Looking at real bills for real patients cuts through the ideological debate over health care policy.
STEVEN BRILL in Time Magazine | Ref.
Econ4 on Health Care [10:00 video]
the USA ranks first in the world in health care spending, but only 45th in life expectancy....
YVES SMITH comments in Naked Capitalism | Ref.
Climate change inaction is a leading global cause of death.
DARA | Ref.
If we had the per-person costs of any other OECD country, America’s deficits would vanish....
EZRA KLEIN in the Washington Post | Ref.
How Industry Money Reaches (aka 'bribes') Physicians
Special Report in Pro Publica | Ref.
To remove your appendix in one California hospital costs $180,000, at a different facility the bill is $1,500. [Who has time to 'shop'?]
RYAN FLINN in Bloomberg | Ref.
Why is Healthcare Absurdly Expensive in USA: Graphics (Part 2) (Part 1 is here) Videos of Less Corrupt Health Care Systems
SOURCE: Public Broadcasting System & ABC News | Ref.
Health Care Reform Reality Check
SOURCE: The White House | Ref.
Health Care Reform: An Online Guide
SOURCE: Slate Mag. | Ref.
International Healthcare Systems Primer
SOURCE: The American Medical Student Association | Ref.
Global Warming Links
SOURCE: Readers | Ref.
While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.
David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy in The New York Times
"We are in the midst of the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known."
   "Over four years, [there’s been] a 43 percent increase in the number of Americans with worst-case housing needs," says Donovan. "Let's be clear what that means: They're paying more than half of every dollar they earn for housing."
gjohnsit in Daily Kos
Fracking, robotics, and nanotechnology are poised to transform the industrial sector.
MOISÉS NAM in The Atlantic
When told that a large percentage of humans still have not accepted the reality of evolution, Pongo Pete reportedly responded by pointing to the symbol for “stupid.”
People forget that the FBI is the NSA's primary partner in domestic spying, which allows them to work in secret
Trevor Timm in The Guardian
Whenever we need a perfect example of Americans who have no clue what is in their best interest, we need only look to the south. Yes, there are some great people there–and no, not everyone is ignorant. However, red state voters regularly eschew logic and ignore facts when making decisions, instead turning their focus toward Bible-based voting. Right-wing politicians use this to their advantage whenever it is time to elect leaders.
John Prager in Informed Comment
Online gun sweepstakes have become one of the most useful tools for campaign outreach in the 2014 Republican primaries. Across the country, from a race for sheriff in California to the United States Senate primary in South Carolina, candidates are using high-powered pistols and rifles as a lure to build up their donor lists and expand their base of support. [Just when you think they can't get any sicker...]
JEREMY W. PETERS in The New York Times
Both "conservative" and "liberal" journalists are held to account for unprofessional work.
BOB SOMERBY in The Daily Howler | EVERY DAY

Letters to the Editor
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US secretary of state John Kerry expresses deep concern over 'lack of positive Russian steps to de-escalate' crisis
Patients said to be taking methamphetamine as medicine because drugs are too expensive despite promise of universal healthcare
Tania Branigan in The Guardian
Japanese companies have been big drivers behind the development of the Chinese economy. This pullback of their moolah and superb industrial expertise comes at a very inconvenient time for the Chinese economy. For years, it has lived off what appeared to be an endlessly inflatable credit bubble that created the largest construction and infrastructure boom in history, resulting in entire ghost cities and breathtaking industrial overcapacity.

But now the mountain of debt has started to curdle, overcapacity is taking down entire sectors, economic growth is slowing, and the credit bubble is cracking. The last thing China needs is the exit of such a large foreign investor and source of advanced technologies. But that’s what it’s getting. And countries in Southeast Asia are already licking their chops and counting yen.

WOLF RICHTER in Testosterone Pit
After decades of absolute control, Pyongyang's iron grip on the lives of ordinary citizens is finally slipping. Tania Branigan meets the people who no longer believe the propaganda ['Dear leader': 1) wake-up to surf the wave to success or, 2) go to prison for life or die young]
Tania Branigan in The Guardian
Soros: Effective sanctions against Russia should be threatened at first only as a deterrent. If the threat is effective, they wouldn’t be applied. But Chancellor Merkel faces a fundamental choice: should Germany be guided by its narrow national self-interests or should it assert its leadership position within the European Union and forge a unified European response? On her choice hinges not only the fate of Ukraine but also the future of the European Union. Her passionate speech to the German Parliament on March 13 gives me hope that she is going to make the right choice.
Gregor Peter Schmitz interview in The New York Review of Books
Social democracy's retreat doesn't mean progressive politics is dying. Today's mass class – the precariat – is defining a new agenda
Guy Standing in The Guardian
The Gospels are so at odds that they don’t even agree on the meaning of Jesus’ death.
The New Testament contains not a single eyewitness testimony, much less even a secondhand account, nor is any account corroborated outside of the Bible.
CJ Werleman in AlterNet
5 Things to Know About How Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research
We need to recognize that science and technology grow by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection blocks exactly what it’s supposed to enhance: ideas that help us live better. The intellectual property system needs to be reevaluated so that social and economic progress aren't hampered by laws that only reward the few, and the public good becomes a top priority.
Lynn Stuart Parramore in AlterNet
Russia, Ukraine, the US and the European Union have said that all sides have agreed to steps to "de-escalate" the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
LOCKED UP IN AMERICA [stories & documentary videos]
The Solicitor General will defend deceptive campaigning before the Supreme Court.
Eric Zuesse in AlterNet
Six reasons why international business remains dangerous to workers and the environment, even when its leaders genuinely want to do better
Piketty's contribution was to painstakingly comb over the available data and illuminate trends that would leave no reasonable person in doubt of the fact that capitalism's inherent dynamics create inequality, and that only our express intervention, in the form of things like a global wealth tax, investment in skills and training, and the diffusion of knowledge can lead us to a different outcome.
Lynn Stuart Parramore in AlterNet
Previously restricted papers reveal attempts to rush president to support act, later blamed for deepening banking crisis
[All politics and government are very corrupt from big-money quid pro quo]
Dan Roberts in The Guardian
The Volcker Rule doesn’t go into effect until 2015, but that hasn’t stopped big bankers and their supporters in Washington from trying to undermine it.

The latest fight involves another complex Wall Street creation, a financial instrument known as a collateralized loan obligation. Big banks want to be allowed to own them but regulators say such holdings can be hazardous and may allow the banks to evade the Volcker Rule’s prohibition on risky trading.

Our nation’s tax code reflects our corrupt politics. The code contains many provisions that benefit our wealthiest, most powerful companies and people while hurting the rest of us.

(“Our” most powerful people in the sense that they claim to be American, regardless of how transnational and unpatriotic they behave.)

A new report shows that top CEOs were paid 331 times more than the average US worker in 2013. At the same time, the poorest fifth of Americans paid an average tax rate of 11 percent while the richest one percent contributed half that rate at state and local levels. In this essay, Bill reflects on the forces that are causing inequality to skyrocket, why it matters and where we’re headed in the future.
Bill Moyers commentary on Moyers & company
What the 1% Don’t Want You to Know [24:30 video w/ transcript]
Economist Paul Krugman discusses Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against. [The solution is simple: Restore very-high estate taxes above a reasonable exemption and delete tax loopholes including tax exempt trusts.]
Bill Moyers interview on Moyers & company
Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Adelson and a colorful cast of characters jockey over regulation.
...the Washington lobbying game is ramping up again, driven largely by Adelson’s new push to ban online gambling.
Nicholas Kusnetz in AlterNet
Thanks to renewable energy's technological leap forward, the IPCC climate panel can talk about “decarbonizing” electricity generation as a realistic goal — and since coal-fired power plants are a very large part of the climate problem, that’s a big part of the solution right there.

So is the climate threat solved? Well, it should be. The science is solid; the technology is there; the economics look far more favorable than anyone expected. All that stands in the way of saving the planet is a combination of ignorance, prejudice and vested interests. What could go wrong? Oh, wait. [Many governments are dominated by fossil energy asset owners...]

PAUL KRUGMAN in The New York Times
Libertarian ideology favors privatization. However, in practice privatization is usually very different in result than libertarian ideology postulates. Almost always, privatization becomes a way for well-connected private interests to loot both the public purse and the general welfare.
Inequality is the plague of our times, a divisive epidemic caused by the unjust economic system – ‘Neo-Liberalism’, or market fundamentalism – which saturates the world. A system which, Noam Chomsky says, is “so dysfunctional that it cannot put eager hands to needed work,” as would happen “if the economy were designed to serve human need rather than create wealth beyond avarice for the privileged few.”

We're tracking where taxpayer money has gone in the ongoing bailout of the financial system. Our database accounts for both the broader $700 billion bill and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
ProPublica | Ref.
SARAH ANDERSON in CounterPunch | Ref.
ANDREW HACKER in The New York Review of Books | Ref.
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