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11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

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11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 Trump Is Starting to Panic

11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

11.15 Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side

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11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

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11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

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11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]

11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]

11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

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  America's Stupid Health Care Debate: Keeping Some Ideas Off the Table
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

America's Stupid Health Care Debate: Keeping Some Ideas Off the Table

by Dave Lindorff
Friday, 27 February 2009
The truth is that every other modern country in the world has long ago figured out that you can't have cost-effective, universal health care unless the government is the paymaster, with prices set by the government.
When President Barack Obama made his quick dash up to Ottawa last week, it's too bad he didn't suffer a gastrointestinal attack, or slip on some ice and twist an ankle or something. If he had, he might have had a chance to do what he should have done anyhow: visit a Canadian health clinic.

Maybe then he would have had his eyes opened to a better idea: government-run health care.

It is a sad commentary on the pinched and strictly censored level of political discourse in this nation that any serious consideration of Canada's successful approach to health care is simply out of bounds in America. It is nothing short of absurd that even though the nation that is closest to the US geographically, culturally, linguistically and economically has, since 1973, had a system of provincially administered single-payer government-run health systems which have kept the country's health costs at about 2/3 of what they are in the US as a percentage of GDP, at the same time serving all people and (not surprisingly) achieving better health statistics than the US, no one in Washington has talked about inviting Canadian health authorities down to explain how their system works and whether it might make sense here.

Canadians have complete freedom to choose their physicians. They pay nothing to go to hospital. I interviewed one hospital administrator in Canada who had worked earlier managing a US hospital. He said a whole wing of the facility in the US was devoted to billing and accounting staff, while he had only two people for that job in Canada, "mostly to handle the bills of the occasional American tourist!" (Some 20% of every US health care dollar goes for paperwork.) Interestingly, when I interviewed the CEOs of a number of huge Canadian subsidiaries of US corporations, they universally told me that they were ardent supporters of the Canadian system, and in fact, were involved in lobbying to have it expanded to include long-term care and psychiatric benefits.

There has for years been a huge ongoing propaganda campaign by US health care companies and their lobbies to denigrate Canada's system, but the big truth that they cannot deny is that it is loved by Canadians. The best evidence of this: Despite years of conservative governments in Canada, and in the various provinces, no political leader has ever tried to re-privatize health care in Canada. Clearly such an effort would be political suicide, so popular is the system there.

Surely, when President Obama assembles his panels to work out some kind of health "reform" package for the out-of-control US health care system, he should include Canadian health experts and ministers into the mix. It makes absolutely no sense to embark on a $650- billion-to-$2-trillion project without considering all the available options--including options that have a proven track record of keeping costs down, services available to all, and that delivers better health outcomes.

The truth is that every other modern country in the world has long ago figured out that you can't have cost-effective, universal health care unless the government is the paymaster, with prices set by the government. The truth too is that no country that has moved to such a single-payer system has later rejected it--a good indication that the people of these countries are satisfied with the results and with what they're getting for what they're paying.

No one would say that about the US health care system, which is failing over 50 million people completely, that is the leading cause of bankruptcy, that is making US companies non-competitive, and that sucks up over 14 percent of GDP while producing life expectancy and infant mortality figures that make some Third World countries look good.

Next time President Obama travels to Canada, Britain, France, Germany or some other country with a single-payer system, we should all wish for him to "break a leg," as they say in the performing arts. He might learn something valuable from the experience.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



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This story was published on February 27, 2009.
 

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