Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Pets

On a variation on "If you can't afford it, don't buy it", I read an article today about how if you don't have $8,000 laying around, don't get a dog. Oddly, the number jumps to $10,000 if you have a cat. And I'm going to guess that the reason why the cats are higher is because they do stupid shit like get in cat fights and then get abscesses and since cats have an amazingly high pain tolerance, you don't know something's wrong until it's at the point where you're going to be paying twice the amount of what you would have if you had known when it happened that the cat got in a cat fight.

But I digress.

The article states it much more eloquently than I ever could, and while I do think that homeless people tend to take very good care of their dogs, I do understand how it seems to work out better that homeless people get a dog, not a person with a dog becomes homeless.

So, that article is here: Why you can't afford a dog.

And just for the record, I have two cats, and I'd like to adopt a dog.

After thinking about it, I just realized that I always figured pets are expensive (just like kids--except with kids, it's more like $10,000 in the first year alone). I made sure I had enough money in the bank to pay for spay/neuter surgeries, and I start saving for the yearly vet appointment right after the one we just had. Of course we had a couple of curve balls, like the one cat suffers from flea allergies and the other thinks it's fun to get in cat fights. But this is all stuff I knew going into it.

That's why it makes me so sad to see people adopting pets when it's obvious that they aren't going to be able to afford to keep them if something happens. As the article says: There's services for a child if you need them, but there are very few services for pet care without you relinquishing the pet. So, if your pet needs help, and it requires that you give up your pet in order for it to get the services it needs, then man up and relinquish the pet. It's better than letting the poor animal die from liver failure or kidney failure or have to hobble around with a broken leg just because you didn't think ahead about the fact that animals cost money.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm skurred...and a touch turrified

Can I just say how uncomfortable the political scene is making me right now? No, not "oh my Gosh, I'm not going to get my way" scared, but "holy shit, how long until this turns into mass killings" scared. People are getting way too emotionally riled by this healthcare issue, and it's starting, it IS feeling like it's about to turn nasty in a way that American legislation has not in many years.

The first thing about this healthcare debate that bothers me is the rapid-fire misinformation that's being shot from both sides. While I know this is going to ruffle feathers, the majority of this misinformation is being disseminated from a very few republican talking heads and congressmen (is there a difference?). Claims about death squads, rationing emergency care, forcing everyone to get on the same health care plan, etc seem to be shooting rapidly around a room of ever-angered crowds. Since when is it considered okay to just openly LIE about things? I'm honestly to the point where I don't see any value in government transparency, if it means that people aren't going to bother fact-checking what they're told.

Second, the mob mentality is getting out of control. Democrats are angry and defensive. People like Keith Olbermann are using some rhetoric that's unhelpful (to steal a phrase from our Secretary of State). But you don't see the crazed ANGER that you see from the republicans at these town hall meetings we keep hearing about. That's partially because I haven't attended one. You can bet your sweet, sweet ass that if I were at a meeting and I sat near some crazed old fuckworm screaming loudly to drown out conversation, I'd have NO qualms about just marching over there and punching him square in his semi-toothless face. I mean, I'm actually ANGRY at these people for being so childish and stupid. And if you don't agree with me that screaming to get your way is stupid, then I'm not going to apologize. That's how I feel. Only dumb pieces of shit would go to a political meeting and yell to prevent others from speaking. I don't care WHAT party you are, that's just unacceptable behavior. It's a face-punching offense. Angry mobs do not a safe place make.

It's not just at the town hall meetings, either. People are carrying signs saying "don't let my disabled child die at the hands of a death panel" or "don't let Obama keep you sick"...WTF does that even mean???? It's extremely manipulative to say things like that, especially when they're not true. There are plenty of people participating in this who are poor and marginalized, or who are ignorant and stupid. That's a granted in any situation. But there are intelligent people getting sucked in by the bullshit, and I think that's scary. Doctors and lawyers are believing radical theories and protesting in a manner that's flat-out unamerican. America is a place for rationality, not fear-stampeding like a herd of cattle who've heard a gunshot nearby.

Failed republican leaders like Sarah Palin are jumping in and using their positions to disrupt political progress, and that's wrong, too. Nancy Pelosi isn't doing much better. The only person I see doing things in a calm, collected, and kind manner is Barack Obama himself, and he's the one being villified.

On a side note, how is it that people think Obama is trying to steal business from health insurers. Does anybody think he's allowed to benefit from this at all? Like, does he get a check from our employers if they chose the government plan? No, he doesn't. I think his plan has flaws, but not the ones being mentioned. And I certainly don't think he's trying to be a bad guy or deceive or anything else. I believe he truly is trying to do what he thinks is best for the US. And I think he'll accomplish it. The crazier the GOP gets, the more likely this is to get pushed through. Because many of us who were on the fence about it have been driven away from the right completely, just out of irritation and general avoidance of frantic fear-energy. As the right has gotten right-er, the middle has been forced onto the left.

Finally, I think it's important to note one thing: The status quo doesn't work. It doesn't. There are kids who have teeth rotting painfully out of their mouths. There are elderly people who can't afford basic medical care, and are left with things like untreated diabetes (gangrene feet and all). My plan, if I were president (and let's all be grateful that I'm not) would involve a completely fee-for-service only plan. Or possibly the "medical home" notion, wherein you pay dues to be part of a medical group, and you use the healthcare you need. Employers could pay these dues, but it'd be the same month-to-month, regardless of what care or lack of care you received. And I'd pay for the children and elderly by TAXING THE FUCK out of processed, sugary, fattening foods. I'd tax sodas and beer and cigarettes and Doritos and McDonalds and Velveeta. I'd throw tariffs around willy-nilly at rice-a-roni, ramen noodles, doughnuts, and candy bars. I'd tax items at restaurants PER CALORIE over a generous meal limit. Let's say we allow a SINGLE MEAL to be 1000 calories. There'd still be an extra thousand calories per meal at places like Applebees and Chilis. That's just cash dollas in my governmental purse. Why? Because obesity causes the American health care system 147 billion dollars per year. That's a pretty big chunk of change.

Maybe we should all just calm down a little and encourage others to do the same. It may be fun to be in heated debates, but in the end the debates that remain calm and friendly are the ones that accomplish the most.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ha! Politics!

Well, if any of you have ever read my "about me" section on Facebook you'll know that I basically live under a rock, given that I'm in grad school for literature. Thusly, 98% of my time is devoted to reading literature and a bunch of literary criticism that nobody cares about. So, my point is that I while away the hours thinking about phallic symbols and Christ imagery... Not so much with the current events.

However, I'm game to try to expand my interests a bit. Especially since the "real world" outside of literary academia seems to be looming. So, in honor of my first post I shall avoid being witty or smart but will attempt to provide some fodder for discussion.

Read, and discuss: Fascism in America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Health Care

1) my thoughts are very fluid and rarely ever make sense at first. And since I am a doer, not a thinker, this will probably spill over into my entries.
2) my mind can be easily changed so if you make some good points, I will probably wish to subscribe to your newsletter. This also means that I'll probably post some very contradictory entries and you'll just have to deal with it.

Now, onward!

So. Apparently talking about health care is all the rage now-a-days.

The debate currently isn't about health care itself. It is about health care for everyone. (Who knew health care was written about in the Constitution, eh? See here: The American Form of Government--which makes sense...until the end because really, we go from a republic to a democracy to an oligarchy? considering how many Constitutionalists there are, I'm guessing that after the oligarchy, it will go back to a republic.) Which really just means that the debate isn't about health care, it's about health insurance. Everyone can get health care. It's called an emergency room. So, let's be frank, we are debating health insurance when we are talking about 'health care for everyone.'

And now, my view on health insurance is not that we don't have enough of it, but that we have too much. That's right, without health insurance doctors would set their own prices and it would therefore create a competitive market. Doctors that are good could set higher rates, and those that think any girl having stomach cramps needs a pelvic exam...well, they probably shouldn't be practicing. But still, you would get what you paid for. There could be different levels of laboratories set up so you would pay based on how quickly you wanted your results (like the post office!). *

The biggest problems with this plan are that insurance works like a pension plan--it covers the cost of one over the payments by many, and so big ticket items, like chemotheraphy, would probably become something only the insanely rich could afford. Plus it doesn't account for drugs. To an extent a competitive market already exists, it's just that insurance pays for a large portion of the drug...of course if they priced the drug so only a few could get it, there wouldn't be any money in making the drug, so the cost would have to come down in order for them to make any money. And, as always, the health insurance industry is a HUGE industry that employs thousands upon thousands of people, so if you got rid of the insurance industry, you'd have that many people suddenly unemployed.

Perhaps, however, this is just too much of an anarchist agenda.

* Has anyone actually looked at their health insurance pay out on an insurance claim? My yearly pelvic and health exam is billed at $112 for lab processing, preventative services for $194, and $217 for more lab fees. This comes to a grand total of $523. My insurance looked at that and said to the doctor and lab "And yet you shall only recieve $148.64". And of course, because I have insurance, I only paid the $20 copay. I forget how much my employer actually pays for my health insurance, but I think they pay close to $500 a month for me to be able to only pay $20 out of pocket. I still fail to see out it's fair that my employer pays $500 a month to some entity that refuses to pay the asking rate for services rendered, all based on the theory that I might, someday, use the money for a medical which I'll still get screwed because the insurance will try to claim that chemotherapy is a non-standard treatment for cancer. Fucking insurance companies.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that I should mention that 3 people in my extended family work for (or used to) for the health insurance industry.

My Political P.O.V.

As a former republican, I really agreed with a lot of what was said by my party. Did I want other people to have access to my money? Hell no. Did I think Bill Clinton was too soft on foreign politics? Yessirree! Did I believe in my constitutional right to bear arms? Absolutely!

And do I still believe in these things? Yes, I sure do.

But when it came down to it, and I saw the right railing against things like abortion and stem cell research... when I saw George W.'s terrifying brand of foreign politics...when I saw what a batshit crazy harpy Sarah Palin was, and how things would likely turn out with her doddering and confused warmonger candidate...I spooked. And I looked closer.

Obama--I disagreed with some things, like capital gains tax. And I thought he was a little to liberal on social spending. But he spoke up for my rights as a woman. He spoke up for the rights of my homosexual friends. He seemed capable of foreign diplomacy, rather than just foreign "fuckyaI'mashootya" thinking. He was just a good, healthy, all-American dude. I LIKED him.

McCain--Was a POW (but since when did being kidnapped equate to being a brilliant domestic and foreign leader?? How is that a qualification??). Loved A-murr-ka. Believed in gun rights. Helped the rich get richer (played to my sense of enjoyment while shopping, but made me feel guilty for not helping the poor as God would want me to do). Really, I didn't like him, and while I disagreed with some of what Obama said, none of it made me feel like a dirty traitor to my sex and my friends and myself quite like McCain could. Then Palin hopped on board, and there is nobody on earth I view quite as hostilely as I view her. Ugh.

So now I'm trapped. I've got the candidate I respect and admire, and I agree with much of what he's doing. I'm grateful every day that our country was blessed with a reasonable leader, and not sentenced to McCain and Palin. But I don't agree with everything Obama is doing.

And that'd be fine, except for that the right is getting so far beyond reasonability each day that I feel more and more alienated from the GOP. So there's no going back, not unless I want to identify with hate and bigotry and stupidity. It's hard.

That's my political point of view. Hopefully it will help explain my positions on some things.


It Begins...

I'm tired of debating politics on Facebook. I feel completely passive-aggressive when I post liberal propaganda, just to point things out to my conservative friends. And I get borderline irate when I see people who used to be funny and entertaining use Facebook solely as a forum for political antagonism and agenda-spreading. And it's not just Facebook. It's bumper stickers, t-shirts, text messages...hell, I even post political opinion on my foodie blog. It's out of control. I'm starting this blog to accomplish three things:

1--to provide a forum for discussion among friends.
2--to encourage use of this outlet in lieu of constant friend-badgering on non-political sites
3--to learn more about different viewpoints, and to be able to talk them out with people I respect and enjoy

I hope the discussions swing wildly between cerebral and ridiculous opining. I hope it's intelligent and funny and silly, and I hope we all learn something.

This may not work, and it may be a waste of another blogspot domain name, but at least we'll have tried...