The Future of Obamacare

There has been a blizzard of surveys, opinion-bloviating and other analysis about the verity of Obamacare sign-ups. Of course, these rants pile on the ongoing, largely right-wing critique about Obamacare being a socialist nightmare.

The fact is that Obamacare/ACA is too big a change in our dysfunctional, profit-centered and cost-bloated health care system and the changes are still too new and still evolving (especially the future cost savings) to have major impacts now. So, John/Mary Q. Public can hardly have a coherent view of it right now, which is why we are seeing this “hate it-not good enough” dichotomy, based on very little information. The whole healthcare system – never mind how we pay for it – will continue to evolve in dramatic ways over the next 10 years at least. The wingers have lost and so have the health insurance parasites; it’s just a matter of time and education. And the Obama Administration’s communication team has been just awful on public education for years (except during campaigns). Weird.

End of the world economics

skidroadNobody will read this but the fact is that the US economy is drifting steadily from a post-war, pseudo-Capitalism model to a Third World formal-informal sector economic model. So, you have formal sector, registered corporations ranging from all the huge corporations we know about to small neighborhood businesses.

But, post economic crisis, and the New Savage Economy, increasingly we will see an ever larger unregistered economy of people who have no hope of any other employment in the economy I described above. What we will see increasingly are a large number of businesses created under the radar which won’t be IPOs or anything resembling Wall Street. None of which are being tracked now – except by the NSA, of course.  Welcome to the New Post-Depression.

JFK Remembered

ImageBasically, JFK changed the socio-political narrative for the country and most likely led to the current polarization of the country by advocating for an activist, positive vision of government that inspired liberals even though he was at best an Obama-like cautious centrist on domestic policy.  But he changed the dialogue during the coming of age of the Boomers and the decades since were forever changed as a result.

My parents were both 2nd generation Irish Catholics from Massachusetts, the children of poor, working class immigrants.  So the assassination of President Kennedy was as profoundly dismaying as his election three years earlier was a cause for joy.   When he announced the creation of the Peace Corps, I was 11 years old and knew little about the world and yet I decided that I would be a Peace Corps Volunteer someday.  He was that inspiring to a kid from my background.  I did become a PCV and spent two years in Ethiopia, which then changed the trajectory of my life and career.

I was in my 8th grade class at St. Philomena’s primary school in Pittsburgh when one of the nuns rushed in and whispered to our nun and we were ordered to the small school hall whereupon a TV was rolled into the hall and Walter Cronkite and CBS was turned on.  The whole thing was totally surreal; none of us really understood what was going on and the youngest kids were lost.  When his death was confirmed we were sent home.

Two days later and television was all about the assassination all the time, I was in the basement watching the transfer of Oswald to the county jail when Oswald was shot live on TV.  This was probably the first live murder on television,i.e. in real time. Certainly it must be one of only few.  I remember it vividly and remember being stunned and not really comprehending what was happening, heightened by the immediate pandemonium in that very crowded basement area.  I ran up and told my Mom what had happened.

Well, the conventional wisdom is that JFK’s assassination enabled the passage of civil rights and possibly voting rights legislation as well as the War on Poverty and maybe other liberal legislation. His tax cut is also widely cited as the precedent for Ronnie Rayguns radical tax cutting (not good given a different fiscal environment).

And in the Dept. of “Reality as Farce”

Black Presidents Fault  Yep, that’s Dave Chapelle 10 years ago in a gag prediction that was a classic example of his style of humor and, yes, that also is Fox “News”, which, of course is a sick joke all by itself fulfilling that same prediction a decade later.  Your moment of post-Zen.

Game of Thrones – Our Economy

In the Game of Thrones fight of the uber-rich over which economic clan will ultimately own the bare bones of the Federal Government I think there may be a real clash between the gross polluters/industrial extractors (e.g. Koch industries, Exxon, coal mining extreme exploiters) and the post-industrial firms (ICT, software, finance). The former want a completely deregulated 19th century economy – no health, safety or environmental regs and let the climate change disaster rule in the name of profits. The latter want an international economic structure that favors them of course (especially tax policy on intellectual property rights and, oh not paying taxes at all).  For both clans, the component of labor is to be squeezed as much as possible but they are often different kinds of labor. If there isn’t some pushback from the public against the two clans “owning” the government, the two “clans” will find a way to work with each other at the expense of the country and we will be the latest version of the late Roman Empire. Someone compared the top 10 companies of 1913 with those 2013. There was only one company in common: GE and I suspect that was because of GE’s finance arm.

Hyperbole and a Half

Allie Brosh suddenly disappeared from the Blogosphere more than 18 months ago and some part of it became bewildered and worried about that.  And then we discovered she was in a severe state of depression.

For those who may not know her, Allie is a wonderfully talented and whimsical artist/storyteller.  She made an immediate impression when she first appeared.  I think everyone thought they were the one that first discovered her when in fact, of course, she had been “discovered” by many members of a particular blogecosystem.

I cannot claim to have any understanding of that community even though I am a part of it, as are a number of people I know.  It is diverse and probably not right-leaning politically but otherwise wide-ranging.

Allie’s posts were unusual since they combined her cartoon-like whimsical art with her ideas and opinions, usually in a story fashion.  We loved them because they were all about what it was like to grow up as a kid and live as a young adult.  Her “voice” was clear and funny and ironic and smart.

Then she went into serious depression.  Like many other people.  And we lost her voice for what seemed like forever.  And now maybe she may be back.  I think clinical depression is something sufferers need to realize will always be a part of their lives.

I hope Allie will thrive and delight us but even if she chooses to retire from this ecosystem I wish her a better world.

Jonathan Winters – RIP

Jonathan Winters cameo Xd 2I first encountered Jonathan Winters as a little kid watching the iconic “It’s Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, one of the strangest comedies Hollywood had ever done to date and which became a huge hit, especially for Winters.  I was so impressed by that movie that he instantly became  my model for comedy – thinking far outside the box, adopting different personae and tip-toeing along the edge of crazy vs. humorous.

I rarely saw him after that in film and he apparently didn’t do very much except for his own TV show.  But he did records and radio and his unique voices and manic but lovely sensibility was always so attractive.  Like that of Robin Williams whom I discovered today regarded Winters as an idol.  Which is totally not surprising.

I hope we continue to find comedians who have the wide manic range and intelligent sensibility of Jonathan Winters – a real model for what comedy can be at its best.  He will be missed.