20 March 2019

My take on Medicare for All and acceptable variants

I think we need to be crystal clear on one point concerning Medicare for All, and we need to insist on it from all our candidates. And that is that while we may need to utilize a mixed system, at least as a transition, and allow something like Medicare Advantage as it now exists (which is where private insurance provides Medicare services plus additional services, for regulated additional premiums, in lieu of the Single Payer Medicare standard). Alternatively, we may allow for supplemental plans that provide additional coverage as a supplement to the standard, now-expanded to cover everyone-Medicare.

But what is absolutely essential, and which must be part of any plan on a quick phase-in at minimum, is that ALL HEALTH INSURANCE PROVIDERS MUST REORGANIZE AS NONPROFITS. This is crucial to the insurance based systems in France, Switzerland, Japan, and Germany. The for profit insurance model simply does not work for health care. There is too much of a conflict of interest: profit depends on denial of care, not providing the best care. Private nonprofits will compete to provide the best care, and grow their businesses based on performance and awards of contractual advantages from excellent performance, not profitability. Any companies that don't want to function in that market are free to go into some other line of business, because, as Dennis Kucinich used to say at every opportunity, there is simply no place for profit in health care.


12 March 2019

Pelosi on impeachment

I don't know what Nancy Pelosi is thinking, or what she knows. But EVEN IF she knows enough from classified and unpublished sources to conclude that the Mueller investigation will not convey enough information to Congress, for whatever reasons, to strongly support impeachment, I can't fathom how she doesn't believe the American people deserve to have the entire matter of Trump's unfitness for obvious thoroughly investigated, and that she, and other Congressional leaders should just say that and not prejudge the outcome.  


10 March 2019

Our species can... and must... rise to the challenge of the Climate Catastrophe

I watch... but don't necessarily entirely buy into... futurist Isaac Arthur's youTube channel videos on things like the Fermi Paradox, megastructures in space, far future space development and colonization, etc. He's a very far-seeing thinker, and tackles with surprising lucidity some of the objections to the sillier notions of many who long and dream for the lost "future" of OUR recent past (if that makes sense). (For example, he's a pretty extreme Fermi Paradoxer (as am I), concluding from the facts already known that advanced civilizations are NECSSARILY quite rare in the universe, Exhibit A being the logic (which I've delved into at length on gyromantic.com) that unless nuclear war or the Climate Catastrophe kill us off, WE will likely colonize our entire galaxy and beyond in a million years or so; coupled with "Deep Time," (the universe has been much as it is now for a long, long time, at least 6 or 7 billion years), QED there haven't been a lot of beings like us on the cosmic stage and aren't any close by now, or they'd already be here, and flying saucerites peace, they aren't).

Anyway, a point I want to make is that we as a species have to start thinking in terms of much broader and more adventurous solutions to the problems of our existence. The Climate Catastrophe can not be solved with just minor tweaks to the global market system and continued nonsensical regional conflict. Either we get it together and form the "Federation," and engineer our way out of this crisis, or we, too, will be an also-ran that doesn't warrant a blip on the Fermi filter scale. RIP Earth.

But I'm not betting against our species. We have many faults, but we have proven ourselves the most inventive of creatures THIS world has ever produced, and I have a very strong belief that the Earth is truly extraordinary. Not one in a million, not one in a billion, one in many tens of billions if not even more. We're the lottery winner. We can survive and thrive, and become much more than we have ever been before. But only if we overcome our petty greed and rivalry and come together to solve our greatest yet global crisis, which, in case you haven't fully accepted it yet, is UPON US. Now.


Nature simply does not care what we believe. 


09 March 2019

A rhyme in return

To my friend Jas, who penned a fine rhyme for my birth,
Noting pathways and pastimes long I dropped on dear Earth--
      I'll not dwell in self-pity
      Here's my own grateful ditty
To new friends in the City of Music and Mirth.


Nature simply does not care what we believe.


07 March 2019

Birthday Limerick

Here's the limerick my dear friend and musical mentor Jas Adams wrote for my birthday. (Needless to say, I was most touched). 

March 6, 2019

"I'll tickle the ivories," thought Dave, 
"After reading the Sci-Fi I crave,
"Plus political news
"And much more to peruse."
(Not retired, just on a new wave!)

Thanks, Jas. No one's ever written a birthday limerick for me before. 



Nature simply does not care what we believe. 


05 March 2019

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

I've now heard two interviews with David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming. (Ezra Klein and Chris Hayes's Why is this Happening? podcasts). Not cheery. Terrifying. We are on the very cusp of the rest of the century, during which the Climate Catastrophe will impinge on every facet of our lives, and, if we fail to act very soon, will make life very very nasty for hundreds of millions before those who come after us will have been forced to take real action to make the Earth livable. And no one will be immune. It's become increasingly clear that we're not just talking about sea level rise. The consequences of the Climate Catastrophe will have mostly very negative effects, and they will affect every human being on Earth to some degree, and be devastating or even fatal for a huge number. And some of that effect is already unavoidable.

Here's an eye opener, which I admit I did not know. Since Al Gore wrote his first book, 30 years ago, in other words, SINCE we as a species knew what we were doing to our planet, more than half the fossil carbon ever emitted into the atmosphere has been emitted. In 1989 the climate was still stable (relatively), and a forthright and serious effort to address the problem would have been quite feasible. Now, the UN goal of keeping warming under 2° C by 2100 is all but impossible, and that means severe economic and physical disruption is unavoidable. And no one talks about going beyond 2° ... or what happens after 2100. The consequences of continuing to do nothing will be literally fatal. At 8°, all clouds will permanently disappear, which would cause an additional 8° of warming almost immediately. The Earth has not had 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere in millions of years... long before there were humans. The last time the Earth's average temperature was 4°C above the baseline, there were palm trees in the arctic, and even our great ape ancestors had not yet evolved.

This is an important book. Everyone should read it. Complacency is the enemy, and we can no longer afford it. It will literally kill us if we don't shake it off and get busy. To paraphrase Wallace-Wells, we didn't fight WW2 out of optimism. We mobilized and transformed our economy out of FEAR. And that kind of fear is what will cause us to mobilize against the Crisis too. But it is not just us, in America. Already (and this is completely changed since the turn of the century too), the US is producing only 15% of the fossil carbon being added each year to the atmosphere. China and India together account for over half. This is a global problem, and the solution must be global. The enemy is not other nations, it is our own folly; our own unwillingness to make the changes necessary to avoid catastrophe. Time is running out, and the longer we wait, the harder and more terrible will be the journey back.


Nature simply does not care what we believe. 


01 March 2019

It's early days....

I've declared that I'm supporting Elizabeth Warren, and I'm sticking with that for the time being. But I approve of Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, who I think has a lot to offer especially on the critical Climate Crisis issue. And, even more so, I heard a long form interview with Pete Buttigieg (Boot-e-jedge) on Pod Save America. I may disagree with one or two of his more calculatedly "centrist" positions (he favors, for example, "Medicare for All Who Want it" as opposed to "Medicare for All," an important distinction and I can see his point). But at 37, he makes a convincing case that it's time to pass the torch. He thinks long term, talking about how we need to make decisions about structural things and not just take for granted, for example, that we can't fix the supreme court, the electoral college, etc. He talks about making choices based on what effect they'll have in 2054, not just next year (happens to be the year he'll be as old as Trump, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush are now). He's openly gay but has managed to win several elections in deep red Indiana. And he's the most articulate and smartest candidate for president in a generation (with the possible exception of Warren, who's also truly brilliant intellectually). So Warren, Inslee, Buttigieg, I'd be happy with any of 'em, and pretty happy with several others (including Sanders and Harris, although I think Harris may be temperamentally problematic as a presidential candidate). 

The one Democratic candidate I DON'T favor is Biden, who I think has too many issues (support for very bad financial legislation and criminal justice "reform" in the 90s that did huge damage), and, like Sanders, I he's just too old. We need a younger, fresher, less compromised candidate. Of course, if we're foolish enough to nominate Biden, I will vote for him, but I will not support him before the 2020 convention and I really hope he flames out early. 


Nature simply does not care what we believe.