Category Archives: Politics

Medicare Fraud – A La Congress

If you missed last weeks Sixty Minutes broadcast on CBS TV, you probably aren’t seething as much as those of us who did. Turns out, that nice little Medicare reform bill that was supposed to make life better for senior citizens did nothing more that enrich the most profitable industry of all, the pharmaceutical (herein renamed harmaceutical).

Our Congress, led by Republican’s, passed a bill that is so one-sided for a particular industry that I believe that criminal charges of theft should be filed against every Congressman that voted for the bill. It will cost you and me, the taxpayers, an estimated 534 billion dollars. The bill disallows Medicare from negotiating with the harmaceutical companies to lower prices for drugs. This should make everyone of you completely outraged. If you want to read the story, click here to go to the CBS website.  Just be prepared to be angered.

Until Americans demand lobbyist reform, we will continue to be ripped off, our taxes stolen from us and our health will be at the mercy of profiteers. The Senate is trying to pass a bill to reverse this travesty but guess what?  The Republicans are fighting it and the President has threatened a veto if passed. Who does he work for?  You can bet it isn’t for the American people.

A Rant in Time, May Save the Environment

Today I’m a little peeved. No, make that really angry.  Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of The House is telling everyone she needs a big plane to go from Washington D.C. to California and back because of her position. Now I’m not just a little mad that this will waste taxpayer money, no I’m really mad because this hypocrite who criticized President Bush for his horrible (and it is horrible) environmental track record is going to waste ten’s of thousands of gallons of jet fuel every year because of her position. Hey Nancy, that is just not right.

Al Gore is another one who should talk about the environment while he flies around in a private jet and riding in a gas guzzling limo. I can understand having some privileges in life but holy cow does it have to be so blatant and wasteful? I bet Al Gore’s ecological footprint is the size of a few hundred of us “simple folk.”

If people are going to buy into the whole “save the environment, save the world” issue, our leaders need to step up to the plate and lead by example. Don’t tell me to cut back on my consumption when you waste so much fuel that I couldn’t make up for it if I lived in a cave and never used a bit of energy for the rest of my life.

Lest I sound like a Democrat basher today, the revelation that 87% of Republican Congressmen don’t buy global warming makes me wonder whether we have a mandatory I.Q. test for our representative or whether all you need is a smile, a few million bucks and a friend in some major industry. Hey guys, if you’re right we will be forced to spend money on making our environment better for generations to come and if you’re wrong and we do nothing like you seem to suggest, our coastal cities will be underwater, our environment will be in horrible shape leading to an increase of disease and suffering (and the added expense of dealing with all those sick people) and droughts will wreck havoc with major regions of the world.  Hmmmm.  What should we do?

Fight on the Hill – Will Big Pharma Get the Tide Turned on Them

Ever since the Republican’s have had control over the House and Senate, as well as the White House, Big Pharma has received a lot of benefits, which in my opinion have been undeserved and unwarranted. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 was a gift to the industry to the tune of more than $8 billion dollars of additional profit according to the January 13, 2007 issue of The Lancet . Since the top ten harmaceutical companies half-year profits in 2006 were a staggering $38 billion, this seems utterly ridiculous.

This opinion piece is not meant to bash a political party. Lord knows they both deserve bashing. What I do have a gripe with is how the Republicans have unabashedly pandered themselves to Big Pharma’s deep pockets. That party received more than 2/3rd’s of the industry’s campaign contributions annually. They spent more than $800 million lobbying Congress and the rest of the Federal government agencies since 1998.

Well, you might ask, they have been creating a bunch of life saving drugs with all the research they’ve been doing, right? Poppycock I say. According to the General Accounting Office, their R & D spending went up by 147% from 1993 to 2004 but new-drug applications only went up 38% in that time frame. Not only that, but the number has been dropping since 1996. If you call Viagra, Cialis and Levitra life saving drugs, well maybe I’m wrong.

In reality, in 2007, there are relatively few new drugs in the pipeline. the industry is in legal battles because of their patent dishonesty when it came to potential side-effects of their drugs (Vioxx, Zypreza to name a few).

The Democrats have already begun the introduction of bills requiring Medicare drug price negotiation, something the Republican backed bill of 2003 forbade. Other bills such as increasing the availability of generics, importation of cheaper drugs from Canada and improved after approval monitoring of existing drugs seem to be on their way. While my faith in politicians is similar to my faith in dinosaurs suddenly appearing at my two young daughter’s elementary school, I do hope a change of climate in Washington D.C. will begin to pull back bad policy decisions made over the past 13 years.

Budget cutting the wrong way

While I agree that our government is bloated and needs to have a lot of pork barrel programs cut but one of the proposals in the recent budget submitted to Congress is absolutely wrong.  The Commodity Supplemental Food Program which helps low income seniors, mothers, infants and small children get nutritionally balanced food helps 4,800 people in Nevada alone each month.  Can someone please explain to me what the reasoning behind this cut is? I would venture to say there are a number of other areas we can cut without hurting people who rely to some extent on this program.

Another budget proposal which should also get everyone up in arms is the proposal to triple the cost of health insurance for our veterans.  These are people who risked their lives to protect our country and this is how we treat them?  George Bush keeps telling us to support our troops in Iraq and I’m all for it.  But to cut health services for veterans is appalling. If anything, we should be improving their lives and continue to say “thank you for everything you sacrificed for us.”

If our elected officials were really interested in making tough decisions and wanted to cut the waste, there are a lot of other programs they could cut without harming our senior citizens and veterans.  Shame on them.

Increased Spending on Science Needed

While I am always a little hesitant for our government to open its purse strings and spend our money, a bill proposed by a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators needs our support.  Called the PACE Act (Protecting America’s Competitive Edge) it is a first step towards increasing spending in the field of science and math. Instead of spending money on pork barrel projects like bridges in Alaska that no one will use, we need to help stimulate an improvement in our worldwide standing in science, math and engineering.

By improving our educational system, not with the failing rhetoric that is “No Child Left Behind”, but with better funding for education (note I didn’t say more, I said better) especially in fields of science and math.

Iraq – A different point of view (maybe)

Recently, at my Rotary club, I invited Ty Cobb to speak at our club (no, not that one, although THAT would have been one hell of a trick) about the subject of Iraq.  Ty got back from Iraq last year where he worked to help the country develop a democratic government. His speech made me rethink what is really going on in the Arab, especially in Iraq.

One of the most important comments he made was how incredible it was to see the democratic process unfold in a country that has never had the right to vote.  He described a town hall meeting where women in burqa’s and women in jeans sat next to businessmen and Imam’s, all with vastly differing ideas about how Iraq should be run. It was amazing occurrence, yet the media, right wing and left wing gave very little coverage of this historic event. I guess it wasn’t sexy enough to be covered yet in my opinion, it was a truly historic event.  How sad that we don’t ever get to see the human side of what’s going on.

Mr. Cobb was asked a question from the audience about what the most important thing was in Iraq.  Was it religion?  Was it democracy?  Was it differences between ethnic groups?  Was it money?  Sitting next to him at the podium, I got to see his reaction which was immediate, even before the question was fully answered.  He unequivocally said “Money!”  The bottom line is “How do I feed my family and when the hell is my electricity going to be turned on.”

What struck me was the thought that this is really the issue in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even here in the United States of America. “It’s the economy stupid.”  You want to know the fastest way to create and train a suicide bomber?  Give him no hope of making a good life for himself, make it so he feels like his life is worthless, keep him unemployed and unemployable. Then have a crazed Islamist (not Muslim, big difference) who promises a better afterlife and bingo, suicide bomber.  Want to stop them?  Don’t get up on the podium and tell them to relax and not take a cartoon seriously, find a way to give these people hope.  If these young men and women had a hope for a good life and employment, the ranks of the suicide bombers would dry up rapidly.

Is the Bush administration doing this?  Yes and no.  Their rhetoric is oppositional and exactly what the extremists want to hear.  Their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are exactly what needs to be done, despite what the media would have you believe.  Improvements in Iraq are happening, the people are putting together militias to fight the insurgency but you wouldn’t know it if you turned on the news.  Our people in Iraq are trying to do the right thing but our government, and I mean the executive branch as well as Congress isn’t doing enough.

You can’t have Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer Halliburton getting a no bid contract to rebuild Iraq, overcharge us the US taxpayers (it’s not the government their ripping off it’s you and me) and expect the people and the media to not doubt every damn thing you do.  If it smells like…. I don’t have to paint that picture do I?

On the other side, you have idiots from the left telling us to just pull out and blow everything we have done already. In my opinion, there was no justification for us to go to Iraq. Having said that, the reality is that we are there and we have to make things right.  While there are a lot of similarities to Vietnam, there are some major differences (for another blog) that give us a good chance to succeed.

Oh for a leader who doesn’t tell me everything is ok when it isn’t and for an opposition that has ideas and not a group of nay sayers.