Add to Technorati Favorites
Democratic Party Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

Monday, September 22, 2008

Breaking the Law

It’s really hard to not break the law these days for even the most determined law abiding citizen. I don’t speed, run red lights, rob banks, steal copper tubing, or even use aliases and kidnap children. All I am really trying to do is get some medication to treat my migraine. And the state and insurance companies are seemingly determined to make me break the law to do it.

Before I had health insurance, I simply paid my $225 for nine tiny Maxalts. I bought them maybe three times a year. I treated each pill like gold, fighting off migraines with over the counter pain relief, and only taking a Maxalt when I knew if I didn’t, I would not be able to work the next day. For me, a single mother of three, making ends meet means working every day.

Then, the law came into effect requiring health insurance, so I signed up with Blue Cross, paying $620 a month to cover myself and my three sons. When I needed the Maxalt I was informed it was not covered. Consulting with my doctor, we found a substitute, Zomig, which was covered. My co-pay? $170. Blue Cross generously kicked in a whopping $55! I take no other medications and have no medical conditions requiring any doctors’ visits and go only once a year for a checkup. Same thing for my kids. So, I’m basically paying about $7000 a year to get a discount of $55!

Blue Cross says Zomig is a “Tier 2” drug, which is why the co-pay is so high. Does Tier 2 mean less important? My migraines cause me horrific pain, light and sound sensitivity, nausea, inability to sleep, work, drive or take care of my kids for three days at a time. I found out Cialis is another Tier 2 drug. I am left wondering who determines tier levels and how.
Before I knew about Maxalt and Zomig, I had little recourse for my migraines. The only thing that ever worked was marijuana. But I rarely used it, terrified of taking an illegal drug. I can’t pay $620 a month for useless insurance and $170 for every prescription. I feel compelled to choose between two illegal actions: dropping my insurance, or smoking pot. And yes, pot is much cheaper. One hit, I’m a new woman!

I have one other illegal choice. I have a friend who has been on unemployment most of the year. She gets free health insurance and all medication for a $3 co-pay. She developed migraines recently and will be getting a prescription for Maxalt. I’m wondering if she will be using all those Maxalts or if she perhaps may have a spare or two for a friend?

Although I have never been on any government assistance, I believe in our system of taking care of those less fortunate. I believe in universal healthcare. I believe in the rule of law. What I don’t believe in is paying for insurance and not being reasonably insured. I don’t believe that the government does enough to take care of people who work hard every single day to do the right thing, who pay their bills and taxes and ask nothing of the system except to be treated fairly and reasonably. I believe that if we have created a system that forces people to break the law, the system itself is the thing that needs to be fixed. Until it is, I guess I will try to work harder and work when I don’t feel well. I will try to not break my back doing so, because I’m sure Blue Cross’s co-payment on broken backs is more than I can afford.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Imports We Don't Need

So, Clark Rockefeller is a German. A German! What in the world is going on here? Is there anything we won't now import? Henry Ford, an American, refined and perfected automobile production, and yet now we can't get enough of imported Toyota Priuses while good American-made Hummers sit forlornly on car lots all over the country. Televisions, computers, you name it, the US led the way in developing all kinds of products, and now we import rather than export them all. Baseball was invented in Cooperstown, New York, yet all the best players are now imported from Latin America and Japan. I've made peace with all this. But this Clark Rockefeller thing is where I draw the line. The US pretty much invented violent crimes, we are the murder capital of the world, with a murder rate 6 times higher than that of Germany. Why, then, do we need to start importing our murderers? Are we getting lazy? Are there no more red blooded American killers out there? Where have you gone Ted Bundy? Are we really going to let the Christian Karl Gerhartsreiters of the world push us aside? Let's take a stand America! Let's act now for an embargo against all non-native killers, whether they be Moldovian murderers or Barvarian bludgeoners. It's not protectionism, it's patriotism!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Well, it only took about a month of cold weather: the huddled, shivering masses this cold winter are whispering that maybe global warming really is just a bunch of hot air. Crank those thermostats back up; let the car warm up in the driveway for as long as we want; we can’t collectively stop old man winter after all! But wait…

Global climate change, not global warming, is the more accurate term for the effects of increased carbon dioxide and other human-created additions to the atmosphere. Even more significantly, the effects will not be a slow steady increase in temperature over time. They will be exactly what we’re seeing, wild, unpredictable weather, increased storm intensity, and disruptions to ocean currents. One snowy winter does not mean global warming is all a bunch of hogwash.
Still, many Americans insist that we’re putting ourselves at economic risk by taking steps to avoid global warming. What if they’re right that global warming isn’t real? Is it an economic burden to try to fight global warming?

Cars and trucks using gasoline and coal burning power plants are responsible for the vast majority of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. To replace these, the argument goes that these fossil fuels must be replaced with renewable, efficient energy sources, but that this will come at too great a cost, putting the U.S. at a distinct economic disadvantage.

During the last great oil crisis of the 1970’s, several nations chose to limit their dependence on fossil fuels. Through a combination of general conservation, taxes on gasoline, and diversification into nuclear power plants and other alternatives, those nations were able to level off and even cut their dependence on oil. In his book, A Thousand Barrels a Second, Peter Tertzakian creates an oil dependency factor to indicate how tied a nation’s GDP is to its oil consumption. The “dependency factor” for a nation like France, which aggressively worked from the 1970’s onward to untie itself from oil dependency, is 16. For Japan, it’s 0. For the U.S., the dependency factor is 45! The impact on the U.S. economy every time oil goes up a $1 a barrel is significant and painful. For Japan, it’s not even a blip.

Every investment we make in another wind turbine, in greater fuel economy, in hybrid technology, translates into oil we do not have to buy from unstable foreign governments. The economic rewards Japan is reaping by having developed hybrid technology first, and not only selling hybrid cars to U.S. consumers but also licensing hybrid technology to U.S. car manufacturers, is huge. Solar panels are being built in China and other nations that jumped on renewable technology.

We’re losing our technological edge in this area and are being hurt by it in two ways: 1) we must pay to import the technology, while 2) we’re still importing more oil at astronomical prices. The U.S. is economically disadvantaged by not doing everything in its power to untie itself from fossil fuel dependency.

Domestically produced coal is no solution, either, for power generation. Forget carbon dioxide, coal burning puts huge amounts of other pollutants into the air, causing a litany of undesirable effects, from acid rain to asthma. The real economic costs of continuing to rely on coal are astronomical.

The U.S., for its own non-altruistic economic survival, needs to stop arguing about theory and start weaning itself off the fossil fuel sauce now. The fact that we may prevent global warming by the effort will certainly be one of the most pleasant by-products of energy production ever known.