What can we bank on?

Not long ago, banks and banking were yawn-inducing synonyms for grey flannel boring. Then came the orgy of reckless greed that precipitated the global financial meltdown. Now banking is back in the news in surprising ways: Continue reading What can we bank on?

What I’ve Learned about Single Payer Heath Care

We’re probably going to be hearing a lot about Single Payer Health Care, since ours is one of the world’s most expensive system — providing results that rank up there with Slovenia.

I’ll never forget describing our so-called system with a Canadian. “But America likes to think of itself as a caring country. How can it treat its citizens so cruelly?” I’m still stumped for an answer to her question.

But instead of revisiting that terrain, let me share some of my experiences the year I lived in Australia.

One morning while I was staying at my brother’s house, he woke up in pain. When his aching back didn’t respond to his usual routine of stretches, he needed to choose: Did he want to go to the doctor? The hospital? Or see a chiropractor?

He decided on the chiropractor, called his office and made an appointment for later that day and I went along for the ride. He, felt better after his treatment, wrote him check, and got a receipt. On the way back home, he stopped at a small office in a little strip mall, presented his receipt and was instantly reimbursed.

I was in shock.

How simple! He decided on the treatment that felt right to him, chose his provider, made the appointment and kept it, all in a morning’s time. No getting an okay from anyone else – no primary care provider. No insurance company. No paperwork hassle. No rigmarole..

“Do you always get reimbursed that fast?” I asked.

“Sure, if I stop by the office. Or I could wait until the end of the month and send in my receipts.”

All his medical care is covered by the income tax he pays.

“Does national health care pay for everything?” I asked my English friend Ronnie. Like my brother, she had also immigrated to Australia, lived in Denmark, both countries with national healthcare.

“Yes, Most everything is covered, but there are limits. They’ll pay for my glasses, if I’m happy choosing one of the dozen or so frames they offer, but if I wanted fancier frames, I’d have to pay for those.” She smiled and tilted her head for me to admire her glasses.

“Wow, eye care and glasses are covered?”

“But not dentists. Don’t know exactly why, since it seems to me that both your eyes and your teeth  tend to wear out as you age.”

When Ronnie and I went on a trip to the outback together, I had a chance to experience their healthcare system firsthand when I was suddenly hit with a nausea-inducing migraine and couldn’t stop vomiting—a real impediment to a motor trip. I was quickly taken to the emergency room in a small local hospital and instantly swept into a treatment room. After an injection ond an ice pack for my head, I was good to go. I asked about paying.

“Oh, you’re not covered by national health?” said the startled nurse.  “Well, that happens so seldom that I’m not sure what to charge.” I asked if they could send me a bill to where I was staying once they figured it out – and I was on my way.

More than a month later, I received the hospital’s bill along with an apology. They were so sorry, but since I wasn’t covered by national health, they had to charge me the full rate. My Emergency Room visit, treatment and all, cost $50.

No need for national teeth-gnashing or partisan stand-offs about health care. A single payer system works beautifully. Maybe we could adopt one like all the members of Congress enjoyed?

Say What??

“Post-truth” has been named the Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 international word of the year, says the New York Times. Its report that the use of “post-truth” surged after the Brexit vote and again after Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination sent a chill down my spine. Noting it was first used in a 1992 Nation essay citing the Iran-contra scandal and the Persian Gulf War didn’t much help me feel better, either.

Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing Continue reading Say What??

Learning from my own history

It was 1962 when I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, never having lived south of the Mason-Dixon line, and unaware that I’d inadvertently enrolled in a total immersion course in white privilege and Continue reading Learning from my own history

Eeek! Eeek!

I was driving along 8th Street, beginning weekend errands, when suddenly a mouse popped out of the air vent, scrambled frantically up the windshield and reached the roof of the car, only to be swept away by the movement of the air and the car.animal-1238229_1280

It all happened so fast that a glance in the rear view mirror didn’t reveal whether the poor thing was smashed to death on the pavement or if it miraculously managed to bounce free from the path of the cars behind me.

It took a minute to get over being startled and no time at all to realize that my efforts to discourage mice from taking refuge under the hood or creating an unwelcoming environment in my garage had failed. Again. On the passenger seat, the blinking red light of an ultrasound device showed it had been continuously beaming its ineffectual signals. Back to researching other mouse-discouraging methods, I sighed.

But the look of stark terror on the mouse’s tiny face haunted me.

Then I recognized that blind terror as a reflection of just what I’d been seeing, hearing and feeling from people across the country who were freaked out by the election results: Some were in tears, some fleeing, others flailing about, asking questions, hoping that understanding what happened would provide a clear guide to what to expect, to what the future may hold. For themselves. For our country and the world.

Blind terror doesn’t yield good results, the hapless mouse reminded me.

Staying sane and centered in such a huge swirl of uncertainty is a huge challenge. But let me offer a few knowns in the vast sea of unknowns that may help.

We know that less than half of the population voted. Which means election results do not reflect a bigoted, hate-filled nation.

We have never had a president-elect facing serious legal charges between election day and inauguration – and have no idea how this will play out.

We have never had a president-elect whose statements give us no idea of how he will act. Take just one example: appointing his children in his transition team raises questions about whether he can sever ties between his administration and his family business. . . especially since he had previously said his children would run the Trump Organization – and not follow him into the White House.

We have no clue about the relationship between what he says and the actions he takes.

You can imagine an endless number of scenarios, citing reasons to support them – but we have no more clue than the mouse scrambling up my windshield what the final results will be.

Might as well relax, breathe deeply and calm your fear reflex, and think positive thoughts that will lower your stress level and strengthen your immune system. Reach out to people you care about — our social connections strengthen our sense of wellbeing. Then begin (or resume)  working for issues, causes and ideas that speak to your heart.

We can still trust our hearts.

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Young people demand action to halt climate change.

Climate scientist Jim Hanson and his granddaughter Sophie join in delivering an urgent message: Acting now is essential to insuring a future for the next generation. The Children’s Trust is turning to U.S. courts to defend their right to a liveable future.

Take a few minutes to learn more about the climate issue– and the groundbreaking legal approach:

Carbon. Futurethink. And the Courage of our Young People’s Convictions.

How about a proven innovative measure to address climate change? In November’s election madness is a breath of sanity — Washington’s ballot measure to make the state move toward fairer taxes and clean energy.

Based on the simple idea of using taxes to discourage behaviors we want to discourage, the measure called I-732 asks voters to support a revenue-neutral plan to achieve several important goals Continue reading Carbon. Futurethink. And the Courage of our Young People’s Convictions.