Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 10:22 am
Sick of expensive medications and visits to the doctor?Â Upset that the state hasn’t done enough to provide you with the health care you so richly deserve? The New England Journal of Medicine may have found the answer:
Â They discovered Oscar the Cat, who apparentlyÂ has the power to tellÂ when people are going to die.Â From a news account:
According to the author of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the two-year-old cat has been observed to be correct in 25 cases so far.
Staff now alert the families of residents when he sits down next to their ailing loved one.
“He doesn’t make many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” David Dosa, a professor at Brown University who carried out the research, told the Associated Press news agency.
So instead of going to the doctor, we can just have Oscar pay you a visit.Â If he’s willing to go into your house, it’s time to start finalizing funeral arrangements.
Seriously, though – has anyone considered that Oscar might actually be killing these people?Â It seems pretty coincidental that people he cuddles up to end up dying.Â Someone needs to look into possible organized crime involvement here.
This isn’t unprecedented – it follows some research that suggested some dogs may be able to smell cancer, among other things.Â I’m skeptical, however, because my dog seemed to find cancer in the rear ends of every other dog he ever encountered.
I imagine we’d have to put together a pretty lucrative package to lure Oscar to Wisconsin.Â No word on whether any local hospitals offer domestic cat benefits.
Filed under: College — Christian Schneider @ 8:16 am
You may have thought it was the drinking, oversleeping, or laziness that’s keeping your kid from getting good grades at the University of Wisconsin.Â But, as the Wisconsin State Journal reports today, it’s something much more insidious – it’s the lack of walk-in closets in the dorms.
The newest multimillion-dollar residence halls on Madison campuses feature semi-private bathrooms, walk-in closets, wireless Internet connections and even spots for professors to hold office hours.
Such perks aren ‘t luxuries these days, university officials say. They ‘re essential for recruiting the best students and helping students to succeed.
Right.Â Without these new Taj Mahal dorms, good students would just stop coming to the UW.Â It continues:
Universities say they ‘re putting up these multimillion-dollar buildings in part because they help students perform better.
No wonder my grades were so average in college – I had to share a bathroom with 20 other guys for a whole year!Â Obviously, a more private and serene bathroom experience leads to more relaxed students, who can then retain information more effectively.
In fact,Â itÂ is well knownÂ that Einstein was merely a so-so student.Â What is less well known is that he was a lousy student because he had to share a bathroom.Â Once he moved and first sat down on his own semi-private toilet, the theory of relativity just popped into his mind.
“Students have expectations now about where they ‘re going to live, and they ‘re a lot higher expectations than they were 20 years ago, ” said Paul Evans, UW-Madison ‘s director of housing. “Many of these students have private bedrooms at home, maybe even their own bathroom, so they ‘re making those kinds of comparisons.”
Ooooh – many of these kids have PRIVATE BEDROOMS at home!Â They can’t possibly be expected to live with another smelly person in the room!Â That might actually add to the college experience, where they learn to get along with people and actually leave their room every now and then.Â Someone should call all the Chinese college students packed 10 to a room and tell them how they’re underachieving as a result.Â But do it before China actually owns the United States.
Finally, what does building all these fancy new dorms do to the UW’s line that the state is pricing kids out of a college education?Â With theÂ differentialÂ housingÂ costsÂ for these posh new places, the system is only going to fuelÂ incomeÂ based segregation issues.Â As John Edwards (not the psychic) likes to say, we’ll have “Two UWs.”Â And, knowing a little about how college students actually live, there’s a good chance these fancy new places will be in bad shape in a few years.
Of course, the UW probably has a good case to renovate many of these dorms, or build new ones altogether.Â Some of them are falling apart, and most of them are stillÂ coated with bong residue from the Vietnam Era.Â But spare us the rhetoric about how it makes any actual difference in how students learn.Â We’re actually smart people – despite not having walk-in closets in our dorms.
Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 1:31 pm
By now, you’ve heard plenty about the Wisconsin Senate Democrats’Â government-run health care proposal which was added to the state budget.Â News articles to this point have essentially just run the talking points – Democrats promise health care as good as elected officials receive, while Republicans deride the plan as a $15 billion tax increase.
The speed at which the plan was introduced and passed has left little time to ask some important questions about the program.Â For instance, one might ask an obvious question – what will poor, sick people in other states do when they find out Wisconsin has universal health care?
Essentially, the program offers free health care to everyone in Wisconsin who has a “substantial” presence in the state, is under 65, and who isn’t eligible for other government-subsidized health care.Â There is a provision that requires an individual to live in Wisconsin for 12 months to be eligible for health care, unless any of the following apply:
1.Â The person is “gainfully employed;”
2.Â The personÂ is a pregnant woman;
3.Â The person isÂ under 18 years old and their parent lives in Wisconsin; regardless of whether the parent has been in the state for 12 months.
Deeper in the bill, it grants the newly-created health board the power to define what “gainfully employed” means, although it specifically mandates that farm workers and the self-employed must beÂ included in the definition.
In looking at the eligibility requirements detailed above, does anyone seriously believe that Wisconsin won’t be flooded with the nation’s poorest, sickest patients?Â Why would any poor personÂ in Illinois or Minnesota with a serious illness not immediately pick up, move to Wisconsin, and get a job at Dairy Queen?Â How hard can it be to claim you’re “self employed” or work for a farm?Â OB/GYNs could be flooded with out of state pregnant women seeking free care, as they are immediately eligible.
In fact, if you need free health care, you don’t even have to be the one that gets a job.Â Once one person is deemed “gainfully employed,” their entire immediate family is eligible for free health care, funded by taxes on Wisconsin employers.Â Think of Wisconsin’s 1990s welfare debacle, times ten.Â When people flood our borders to take advantage of the plan, it won’t be healthy people – it will be mobile, sickÂ individuals that use the health care system the most.
Even people with a sincere desire to provide near-universal coverage can’t take this plan seriously.Â When Wisconsin opens its arms to the sickest, poorest people in America, it will jam our hospitals and result in rationed care and long waiting lists.Â According to the bill, it will then be up to the Secretary of Administration (who usually has no experience in health care issues)Â to come up with a plan to “control health care costs.”Â In other words, it will be up to an unelected bureaucrat with no health care experience to ration care to Wisconsinites – in large partÂ due to the health care that mustÂ be provided to out-of-staters.Â
This is why even intelligent observers who are committed to a single-payer plan can’t honestly believe that such a plan can be implemented onÂ a state-by-state basis.Â Â Overuse of the system is one majorÂ reasonÂ whyÂ health care plans in states that have tried various permutations of universalÂ coverage have collapsed.Â (ForÂ a good list, click here.)Â If America were to go to any kind of universalÂ plan, it would have to do so nationally – the cost of moving from one state to another just isn’t enough of a deterrent from keeping a state from being flooded with the nation’s sickest individuals. (The Massachusetts plan requiring everyone to purchase health insurance may have the opposite effect – who wants to be forced to buy health care?)
It goes without saying that poor people with serious illnesses need good medical care.Â But it isn’t the responsibility of Wisconsin businesses to pay higher taxes to treat Arkansas’ mentally ill.Â Senate Democrats pushing the Wisconsin universal plan brag that it will give everyone the same health care as their elected officials.Â They may actually be correct.Â Unfortunately, it will ensure that everyone’s health care service is equally atrocious.
Â UPDATE:Â Rick Esenberg adds a little legal perspective to this argument here.Â
One strategy that campaign finance reform advocates employ to gain public support for their cause is to stir up hatred of negative campaigning.Â Public financing of campaigns, they argue, will lead to more civil discourse and shield voters’ sensitive eyes from the horrors of democracy.
Recently, I happened to be paging through old copies of the Park Falls Herald from 1960 (don’t ask why).Â Park Falls, as many know, is a small town in Northern Wisconsin.Â In 1960, there was an election for State Senator in the Park Falls areaÂ between Republican Clifford Krueger and Democrat Henry Berquist.Â On November 3rd of 1960, an anti-Berquist advertisement appeared in the Park Falls Herald (the last issue before the election) that made some pretty entertaining accusations against the Democrat.
The advertisement accused Berquist of “having close alliance and cooperation with communist Russia,” and beingÂ ”against the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”Â The ad went on to accuse Berquist of being “Against the Marshall Plan to stop communism in Europe” and being “against our having atom bombs unless Russia has them too.”Â (The ad also rips Berquist for being “against the draft,” which means in that respect, he was before his time.)
Here’s a copy of the ad.Â You can click on it to make it bigger.
In 1960, McCarthyism may still have been alive and well, and it may have been good politics to accuse your opponent of being a communist.Â But thisÂ was a state senate race.Â In the North Woods.Â In 1960.Â Weren’t those the days when politicians supposedly all got along, and went out and had beers with each other?Â In fact, bitter partisanship and negative campaigning has always been a part of the American political landscape – and it always will be, regardless of who pays for the ads.Â These kinds of attacks, while not necessarily any different today, just seem more pervasive, with the advent of so many more types of media outlets.
In the election, Krueger went on to beat Berquist, 55% to 45%.
Filed under: Politics — Christian Schneider @ 6:56 am
Much has been written about Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Executive Director Mike McCabe’s recent meltdown,Â in whichÂ heÂ portrays conservatives as being simple-minded and gullible.Â Rick Esenberg andÂ Patrick McIlheran have done a good job deconstructing McCabe’s nutty rant, so there’s no need for me to pile on.
However, McCabe’sÂ unhinged diatribe does smack of an old storyÂ from former Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, who many believed represented pure liberal intellectualism.Â Â During his runÂ against President Dwight Eisenhower, one of Stevenson’s supporters approached the candidate and told him that all thinking people supported him.Â Stevenson replied, “Yes, but I need to win a majority.”Â
As forÂ liberalÂ ideologuesÂ that purport toÂ care forÂ ”real” people,Â they may want to actually go out and meet some.
Â (The Stevenson Story can be found in Michael Barone’s “Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan.”)
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 4:06 pm
Strange press release from Lieutenant Governor Barb Lawton today in the wake of Al Gore’s big Environmentapalooza yesterday.Â Apparently, one of these global warming events was held in Door County and attended by the Lieutenant Governor.Â From her release:
The Door County event was one of six thousand satellite Live Earth concerts going on simultaneously with the major events in eight international cities including Tokyo, Hamburg, Sydney, Johannesburg, Rio De Janeiro, Shanghai, London and New York. The concert was part of former Vice President Al Goreâ€™s campaign to end global warming.
Joining the lieutenant governor were Congressman Steve Kagen and internationally-known geologist Dr. Roger Kuhns of the Applied Ecological Services. Local musicians and the former Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Ellen Kort, entertained the crowd.
And as we all know, nothing gets the party started like a little poetry reading.Â I’m sure both attendees were enthralled.Â But here’s the money quote:
Artists such as Shakira, Cat Stevens, and Enrique Iglesias showed their support by playing in concerts in other cities around the globe.
So of all the artists playing yesterday, Shakira makes Lawton’s list as the headliner?Â No Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Madonna, Dave Matthews, or Smashing Pumpkins?Â Is this a small peek into the window of Lawton’s artistic tastes?Â In her official capacity, she’s taken on the arts as a statewide issue – let’s hope she doesn’t consider Shakira’s ribald belly dances as the gold standard of artistic integrity.
Also, noticeÂ she refers to Yusuf Islam by his former name of Cat Stevens – a name he hasn’t used in 30 years.Â So she wants us to know she really likes Cat Stevens, butÂ she couldn’tÂ bring herselfÂ call him by his Islamic name.Â Apparently, the Â ”Peace Train” days trumpÂ reports that he supported a fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
As it turns out, Shakira, Islam, and Iglesias all happened to be playing in Germany.Â Chances are, the Lawton brain trust either only watched one feed or read one regional press release.