Why Health Coverage Shouldn’t be Tied to Employers

“Weyco and Scotts Miracle-Gro, based in Marysville, Ohio, are in the vanguard of a growing effort by business to brake soaring medical costs by regulating such unhealthy employee behavior as smoking”

Health coverage as a benefit of employment no longer makes sense – financially for employers or employees. Expecting employers to foot the bill and not expecting them to minimize their expense might be a sign of mental illness.

My problem with employer-sponsored plans is their lack of portability. The instability of employers in the dot-com era meant switching plans and doctors every 18 months when I switched business cards – annoying to say the least.

The three benefits I see of individual sponsored plans are:

  1. a better understanding of where their healthcare dollars are going
  2. more direct control over the services that make sense to them
  3. portability

I don’t see these points conflicting with a national health care plan. To me, healthcare is the same type of problem as roads/highways and defense.

J Wynia has a good write up of choosing an individual healthcare plan.

Malcolm Gladwell takes the healthcare = transportation metaphor one step further.

“…imagine if we had employer-based subways in New York. You could ride the subway if you had a job. But if you lost your job, you would either have to walk or pay a prohibitively expensive subway surcharge. Of course, if you lost your job you would need the subway more than ever, because you couldn’t afford taxis and you would need to travel around looking for work.”

Tasteless Art Affecting the Tastebuds at Holy Land Deli

I was introduced to the Doner (Gyro or Kabob) during my time in Germany. The Turkish immigrants brought it with them. Aside from the thinly-sliced lamb, the rest of the ingredients were German; cabbage inside stuffed in a quarter of the circular flatenbrot.

In Minneapolis, there’s only one place to get a good gyro – Holy Land Deli over at 2513 Central Avenue NE. They stuff the pitas to their breaking point as they should. My personal favorite is their lamb kabob with hummus. While you wait, admire their grocery – great selection of olives, teas, and meats you won’t find at Cub or Rainbow.

Via this week’s Sunday Strib, I read Holy Land’s owner Majdi Wadi has banned all products made in Denmark until the Danish government apologizes for something tasteless the Danish free press published months ago.

I’ve seen the cartoons. If you haven’t, just ask some angst-ridden teenager to draw some up for you. Cliché-ridden, cheap, and heavy-handed.

From what I glean from On the Media, the newspapers in the Middle East are controlled by their respective governments. In that environment, putting the blame on a national government makes complete sense. I’m not sure what editorial control the Danish government exerts over the press, but I suspect it’s nil. It’d be convenient if the US Government could simply apologize for Fox News or insipid letters to the editor. But that’s not how things work here in the US or in northern Europe.

I’m not sure what Danish-made products the Holy Land sold, I haven’t purchased anything other than lunch and olive oil from them, and the Strib article didn’t list them by name.

Is that list offensive?

Wadi’s decision to ban Danish-made products would seem better directed if the Danish manufacturers had advertising or in some other way financed the newspaper in question.

Since that’s most likely not the case, the Strib article – just like this post – is an advertisement for the Holy Land Deli (mmmm tasty gyros). Would you like a Carlsberg to wash it down?

Things That Mean Nothing to Cooper

My mom has this great collection of 45s. I remember spending some fantastic afternoons as a kid spinning Joan Jett, the Beatles, and so many other classics.

This lazy Saturday afternoon, we had the 89.3 the Current on for Cooper and they played a song by the Pixies.

Jen to Cooper: “This was the first CD your mom bought. At the music store in the mall….Back when there were music stores….and malls.”

I’m sure that CD is in one of the many boxes of CDs, cassettes, and VHS tapes in the cloest. I know my first CD – They Might Be Giants – Flood is up there. I have a hard time imagining Cooper ever digging through those boxes – especially when he’s already got a playlist on my iPod.

Obviously, Cooper also doesn’t know anything about Sept. 11, 2001 or the Iraq War. I feel real good about that. Hopefully, those events will end up meaning the same to him as the Korean War does to me: it happened and it’s over.

3 July 2007 Update: We inherited an old early Little Tikes kitchen, circa 1980. With a wall-mounted rotary phone. I don’t know that Cooper’s ever acknowledged it as a phone. Though he’s already racking up the minutes on his green Parent’s flip phone.

Help, Help, I’m Not Being Oppressed

There’s a renewed DIY/independence/hacker vibe going around, Dave Slusher says it needs a name. I agree.

From my perspective, this vibe is about all of us making effective use of cheap tools – to serve our own individual/custom purposes first, and offering the finished product to others to extend and enhance. I hesitate to use the phrase “finished product” – for the end result is not a static, defined product – it’s another tool.

I’ve done enough home renovation to know building materials and tools are not expensive and the renovation is not extraordinarily difficult. It simply takes time to do.

There’s a tinge of Populism in here, but without the belief that the common person is being oppressed by the elite. It’s not socialism or communism – for despite the people owning the means of production we are acting as individuals, not a collective.

My library has far too many Ayn Rand books on it not to consider Objectivism. But it’s not, because everyone expressing the vibe in question places value in being starchy rational and subjective and emotional.

All this digging around makes me wonder if the formative philosophies of our time were defined around striving to get something – rather than what to do once you have it.

Back to the problem at hand….

In the television cartoons of my youth, the “good guys” always seemed to be more unified, more of a collective, more in unison than the disorganized albeit nefarious “bad guys” (the phrase “Herding Cats” comes to mind). Considering how we’re all working in parallel (not unison) on this and in honor of the Dave for throwing down the gauntlet, I suggest the moniker “Evil Genius“.

And since those of the cyberpunk/diy/hacker vein are not without their backup, I also offer: “MacGyver“. ReadyMade Magazine has a regular MacGyver Challenge.

On third thought, perhaps “Dennis” from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, he inspired the title of this post.

How Many is a Brazillion?

I gotta thank Mark for passing this one along. It’s had me chuckling the last couple days.

“Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed.”

“OH NO!,” the President exclaims, “That’s terrible….How many is a brazillion?”

Reflections on Bush’s New Orleans Speech

I do agree with Bush the one of the few organizations capable of handling a logistical nightmare of a natural disaster the size of Katrina is the Army. The other one is Wal-Mart. Next time don’t turn them away.

Three notes to President Bush;

  1. Good job on not giggling during your speech. I’m sure it took a week of practice. Also, you did a good job holding back that ignorant, mocking, smirk.
  2. Unfortunately, you’ve run out of political capital around 9/11 or WMD. Stop talking about them. Unless you can convince us Al Queda is connected to Katrina.
  3. Another hurricane like Katrina won’t hit New Orleans again, there won’t be another terrorist attack like 9/11. Don’t spend too much time looking backwards to prevent it from happening again. Look forward and plan systems that will prevent all disasters. Not just the politically sexy ones.

I’m torn, should the people responsible for making a mess be responsible for cleaning it up? Maybe. I believe you did your best, and your best caused this mess. So, I think someone else should be responsible for the clean up and rebuild. You’ve got a bunch of other stuff to wrap up anyway (Iraq for example).

One final thought, everytime Bush says ‘citizens’ he should say ‘we’. ‘We’ is more representative of the impact the New Orleans has as will have on all of us. I know Bush doesn’t want to impose any discomfort on ‘us’. His keep-America-at-arms-length attitude makes me think leading a nation makes him uncomfortable. But, that’s his job. Maybe if he thought of it as clearing really big brush from a really big ranch.

On The Federal Government Only Running Military and Post Office

I’m grabbing a late morning coffee at the Dunn Bros in downtown St. Paul. Like all Dunn Bros, this is a great place for eavesdropping (surpassed only by the Nicollet Mall location).

The gentlemen next to me are have a very in-depth political current events discussion. Considering the low number of good coffee shops between here and the Capital, I suspect politics is their day job.

The gentleman in a blue tie is going off on both parties and doing a fairly decent job of articulating the seeming contradictions in their respective positions. Though he completely misses the parenting-style analogy in George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. After this, Blue Tie declared the federal government should run the military, the post office, and that’s it.

I’m not comfortable with how short his list is, so I’m starting my own. My list makes 2 assumptions:

  1. Internally, the Federal Government should only do things difficult for individual states to perform separately.
  2. Externally, the Federal Government is the America’s representative to the World.

That being said, I believe the Federal Government is responsible for the following:

  • Foreign Relations
  • Interstate Commerce
  • Protecting America’s Geographic Borders
  • Protecting Citizens’ Equality
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Monetary Policy
  • Social Security
  • Education
  • Health Care

According to the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, this makes me a Liberal Libertarian. Probably because I answered ‘maybe’ to 40% of the questions and the quiz is published by Libertarians.

Cold and Snappish Sounds Refreshing

Newsweek’s How Bush Blew it is only the latest report that Bush’s public distant, giggly, good-buddy facade covers a cold, distant, shoot-the-messenger defensiveness.

Makes me wonder what it would take to get one of these rumored tirades recorded and distributed around the internets.

Watching the authentic, backstage Bush go off, unprotected by co-dependent Telephone Sanitizers, would be a refreshing change.

Update: Good stuff in Dan Froomkin’s Now They Tell Us. One-stop read on the political impact of Katrina.