Friday, June 22, 2007

California Health Care Sellout

AB 8 Does for Health Care what Deregulation Did for Energy

Introduced by Assembly Member Fabian Nunez, in AB 8 we have all the hallmarks of a massive sellout to an industry that contributes heavily on both sides of the aisle. While $3.7 million in donations (2005-06 cycle) within the state of California may sound like a lot, I am once again amazed at how cheaply our legislators sell us out, mere pennies on the dollar of billions that the medical & insurance industries will reap. But sell us they do.

The current Democratic sponsored bill is not good for the people as a whole. It merely sets up a greater number of people that will be required to be covered but no control over the costs being charged for that coverage. Yes, there is a 85% requirement to be spent on medical expenses, but that can be widely manipulated. Very simply, this bill puts into law the number of customers being led to the coffers of the insurance companies and does little to protect them. It is a sellout and a sham.

Worth noting - looking at the number of 7.5% of payroll one needs to be reminded that this is of Social Security income, topping out somewhere in the neighborhood of $90k/yr, or $7000.00 in taxed "insurance premium" per wage earner per year. In my family this would be a savings over the $10,000.00 per year we are currently spending up front with Blue Cross, and everything costs more along the way. So, if lawmakers are running numbers for public acceptance, I say this 7.5% is within the realm of reality.

The GOP, of course, offers less, but at a higher price. Arnold’s $4.4 billion fees plus 4% of payroll isn’t liked by anyone, which should say something good about it, but it doesn't. There is one good reason nobody likes it – the stench of new taxes without offsetting savings elsewhere. Again the larger number of customers forced to go shopping, and little protection for them. This time add a huge fee structure that collects money only to be doled back out to the very industry that it is charged from. Once again, the GOP shows how well they can increase corporate profits at the expense of the taxpaying public and make it sound like a good thing to the deaf ear.

The simple truth is that until a single payer system is in place – meaning a government run system that negotiates with doctors, hospitals, equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturers – the public is being raked over the coals of profits in those very industries. Face it, please - we have a consortium of companies in collusion with our elected officials and we are paying too high a price. If the government could collect all the monies currently spent on health care and wrap them into one service, all could be served beautifully. As long as corporate greed is in the way, the people will suffer in both service received and payment rendered.

Call me one Democrat that is fed up with being sold out. California may lead the way in many things, but this health care bill is wrong on so many levels. Reject it, please.

And you, Fabian. Clean it up, man.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Faith Politics Edwards Obama Clinton on CNN

Fifteen minutes isn’t enough time to get near a person’s faith, and the public forum is an unusual place to do it. Given the depth of the questions, and the desire on each candidates’ part to show they have given deep thought to their faith and how it guides them on specific issues, at least another hour should have been spent on this. In view of Soledad O’Brien’s approach to the subject, with her typical spunk and flair, I wonder what her answers would have been to some of the questions she asked.

But it sure is nice to hear Democrats speak of faith, and it would be even more interesting if they weren’t all Christian. Are we a Christian voting nation? Could someone of another faith be elected President?

Lastly, I don’t doubt that each of these candidates has a sense of the Creator in their lives. Pray for them all, please.

Amor Ministries

I am about to head out on a week’s mission with the high school youth group from my church. It’s my fourth trip to Tijuana to build houses under the auspices of Amor Ministries and I am the mission organizer this year, with 49 youth and 11 adults going to build three houses in four day’s time. I look forward to a great week.

For any of you looking for a complete disconnect from your everyday life, whether as a church group, family or group of friends, and want to see an incredibly vibrant community living under what we might consider harsh conditions while doing some good there, I strongly recommend Amor Ministries.

I try to keep away from politics when dealing with the youth and am fairly successful in doing so. Frankly, showing, speaking and teaching the love of Jesus via Lutheran theology is the more important mission with the youth. While I certainly follow the theology of the reformed church I am a bit more progressive in my personal theology and I do make the distinction of teaching along the church lines rather than my own. As regards both further theological thinking and politics and youth - there is plenty of time to discuss deeper issues when they come back as college kids.

With the adults, and we are a mixed batch politically, I’ve found that it is best to speak of common ground in faith if we are separated strongly along political lines. At least one relationship has suffered because of our political differences and I regret that. A couple of others have flourished around the conversation that combines faith and politics with a variety of opinions in place, and I treasure them. For some, we just go and do what we do, sharing the joy in the moment, and haven’t talked much about faith and less about politics. We do have almost 50 high schoolers around us and they take tending!

A typical day with Amor in Tijuana is based at their private supplied campground outside of town. We wake up to prayers and breakfast, a morning devotional and are then off to the work sites which might be 45 minutes away in vans. Six or seven hours of hard work by the group with an Amor site leader gets it done, then back to camp and a solar shower, free time and games. Dinner and small group prayer are followed by campfire worship and then off to bed and a tomorrow much the same. I won’t speak much more that that here, but it is a blessed week, and highly recommended for all.

The people that I have met in Tijuana are wonderful in all regards. Always polite and friendly with a perhaps shy smile, always a “Buenos dias” and a “Vaya con Dios” to share. Always a clean shirt, combed hair, and a good attitude for the day ahead, even when coming out of a one room dirt floor home. They may be poor of money, but not of Spirit. They can be seen as a fine example of living life within the limits of the society they are in, making the most of family, friends and faith.

I was told that about 3000 people were working on houses with Amor over spring break. That equates to about 150 new homes. Summer will ramp up to about 2000 in camp per week. They come from as far away as Australia and Europe, and all across America. The Amor folk are geographically diverse too, and always a great pleasure to meet, full of faith and living a life they love. If you can, join them for a week.