Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thoughts on health care

Having reached my late 60's with no major illnesses that I know of, I can comment on the current health care insurance debate with the cool perspective of an objective observer.

I'm also an objective observer of the free market system, as I don't own a business of my own, although I've had relatives who did, even in the insurance industry, as well as other relatives who were/are socialists or libertarians.

If we had the opportunity to design the health care insurance apparatus from scratch to ideal specifications, we would not make it a part of the free market system, useful and practical as that is.  One reason for this is that there is no room for profit, especially if we want to pay doctors, nurses, health care aides and therapists of all kinds the money they deserve for the work they do.

We need to have a low-overhead government run system similar to Social Security, which taxes everyone according to their income and pays for the health care expenses of everybody.  Possibly the government should also pay malpractice insurance fees, with an eye toward retraining medical professionals who seem to be accident prone, into another side of the profession where no one could get hurt.

What if we also paid for disease prevention for everybody, helping people to exercise every day, stop smoking, achieve a healthy weight, eat 5 or more servings of fruit/vegetables every day, cut down on refined and processed foods, for instance?  We could incentivize it by offering, say, a 1% cut in your income tax if you reach a certain percentage of health maintenance milestones in a year.

There may be millions of dollars in our present system being wasted on scams of one kind or another.  We could also incentivize reporting and whistle-blowing to uncover fraudulent activity and unnecessary or unhelpful services.  Maybe offer another 1% income tax cut for the person who provides information leading to the conviction of a perpetrator of health care fraud; or a 1/2% cut for showing a service is unnecessary and unhelpful.  (But don't try to take away my homeopathic allergy pills and drops!)

The problem with designing a more effective and efficient health insurance system is it can't be implemented without displacing the multitudes of people who work in the private health insurance businesses; and the multitudes more who have health insurance and pharmaceutical companies in their investment portfolios and retirement/pension accounts.  (Are these the same companies?  Have the Insurance companies all bought pharmaceutical companies, and the pharmaceutical companies all bought insurance companies?)

Then our problem becomes finding work projects for the people and money displaced by the new, more efficient system of paying for health care.  Some of them can find work in the government health care administration, although we won't need the thousands of people charged with rejecting claims.  
We could put the money into investments in businesses to promote healthy living, such as neighborhood gyms and smaller-scale regional food production farms.

Freed up investment money could also support businesses involved in energy independence, such as promoting and implementing geothermal in new and existing buildings.  Here's an idea for development:  neighborhood gyms could produce kinetic energy to power the whole block by fitting the treadmills and elliptical machines to turn human energy into electricity.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Memorial for Bernard J. Moran

Memorial for Bernard J. Moran

by Virgil Bozeman
Presented at the Rock Island County Memorial Service, May 27, 1966

Bernard J. Moran was born in Davenport, Iowa, on February 18, 1911. He died in an airplane crash at the Indianapolis Airport on May 31, 1965. He was the son of Supervisor James A. Moran and Mary A. Moran, both of whom were lifelong residents of Rock Island County.
Barney was educated in the Rock Island schools, the University of Illinois, St. Ambrose College, the University of Michigan School of Law and Georgetown University Law School, from which latter institution he received his law degree in 1938. He was admitted to practice in the State of Illinois in 1938.
Barney was legal secretary to Chief Justice Loren E. Murphy for seven years.
In 1948 he was elected State's Attorney of Rock Island County and was re-elected in 1952 and again in 1956.
Barney enlisted in the U.S. Navy in World War II, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, and served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bogue in the European-African-Middle East theatre and thereafter served aboard the flagship U.S.S. Montour in Asiatic-Pacific theatre and in the Phillipine campaign and was with the first forces to occupy Japan.
On January 9, 1939, he married Elinoir Thompson, a member of a prominent family of this community, who survives him. There were six children forn of the marriage: Patrick Dennis, now in the armed services, Margaret Elinoir, Terence Malachy (who also lost his life in the same plane crash that claimed Barney), Timothy Michael, Mary Connemara and Dennis Michael.
The above are the bare obituary facts, or, as Barney might have said: "The bare bones" of one of the most delightful, human, brilliant, and witty men who ever practiced law in this county or for that matter, I suspect, in any other county.
This bare recital is not sufficient to advise anyone of the warmth and the outgoing personality of this person who was one of the finest husbands, fathers, public servants and ablest lawyers of our time. He had a rapier-like wit, a generous Irish heart and the ability to use the English language as it was meant to be used.
Barney reached the pinnacle of his profession in his own county but became widely known throughout all of the middle west for his courage, his legal ability and his devotion to the ideas of justice. There are many of us who are aware that it was only the strange quirks of fate and the vagaries of politics that prevented him from becoming the Governor or Illinois.
Those of us who had the great privilege of being associated with him as partners in the practice of law came to know him as the ablest of lawyers, the finest of advocates, as well as a warm and generous companion.
His abilities extended in many directions but it is probably as State's Attorney that most of the people of this community came to know him best and to become aware of the enormous capacities of this able servant who was, however, able to maintain a quiet dignity, a warm and wonderful sense of humor and his own self-respect, despite the barbs of criticism and the attempts by the opposition to besmear his character. But even his opponents finally came to know that here was a man who was above reproach and above petty criticism - ant that even the most suspicious examiner could find only minor chinks in his armor.
Barney didn't talk much about his war record. (Actually, very few World War II men do talk about it. That war was so immense that everyone felt a sense of anonymity and frustration.) It was only when some war buddy came in from out of town that you found out that Barney had enlisted and was a fine naval combat officer and that the men of the Aircraft Carrier Bogue and the Flagship Montour were proud to have served with Barney and to have been with him in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and in the far reaches of the Pacific at such strange-sounding places as Eniwetok, Okinawa and Mog-Mog - and to have been with him as part of the first forces to occupy Japan. Certainly these experiences did much toward the development of Barney's character - to give him an understanding of the problems men face and how they face them, and perhaps some feeling about Mankind's destiny and of the necessity on his part to play a role in the fulfillment of that destiny. This, more than any other factor, I think, led Barney to seek political office.
Barney could write. His literary talent was immense - and ranged from remarkable war-time letters - some of which were published in the local press - to Law Review articles - legal briefs - and strangely enough, to his campaign advertising. He believed that the electorate should be informed - and inform them he did - with succinct, readable prose that had such a delightful style that one eagerly awaited the next edition of the paper and somehow almost hated to see election day pass - for it meant that particular volume of Barney's prose was completed.
The great Illinois Supreme Court Justice Loren E. Murphy, for whom Barney worked as legal secretary, often remarked that not only was Barney a great legal scholar, but that he made a great contribution to the case law of this State with his ability to write with such clarity and style.
There are those who claim that Barney may have had some faults. What faults he had were almost virtues. He couldn't say "no" to any request. As a result, he was often engulfed in a virtual flood of requests for help in almost every conceivable kind of problem - most of them unremunerative and oftentimes thankless. He, also, simply could not bring himself to fire an employee - or to terminate a relationship. Sometimes this attitude invited criticism - but on the whole, his unswerving loyalty to those about him engendered such a loyalty in return that I am sure the public benefited through the desire of these people to do such a tremendous job that Barney simply could not be criticized.
For twelve long years Barney patiently but vigorously proved to all of us the most difficult of all the lessons of the law - that all the laws must be enforced and that justice will never come to mankind if our officials choose to ignore part of the laws in order to favor any individual or group. His vigorous and rapid prosecutions from the very beginning of his first term made this county to be feared by the professional criminal - and in due time they stayed away. His very nature seemed to attract the spectacular - and he tried many important and famous cases and he proved to all the skeptics that a river county could become a decent place and that the mere presence of the mighty river did not require gambling and prostitution as a necessary adjunct.
As State's Attorney, Barney was courageous and unswerving in his devotion to duty and to the task at hand. He made this a better place to live by driving from our midst the prostitutes, the con men, the small-time crooks, the petty gamblers, and the threat that such activities bring in their wake: Organized crime - the syndicate - and above all, the corruption of our own public officials. He was a magnificent court room lawyer, tall, handsome, a great booming baritone voice, a bland, open countenance, a quick Irish wit - which when added to the fact that he was always prepared, had a keen legal mind, and was a master tactician, and was a master tactician, made him almost unbeatable in the courtroom.
But I think Barney's great triumphs in the court room as a prosecutor are overshadowed by the Eaton case. Here we get a small glimpse into the true depths of the character of this man. All of our county (and the rest of the country for that matter, by virtue of the feature story in the Saturday Evening Post of July 14, 1956) are aware of the great fight Barney made in this case - not to convict - but to free a man the State's Attorney felt had been wrongfully convicted. For over two dreary years, Barney worked harder on this project than he ever did to obtain a conviction. In achieving the freedom of this man, Barney had proven beyond all reasonable doubt that he understood the dual function of his office, to wit: That he must as zealously protect the innocent as to prosecute the guilty. Few others have so dramatically demonstrated this obligation and set forth such an example for others to follow.
On Memorial Day in the Year of Our Lord, 1965, Bernard James Moran lost his life in a plane crash at the Indianapolis Airport when the light plane he was piloting encountered unforeseen turbulence, and thus at the age of 54 came to an end the life of a truly remarkable member of this Association. He was a scholar, a sailor, a patriot, a prosecuting attorney, a loving husband and father, a man of letters, a true friend, a kind and gentle companion, a wise counselor and an advocate truly worthy of the name and whom our Association shall forever be proud to have had as a member, therefore:
Be It Resolved by the Rock Island County Bar Association that in the passing of Bernard J. Moran, the Association has lost one of its finest members.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Help for recovering Blago voters

Do you cringe inside when someone makes fun of Illinois pay-to-play politics?  We recovering Blago voters are fed up with it, so Vince and I went to a hearing of the Illinois Reform Commission Thursday night (3-26-09) in Rock Island, on the invitation of Chris Butler of Citizen Action.

Sheila Simon, daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon and his wife Jeanne, was on the panel as a commission member and she seems just as impressive as her parents were.

The Commission will soon recommend steps to clean up Illinois politics, which will be submitted to the legislature.  Citizens from around the state are proposing ideas like prohibiting political contributions from companies doing business with the state for a year or another period of time before and after the contract; putting all contributions to office holders on a public website, as well as all state projects, contracts, change orders and schedules; making no-bid contracts illegal in all instances.

When the report comes out in another couple of months, it will be interesting to see who opposes it.  Hopefully some journalists will follow the money and let us all know.

There were some questionable ideas aired at the hearing in Rock Island, like making state legislature elections non-partisan.  Well, yeah, there are some dysfunctional elements of the political parties in Illinois, but they give us voters a general idea of the philosophy of government of the candidates.  No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Be prepared to participate in the discussions of how to clean up Illinois politics.  Citizen Action/Illinois and the Illinois Campaign Finance Reform Coalition have created the Lincoln Agenda  to rebuild state government. "The Lincoln Agenda" calls for publicly financed elections, comprehensive limits on contributions, improvements to the Statements of Economic Interest, shutting the revolving door between public offices and lobbying firms, and other reforms.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 random facts about Vince

1. I lost the first 25 things I wrote about and am trying again.
2. Marg had to show me how to do it. Then I somehow lost the list after I tagged 25 people ( the limit).
3. We just returned from a fund raiser for Devin Hansen of Rock Island who is running for the 7th Ward seat in the April elections ( goodbye Mark!).
4. Devin was an intern at Project NOW; he helped with some technical work that I cannot recall. Anyway, we met again after several years when he opened the mini movie theater,. Unfortunately, he decided to expand at abandoned downtown cinema house and promptly lost it for insufficient business and high overheads.
5. Marg and I gave him some ideas on how to reach more people in his campaign.
Devin is writing a biography of Lane Evans and hopes to have it published soon.
6. I need to start working on my campaign for a seat on the Board of the Rock Island Township.
7. I was told I need at least 500 votes to win a seat. Over the years only about 900 people vote in the primaries. which will be Feb. 24.
8. I told my class today ( intro to sociology) that for the past few weeks there has been so much excitement about the Super Bowl, that Iraq and Afghanistan faded from our memories..
9. Now both countries are back in the news.But the news is not good.
10. The hype about Iran is increasing. Will our troops be shifted from our longest war to "deal" with the Iranian "threat?"
11. We are told to worry about "their" missiles. I wonder if "they" worry about our missiles?
12. I am looking forward to going to LA ( 80 degrees in the day!) fpr Rachel; and Tom's wedding.
13. I am looking forward to being with relatives and friends for a few days.
14. When we come back we will have to concentrate on getting people to the Charlie King fund raiser for Centro Maya in Guatemala. Charlie will perform Feb. 27 at the Unitarian Church in Davenport.
15. We need to sell $1,150 worth of tickets to break even. I hope our friends and others buy or donate generously..
16. I like to check out thedailybeast.com to keep up with the news from a different viewpoint.
17. I also like thehuffingtonpost.com. There are so many hip bloggers that Arianna encourages.
18. For still another viewpoint I check out Lefti.com. Some people think it is too copntroversial.
19. And just to make sure I am not missing anything else, I check out aljazeera.com. It is as imnpartial as bbc.uk.com
20. There are two Pakistani columnists: Irfan Husain and Mihir Ali who write for dawn.com. Dawn is the major English newspaper in Pakistan. Irfan travels the world and so has a broad perspective. Mihir Ali has moved to Australia ( where he is safer) and also is a good commentator. 
21. Its worth checking out blackcommentator.com once in a while. The viewpoint would surprise Chris Matthews of CNN.
22. I prefer MSNBC to CNN. I like Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann (sp), Democracy NOW. Grit TV, and FreeSpeechTV (9415 on Dish).
23. On my MP3 our son, Saul (Terry) has programmed me for Against the Grain, Free Speech Radio, Internationalist .
24. I like qcbloggers.com The Inside Dope and David Barret's blogs.
25. There are too many books by my bedside. So I have started skimming them. The current one is Naiomi Klien's The Shock Doctrine. Scary stuff, what happened in Chile, Poland and China ( to name a few) may soon happen here. New Orleans is an example. It ain't over yet!

Marg's 25 random facts about herself

1. I love Jon Stewart, and am watching him right now.
2. My daughter Rachel is getting married February 15, 2009, and she and her husband Tom Wilson will live happily ever after.
3. I'm cold and it's time to put on another sweatshirt.
4. I think Charlie King is a great singer and songwriter who will inspire laughter and deep thoughts at his concert at the Davenport Unitarian Church February 27, starting at 7 pm, to benefit Centro Maya.
5. I don't know how to upload speeches or songs to the webpage for my ESL Speaking and Listening class.
6. Some of the students in that S/L class are my children on another dimension of space/time; maybe all of them.
7. My favorite tv show is Bill Moyers; 2nd is the PBS News Hour.
8. I finally found an outfit to wear to Rachel's wedding, and it didn't cost an arm and a leg.
9. My ancestors are mostly from Ireland, a few Scots-Irish.
10. I'm disappointed that I have another appointment tomorrow when Vince, Totoo, Ken, Steve and Mary are going to the cheap matinee showing of Slumdog Millionaire.
11. I like to stay in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago, where I lived from 1963-65, and where my son Terry lives now.
12. Today I wrote a timeline about mental health for the NAMI Scott 30th anniversary celebration in June.
13. I check Facebook almost every day.
14. My lifetime goal is to get organized.
15. I'm reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
16. In the car, I'm listening to audiotaped Beloved by Toni Morrison, read by the author, especially when there's nothing good on the radio.
17. When I exercise, I'm listening to Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan on my iPod, also read by the author, for my book group.
18. My Medicare Advantage program pays for my membership at DePaepe's gym.
19. There's too much paper clutter in my house, which may be a sign of a cluttered mind.
20. Roger Butts is my favorite minister.
21. My goal is to write regularly on my blog, and sometimes send my thoughts in a letter to the editor or some such outlet.
22. I believe in the power of unseen forces, like love and intention, for which everyone has abilities.
23. I'm looking forward to seeing my brothers and their families in California in February.
24. After California, our next trips might be to St. Johns, and to India.
25. In 2008, we didn't go anywhere farther than Chicago and Des Moines.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some Republican commentators have been talking about problems with Obama's economic stimulus package.  The House version, they say, is full of Democratic boondoggles.  House Minority Leader John  Boehner gave an example of weatherization programs as typical wasteful Democratic programs.  David Brooks complained about all the education and health care programs in the House package that he said would force Republicans to vote against the plan.  Republicans think tax cuts will be better able to stimulate the economy.

Okay, tax cuts will allow people to go out and buy more things.  People will buy new tv's and other electronics made in China and Korea.  Chinese and Korean people need their economies stimulated too, but why should we help them right now, when our own economy is our top priority?

The best economic stimulus, spending money on services that will be provided by and to Americans here, are services such as weatherizing houses, teaching and taking care of children,  taking care of elderly and people with disabilities, and providing more health care to people in need of it right here.  

I'm familiar with weatherization programs.  They hire local contractors (small businesses) to install better windows and insulation in the older houses that low income and fixed income retired people live in.  This has multiple benefits, to the small business contractors, to the people who can save money on their heating bills to spend on groceries and other needs, and to the environment; less fossil fuels used, less dependence on oil-rich countries with problematic leaders.

I'm also familiar with health care and with schools, children's day care, and programs that help elderly and people with disabilities.  Many people working in these fields are paraprofessionals who are underpaid for doing critically important work.  It would help our economy a lot if the folks who bathe and feed our children, disabled and helpless elderly were paid a few dollars more an hour.  They could increase their professional standing, and spend more money on their own families.

Republicans: please think about it and do what will really help the economy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In my Intermediate Reading/Writing ESL class this morning, I was talking about new English words that I've learned, like bling. I talked about it in class a few years ago, asking if any of the young students knew what it means. A Vietnamese girl who worked at the casino motioned with her hands to indicate it means talking. Later I found out it means flashy stuff, like jewelry. I told my class that this morning, and two Haitian students said it means the same thing in Creole. I told them English is spoken all around the world, so new words come into English from all the other languages; we must have gotten bling from Creole.

After class, I had a dream/vision that one day all the world will speak the same language, and it will include all the words of all the languages.