Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Ruling Class Verses The People

The election in November has morphed into something beyond a typical election. This election is no longer about Democrats verses Republicans, or conservatives verses liberals; it has turned into a battle of the ruling elite verses the people.

We hear a lot of talk about an anti-incumbent mood in the country, and that is part of what’s going on, but by no means all of it. There is something much more profound and fundamental taking place.

The first indication was the tea partiers.

I have attended a couple of tea party rallies, and several aspects of them struck me as highly unusual in the world of assemblies of the citizens.

One thing that especially got my attention was the large number of people at these events who said something to the effect of, “I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never gone to a public rally or spoken out before, but now I feel compelled to do so.” This is very significant; people who have never before been involved are now actively speaking out, and in large numbers. They feel that the country is heading in the wrong direction, that Washington isn’t listening, and that things are so dire that they cannot remain silent.

There have been many tea party rallies and others that are similar throughout the country, some small and some attracting hundreds of thousands of people. The response from the ruling class has been disdain and arrogance. Members of the ruling class on the Democrat side denigrated the tea partiers, calling them Astroturf, hatemongers, Nazis, etc. Then the ruling class went about its business as usual. Nothing in Washington changed.

The next development was the elections last November in which governors in Virginia and New Jersey were elected after campaigning on the need for a bold new direction in those states. And they didn’t just win, they won big. Governor McDonnell received more votes than any candidate for governor in Virginia ever. The ruling class started to get miffed because their candidates were not being elected.

Then a special election was held in Massachusetts to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. The unthinkable happened. An unknown by the name of Scott Brown defeated the ruling class’s anointed candidate.

After that came the primary election season, and the populist eruptions were everywhere. Sharon Angle won the Republican primary in Nevada over the party insider who was supported by the establishment. The ruling class turned on Ms. Angle and started ridiculing her. In the general election, she is now running against that paragon of the ruling class, Harry Reid, and polls show the race tied. Still the ruling class has not forgiven her.

There were similar results in South Carolina (Nikki Haley) and Florida (Marco Rubio) where political newcomers defeated party establishment types in a primary election.

In Alaska, it became even more pronounced. Another unknown and political neophyte, Joe Miller, won the Republican primary against a sitting U. S. Senator who, in true ruling class fashion, was appointed to the position by her father, the governor at the time, to fill a vacancy. The ruling class had a fit.

Then in Delaware, the earth moved. Christine O’Donnell, a person who to say was an atypical candidate is an understatement, defeated yet another ruling class crowned prince in the senate primary election on the Republican side. Now the political elites became truly outraged. How dare these commoners reject their directions on who should be the nominee! Who do they think they are? Republican Great High Exalted PoohBah Karl Rove threw a hissy fit on national TV. Pundit extraordinaire Charles Krauthammer pontificated on how stupid the people were being because they didn’t do what he thought they should in the primary. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (the group that tries to get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate) said they would not support Ms. O’Donnell (and then quickly reversed course and said they would). The various courtiers in the ruling class started yelping about how she was unelectable, fatally flawed, had never accomplished anything, blah, blah, blah.

And now here we are today with about six weeks until election day, and the ruling class still doesn’t get it. After eighteen months of messages being delivered in a variety of manners and in no uncertain terms, they have gone into denial or self-protection mode or adopted an attitude of “let them eat cake”.

It has truly become the people verses the ruling class. Continuing with their elitist ruling class entitlement mentality will have severe consequences for both the Democrats and the Republicans.

Since the Democrats are currently in power in Washington, they risk losing control of Congress and then losing the Presidency.

For the Republicans, the danger of ignoring this movement of the people is more insidious. If the Republican party establishment pays lip service to the peoples’ candidates, or out rightly opposes them, they risk further alienating the people to the point that there may well be a third party formed. If, on the other hand, the party establishment gets behind the peoples’ candidates and they get elected, it will mean the Republicans will have to be ready to take on a new identity and adopt a new mode of governance. Are they willing and able to do that?

Jessee Ring
Sept. 20, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Sky Didn't Fall - Again

Did you hear the latest on the great Gulf oil spill? It's gone - the oil, I mean. They can't find any more oil in the Gulf, on beaches, on birds, or anywhere. Even the so-called "plume" of oil that was supposedly lurking deep down in the ocean somewhere can't be found. Nothing, no oil, it's all just gone. Shrimp fishing has resumed; everything is going back to the way it was.

This oil leak was billed by the hysterical alphabet networks and government agencies as the worst ecological disaster ever. Nothing like it had ever occurred before. The Valdez spill was a pittance compared to this. Oil was going to decimate the Gulf beaches, marshes, fishing industries, and tourist industry. That wasn’t going to be all; it was going to get worse. Oil was going to flow into the Gulfstream, come around the Florida peninsula, and foul all the beaches along the East Coast. Nothing would be safe. The world would never be the same.

And now it’s all just gone. There’s no comment on this from all of the former chicken littles; their silence is deafening.

On another front, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that the H1N1 swine flu pandemic is officially over. To which I say, “Did it ever start?” Here’s another one where the government and media were hysterical about something that was going to run rampant and kill most of us. I’m sure you remember hearing about that last spring. Once the virus had made the “species jump” to humans, we were told, it would likely mutate, and then we would be defenseless. Hundreds of thousand, if not millions, of people would die. It was going to be the black plague all over again, where every night people threw the dead bodies out into the street, and the next morning carts came around to pick them up to be hauled off to the incinerators. With our swine flu, a barely tested H1N1 vaccine was rushed to doctors and clinics. In an apparent effort to inflate the statistics, government rules were issued requiring that anyone who saw a doctor or nurse with so much as a runny nose was counted as a case of swine flu. Even so, the numbers stayed small. The cataclysm didn’t happen. Once again, it was much ado about nothing. No swine flu pandemic, no disaster, no nothing. By the way, all those vaccines are now being destroyed.

Global warming is another one. It’s the same template: Some occurrence will happen that triggers unstoppable disastrous events resulting in the end of the world as we know it, unless the government intervenes in a massive way to prevent it. There is the same institutional efforts to fudge the numbers to prove that it will or is happening. We heard about the world climate data being fudged and doctored, about anecdotal evidence from extreme environmental groups that have an agenda being touted as accepted scientific fact, about dissenting views being squelched, efforts to gin up hysteria (Al Gore et al), etc. And no matter what the weather is, we’re told it’s due to global warming. The polar icecaps were supposedly melting due to global warming, but last winter when we had a very cold winter all over North America including several blizzards, that too, we were told, was due to global warming. It was upsetting the weather patterns, you see. So no matter what happens weather wise, it’s said to be proof of global warming.

This global warming thing reminds me of the “Pinky And The Brain” episode where, one night, their daily “plan to take over the world” consisted of melting the polar ice caps. First, they would buy up all real estate in the world above the fifteenth story in buildings. Then, they would stow away on a space shuttle flight, make their way to the Hubble space telescope, redirect it so that it acted as a huge reverse magnifying glass, aim it at the Earth’s poles, and melt all the ice. The seas would rise to the fourteenth floor, per their calculations. Then all of their real estate from the fifteenth floor up would be worth a bazillion dollars, and they would control the world.

Global warming is Al Gore’s version of this.

Then there was the prediction a few years ago of a great Y2K (Year Two Thousand) meltdown. You remember that one, don't you? The world as we know it was going to cease to function at midnight on Dec. 31,1999 when the date rolled over to DD/MM/00. This "end of the world" scare was going to happen as a result of all the computers in the world malfunctioning because they wouldn't be able to distinguish between the years 1900 and 2000, since they both end in 00. Airplanes would crash, banks would lose track of our money, medical records would be unsearchable, all government functions would come to a grinding halt, etc., etc., etc. Then, year 2000 came, and everything went on as normal without so much as a glitch.

Where are all the oil spill and swine flu doom-sayers now? Have they apologized for their ignorance and promised to be more skeptical and questioning next time, that is, to be real journalist? Are they being laughed off of the public stage? No, they are off to the next scare, which has something to do with hungry bears in Yellowstone Park getting ready to eat people, I think.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Emergency Room Wait Times

I’ve noticed some strange messages on billboards in our area: Hospitals are advertising their emergency room (ER) wait times.
Pulaski Community Hospital and Montgomery Regional Hospital have put up some big signs showing their emergency room wait times, in real time. The big billboards have lights that form numbers indicating the current wait time. The last time I drove by, the sign was showing a 14 minute emergency room wait time. They also have signs telling us that we can text them to get the latest wait time. Yes, you can text in to get the emergency room wait time, kind of like texting the bank to get your account balance.

This is very odd. Why would hospitals advertise their emergency room wait times? Why would anyone care what the ER wait time is?

When I called the hospital administrative office and asked about this, I was told that the reason for doing it is that they know people have choices, and they want to show that they are putting patients first. The person also explained that the wait times shown on the signs are a four hour rolling average.

Let’s think about this. If someone has a medical emergency, does the emergency room wait time matter to him? A person having a heart attack, for example, is not going to say, “Oh, the wait time is too long; I’ll go later, or maybe tomorrow.”

I can imagine the conversation. Husband: “Dear, I think I’m having a heart attack. I have bad chest pain, I’m sweating profusely, and there’s this funny feeling running down my arms to my fingertips. We’d better go to the emergency room.” Wife: “Let me text in for the wait time. Oh, look, there’s a long wait. Can you hold off awhile? We’ll go later when the line is shorter. Or I could check with the other hospital to see what their wait time is, if you want.”

No, you don’t do that; you go as fast as you possibly can.

And once you get there, it’s not “first come; first served.” The emergency room staff decides which cases are the most urgent, and those cases get treated first, while the less critical emergencies may have to wait awhile. I learned this first hand when my daughter was about four years old, fell and cut her forehead, and we went to the emergency room. Even though she had a bad gash, it wasn’t bleeding much, and we were told that other cases were more urgent, so we had to wait. Someone having a heart attack will go right in.

Yes, I know the whole story about the “uninsured” using emergency rooms for their primary care. When little uninsured Johnny has a fever, his parents take him to the emergency room, where all comers are required by law to be treated, no matter what.

And that was one of the major problems with the health care system. The uninsured were using the emergency room as their family doctor, clogging it up with routine cases, and having to wait for hours while the true emergencies were taken care of. Not only was this a problem because of the inefficiency, we were told, it was also a problem because of the expense.

Emergency rooms are very costly, and using them for non-emergencies made that care very expensive, pushing up costs for everyone. It was one of the major problems that was cited as to why we had to vastly overhaul the entire health care system. We had to get those routine cases out of the emergency room, so we wouldn’t bankrupt the system. Obamacare was going to fix all of this.

So, I ask again, why are hospitals, right now, advertising their emergency room wait times?

There can be only one reason. They must think that by advertising their wait time, they can entice more people into using the emergency room, and to use their ER instead of another one. But this only makes sense for non-emergency cases, where people have a choice of going now or later, or not at all.

The inescapable conclusion is that the hospitals putting up such signs are trying to attract as many non-emergency cases to their ER as possible.

There’s a skunk in the woodpile.

Here we have hospitals actively working to make the problem of abuse of the emergency room worse. They are actually promoting it! They apparently want to get as many of the uninsured as possible into their ER.

Then it must not be a problem. Forget everything you heard about the problem of the uninsured and the ER. Now that Obamacare has passed, we learn that it was not true.

Wait, could it be something else? Could it be ----- ? No, it couldn’t be that some of the obscure provisions in the 2400 page byzantine Obamacare bill are having unintended consequences. Maybe buried in there somewhere are some provisions regarding the uninsured that give hospitals a financial incentive for using the ER for routine cases. Could Obamacare have made this problem worse? Is that why we are starting to see those ER wait time signs?

Jessee Ring
Aug. 24, 2010