Posts Tagged ‘efficiency’

Healthcare Passed. Yay… but is it enough?

March 24, 2010

Well, it’s done. Hurrah hurrah! Healthcare reform passed and now we can finally enslave conservatives and abort their babies with federal dollars so as to start our Socialist world order. Whew, it’s about time.

But to be fair, that’s not entirely accurate. Healthcare reform did pass, but everything after that is taken from bits and pieces of right wing fear-mongering talking points. So now that we’ve had a good laugh, let’s get real for a bit.

On the whole, I’d say that it’s a good thing this bill passed. People can no longer be turned down for having a pre-existing condition, and anyone who’s considered “at risk” is still able to get some sort of insurance. What’s more, the particular demographic that’s had the hardest time having a health policy (those who aren’t poor enough to have a government policy like Medicaid, and who aren’t rich enough to afford a private policy when their employer doesn’t offer it) will be able to have access to more programs because of subsidies.

And even though this is of less concern to the general public than the actual benefits created, our government spent the last year hammering through this thing. To ultimately end up with absolutely nothing would’ve been shameful at best. And to get even more superficial, for the Democrats to have failed at this attempt to make good on healthcare promises would’ve left them looking like a pile of incompetent fools who’d rather curry favors with the opposition party than to try to enact the will of their constituents (but since we’re being honest here, I think they’ve managed to do both fairly well).

But one of the big problems with this bill is that it’s called ‘reform.’ At best I’d call it a regulatory bill. All those benefits of the bill amount to the government telling private insurance companies that they can’t discriminate against the unhealthy. If you ask me, that’s just common sense. But there’s a reason why so many people for so long have called for reform, if not a complete overhaul, of the healthcare industry in this country: the whole thing is in the hands of a few corporations who make exorbitant amounts of money by paying as little as they can but charging as much as they can. This bill may help a great many people, but it doesn’t tackle the primary problem. The fact still remains that our health is still in the hands of people who will make more money if we die.

That may sound melodramatic or conspiratorial, but it’s really just the basic structure of corporate policy. By law, a corporation must do everything within its means to raise the bottom line. If you take money in on the promise of helping someone once they’re sick, you’ll make more money by finding any crack in the paperwork to pay as little as possible, if anything at all. And this bill actually assists that basic structure. We’re now mandated to have insurance.

A public option was kicked out of the bill a long time ago. If it remained, a mandate for insurance would seem like less of a burden, because there would be more options to choose from. A government run policy that would be nationwide, that you could take with you if you move or change jobs, that isn’t for profit so you wouldn’t have to worry about rates being raised so the CEOs of said corporation can afford their bonuses, is the type of policy that many Americans want. Before last year’s August recess, numerous polls showed that at least 60% of the population wanted a public option. But alas, all things must die.

Wait a minute! Government run policy that’s nationwide that isn’t for profit? Haven’t I heard of that before? More importantly, hasn’t Congressman Alan Grayson heard of that? Oh yeah, it’s called Medicare.

The original talk of a public option was about creating an entirely new entity, that would’ve cost billions of dollars to set up. In the long run, this program would’ve paid for itself and actually decreased the deficit, because people would pay into it. But there would’ve been an initial start up cost that many people were uncomfortable with in this time of economic strife.  But the congressman from Florida, Representative Grayson, has drafted a bill that would allow anyone, of any age, to buy into Medicare at cost. We’ve already spent billions of dollars creating this nationwide network so that people 65 and older have access to healthcare. The groundwork already exists. What Grayson’s bill will do is give every American a chance to have a public option, without any of the extra costs that the original public option would have.

The fact that we have this system in place that can only be used by a small percentage of the population seems incredibly wasteful. And ask any senior citizen out there; they LOVE Medicare. Why not let everyone else have a chance at it? This would be a real reform bill if it passes. Finally there would be some real competition for private insurers, who would be forced to lower costs in order to remain competitive. That is the basis of capitalism, right?

American Efficiency

February 19, 2010

Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks that the low-end of the mile per galleon range in automobiles today should logically be at about 80 mpg?

Even if I am the only one, I don’t necessarily think I’m crazy for thinking that. One of my first cars I ever owned was a 1987 Honda Civic DX. It was your standard smaller car; wasn’t sporty, wasn’t glamorous, wasn’t touted as ultra efficient. But it got on average 40 mpg on the highway, and not much lower in town. Honda did make a car that they touted as ultra efficient, which was the Civic VX, which was originally rated as 49 city/56 hwy when it was available in the early ‘90s. And there are those out there who have claimed upwards of 72 mpg in the same car. The VX, mind you, is not even a hybrid. It was just light and efficient.

Compare that to a commercial I saw for a car the other day. I don’t remember which car it was exactly, but what caught my eye was that they were bragging about it getting 33 mpg. Now, about 11 years ago, I had a car that was about 11 years old, and it got way better mileage than that. And about 18 years ago, a car was made that doubled that mileage. But no one ever talks about it.

The technology that is poured into automobiles today is self-evident. Watch a car commercial. Visit a dealership and just sit in a new car. These machines are practically made of magic in comparison to their counterparts 20 years ago. But in a time of oil crisis and climbing gas prices, why don’t we demand more out of car makers along the lines of efficiency? Even the Toyota Prius, which this century has been hailed as the lean, mean, green machine, gets a mpg rating of 51 city/48 hwy for the 2010 model! We haven’t progressed at all!

But the real question is: is this even the conversation we should be having? Since oil is used for so many different things in today’s world culture, and it’s a finite resource, should we really continue to make machines that just burn the stuff up? The bright side is that a lot of auto manufacturers are looking into alternative fuels, namely electricity. The Chevy Volt, which is to be on the market at the end of this year, is advertised as a new hybrid, one that will go 40 miles strictly on electricity before the gas motor turns on to generate power back to the electric motor. And Nissan has developed the LEAF, a full electric vehicle, which claims to be able to go 100 miles on a single charge. Since it’s estimated that 80% of American motorists drive less than 60 miles per day, the LEAF could certainly be what we’re looking for. But there is also Tesla Motors, which is a brand new car company that only makes electric vehicles. Their flagship, the Roadster, claims 244 miles to a charge, and yet goes from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds! And guess what? This baby’s American made.

This new technology comes at a price, but it’s coming down. Something certainly needs to exist before it can become a standard. And I think we all know that our dependence on oil, foreign or domestic, isn’t something we can maintain forever. Remember: finite resource.