Lack of Mobility in America UnAmerican

AmericaThe United States is a country on the go, but it’s easier for some Americans to get there than others. According to the Podiatric Medical Association of America about 7% of Americans suffer from limb loss, and about 20% of Americans suffer from a condition resulting in different sized feet. Factors contributing to this include diabetes, cancer, bone related deformities, and accidents. That’s 86 million Americans who face a difficult time fulfilling the most basic task necessary to be a functional member of society – buying shoes.

Most of us take for granted the ability to buy shoes. We are limited only by size, comfort, and a style that fits our pocketbook. For tens of millions of people, however, this seemingly mundane task is fraught with difficulty and unnecessary waste.  Americans who do not have two feet of the same size are forced to buy shoes in matched pairs, effectively discarding the other shoe. The Center for Mobility Disparity estimates that tens of millions of dollars are wasted each year on shoes that are not needed and never worn.  “It’s really a national epidemic,” says center director George Hassenfield.  “Most Americans have no idea of the struggle that shoe challenged Americans face.  It hits women and minorities particularly hard.” Continue reading

Obama’s Logic on the Cost Curve is Bent, and so are his views on Young America


The final bill [will] make sure that people are getting the care they need and the checkups they need and the screenings they need before they get sick — which will save all of us money and reduce pressures on emergency rooms all across the country.

– President Barack Obama, December 15, 2009


Don’t spend your beer money on insurance.

It sounds logical.  We’ve all heard stories, and the President has repeated them, about people who go to the ER to handle situations that could have been treated by a general physician.  Early treatment, the argument goes, reduces the cost of health care by reducing emergency room visits. What we need is a government solution to this problem.  But the problem here isn’t one caused by the health care industry, greedy hospital owners, or “the system.”  The problem is one created by the government. 

The Emergency Room scenario – when people who lack insurance visit the ER to deal with medical problems rather than seeing a family doctor –  is a result of federal law passed in 1986 which requires hospitals (those that receive Medicare funding, which is almost all of them) to treat patients in the emergency room regardless of ability to pay or citizenship status.  The fact that ER costs have increased since the law was passed shouldn’t come as any surprise.  From a mere accounting standpoint the law opened Emergency Room doors to people who previously wouldn’t have been able to afford the expense.  That shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement of a market system that turns away people who can’t pay.  It’s merely an observation that increased access will result in increased expenses.  When you mandate that hospitals provide emergency services for free, people will come. Continue reading

Required Reading for Congress

spqr-cicero-catilineWhen Aristotle said that “man is a  political animal” he meant that politics is an inherent part of the human experience.    He didn’t mean to imply that political men should behave like animals.  Sometimes we lose sight of that and politics gets nasty.

Politics is the civil discussion about the kind of people we want to be and the kind of nation we want to live in.  The key word is civil.  Many people get turned off of politics because of the shouting, righteousness, and exclusivity that seems rampant on talk radio and television.  Make no mistake.  Partisanship is not a sin.  It’s okay to believe the other side is wrong.  That said,  it’s not okay to be nasty about it.  Trying to convince people to think your way works much better if you treat them with kindness and respect.  Empathy is as much the skill of a good politician as rhetoric.

The conflict between liberals and conservatives stems mainly from the disparate ways in which they view the world – in terms of both the problems and the solutions.   As in all facets of life, a healthy understanding of your opponent’s worldview is a good debate strategy and it facilitates civil discourse.  To that end, I propose a national program requiring all 535 members of Congress to read the following two books:

Continue reading

The Upside of The Shutdown

A version of this essay also appeared in Ben Domenech’s new online magazine, The Federalist

For all the hysteria surrounding the government shutdown, I have to confess that now that it has actually happened, it is a bit anticlimactic.  Sure, I have developed a little crick in my neck from all the back and forth between the the two parties.  And if I hear any more politicians claim that they are willing to negotiate while refusing to negotiate, I might have to seriously consider consulting a professional about that huge frown line that I am getting between my eyes.  It is starting to look like the Grand Canyon, which is currently closed, but doesn’t have to be, because the state of Arizona offered to fund it, but the Federal government refused.  So, you can see how this back and forth could take a toll on anyone–the hypocrisy is so perverse.


It’s not that I believe them–any of them–I don’t. But one can still get sick of hearing it.

And honestly, as a working stiff, I am pretty much in status quo mode.  I am glad that they are funding the military, as those people really do something that the federal government is supposed to be in charge of–protecting the nation.

And, call me crazy, but since only about 15% of the nation wasn’t insured, couldn’t we have just had a program that insured those people, and called it a day?  Why have this super-comprehensive 2,000 page plus program that has made so many people mad simultaneously?  Has anyone ever heard of a pilot program?  Just wondering.  It just seems like it might have been okay to give out some reasonable insurance to the most vulnerable in our nation, and see if that actually addressed the problem.  Then if not, maybe try something else.  But 1/6 of the economy?  It makes me nervous just thinking about it.  I think maybe some things could go wrong.  Like trying to sign up. Continue reading