Political Proposals #1: Healthcare

This is the first of a series of posts on what I believe the US (heck, make it all developed countries) should do for their population.

First up - Healthcare.

I believe that the US should:

1. Provide Universal Healthcare

Like Canada, and the UK, this healthcare should be the basic, guaranteed right of every citizen. It should be universal, and provide a solid level of care. Those who want something a little better should be able to pay for private insurance.

In the case of the US, paying for private insurance should give you a tax credit for the lesser burden you're putting on the base system.

If you smoke (hey, I do), then you pay for private insurance, or you get a government sponsored smoking cessation program.

2. Provide a Universal Health Records Database

This database will be provided by the government. Everyone's health records is put up there. There's a website you can go to to see your innoculations, your health records, the works.

No more lost records. Everyone has their data up in the cloud. To access your records, you use a number (looks like a credit card) which is assigned to you, plus a private key. VIsiting a health provider gives them access to your data. The website would allow you to revoke access at will. The card would contain all the information necessary to generate a certificate for each provider (preferably optically encoded, although magnetic's ok, with a backup of a PIN + number system on the website if necessary - say, in case you lose your card, or wipe the strip).

3. Datamine the Database

The database should be accessible by medical researchers. The data they can access will be sanitized, so it is not possible to recover a specific person's identity (although it would be possible to post data to the file, so that if they visit the doctor or check their account, information which is uncovered through the analysis can be passed on).

Ideally, travel records would be tied to this, but I can see people getting skittish already, so it's not a requirement.

This data will allow researchers to uncover patterns in disease which are not currently visible - such as, say, if your spouse has Crohn's diseases, and you have Cholangio Carcinoma, and your son got Gastroenteritis 3 months before... is there a connection here? (My personal belief is yes). Do you have brain cancer while your wife has multiple sclerosis? How many times does this pattern occur?

No one knows right now, because except in very specific cases, doctor's records don't care about familial disease unless there's a hereditary link. This is a HUGE hole in the data. Even if we don't do the database, doctors should start looking into this; two people may have very different diseases with the same underlying cause.

4. Biopsies, Swabs, etc for all

Currently, not everyone is tested for every complaint. Every new cough, new cold, new rash, new lump - when it can be easily swabbed, or when a biopsy is taken, it should be tested for every bacteria, fungus and virus known to man. And this data goes into your medical records. Which are then datamined. This will show patterns where subclinical or atypical infections (the kind currently regarded as only relevant to the immunocompromised) are actually causing other issues. No-one taking suppressive medicine for genital herpes gets arthritis? That's useful data. And it's currently being lost.

Currently, only military bases perform comprehensive testing of all personnel. It's how we track new cold viruses (eg. Adenovirus 14) when they emerge. We should be tracking all of this - it'll unlock all kinds of new cures and information.

We've had the tech to do this with viruses for about 5 years now. We can tell you which virus is in any piece of tissue - which is a much better approach than checking your blood for antibodies to the virus. This will allow us to localize the test, and tell you exactly what's where, and what might be causing a whole bunch of issues.

In fact, it'll be the most comprehensive application of scientific method to the medical practice in a very long time.

Oh yes, and who pays for this? The government. This is a public health issue, and if we start looking into this, I'm willing to bet that a whole bunch of conditions which are mysteries to us right now will suddenly become clear. Think of it as a program in the same way we managed to eradicate smallpox.

5. If you're sick, you don't come into work

The government will pick up the tab. If you're ill, you don't show up. You go to a walk-in clinic set up specifically for checking all the coughs, colds and minor malaises (you still go see your specialist or GP if it's more serious), and they perform any necessary tests. Then you go home until you're better.

If you're ill for more than 3 days, you go to your GP, and get a note. If you're ill for more than a week after that, you go back to the GP. If you're ill for more than a month, well... that's a different program.

We'd still need a way for people to deal with mental health days, and hangovers and so on. (Come on, we're all human, and people occasionally slack off and need a day to change things up).

Why do we do this?

Because when someone comes into work because they have no choice - no time off left, no money, they're a contractor or paid hourly - they get everyone else sick. And that hurts the economy massively.

This scheme would pay for itself in terms of lost productivity and the respective boost to the economy very quickly. The only thing to figure out is how much to pay into the system, and who pays for it - and that's not something I feel qualified to address.


Caffeine Fueled Rainy Driving Lust

Call me crazy, but I'd love to see a video game where you got to race around Seattle (and the nearby environments, such as Mt. Rainier, Yakima, the back roads of Tacoma, et al).

You know... something like this (taken from a competition in the Seattle Times to redesign the Seattle Center)

Racing around the Alaskan Way Viaduct, onto surface streets, across the railway and down the pier...

Zipping up and down I-5, over the bridge, off onto 45th, down the hill through the U-district, back through the Arboretum...

Racing around the Seattle center, zipping past the space needle, up onto Aurora.

Trying to navigate the Mercer Mess...

In my ideal world, you'd be doing this through rush-hour traffic :)

Fast car, crazy Seattle traffic... (Picture taken from MackeyDesigns.com)

PGR5... go on... this town is full of cool and crazy opportunities for tracks. How about if I ask real nice?

Note: None of this was at all, or in any conceivable way, influenced by watching Speed Racer tonight. Honest. ;-)


Sick of the Republican Campaign Lies

Those of you who know me, know that I'm British. Which means that no, I'm not from around these parts.

This election though, I'm watching closely. If the Republicans win, I'm seriously considering leaving. And I love the USA - I've lived here for over a decade now. I never wanted to leave. But I'm really seriously considering it.

Kari Byron - Mythbuster
No, honestly, this picture is almost relevant...

I was just watching Mythbusters (see, I said the picture was almost relevant), and a McCain campaign ad came on, showing a regular family, and claiming that Obama and his liberal allies will increase their income tax.

"Obama and his liberal allies promise higher taxes on your income, life savings, your electric bill. They oppose offshore drilling. It's not change - it's more of the same."

Yes, Obama promises higher taxes on your income - if you earn more than $250,000 a year. If you don't, you will pay less taxes on your income than you would under McCain. Frankly, if you're making more than $250,000 a year, you can afford a bit of a hike. Under the current recession, everyone else can't.

Life savings? WTF? Are you kidding me? Your life savings aren't taxed. Interest on them is counted as income - which unless you're earning more than $250,000 a year will be less under Obama than McCain. But wait... what if they're talking about 401(k) plans? Surely those will have issues? After all, he's planning on reversing the Bush tax cuts on Capital Gains.

No. 401(k) plans are not taxed as capital gains when you withdraw money. They're taxed as ordinary income, which will be taxed lower under Obama than McCain.

Higher electricity bills? Not heard that one before. It would be nice to see why they think that though; Obama has a 10 year plan to move the US over to non-fossil fuel energy sources. (Finally! A president who might actually fund fusion research, unlike Bush who decimated funding for it). I live in Seattle. We have cheaper electricity here than most places in the US. Why? Because it nearly all comes from hydroelectric power.

Offshore drilling? Who cares. We wouldn't see the results for another 10 years. Also, see the previous paragraph.

I am sick of all the lying. I'm sick of the way every part of the media except the Daily Show is complicit with the establishment, and has no principles. I'm sick of the propoganda. I'm sick of backroom deals being made that make companies like Dick Cheney's Haliburton billions of dollars off the back of an illegal war. I'm sick of the Republican voting bloc being too stupid to realize when they're getting promised one thing, and fleeced at the same time. I'm sick of high health insurance rates from companies who then deliberately stall on providing payments to Doctors, and attempt to charge you first, in the hope that you'll pay out instead of them fulfilling their part of the contract.

I'm sick of feeling like a conspiracy theorist nutball. I'm sick of feeling like a complete and total Old Labor socialist. I'm sick of actually seriously considering going out and buying guns because I'm worried that the next step for this country is going to be a class-based civil war. I'm sick of the racism I see in a country that has only had the smarts to allow black people to vote for about 40 years (the UK has never had any laws against black people voting; the Magna Carta back ... ooh... about 1,000 years ago cleared all that up. Of course, for a long time, you had to be part of the landed gentry to vote, but we fixed that a while back too).

I didn't come to this country for that. I certainly didn't stay here for it, and I've seen everything I admired about it torn apart more and more over the last 8 years.

What can we do to change it?

Firstly, let's hold the media accountable. That would be a good start. That fourth estate thing? It only works when the media itself is creditable, and not in the pockets of the interests they're reporting on.

Let's roll back the equal-time requirements, so that the media is not allowed to be one-sided. The UK has strict rules on this in the hope that you can't turn the whole system into a propoganda machine. Does it work? Not entirely. But it works better than here.

Let's tighten the libel and slander laws in this country, so that campaign ads that are deliberately misleading or just plain out lying are illegal. I know that there's freedom of speech issues here, but people running for election should not be allowed to lie about their opponents. I'd be happy for it only to apply to political campaign ads. And not just the ones put out by the parties either - no more swift boating. If it's a political ad, you get held accountable, period.

Let's make it illegal for politicians to take money or bribes from sponsors of any kind. Pay them a solid living wage - the median for the country (I might be convinced to go higher... but no more than $140,000 a year for the president).

Let's remind them that they're not in this for themselves. They're our elected representatives, and they work for us. Going into Government should be a duty, an honor, and a privilege - and they must never forget that they work for us, the people. Not for special interests, corporations, or their own pockets.

I swear, I feel like I'm living in 1960s Russia right now. Something is wrong with this country. I fought hard for the right to live here... I don't want to be forced to question the wisdom of that.


The Fastest Repair in the West...

Recently, my fiancee accidentally dropped her phone in the toilet, so it was time to get a new one. I picked up an AT&T Tilt. (Note: I'm not an ass; she preferred it to the iPhone - this was a conscious choice).

Roll forward a month, and we're at the Puyallup Fair, and the screen cracked. Well, it didn't actually crack per se, but the transistors certainly did, causing it to leak a puddle of pixels in the middle of the screen.

It looked like this, only more personally annoying

Argh. Not covered under warranty, and I didn't get phone insurance (which I'm seriously thinking of getting now).

I did a little searching, and I came across Matt. He builds eCommerce sites, and in order to prove to his clients that - no, seriously - he's good at it, he built a site for himself, and started a business on the side repairing AT&T Tilt (and other devices) screens.

He lives local, so instead of shipping the phone to him, I went and met him at the Tully's in Wallingford this morning. Shook hands, gave him the phone, went to get my latte.

My latte took about 5 minutes to arrive. While I waited there patiently, and got the hazelnut syrup added which was conspicuously missing, I heard this pinging sound of a phone booting up.

I walked over to him with my now flavored coffee. He was done.

I'm flabbergasted. He officially has the fastest hands in the West. One phone, fixed, good as new, for $85 - which is much cheaper than sending it in for an official repair, and if you live in Seattle, much much faster than shipping it anywhere. And frankly, the experience of seeing someone do that repair job that fast was worth the price of admission. (Ok, so I'm a big fat geek... you were expecting someone else?)

Contact him here: http://www.mobile-device-repair.com


Dino Rossi Campaign uses Subliminal Messaging

Dino Rossi is running for Governor of Washington State right now. Watch the ad though... there's something funny going on here.

Did you catch it? I assure you, there's a subliminal message in there, about 15 seconds in.

What is it?

The woman providing counterpoint to his soundbites is saying "Dino Rossi: A New Direction".

Anyone who has studied subliminal advertising will recognize this phrase. Try saying it fast, and you'll get it - Dino Rossi: A Nude Erection.

Of course, the Democrats were also using this phrase back in 2006. And it has a long history with the Speed Seduction crowd. (Seriously, click that link back there - it's handy training if you want to make sure you don't get manipulated. It'll tell you what to look for).

Note that they're not showing you the phrase - they're saying it. It only works when said; there's ambiguity there otherwise.

These are phrases to look out for, which are designed to affect you on a base, emotional level and bypass your critical brain, to get you to do what other people want you to.

You might want to do more research on this... these sites should get you started:

Pick Up Guide- How to Lay Girls Guide - Speech patterns and how they're used to get you thinking a certain way...

http://www.pickupguide.com/layguide/quoting.htm - How quoting someone else's words makes your message easier to swallow...

Here's an important one - Anchoring - http://www.pickupguide.com/layguide/anchoring.htm - or, how people can get their message across via multimodal sensory techniques. (eg. Touching you on a shoulder when they say something nice, so that every time they touch you on the shoulder, you're expecting them to say something you'll like).

The politicians are getting smarter, and they use all of these tricks against you. Please, arm yourself against them, and think for yourself.

ps. I know that most of these links are from speed seduction sites, but seriously, that's the easiest place to learn about it. Once you read a few of the examples - no matter how you feel about why and how they are applied - you should get an idea for how pervasive this stuff is in advertising, marketing and sales. And it'll drive you batty because of it - but at least you'll be much more immune than the average person who doesn't know the techniques.


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