Education, Exploitation, & Examination

It’s been fifty-four days since I had a Coca-Cola. I used to drink 4 to 6 (or more) of them per day, and I quit, cold turkey. I also stopped eating or drinking anything with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.

Since the first of the year I have lost seven pounds, bringing me to a loss of 16 pounds since November 1st of last year. I still have about 14 pounds to lose, but I am pretty sure I can accomplish that goal before spring comes to an end.

The only side effect of my new eating habits, is the re-occurrence of headaches, which usually hit later in the day and sometimes last until the following morning. Once I figure out what’s causing the headaches I should be golden with this whole “eating right” thing.

I have quite a few articles piled up here in my browser, so I thought I would pass them on to you this evening. It’s been about a month since I did a “thoughts” post, so it’s time.

Thought #1

I’m all for improving our current education system, but I hardly think increasing the “assessments” will solve any of the current problems plaguing the system.

Obama’s 2011 budget will call for the reauthorization of the 1994 version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would require states to meet six tough standards to help high school graduates prepare for college or careers. The administration said schools need to focus on better teacher preparation, improved teaching and tougher student assessments.

It’s no secret that we homeschool our children. There are several reasons we choose to keep them out of the public school system, and one of those reasons is the current “teaching for the test” mentality. Too much pressure is on too many teachers and when time gets away from them they end up focusing only on the specific subjects and problems that will be covered in “the test”.

We have seen neighborhood kids stressing about “the test”, and we have spoken to teachers who wish they could take time to cover some subjects more in-depth but they are so constrained by “the test” they don’t dare take a even a moment out of their already tight schedule.

I wish I knew the solution to improving our educational system, but I am quite sure it isn’t making the assessments tougher or telling teachers they need to prepare more. Have you spoken to a teacher lately? Do you realize how much time (and personal money) they devote to their jobs as it is?

Thought #2

When was the last time you bought an article of clothing that was made in the United States of America? I feel for the people of Haiti, but I do not think this is the answer to their problem, and it only exacerbates ours.

In the quest to rebuild Haiti, the international community and business leaders are dusting off a pre-quake plan to expand its low-wage garment assembly industry as a linchpin of recovery. President Barack Obama’s administration is on board, encouraging U.S. retailers to obtain from Haiti at least 1 percent of the clothes they sell.

The garment industry in America is dying as it is. One percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but when there is little to nothing being manufactured here in the United States as it is, one percent will actually have quite an impact.

I find it ironic that this plan is endorsed by the current administration. If it had been proposed by a Republican administration (or endorsed by it), there would be cries of exploitation and we would be seen as taking advantage of the Haitian people.

Does it really make a difference if your clothes are made in China, Thailand, Indonesia, or Haiti? No matter which one you pick, the workers are exploited and taken advantage of. I guess it’s okay this time, because they’re calling for it in the name of “hope” for the people of Haiti.

Thought #3

The Washington Post has a pretty good explanation of President Obama’s latest health-care “modification”. Rather than starting over because the majority of the American people are unhappy with the current proposal, he slapped some lipstick on the pig and pushed it out the door.

Mr. Obama, following the advice of nearly every economist who has examined the issue, identified a tax on high-cost insurance plans as a key mechanism for curbing the growth of health-care costs. He was right. Unfortunately, in the legislative process the tax already was whittled down several times. Now the president proposes delaying it until 2018 — long after he leaves office — and raising the threshold at which it applies. Meanwhile, to recoup the $120 billion lost by the delay, Mr. Obama would apply the Medicare payroll tax to unearned income for the wealthiest taxpayers — money that should be used to shore up Medicare’s shaky finances rather than subsidizing cushy insurance.

Go read the rest of the article, it summarizes the President’s health-care changes quite succinctly.

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Indoctrination, Taxation, Representation And Annihilation

With all the rain we’ve had around here lately, I haven’t had much time to focus on some of the news from the past two days. My mind is swimming with thoughts about some things I have read tonight and I need to get them off my chest.

Thought #1

What the hell is this about?

We’re teaching kids to praise President Obama? Since when do we indoctrinate children by teaching them to honor the President in an organized chant? Pathetic, really.

Thought #2

Joe Biden is right. While discussing the upcoming 2010 elections and the 35 House seats that are currently held by Democrats in traditionally Republican districts, he said,

If they take them back, this the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do

Like I said, he’s right.

Thought #3

Jimmy Carter says that former President Bush and his administration may have been involved in a 2002 coup attempt against Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

I think there is no doubt that in 2002, the United States had at the very least full knowledge about the coup, and could even have been directly involved

Personally, I think that’s better than President Obama and his administration’s attempts to stifle democracy in Honduras. I’m not going to go into it all in this post, but a simple search on Google will give you plenty of information to learn that President Obama has personally condemned the rise of democracy in Honduras.

I don’t think we need to be messing around in either country, but interfering in the name of democracy rather than stifling it sounds better to me any day.

Thought #4

Fining people for not carrying health insurance is wrong. Such fines collected by the IRS are nothing more than taxes. So much about the health care bills in the House and the Senate are wrong. When things are this wrong, they cannot be “negotiated” they must be re-written.

Thought #5

Former President Jimmy Carter sure thinks he’s an expert on the Middle East, doesn’t he? It’s hard to imagine that someone who was apparently so instrumental in brokering peace between Egypt and Israel can be so wrong about peace between Israel and the rest of their neighbors.

I’m no expert, but I do know a few things. Hamas wants nothing less than the complete annihilation of Israel. Hezbollah wants nothing less than the complete annihilation of Israel. Nothing Israel has done in the past, is doing now, or shall do in the future will change either of those facts. So, it’s quite a surprise to read the following:

Former President Jimmy Carter says Israel must stop building settlements in Palestine for there to be peace in the Middle East.

In order for there to peace in the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah need to stop sending homicide bombers into Israel, they need to stop threatening Israel, and Hamas as well as Hezbollah need to be annihilated. Only then, will there be a chance for peace in the Middle East.

Thought #6

The voters of Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District may have thought they had sane representation when Hank Johnson won the seat, but it’s clear that Georgia #4 has some sort of Cynthia McKinney syndrome that could take years to purge.

Rep. Hank Johnson is standing by his comments that Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst at President Obama “instigated more racist sentiment” and could lead to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Monday that he doesn’t think that most of Obama’s opponents are motivated by racism, but that he believes Wilson’s comments “winked at a racist element” and that there is a small but “racially motivated fringe” among those who disapprove of the president and his policies.

Ridiculous.

HR3200 : Division C : Day One

Tonight we cover Division C, the last “division” of the monstrosity known as “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009“.

Division C concentrates on Public Health and Workforce Development. The first thing we learn in this division is that each “amendment” mentioned in this division, unless otherwise specified makes reference to the Public Health Service Act.

Except as otherwise specified, whenever in this division an amendment is expressed in terms of an amendment to a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.)

Section 2002 establishes a fund to be called the “Public Health Investment Fund”. The funding for this “fund” will be set by the following schedule.

There shall be deposited into the Fund—

(i) for fiscal year 2010, $4,600,000,000;

(ii) for fiscal year 2011, $5,600,000,000;

(iii) for fiscal year 2012, $6,900,000,000;

(iv) for fiscal year 2013, $7,800,000,000;

(v) for fiscal year 2014, $9,000,000,000;

(vi) for fiscal year 2015, $9,400,000,000;

(vii) for fiscal year 2016, $10,100,000,000;

(viii) for fiscal year 2017, $10,800,000,000;

(ix) for fiscal year 2018, $11,800,000,000; and

(x) for fiscal year 2019, $12,700,000,000.

That’s a total of $88,700,000,000. That’s $88.7 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Which amounts to just $16 billion more than the cost of covering 0.9% of the population (those treated for HIV, Cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease).

Where do you think the government is going to get an additional $88.7 billion over the course of the next 10 years?

Amounts deposited into the Fund shall be derived from general revenues of the Treasury.

Where do you think general revenues come from? That’s right. Taxes. There ain’t no mincing words about that.

The funds allocated for the “Public Health Investment Fund” will not be subject to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act. That means the costs for operating this fund may rise and rise with no limit on appropriations at all. Yes, that means your taxes will rise and rise with no limit (until they hit 100%) on your income.

Amounts appropriated under this section, and outlays flowing from such appropriations, shall not be taken into account for purposes of any budget enforcement procedures including allocations under section 302(a) and (b) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act and budget resolutions for fiscal years during which appropriations are made from the Fund.

Title I, section 2101 increases funding for community health centers. This actually makes sense since most of the bill up to this point deals with the Public Option, Medicare, and Medicaid. Everyone will be covered by the time the fund is funded to the levels they claim, so community health centers are going to need the money, aren’t they?

Community health centers will be appropriated money out of the Public Health Investment Fund, in the following amounts.

For the purpose of carrying out this section, in addition to any other amounts authorized to be appropriated for such purpose, there are authorized to be appropriated, out of any monies in the Public Health Investment Fund, the following:

“(1) For fiscal year 2010, $1,000,000,000.

“(2) For fiscal year 2011, $1,500,000,000.

“(3) For fiscal year 2012, $2,500,000,000.

“(4) For fiscal year 2013, $3,000,000,000.

“(5) For fiscal year 2014, $4,000,000,000.

“(6) For fiscal year 2015, $4,400,000,000.

“(7) For fiscal year 2016, $4,800,000,000.

“(8) For fiscal year 2017, $5,300,000,000.

“(9) For fiscal year 2018, $5,900,000,000.

“(10) For fiscal year 2019, $6,400,000,000.”.

The total for Community Health Center funding comes to $38,800,000,000, or $38.8 billion. That’s 43.7% of the money allocated for the Public Health Investment Fund.

Title II covers the “Workforce”. Section 2201 mandates the creation of a “National Health Service Corps.

Individuals who receive educational funding through a federal Scholarship Program or the Loan Repayment Program will be required to provide “half-time” clinical practice. No this does mean that the new up and coming doctors will be treating all their patients during the break in the local football game. It means they will be required to offer half-time service (yes, devoting half of their employment time) for two years to fulfill their obligation for the funding services they received from the government.

I wonder what the “government service” interns will be required to wear? With their coats be red in color?

Section 2202 sets the authorization of appropriations and provides for additional funding for the scholarship and loan repayment programs in the following amounts:

“For the purpose of carrying out this subpart, in addition to any other amounts authorized to be appropriated for such purpose, there are authorized to be appropriated, out of any monies in the Public Health Investment Fund, the following:

“(1) $254,000,000 for fiscal year 2010.

“(2) $266,000,000 for fiscal year 2011.

“(3) $278,000,000 for fiscal year 2012.

“(4) $292,000,000 for fiscal year 2013.

“(5) $306,000,000 for fiscal year 2014.

“(6) $321,000,000 for fiscal year 2015.

“(7) $337,000,000 for fiscal year 2016.

“(8) $354,000,000 for fiscal year 2017.

“(9) $372,000,000 for fiscal year 2018.

“(10) $391,000,000 for fiscal year 2019.”.

A total of $3,171,000,000. Thats $3.171 billion or 3.6% of the Public Health Investment Fund. So far, we’ve spent $41.971 billion of the $88.7 billion dollar fund.

Section 2212 sets the loan provisions, rate of interest for those loans, and requires the student to practice in such care for 10 years or through the date on which the load is repaid in full, whichever occurs first.

If you take a government loan to become a doctor, you will be required to work “half-time” in clinical practice, as well as practice for at least 10 years or at least as long as you are repaying the loans you received.

to practice in such care for 10 years (including residency training in primary health care) or through the date on which the loan is repaid in full, whichever occurs first.”

The powerful and mighty Secretary of Health and Human Services will be pulling more strings behind that giant green curtain too. In addition to all of the other new responsibilities he/she will hold once this bill becomes law, the Secretary will also be responsible for something else.

The Secretary shall make grants to, or enter into contracts with, eligible entities—

“(A) to plan, develop, operate, or participate in an accredited professional training program, including an accredited residency or internship program, in the field of family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or geriatrics for medical students, interns, residents, or practicing physicians;

“(B) to provide financial assistance in the form of traineeships and fellowships to medical students, interns, residents, or practicing physicians, who are participants in any such program, and who plan to specialize or work in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or geriatrics;

“(C) to plan, develop, operate, or participate in an accredited program for the training of physicians who plan to teach in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or geriatrics training programs including in community-based settings;

“(D) to provide financial assistance in the form of traineeships and fellowships to practicing physicians who are participants in any such programs and who plan to teach in a family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or geriatrics training program; and

“(E) to plan, develop, operate, or participate in an accredited program for physician assistant education, and for the training of individuals who plan to teach in programs to provide such training.

That’s right. The Secretary will be responsible for creating training programs for new doctors. The Secretary will decide (by entering into a contract with services or corporations of his/her choosing) what doctors will learn, how they will serve their communities, and how the inductees students, will repay their debt for the awesome opportunity to serve their country.

The Secretary will decide which hospitals qualify for these contracts, which programs will serve the best community good, and which students will be allowed to participate in these programs.

This bill isn’t just about the common good where health care is concerned, it’s not about lowering costs or making the system more efficient. It’s about the outright full control of health care, and ultimately our lives, in this country.

The allocation for funding for primary care and dentistry will amount to the following values.

For the purpose of carrying out subpart XI of part D of title III and sections 723, 747, 748, and 749, in addition to any other amounts authorized to be appropriated for such purpose, there is authorized to be appropriated, out of any monies in the Public Health Investment Fund, the following:

“(1) $240,000,000 for fiscal year 2010.

“(2) $253,000,000 for fiscal year 2011.

“(3) $265,000,000 for fiscal year 2012.

“(4) $278,000,000 for fiscal year 2013.

“(5) $292,000,000 for fiscal year 2014.

“(6) $307,000,000 for fiscal year 2015.

“(7) $322,000,000 for fiscal year 2016.

“(8) $338,000,000 for fiscal year 2017.

“(9) $355,000,000 for fiscal year 2018.

“(10) $373,000,000 for fiscal year 2019.”.

This amounts to another $3,023,000,000 or $3.023 billion. This brings our total “spent” to $44.994 billion.

In case you were wondering, Section 2221 adds nurses into the same “plan” as doctors where they will be allowed to serve their government as a “repayment” for two years. The funding for this additional program is allocated (like the rest) over the next ten years.

For the purpose of carrying out this title, in addition to any other amounts authorized to be appropriated for such purpose, there are authorized to be appropriated, out of any monies in the Public Health Investment Fund, the following:

“(1) $115,000,000 for fiscal year 2010.

“(2) $122,000,000 for fiscal year 2011.

“(3) $127,000,000 for fiscal year 2012.

“(4) $134,000,000 for fiscal year 2013.

“(5) $140,000,000 for fiscal year 2014.

“(6) $147,000,000 for fiscal year 2015.

“(7) $154,000,000 for fiscal year 2016.

“(8) $162,000,000 for fiscal year 2017.

“(9) $170,000,000 for fiscal year 2018.

“(10) $179,000,000 for fiscal year 2019.”

A total of $1,450,000,000 or $1.45 billion. Our total is now $46.444 billion of the $88.7 billion total set in the fund. Yes, the government actually wants you to believe that they can fund the opening of community health centers (nationwide) and define plus fund the education of doctors as well as nurses for just $46.444 billion. Remember, it’s going to cost $72 billion to treat just 0.9% of the people in our country. When do we talk about covering the remaining 99.1 percent of the people? Is that included in the remaining 47.6% of the Public Health Investment Fund or are we talking about allocating money somewhere else?

Tomorrow we’ll begin with Subtitle C, “Public Health Workforce” on page 898.

Just Wondering

It’s a sad day when a headline like this doesn’t even garner a second glance from most readers.

Food Bank answers school bell

Why is it so easy to ignore this story? Do people see the words “Food Bank” and figure it’s just a story about poor people, so why bother? Are we so insensitive about the well-being of other people that we no longer have time to care about their situation?

But, this story isn’t just about poor people, or the Food Bank. It’s about the teachers that are trying to change the lives of the children in their classrooms.

It’s tough trying to teach a child when his stomach’s growling. Or when she can’t afford notebooks or pens or backpacks.

With school starting as early as next week in the metro area, Griffin and Ross were among 40 metro Atlanta teachers stocking up on hundreds of dollars of free school supplies at the food bank’s downtown Atlanta warehouse.

Teachers were given a clipboard, a shopping cart and 30 minutes in what can only be described as the ultimate teacher’s supply closet. Shelves were stacked with copy paper and lined filler papers – coveted items among teachers. Barrels of pens. Notebooks. Rubber bands. Glue sticks. Bins full of small decorative letters. CD cases.

In the end, most hauled away nearly $800 each in free school supplies from the food bank’s Kids in Need program.

Every year I read stories about teachers spending hundreds of dollars on extra supplies and snacks for the kids in their classrooms. Every year I hear about organizations that step up and try to help bridge some of the gap between the funds the state makes available and the actual cost of running a classroom. Every year I hear about “how generous” our governor is for giving teachers a $100 gift card to help with their expenses. Don’t even get me started on the fact that teachers can only write off $250 in supply costs on their income taxes.

It’s time something was done about this. When the food bank has to step up and dole out almost $800 per teacher, it’s well past time to look at the system and start making these school districts accountable for the money they spend. They sure aren’t spending it on the students.

We all know the public school system is in trouble. The evidence is in the test scores year after year. Just imagine what would happen if school districts were forced to start spending money on educating students, instead of lining the pockets of the very administrators who are responsible for the problem in the first place.

Imagine what they could do if they actually spent the money on making an effort to teach the children.

What would happen if they stopped overlooking the obvious? Just wondering.