Monday, December 20, 2010

No Patient Left Behind

Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, No Child Left Behind, Health Care Accountability - gosh, our ruling class gives us so many wonderful things!

I started working as a nurse in 1979. At the time, it was a fairly good job. The pay was about equal with other blue collar jobs, like factory work and construction.

Then the attack on unions started, and out-sourcing blue-collar jobs began. In the meantime, medical care became big business.

So, now we have nursing paying more than other blue collar jobs, what there are left of them.

What is to be done?

For a few years now, there has been a concerted effort to get more young people educated as nurses. Articles in the corporate media, "news reports" on TV, advertisements everywhere, even Jon Stewart had a segment on the "need for nurses".

And, as we've been flooded with eager new nurses, ready to work for almost half our pay, we older nurses have been increasingly threatened with being fired. My old supervisor told me that she was under a lot of pressure from her immediate boss to get rid of her experienced nurses and hire new grads. She was resistant, arguing that an ER should be run by people who know what they're doing, but they made her life so miserable that she quit.

Now we are told that the new "health care" Act calls for cuts in Medicare to hospitals which don't perform up to standards.

Well, who could be against that? It's like children not learning in school. Surely we want good health care, just like we want our children educated.

How's that No Child Left Behind thing working out for you? Is all our children learning now? (As Bush would say).

That's what is coming with hospital care. They are going to base Medicare pay, on which most hospitals depend, on core measures.

Some of them are worthwhile, like making sure that heart attack victims get aspirin promptly, and making sure that people with pneumonia get antibiotics.

But there also is a Press Ganey part. There is a corporation that mails out cards to patients and asks them to rate their care on a 1-5 scale. Then they grade the hospitals on a curve, based on the responses.

So, just like schools are continually expected to improve their scores ( a mathematical impossibility), hospitals which fall below others will have their funds cut off.

And hospitals can turn around and blame their nursing staff for the problem, laying off whomever they choose. (Hmmm, I wonder who that will be?)

More and more hospitals will close, lowering the cost of medical care, since more and more people will go without.

And nursing wages will be forced down to every other blue collar worker's wages, just a couple of decades after the rest.





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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Conversation with a Non-Racist

I walked into the utility room and four of my co-workers, ER techs, were there.

Two were doubled over with laughter, one was sputtering, and the other had a pained, but game, smile on her face.

What was so funny? The one co-worker had walked into the room and announced loudly - "I'm tired of being the nigger around here". Which the two convulsed in laughter found wildly inappropriate, since the fourth co-worker was in the room, and she is African-American.

I expressed mild disapproval, and "D", the first one, explained, in her defense, "I didn't mean "nigger" in a bad way. I didn't mean Black! I meant that I'm treated like a pack mule around here".

My Black co-worker kept smiling, but it looked more strained. Luckily, her shift was over, and she got to go home.

Later, D came out to explain herself further to me. She again said that she didn't mean "nigger" in a bad way, not as a term for Blacks.

I said that she actually used it in a revealing way, that she was acknowledging that Black co-workers were treated with disrespect and asked to do a lot of work.

"No!" she said. "I've heard all that 'victim' stuff. I don't believe in that. That's bullshit."

I again pointed out that the way she used the term had justified the "victim" label.

She became agitated and told me to look up "nigger" in the dictionary. I would find that the dictionary definition of "nigger" is "low-life", not black person.

I refused. We don't have a dictionary in the ER, but I actually am quite sure that if the word is in the dictionary, it won't be defined as "low-life".

(Another of my co-workers, in 2008, informed me that Obama and Clinton, then running against each other in the primaries, had both voted in the Senate to make English a second language in the USA. I challenged that statement, and she told me she read it in the Congressional Record, and I should look it up. I didn't do it. Sometimes you just don't have to).

But here's the kicker. After we discussed it a little more, "D" said "I'm not racist. My best friend in high school was black. And I didn't like it when people insulted her. We're all just people".









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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Taxing my Patience

The farce being played out by Obama and his Merry Band of Cowardly Quislings, in which they pretend to be helplessly tied down by the Republicans, Present and Future, is too much for me to take.

How can people swallow this bullshit? Isn't it getting to be a bit much?

In order to give a pittance to SOME of the millions of unemployed Americans, they must fork over $700 billion to the very rich? No other choice? The Big Bad Republicans who are coming in January made them do it?

And Obama plays his stance as a populist standing for the little guy? This is why people call him a Republican in Democratic clothes - because he's shameless!

Let me go all Warren Buffet on these fools.

Tax me. Go ahead. Take my $300 a year, if it means restoring the Clinton era tax system.

Or, better yet, bring back the Eisenhower tax rates, when the top rate was 90% and corporations paid 49% of the taxes.

Or. Let's get real. People only care about high taxes because they are told that taxes are the reason that their incomes are dropping.

They can't do anything about their wages, or risk losing their jobs to China, or one of the unemployed. Every year insurance costs go up, but the choice is pay it, or lose it, so a lot of people pay it.

They still believe that they live in a democracy, so they feel that the only way to increase their income is by lowering taxes.

We are lied to without shame. Obama, who appointed a commission to "reduce the deficit" which conflated Social Security and the Federal Budget, then turned around the very next week and shamelessly added $700 billion to the Federal Deficit by making a deal with the ruling class to extend the tax cuts.

AND - they are selling it as a way to improve the economy!! The economy which has had said tax cuts for the last 10 years and has deteriorated to Great Depression depths!

Social Security is not part of the Federal Budget. You can look at your own paycheck, if you still have one, and see this.

There is Federal income tax withheld and there is FICA withheld.

The Federal tax is nominally "progressive" and the rich are supposed to pay more.

The Social Security tax is a flat tax, paid only by the poor, and their employers. Anyone making more then $106,800 doesn't pay ANY Social Security tax on the excess income. And on my paycheck, it's almost as much as the Federal tax, already.

So, here's an easy fix. Raise the damn federal withholding tax, as scheduled.

But make the SS tax cover everyone! As a flat tax, the way the right wingers want.

And stop taxing more than is paid out, as they've been doing since Ronald Reagan cut the income tax and raised the SS tax, using the excess to cover his expenses. They have been using money collected for Social Security not just to pay to the elderly and disabled, but to prop up the Federal budget, promising that the money would be repaid later.

Except that now that we're getting close to having to pay it back, they don't want to do it. So they lie and say that the money owed is not owed. So quit collecting it and loaning it! If a deadbeat announces that they aren't going to pay you back, why would you keep loaning them money?

If the Social Security tax were levied onto everyone, and it was only used to pay for current expenses, then we could LOWER the tax rate and still cover everyone, thereby increasing take home pay for workers, which is all we care about anyway!!

Simple solution, but the ruling class will not even let it be discussed.



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