What a shameful way we finance health care in America! United Health Group (UHG) lost financial ground a little bit in the first quarter of 2014. Isn’t that a shame? The company alleges that this was due to the continuing application of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is the UHG that has mushroomed to enormous size and profit, generated by government dollars. Wasn’t UHG one of the favored 20 or so companies approved to jump into the newly created and ultimately lucrative senior drug coverage industry in 2004? Hasn’t it grown by leaps and bounds ever since?
Good government is all around us. Just look for it. You don’t have to look very far. We are among the most fortunate inhabitants on Earth, just because of the level and type of government we have in this country. Certainly it has innumerable examples of fault and omission, but overall we have a government to be thankful for.
Let us not fall in with those creating a hullabaloo over rebates this year. We are in the recently rare status of state government taking in more dollars than are budgeted for payment this year. Most of us consider that a delightful and welcome dilemma to be in. Some of us would leave it at that. Others, however — legislators fom both sides, but particularly Republican — are clamoring for rebates to us taxpayers. This writer votes “no” to rebates.
For the past nearly two weeks, and for a few days to come, the Winter Olympics are unfolding before our eyes and ears. Overall, it is more than a giant spectacle. It is a welcome diversion from much of the mundane and negative drivel that dominates our TV screens these days. TV, a great medium and potential for the betterment of America has, in many aspects, deteriorated into a vast wasteland. Far too much of our entertainment (and programs labeled as news) are negative, often scarily so, and little is positive or joyful entertainment, and even less is informative.
Right now, three-fourths of state governments in this great nation of ours are controlled by a single political party. Almost half are Republican controlled, and a quarter are Democratic. While I like our present situation in Minnesota, this is still a disturbing trend. It is another prime example of the pervasive, excessive influence of money on our politics.
A week from next Tuesday, Feb. 4, do something most people don’t bother to do. Go to your local precinct caucus – Republican or Democrat/DFL. Take a little time that Tuesday night to seek out and spend an hour or two with your like-minded neighbors. In that small and easy way you will become a valuable part of our political process. Remember our government is us, or what we allow it to be if we don’t participate.
In a recent column I expressed hope for the 2014 election campaigns, made up of fair and open exchanges and presentation of contrasting candidates and contentions. That didn’t get off to a very good start. The self-entitled entity Americans for Prosperity gave our country, and particularly our area, a Christmas present by launching an end-of-year and early 2014 misleading negative attack on two targeted U.S. representatives — one from New Hampshire, and the other one our own Rick Nolan. Both are first-termers, facing stiff re-election challenges.
We don’t seem to have as many Christmas cards around as we used to. “Lost art” may not be the best term. Maybe it is more a lost practice or lost habit among us. The real art was always on the cards; but nevertheless, most often, the ” lady of the house” seemed to have a deeply ingrained practice of Christmas card selection and sending down to an art or science.
It was toward the end of a cold December Sunday. I don’t remember much detail, but I believe the outside chores were done. The only radio in the house was tuned to the only station that played through the nighttime static. President Roosevelt was on the air. His voice, in slow and measured fashion, sounded deep and commanding to this barely 6-year-old boy. Whatever was programmed was interrupted. The family huddled around the wood cabinet radio, listening and wondering with every word.
I share the thanks expressed by other writers at this time of year. Thanksgiving, like our recently expressed appreciation of veterans, ought to be year-around for all of us. We, in this lakes area, have so much to be thankful for. To begin with, we live in a society where we can speak out and express personal political belief and opinion with only a little fear of sanction. That is not true for many in this world. Since the U.S.A. began, most of us, whites at least, don’t lose their lives and property just for political expression, even when political losers.