Blogus clarkensis: Just a few observations and the occasional modest proposal. If you'd like to participate or comment on my mad ravings write to me. If it gets weird, consider that weird attracts search engines, and the site is really a test of search engines and of our system features. (Many images can be clicked for a larger version.)
Fairly unbalanced cable network outed
Thought this worthy of further distribution.

“Dear Moonbats, trolls, wingnuts, and assorted old friends and coworkers who’ve fallen under the spell of Rupert Murdoch’s vast right wing conspiracy—yes, Hillary was correct.
When you come to a lefty’s page and spew Murdoch-approved talking points, you out yourself at once. There are certain buzzwords that Rupert’s hatchet-men have resolved to promote. Once upon a time, it was the big push over a guy named “Reverend Wright.” And “Soros.” Then “death panels.” Then “Where’s the birth certificate?” Then “Benghazi.” Now it’s “hyperinflation.” And “$375.00 wasted on pots & pans as America suffers.” And “Gas prices have never been higher.”
All that up above? All those headlines? Not news. Tabloid bullshit. LIES. Every bit of it. It was packaged as news, presented as news, plastered all over Rupert’s misinformation networks as news, but it wasn’t. It was—and still is—tabloid garbage that’s carefully crafted in some dank boardroom or studio somewhere, fine-tuned by propagandists who are paid millions of dollars per year for their “talent,” then turned loose on folks like you. Folks who think to themselves; “Well, it must be true, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to say it on the news.”
And then like the good minion that you are, you propagate it.
Again: it’s NOT news. It’s bullshit. But thanks to 1) a loophole in the otherwise well-intentioned wording of the 1st Amendment, and 2) a diabolical billionaire who’s figured out how to exploit that loophole as a means with which to enriched himself at the expense of his loyal subjects (many of whom don’t know the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit), Rupert has helped to establish the most dangerous chasm between Democrat and Republican, right and left, truth and fiction, those in-the-know and those-in-the-dark in our nation’s history.
His *personal* take in all this? $21,000,000,000.00. That’s twenty-one BILLION. With a “B.” But hey, coming up with lies and smears 24/7 is hard work.
So when you come to one of my threads and mention “Joe Biden’s dementia,” or “Kamala Harris’ cookware scandal,” or ask; “When did Tucker Carlson ever lie?” You’re out. You’ve outed yourself. What’s curious, is that even though you’re obviously a committed Foxophile, you insist you’re not. You say; “Oh, I watch Fox, but I also watch MSLSD and the Clinton News Network. Because I want to hear all sides.”
You’re a LIAR. And a bad one at that. Busted again.
Here’s the deal. Do one of two things. Or better yet, do both: Stop lying to the world and yourself about being a Rupert Murdoch stooge. Say it loud—be proud; “Yes, I watch Fox News! Yes, I believe it’s actually NEWS! Yes, I vote against my own interests because Fox News propagandists have convinced me that I should!”
~ Or ~
Turn off Fox News. Try getting some *actual* news from a credible news agency. I know Rupert has convinced you that the so-called “mainstream media” is evil, but take a chance. Tune out Mark Levin and try tuning in NPR. What’s the harm in trying?
Just don’t come to my wall with Murdoch’s filth, then insist that you “came up with that all by yourself.” No you didn’t. It was methodically, slowly cooked up, then pounded into your wooly brain over a predetermined stretch of costly airtime. And like clockwork, you’ve spread it out over the Internet without bothering to fact-check a single word of it. Because you trust Uncle Rupert at his word. He has YOUR interests at heart. So do Sean, Laura, Tucker, Tomi and Judge Jeannine. They all seem so nice, don’t they? Just good white folks shining a spotlight on the evils of “Critical Race Theory” and Mexicans streaming across the border.
Don’t even think about Rupert’s $21B, and you working 50 hours per week for 50 grand a year.
Just don’t come here and lie by expecting us to believe that you’re an “independent thinker.” No you’re not. And if you aren’t after what’s happened these past five years, you never will be. You’re just a pawn doing the dirty deeds of some vile, decidedly unpatriotic scum. But you go ahead and hug your flag if it makes you feel better about your contribution to America’s demise.”

- Bruce Lindner

(Photo shows Murdoch laughing – at you – all the way to the bank.)

After Bruce Lindner quoted by Occupy Democrats on Facebook.
Build Back Better, because...
For those whining about the cost of the "Build Back Better" package now working its way throught the hand-w(R)inging process in the Congress, herewith a little help for the arithmetically challenged.

One trillion is 1 followed by 12 zeroes. Expended over ten years, the cost to each of the 180 million US taxpayers is about $1.52 per day ($1 tn ÷ 10 ÷ 180 mm ÷ 365 = ~$1.52).

The cost of doing nothing is not zero, BTW. It is equal to the cost of all the other ways society might have to cope with the results of doing nothing, e.g., coping with all the angry, uneducated, homeless persons wandering the nation's streets a few years hence. So if you're OK with that, go ahead and support inaction.

But first, consider the range of proposals just among Democrats. The Biden group suggests $3.5 tn, while the Manchin "group" suggests $1.5 tn, a difference of $2 tn.

Applying the same formula as above, one arrives at a difference between the packages of $3.04 per day for the average taxpayer. That's around $1,111 per year or $92.59 per month as "your" cost of providing the package of services and facilities (much of the money would be spent on improving infrastructure associated with public services, such as modernization of day care centers for chldren and seniors, etc.).

Either way seems cheap to me if it means that fewer children go hungry and fewer mothers have to scrounge for scraps to feed them. There is essentially nothing I truly need that can be bought for $3.04 anyway.

And if you think you are above the fray, remember that so did all those homeowners whose dwellings were blown or washed away in this summer's storms. Each of us is but one "grace of God" moment away from being a recipient instead of a donor. How will you want the nation to respond when that needy person on the street is you?
Vaccination Then and Now
Smallpox vaccinations were suspended in about 1970, almost 193 years after Geo. Washington ordered the inoculation of the American army at Valley Forge with the then-new and experimental direct exposure technique that preceded vaccination, actually infecting the patient directly and leading to an unpleasant illness and sometimes to death. Thousands were inoculated on the say-so of the single, newly appointed general, who had observed the technique during the Siege of Boston. The winter inoculation program allowed the recovered soldiers to participate in the improving outcomes of maneuvers and battles. A case can be made for an important role for vaccinating techniques in the birth of the United States.

Now the upstart Joe Biden is trying to inflict on the good people of the US a hideous vaccine that imposes symptoms so mild as to be unnoticeable in many of the vaccinated. Is he so blind to our national pride that he advocates a preventive rather than a cure. How are we to brag to our grandchildren that we survived the ordeal when the ordeal is but a trifle?

Brave and forthright citizens are resisting across the country, and I say Yes!, let them remain unvaccinated and pure in their belief that unnecessary suffering is the unalterable condition of life. Furthermore, provide them with cots and blankets, water and gruel, that they might lie outside hospitals, eschewing the false treatments of elite physicians and officials, trusting in magic sky beings and allowing others the false hope of beeping machines and filtered air—after all, who knows what's in it?

Graphic by Dawn Mockler
Elecshun Frawd!
I wonder whether the true believers have considered the arithmetic of a nationwide fradulent election. About 170MM persons voted in 2020. Thus the 3,142 counties have an average 54,000 voters who need, say, 15 minutes each to vote, meaning about 13,500 voting hours per county. If polls are open 12 hours and voting is restricted to one day, then the number of precincts required is about 1,125 per county; let's cut that in half (~600) to allow for mail-in and other voting options. So the number of precincts is 600 X 3,142 or 1,571,000. A web search returned estimates of 100,000 to one million under varying assumptions. Throwing out the highest and lowest estimates, we might assume somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000. To give the fraud believers their best shot, let's go with 250K.

Now in almost all jurisdictions, the political parties are allowed to place "poll watchers" to observe and report skullduggery. Most are retirees who cannot stay awake for 12 hours, so if there are to be two of each party on duty at all times (one watching the registration desk and one observing polling booths) and if four shifts of three hours are used, the number of poll watchers will be 4X3=12. Multiplying that by the 250K precincts gives 3,000,000.

Now assume that each polling place has a county employee serving as manager. Labor laws would prevent their shift exceeding 8 hours, so there must be two for each precinct. So that's another 2X250,000 or one-half million. Total so far 3,500,000.

Now let's assume that half of all the ballots are counted mechanically. This is done using equipment from perhaps ten commercial providers, each of which has a team of programmers, technicians, delivery drivers, installers, trainers and QA personnel. If each consists of 100 workers who service, say, 100 precincts, that's 250,000 additional persons. Total 3,500,000+250,000 = 3,750,000 persons.

So a minimum of 3.75 million people must participate in the scheme and keep the secret forever. And here's the truly remarkable part: Every single one who engaged in the schemes in the last two national elections must be a Democrat, including the capitalistic purveyors of the voting equipment, for why would a Republican participate?

Now assume that each one has a spouse, or a best friend, or a talkative child, or a worst enemy, or a best friend who's a Republican, or a drinking buddy; just one will do. And none of those can catch a slip of the tongue or spot an errant document or overhear a telling phone call. For a lifetime.

Surely the concept of 3.75 million Democrats agreeing on anything—let alone forever—lies outside the bounds of plausibility and should be enough to reject the whole proposition, but even if they could pull it off briefly, eventually their propensity for collective guilt would undo them, and they would confess. (Insert Will Rogers' analysis of the (D) party here, or post it in the comments.)

Still believing?
Keep raising the mathematical bar
Someone in a Facebook feed I look at has dragged out an old saw seeking to sever high school math from the curriculum in favor of "practical" learning like now to get a loan and pay one's taxes.

I must demur. Of course, the subjects he prefers to mathematics are all useful and practical and should perhaps be included in the curriculum. Many of us who received academic credit for carburetor repair, garment hemming, and making a wooden lazy-susan tray for our moms are still alive.

Algebra 2 is merely one topic among many despised subjects required for post-secondary education. Perhaps we should also excise geometry — just a bunch of nice shapes, or trigonometry — after all, who would ever need to calculate the volume of an irregularly-shaped swimming pool or the wind resistance of a moving vehicle? And all those languages? Auf wiedersehen, Deutsch; vaya con Dios, español!

All of his favored subjects are routine record-keeping tasks that can be learned in a few weeks and are primarily a matter of rote practice and execution. E.g., I learned the rudiments of mortgage finance one afternoon in 1975 when I set out to buy my first house. I was able to do that, because mortgage finance, after all, is little more than the type of formula learned in, yes, Algebra 2. Retirement planning is similarly an exercise in multivariate analysis using simultaneous equations (yep, A2 again). Furthermore, they can in many cases be performed by machines (aka computers). Most of today's teens will do those tasks with apps on their cell phones; if none of them takes A2, how will they know whether they're being cheated?

In contrast, linear and non-linear algebra are tools for analyzing new and unexpected events, procedures, policies and for extrapolating future options from past experience. To suggest that one can simply be substituted for the other is facile at best. Those who do not understand the mathematics that define processes like college loans, credit, mortgages, and taxes will be forever at the mercy of those who do. Trust me, your banker, your banker's boss, that annoying agent from the IRS, and their lawyers all took Algebra 2.
For decades I've wondered where my grandfather Ephraim Rees Davis got his name.

Davis, of course, came from his father's family.

Rees was his mother's father's name.

And today, by pure serendipity I web-searched the name of his birthplace, Samaria, ID, with no other text, and...

"The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of the Ancient Near East. Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from the tribe of Ephraim and tribe of Manasseh as well as from the Levites, who have links to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into Canaan, while some Orthodox Jews suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity up to the Samaritan polity under the rule of Baba Rabba. (Wikipedia)"

"My" Ephraim was the last born to his mother, and because they were a religious family from Samaria, there's the answer!

Seek well, and all things will be revealed unto you.

Another Troglodyte Meme Surfaces on Facebook
In the aftermath of our recent national spate of gun-totin' insanity, a friend has re-posted a meme on Facebook suggesting that "gun control" is rendered foolish by virtue of a comparison of crime rates in Chicago and Maine. Hmmmmm?

Apples and Oranges, I fear. Cannot let this one slide, especially this week.

Maine has a current population density of just 43.1 people per square mile, over an area consisting of 35,380 square miles, which makes it the least densely populated state in New England, the American northeast and the eastern seaboard, as well as all states with an Atlantic coastline and all of those states east of the Mississippi River. In short, at any given moment there's hardly anyone to shoot.

By comparison, almost a quarter of Illinois' population is living in Chicago due to the job opportunities there. The city's population density is 4,593 people per km2 (over 100 times that of Maine). In August, they're all riding the EL, smelling after a day's work and frustrated at every little thing, and they're inches apart.

Assume one person in ten thousand is angry or crazy enough to be homicidal. In Maine there would be 134 dangerous persons in 35,385 sq mi and in Chicago 269 in 234 sq mi.

In Maine the nearest dangerous person is thus occupying (35385/134) sq mi or about 11.5 million sq ft, or about 3,827 feet away (a mile is 5,280 feet).

In Chicago that person is standing in only 37,892 sqft or about 100 feet away, i.e., in your own back yard. If the population of dangerous people is five per ten thousand, one is sharing your bedroom.

Despite the obvious intent, the meme has nothing to do with the Second Amendment or personal liberty generally. When that was adopted in 1791, the nearest angry or crazy person (white, as nonwhites were not then counted in the census) was about 55 miles away and carrying a muzzle loading rifle that took two minutes to load and was about as likely to explode in his face as to launch a projectile.

How does gun control work? Japan — a country with which my family has proud connections — has a total homicide death rate of 0.02:100,000. It takes a long time and a lot of demonstrable training and paperwork to qualify to own a gun, and then never a handgun. The US rate is 12.2:100,000, or SIX HUNDRED AND TEN TIMES AS HIGH. The difference is gun control.
Ecclectic mix links solutions for rapid travel and Covid-19
Just read in quick succession articles on Elon Musk's transportation ideas and Greg Abbott's management of Texas. Juxtaposing them, it occurred to me that with hyperloop* technology it should soon be possible to cross TX from New Mexico to Louisiana nonstop in under an hour, making it unnecessary to risk exposure to the state's policies.

Secondary routes could later be constructed to connect, e.g., Albuquerque to OKC or Shreveport to Kansas City, or even Durango to Chicago, further alleviating the risk of contamination of the rest of the nation.

* Hyperloop is a system in which freight or persons travel in pods within a sealed tube, impelled by partial evacuation before and increased pressure aft of the pod, theoretically reaching speeds much higher than conventional vehicles or aircraft.

Bag that coal! Shovel me some clean power!
For those still flogging the dead mule of coal burning, the population of Appalachia and other coal-extracting regions of the US that is dependent on coal mining for their livelihood is now under 100,000 households, and the number of households heating with coal is under 130,000 and plummeting.

Regardless of the deleterious effects of coal on climate and countryside, there is a human toll of our botched approach to moving out of fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. The Appalachian Regional Commission has identified 78 counties across its area as economically distressed, meaning they rank among the most impoverished 10 percent of counties in the nation. Eighteen are in West Virginia and 42 are in eastern Kentucky. In Wyoming, the coal mining sector has shed tens of thousands of jobs since 2014. Hundreds of high-paying mining and coal burning jobs were lost in the Navajo Nation with the 2019 shut down of the Navajo Generating Station, the nation’s largest coal-fired power plant, after nearly 50 years (Courier-Journal).

Many people living in the former coal mining regions are being abandoned to their fate by their former employers, who have taken the money and run by closing up shop and declaring bankruptcy. There are many possible solutions to this situation. For example,
  • First, bankruptcy and corporate organization laws should be revised to require companies to pay severance to abandoned workers ahead of any disbursements to management or shareholders.
  • Second, the depressed areas should get the right of first refusal on national and state subsidies for the construction of new clean-energy manufacturing and distribution firms and for worker retraining and community redevelopment.

Two of my great-grandfathers, both immigrants, were coal miners for part of their lives, and one of my great-uncles was unambiguously exploited as a child laborer, but they moved on to other work that set the stage for me to have the leisure to sit here typing this. I know that with planning most families could follow similar paths. All of us should be willing to give a little that those who have served us well might gain a lot. From a human perspective, drinking cleaner water and breathing cleaner air is just a bonus.
Pence or Congress can do the right thing if either acts promptly
The Trump Insurrection should have consequences.

Option: Impeach. The president has sent an armed force to occupy the Capitol, indirectly causing the deaths of up to four people, whether by command or implication. Sounds like a high crime to me. In that bastion of liberty, Texas, a death resulting from a crime is called capital murder. Don't give me any BS about armament; several armed persons were arrested during the attempted coup. VP Pence becomes president for 14 days.

Option: Invoke 25th Amendment. VP Pence and a majority of the required subset of the Cabinet can take over the government by certifying that the president is incapable of serving. If you have not watched Trump's speech this noon, you should, and you will no doubt concede this is not a well man. And his beloved ploy of appointing "acting" cabinet members will work against him; such unconfirmed officials need not be included in the decision. Trump can protest and bring witnesses to Congress to say he is just fine, but in the meantime he will not be able to exercise power; that will take at least 14 days. Pence becomes president for 14 days.

In either case, if Pence pardons Trump, a case can be made for collusion, so impeach Pence, too, making Pelosi president for 14 days. To prevent what they will consider the worst possible thing that could ever happen, (R)s will keep Pence from issuing such a pardon.

During this interim presidency we could rest assured that Pence could not start a war or do anything really stupid, as Congress controls the purse strings and he would have no electoral mandate.

Do I think Congress can act? Not really. Do I think Pence will act? Not really. Do I think that is a shame? Absolutely.
Covid-19: Be your own statistician
Make your own estimate of Covid-19 impact now and in the future. Here's the method I currently favor for ease of understanding, it closely tracks the more complex algorithm from the U/Washington IMHE. (7 Dec 2020)
1. Take number of known cases* (14,748,365).
2. Subtract the number of deaths to date (281,467) giving current morbidity of 14,466,898.
3. Multiply by current death:ratio (deaths:cases, averaged over ), now 0.191 giving expected future deaths at current rates of 276,317.
4. Add back deaths to date giving total anticipated deaths of 557,784.
This estimate is independent of any particular future date.

IMHE projects 539,000 by April 1, 2021. It seems reasonable that even if the number of new cases were zero, an additional 20,000 might succumb thereafter, so the two are similar in outcome. The calculation above projects 560,893 for the same date, a variance of about one percent.

Depending on the current vaccine developments to save people is perhaps a vain hope, according to the IMHE researchers and statisticians.

Assuming a vaccine were indeed 95% effective in preventing infections, it would have little immediate effect.

Ali Mokdad, Ph.D., a professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at University of Washington in Seattle, said the vaccines won’t really impact our death rates until mid-2021 because it takes time to build up our collective immunity. Mokdad says his models show masks can save lives now and in the future.

“We are showing the total number of deaths from the beginning until April 1 to be 539,000 in the United States. If 95% of us wear a mask when we are outside our homes, we can save 66,000 lives between now and April 1,” Mokdad said.


Related info

Third Wave of Covid-19 Infections Worse than Previous Waves
Veterans Day 2020. I began reporting the progress of the pandemic in the US July 22. At the time the reporting from CDC and WHO, suggested that 244,000 Americans would die by election day and 302,000 by the end of this year. The rough election day projection turned out to be high by about 13,000. Since then the situation has only become worse.

I now use several estimating formulas that vary by which combination of current cases and death ratios (deaths:cases) is used, and I now report a range of estimates rather than only the simplest one. The number of cases is rising for the third time, and November has seen an average new cases of 82,000, the highest since the beginning of the epidemic, and deaths have averaged 846 (Fig. 1). The election estimate is now moot, of course; the estimate of total deaths for Inauguration Day 2021 now ranges from 304,000 to 596,000 (Fig. 2). My calculations roughly parallel those of major research institutions, currently varying from the CDC range for the end of November by under five percent. Univ. of WA Health Sciences projection is for 380,000 deaths by Inauguration Day; my range is from 304,000 to 596,000.

If the present trends continue, we could be looking at 20 million infections by the end of 2021, accompanied by somewhere between 1.6 and 2.4 million deaths, again depending on which combination of case load and death ratio turns out to be most accurate. This is surely better than the 66 million infections and 4.8 million deaths that might be expected in the "herd immunity" approach touted by some commentators.

Explanations of the graphics are in earlier posts. The projections are simply based on the current cases and deaths, multiplied by the remaining days to any given end, where the base is the number of cases or deaths to date, and the multiplier is either the average during the pandemic or the short term actual or average rate at the time.

I have faulted our government's response, and I continue to find it incompetent and ignorant, emanating from the top. While national comparisons are imprecise, the US surely has the worst public health outcomes in the world (Fig. 3, Kaiser) during the current pandemic with respect to infection. We are indeed fortunate to have a reserve of medical talent that is keeping our national death rate low, but how long that can persist in the face of the infection rate and shrinking hospital and treatment capacity. I consider the current leadership to be responsible for the majority of the surplus morbidity and mortality, and the willingness of so many to accept these results and vote for their continuation remains inexplicable.
Biden Pledges to End Child Separation as First Order of Presidency
El candidato demócrata y ex-vice-presidente Joe Biden ha anunciado que en el primer día de su presidencia, formará un grupo de trabajo ejecutivo para encontrar y reunir los padres y niños separado en la frontera de los EEUU y México. La dicha separación ya es en su tercer año para algunos de los estimados 545 niños cuyos padres no se han identificado, por causa de la incompetencia y falta de empatía de los funcionarios fronterizos, bajo la dirección de la administración actual. Tristemente, es probable que algunas reuniones nunca se realizarán, un resultado—en mi opinión—indiscutiblemente en las manos del Pres. Donald Trump.

Democratic candidate and former Vice-president Joe Biden has announced that on the first day of his presidency he will form a task force reporting to him to find and reunite the children and parents separated by the immigration policies of the US along the southern frontier. That separation is now in its third year for some of the affected children due to the incompetence and lack of empathy of frontier officials, all under the guidance of the present administration. Sadly it is likely that some reunions will never happen, a result that in my opinion is incontestably in the hands of Pres. Donald Trump.
Losers & Suckers?
I do not generally hold much of a brief for my father. I saw him twice in childhood, and then not again for thirty years and then nearly ten more. He left my mother for another woman and then abandoned her for a third, promising each in turn his undying love, no doubt. I was lucky to have a good relationship with his parents, who were always loving to my mother and me, and with my mother's family, without whom I might have been in reality the curmudgeon some perhaps find me to be. When 70-ish I was found metaphorically in a cardboard box of 1940s correspondence by my half brother, who turns out to be someone worth knowing and a welcome addition to my world. We often have differences of opinion, but no more than other siblings I know.

I write this in the aftermath of recent allegations against President Trump in the matter of his attitude toward military and other public service. It set off a round of thought about what we all owe one another, whether friends or strangers, as members of a society.

I find myself completely capable of believing—after observing him for these five years—that Mr. Trump does not, perhaps cannot, understand whose who give not only the last full measure of devotion, but any measure at all, full of wonderment that they do or did so and got nothing in return.

My father joined the army in about 1940, having not succeeded in any of the careers that he had tried. When he met my mother in 1942 he was a sergeant in the Air Corps. During the rest of the war he advanced to captain. Much of his service was as an intelligence officer whose duties included relatively hazardous back and forth trips by air from India to China. Before that duty he had also expanded the clan once more. He left the service after the end of World War II, and then absconded once again with woman number three.

So what did he get out of it? For himself, nothing but a bit of postwar prestige, the wife he really wanted, and the uniformed photographs my brother and I have in dresser drawers in our homes. And one more thing or two, my brother Douglas and I have fine children and grandchildren, we live typical American lives in typical American cities. We are not slave workers in some remote Japanese Showa Statist coal mine or German Nazi concentration camp, toiling in never ending global wars. He got nothing; we got the freedom and opportunity America promises its children.

I learned in dealing with the necessary labors that accompany death that he had become well regarded in his later life and had numerous friends, who perhaps saw qualities he never showed to those who had a right to know them.

After my father died, and in ignorance that I had a brother to consult, I let his ashes sit in a cardboard box at the back of my bookcase for several years, until I reflected one day on his army years. I decided then that despite his lack of interest in me, mine or his, he had once shouldered his share of the load. So I took the box to Tahoma National Cemetery, where he took up permanent residence at the address shown in the accompanying image.

My brother and I have agreed that it would have been nice to have a father, just not that one. We have both aspired to do better, and in my admittedly biased judgment we have generally succeeded.

I was once in the USMC Reserve, where I no doubt proved my lack of aptitude for military life. My brother remained in the US Navy Reserve for decades after earlier service in the Air Force, and if we ever find ourselves together in our old uniforms I'll have to salute him, which I do anyway in recognition of his service.

You may have discerned that I do not think my father, my brother or myself to have been suckers or losers. You may have guessed my candidate to succeed the person who has no standing to utter such epithets.

Converting to Publicly Financed Health Care Really Ain't That Hard
After 77 years, I'm still waiting for someone to explain why ANY of the money I spend on health care should go to executives or shareholders of insurance companies.

IMHO the German system is the most convertible to US needs. Simple overview: The states (they call them Länder), not the national government, pays the bills (few payers not single payer), and the federal government subsidizes poorer Länder. A body made up of state and federal officials in cooperation with health care professionals and actuaries makes up at least one but possibly more standardized package(s) of services, and financial management companies step up as the HMO/health maintenance organizations to administer the packages. Consumers can change providers at any time.

The difference between them is about quality and efficiency of the administrative and management service they provide; they do not get to decide what procedures are to be performed, and they do not get to advertise scary outcomes and special options. In other words if Blue Cross stinks you go to Aetna or vice versa, and no one may say No to that. The result is that in general the lousy HMOs go out of business and the good ones make LOTS of money.

This approach preserves and perhaps even expands the private sector role, and as an independent business owner, I can imagine support roles I could offer to insurance (to become HMOs).

Instead of scheming RE how to steal the other guy's customers, each provider works on how to improve service. Terms and coverage do not vary from company to company, as all are obliged to meet the same criteria. The companies get a predictable cash flow. The best insurance/HMO firms will make huge amounts of money.

The government saves by the vaunted efficiencies of the market, and relatively few government employees would be needed. In addition it allows us to move into the future one step at a time, while we debate, plan and refine the techniques while reducing political stress.

The medical establishment benefits by getting the decision-interruptors, both private and governmental, off their backs and by a more predictable cash flow.

As to the public, the stabilization of factors like annual preventive care can be built into the service plan making everyone healthier.The principle difference is that no one is locked into an employer, and employers cannot use health insurance as a club to ensure docility of their workers. Career advancement is also facilitated, as the employee can change jobs without fear of losing health care.

Our problem is not inability to conceive of better and improving health care. Our problem is the best government money can buy.

If you saw the 1930s movie "Lloyds of London" with Tyrone Power you know that insurance was a great 17th Century concept. Why anyone would want to live or DIE by it today continues to mystify.

Win, win, win!