Monday, January 27, 2020

Sanders’ Single Payer Utopia

This is not a new essay, but after rereading it, I found it so appropriate that I couldn't help but republish it.

Like many of us, I am confused by the ‘single payer’ health plan that Bernie Sanders proposes. Health care is confusing to begin with unless you live somewhere where there is no health care at all. In fact, out of the 200 countries or so in the world, only 40 provide some form of health insurance to their citizens.

The countries that do offer health care all have a different system in place. Some have a single payer system, funded through taxes, just like the police force or public libraries. These systems tend to have low costs, because the government controls what doctors can do and what they can charge. Great Britain, Spain, most of Scandinavia and New Zealand, Hong Kong and Cuba have a single payer system. This system is what Sanders proposes.

Other countries have an employer/employee funded system, familiar to Americans. It uses an insurance system that covers everybody, is tightly regulated by government to control cost and provides bargaining power. Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland and Latin America has this type of system. Read more...

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Scentimental Journey

I drove to Paris yesterday. It took me only 25 minutes because it was Saturday and traffic wasn’t so bad. The radio announced that a snow storm would start at around 5 pm. It was getting dark and the snow gusts were starting to twirl across the surface of the highway, but my urge to get to Paris overrode my fear of getting stuck.

I didn’t really drive to Paris. How could I? I live in the suburbs of Boston. And I didn’t key in Paris in my GPS, just the name of a boutique in the next town over, that supposedly sells fancy perfumes.

As the road slowly turned white, I had to drive through a section of Watertown where the majority of signs pointed to auto body shops, liquor stores and car washes. ‘Not exactly the exotic French landscape’, I thought.

'You have reached your destination', my GPS told me. I parked in front of a small, brightly colored store with a sign that said ‘Colonial Drug Store’. Ok, I get it. It’s one of those CVS type stores where they sell cheap perfumes for a dime a dozen. I was about to drive back home, but the snow and the cold told me to go in and at least warm my poor frozen feet, buy a candy bar and then drive back home with my tail between my legs.

There were two odd looking, life sized statues guarding the door. They were clad in bright red tailcoats, knee breeches and tricorn hats, colonial era style. A homey sounding bell rang when I opened the door and once inside, the smell of freshly polished wood greeted me. Read more...

Sunday, January 5, 2020

European Traffic

I am looking forward to our next European trip, this spring. Due to illness, we didn’t get to travel much in 2019. As we get older, international travel becomes more challenging. However, my wife and I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. Unlike many of our friends, we still tough it out driving, taking trains, sleeping at small hotels and walking around foreign cities as much as we are able to, rather than going on cruises.

This year, though, we will not rent a car. We’ll spend a week each in Amsterdam, Paris and Rome, and only a suicidal imbecile would rent a car to circulate in those cities, where public transportation is cheap and efficient, and vehicular traffic is nerve-racking.

Many American drivers find driving in Europe challenging, and many American pedestrians find crossing streets in foreign cities scary.

Actually the single greatest traffic problem overseas is not that Europeans and other foreigners are wild and dangerous drivers. No. By far the greatest risk to your life exists in those countries that still drive on the wrong side of the road, namely on the left. These countries include Australia, Britain, most of the Caribbeans, India and South Africa, courtesy of the former British Empire. They also include Ireland and Japan, and a few other countries that refuse to come to their senses. Read more...

Thursday, January 2, 2020


I spend a lot of time in my head these days. I always have, because I am an insomniac. There is nowhere else to go when you are lying flat on your back, waiting for sleep to honor you with a visit. I could spend time in my toes or my elbows, but there is really not much going on at those locations, except the occasional itch or involuntary twitching.

My head at least, is a place where things happen, most of them beyond my control. I am always a bit apprehensive before I enter because it’s such a mess. There is a big sign hanging over the entrance that says ‘organizing strictly prohibited beyond this point’.

As I walk about in that chaotic place, I stub my toes against remnants of my day scattered on the floor. Did I turn the stove off? Did I put the left-over food in the fridge? Did I close my car windows? Usually, those nasty little buggers cross my mental path when I am almost asleep and with a jolt I am wide awake again, heart pounding. I am back to square one.

Us insomniacs are advised to establish what is called sleep hygiene. You couldn’t come up with a more distasteful term if you tried. No, it doesn’t mean washing the mud off your feet before going to bed, it is more on par with mental hygiene. Read more...