- Navarro Watch
- River Erosion
- Massey Interview
- Whale Migration
- Hare Creek
- Encountering Philo
- Little Dog
- Art Restorer
- KZY Hexed
- Yesterday's Catch
- Empty the Shelters
- Marine Sanctuaries
- Drug Sessions
- RyanCare DOA
- Fence Sitting
- Berkeley Homeless
- Political Art
- Quilt Exhibit
NAVARRO WATCH: For all of the rain we've had this season we are not free from the effects of the drought yet. The steady, rather rapid, drop in the discharge rate of the Navarro River from 1200 cubic feet per second to 500 cfs this past week indicates that the aquifers have not been fully recharged. This flow rate is below the "median daily statistic" of 590 cu./ft. per sec. and well below the average of 1170 cu./ft. per sec. (David Severn)
THE SCHMITT FAMILY, of the Apple Farm Schmitts, lost a good acre to the raging Navarro in full rage a month ago. Yes, that's a significant loss, the largest we know of in the Anderson Valley this winter.
DEPUTY MASSEY LOOKS BACK
Interviewed by Mark Scaramella
AVA: What’s your experience with domestic violence cases and the current state of the domestic violence law?
Massey: When you have two people involved in some kind of domestic issue, the law does not really provide much discretion about what law enforcement can do. It's pretty clear in California that when two people are involved in a domestic issue — 273.5, which is a domestic violence felony, or 243(e)1, which is domestic violence with no visible injuries, a misdemeanor — it says the police "shall" determine who the primary aggressor is and make an arrest. There is no wiggle room at all. All the discretion has been taken away from the police. You cannot say something like, Go outside and cool off anymore.
AVA: We always take notice when a diminutive woman is arrested for domestic violence.
Massey: There are these cases where a small woman is involved. Often the woman starts the problem but then they end up getting the worst of the injuries. Frequently the man will claim that she hit him first. You have to try to determine the primary aggressor. For example, you might get a small woman who goes in and slaps her husband upside the face. Then the husband will beat her up and claim to the police that she hit him first. But if she has visible injuries then the primary aggressor will be the man. But sometimes that's not so easy to determine. Some guys know that they can try to claim that the woman started it to avoid any culpability or to avoid being implicated as the primary aggressor. If a small woman attacks a large guy and he leaves the house and calls the police —
AVA: But that’s not much of an attack. Why would a guy even call the police for a slap?
Massey: The law says "however slight." If she slaps him or if she spits on him — if she bumps him with her shoulder or anything like that and it meets the criteria then she could be charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. A man can claim that she started it. Other times, the man is just mad at the woman for some personal reason and wants to try to teach her a lesson by accusing the woman of attacking him. However, people don't always realize that once you call law enforcement for a domestic violence incident, law enforcement has very strict rules and procedures that they must follow. We might show up there and the man would say, Oh, I did not want her to get arrested — I just wanted her to stop bothering me. Well, I'm sorry. The law requires us to arrest her. But I didn't want her to go to jail! Too late. Once you hit that button and call law enforcement and they show up, it's very likely they will take some action. If we don't take action, then our supervisor is going to wonder why we didn't do something that is required. And if something were to happen later to either one of the parties related to that domestic incident when no action was taken, then the officer and the department could be held responsible. Domestic violence can get very volatile and people can be seriously injured or killed. Just imagine, if the officer went to a house and the woman was fighting and the officer didn't do anything —
AVA: Things like that have happened in the past.
Massey: Certainly. And then there might be a call where a man confesses to shooting his wife! What if we were out there five minutes ago? Not good. It's even possible that criminal charges could be filed against the officer for not performing his duties. This is important stuff. The laws are clear and strict and specific and it doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. The primary aggressor is held responsible based upon the law enforcement analysis at the scene. And the primary aggressor has to be arrested.
I remember a case not long ago where a female went to a guy's house. She already had a problem with alcohol. They had been out and around in town. The female got drunk. And he left — he didn't want to deal with her anymore. She got very upset that he left and started driving around town looking for him. Finally she went to the house where she thought he left for. The owner of the house opened the door. She sees her boyfriend standing in the background and demands to come in. The house owner refuses, says no, you are not coming in here. Well, this little woman pushed this man aside and runs in and jumps on her boyfriend and rips into him with her fingernails. He had scratches all over him! He was trying to keep her off of him but she kept scratching. He called the Sheriff's office and she ended up getting arrested. That case was finally finished not long ago and she ended up pleading guilty to trespassing! I guess it got a little more complicated. It turned out that the female had recently separated from her boyfriend who happened to be a deputy. I'm not familiar with all the negotiations that went on, and I don’t know how it turned into a trespass. He certainly had injuries. This was a felony domestic violence case if I've ever seen one. But it ended up being trespassing.
AVA: If you had it to do over again, would you have come to work for Mendocino County?
Massey: Not all of my experiences have been negative. I've had some very positive experiences and a whole second career here. But if I really had it to do over again I would not come to Mendocino County. I would choose another county — probably a more urban place with more diversity in the population. I probably would have felt more comfortable in that situation. I wouldn't have to worry about all these collateral issues having to do with my race. It's a big distraction from doing my job and affects so many other things in my life, my being in uniform, roaming around out there in public. I think I probably could have done even a better job if I hadn't had to worry about those race things as much.
AVA: I thought I heard that you had taught some criminal justice classes at Mendocino College.
Massey: No, I have taught small arms qualification, concealed weapons permits, and other firearm related subjects. That was with the former state drug task force chief Bob Nishiyama. I have also taught gang-related classes in local schools. I guess I might consider a class in Criminal Justice at some point. I've never given it that much thought, but it's possible. I wouldn't rule it out.
AVA: Some retired cops become private investigators or criminal justice consultants.
Massey: That sounds like a lot of work to me! [Laughs] I don't really want to get into any kind of full-time job situation anymore.
AVA: Have you given any thought to what you'll do after you fully retire?
Massey: I will be happy to retire. Eventually I will move out of Mendocino County and go some other place and settle down and enjoy what I’ve worked so hard for all these years.
AVA: Is South Carolina on your radar?
Massey: For a visit, yes. Not to go back and establish primary residence, no. That's not the way I'm thinking about things right now. Probably some place with a warmer climate, some place like Southern California.
A COASTIE NOTES: The Whale numbers have been increasing moving northward. According to the ACS/LA GRAY WHALE CENSUS AND BEHAVIOR PROJECT, numbers have switched from 30% still going south (2 weeks ago) to 95% heading north with total northern numbers off the charts compared to past years and the average.
FORT BRAGG NOTES
by Rex Gressett
I wrote a piece recently not published (by the grace of god) in the AVA in which I was very hard on the Mendocino Land Trust over the proposed big box development at the gateway to Fort Bragg, the Patton project, Hare Creek, Todd's Point.
I was wrong about the Trust.
I want to be very and humbly clear that the Mendocino Land Trust is of great value to all of us. By steady acquisition and firm management of the special places in our county, the Trust serves all of us who have the preservation of nature and the protection of the land as a first priority. In Ann Cole at the Land Trust we have a gem.
She put it to me with fatal and crushing simplicity.
There are a great many candidates for preservation, but only a few sources of funds to preserve them. The criteria for preservation are clear, like the criteria for any grant.
All of the diverse crying needs for public acquisition are rated according to an unalterable rule intended to impose a rough form of fairness on potential purchases for permanent set asides. Because of the existing access to the beach at Hare Creek, because of the houses between the meadows and the ocean, and most crushingly because of the zoning, it's not kind of pristine parcel the Mendocino Land Trust ordinarily makes a priority.
After being rude to Ann Cole, who had patiently and graciously told me all this, I called a couple of organizations that address broad land trust issues including the Alliance for Land Trusts, the big daddy of land trusts, way out in DC. They told me the same thing that Ann Cole had. Exactly the same thing.
In the unsteady business of public activism, one has good days and not so good days. I kept bumping up against my own failings in this whole matter. My commitment to opposition of the project at Hare Creek has grown. Like a lot of us, it has made me actually see the Delmar Drive land in a different way.
It is so incredibly right there on the doorstep of the town. It is sweeping, open, windblown. The ocean peeps up in the distance over the rolling hills of grass. The entire vista is big. It is noble. It is the mostly pristine realm we have been entrusted to protect.
Are we doomed as a species to remember how good it used to be before we ruined it? Is that the only song we sing? I want a cow out there — I don't want a big box. This parcel defines us as a city, and we've never really raised a finger to stop it.
We thought we did. They told us we were “participating.” The opponents to the shopping center obediently followed the California legal process. We went to the scoping session and wrote our comments into the EIR. We met in private homes and we talked on the net. We thought we were standing up against a project and in fact all we were doing was going through motions that meant nothing.
The process is not rigged; it is clearly as a matter of law utterly ineffective. But for the people in the community who care, the meetings seem crucial and the process contains within it a great many noble sentiments and reassurances and promises to the people that the beauty of California (that magical word) will be preserved. All of this we think will be fulfilled in the law of process that governs development in which we naively participate.
The Coastal Commission is committed to protecting and enhancing California’s coast for present and future generations…
The Coastal Commission acts with others to preserve, protect, and restore the resources of the California coast, the ocean that makes it the coast, and the San Francisco Bay Area…
I am sure they want to do all of that and to be protectors. I am sure they do their best, but when the chips are down, as they are down in Fort Bragg at Delmar Drive, they very much cannot be relied on to understand the importance key local environmental values have to local people. They don't know what Fort Bragg really is. If they did they would change the rules.
PHILO’S MAIN STREET: A WILD RIDE
To: Mark Suchanek, Deputy District Director, Maintenance and Operations, Caltrans District 1, P.O. Box 3700, Eureka, CA 95502-3700
Re: Plan to increase the Philo speed limit.
Dear Mr. Suchanek:
Highway 128 through Philo is a Disney like ride — a sudden curve and dive through a treed corridor, across a bridge and up — up to a sudden plateau and Lo! Philo. 300 feet of cars and buildings, a surprising and exceptional "Main Street," especially on Fridays. On that last day of the work week you can find 20-25 cars maneuvering for an opportunity to enter or leave the roadway, jousting with impatient tourists who are hell-bent on enjoying the weekend. That is the southern approach.
The northern entrance to "Main Street" preludes with a gentle climb through a tunnel of native oaks and maples, a sunlit vineyard to the left and an iconic country church to the right — a sudden sliding fall to the rabbit hole — a twisting, onrushing view of winery, auto services, a motel, trailer park, some apartments, tasting rooms, restaurant, post office and grocery — all within a total of perhaps 600 feet of two-lane highway. This sharp descent requires diligent braking to prevent serious acceleration. It can be chaotic and dangerous.
Philo is unusual in this scene and challenges that it presents to the driver. It is full of human and physical hazards. It would be prudent to leave the 30 mph signs in place.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Yesterday, these clowns tell me there's a midget inside the armor who'll smack me if I try to get into the office. Today, they tell me I have to salute before I get inside. Why me? Why am I being harassed like this? I'm good people!”
AT 94 YEARS, ADELE PRUITT IS STILL GOING STRONG – still teaching numerous art classes and still creating and selling her catalog of paintings
ONE MAN'S RANT…
Regarding John Sakowicz’s opening statement at tomorrow night's KZYX Candidates Forum, March 15, at 7 pm,
John Sakowicz <email@example.com&rt; wrote:
Good evening voting members of KZYX. And good evening to the regulators at the FCC, CPB, IRS, and the CA Attorney General's Office and CA Secretary of State, who may be listening tonight. Thank you for listening tonight. My opening statement is not a declaration, but a series of questions of the other candidates. Indeed, it's a series of questions I have for the entire Board of Directors at KZYX. Here we go. From Section 309 of the California Corporations Code (and I'm reading word-for-word):
(a) "A director shall perform the duties of a director, including duties as a member of any committee of the board upon which the director may serve, in good faith, in a manner such director believes to be in the best interests of the corporation and its shareholders and with such care, including reasonable inquiry, as an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances."
I want to know from the other candidates what is your idea of "reasonable inquiry"? What are a director's reasonable inquiry responsibilities?
Also I want to ask, is your idea of reasonable inquiry anything like requesting annual four-year line item information for operating statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements from the GM, as KZYX policy requires?
Finally, I'm asking the other candidates what measures you think should be taken if the GM fails to provide annual four-year line item information for operating statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements?
* * *
Sharon Garner wrote:
I am so tired of your rants.
Just leave OUR station alone and stay with the one you are happy at.
Sharon Garner S Squared Art Productions www.ssquaredartproductions.com
PO Box 102, Elk, CA 95432
* * *
John Sakowicz wrote:
KZYX is my station, too, Sharon. I'm a member. And a former Board Director and Treasurer. And a former programmer of some six years.
And KZYX is also the station of the 30-35 per cent of the members who voted for dissident candidates in the past few Board elections.
How dare you claim proprietary ownership of a member-based community radio station -- a station that is failing, nonetheless.
At last Monday's Board meeting, GM Jeffrey Parker failed to disclose KZYX's massive debts to NPR, the CA Department of Forestry, American Radio International, and Pacifica.
Parker failed to disclose how close KZYX came to tapping out its letter of credit at the Mendocino Savings Bank before the last Pledge Drive.
Parker failed to disclose membership numbers and how they are trending.
Parker failed to explain why KZYX has failed to make its goals in the last several Pledge Drives.
Parker failed to detail a plan for correcting and re-filing KZYX's defective IRS Forms 990 and other financials.
Parker also failed to explain to our neighbors and friends, and radio show hosts extraordinaire, Marco McClean and Doug McKenty, how KZYX decides which programmers to air and which programmers to ostracize and marginalize with their silence, if not openly ridicule.
How dare you, Sharon!
* * *
Cur Mudgeon wrote:
They don't seem like rants to me, but rather straightforward inquiries in an attempt to get to the truth. You want RANT?! I'll give you STEENKENG rant! Obviously, the KZYX "management" has a lot to hide. They have in fact been ripping everyone off for years. I stopped supporting them years ago and now give my radio dollars to KMUD. I won't even listen them now, except for Trading Time, and sometimes Amy Goodman if I happen to miss it on KMUD. As much as I dislike Marco's narrow mindedness, I do admit that he was (is) a good radio person and did not deserve to be removed from KZYX. There are many others who, through the years, (wisely) threw up their hands in disgust and left the station rather than try to reason with the juggernaut of Mendocino "nice" people and their blinder-wearing followers who give them money time after time, pledge drive after pledge drive. So, Sharon, go back and read the postings again. You'll see the truth in them. Oh... wait! No you won't; you're one of the Mendocino "Nice People". Incapable of critical thought. Personally, I will sing and dance when the death spiral finally happens. But, then, I am not a "Mendocino Nice" person. Most of them will gush crocodile tears, wring their hands and say, "Gee, those poor nice radio people."
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 15, 2017
SCOTT ADAMS, Whitethorn. Drunk in public, suspended license, probation revocation.
ANITA BROWN, Ukiah. Trespassing.
ROBERT HARRELL, Willits. Receiving stolen property.
ESPERANZA JACK-MITCHELL, Lakeport/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
ELIZABETH JOHN, Arcata/Laytonville. DUI, child endangerment.
RANDY JONES, Gualala. Domestic assault, elder abuse. (gualalaarts.org/artist/randyjones/)
BRADLEY MAXFIELD, Willits. Probation revocation.
VICKIE MEJIA, Fort Bragg. Resisting, probation revocation.
TERRY OMLER, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
RONALD VALENTINE JR., Ogdon, Utah/Ukiah. Failure to register.
CONGRESSIONAL LOOK AT MARINE SANCTUARIES COULD IMPACT SONOMA COUNTY
by Guy Kovner
Rep. Jared Huffman and environmentalists are concerned that a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill marks the beginning of a Republican assault on a national marine sanctuary system that protects 350 miles of California’s coast from offshore oil development and pumps millions of dollars into local economies, including Sonoma County.
The House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing is likely a precursor to legislation that would gut federal laws that foster protection of natural resources and habitats nationwide in a system encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters, said Huffman, D-San Rafael, the subcommittee’s ranking minority member.
“They don’t like anything that limits development or energy extraction,” Huffman said, regarding the intent of Republicans who control Congress. “There’s a huge exuberance right now on the Republican side to pass legislation,” he said. “Right now they are firing live ammunition.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican who chairs the subcommittee, said the hearing will focus on “the real life impacts” of marine monuments and sanctuaries on communities that depend on their natural resources.
“The federal government simply does not know better than the people on land, on the docks or in the water,” Lamborn said in an email. “Our agencies need to work with local officials, industry and all stakeholders as they are the ones that will directly benefit from, or bear the burden of these closed areas.”
The 19-member subcommittee includes 11 Republicans and eight Democrats and overall eight members are from California (three Republicans and five Democrats).
Huffman, a former environmental attorney, said there is nothing to prevent Congress and President Trump from removing properties from the list of sanctuaries or marine monuments.
Two protected zones — the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries — were more than doubled in 2015 and now cover nearly 4,600 square miles from just outside the mouth of San Francisco Bay to Point Arena in Mendocino County.
A government report last year said visitors to the Greater Farallones sanctuary in 2011 spent $86 million, boosting local businesses and generating more than 1,000 jobs.
A third sanctuary extends south to Cambria in San Luis Obispo County, and another sanctuary surrounds the Channel Islands.
In 2014, Point Arena held a community celebration over the addition of a 1,665-acre shoreline tract to the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument, culminating a 2 1/2-year grassroots campaign to protect the lands.
The subcommittee hearing’s title — “Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries” — seems innocuous, Huffman said, but “the agenda behind it is a little more direct.”
Republicans have long had their eye on the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, granting the president broad powers to create national monuments on federal lands, Huffman said.
“But they are walking into a political buzzsaw with this issue,” Huffman said. “There is a broad national constituency for these protections.”
Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, an offshore oil drilling opponent since the 1970s, shares Huffman’s concern over the significance of Wednesday’s hearing.
Protections for the ocean are “now under attack like we’ve never seen before,” he said. “We’re not taking this lightly. This is getting very close to the heart of the North Coast.”
Charter, a senior fellow with the Ocean Foundation, an international environmental nonprofit, said there is no precedent for undoing a marine sanctuary designation.
If it were undertaken now, he said, there would be a legal challenge lasting longer than the Trump administration.
Marine sanctuaries are now the North Coast’s only protection against energy development, he said.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has generated a popular and profitable tourist industry for Alpena, Michigan on the edge of Lake Huron, contradicting the notion that such protections cause economic loss, Charter said.
John Bruno, a biologist at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will be the Democrats’ witness at the hearing. In an interview, Bruno said he would describe the economic and recreational benefits of marine preserves.
He also believes the Republicans intend to roll back such protections.
“I think that’s the ultimate goal,” Bruno said.
Huffman will not attend the hearing because he was unable to arrange travel back to Washington because of the winter storm and canceled flights.
Lamborn, who was elected to Congress in 2006, has a lifetime 4 percent score from the League of Conservation Voters. He received $213,500 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry between 2005 and 2014, according to Ballotpedia.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS ‘HYPED’ AND ‘SLIGHTLY LESS AWFUL’ THAN HEROIN
by Oscar Pascual
Jeff Sessions has made it clear that he’s not a fan of marijuana, medical or otherwise.
The U.S. Attorney General on Wednesday delivered a speech to law enforcement officials in Richmond, VA that included several anti-marijuana comments and a sentiment to ramp up the War on Drugs, reports the Washington Post.
“I am determined that this country will not go backwards,” Sessions said before stating opinions that belong in the 1950s:
“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
Sessions further doubled down on his “unfashionable” beliefs by suggesting a return to the failed Drug War policies of the Reagan era by bringing back drug abstinence campaigns and “hammering” drug dealers and offenders.
“We have too much of a tolerance for drug use,” Sessions said. “We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no.’ There’s no excuse for this, it’s not recreational. Lives are at stake, and we’re not going to worry about being fashionable.”
The cherry on top of Sessions’ reefer madness was a tidbit given to reporters after his speech, where he asserted that he was “dubious” of the importance of medical cannabis.
“Medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much,” Sessions told reporters.
Meanwhile, in the fashionable land of facts and empirical data, the War on Drugs has been a complete failure, opioid-related overdoses have seen a dramatic reduction in states with legal medical pot, and medical cannabis continues to save the lives of children, athletes, and war veterans.
* * *
On line reactions:
(1) I don't know, man. I know my day is slightly less awful when I'm baked. The scotch helps. It's helping right now. The scotch. I ain't home yet.
(2) I have a pre-employment drug test coming up soon, and everyone I know do this: I have to quit smoking for a few weeks. The joke is, I can slam an eight ball of coke while shooting up on a Saturday and be squeeky clean by Tuesday. If I smoked a joint, however, bye bye job. I could drive wasted to the clinic, pop a quaalude while waiting and still pass, all in a state where weed is 100% legal.
‘RYANCARE’ DEAD ON ARRIVAL: CAN WE PLEASE NOW TRY SINGLE PAYER?
by Ellen Brown
The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans… We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.
— Donald Trump, The America We Deserve (2000)
The new American Health Care Act has been unveiled, and it has been pronounced an even greater disaster than Obamacare. Dubbed “Ryancare” or “Trumpcare” (over the objection of White House staff), the Republican health care bill is under attack from all sides, with even conservative leaders calling it “Obamacare Lite”, “bad policy”, a “warmed-over substitute,” and “dead on arrival.”
The problem with both bills is that they are trying to fund a bloated, inefficient, and overpriced medical system with dwindling taxpayer funds, without capping its costs. US healthcare costs in 2016 averaged $10,345 per person, for a total of $3.35 trillion dollars, a full 18 percent of the entire economy, twice as much as in other industrialized countries.
Ross Perot, who ran for president in 1992, had the right idea: he said all we have to do is to look at other countries that have better health care at lower cost and copy them.
So which industrialized countries do it better than the US? The answer is, all of them. They all not only provide healthcare for the entirepopulation at about half the cost, but they get better health outcomes than in the US. Their citizens have longer lifespans, fewer infant mortalities and less chronic disease.
President Trump, who is all about getting the most bang for the buck, should love that.
Hard to Argue with Success
The secret to the success of these more efficient systems is that they control medical costs. According to T. R. Reid in The Healing of America, they follow one of three models: the “Bismarck model” established in Germany, in which health providers and insurers are private but insurers are not allowed to make a profit; the “Beveridge model” adopted in Britain, where most healthcare providers work as government employees and the government acts as the single payer for all health services; and the Canadian model, which is a single-payer system but the healthcare providers are mostly private.
A single government payer can negotiate much lower drug prices – about half what we pay in the US – and lower hospital prices. Single-payer is also much easier to administer. Cutting out the paperwork can save 30 percent on the cost of insurance. According to a May 2016 post by Physicians for a National Health Program:
Per capita, the U.S. spends three times as much for health care as the U.K., whose taxpayer-funded National Health Service provides health care to citizens without additional charges or co-pays. In 2013, U.S. taxpayers footed the bill for 64.3 percent of U.S. health care — about $1.9 trillion. Yet in the U.S. nearly 30 million of our citizens still lack any form of insurance coverage.
The for-profit U.S. health care system is corrupt, dysfunctional and deadly. In Canada, only 1.5 percent of health care costs are devoted to administration of its single-payer system. In the U.S., 31 percent of health care expenditures flow to the private insurance industry. Americans pay far more for prescription drugs. Last year, CNN reported, Americans paid nearly 10 times as much for prescription Nexium as it cost in the Netherlands.
Single payer, or Medicare for All, is the system proposed in 2016 by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. It is also the system endorsed by Donald Trump in his book The America We Deserve. Mr. Trump confirmed his admiration for that approach in January 2015, when he said on David Letterman:
A friend of mine was in Scotland recently. He got very, very sick. They took him by ambulance and he was there for four days. He was really in trouble, and they released him and he said, ‘Where do I pay?’ And they said, ‘There’s no charge.’ Not only that, he said it was like great doctors, great care. I mean we could have a great system in this country.
Despite what you may have heard in the presidential debates, the single-payer plan of Bernie Sanders would not have bankrupted the government. To the contrary, according to research by University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Gerald Friedman, it would have generated substantial savings:
Under the single-payer system envisioned by “The Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act” (H.R. 676), the U.S. could save $592 billion – $476 billion by eliminating administrative waste associated with the private insurance industry and $116 billion by reducing drug prices…
According to OECD health data, in 2013 the British were getting their healthcare for $3,364 per capita annually; the Germans for $4,920; the French for $4,361; and the Japanese for $3,713. The tab for Americans was $9,086, at least double the others. With single-payer at the OECD average of $3,661 and a population of 322 million, we should be able to cover all our healthcare for under $1.2 trillion annually – well under half what we are paying now.
That is true in theory; but governments at all levels in the US already spend $1.6 trillion for healthcare, which goes mainly to Medicare and Medicaid and covers only 17 percent of the population. Where is the discrepancy?
For one thing, Medicare and Medicaid could be had for less than we are paying now. Our single-payer plans are more expensive than in other countries, because the US government has been prevented from negotiating drug and hospital costs to the extent done elsewhere. In January, a bill put forth by Sen. Sanders to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada was voted down. Sanders is now planning to introduce a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, for which he is hoping for the support of the president. Trump indicated throughout his presidential campaign that he would support that approach, and said in January that the pharmaceutical industry is “getting away with murder” because of what it charges the government.
Medicare costs are also higher than in single-payer countries because we use more medical technology, including more expensive diagnostic equipment. Tests must be run to recoup those costs, whether or not the patients really need them.
Why Is Our Collective Health Worse Than in Other Countries?
Drug and technology costs aside, the US tab seems to be higher than elsewhere just because Americans are sicker than people in other industrialized countries. We have shorter life spans and more chronic disease, despite the most expensive healthcare in the world. Forty-eight percent of U.S. men and 38% of women can now look forward to getting cancer. A third of American children suffer from chronic disease, eight percent suffer from serious food allergies, 10% from asthma, 17% are diagnosed with learning or behavior disabilities, almost two percent from autism, and a third of low-income preschool kids are already overweight or obese. Heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, cancer, and obesity rates are sharply up in all sectors of the population. What is making us so unhealthy?
It’s not smoking. People in other industrialized countries actually smoke more than Americans. In fact the Japanese, with the highest life expectancy among industrialized countries, smoke 75 percent more cigarettes than people in the US.
It is also not lack of exercise. People in most industrialized countries are more sedentary than people in the US. Nor does it appear to be our stress levels, which are not much different from those in other comparable countries.
There are, however, several variables in which we easily outdistance every other industrialized nation. We eat more genetically modified (GMO) foods, we give more and stronger vaccines to children, and we have far more obesity. More than a third of adults in the U.S. were obese in 2012. Out-of-control obesity levels appear to be a function of the deficient American diet. Not getting the nutrients we need from our over-processed, microwaved, genetically-modified, glyphosate-laden “fast food” and “junk food,” Americans are constantly hungry. Hormones given to livestock to fatten them are also making people fatter.
Another suspicious variable is the American healthcare system itself. US medical care is all about treating symptoms rather than the underlying causes of chronically poor health. There is little profit to be extracted from quick, effective cures. The money is in the drugs that have to be taken for 30 years, killing us slowly. And they are killing us. Pharmaceutical drugs taken as prescribed are the fourth leading cause of US deaths, after heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Lured by drug advertising, Americans are popping pills they don’t need, with side effects that are creating problems where none existed before. The US is the only industrialized country besides New Zealand that allows drug companies to advertise pharmaceuticals. Big Pharma spends more on lobbying than any other US industry, and it spends more than $5 billion a year on advertising. Although Americans comprise only 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume fully 50 percent of Big Pharma’s drugs and 80 percent of the world’s pain pills. We not only take more drugs (measured in grams of active ingredient) than people in most other countries, but we have the highest use of new prescription drugs, which have a 1 in 5 chance of causing serious adverse reactions after they have been approved.
The death toll from prescription drugs is 128,000 Americans per year. As Jon Rappaport observes, with those results Big Pharma should be under criminal investigation. But the legal drug industry has grown too powerful for that. According to Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, writing in 2002:
The combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion). Over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has [become] a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, [using] its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself.
Drug companies are driven by profit, and their market is sickness – a market they have little incentive to shrink. As observed by Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association, in February 2017:
… [B]ig pharmaceutical companies, for-profit hospitals and health insurers are allowed to jack up their profit margins at will… Simply giving everyone access to Big Pharma’s overpriced drugs, and corporate hospitals’ profit-at-any-cost tests and treatment, will result in little more than soaring healthcare costs, with uninsured and insured alike remaining sick or becoming even sicker.
US healthcare costs are projected to grow at 6 percent a year over the next decade. The result could be to bankrupt not only millions of consumers but the entire federal government. Obamacare has not worked, and Ryancare is not likely to work. As demonstrated in many other industrialized countries, single-payer delivers better health care at half the cost that Americans are paying now.
Winston Churchill is said to have quipped, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.” We need to try a thrifty version of Medicare for All, with negotiated prices for drugs, hospitals and diagnostic equipment. It’s just good business.
(Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Perhaps it’s more in keeping with the artistic temperament to peddle dystopian fiction via a doomer blog, and try to effect change that way, as opposed to putting real skin in the game to make the change you pretend you wish for. There are few true winners in life. Many lucky losers, many unlucky tryers, and many more envious sitting on their hands. I don’t pretend to be a doer, or a tryer, but I also don’t speak through both sides of my mouth and try to play on both sides in the battle. It’s both ignoble and craven to put forth biweekly histrionics about the sky falling because of our devotion to a broken system of politics, finance, living arrangements, and culture and then bitch like a catty gal with a thesaurus when the system starts breaking down. Looks like that fence you’re comfortably perched on is not so stable after rocking from one side to another.
BERKELEY'S LIBERAL IMAGE in question amid homeless crisis: 'The soul of our city is at stake'
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Artists Respond to the Election
Here is a call to artists. See drop off place in Fort Bragg this Wednesday-Friday, March 15, 16 & 17 from noon—5pm. at Braggadoon, 435 N. Main Street.
From: Courage Arts Action, Mendocino Courage Campaign Re: Signs of the Times: Artists Respond to the Election Exhibit dates: May 5-31, 2017 Opening event: First Friday, May 5, 5-8 p.m. Exhibit location: Ukiah Depot Lobby, Arts Council of Mendocino County Deadline for submissions: April 3, 2017
The politics of the moment and what they mean for our nation and the world challenge us in myriad ways. Art offers opportunity for creative response and a forum for discussion.
Courage Arts Action, an affinity group of the Mendocino Courage Campaign, announces a call to artists to submit work that expresses diverse responses to the November election and its consequences. Signs of the Times: Artists Respond to the Election will provide our Mendocino community with a space for public conversation.
The art show, with spoken word and song, will take place as part of Ukiah’s First Friday Art Walk. The exhibit will be assembled around signs collected from post-election marches, including women’s marches in Ukiah, Ft. Bragg, Oakland and elsewhere. Other submissions may include newly created signs, collages, photographs and other visual arts related to the current political climate. All submissions are welcomed. Courage Arts Action retains the right to decline any submission deemed offensive. Our goal is to speak truth to power, to affirm democratic ideals, and to posit a positive vision for our county and the country.
Please email a digital image of your submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org by April 3, 2017.
Drop off and pick up instructions will be provided when artists are notified about their submission.
Dorothy Gayle Hass/Dot Brovarney
Courage Arts Action
Mendocino Courage Campaign
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March Signs Drop Off Locations
Donate or loan your post-election march signs to Signs of the Times: Artists Respond to the Election. This exhibit opens May 5 in the Ukiah Depot at the Arts Council of Mendocino County.
Ukiah drop off: March 1-31, Monday-Friday, 10-5:00pm and Saturday, 10-4pm. at Three Sisters, 112 S. School St.
Ft. Bragg Drop off: March 1-17, Wednesday-Friday, noon —5pm. at Braggadoon, 435 N. Main St.
This Ukiah First Friday event is a program of Courage Arts Action, part of the Mendocino Courage Campaign. Signs from any Women’s March locations and other marches are welcomed. Courage Arts Action retains the right to decline any submission deemed offensive. Our goal is to speak truth to power, to affirm democratic ideals, and to posit a positive vision for our county and the country.
‘WILD FABRICATIONS’ opens March 25 at Grace Hudson
"Wild Fabrications," a juried art quilt exhibit with an animal theme, opens Saturday, March 25 and runs to Sunday, June 25. This exhibit celebrates a world of animals, both real and fantastical, in which worldwide members of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) let their imaginations run wild.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.