Bah humbug, part 2: Bush wants to take away employer-based health insurance

I’m just apalled by the health care situation in this country. It’s pretty rare that political issues hit home to me quite so obviously, but we need some kind of real single-payer national healthcare system now. Or, since the “right now” part has already expired while writing this, as soon as bloody possible.

A little over a month ago, I sat through our company’s open enrollment presentation discussing the benefit change for next year. Not many changes, and Guidewire has good benefits (just BTW, in case one of my readers is looking for a job. It’s a cool place to work.) That said, a big part of the presentation was talking about the combination of “High-deductible health plan” and a “Health (Medical?) Savings Account”.

Those seemed like a very broken way of providing health insurance to me, and inspired me to start a post which, until now, I’ve never finished; indeed, my original intent – arguing for single payer, will have to wait. But meanwhile I wanted to share the following news story with you in additional evidence that Bush’s goal, and that of the Republican legislators who were until recently in power, was to “reform” the employer based health care system out of commission completely.

Check this out: (Emphasis below is mine, quoting is selective, and I recommend reading the whole article.)
Bush Insurance Plan Gets Cold Reception

“Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage,” the lawmaker said.

[The proposal] includes a trade-off. Contributions from employers toward health insurance would begin to be treated as taxable income. At the same time, a standard deduction for taxpayers with health insurance would be set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals

Giving a tax break to individuals who pay for their own health insurance, rather than only allowing it if it’s above 7.5% of total income seems only fair to me… after all, those of us who get it through our employers do so through either the employer paying for it untaxed or through a “cafeteria plan” pre-tax deduction. The fair way to allow people to deduct individually paid health insurance would be to do so through one of those special deductions that is separate from one’s regular, itemized deductions (as is done right now with student loan interest.)

Instead, what seems to be being proposed is just plain stupid. Fortunately, I think it is (as noted elsewhere in the article) a non-starter with a Democratic congress, but then again… didn’t the whole health savings account crap start under Clinton? Assuming that the Democratic party is on the right side of this issue ignores just how big a tent the Democratic party is, and how bad the Hillarycare proposal was (I vaguely recall my far-left friends/family calling it “corporate welfare for big insurance companies” at the time.)

If that’s not bad enough, we’ve also got the total fiasco that Governor Schwartzenegger (sp?) is proposing here in California. I’ve not been following that as well as I should, but I’ve been apalled by what I’ve heard so far (how, for example, will the individual requirement to carry health insurance be enforced? Filling the jails?) Calitics has had a good bit of coverage that I need to catch up on.

More to come on this issue, I hope.

Addendum: Here’s a link to the whitehouse fact sheet on the president’s actual proposal. Also mcjoan at Dailykos discusses this further, although with a rather different read on what the proposal means.

Toys for geeks with too much money.

Nikko’s nerdtacular Star Wars R2-D2 gear

These are probably the greatest gadgets I’ve seen at all of CES. Massive high-def televisions and supercharged gaming PCs are great, but they can’t compare to products fashioned to look and act like the galaxy’s greatest astrodroid.

Electronics company Nikko, best known for its remote-controlled cars, have announced a DVD projection system and a wireless, networked Webcam, both based on Star Wars’ R2-D2. The nerd truly is strong in these ones.

via a forward at work.

Today’s roundup.

1) Fun with google suggest.

2) Good commentary on drug legalization.
Prohibition: a crippling habit

There is only one way to end the misery of addiction revealed by the investigation into the Ipswich murders: legalise the drugs.

…the comments are as much worth reading as the article.

3) Via RASSF:

4) Also via RASSF, alternate possibilities for the upcoming Hobbit film:

“Spelling! That’s where I’m a viking!”

The “webmaster console” feature on Google is interesting.

In my earlier post “I’m simultaneously appalled and amused…“, I misspelled appalled as “apalled” and at least at one point I was averaging the 8th highest ranking use of the mispelling. I’ve just now fixed the title.

This is not my only misspelling that they seem to have caught; in “A keyboard, how quaint“, I seem to be a high-ranking (or should that be “hi-“?) bad speller for “transparant aluminum.” It’s got an “e” and is spelled properly in the article I quoted. (I’ve just fixed that one too.)

This one is going into Word for automatic spell-checking before I post it; I guess I’d better get into the habit of using Firefox rather than IE7 in the future, since that one HAS spell-check-on-the-fly.

Meanwhile, I am much abashed.

Update: errors continue, having included a link but no title for “A keyboard, how quaint”

Grab Bag update.

First, saw Clerks 2 tonight. Best movie… ev… well, not quite, but certainly best comedy in quite a while and a truly fitting finale to the New Jersey saga.

Second, file under unclassifiable 100 Reasons Why I Hate My Husband; sad, but very funny.

Lastly, via RASSF, on MSNBC we get: Outer-space sex carries complications

Experts say new devices and data would be needed to hit the zero-G-spot

LAS VEGAS – Having sex in the weightlessness of outer space is the stuff of urban legends and romantic fantasy — but experts say that there would be definite downsides as well.

etc… it mentions briefly sex during Zero-G flights (such as on the “Vomit Comet”) – which has been done in an adult movie, Private’s The Uranus Experiment

And that’s all for today.

Futurama coming back?

If stories are true, WOO-HOO… via RASFW, we find that the best Sci-Fi TV Series since Babylon 5 is coming back…




June 22, 2006 — ‘FUTURAMA” is officially back from the dead.
The quirky animated show from “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening was canceled by Fox about two years ago, but will return with at least 13 new episodes on Comedy Central by 2008.

This is only the second time in television history that a show sent to TV’s trash heap has been resurrected. Curiously, the first was “Family Guy,” also an animated Fox show.

The tale of “Futurama’s” dramatic revival roughly follows that same path that “Family Guy” did.

In both cases, the shows have been successfully airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim late-night programming block. They both also turned into hot-selling DVD box sets.

“Family Guy” returned to Fox earlier this year, while last fall, Comedy Central outbid Adult Swim for the license to air all 52 episodes of “Futurama” and whatever new episodes might one day be produced.

This week, deals were inked to secure all of the original voice talent and the production staff of “Futurama,” paving the way for the series’ return to TV.

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