- Teen Pregnancy and Disease Rates Rose Sharply During Bush Years, Agency Finds • AIDS cases in adolescent boys have nearly doubled • Fall in gonorrhea infection rate reversed.... Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush's evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US's Center for Disease Control, a major public health body.
- Mining A Civil War A new report says Western companies that buy minerals without checking their sources are helping fuel violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a 12-year civil war has brought mass killings, rape and displacement
- Schools Foster Climate Illiteracy Today's most pressing environmental issue is climate change. James Hansen, chief climatologist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, warns of "a potential for explosive changes with effects that would be irreversible -- if we do not rapidly slow fossil fuel emissions over the next few decades." Climate change, noted environmental writer/activist Bill McKibben declares, is "the one overarching global civilizational challenge that humans have ever faced." And yet the textbooks used in the Portland area -- texts that are playing a larger and larger role in the curriculum -- adopt a Rush Limbaugh-like skepticism toward global warming.
Socialist Health Plan? In Norway, Obama's Plan Not Even Close
by George Lakey
Published on Tuesday, July 21, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
If Michael Steele and the Republicans really believe that President Obama is proposing a socialist health plan, they need to get out more.
I've just returned from a research trip to Norway, where their universal health system really is socialist. It's also much less expensive than the current U.S. system, so maybe the Republicans would like it if they checked it out. The non-socialists in Norway support it because it works so well, especially compared with "the bad old days" of private medicine, when even the doctors' association advocated for socialized medicine as the only affordable way to make quality care available to all Norwegians.
One reason Norwegians like their system is that it's pro- economic innovation because it's not tied to the employer. Norwegians are free to change jobs for more challenging opportunities, or try their wings as entrepreneurs, because they don't have to worry about insurance - it's with them wherever they go. Economist Jonathan Gruber of MIT is one of many economists who believe that U.S. employer-tied health insurance is a drag on progress. But Obama's plan accepts the status quo even though it might not be affordable.
Norwegians like their system because it cuts red tape. The patient-doctor relationship isn't complicated by multiple insurances; if you need care, you get it as a matter of right. No bills to pay, no plans to juggle, no worry about your dependents, and no worry about your becoming a burden to your children.
Because Norwegians are practical, they enjoy saving money for quality health care. On a per capita basis, Norwegians spend $4,763 per year, and cover everyone, while U.S.'ers spend $7,290. By various standards of health quality, like life expectancy or rate of preventable deaths, Norway does better than the U.S. One key measure is physicians per capita: the U.S. has 2.43 physicians compared with Norway's 4 doctors per 1,000 population, even though Norway spends a third less of its Gross Domestic Product on health care than the U.S. does. (These numbers are from Bruce Bartlett, Forbes magazine columnist who was a former U.S. Treasury Department economist.)
While in Norway I did hear complaints - Norwegians famously believe everything can work better than it does - but I didn't interview anyone, from left wing to right wing, who would change the basic system. Maybe it's time for U.S. politicians to learn from what other countries are doing right.
London After Midnight / Sean Brennan