Friday, August 21, 2009

Health Care vs Health Insurance

I am increasingly frustrated with the debate in America today. And though nobody is going to read this, it feels good to get it off my chest. Maybe it'll pop up on someone's google search one day.

At first, the country and Obama was talking about Health Care reform.
Now, the argument sounds like we are talking about Health Insurance reform.

Let's get the facts straight here.
We have the highest cost of health care in the world. We are also the highest producers of new health technologies in the world, and the largest consumers of the "latest" health care technologies. This is why things cost so much.

Our health insurance goes up, as the cost of healthcare goes up. Now that we know the facts, lets get down to policy.

The country should currently be having 3 separate debates on this issue. (And it frustrates me to no end that we are not.)

1. Health Insurance Debate

We should be debating the merits of "prior conditions". That is, should people with prior health conditions ever be excluded from a plan, or should it be mandatory to accept all and any person to join any health insurance plan at the right cost?

We should be debating the merits of "insurance groups" vs "personal insurance". Do we think it is correct that employees of companies get special rates, or that the government should put us all into a pool, or that we should have co-ops VS, Should each individual person be responcible for thier own insurance, much like we do with Car insurance, Home insurance(when detached), and Life Insurance.

2. Health Care Debates

This one is more tricky and much harder for laymen like myself to debate. I'm not sure where the costs in health care are coming from, but I know they are increasing. Should the government be putting price floors and ceilings on health procedures and tests? Should there be more money put into preventive care which might lower our overall costs? Is there something we can be doing to reduce the actual cost (to the hopspital or doctor) which will make health care more affordable for people? There is something fishy going on with health care costs. Normally, the price of something goes down as the technology improves. But for some reason when it comes to the cost that the doctor or hospital must pay, things have only gotten more expensive as technology has improved.

3. Public Health Debates

This is an entirely different topic, which must be resolved. Is health care and public health something which should be in the realm of the government such as the Police, Fire Department, Military , or is this something which should remain private and out of the hands of the Government. Should we have governmental health industries which send out paramedics and give people surgeries when events happen? Or are these things the people need to be responcible for themselves about. Where should the line be drawn here? Is society or the government responcible for our own health?

In a perfect world, these would be 3 seperate bills, dealing with 3 major debates, and some sanity would be able to be put on the table.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My problem with the internet

I was reading this blog today

And I was reminded of why I started looking to the internet for conversations about Judaism back in the early 90s.

Back then, I sat in school, and yeshivah and found that most of the people around me just didn't want to delve into the text all that much. They didn't want to suggest new ideas, or new ways of looking at things. They never wanted to ask their own question.

Then I learned about email listserves and the internet, and I found people who were willing to have these sorts of conversations. But the problem was, they didn't want to keep shabbat or Kashrut, and it seemed that they were looking for ways out of things, and not trying to discover what the texts actually tried to teach us.

And then I found blogs like DovBear, or Gadol Hador (XGH now) and I thought to myself, finally, I'm not alone. There are other people who want to explore the texts, test out new ideas, see where things take them. They have questions and they want answers....

And that's when the reality of the internet hit me.

I have almost never seen somebody respond to the answer to thier question with a thank you. Or with a "hmm, that looks interesting, I'll have to think about that more." Nope, they just stick to thier guns, or enjoy the mockery and attention seeking and the controversy so much, that they could care less about what they are actually talking about.

The internet does not appear to be a place for real conversation like I thought it would be. It is just too hard to find the people who want to talk and reason and think. Now it's all about the ranting and the mocking and the collection of eyeballs. As one of my bosses often said, "Social Networking is anything but." It's all about "me me me", and its less and less often about the actual ideas being discussed.

We are wasting a great change in the way information is transmited between people and instead using it to stay within our own heads.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Idea for the Internet

Maybe, someday, someone with the ability and interest will read this post and the world will be a better place for it.

I am curious if all the textual scholars that I see in the internet would be able to create a new "talmud" based on the works of the rabbis from the end of the talmud until the time of the enlightenment. (Pre Baal Shem Tov)

I'd love to see the efforts of a recreation of the back and forth on topics that the talmud bavli does not have a mesechet for. For example, core jewish beliefs, laws of kashrut, pirkei avot, the "minor tractates", theology, Prayer etc. (Ramban said in the name of Rashi ,"blah" to which the Rambam responded, "bleh". Rav Karo said, "The Halacha is like the Ramban" etc. etc.)

I feel like the start of the "Achronim" goes back too far, and it's been too long since we had a new reference material of all the major and minor opinions of Halacha and jewish thought.