March 4, 2019

Crisis: On Health Care, Ocasio-Cortez, Boosting American Wages, Democrats vs Trump, On Brexit

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 4, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Monday, March 4, 2019.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

. Selections from March 4, 2019:
1. Don't Know Much About Health Care and Public Health
2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Shows Her Party How It's Done

3. A Bold New Idea to Boost Wages

4. Judiciary Panel to Request Docs From 60+ Entities Tied to Trump

5. "What Surprises Me Is the Extent of the Mess"
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Don't Know Much About Health Care and Public Health

This article is by Roy M. Poses MD at Health Care Renewal. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:
A major focus of Health Care Renewal has been problems in leadership and governance of health care organizations, which we believe became major causes of health care dysfunction. We have discussed how leadership is often ill-informed.  More and more people leading non-profit, for-profit and government health care organizations have had no training or experience in actually caring for patients, or in biomedical, clinical or public health research. Instead, people trained in business management have largely supplanted health care professionals as leaders of health care organizations.  This is part of a societal wave of "managerialism."  Most organizations are now run by such generic managers, rather than people familiar with the particulars of the organizations' work.  Obviously health care and health policy decisions made by ill-informed people are likely to have detrimental effects on patients' and the public's health.

However, since 2016, when we all seem to have stumbled into an alternative universe, most of the examples we have found of ill-informed health care leadership have come from politicians, government officials, and pundits.  Cases have lately been coming thick and fast, so here is our latest round-up, in chronological order by date of publication.
Yes, I agree.

I also believe in managerialism, that also happens in Europe and in Holland, which I think is basically a kind of fraud, because it consists of substituting lawyers (often children of the rich) without any knowledge of something as the top people producing that something, which to me seems a fraud, especially as these managers usually earn more than the people they replaced, who may have or did have knowledge of what they were producing.

And I am reviewing this article mostly because I am ill since more than 40 years now, as is my ex, but both of us were described as "psychosomatizers" by 27 out of 30 Dutch medics we saw, from 1979 till March 2018, since when we have "a serious and chronic disease", as my ex and I (both of us are psychologists, and became so while ill) have tried to convince Dutch medics of, without any result. (See ME/CFS, for that is what my ex and I have.)

Also, while I like Poses MD and Health Care Renewal, after having faced 30 Dutch medics of which 27 were grossly incompetent, I insist it is not only managerial types at the head of many businesses, including health businesses, but it are also the medical doctors themselves who are incompetent - and in Holland medics now are "educated" in half the time their "colleagues" were 40 and more years ago, and in "universities" where the average IQ is almost certainly below 115 (which is were it was in 1984, which was the last time to my knowledge when this was tested).

Back to the article, which does come with quite a few examples of sick, idiotic, stupid, ignorant or propagandizing and lying politicians and lawyers.

Here is the first example:
In November, 2018, the Washington Post reported,
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has been forthright about what he believes are the root causes of mass shootings. A few months ago, he blamed gun violence on children’s access to smartphones, video games and psychotropic drugs.
Instead of on the very easy availability of guns in the USA. Here is the second example:
According to the Arizona Republic, on February 7, 2019,
Citing concerns about the proliferation of erotic images online and their 'toxic' effect on behavior, Arizona lawmakers are pushing to declare pornography a public health crisis.

State Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, introduced a measure that declares the crisis and states porn 'perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society.'
In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that pornography "damages all areas of our society". Here is the third and last example that I quote from this article:
'Really, I don’t really wash my hands ever,' Hegseth continued.

'I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore they’re not real,' Hegseth insisted.

'So you’re becoming immune to all the bacteria,' Bila replied.

'Exactly,' said Hegseth. 'I can’t get sick.'
Hegseth either is totally unique, or is lying like an idiot.

There is considerably more in the article, that ends with the following summary:

We are seeing increasing numbers of cases of spectacularly ill-informed statements made by people in positions to influence political decisions affecting health care and public health.
We have proposed that ill-informed leadership of health care organizations is often the result of "managerialism."  We have discussed this doctrine, promoted in business schools that people trained in management should lead every type of human organization and endeavor.  Management by people from the disciplines most relevant to the mission and nature of particular organizations should be eschewed.  So managers, not physicians or other health care professionals, should lead health care organizations.
However, the increasing numbers of spectacularly ignorant utterances made by political figures and newly appointed leaders of government health care organiations cry out for other explanations.  One may be the increasing influence of propaganda and disinformation in the health care space.  Another may be a trend toward anti-intellectualism or what has recently been termed "The Death of Expertise" (see this New York Times review of a book with that title.)  And the extreme relativism of post-modernism, which we also discussed in the context of the current debate on health care reform, could be another.
True health care reform requires clear thinking and the input of people who actually know something about health care.
Yes indeed: I completely agree and this is a recommended article.

2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Shows Her Party How It's Done

This article is by Julia Conley on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows

In under five minutes of pointed questioning late Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) put Congress a significant step closer to getting to the bottom of President Donald Trump’s long history of alleged fraud and financial crimes.

The New York congresswoman elicited some of the most concrete information that was extracted from Michael Cohen during his testimony before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday.

I like Ocasio-Cortez, and this is the reason for reviewing the present article. Here is some more:

Ocasio-Cortez focused her questioning on allegations that Trump has undervalued his assets to avoid paying taxes; where Congress would be able to find a “treasure trove” of documents held by the National Enquirer which contain damaging information about the president; and where the committee should look for evidence that Trump has committed tax fraud.

“Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns to compare them?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.

“Yes, and you’d find it at the Trump [Organization],” Cohen replied.

Yes. Incidentally, I skipped a fair bit of Tweets because I strongly dislike Tweets anyhow, while I refuse to reproduce Tweets by obvious aliases.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

In response to the praise on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez credited her years of experience as a bartender with affording her the opportunity to “talk to thousands of people over the years.”

“Forces you to get great at reading people and hones a razor-sharp BS detector,” the congresswoman wrote.

I think this is mostly misleading, for if it were true there were tens or hundreds of thousands of persons with "a razor-sharp BS detector" simply because they also had "the opportunity to “talk to thousands of people over the years.”"

And I think it is considerably more likely that Ocasio-Cortez is more intelligent than most (though I know this is offensive to the stupid and the ignorant). This is a recommended article.

3. A Bold New Idea to Boost Wages

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

The challenges are well known: Working Americans are struggling to keep up with the increasing cost of living. Unemployment is low, but wages of most Americans have remained flat. More than three-quarters of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. Most can’t afford a $500 emergency.

There’s a simple and bold solution that would cost about as much as the Trump tax cut. But instead of helping corporations and the rich, it would help millions of working and middle-class Americans by putting money directly in their pockets.

I’m talking about expanding something called the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. And although it’s been around for decades, it can be the basis of a revolutionary change in the lives of millions of people.

I agree with the first paragraph (but I can easily "afford a $500 emergency", although this is mostly because I am quite careful with money and because I do not live in the USA but in Holland).

As to the
Earned Income Tax Credit: This is the first time I hear of it, so I inserted a link to the Wikipedia on it. And here is some more of it:

As it now stands, the EITC gives thousands of dollars to the working poor, with the amount of money they receive gradually decreasing as their earnings rise until they reach a cap, which is now a little over $50,000.

It works so well because it directly boosts the incomes of people who need it the most. Cash gives people freedom and dignity— the power to decide, for example, whether to have their car repaired or buy new shoes for their kids or save for a rainy day. 

When working people have money to spend, they spend most of it in the communities they live in. This, in turn, causes businesses to hire more people to meet the demand. It’s a virtuous cycle that lessens poverty, makes the tax code fairer, and boosts the overall economy.

I more or less agree with the above, but should add that I did not review four specific points that Reich made about the Earned Income Tax Credit, mostly because I know too little about it.

Here is the ending of Reich's article:

Presto. We create a kind of cost-of-living refund to lift the incomes of a third of Americans, the people who need it most, and we also include the working class and lower middle class. 

At the same time, we begin to rewrite the tax code in favor of ordinary Americans, instead of large corporations and the wealthy. 

Eighty-three percent of the benefits of the Trump tax cuts will go to the top 1 percent of Americans by 2027. Expanding and modernizing the Earned Income Tax Credit can help put things back in balance.

It’s simple. It’s fair. It’s necessary. It’s big and bold. Enlarge and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.

I think I agree, but I also believe that the "big and bold" changes Reich proposes to make to the existing Earned Income Tax Credit simply are too large to be realized under Trump. Then again, I know little about Earned Income Tax Credit and this is a recommended article.

4. Judiciary Panel to Request Docs From 60+ Entities Tied to Trump

This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—which has jurisdiction over impeachments—said Sunday that he believes President Donald Trump obstructed justice and his panel will issue document requests on Monday to dozens of people tied to Trump, including members of his family, business empire, and administration.

"Tomorrow, we will be issuing document requests to over 60 different people and individuals from the White House to the Department of Justice, Donald Trump, Jr., Allen Weisselberg, to begin the investigations to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power," Nadler said on ABC News' "This Week."

I say, and this is interesting and also shows the new possibilities the Democrats have now that they have the majority in the House.

Here is some more:

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller is very specifically investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any potential collusion with the Russians or efforts to obstruct that probe by members of Trump's campaign or administration, Nadler said "we have to focus much more broadly on [issues like] abuses of power."

Regarding the Mueller probe, ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Nadler, "Do you think the president obstructed justice?" The congressman responded: "Yes, I do. It's very clear that the president obstructed justice."

Yes, I agree with Nadler (and still believe what I believe since 2016: The Russians may have interfered some in the American elections, but not much, though this is an aside).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Their comments came just days after Trump's former fixer and longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohenappeared before the House Oversight Committee to offer a damning testimony in which he said: "Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great... He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself and to build his wealth and power."

Cohen was questioned by Oversight Committee members after delivering his prepared remarks and detailed a long history of fraud and financial crimes. As Nadler summarized in his ABC News interview on Sunday, "What we learned from the Cohen testimony was that he directly implicated the president in various crimes, both while seeking the office of president and while in the White House."

I completely agree with Nadler and this is a recommended article.

5. "What Surprises Me Is the Extent of the Mess"

This article is by Jörg Schindler on Spiegel International. It starts as follows (and is an interview with Ivan Rogers, who was the ambassador of the UK to the European Union for three years until he stepped down in January 2017). It starts as follows:

DER SPIEGEL: Sir Ivan, did you expect such a political mess when you resigned two years ago?

Ivan Rogers: I knew that it would be a long, tortuous and potentially conflictual process. That doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is the extent of the mess and the fact that four weeks before the deadline, the political class is unable to come to any serious conclusion about what kind of Brexit they want. Of course, Brexit is a revolutionary moment, but I have never seen a political crisis like this in my professional career.

DER SPIEGEL: Prime Minister Theresa May this week cleared the way for a Brexit delay. Is a no-deal scenario off the table for now?

Rogers: It would be a mistake to conclude that. I think there is a serious possibility that we are still paralyzed after March, with no resolution. There will then be a risk that we end up with a no-deal exit in June or July. I don't think there is an appetite in lots of European capitals to simply roll forward extensions while we are still working out where to go.

I agree with Rogers (and I like(d) Great Britain and briefly lived there, but long ago), and, like him, I am surprised (somewhat) by "the extent of the mess".

Here is some more:

DER SPIEGEL: Would a different prime minister have done better than Theresa May?

Rogers: They would have had different priorities. Immigration and the free movement of people is the central question for Theresa May. She wants to reduce the numbers of people coming into the UK both from inside and outside the EU. The consequence was always obvious: Once you end that, you can't have free movement of goods, services and capital. So you have to leave the single market. And if you want a fully autonomous trade policy, you cannot stay in the customs union either.

Yes, I agree (and think myself that May did badly and is doing badly). Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

DER SPIEGEL: May is not the only British politician who doesn't totally understand the European Union.

Rogers: This is an endemic problem. I am one of the few who has worked for the bulk of my career on European issues. British politicians don't understand what the single market or the customs union is or how the EU really works.

I am not amazed (and would be at least somewhat amazed if I had read that "politicians" do understand serious issues), but if so, then the "British politicians" who "don't understand what the single market or the customs union is or how the EU really works" should stop being politicians.

O well. This is a recommended article.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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