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Let's compare private vs. public

Whenever universal or single payer health care is mentioned, those on the right always say "Oh, it'll be terrible, free market always better!". So let's do a test. Here's my replacement for the ACA

(a) We're going to start with doubling the expansion of Medicaid, paid for with other savings from ACA and, if necessary, excise taxes on pharmaceutical company profits. This doubling may not be necessary going forward, but we're priming the pump.

(b) Under the ACA, those up to 250% of the poverty line are eligible for Medicaid coverage. Those people will remain covered. For those above 250% of the poverty line, people may purchase Medicaid coverage. The rate will be the average cost for covering per person, plus 10%. However, a person's (or family's) premium will be capped at 10% of their after-tax income.

(c) Six months after this program is enacted, much of the ACA (other than the expansion of Medicaid) ends. No more subsidies, no more required benefits, no more requirement to set premiums based on cost.

(d) Two requirements will be added to nationwide private health insurance policies. (1) Every plan must have a consumer-friendly clear-text description of exactly what is and isn't covered. (2) No more lifetime caps. Instead, insurance companies may specify a cap (cannot be less than one million dollars) which, when reached, increases the normal premium (up to an additional 100%).

(e) After a year, additional services will be added to Medicaid to cover missing aspects (dental care, eyeglasses, etc.)

It won't be a full check of single payer (no mandates so those temporarily healthy may not by in at all), but at least a check of "can the government provide good health care". So what do you say, Republicans, want to prove what you've claimed?

Posted on July 21, 2017, 4:01 pm

Donald Brown

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It's time to federalize elections

OK, the Resident in the White House is all concerned about voter fraud because that special snowflake just couldn't have gotten fewer votes than Hillary, he just couldn't have!

Very well, time to federalize elections involving candidates for the US Government (President, Senator, House of Representatives) - and might as well have the state elections handled as well. Here's what I'd do.

(1) National ID card, done in a way that any citizen can get one. By that I mean, in every community, there will be opportunities to get the card without losing a day or two of wages, liberal proof needed to get one (basically, needs to be proven you aren't a citizen to be denied one, rather than you must prove you are a citizen to get one). Frankly, I'd do without it, but that's not going to fly so we need an ID done right in a way that isn't discriminatory.

(1a) The National ID card has a strip readable by a computer. You can vote anywhere and you will get your local ballot, at least for the federal offices. This system will make sure that the same card can't be used in multiple places. If someone moves, a simple system of changing their stored "home" location will be provided.

(1b) Should a holder of a National ID card later be determined not to be a legal voter, their card will be voided and no longer able to be used for voting.

(2) Every community gets enough voting places that nobody has to take a long trip to get to their voting place, enough that long lines aren't required. The polls will be open from Sunday at 6pm local time through Tuesday at 6pm local time. All voting at booths will be done with marked paper ballots which are electronically read and counted. The paper ballots must be preserved for 5 years after an election. Early voting will be provided at times appropriate to the communities served. Absentee voting will also be allowed.

(3) For the Presidency, electoral college votes will be distributed in this way: The person winning the most votes in the state gets two electors. Each congressional district is counted separately and the candidate getting the most votes in that district gets one elector.

(4) The US Geological Survey will be responsible for the drawing of all Congressional districts, to ensure that all districts are drawn without political bias. A set of standards will be drawn up and approved by a bipartisan commission, the USGS will apply those standards to draw the districts.

See? All possibility of voter fraud removed. And in the process we get fairer elections. Exactly what Trump and the Republicans want, right?

Posted on January 25, 2017, 2:55 pm

Donald Brown

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Trump - time for some debates

One of the many concerns about Trump being President is his willfull ignorance. That won't do. He needs to learn a lot about a number of issues, and not just from his echo chamber. So here's an idea that won't happen, but would be good at any time of transition.

Hold some debates.

Pick issues where there are people who disagree. Climate Change, Fracking, Trade, whatever. Find the experts on both sides (and let the advocates of a side pick their experts and presenters) and hold debates. Each side gets 45 minutes to make their best case, uninterrupted by the other. No in-studio audience (but air it on the web and C-SPAN). Then, 15 minutes of back and forth discussion, asking questions of each other and letting the other side answer. A moderator only exists to keep time and stop overtalking. Each side also prepares a website with their presentation and additional data supporting it.

Even if the President-Elect ignores what he heard and goes with his echo chamber, there'd have been a chance for new information to seep in. And should the President-Elect choose to reverse course on a policy, he's got things to point to about WHY.

Posted on November 11, 2016, 8:56 am

Donald Brown

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I still support the Electoral College

As anyone who knows me in person or followed me on any social media site, I'm not happy with how the election turned out. (Better descriptions would be infuriated, appalled, and scared shitless.)  Since Hillary won the popular vote, many people are saying "Do away with the electoral college" and there's even an end-run being tried to effectively do away with it without the public debate and messiness of actually amending the constitution.

I disagree. I support the Electoral College. Not to say it can't be improved, but I think it's good for the country. Why?

(1) We are a geographically and economically diverse nation. It IS important that the rural states with their different needs than big population urban centers get listened to. Without the Electoral College, candidates will go where the people are, the big cities, and pay little to no attention of the rest.

(2) We are a very closely divided country on the right and the left. The differences in popular vote are always, as a porportion of the total vote, very small. Elections are like trials - their most important task is to render a decision, give some finality to the process so we can move on.

(3) We are unfortunately diverse in how we count votes, and there are errors in how they are counted. You know when pollsters talk, they give "bounds of error" meaning that they know their numbers are near reality but probably not exactly right. Well... vote counts are like that too. That's why we do recounts in close elections, and even those recounts are open to error. A standardized voting system would have real advantages (particularly one setting forth number of voting areas needed per capita, number of booths, etc.) though potentially be more subject to hanky panky - and in any case I don't see that happening soon. The times when the Electoral College "got it wrong" is when the popular vote difference was VERY small. Yes, I'd say within the bounds of error.

Here's my fear if the Electoral College was ended. Right now, the election is over. My side lost and a horribly wrong person was elected, but it's a fact. Now we make plans for how to deal with the next four years, how to put pressure on Trump to limit the damage he'll do. Without the electoral college, we'd see recounts and challenges and court cases until January. It wouldn't even matter if, within a district, if the election was close. Picking up a few thousand more votes is just as good in a district where your candidate won in a blowout as a tight district or where you lost in a blowout. No candidate would be able to start a transition plan. At some point the courts would have to step in and say "The election results stand as they are" and won't THAT be a popular decision for the losing side.

Again, I don't think the Electoral College is perfect. Every state gets one EC voter per congressional district plus two for the two senators. I think ending winner-take-all is a fine idea, instead have two votes go based on the state-wide popular vote and then have each district pick a EC vote.

But if we're going to get incised about how we do elections, I'm MUCH more interested in standardizing and fixing the way we do it.

First, any required ID has to be easy to get, whether you're a middle class person who has had a driver's license all his life and a birth certificate in a safe deposit box, or a poor person who has never had a driver's license, the birth certificate was lost in a fire or maybe your parents never got one and the DMV is two bus rides away meaning you have to take a day off work to get it.

Set standards for vote by mail, number of polling places per capita, early voting so EVERYONE has a chance to vote. And an idea to consider - make it a voting week, 7 days. In high population areas, consider 24/7 voting. Nobody should have to choose between voting and working. Nobody should have to spend hours in line to vote. Nobody should have to stand in a half-mile long line to vote. We're better than that.

Use a computerized national system to track any instance of double-voting. Make that a felony. It'll be a huge waste of money for a problem that doesn't exist, but if I can get the rest I'll throw the right a bone.

And... END GERRYMANDERING. Put every redistricting plan to a non-partisan commission with a judge having to approve them. Every congressional district needs to be poportional to the state's population, as geometrically even as possible, and where possible make the political and ethnic diversity within the districts match the state as a whole.

But DONALD, I hear some whine, that will cost money for the states who can't afford it. OK, make the feds pay it. Feds pay for it, Feds run it. Our elections are worth it.

Posted on November 11, 2016, 8:46 am

Donald Brown

Two from Earth-2 - Macgyver and Lethal Weapon

There are two reboots this season. I like to think of reboots as the "Earth-2" version. (If you don't know, in the DC universe, there are multiple earths with slightly or significant differences of the heroes we know - and if you don't know, I'm curious why you find my stuff interesting.) Both of these shows have some of the same touchstones - but only one really gets the feel.

First, the good - Lethal Weapon. No, this show is not high thoughtful drama, but neither were the movies. They've created a new arc for the characters, but the same interplay, the same chemistry - and the same tendency for things to go horribly wrong resulting in car crashes, windows blown out, and usually an explosion. It's just for popcorn munching - FUN popcorn munching.

Then the bad - Macgyver. I really want to like this, and I haven't completely given up on it. The guy playing Macgyver, he's got the patter right, he shows the confidence when pulling off a Macgyver trick. But... Mistake #1 - he's got a team as opposed to Mac going into a situation alone. Mistake #2 - Mac hates guns, won't use them. In one episode of the old series, he got a gun and disassembled it to use the parts. Earth-2's Mac doesn't like guns either - but that's OK, one of his teammates is a young Jack Dalton who always carries multiple guns and uses them with abandon.

But biggest mistake - in the pilot his girlfriend is on the team, but things go wrong and she's shot - except whoops, she wasn't really, she was in on the plot and so Mac's got a tragic backstory and is looking to track her down. Wrong. Mac has a settled mind, usually, so sees the solutions no one else does, how to put things together no one else can. He's got some history that on rare ocassions arises - but it's the exception as opposed to the norm. The real Mac is a happy geek making things happen.

And yet... there are bits where they get it just right. When recruiting a hacker from jail, he describes his role as "That stuff you do with computers? I do it with everything else." So I'm still watching it. But the towel waiting to be thrown in.

Posted on October 15, 2016, 2:39 pm

Donald Brown

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