Sunday, June 24, 2012

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

My favorite, my absolute all time favorite, involved a spaceship hovering over a farm house. As a tractor beam guided bottles of Stroh’s Beer from the refrigerator to the vehicle above, the farmer deadpans, “Don’t surprise me none.”

What are some of your favorite television commercials? Do you like the new La Quinta spots that parody tired sales clich├ęs? Are you a fan of locally produced ads? The Cleveland market has several ads of young girls asking you to love your floor or Chevy as much as they love their daddies.

Which ads are you going to miss?

It all ends today. Local commercials were already being crowded out of the market by ads for and against President Obama, for and against Governor Romney. The candidates and their super PAC’s have an almost endless supply of money to run ads in a swing state like Ohio. But the Supreme Court decision is due today, June 25, 2012. The Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will dominate the airwaves for the rest of this year.

The Verdict? I have no idea. You will have that answer by the time you read this. The Court’s decision is just one piece of the puzzle. It is what the President, the Congress, the individual states and the American people do over the next eight months that will give us the entire picture.

The first actions will be the most meaningless. Unless the decision is completely, totally on one extreme or the other, both sides will declare victory. Both sides will treat that part of the ruling that favors the other side as an insignificant set-back that can be easily remedied. In the unlikely event, in my opinion, that one side or the other completely wins; the losing side will vow revenge and cry politics.

In any case, the ads start tomorrow. Both the Democrats and the Republicans will use the Supreme Court’s decision as the main reason to vote for their guy and the rest of the ticket.

The first victim of the Supreme Court’s ruling won‘t be any section of the PPACA. The first casualty will be the Truth. Black will become white. Day will become night. If you become confused, so much the better. And, if you are undecided and choose to stay home on Election Day, then they will have won. The hard-core of both parties, the people who are so sure, will always turn out. It’s you, the people who are up for grabs, that can’t be trusted to vote for the right guy.

So there will be ads, non-stop, till Election Day. And you will hear claims and counterclaims. You will be bombarded with meaningless statistics and weepy old people. What you won’t get is any nuance or a whole lot of truth. What will be missing are young girls that love their daddies and wall to wall carpet.

And now, a word from our sponsor.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Pack Of Wild Dogs

Your ten year old comes crashing through the door with a story of being chased home from school by a pack of wild dogs. Do you
  1. Grab a shot gun and your copy of Old Yeller
  2. Call 911
  3. Pour a glass of milk, hand him a cookie, and return to whatever you were doing.
All of the parents out there smiled and chose option #3.

However, if you child would have burst through the door and said that a dog had chased him home, you would have gone to the door fully expecting to see a neighbor’s German shepherd, collie, or great Dane.

My favorite ten year olds are Doctors Arthur Lavin and Michael Devereaux the co-chairmen of a local lobbying group, Doctors for Health Care Solutions. Longtime readers of this blog remember this group as the stage props who show up with their white lab coats whenever a politician endorses the President’s health care plan.

Doctors Lavin and Devereaux, along with their own pack of wild dogs, surfaced again in last Sunday’s Plain Dealer. Appearing, fittingly, on Page 3 of the Forum (opinion) Section, they weaved a fact-less tale of illness, greed and desperation.

It is tempting to disassemble their article one line at a time. Several clients, one a young woman with a serious insurance issue and a far more serious health problem, have already participated in this exercise. I will try to keep this down to only a few of the obvious flaws.

The plot: A forty-five year old healthy female, a middle class Greater Clevelander with a good job and “excellent health insurance”, suddenly comes down with multiple sclerosis. Her insurance company drops her. Without insurance, her doctor the alleged hero of this story, drops her. Bills pile up. Treatments fail to keep her healthy enough to work. She loses her job and ends up on Medicaid. Now the government spends $40,000 a year for the doctors to treat her.

WOW! It is too gruesome to imagine. It’s like a pack of wild dogs chasing a ten year old home from school.

She lost her insurance? How? You can not be cancelled by your insurance company due to a health condition. Was this “excellent health insurance” from her employer? How did she lose the coverage BEFORE she lost her job?

The article is filled with random falsehoods and exaggerations. At one point our creative doctors claim that women pay roughly double the price of men. The key is the word roughly as in at 6’3” I am roughly 10 feet tall. I will be happy to bore you with the specific rates of where women are more expensive than men and where men are more expensive than women upon request.

The truth is stretched beyond recognition when the doctors deal with the number of uninsureds, the difficulty in acquiring insurance, and the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Why does this matter? Even the most casual, neutral observer will see this for what it is, propaganda. And that is the problem. Most of what we are seeing is either hysteria from the left, like this, or hysteria from the right that would lead you to believe that the sick are dying on the streets in Canada. It is all so extreme and so unlikely that we start to ignore everything. It is understandable to scream “A plague upon both houses”, but the health care system affects all of us. We ignore this mess at our own peril.

There are real problems with the status quo. There are people falling through the cracks. Doing nothing solves nothing. Unfortunately, the PPACA does not adequately address many of these issues. But we will never get anything done if we are spending all of time fleeing from packs of wild dogs.