Time to change the national anthem and chuck the constitution: Police militarization

Photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Ferguson MO militarized police photo- Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

It’s this photo that makes my stomach turn. This is not a police force to “Serve and protect”- but a police force to deny free speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to protest.

We are no longer the home of the brave and land of the free.

When gun nuts talk about needing to own an assault rifle, because they are afraid of the government overstepping its bounds, they now have the poster photo to prove the crazies are right.

Let me count the ways that this is wrong. The idiot on the top of the “Urban Assault Vehicle” is actively sighting a target. If he had a legitimate reason to do this, all those “riot police” should be on the deck- with their weapons pointed at an imminent threat. If anyone else held a fully automatic assault rifle like that, they would be shot by the police with the excuse that they were inciting panic. In Beavercreek Ohio, you can get killed for talking on a cell phone with a BB gun in a Walmart- this is an order of magnitude worse.

The mismatched uniforms- with desert boots and woodland camouflage also make these “police officers” look more like extras on a low-budget Hollywood war movie. Why wear BDU’s at all? Are they police- or soldiers? Police officers work for us- have pride in their community, and represent us- soldiers are here to repress us. The moment you don a military uniform, you are no longer serving and protecting me, at least that’s the way this former soldier sees it.

No matter how much police forces train to use this gear, it’s not suited for police work. Good cops know their first and most effective tool, is talking to people, trying to establish rapport and common ground. Note to cops: the moment you don your GI Joe gear you throw all that “one of us rapport” out the window. If we really need an MRAP on the scene, you’d do better to let it be the National Guard in it, because after the shit storm is over, they go home outside the community- and you, well, you’ve permanently distanced yourself by actively taking arms against our citizenry.

SWAT was a bad TV show- that forever changed the idea of what cops should and shouldn’t do. It probably did as much or more damage to the idea of “community based policing” than Jack Bauer on 24 did to interrogation techniques. No, physical torture doesn’t get you good intel or accurate intel- it just makes you guilty of war crimes. Want a lesson in the Geneva Convention- ask Senator John McCain, don’t ask “John McClane”- the cop character in the Die Hard movies which also distorted the reality of what happens when most people shoot other people- even highly trained people shooting other people. The reality is, most cops don’t shoot very often, and this kind of BS isn’t why they got into policing. Any chief who orders his officers to go out with automatic weapons and point them as if to shoot- should be relieved of command.

For those who need a refresher- the United States is probably the only country that glorifies a war battle in its national anthem, and not even the revolutionary war, but the war of 1812. We seem to still be confused as to what a “land of the free and the home of the brave” means. Are we now brave, to walk in protest, facing our fellow countrymen armed to the teeth, to protect our freedoms which have been slipping away from us since September 11, 2001?

The Constitution, starts with this preamble. Read it. Then look at the photo above. Do the two go together?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Habeas Corpus- the right not to be be unlawfully detained, and to have a judge and jury determine your fate:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

When police show up with the firepower to go to war, our collective rights are being stripped from us. Those which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution).

They read in brief (from this post)

  1. Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. Right not to quarter soldiers.
  4. Freedom from unnecessary search or seizure.
  5. Due process of laws.
  6. The right to a speedy trial.
  7. The right to a trial by jury.
  8. No cruel or unusual punishment.
  9. Constitutional rights do not deny other rights.
  10. States rights

Look again at the photo above. The Third amendment specifically applies to this-

“the Third Amendment subordinates military authority to civilian control and safeguards against abuses that can be perpetrated by standing armies and professional soldiers.” via The legal dictionary/free dictionary.

Do those cops look like cops, or professional soldiers to you? They do to me.

We have a constitutional law expert as our president. Now is not the time for him to be on vacation. What is happening in Ferguson MO is a danger to the state of our union, and demands his attention. It’s time for a come-to-Jesus meeting about police militarization, because if this is how my police serve and protect, I say they are doing neither.

Right after I posted this- Butler Township Trustee Nick Brusky tweeted the following:

Why we should shoot in Syria

I don’t believe that the U.S. Military would ever turn on our citizens, although Kent State is a glaring example to the contrary, and the case of the drones’ use in far away places to kill “Americans” who had pledged to wage war on their mother country. However, when a country uses air power against its own citizens, it would be nice if someone stepped in to stop what amounts to mass murder. That time came long ago in Syria and passed. It also passed in Darfur, Liberia, and countless other countries.

The U.S. was quick to react in Libya, because of course, they had resources that were important to the petrochemical giants who make huge donations to the U.S. Congress. Syria on the other hand, only exports some oil to Europe and hasn’t exported any since 2011.

The tools of war are taken for granted globally these days, with the U.S. one of the largest exporters of killing machines on the planet. Some war is good for our economy unfortunately, and therefore, we tend to look the other way when these tools are used for oppression and suppression. No matter how much money the sales of weapons systems bring to our economy, and to the military industrial complex, these always end up having a negative overall impact on our economy when you figure in the true costs of wars. They are always a negative- from the deaths of our troops, to the increase in costs to take care of our disabled veterans, all the way down the line to where you realize the lost opportunity costs of perfecting killing, instead of forwarding the human race toward a peaceful and bountiful planet for all.

In other words, for every bomb, bullet or soldier we “invest” in- the return is negative compared to creating food, health care, education, shelter for all. For all the money wasted in the Iraq/Afghanistan war, we could have obliterated poverty globally, through humanitarian initiatives and focusing on the good in the world instead of the several thousand who were represented by 20 odd jerks who hijacked a few planes and crashed them.

Syrians don’t deserve to have their government turn on them. We should obliterate anything that can fly against the people of Syria, and possibly, if we can locate them, neutralize any chemical weapons or their delivery systems. As to threats from any other nations of retaliation against Israel for our leveling the playing field in Syria- we should unequivocally state that any excuse for an attack on Israel will be met with hell being rained on any country’s military that launches an attack. That’s how owning the biggest, baddest military is supposed to thwart aggression by others. Fear is one of the most powerful motivators.

I do not believe that action against Syria should be prolonged or ongoing, nor should it lead to an invasion or occupation. It’s just about taking the howitzers away from the guys in war against people with slingshots.

If our country would only help the underdogs at home as much as it’s willing to go to bat for underdogs in other countries, we might have a better moral authority on the world stage, but for now at least, we should do everything in our power to stop a deluded dictator the use of chemical weapons and air power against his own people.

 

Is Dayton a city of peace? A beacon to welcome all?

I have no respect for terrorists. To me, there is nothing better than a dead one. And while one man’s zero can be another’s hero, the dead aren’t coming back no matter how many episodes you watch of “The Walking Dead.”

Dayton could put itself on the international stage as the city of peace, of welcoming all, by one simple act- allowing Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers to be buried here. It seems, the thought of burial in Boston is a non-starter:

Nineteen days after Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunbattle with police, cemeteries still refused to take his remains and government officials deflected questions about where he could be buried.

On Wednesday, police in Worcester, west of Boston, pleaded for a resolution, saying they were spending tens of thousands of dollars to protect the funeral home where his body is being kept amid protests.

“We are not barbarians,” police Chief Gary Gemme said. “We bury the dead.”…

via Still no resting spot for Tamerlan Tsarnaev – POLITICO.com Print View.

I am not suggesting the city pay for it, or for there to be some sort of monumental tombstone, but that we rise above the pettiness and show the world that it is possible to look past the sins.

The story also points out:

An expert in U.S. burial law said the resistance to Tsarnaev’s burial is unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last year.

I believe we still have a potter’s field by the old workhouse. It’s time to stop letting Mr. Tsarnaev’s body continue to make news. As a country, we have more important things to think and talk about. Peace and human kindness being something worthy of discussion, even if it involves the remains of someone who never quite understood the grace of those qualities.

Boobs vs. Bullets

In the wake of the shootings, while politicians tip-toe around their positions on gun control for fear of losing their payola from the gun lobby, it seems Hollywood actors are ready to step up and say no to guns. They released a video “demand a plan” asking that we stop mass shootings.

Of course, the only problem is, most have them have been shot on film, backed by millions of dollars, shooting people with the very same guns they have a problem with in their “demand a plan.”

It hasn’t taken the gun lobby long to intercut the video a million ways from Sunday with scenes of the same stars, with their simulated violence. Hypocrite is the term that comes up next on the search as the next word to go with the search.

We’ve also heard that first-person shooter video games are to blame. The violence in video games somehow turns us into wild-eyed killers.  Yep, we’re being programmed- not even subliminally, to turn into whack job murderers. By the same reasoning, porn makes people into rapists, watching Fox news turns you into a right wing nut and watching cspan turns you into a politician.

I’ve been tiring of the screaming going on amongst my friends on Facebook with every slightest provocation for responsible gun ownership in this country. I believe in requiring training, testing, licensing and bonding (insurance) as part of gun ownership. I don’t think the founding fathers foresaw the future when guns would be so easy to use and as deadly as they are today. They didn’t foresee lots of things, and left them out of the Constitution, no mention of the Internet, airplanes, nuclear arms, etc. And they most certainly didn’t have an opinion on porn- maybe we should go back and ask them?

When I think back about violent movies that disturbed me, a few come to mind: Scarface, Natural Born Killers, Reservoir Dogs, Blue Velvet, American History X, Silence of the Lambs- and realize that all of these, have been “successful” by Hollywood standards. The same standards that give us “Ratings” that supposedly stop children from seeing films – PG-13, R, NC-17 and the former X. For some filmmakers, the NC-17 rating is actually a marketing ploy- they want it, to get more attention.

I’m currently watching the Showtime series “Dexter” where the “star” of the show is a serial killer. Yes, we’re glorifying a psychopath over seven seasons, with more to come. And, the reason he’s a killer- his mother was horrifically killed with a chainsaw in front of his eyes when he was a toddler. Yet, we’ve not banned chainsaws. No, I’m not a fan of a plan to ban assault rifles, large clips because as the saying went in my Army unit- if it takes you that many rounds to kill someone, they deserve to live. What I am a fan of is ending hypocrisy.

Why is it that we fear boobs on TV more than bloodbaths? Maybe, we need to relax the “high moral standards” on TV that show bloodbaths readily and breasts never. Potheads always say that alcoholics are a bigger threat to public safety, while potheads are a threat to cheetos. What would happen if we banned showing shooting on prime time the way we’ve banned boobs? Sales of “Fifty shades of gray” would go up?

To this day, the movie “Natural Born Killers” still makes me sick, just as much as the Newtown and Aurora shootings, maybe even a bit more. Maybe it’s time to create a killing tax- where Hollywood has to pay a percentage of revenue for every shooting in their films and television shows to help fund a victims fund? Because we demand a plan.

A responsible state

In prisons, the guards inside don’t have guns. Yet, the response of the NRA to the Sandy Hook massacre is to turn our teachers into armed guards. For a country that already doesn’t fund its schools well, and local police forces are having to cut staff to stay in budget, we’re not in a position to pay to secure every last public place just in case someone goes wacko and starts shooting up the place.

As to the wackos- we pretty much shut down all our state sponsored mental institutions under Reagan and began our problem with homelessness. It seems to be beyond our grasp that some people are not capable of functioning normally within society due to challenges in life, but, on the other hand – totally acceptable to pour trillions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan to try to make them “safe for democracy.”

A truly responsible State, would never allow its own veterans to be homeless, while building schools and roads in far away places, and funding public security forces there, while its own citizens are getting murdered by the boatload here.

So, of course, I’m instantly a gun hater, gun banner and have no respect for the Second Amendment. I want to ban guns, or take away your firepower- which protect you just in case, you happen to be watching a movie at midnight and a whack job shows up in full body armor shooting with an assault rifle. Nancy Lanza had a whole arsenal of weaponry “to protect her”- and as the saying goes, those who live by the gun, die by the gun. She was the first, but the only one who wasn’t innocent that died in Connecticut.

We live in a state where you can’t cut hair for money without a license and an exam. Last I heard, a bad haircut never put anyone in the hospital. To sell another persons home, you need a license, to drive a car, to fly a plane, to sell insurance, to practice law, medicine and to be an architect. Whom are we protecting with all these licenses, permits, tests and insurance? We even have F&I insurance for corporate boards so they won’t get sued after they rob their shareholders of their life’s savings.

Yet, to buy something designed to kill people, no license, no test, no insurance. By their nature, guns are an offensive weapon, meant to do harm to someone or something living. But, the argument is, if you take away the good guys guns, only the bad guys will have them. And to me, that’s the last straw. Live by the gun, die by the gun.

I am not afraid of a government of the people, by the people, that expects me not to have to deal with the risk of getting shot every time I leave the house. This is not the wild west, and I don’t want to live there. If I wanted to live somewhere where I run risks of that- I can go to Afghanistan and even there, I’m afraid I might actually be safer. All I’m asking for is well regulated gun ownership, responsible gun ownership. If you want to own a gun, you must pass a real training course, you must certify at least annually, you carry insurance for your gun (or guns) and take full responsibility if they are used in a crime.

As to the “bad guys” who want to have a gun and use it in a crime, or have it out in public without license, insurance and registration (unavailable to those with a felony record), it’s really quite simple- we shoot you on the spot with your own gun and destroy it. What gun loving member of the NRA wouldn’t love that? Because, they are all the good guys- who are going to save us from shooters like the one in Aurora.

And while I fully understand posse comitatus and don’t want the military to deploy here, I ask is it much different if we did put armed guards all over? I’d rather have our soldiers here than in Afghanistan, but, then again, why should we need armed guards in our midst. Even prisoners don’t have to live like that.

And one last thing, I’m pretty sure our Congressmen aren’t allowed to pack heat at work, but, I bet budget debates would be settled a lot quicker if they were. It’s time we stopped dancing around this issue and take some responsibility for our death rate from guns in this country. We banned jarts didn’t we?

Our culture of death

Dead children always make people more upset. Dead embryos, dead babies, dead kindergarteners, dead teenagers- because they had their whole life ahead of them. Tears came to the presidents eyes as he made a statement about the killings in Connecticut. All over Facebook discussions are going on about our pistol packing society. Assertions are being made that this guy had to be mentally ill to go on a rampage, that he shouldn’t have had access to the guns in the first place, and on and on.

We put these senseless killing sprees on a scale. This was the second “most successful” gun spree after the one at Virginia Tech. Of course, if we took away all the guns, he could have been even more deadly- like Timothy McVeigh and his truck full of fertilizer bomb which also killed kids and a whole lot of other people and was almost 6x more effective. Or Bin Ladens minions who killed 10x more, but that was the work of 19 people, so on a death ratio they actually didn’t do quite as well as McVeigh who would be the current kill ratio winner with the kill score keepers.

All of this pales to war. When the true professionals do it, the scoreboards have commas. Syria has managed to kill 40,000 people in their little “civil war.” I put that in quotes, because it may be the biggest oxymoron to call any war civil. There is nothing civil about putting a hole in someone- ever. When we look at the numbers of people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, we tend to only look at our casualties, not the enemies. We spend trillions of dollars perfecting and supporting systems that turn death tolls into pinball scores. We’re expected to win, and win big we do. But in the process, all we are ultimately doing is hastening our own demise.

Everyone of us has or had a mother. It’s a common denominator to being human. When was the last time you heard a mother of a convicted killer say, “thank you Mr. Executioner, for taking my child off the face of the planet”? It doesn’t happen. With every death, victim or martyr or child, justified or not, someone is deeply changed- and not for the better.

We’ve been at war for over a decade, in a place half way around the world. In Afghanistan, the way of the gun is the way of life. It’s been a playground of war for generations. You don’t need a concealed carry permit and guns are available as easily as bananas are here- even though we don’t grow bananas in our country. People don’t aspire to go to Afghanistan, unless they are going there to kill. It astounds me that people still want to come to America, where we kill each other off and imprison people at higher rates than any other “industrialized” country. Those of you reading this can rant that “we’re still the greatest country in the world” but, the problem is, one of our metrics shouldn’t be a kill ratio, ever.

I own a gun, much like the pistols used in Connecticut. I’ve always told myself my reason is that because I won’t go peacefully if my neighbors and the State decide that they have a right to round “my kind” up and send them to death camps like what happened to my paternal great grandparents in Germany. As a veteran, I know that I have no chance in hell of stopping the military from doing the dirty work, and even those of us with arsenals are delusional if you think you’ve got a chance against an infantry squad.

But a few months ago, my eyes were opened by a 9 year old in my own home, who had the idea to “see my gun” and had somehow located the place I stored it, climbed to get it’s innocuous hiding kit down, and take it out to…

The keys to the trigger lock were secure in my pocket, but heaven knows, I don’t check my keyring daily to see what’s still on it, and the next time, that minor obstacle could have been easily removed and I would have had a little girl packing 17 rounds of death in her hands and I, her sister, her mother or that innocent child might not be here today. Guns are never a good answer to problems, just an easy one.

And still, despite that experience, and all my rational thought about the subject, I still wrestle with the idea of giving up my gun. My justification these days is the tribe of misfits two doors away, who think nothing of running my block like an Ultimate Fighting ring on occasion. Just last week, the father of the brood was pounding on my parents door begging them to call the police on his own spawns. The number of calls to police are off the charts, but it seems the “no blood, no foul” rule is being applied and the penalties so far are like gnat bites. We’ve acquiesced to incivility as a baseline and set the tolerance bar too close to death for comfort.

The question is, when will each of us say it’s time to aspire to live in Mayberry RFD instead of Mayhem USA?

Did enough children die yesterday to turn our moral compass? In the 40 years since I was in elementary school, our schools have changed from places with open doors and playgrounds, to controlled access buildings with a Sallyport for an entrance?

Think about it, if this is where we’ve come in two generations, where are we headed? To the Thunderdome?

It shouldn’t take dead children to see that we’ve got a culture of death. Commas don’t belong in a death toll, But, keep counting, maybe we’ll get a bonus round before the year is up.

Limits on killing myself, but none on killing others: Aurora shooting thoughts 2

Despite supposed limits on gun buying by psych patients, James Holmes was able to buy more than a few guns and more than 6,000 rounds of ammo in a few months preceding his movie massacre. Not that he could buy a full auto weapon, but, as someone who has fired a lot of different machine guns, 6,000 rounds is a lot for a day of shooting. For instance, a Heckler & Koch MP5 has a cyclic rate of fire approaching 700 rounds per minute (although you have to take time switching magazines and worry about the barrel burning out if you were to fire that many rounds) so 6,000 rounds would give you almost 10 minutes of full auto spray and pray capability- if you could belt feed and cool the barrel- or, it’d be a really long day at the range.

I’m not suggesting that limits on ammo purchases are the answer, but, for comparison’s sake, my girlfriend has allergies that are best treated with the over-the-counter Zyrtec-D medicine. Thanks to the fact that people use them to make meth, the government has passed a law requiring her to use a photo ID, only buy 2 weeks’ worth at a time and pay a premium:

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 has been incorporated into the Patriot Act signed by President Bush on March 9, 2006. The act bans over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to make methamphetamine. The sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine is limited to behind the counter. The amount of pseudoephedrine that an individual can purchase each month is limited and individuals are required to present photo identification to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine. In addition, stores are required to keep personal information about purchasers for at least two years.

via Information by Drug Class > Legal Requirements for the Sale and Purchase of Drug Products Containing Pseudoephedrine, Ephedrine, and Phenylpropanolamine.

So, we can buy guns and ammo to shoot a bunch of people easily, but, it’s a pain in the rear to get allergy medicine. And while the process for making meth is dangerous (and therefore profitable) and people on it do supremely stupid things, we don’t see near as many people getting dead by meth as we do by guns in this country.

Just last week, in Akron, a 66-year-old man shot his wife of 45 years in a hospital to put her out of her misery. It’s illegal to end your own life, but it’s legal to buy the means to kill a bunch of other people (simplified). The very first love of my life, Katie Jones, was diagnosed with MS at 28 and had to sneak around the laws to have an assisted suicide at 32 after being rendered totally bed-ridden and dependent on others.Dr. Death went to prison for helping people self-select their ending.

If it’s truly a free country, why do we worry so much about limiting drugs but not guns? Would drug dealers need guns if they were named Merck, Eli Lilly or Bayer?

I have fewer problems with you shooting up with heroin than with an AR-15. In fact, I consider it Darwin at work.

 

 

The 2nd Amendment and foreign policy

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In the wake of the movie theater shooting in Colorado I’ve been thinking a lot about gun control. I’m going to put up some short posts to stimulate conversation and help focus my ideas.

It has been interpreted that one of the main reasons the founding fathers believed that we should be able to own guns was so that we could overthrow our government if it was necessary. I’m not going to get into the details of what constitutes “a well regulated Militia” in this argument. I am going to focus on the fact that when this was written, there were no machine guns, airplanes, nuclear bombs, helicopters, tanks, drones, heat-seeking missiles or poison gas. All of which are “arms” in today’s world. There also wasn’t an internet,Twitter or cell phones to communicate- nor satellite imagery of the battlefield in real time.

When Muammar Gaddafi turned his army on the people of Libya, we and other nations decided to jump in to help. It was the “right thing to do” to prevent genocide and to even out the battle between the populist uprising and an evil dictator.

So, considering the uprising in Syria has been going on since March 15 of 2011, and that Assad has been using tanks, helicopters and jets against people who are throwing bottles and rocks, why hasn’t the U.S. stepped in?

Is Assad a better dictator? Is Syrian citizens’ blood less valuable than Libyan citizens’ blood? Or is it that Libya has better natural resources?

If we were to rise up against our government, with our little arsenals of Spaz 12’s, AR-15s and .50-caliber sniper rifles (all popular with the pro-gun factions) are they really going to do much against an F-22, an Apache Attack Helicopter or an Abrams Tank? What country is going to step in and tell our military not to shoot our uprising? And how long will Canada’s Air Force exist when they do? You can watch the movie “Red Dawn” all you want, but if our ability to protect ourselves from our government is dependent on us owning arms, we’re outgunned. It’s not even bringing a gun to a knife fight- it’s like sending in a newborn to take on Mike Tyson.

When are we going to step in to help Syria? And when is the fallacy that owning guns will protect us from an unjust government going to stop being part of the argument?

 

 

Lifetime limits on health insurance? How about lifetime limits on CEO pay?

It’s funny, every time I suggest tying CEO pay of publicly owned companies to the average U.S. worker’s wage of the company- with a ratio of 40-1, I get scolded by the right wingers and the libertarians who read this site. Yet, it’s not their money; it’s the shareholders’ money they are paying themselves with, and other than winning a pissing contest on who can rob their companies of the most cash.

I’ve also proposed that the federal government stops doing business with companies that pay their CEOs excessive amounts. Again, I was chastised.

So, can anyone tell me how you can pay for health insurance, and then when you have a medical disaster, how the insurance company can get away with having “Lifetime Limits” on coverage? All while the CEO of the same insurance company has no problem taking home a $144 million a year paycheck? How about a lifetime limit on his compensation to match his insurance policies?

From today’s DDN is the story of a kid with brain tumors who has to count on his school to raise money to keep him alive- despite having health insurance:

It’s reassuring to know they can count on their church and community when there’s so much uncertainty. The Neals are not sure, for instance, about the meaning of the $2.2 million lifetime limit for their Anthem/Blue Cross coverage. “If we pass the $2 million mark, does that mean they never cover anything again?” Jason asked. “Even if you were a millionaire, you’d be broke.”

via Fundraising key to cost of staying alive.

There’s a bumper sticker a neighbor used to have: “I want to see the day when schools are all well-funded and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” – or something slightly shorter.

I’ve got another friend who has said that the real movement for change in this country should be guided by one word, “Fairness,” and not by political ideologies of the left, right or weird. If everything were fair, we wouldn’t have kids selling cookies to keep their classmate alive.

Universal health care can’t be as bad as this sad story. The key is to take the insurance companies out of health care altogether and actually put the money into making people healthy- not making the CEOs of these companies rich.

“Modern medicine” in America- buyer beware

How long would your business last with no printed prices?

Can you imagine people going to a McDonald’s and ordering a Big Mac then getting a bill for $300 after you finish eating it?

Or, you take your car into the shop for an oil change, and later get a bill for more than the car is worth?

No other business (except maybe defense contractors) operate without stated prices for services, estimates, approvals and the ability to comparison shop- except our “medical system.”

So we have stories like this in the Dayton Daily news today:

[UPDATE] according to a reader, there is no Dr. Stanley Edwards, but there is a Dr. Stanley Alexander. DDn Can’t get the name right. [/UPDATE]

In May 2011, Steve Mahoney took his youngest son, Ryan, then 6, to the emergency room at Children’s Medical Center of Dayton after the boy sliced off his fingertip in a door.

Doctors at Dayton Children’s told Mahoney they’d have to call in a plastic surgeon to re-attach the boy’s fingertip. But no one told Mahoney that the plastic surgeon, Dr. Stanley Edwards, doesn’t accept health insurance.

Edwards doesn’t work for the hospital. He’s one of two plastic surgeons who currently serve on an “on-call” basis for the hospital, said Chief Operating Officer Matt Graybill.

Hospitals are “somewhat constrained” in what they can tell families, Graybill said.

The same federal law that requires hospitals to treat anyone who comes to their emergency department whether they have insurance or not also limits what staff can say to families about paying for that treatment, he said.

“Hospitals can’t tell parents anything that might in any way encourage them not to be cared for there, anything a parent might construe as telling them not to be cared for at Dayton Children’s. And that includes telling things like, ‘You might have a big co-payment’ or ‘Your insurance might not cover this.’ ”

Edwards’ bill for the procedure, which included several follow-up visits, was $8,200. Mahoney’s insurance company paid $2,600 — 80 percent of what it considers to be the reasonable or customary charge for the procedure.

Mahoney said he tried to negotiate with Edwards’ office for the remainder of the bill, but was told to make monthly payments with 1.5 percent interest. He refused, arguing the charges were unfair.

via Dayton Daily News : Billing dispute spurs changes at hospital.

Not only are hospital bills outrageous, so are the ways they bill. You get several different bills with each visit- one from the facility, one from the actual doctors and then maybe one for supplies, all delivered at different times, all from people you didn’t know you were doing business with. For a profession with a code of conduct, they don’t have one on ethical billing practices.

One of the most popular posts on this site was dealing with ridiculous bills sent by Miami Valley Hospital to a friend who went there for 3 stitches. Cost, over $1,400.

My 84-year-old mother needed a test the other day according to her physician. They are on a fixed budget and she always asks how much something costs- and the lab said $300. She declines. Then a smart staffer realizes if they “code” the procedure differently, it’s covered by her supplemental insurance. She gets the test. If our health care system were truly focused on making people healthy, instead of navigating an arcane system set in place by insurance companies that have zero role in making people healthy, we might have a true health care system.

One of the big questions in the implementation of the “affordable care act” or “Obamacare” as the wingnuts like to call it, is how do we deal with people like Dr. Edwards who refuse to take insurance, yet do work without fully disclosing that fact? Maybe it’s time to color code our health care workers- if they wear white, the processes they do will be covered by the bill provided by the facility that you are in and are covered by your insurance, if they wear orange- they aren’t. In order for anyone in orange to work on you- they have to provide a full firm estimate of services before they work on you, or they are liable for their actions, not the patient.

If you wonder how this system became as screwed up as it has, one only has to realize that you can go from being a County Administrator to running a children’s hospital where a large portion of their income is from federal programs. Despite being the person who handed federal welfare money over to a convicted welfare fraud ex-con and not be held liable.

We also have the wonderful people at CareSource who single handedly have saved Dayton from going under with their income tax and sales tax revenues generated by being government contracted middlemen to distribute federal health dollars to the poor. To be in charge of a process that was once handled by some senior level government service employee who made well shy of $200,000 a year, we now allow their CEO to have her salary set by the people CareSource doles out money to (the hospitals) and she makes $3 million a year. When I wrote this post: Who’s the criminal? SCLC, Montgomery County, Caresource? I lost a few longtime friends who are now suckling at the teat of this federal boondoggle.

You can read about the fraud and deception of Reverend Trammell daily in the media, but no one questions the Queen of CareSource any more than they question our soon to be former County Administrator for their culpability in the misuse and abuse of federal welfare dollars.

This is why health care in America is not only a buyer beware, but, it’s likely to kill you with the bill.