Monday, January 24, 2011

Finding the Good

It seems like there's been a lot of good stuff in the Pioneer Press lately. Sunday's paper had not one but two extra-large illustrations by Kirk Lyttle:

Two large color illustrations by Kirk Lyttle, one of a woman ice skating for the Winter Carnival, the of an accountant with a green eyeshade weighing money vs. a house

Ruben Rosario's column, in which he talked back to the xenophobic readers who assailed him for opposing "English-only" education, made for both amusing and dismaying reading. After starting out quoting Ben Franklin on how German immigrants were going to drive our country into the ground, Rosario ended the column with this observation from a volunteer English tutor:

"Practically anyone who has ever given even an hour of volunteer time in an ELL (English Language Learner) program knows that while English-only advocates like to preach English, they don't necessarily offer any assistance in actually teaching it," he said.

Once someone volunteers, "it's quickly seen that this is one area where demand exceeds supply," he added.
And there have been a number of articles and op-eds, some house-written, some from wire services, that have served up facts I never knew:
  • 2.3 percent of Americans in good mental health committed a violent act in the previous year. (From an Los Angeles Times article on the incidence of violent crimes among people with mental illness.)
  • "Last June, student debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time." (From an op-ed by Mark C. Taylor. More to come later this week on Dr. Taylor, who appeared on Kerri Miller's Midmorning MPR show today.)
  • The civic health (volunteering, voting, interaction with neighbors) of the Twin Cities tops that of Miami. Not a super surprise. Except "...people with more education and income engage more in civic life. But individuals in Minneapolis-St. Paul in the lowest income group are more likely to be civically involved than are people in the wealthiest tier in Miami." (From an op-ed by Harry Boyte titled Spreading the Minnesota Way) Another reason not to model our state on Florida.
Oh, and I really liked the opinion piece about our health care system by Dr. Virginia Dale from the Sunday Star Tribune, too:
To come to terms with the crisis we will have to limit -- in more inflammatory terms, we will have to ration -- health care. The good news is that our fear of rationing is exaggerated by the inflated value the American public perceives in health care....

Why are we willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to stall and argue with death at the end of life, but aren't willing to spend that, or less, to educate a person earlier in his or her life, when it might truly enhance life's quality?....

The de facto purpose of modern health care, the enterprise, is not to maximize health, but to maximize medical technology. Like the silken-voiced computer HAL, this purpose has taken over the ship. In the current system, none of the actors -- physicians, insurance companies or individual patients -- can stop it....

We should collectively define our purpose -- by creating a basic package of health care benefits available to all, using tools to set reasonable expectations regarding cost and benefit. Services outside of that basic package could be purchased by individuals.

Would this create a two-tiered health care system? Yes, it would. Would it create two tiers of health? It would not. The parts of health care that matter would be provided to all, while the parts that don't matter that much -- well, they don't matter that much.

1 comment:

Linda Myers said...

Great opinion piece on health care. I like her proposal.