Friday, April 16, 2010
On the train back from New York after a delightful evening of conservative chit-chat (where I met Harry Stein, the very interesting and amusing author of I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous, an important therapeutic read for we wingnuts who live in blue states). I only have a few minutes, so you only get a sprinkling of tabs for now, but my Friday calendar is a bit light so there is the exciting possibility of more later.
The Obama administration is ordering hospitals that receive federal funds, which would be all of them, to allow the partners of gay patients to visit. On the one hand, it is, frankly, asinine that such an order needed to be issued. Where's the humanity in the contrary policy? On the other hand, we can expect more of this sort of social engineering via health care policy. A lot more. That is, after all, the whole point of health care "reform."
You know how Congressional Democrats have their panties in a wad over public companies booking liabilities because of the enactment of health care "reform"? Henry Waxman has ordered hearings to inquire into this outrageous accounting, seemingly oblivious to the point that these companies are booking charges, not profits, which public companies rarely do with enthusiasm. Anyway, Skadden Arps takes a look at the legal pitfalls that await the companies summoned to explain themselves. They are not trivial. Yet another example of the Congress politicizing a private business decision to the detriment of American economic growth.
Important celebrity news: Kate Hudson got herself some breast implants. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
The "most dangerous cities on the planet." We have two of them. See if you can guess them without peeking.
Vulcanology: Awesome photos of the eruption in Iceland.
Tom Maguire digs in to the Holder Justice Department's perhaps surprising indictment of the NSA leaker. Yes, Plame gets a mention. They seem to be picking on leaks to the Baltimore Sun, though. The Grey Bitch is going to get away again.
Finally, an outrageous invasion of privacy, and further evidence that we are fools to trust the schooling of our children to a government monopoly.
Waxman request for testimony: Isn't the proper response of the companies, in this case, oh, please, please, don't throw me into that briar patch....?
Waxman seems to be missing the point that they'll just say, our accountants told us that if we didn't, we'd be breaking the securities laws by not following GAAP. Is that what you wanted us to do Congressman???
(Which is what they should say, but won't, sadly, except in crafted convoluted way, designed not to piss of the Committee Chair too much.)
Re: government monopoly of schooling.
As much as I think government should stick to some basic tasks where chaos would otherwise reign - such as defense/military, monetary policy (OK, recent history is not great here) and possibly national highways - I am not sure what proper role of government in schooling is. I had a decent experience with public schools which, it seems to me can be more harmed by some of the pernicious union issues which can curtail learning - or at least make it seem like an afterthought, which are not necessarily the same as government issues, although often intertwined.
I am now involved in private schools which offer many advantages (and no unions at least in my neck of the woods) but I do wonder whether these are replicable on such a widespread basis as would be required to educate the country, which is clearly in the public interest. There is no profit motive, generally speaking, so the free hand of the market is not wholly applicable at least not in a monetary sense, although people clearly do have an interest in obtaining a decent education for their kids and having school choice is essential. Still, I would hope the government would have some positive role to play in education.
I think that in many states, there are contravening regulations that only allow in family members in certain situations, and partners of gay patients aren't family members in those states where there isn't also domestic partnership.
Frankly, I am not sure how a hospital deals with a state law that is contradictory to an executive order on spending. A federal statute would clearly supersede the state law, but an EO that just directs spending? I'm not sure how the Supremacy Clause is resolved in that situation.
Partners of gay patients not allowed in hospitals? This is one of those urban legends that belongs on snopes.com.
Everyone who has had armed hospital guards bar them from visiting friends and non-family, raise their hands.
See - no one.
Jeffrey comments incredulously that "Partners of gay patients are not allowed in hospitals" is an untrue myth, something of an urban legend that needs to be debunked.
Unfortunately, the denial of a same-sex 'spouse' from visitation in "family-only" situations (like Intensive Care Units, for example) is one of the most common examples cited by marriage equality advocates as one of the "benefits" automatically granted to opposite-sex spouses that are documentedly, clearly denied same-sex ones. So no, deceivingly denying an action's need does not in any way vilify the actor. It merely makes the denier look like an ineffectual wuss.
Bomber girl makes several observations about private schools that need clarification:
As a long-time teacher, I have worked in both public and private situations, and the differences are noteworthy. I generally have worked in public schools, and rejected several recruitment efforts from private prep schools, for both ideological and practical reasons:
1) Of course the private schools are "better" than the public schools. The class sizes are smaller, the parents are better (and there are nannies, who are much better at raising children than parents, in my experience), and they get to pick and choose who they will deign to educate, as opposed to the public schools who have to educate whomever shows up.
2) In a conflict between doctrine and scholarship, doctrine almost always wins in protestant religious schools. Given the church's long tradition of anti-scientific behavior and its embracing of mythology as literal truth, I absolutely won't entertain that.
3) In simple practical terms, although the tuition at private K12 schools is usually about twice (or even more) than the per-capita funding in public schools, and as abysmal as teacher compensation is, it's not even competitive in the private sector. Last year, for example, the best private offer I got was from a top-rated prep school (Lake Highland prep in Orlando), with a salary that was more than 20% less than I was accustomed to making with OCPS, plus I would be responsible for paying for my own health insurance (which OCPS spent nearly $5000 on last year).
So say what you will; fact is, we guarantee a minimum level of education to everyone (the taxpayer-funded public schools) and those who want better send their kids (at private expense) to private schools. That seems to have worked for education in the US for roughly a century. Federal Express exists alongside the USPS, and is apparently doing okay, even in the current economic disaster. So why would public/private dual health care solutions not work?
That's the sort of misinformation and illogic that I refer to. Voters surely shouldn't make political decisions using misinformation and bad logic. Yet they do, regularly. FNC, for example, is the highest-rated cable news channel in the US. It also is arguably not factual nor does it demonstrate any journalistic integrity. And its owner (Rupert Murdoch) obviously doesn't watch it.
Tired of spin and stupidity?
Head on over to http://nikflorida.org, where we don't tell you WHAT to think, just to think.
Nikflorida, Re: "So say what you will; fact is, we guarantee a minimum level of education to everyone (the taxpayer-funded public schools) and those who want better send their kids (at private expense) to private schools. That seems to have worked for education in the US for roughly a century."
I would say my concern is two-fold: 1) private school educations are very expensive (even if teachers are less well paid than PS peers) and I am not sure it is sustainable or expandable, particularly since private school parents are also paying taxes supporting public schools; financial aid is also a significant cost for these schools, and 2) the public school cost model is clearly out of whack if you take into consideration the current and future (i.e. pension and medical costs) strains on state budgets. I do not think there is a problem with a dual system (private/govt) per se but I do think both of these models are facing challenges. Private schools may have more flexibility to deal with them but most of our nation is educated in public schools so there is a need for good information and logic in addressing both educational tracks.
The bottom line for education is that if the parents want the kids to be educated, the kids will be educated, private or public. I live in a Silicon Valley district where most of the parents fit that description so my experience with public schools has been mostly positive. But private schools almost by definition self-select such parents regardless of any admission criteria while children of the other kind default to public schools.
"FNC, for example, is the highest-rated cable news channel in the US. It also is arguably not factual nor does it demonstrate any journalistic integrity."
At least you used the word "arguably". How exactly is FNC worse than the rest after you have subtracted out your political bias? Does FNC have the journalistic integrity of, say, Keith Olbermann?