Archive for the ‘Family Values’ Category

An Urgent New Drug Problem!

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

For those of us whose purpose in life is to guard America’s morals — our work is never done. We already have our hands full fighting off the Homosexual Agenda and the Devil’s Music. And now there’s a dangerous new drug from Mexico, just waiting to seduce our youth and sap their moral fiber.

Salvia Divinorum is a hallucinogenic plant that grows in Mexico. And now Americans are starting to use it. Don’t you understand what this means???

A Mexican drug coming into the United States — symbolically, this represents gangs of swarthy Meskins invading our decent Godfearing nation. These lazy hopheads will destroy everything America stands for.

Most of our politicians are unaware of this serious problem. They’re too busy whining about the war in Iraq and our crumbling economy. But fortunately, a Florida state representative is coming to our rescue. Mary Brandenburg has introduced a bill to make possession of Salvia a felony — five years for any dope fiend caught with this drug.

But this isn’t enough. Prison sentences need to be longer than that. And the American people need to be made aware of the hideous effects of this drug. This new menace will destroy anybody who uses it. An ordinary decent American who uses this drug will turn into a pervert; a monster!

We need to spread the word. Perhaps we could make a documentary: Salvia: Assassin of Youth.

What? Nothing yet on the Spitzer scandal? [Edit: I see I’m not the first]

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Very well then, allow me to be the first [Edit: I see someone beat me to posting on this.]. It is being reported that Eliot Spitzer, Democratic Governor of New York, has been ‘caucusing’ with some pretty high class and expensive prostitutes. When I say expensive, I mean in the $1,000 and $5,500 per hour, $50,000 per week-end range. He at least has the decency to avoid the “wide stance” style defense and is considering resigning. He’s made his apologies. Spitzer hasn’t been charged with a crime, yet, although, depending upon how he paid for the services, he could be charged with a crime worth up to five years in prison if he attempted to conceal the source and purpose for the payment, which I think it likely that he almost certainly would have done. The question is, what now?

Can he — should he — stay in office? Of course if he committed a crime, even if he’s not indicted for it, he probably will have to resign. After all, as chief executive for New York, he’s the guy at the head of setting policy for prosecutions and the administration of justice in the state. How would it look to have someone who committed a crime while in that position to stay in office. And, of course, if he’s convicted of a crime, he’ll be forced to resign or be impeached as I doubt he can run the state from his prison cell.

But what if he committed no crime? After all, presidents have engaged in sexual daliances while in office — Kennedy and Clinton spring immediately to mind but they certainly don’t exhaust the list — why should governors resign just because they’ve been caught in extra-curricular activities? Spitzer isn’t even splitting hairs over what the definition of ‘is’ is.

This also raises the question, peripherally, of whether prostitution should be illegal at all? The Libertarian in me says “No” but the Christian moralist in me says “Yes.” The ‘we mustn’t enact Christian morals into law in a secular nation’-ist in me says “I’m not sure that there aren’t sufficient societal harms involved in prostitution to keep it illegal even without questions of religious scruple but it’s possible that those societal harms aren’t mostly the result of its being illegal” so I just don’t know.

Anyway, what do you all think?

Eliot Spitzer & WR 104: Lessons In The Life & Death Of Stars

Monday, March 10th, 2008

They say it’s written in the stars…and today’s news seems to have been all about the rise and fall of stars…those that occupy a distant point in space that we can barely fathom…and one that occupies a pivotal political office in the state of New York.

Whether it’s a quirky cosmic alignment or a karmic calamity, the death of a star can be menacing…or it can simply be messy. Either way, it is bound to draw some attention. The time it takes a star to explode or implode varies. In the case of the cosmos, it’s apt to be millions of year; in the case of Governor Spitzer, it appears to be a matter of days.

Let’s have a look at the trajectory of both.

From USA Today:

A beautiful pinwheel in space might one day blast Earth with death rays, scientists now report.

The pinwheel, named WR 104, was discovered eight years ago in the constellation Sagittarius. It rotates in a circle “every eight months, keeping precise time like a jewel in a cosmic clock,” Tuthill said.

Both the massive stars in WR 104 will one day explode as supernovae. However, one of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, the last known stable phase in the life of these massive stars right before a supernova.

“Wolf-Rayet stars are regarded by astronomers as ticking bombs,” Tuthill explained. The ‘fuse’ for this star “is now very short — to an astronomer — and it may explode any time within the next few hundred thousand years.”

When the Wolf-Rayet goes supernova, “it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way,” Tuthill said. “If such a ‘gamma ray burst’ happens, we really do not want Earth to be in the way.”

Unfortunately for us, gamma ray bursts seem to be shot right along the axis of systems. In essence, if this pinwheel ever releases a gamma ray burst, our planet might be in the firing line.

From The New York Times:

It was after 9 p.m. the night before Valentine’s Day when she arrived, a young brunette named Kristen. She was 5-foot-5, 105 pounds. Pretty and petite.

This was at the Mayflower, one of Washington’s finer hotels. Her client for the evening had booked Room 871. He was a return customer. The hundreds of dollars he had promised to pay would cover all expenses: the room, the minibar, room service should they order it, the train ticket that had brought her from New York and, naturally, Kristen’s time.

A 47-page federal affidavit from an F.B.I. agent investigating a prostitution ring lists the man at the hotel as “Client 9,” and includes considerable details about him, the prostitutes and his methods of paying for them. A law enforcement official and another person briefed on the prostitution case have identified Client 9 as Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York.

So as this day comes to an end, one star has been fully exposed and is almost certain to crash. The other star lurks beyond our view…but it too will one day crash. The former is a spectacle we watch with unflinching amusement; the latter is a hypothetical we’ve barely begun to consider. The former will end the political life of one politician; the latter may bring an end to us all.

Regardless, the world goes round and round. How’s that for an illuminating astrological forecast?

Eliot Spitzer: Hittin’ The Sheets Of New York:

elliottspitzer.jpg

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Irrational fear of foreign culture or accurate social commentary?

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I report, you decide.

Mark Steyn recently authored the book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, a book which may appear to European multiculturalists and American liberals as the rantings of a hateful, zenophobic rube and to Muslim groups as the textual equivalent of a hate-crime, the mere publication of which constitutes a human rights violation (e. g., Steyn and Maclean’s magazine may have to face investigations by Canadian Human Rights commissions at the instigation of a group of Canadian Muslim law studens at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and the Canadian Islamic Congress; Steyn for having published the book and Maclean’s for having published an extract from the book) for suggesting, as I understand his thesis, that unassimilated Muslims, invited by European nation states to alleviate the problems presented by the demographic declines of their own native populations — populations that are growing older and are demanding to be kept by their bloated welfare states in the fashion in which they’ve become accustomed to demand — are posing a threat to the very democratic institutions and free culture that the Muslims were invited into and this precisely because many of those Muslims refuse to assimilate to their host culture and because their hosts refuse to demand that they do; that the diminishing fertility rate of Western Europeans in these states will eventually see the native Western Europeans be overtaken by the higher fertility rates of those Muslims in their midst; that violent overthrow of these cultures (though violence is already apparent in these countries) will ultimately be unnecessary since, once in the majority, Muslims in Europe will be able to exercise their vote to turn Europe into Eurostan. Indeed, some of these countries have been making said accomodations while Muslims are still minorities, perhaps to stave off violence.

But that’s not what I’m particularly interested in at the moment. What I’d like to focus on is this post by Steyn on The Corner, the group blog at National Review Online because, whatever the merits or demerits of the thesis of his book, I think he makes an interesting point. Quoting from and commenting on a column in the Boston Herald, Steyn writes:

‘A while back I mentioned Harvard’s decision to ban men from its pool and fitness center six times a week in the interests of “accommodating” Muslim women. Our pal Michael Graham picks up the theme:

In the old days, Harvard would have laughed if some Catholic or evangelical mother urged “girls-only” campus workouts in the name of modesty. Today, Harvard happily implements Sharia swim times in the name of Mohammed.

At Harvard, that’s called progress.

‘Well put. And thus “progress” comes full circle. In Minneapolis last year, the airport licensing authority, faced with a mainly Muslim crew of cab drivers refusing to carry the blind, persons with six-packs of Bud, slatternly women, etc, proposed instituting two types of taxis with differently colored lights, one of which would indicate the driver was prepared to carry members of identity groups that offend Islam. Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

‘Every society has culturally self-segregating groups - the Amish and whatnot. But they’re usually in small numbers somewhere out on the edge of the map. In Europe and Canada, the self-segregating group happens to be the principal source of population growth, which presents a profound challenge to societal cohesion. America does not face the same scale of problem, but nevertheless “sharia creep” ought to be resisted before it becomes remorseless. The rest of Michael’s column goes on to explain why that doesn’t happen: at Harvard and elsewhere, bigshot Saudi princes waving gazillion-dollar checks are in effect buying silence about one of the central questions of the day - Islam’s relationship with the west.’

Thus endeth Steyn. This is a good point. Suppose the Phelpses demanded that American universities institute separate exercise and swiming times for gays and straights because they can’t bear the thought of straight Americans sweating or appearing in revealing swimwear in the presence of gays? Oh how the howls would be heard from liberals around the country but how does that substantially differ from Muslims demanding separate exercise and swimming periods for Muslim women over religious and cultural concerns for modesty? Isn’t there a tinge of “separate but equal” here? Sure, granted that we’re not talking about seperate facilities here but merely times when the majority is excluded for the sake of the minority but how is separate for the sake of a minority discriminatory interest any more equal than separate for the sake of a majority discriminatory interest. Doesn’t the evil of discriminatory practices consist in the fact that they are discriminatory? And this is doubly discriminatory in that it tends to (a) perpetuate the Muslim discrimination against women — they’re weak, must be protected by men, cannot be trusted to participate fully in society with men without either drawing to themselves unwanted sexual advances from men or, worse, lasciviously inviting said sexual advances — and (b) it deliberately excludes men during those periods? Or is discrimination that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes of Muslim women for the sake of a minority (Muslims in America) somehow ethically pure while discrimination that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes of gays for the sake a majority (straights in America) or discriminatory stereotypes of women is evil? Or, more succinctly:

Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

I don’t call this progress. I call it capitulation to demands for special treatment based upon religious scruple. If the Phelpses can’t bear the thought of exercising or swiming in the presence of gays, they can damn well stay home or move somewhere where gays are hanged. If Muslims can’t bear the thought of their women showing skin in the presence of men, they can keep them covered head to toe, locked away at home or move somewhere where women are gang-raped for the crime of appearing in public insufficiently covered or imprisoned and beaten for the crime of appearing in public unaccompanied by a family member.

Or am I committing a hate crime for even suggesting this?

Institutions that would not dream of making exclusionary and discriminatory accomodations for the religious scruples of Christians should not be making such accomodations for Muslims.

The Seven Dirty Words Live On

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Old LadyComedian George Carlin used to do a gag called, “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on TV“. He used the words prolifically to make the point that they were simply words - not bombs nor bullets nor anything else that might cause lasting harm. In fact, I’d say that 99% of the adult US population has used at least one of those words at some point and the remaining 1% are liars.

So here we are, several decades down the road. We’ve weathered wars, natural disasters, terror attacks, and dozens of other momentous events, but we’re still apoplectic when poppa says a bad, bad thing. In fact, a bad word slipped just this morning. It was the word that begins with a “c” and ends in “unt”. It happens to be the title of one of the monologues in the Vagina (not “va-jay-jay“) Monologues and that is exactly how Jane Fonda used it when she let it slip on the Today Show.

And That Goes Double for F*ck
Fonda isn’t stupid. She knew what the reaction would be. It appears that she simply didn’t parse the word carefully before saying it and the NBC censors didn’t hit the 10-second delay button in time. NBC cut the offensive language in the west coast edition of Today and apologized to viewers for the slip up. There was a similar stink, and attendant apology, last month when Diane Keaton inadvisably said f*ck on the air. One would think those apologies would be sufficient, but of course, that would be much too simple.

Conservatives are p*ssed and jumped on the story like flies on sh*t - NewsBusters and right wing diva, Michelle Malkin to name two. Newsbusters put it this way, “Besides her left wing activism, famous North Vietnamese propagandist Jane Fonda spouts foul language on morning network television, when some children almost certainly saw it.”

Um, yeah. I wonder what word the commenter uses to describe Fonda in private?

Oh, Go F*ck Yourself
True, children could have seen it, but they also could have seen or read it on the NewsBusters and Michelle Malkin websites, both of which carried the monstrous offense to humanity verbatim. The kiddies could have also seen more traumatic fare, like death footage from Iraq, but I didn’t hear the moth*rf*ckers pis*ing and moaning about that.

I’ve toned the words down in this post out of respect to those who find them offensive, not because they offend me personally. But I have been known to say, co*cksu*ker when I’m aggressively cut off in traffic or the word t*ts in the throes of passion. I’m not perfect and neither are those who choose to make an issue of it, not even Dick Cheney. After all, he delivered a pithy message to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of Congress a few years back.

The Big Dick told Leahy to, “go f*ck yourself” (NSFW).

‘Nuff said.

 


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The Cost of Food For A Week

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

My family of three spends about $400 a month at grocery stores for food and probably another $200 a month dining out or buying extras for cook-outs. Included in this budget is fresh produce and meat, organic dairy products, and a small assortment of snack (junk food) items. Also included in this budget is non-consumables like paper products and cleaners.  We consistently have our cupboards stocked and we often cook enough for left-overs. All said, our weekly food budget hovers around $150. So I found this e-mail I received pretty interesting.

Below are several “average” families from around the world. The caption details how much they spend per week on food for their family. The picture shows you what they get for their money. Pay close attention not only how much their money buys, but what it is they are eating.

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily                                                                                                                                  Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca                                                                                                                       Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

 Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna                                                                                       Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

 Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

You may have noticed that all of these families have a healthy portion of fresh fruits and vegetables, except for two-the American family and the family from Chad. The family from Chad lives in an extremely impoverished nation and spends the least amount on food of all the examples, so we can give them a pass, if you will, for not having a more balanced diet. The American family has no excuse, unless you are willing to lay blame  for their less-than-healthy diet on the over-commercialized, fast-paced, brain dead culture that we inhabit.

How does your family stack up?

(cross posted at Common Sense)

Government “Regulators” and Big Business: Goliath and Goliath

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Sometimes it seems like government and industry are so closely intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. In one of the most blatant examples of this, some state governments have teamed up with Monsanto to PREVENT food companies from labeling their ingredients accurately.

Ben & Jerry’s has been advertising that their ice cream doesn’t contain the synthetic bovine growth hormone made by Monsanto. This hormone was approved by the FDA in the 1990s in the United States. Canada, Japan and the European Union have never approved the drug because of safety concerns.

Just when you think you’ve seen the most absurd intelligence-insulting Astroturf organization yet, the bar gets lowered even further. American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology is the “grassroots” organization that’s trying to prevent Ben & Jerry’s from even telling you that their ice cream doesn’t contain rBGH. Take a wild guess: this gang of douchebags consists mostly of (A) farmers; or (B) Monsanto lobbyists.

psssst! The answer is (B).

And just to make the whole situation even more Orwellian, a Monsanto spokesperson said “Monsanto is really an advocate in support of accurate labeling of dairy products in the dairy case.”

So now we have a popular organic ice cream company being squelched by two 800-pound gorillas (hereafter referred to as David vs. Goliath & Goliath).

Monsanto’s growth hormone (rBGH) was banned in most other countries for the effect it has on animals. It doesn’t directly affect humans. But rBGH causes increased levels of another growth hormone in cows; and that hormone is believed to cause cancer in people.

sssshhhhhh!!!! Move along! Nothing to see here!

Pell Grants For Kids = Vouchers In Disquise

Monday, January 28th, 2008

This is the first I’ve heard of this, and so I’ve not had a chance to review the President’s proposal. However, it seems like he’s got another plan to divert public funds to parochial and private education. Watch as the separation of church and state shrinks again.

The fact is, parents who can afford to send their children to private schools don’t need the assistance. Moreover, there are a tremendous number of things broken with our public educational system. Can’t Bush find something in the system that needs a remedy and fix that instead of creating a new welfare system for the rich?

White House counselor Ed Gillespie, describing Bush’s plans for a new school initiative, said Monday afternoon that Bush “has some concerns about the declining number of faith-based and parochial schools in inner cities around the country and low-income neighborhoods.” Because of this, Gillespie said, Bush is ready to “urge Congress to enact a program he calls `Pell Grants for Kids.’ ”

The money would “provide alternatives for children now trapped in struggling public schools,” Gillespie told reporters.

Right. Ask any educator currently working as a teacher in a public school if No Child Left Behind has been good for America’s school children and you will discover how good Bush is at fixing what’s wrong with our public schools.

Incidentally, does any one else wonder why didn’t the Education Secretary make this announcement? Does the president always trot out lawyers because he has something to hide?

If you want to take a look at some more detail about my views on how to fix education, have a gander at this post, that post,,this other post, and how about searching my whole blog for the term education and see what comes up.

Just as an aside,do you think Bush would be in favor having a serious chunk of his “pell grants for kids” money going to some Islamic Private Education Organizations that start up? They would be faith-based, wouldn’t they?

Bush outlines his plan to kick start the economy

Friday, January 18th, 2008

As I sat and listened to the Idiot-in-Chief, I wondered if he actually believed what he said or just hopes to hell that we believe it.

He wants the tax cuts for the top one percent to be made permanent, but the ones he is outlining for the rest of America should only be a one-time deal.

Of course the following part really jacked my jaw: Folks at the extreme bottom of the economic rung shouldn’t get squat..because that is considered welfare.

Fark you Frat boy.

Here it is, what the Jackass-in-Chief wants and what lies and half-truths he spewed. Some lowlights:

The economic team reports that our economy has a solid foundation, but that there are areas of real concern. Our economy is still creating jobs, though at a reduced pace. Consumer spending is still growing, but the housing market is declining. Business investment and exports are still rising, but the cost of imported oil has increased.-Ok, the December report on how American’s spent their money showed it was in the toilet, the worst since 1991. The New York Times stated: Strong evidence is emerging that consumer spending, a bulwark against recession over the last year even as energy prices surged and the housing market sputtered, has begun to slow sharply at every level of the American economy, from the working class to the wealthy.

Sorry Bush, but your full of bat guano on that first point right out of the box. The way the government fixes it’s statistics on job growth have been crap for years. Too many variables that should be included in that statistic aren’t.

Wages are stagnant and good paying jobs disappear while the income of the top one percent of Americans that don’t actually work for a living and that love their stocks and hedge funds has continued to grow. To say we are growing and jobs are being created might be true..but what is the average wage of those ‘new’ jobs? The NYT article linked above shows how the lifestyles of average American’s has changed drastically:

One consequence is an upending of the traditional pattern, in which middle-aged children take in an elderly parent. As $15-an-hour factory jobs are replaced by $7- or $8-an-hour retail jobs, more men in their 30s and 40s are moving in with their parents or grandparents, said Cheryl Thiessen, the director of Jackson/Vinton Community Action, which runs medical, fuel and other aid programs in Jackson and Vinton Counties.

The Economic Policy Institute, EPI tells you and shows you graphs and charts on how wages have suffered for the working part of America:

With the release of today’s consumer price index for December—up 0.3% for the month and 4.1% for 2007—we can now examine how real hourly and weekly earnings did over the course of last year (comparing this December to last December).

As shown in Figure 1, both hourly and weekly earnings fell in 2007, a sharp reversal from the gains in 2006. After growing by about 2% in 2006, both hourly and weekly earnings fell, after adjusting for inflation, by about 1% last year.

More from The Shrub’s speechifying:Passing a new growth package is our most pressing economic priority. When that is done, Congress must turn to the most important economic priority for our country, and that’s making sure the tax relief that is now in place is not taken away. A source of uncertainty in our economy is that this tax relief is set to expire at the end of 2010. Unless Congress acts, the American people will face massive tax increases in less than three years. The marriage penalty will make a comeback; the child tax credit will be cut in half; the death tax will come back to life; and tax rates will go up on regular income, capital gains, and dividends. -Notice that he really wants to keep those on top of the foodchain safe, but not anyone else. God forbid their taxes go back up in the form of capital gains, dividends and the estate tax.

For the 99% of American’s that actually work for a living, their income isn’t growing like the income for the wealthy at the top of the economic food chain. From the latest data that is complete:

From 2003 to 2004, the average incomes of the bottom 99 percent of households grew by less than 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, the average incomes of the top one percent of households experienced a jump of more than 18 percent, after adjusting for inflation. (Census data show that real median income fell between 2003 and 2004. Average income is pulled up by gains at the top of the income spectrum; much of the 2.3 percent rise among the bottom 99 percent seems to largely reflects gains by households in the top decile of the income spectrum. In contrast, trends in median income capture the experience of households in the middle of the income spectrum.)

 

The top one percent of households (those with annual incomes above about $315,000 in 2004) garnered 53 percent of the income gains in 2004.(emphasis mine)

Sadly the reality is..it’s worse than that. The CBPP explained that the enormous gains at the top of the income foodchain caused a rise of income as a whole. But average income dropped between 2003 and 2004, and has not risen appreciably since then. In short, while the top one percent get richer, the middle class is shrinking, as economist Paul Krugman pointed out in a speech earlier this year:

By the time World War II was over, we had become the middle-class society that the baby boomers in this audience grew up in. We had become a much more equal society. That high degree of equality began to go away — depending on exactly which numbers you look at — during the late 70’s, maybe a little earlier than that. And at this point we’re basically back to pre-tax and transfer to the levels of inequality that we had in 1929.

What happened in 1929? The Stock Market crashed and burned.

The final blurb from our Frat Boy in the White House: In a vibrant economy, markets rise and decline. We cannot change that fundamental dynamic. As a matter of fact, eliminating risk altogether would also eliminate the innovation and productivity that drives the creation of jobs and wealth in America. Yet there are also times when swift and temporary actions can help ensure that inevitable market adjustments do not undermine the health of the broader economy. This is such a moment.

I don’t really want to call our Decider-in-Chief a delusional moron or better yet a lying sack of crap, but if that shoe fits… you hold him down and I will stick it on his foot, while I put the other one where the sun doesn’t shine, otherwise known as his behind.

More On That Alleged Best Health Care In The World

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

The Waiting Room

Those opposed to an overhaul of the U.S. health care system frequently tout it as the best health care in the world. However, while there are many positive aspects to our health care system, more and more deficiencies have begun to emerge and receive the attention they warrant. Following last weeks report that the U.S. ranks last in the number of preventable deaths, the time one has to wait before receiving emergency care continues to increase…leaving those in need of prompt attention at risk.

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) — The last thing you want to hear in the emergency room when you’ve got crushing chest pain or can’t breathe is that you have to wait before you can get treatment.

Unfortunately, in too many instances, that’s exactly what’s happening. In fact, new research found that waiting times in emergency rooms have increased by 36 percent for all patients, to an average of 30 minutes per patient. And the sickest sometimes have to wait the longest: As many as one-quarter of all heart attack patients had to wait 50 minutes or longer before seeing a doctor.

Study author Dr. Andrew Wilper, a fellow in general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist with the Cambridge Health Alliance, reports in the Jan. 15 online issue of Health Affairs that the increasing wait times are the result of a “perfect storm” that has occurred as emergency room visits are on the rise while many ERs are closing their doors.

These expanding wait time compounds the plight of those who lack health insurance and rely upon indigent emergency room care for their health care. Not only are preventable and treatable illnesses being ignored until they become medical emergencies; those arriving in the emergency room with them are at greater risk since they are having to wait longer periods of time to see a physician and receive the attention they need. Is it any wonder that the number of preventable deaths in the United States is on the rise?

“The real problem is that patients are backing up in the ER. If a patient is still in the ER six or even 12 hours later, it means that room, that nurse and that equipment just aren’t available for the next patient that comes in the door,” explained Dr. Art Kellermann, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Kellermann said a good analogy to this situation would be if controllers at a busy airport started parking planes on the runways. “We’d think they’d lost their minds, but that’s what hospital administrations are doing with ERs,” said Kellermann. “We’ve taken the most time-critical portal of care and allowed it to become gridlocked.”

For the current study, Wilper and his colleagues reviewed data from 1997 through 2004 and included 92,173 adult ER visits. Of those visits, almost 18,000 were thought to need immediate attention at the time of initial evaluation, and 987 had a diagnosed heart attack.

Not surprisingly, the wait to see an ER physician also increased during that time. In 1997, the average wait was 22 minutes. By 2004, the average wait was up to 30 minutes — a 4.1 percent increase in wait time each year.

For heart attack patients, even a few minutes of delay in treatment can literally mean the difference between life and death. Yet, the average wait time for a heart attack patient increased from eight minutes to 20 minutes over the study period — a 150 percent increase.

The study also found that blacks, Hispanics and women had to wait longer for care. Whites waited an average of 24 minutes, while blacks had to wait an average of 31 minutes and Hispanics had to wait 33 minutes on average. Wilper said it’s possible that blacks and Hispanics might be more likely to visit hospitals that have longer wait times in general.

He said there needs to be an expansion of insurance coverage, modified management of inpatient and elective surgeries because so many ER beds have been lost, and an expansion of primary care that might help ease the overflow at the emergency room.

“This is an issue that cuts across insurance status,” said Kellermann, who pointed out that even people with insurance are left waiting in ERs, because there just isn’t enough space or enough resources.

The report also notes that several hundred emergency rooms have closed their doors. I suspect that the decline in hospitals offering emergency care adds to the problem and likely reflects the disincentive for hospitals to provide such care since it often involves patients who lack insurance or any real means to pay for the services rendered.

As the number of uninsured Americans increases, the problem will only exacerbate…a fact that ought to be recognized by all Americans since it also has and will impact the care provided to those who are insured. Reciting the president’s meme that everyone in America has access to health care may be an accurate statement; but it is also an inarticulate assessment. As the number of uninsured expands, a tipping point is inevitable and those inclined to ignore as much are simply burying their heads in the sand.

Those who emphasize the waiting times for health care in other countries as a reason to oppose some form of universal health care seek to portray those delays as a justification for the U.S. market driven system. Unfortunately, that rationale only succeeds so long as 47 million uninsured Americans fail to receive preventative care and treatment for chronic illnesses and diseases. If those countries providing health care to all were able to ignore the routine health care needs of nearly 20% of their citizens, I suspect their wait times would decrease.

If America wants to assert its prowess in providing timely and top-notch health care, it must soon address the needs of the 47 million Americans who are being ignored. Our challenge shouldn’t be to match the health care provided by other nations; it ought to be to actually provide the best health care in the world…to all Americans…when they need it.

To do otherwise is an exercise in self-deception that will continue to be evidenced in additional negative reports. Wouldn’t the verifiable pride that comes with a can-do attitude be preferable to false pride that results from a “don’t look, don’t see” mentality? Even worse, how can the deaths that result from foolish pride be anything but inexcusable?

Cross-posted at Thought Theater


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