We Know the Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals.

It’s greed. That’s the headline of this powerful six and a half minute long New York Times documentary. I concede, given the Gray Lady’s size and stature, it’s important to read and/or view her with a certain skepticism, but as this short video illustrates, the “paper of record” continues to produce a lot of outstanding journalism.  

When it comes to the New York Times, I am in the habit of reading the top “reader picks” comments. At present, this video has generated 1,562 comments. Here’s a portion of the top rated one, from someone living outside the (dis)United States:

“Hey, your politicians passed and signed federal law 9 years ago to allow private equity (wall street) to buy and own healthcare systems and physician groups. Prior to that it was illegal. Now private equity is the largest employer of emergency room physicians in America and as owners of healthcare system employees many many doctors and nurses of all specialties. Private equity is buy a company reduce costs increase profit and sell it in 5-7 years. That is who owns many of your doctors and hospitals. Federal law was changed to allow that to happen and where was the objection from the people. My guess probably almost no one knew. How funny to watch your media avoid these topics when they happen and fill it with the latest on the celebrity politicians over there.”  

The nurses in the video confirm that our fetishization of corporations is the root cause of their untenable work conditions. And the reason people admitted to U.S. hospitals often receive poor care. 

It reminds me of how powerfully later seasons of “Orange Is The New Black” depicts the negative consequences of private prisons.

Because we’re complexity adverse, we don’t connect dots, like our “avoid taxes at all costs” myopia and our near religious beliefs in “free” markets. Those neoliberal pillars are as solid as they’ve ever been. To question them is to be labelled a “socialist”. 

In the end, we have the public health system we deserve. A public health system that an increasing percentage of nurses don’t want anything to do with. 

How To Get The ‘Rona

Sane people now know the vast majority of cases are the result of people congregating indoors without masks. I’ll continue to be outdoors or inside with a mask on, but if you want to get the ‘rona, some of our Canadian brothers and sisters are here to help.

At least 61 COVID-19 cases tied to ‘very large’ outbreak at Hamilton spin studio, Spinco.

A tutorial.

Step 1. Go to an indoor spin class with LOTS of other people.

Step 2. Conform to what everyone else does—after clipping into your bike, take your mask off.

Step 3. Lean on the pedals hard for an hour.

Step 4. Wait.

Sentence to ponder from the article.

“Hamilton Public Health Services isn’t calling it a ‘super spreader’ event, but Richardson described it as a large outbreak with lots of transmission.”

That’s the funniest thing I’ll read all day.

How to Reign in Health Costs—Build Sidewalks and Bike Lanes

If I promised to give you two dollars five years from today, for one dollar right now, would you give me the dollar? What if I promised to give you twice as much of a much larger sum right now? Could you scrape together the funds and muster up the self-discipline to wait for your return? What about your family and friends?

Great article by Mike Maciag in “Governing the State’s and Localities”. Thanks to “Dan Dan the Transpo Man” for forwarding the link.

In short, cities with more walkers and cyclists are less obese. Key excerpts:

• An estimated 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese, and another third still maintain weights exceeding those deemed healthy. This doesn’t bode well for governments and individuals paying insurance premiums, especially with the country’s aging population.

• Historically, studies have linked trails, sidewalks and bike lanes with an increase in walking or cycling. As medical costs continue to rise and evidence mounts that such infrastructure also improves well-being, more officials might look to give health consideration greater standing in transportation planning.

• While only a fraction of workers in an area may opt to bike or walk to work, having the necessary infrastructure in place compels others to use it more regularly.

• . . . the correlation between commuting and residents not considered obese nor overweight was strong–16 percent greater than the relationship with median household income.

• When cutting expenses, health costs are an easy target. A recent study by two Lehigh University researchers reported obesity-related costs accounted for $190 billion annually in U.S. health expenditures, nearly 21 percent of the country’s total bill.

• Those looking to move can use the popular walkscore.com website to measure how accessible an apartment or home’s various neighborhood amenities are on foot.

The problem is we’re not financially savvy enough to tax ourselves—say in terms of raising the federal gas tax by a $1/gallon—in the short-term to fund the necessary walking and cycling infrastructure in the medium-term that would lead to health cost savings in the long-term. Collectively, we’re unwilling to pay a little more for a hybrid when the “buy back” is somewhere down the road.

In our Southeast Olympia corner of the world, the Byrnes family’s walkabililty score is a pathetic 18 out of 100. On the other hand, we’re blessed with wonderful sidewalks and bike lanes almost everywhere. Maybe I should start using them. Maybe I should walk more. Or run. Or cycle.

Just one of many nice bike lanes in the State capitol.

Despite the blue, cars still pass cyclists then turn right. Too often, out of sight, out of mind. Ride defensively my friends (said the most interesting man in the world).