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Posted by on May 4, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas | 1 comment

Revisting the Debate on Giving Money to Beggars

 

street-beggar

 

One of the most widely-read essays ever posted here appeared about a year ago.  It was titled:  SHOULD YOU GIVE MONEY TO STREET BEGGARS?

Heated debate on this topic continues.  I suspect this is because we’ve all seen incidents of begging on our streets.  Beggars have become part of the landscape in most cities and many neighborhoods.  We’ve all formed opinions based on different perceptions and values.

Now, even more people are out there begging, especially on street corners.  I’d go so far as to say this “problem” has become an epidemic here in Las Vegas.

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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Blog, Essays, What's Left | 1 comment

The Movie that Predicted Our Future

 

network-movie

 

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

One of the most memorable quotes in movie history comes from Network, the visionary masterpiece directed by Sidney Lumet starring William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, and Ned Beatty.  But the film’s real acumen stems from a brilliant screenplay written by Paddy Chayefsky.

When released in 1976, the movie didn’t perform particularly well at the box office.  It came out at the same time as the first Rocky movie, which won Best Picture that year.  Nonetheless, Network became an instant classic, a creative muse, an enthralling satire, and even a cautionary tale — particularly within the cynical circles of social commentary.

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Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in Blog, Essays | 3 comments

A Short History of Humanity

 

Monkey 02

 

A very long time ago, something called “the big bang” happened.

A galaxy formed.

Planet earth was born.

At first, planet earth was a smoldering ball of fire and smoke.  Then, it gradually cooled off — except for Arizona.

Temperatures stabilized.  Microcosmic cells were born and began evolving.  Cells began bonding.  Tiny living creatures gradually turned into giant dinosaurs.  Then for some reason, all the dinosaurs died out.  No one knows how or why.

After that, other animals evolved.  Early primates were born.  They eventually became monkeys.  Next, these hairy beasts started walking upright and turned into what we know today as “human beings.”  Except for the slimeballs who work for collection agencies.

The early humans hunted.  They fished.  They eventually learned how to grow food.  Then, they got fatter because they started eating fast food.  The first fast food was called “MacRabbit.”

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Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Blog, Essays | 16 comments

Fuck Doctors! Fuck Insurance Companies! Fuck the Medical Establishment!

 

nolan-dalla

 

It’s 12 noon on Monday.  Note the exact time, because it’s important.

I’m in serious pain right now.  It’s been so bad the last few days, I could not even write.  Just sitting down is excruciating.

Well, after nine days of severe lower back pain, I can’t take it anymore.

So, I finally decided to go see a medical doctor.

Making a doctor’s appointment seems like a routine task, right?  Here’s how it’s supposed to go:

(1)  Pick up the telephone,

(2)  Schedule a date and time, 

(3)  Go see the doctor.  

It all seems so easy.  Remember the good old days when such a thing was actually possible?  Remember when you could get decent and affordable health care here in the United States of America?

Well, those days are OVER.  They’re DONE.  And it’s all because of the medical establishment doing everything in their power to control the health care of everyone in this country.  They hire the best lobbyists.  They block avenues that would allow more doctors to enter the profession.  They run ads that lie.  They fool everyone into believing they really have everyone’s best health at heart.

Bullshit!

I’m pissed as hell about it, and you should be, too.  We act as though being forced to wait for three weeks to see a specialist is considered normal.  We act as though waiting 90 minutes inside a doctor’s office surrounded by plastic furniture and 8-month old issues of Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated is what we expect.  In reality, we should all be royally pissed off because there’s no excuse really, other than doctors trying to destroy their competition and maintain a strict monopoly over the health care of 300 million people who are unfortunate enough to live under a system where PROFIT is the driving force behind the administration of medical treatment.  The dollar comes first.  Patients come second, if they’re lucky.

Anyone who says this nation has the best medical care in the world is a fucking ass joker.  A bold-faced liar.  There’s no data whatsoever to back up their claims.  They don’t know shit about what they’re talking about.  And the problems of inaccessible care and long wait times are only getting worse so long as the medical establishment has everyone by the balls and continues to put on the squeeze.

The great irony about what’s happening right at this moment is, in many ways, I’m lucky.  After all, I have a decent health care plan.  Obviously, I rarely use it.  I almost never go and see a doctor.  Why should I, since I’m in good health?  I’m an easy patient.  I’m what you would call “low maintenance.”

But my back pain that’s been going on for nine days now finally convinced me to take action.  So, I checked online for some local doctors and started dialing.  Here’s what happened.

My first three phone calls to doctors ended abruptly.  “We’re not accepting new patients right now,” I was told over and over.  Three fucking times!  Not accepting new patients?  What’s that all about?  What kind of doctor is so goddamned busy they won’t see a new patient?  Can you imagine a restaurant saying, “we aren’t taking new customers right now, since we’re too busy.”  

Right now, it’s 12:15.  Again, the timing here is important.

Based on talking to many people who have encountered similar problems, all of this tells me there’s a severe shortage of doctors in America — and especially here in Las Vegas.  Might there be a solution?  Of course!  Let’s try this — we train and license more doctors (and other medical professionals).  In other words, get more people into the medical field to serve a greater public need.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem.  The medical establishment is strictly against this.  They don’t want more doctors serving the public.  They want a monopoly on all patients and treatments.  They want doctors offices filled to the brim with anxious patients waiting for hours at a time who are forced to put up with the bullshit of long waits and substandard health care  They want to run those in pain and desperately needing treatment through the medical maze like cattle entering a slaughterhouse.

Well, I’ve had enough.  Fuck them!  This time, it’s personal.  And it’s time those who are fed up with putting up with all these needless waits and inaccessible “experts” rose up and did something about it.

We need more doctors!  We need more nurses!  This is especially true with an increasingly aging population, which will require more services in the years to come.  If we think the problem is bad now, then wait five years.  Or ten.  We’re going to make Argentina look like Johns Hopkins.

Trouble is, we aren’t producing more doctors.  We’re producing less — and many of those who come are from overseas.  They aren’t even trained in this country.  What kind of sick system is this?  So much of the laws of supply and demand.  Fuck those hypocrites who extol the virtues of the free market, and then want the entire pie for themselves.

Shocking as it might seem, there are less medical schools today then there were 30 years ago.  READ MORE HERE  Less medical schools!  Let that sink in for a moment.  There’s only one medical school in the entire state of Nevada.  One!  What in the fuck is going on?

By comparison, do you think a nation with so-called “socialized medicine” would have less medical professionals, despite an increase in population?  I’ve been treated for various things in Europe, and the system works fine.  Take a look at Western Europe.  There’s no American Medical Association over there to stonewall the training of new people.  Are there occasional waits for medical care over there?  Sure, sometimes.  But the idea that medical care in this country is superior for the average person to everywhere else is just a fucking farce repeated by clueless gasbags.

Fuck you, gasbags!

My back is killing me right now.  It’s now 12:30.

So, as I said, three doctors told me they’re not accepting new patients right now.  Another doctor took my call right away (a good sign) and then started asking me all kinds of questions.  The first question they asked was — what kind of insurance do I have?  They also wanted to know what was my deductible.  So, let me get this straight.  I’m withering in pain right now, wanting to come in for a visit and clearly able to pay the fee.  And the major concern this doctor has is — HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY ME?

Well fuck you!

That was a slam down the phone moment.  I didn’t even say “goodbye.”  Any doctor this is more worried about how they’re getting paid upfront rather than showing some concern for my physical condition deserves an ear-drum blowout hang up from me.  And that’s precisely what they got.

So right now, I’m on doctor number seven, and it’s 12:40.  If there’s an upside, at least I’m halfway through an article I had no intention of writing.

Why do I keep repeating the times, you ask?

Because this is HOW LONG I’ve been on hold during my latest phone call.  I dialed the number and then hit all the prompts.  Now, I’m forced to wait for what might be an eternity in order to just TALK TO A MEDICAL ASSOCIATE, probably someone making $11 an hour.  Hell, I haven’t even entered the office yet, and I’ve already burned 45 minutes of my time.  Is this really a place I want to take my business?  Is this a doctor I can have any faith in?  If they are already ass fucking me with a 45-minute wait in the phone JUST TO MAKE AND APPOINTMENT, what’s the service like at the office, or inside the cubicle, where I get to see The Great Dictator for perhaps 5 to 10 minutes — max.  If I’m lucky.

Now, it’s 12:55.

I’ve fucking had it.

Bang!  There goes another telephone.

The best medical care in the world, huh?  Yeah, right.  Obscene scheduling gauntlets.  Needless waits.  Minimal time spent with patients.  Overuse of prescription medication, as the pharmaceutical companies work hand-in-hand jacking off patients (note: the samples you receive are never “free”).  High out-of-pocket deductibles.  Too much “testing,” which is another sham designed to fatten the bill and ass fuck you and the insurance company.  And then, there’s the mind-maze of billing and insurance claims, which requires a law degree to understand.  Anyone who thinks this charade is “working” is just delusional.

Meanwhile, over in the UK or in Canada, you walk in and show your medical card, and that’s it.  Americans should be hanging their heads in shame for putting up with this monstrosity.

Fact:  America has the highest health-care costs in the world, by a whopping more than 60 percent over the next most expensive nation.  Yet we have maddening wait times, poor access to doctors, puzzling billing procedures, nauseating bureaucracy, and a bunch of paid con-men trying to sell average people that a single-payer health system of the kind that’s used in the rest of the industrialized world is a bad thing.

My back is still fucking killing me.  It’s now two hours since I dialed my first physician.  Right now, I’m nowhere close to getting an appointment than when I started.  And mind you — I have good health insurance and am in a position to pay.  I can only imagine the obstacles faced by people with lesser means and who don’t have any financial resources.

This nation’s health care is shameful.  There should be a revolution.  Some people on the other side of this argument deserve a major ass-kicking for that they are doing to people’s health and sanity.  I have no idea why so many good people put up with such a disgraceful health care system.

As for my back, the pain of going through this gang bang with doctors is far more frustrating.

And it’s just beginning.

 

Note:  Just to make it clear, this isn’t an isolated incident.  I’ve encountered the same problem with other members of the family trying to get access to good health care.

 

doctos-shortages

 

 

 

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Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Blog, Book Reviews, Essays | 0 comments

Finding What You’re Looking For: “Poems that Make Grown Men Cry,” by Anthony Holden

 

poems-that-make-grown-men-cry

 

For many years, poetry seemed headed the way of Latin.

It appeared destined to become a dead language.  After all — most people don’t use it, practice it, nor understand it.

If poetry appears in our popular culture at all these days, it’s almost exclusively the domain of modern music.  Words and ideas which at one time would have been published in best-selling books of the day that were widely read and openly discussed by just about everyone, increasingly became accompanied by instrumentation and voices.  Starting in the early 1960s, transformational “poets” such as Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan gradually morphed into modern-day expressionists with names like Eminem, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga.  Indeed, these artists with mass appeal are the contemporary poets of the 21st Century.

Perhaps what this really means is — don’t be so quick to dismiss a rap song.  Instead, try listening to a lyric sometime.  If William Butler Yeats had been born in Detroit during the 1960s rather than Dublin in the 1860s, the provocative words so filled with angst sculpted by urban frustration are likely what he would have written.  After all, poetry is a reflection of both people and their times.

Just perhaps, poetry isn’t dead, after all.  Indeed, poetry hasn’t died.  Rather, it’s evolved.

And so, now seems as good a time as ever to return to the classics for a new retrospective, so long overdue.

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