Tag - usa


Most who regularly visit this site know what SOPA & PIPA are. If you don’t, watch this:

It’s not just a US issue … if your blog, for instance, or mine, was accused of housing or linking to infringing content, you (or I) could lose all our US readership. Even though you may not blog, some of your favorite news sources might become suddenly unavailable, either because you can’t access them (if you’re in the US), or because without a US audience, they can’t support themselves anymore.


The potential for abuse is horrendous. Worse, the simple use of PIPA and SOPA as designed would be horrendous.

I don’t believe in piracy. I don’t believe in stealing. I don’t believe in taking what is not mine.

But I’m much more prepared to have a society in which a bit of that occurs, than to live in a police state. Or, since I’m a Canadian, next to a police state.

Of course, in some ways, perhaps I already do.

James Carville and Mary Matalin

I just attended a keynote in which spouses James Carville and Mary Matalin shared center stage – what a treat.

They’re at opposite ends of the political spectrum, of course, but as Mary said, politics makes for strange bedfellows. Very entertaining, very interesting, very insightful – it was a real pleasure. Plus, they offered a lot of insight into what is happening right now in the US political battles.

In their opinions, these are unprecedented times for American politics, and all the rules are being rewritten.

On deficit financing …

Today, this seems like a very un-American thought:

“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

– Thomas Jefferson

I could not agree more. Worse than swindling, it’s living off the backs of your children … which is disgraceful.

Scrap NCLB; offer 1-year paid maternity leave

I happen to work in the education industry, which (in the US) is massively affected by NCLB – No Child Left Behind.

It’s a law/program/initiative intended to ensure every K-12 student in America gets on grade level in key curriculum areas such as reading and math by 2014. It also happens to be one of the major drivers of the high-stakes testing craze that is sweeping much of North America … and a very controversial law for educators.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working. From the NY Times:

The E.T.S. researchers took four variables that are beyond the control of schools: The percentage of children living with one parent; the percentage of eighth graders absent from school at least three times a month; the percentage of children 5 or younger whose parents read to them daily, and the percentage of eighth graders who watch five or more hours of TV a day. Using just those four variables, the researchers were able to predict each state’s results on the federal eighth-grade reading test with impressive accuracy.

“Together, these four factors account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states,” the report said. In other words, the states that had the lowest test scores tended to be those that had the highest percentages of children from single-parent families, eighth graders watching lots of TV and eighth graders absent a lot, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to regularly, regardless of what was going on in their schools.

Which gets to the heart of the report: by the time these children start school at age 5, they are far behind, and tend to stay behind all through high school. There is no evidence that the gap is being closed.

I recommend you read the entire article – it’s a great indictment of top-down educational polity in the US.

And it points out that the major issues in education are not at root issues with education: they are issues with our society, with our parents, with our families … and with the ways that we raise our children.

Geography in America

Is it any wonder that Americans hardly know where continental Europe is? Check out this excerpt from a AP story on Congress passing a law authorizing Canadian drug imports into the US:

Supporters of the idea say it would save consumers great sums by allowing them to purchase U.S.-made medications from other countries where they often sell for much lower prices than in the U.S. Under current law, consumers are permitted to buy a 90-day supply in Canada. Overseas, drugs can cost two-thirds less than they do in the United States, where prices for brand-name drugs are among the highest in the world. In many industrialized countries, prices are lower because they are either controlled or partially controlled by government regulation.

(Emphasis added.)

When business is evil …

When the business you’re involved in is evil, you know it’s time to get out and start doing something else. Otherwise you will inevitably become evil as well. There are plenty of examples of that in the US health care system, which Sicko is highlighting right now.

Here’s just one of them …

Palmer still owes more than $7,000 for an eight-hour hospital visit that involved, by his estimate, only about 15 minutes of actual care.

That’s after getting more than $4K reduced for the “trauma activation charge,” which is a page to doctors and nurses that are presumably either already at the hospital or on call.

15 minutes of care? $7000?

His room was $2000. His CT scans were $3500. Sucks to be him, obviously … according to the administrator.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s in the situation he’s in,” Nazeeri-Simmons said. “But what is an individual hospital to do? Are we supposed to eat the costs?”

She know’s it’s wrong … but does she take any personal responsibility?

“It’s not us,” she said. “It’s the whole system, and the system is broken. We need to look closely at making changes and at how we can deliver care in a rational way.”

Rational health care? Here’s a couple of clues:

The United States spent an average of $6,102 per person on health care in 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available), according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Canada spent $3,165 per person, France $3,159, Australia $3,120 and Britain a mere $2,508. At the same time, life expectancy in the United States was lower than in each of these other countries and infant mortality was higher.

I live in Canada, and the health care system is not always perfect. You usually have to wait … I guess sort of like Palmer.

But though I’ve had multiple broken bones, several car accidents, and various other incidents requiring stitches etc., I’ve never had to fear that an accident or an illness would wipe me out financially.

Spending an average of $6K/person and only actually covering about half of the people? That’s evil. I’m a pretty conservative guy, but there can be no better argument against the free enterprise system than American health care.

Theft, larceny, and even murder: that’s what it is.