Sunday, July 12, 2009

Let's Hear It For A Wise Latina Woman

Tomorrow, confirmation hearings will begin in the Senate for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Republics will make a show, just to show they can.

This morning on Fox News Sunday, Texas Senator John Cornyn questioned Judge Sotomayor's qualifications to be on the Supreme Court partly because of her often quoted comment "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Senator Cornyn strongly believes justice should be blind.

Supreme Court rulings are seldom nine to nothing. What accounts for this difference of opinion? Justices hear the same facts and come to different conclusions, often based on predictable ideological lines. Maybe some of the differences come from life experiences.

Also, there are eight men and one woman currently on the Supreme Court. There have only been two women Supreme Court Justices in our nation's history. This in a country that has about the same number of women citizens as men (actually, today women are in the majority). Those facts would suggest that, historically, male presidents and predominantly male Senates have decided that a man's legal opinion is better than a woman's.

So Senator Cornyn's opinion that the legal system should be blind to characteristics such as gender and race is noble, but these ideals don't seem to apply to the executive and legislative branches when it comes to judicial appointments.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Simple Universal Health Care Plan

Universal health care will involve rationing, but as I explained in a previous blog, our current health care system already has rationing. In fact, health care will always involve rationing because in an advanced technological society, the cost of unlimited, advanced health care options for everyone will always exceed our ability to afford them.

I have a proposal. When a person is born, they are given a health care fund. For this discussion, let us say it is one million dollars. They can use this money for all their non-elective health care needs. Preventive care, medicine, surgeries, mental health, dental, etc. All these costs would be deducted from the balance of their account. When the money runs out, their access to further health care is ended, although they can continue to receive hospice care until they die.

In addition, starting at age 21, the balance in their account goes down every year on their birthday. On each birthday starting at age 21, the balance in their fund goes go down by 15,000 dollars.

Ideally, this would be the entire system, but we could add incentives as long as they are objective and consistently applied. For example, once a year you could take a fitness test. Those who don't smoke, keep their weight down, exercised and could pass the test, would have their balance reduced considerably less than the standard 15,000 dollars. I know this doesn't seem fair to people with unpreventable conditions, but life is not fair. But people who actively work to keep themselves healthy may decrease overall health care costs, freeing money to increase the lifetime allowance or decrease the annual reduction. This would benefit people who can't qualify for a fitness allowance reduction.

People would be able to buy supplemental insurance, but the premium would greatly exceed the cost to provide this benefit. The additional money would be used to help pay for the system and thus make insurance available to everyone.