Pounding Wood

At the park this morning, I watched a whole lot of birds.  And I figured out American politics in the process.

Specifically, I learned that we’re not eagles.

Google Image, of course

No, I didn’t mean those eagles, although we’re not them.

I meant these eagles – and we’re not them either.  We’re not golden eagles either.

Naturally I am confused about this, since I thought all Americans were cunning, smart and resourceful, just like our national symbol.

But we’re not at all like eagles.  I’m pretty sure we Americans are much more like woodpeckers.

Pileated Woodpecker. Thanks, Google

We come in all shapes and sizes.

Redbellied Woodpecker (yeah, I know it has a red head. I don't name these things)

We’re black and white and red and gray and brown.

Smoky brown woodpecker.

And we hit our heads against hard stuff all the time.  Repeatedly.

Take the issue of health insurance, for example.

The people who need it most are the ones who oppose it most.  They just slam their heads into those trees, again and again.  But at least woodpeckers get bugs and build nests.  Human woodpeckers get nothing for their troubles.  Well, except troubles.  Oh and large bills.

Who can’t afford medical care?  Where do they live?  Let’s look.

Poverty in the US

Then Check out these maps showing US distribution of diseases and conditions that, well, just might need a visit to a doctor from time to time:


Distribution of cardiovascular disease:

Heart Disease

Distribution of obesity:

Now, look at the map of folks who don’t have health insurance

Who DOESN'T HAVE Health insurance?

And the map of states whose government are fighting Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

States trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Can I see a show of hands of who sees a pattern here.  Yeah, I knew you’d notice that it’s all the folks who probably need health insurance most  have elected governments that are fighting against insuring them.

Yup, we’re a nation of peckers.


Bird images from Google unless otherwise noted.

Maps from the U.S. Centers from Disease Control unless otherwise noted on the map or here:

Diabetes map:


Poverty map:


Heart Disease map:


Who has Health Insurance:



Filed under Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Politics, Stupidity

102 responses to “Pounding Wood

  1. Thanks, GOF. I would be thankful for a free health care system, too!


  2. GOF

    I don’t know if Australia fares much better with many of these statistics, but we certainly do have a wonderful free health care system for which I am thankful. Nicely researched story Elyse.


  3. Have I told you how much I love you lately? You are a genius. I love this post. You need to go on CNN and start reporting the political news.


  4. Real woodpeckers make a sound very much like the one Woody Woodpecker makes — at least the piliated one does. That’s the one Woody looks like. I don’t know what the others sound like, though.

    And since you Canadians have actually GOT healthcare, I’m not sure you have too many peckers up there!


  5. That’ll work too. I’m sure there are a few peckers there, too! Thanks, as always, for stopping by, Janice!


  6. Okay, then, I’ll share on Facebook 🙂


  7. Nice work, Elyse, funny as heck as always, but such important content. I live in Canada but hope more see this and start thinking about the realities in a way that promotes positive change instead of just more pecking. Going to Tweet. 🙂


  8. You’ve stirred up a great debate, with the help of states rejecting the health care in place, that is. I want to say I don’t get it but I do really.


  9. Um, yeah, Elyse. I agree you’re going to get a ton of hits from horny guys on that title.
    As far as health care goes: Why would anyone NOT want affordable health care? Another indication of the chasm of thought in this country. I live in SF Bay, and the restaurants charge extra for health care for all workers. That wouldn’t fly most places. People are so weird.


    • People are weird, and not just ones who Google “Pounding Wood.” I wish I had thought about that as a search term; I could have had a lot of fun with my disappointed visitors. However, I looked at my search terms and “pounding wood” isn’t in there.


  10. The American bird being a woodpecker, just made my day. I am full of laughter. I surely have pounded my head into trees to no avail, like back in grad school for instance, those were lost years. Nice Post. Thank you.


  11. Interesting maps. It looks like here in New Mexico, we’re one of the poorest and least insured, but don’t have much cardiovascular disease ore (relatively as much) obesity. We’re not filing against the health care law, which kind of surprises me given the recent Rep. leanings. Great post!


    • Thanks, Laura,
      It will certainly be interesting to see what the Supreme Court decides.
      And lucky you living in NM. It’s on my list of places to go.


  12. Oh, Elyse. Thank you! Did you see the CNN special on health care coverage in the US and across the world? Wonderful facts and stats. Wish we lived by facts and stats rather than emotions and …not sure what it is.


    • No. But I DID work at the World Health Organization in 1999 when they voted the US 37th in providing healthcare. Here is the list:
      Rank Country

      1 France
      2 Italy
      3 San Marino
      4 Andorra
      5 Malta
      6 Singapore
      7 Spain
      8 Oman
      9 Austria
      10 Japan
      11 Norway
      12 Portugal
      13 Monaco
      14 Greece
      15 Iceland
      16 Luxembourg
      17 Netherlands
      18 United Kingdom
      19 Ireland
      20 Switzerland
      21 Belgium
      22 Colombia
      23 Sweden
      24 Cyprus
      25 Germany
      26 Saudi Arabia
      27 United Arab Emirates
      28 Israel
      29 Morocco
      30 Canada
      31 Finland
      32 Australia
      33 Chile
      34 Denmark
      35 Dominica
      36 Costa Rica
      37 United States of America

      Doesn’t it make you feel proud?
      (Sorry. This issue makes me crazy. Too many people in our country are peckers.)


  13. Cheers for not only your work on this post, but in your work with the responses. A couple of points.

    I was thinking peckerheads, then I see Sandy used it.

    I’ve never seen a smokey brown woodpecker … thanks!

    The both the male and female red-bellied woodpecker does have some redness on their belly. The one in your pic is a male (only the back of the female’s head is red).


    • Thanks Frank.

      Where I live is semi-country, so we have a lot of woodpeckers — including right at our windows on feeders. When I first saw a redbellied, I was confused by the name — until I saw a picture of a redheaded woodpecker. Their heads are completely red, so there is a difference, and the redbellied does have red on its belly. The one in the picture may have been showing off, too. We don’t have any smoky brown ones here, either — they are pretty, though, aren’t they.

      I think you learn a lot about people by watching birds!


  14. My hero! I’m laughing at what JP pointed out about the post title though!

    Personally I think we should’ve kept our original national symbol, the turkey. I think all politicians then need to wear a pin of that on their lapel.


    • Yes, JP’s comment was hilarious. In fact, I had trouble coming up with a title for this one. “Peckers” just seemed too obvious!

      And I’m thinking that turkeys would work for the Democrats, but for the Republicans I think it should be turkey vultures.


  15. Very logical take on this issue.


  16. I blame greed, and there is enough to go around. Years ago, I did a temp stint in an insurance company for a few months. They would hire someone (me) to sit in a chair and do nothing, just so their budget would look bigger for the next fiscal year. I got a lot of reading done in that job, but I never forgot that, for them, it was all about the money.


  17. We’ve got to keep talking about this until we find a solution. Healthcare costs are killing us.


  18. Michelle Gillies

    No argument from me.


  19. Elyse – wonderfully done.


  20. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Obamacare except that it will require EVERYONE to have insurance and for employers to offer insurance to everyone. It will also require insurance companies to cover things they don’t cover currently, such as pre-existing conditions.

    My problem with requiring everyone to obtain health insurance is this: it’s unconstitutional. You cannot force a citizen to buy something he doesn’t want.

    The same goes for requiring employers to provide health coverage for employees. There are just some companies that won’t be able to afford it and that means that the employee will be paying the entire cost of the premiums, which is outlandish.

    As for requiring insurance companies to cover certain things, that means the premiums are going to be raised for everybody. For example, because my wife has insurance offered where she works, I have to pay a spousal surcharge in order to add her to my insurance plan, which is infinitely better than hers. HOWEVER, when Obamacare was passes, that surcharge went from $25 a check to $100 a check. The premiums also go up roughly $100 a check to add her. In short, to add my wife to my insurance plan I would have to fork over about $400 a month extra, which we just can’t afford to do so she had to take the shitty insurance where she works which is one of those high deductible plans which only come in handy if you’re admitted to a hospital for something.

    So while I agree that our health care laws need to be reformed, from what I’ve seen so far from Obamacare, it’s not the answer. Perhaps I just don’t understand the law adequately…


    • It is not the legislation that is causing the premiums to go up. It is the private insurance companies and your employer. By the way, that part of the hasn’t kicked in yet, I think the date on that is 2016.

      As for the pre-existing clause, yep now people with pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded. Guess what, that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying much higher premiums. As far as Employer provided plans, most pre-existing wasn’t excluded anyway unless you were honest enough to expose it up-front.

      Finally, of course it is Constitutional. Unless you would also like to challenge that pesky little law that requires you purchase Auto Insurance.


      • You are not required to be car insurance unless you are driving. You don’t have to get car insurance. If you don’t want car insurance, don’t drive. It’s really simple.

        There’s no out with Obamacare. If you’re a citizen in this country you will be forced to buy health insurance. That is unconstitutional.


        • I cannot argue the merits of the fine points of the Constitution with you. Frankly, I don’t know the details on how they crafted the law. And while I’m confident that it is well crafted, I don’t trust the jokers on the Supreme Court.

          I only know that it is necessary. That if folks don’t have insurance, that covers preventive care, well then you and I pay, and those costs are far more expensive. When a diabetic doesn’t take their drugs, they develop horrible problems. You and I pay for their care in the hospital, for the amputation of their limbs, for their disability.

          Personally, I’d rather pay for the drugs and for them to try to lose weight to prevent/reverse a preventable illness.


          • I think the premiums for the millions of uninsured will cost more than the small percentage that are sick, but I have no way to back that up.

            I really think the focus should be on reducing the costs of medical care rather than forcing people to buy insurance and requiring companies to provide it. If medical costs go down then insurance premiums will go down. Medical care costs more in this country than anywhere in the world and it’s not because it’s the best care, although it is up there.


            • Again, TD, I disagree. A HUGE part of the Affordable Healthcare Act is PREVENTATIVE. Screenings for colon and breast cancer: covered. Counseling for pre-diabetics and diabetics. Statins and other drugs for folks at risk for heart problems and strokes. Preventive care is the way to keep costs down. Folks with treatable conditions end up getting seriously seriously ill and costing a lot more. And the numbers of uninsured are huge and are rising.

              Besides, should Britain have a better system than the US? Should Canada? We should take care of our own for pride alone. We don’t and I blame the GOP.


    • Hi TwinDaddy,
      You raised a number of points that I think have been blurred by the media and by the GOP.

      First, the Constitutionality question. You may not remember it, but Obama is a Constitution scholar, and he taught Constitutional Law for a number of years. He was leading the team and, I bet they got that right (as Valentine says below, the Government requires a lot of things that aren’t specifically laid out in the Constitution. It is a living document, open to interpretation; it changes over time because that was the way it was drafted. INTENTIONALLY, by the founding fathers, who were really smart guys.

      As Valentine also pointed out, the part of the law that you are complaining about hasn’t come into effect yet. I’d look at your employer’s insurance company as the culprit here. My company’s insurance went up astronomically over the 9 years I’ve been with the company. The insurance companies are like turkey vultures, feeding off of us. The AHC law will prohibit them from, essentially skimming off the top. There are ways you can complain and hopefully change your situation, and they can be found here: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/. But very little of the Act is currently in effect.

      And you don’t think insurance SHOULD cover pre-existing conditions? Who do you think needs insurance the most?

      Thanks for your thoughts, TwinDaddy. But I do think that your anger should be directed at the insurance industry and not Obamacare.

      And yes, I choose to use the word. Because I think it should be embraced — Obama cares. The GOP? Not so much. Unless of course you have lots of money.


      • The reason most insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions is because some people wouldn’t have health insurance. Then they’d get something, say cancer for instance, then they go out and get insurance. How is it fair to the insurance company that someone who has made only one premium payment gets coverage for that? Insurance companies are a business and because of this they will have to raise their rates for everybody to pay for this one guy. If they aren’t making money there won’t be any more insurance. Sure it sucks for the one guy, but he choose not to have insurance. That’s his fault and no one else’s.

        Another thing, most people don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it. So who’s going to pay all these premiums if the law is upheld? Is the government going to do it? Are the citizens themselves going to have to do it? Are we going to borrow more money from China to bailout the citizens so that they can afford this insurance?

        Requiring everyone to have insurance is not going to fix our medical care. Something needs to be done about the outrageous price of medical care. I don’t know how much a doctor visit costs where you live, but around here it’s about a $120. That is obscene. $120 for a doctor to walk in, look in your eyes, nose, and throat, and then sign a prescription paper and doctor note for work/school. That’s stupid. But if we get into the reasons why medical costs are so high we’ll go way off topic.

        As for the constitutionality of the law, I still stand my ground. I don’t care what kind of lawyer Obama is, if you take choice away from your citizens then you are taking freedom away from them as well. Without choice you are not truly free.

        The fact is, the bigger this government gets the more freedom we lose and it’s getting a little ridiculous. This nation was intended to be run by the people, not it’s elected officials. That’s what our fore fathers tried to build


        • Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one TwinDaddy.

          As I’ve said, I would prefer government-run healthcare along the lines of Canada or the UK. Or like Medicare for everyone. The GOP stopped that. Just like they stopped every reform President Obama tried to implement.

          Actually, the way the Constitution was drafted, people only elected the House of Representatives; the Senate was chosen by an electoral-college like body, and of course, the Presidency still is. And, remember that women couldn’t vote, that blacks were considered 2/3rds of a person (and couldn’t vote). The Constitution was designed to be a living document, to be flexible, to change when times change. That’s why our Constitution, unlike so many others that have been drafted since, still governs our land.

          As for the poor person who has a pre-existing condition, well, I have one. And I pay taxes, I work hard at my job. I pay my healthcare premiums. I have spent much of my life chasing insurance, as I have a condition that developed in my teens. Not via drug use. Not because of something self-inflicted. But because I was unlucky.

          Have you looked at the profits of the major insurance companies lately? They can afford me.

          Again, my friend, I appreciate your comments. They are obviously heartfelt and you are entitled to your opinion. I just think that in a society as rich, as enlightened, and as good as America is, we shouldn’t throw our ill to the wolves.


    • TwinDaddy, I just came across an article that, I think, puts the “it’s unconstitutional” argument to rest: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/never-before/
      If you can’t access it, let me know, and I’ll send it to you via email. These folks understand the issue better than we do.


      • (Cringe.) The constitutional/unconstitutional part is all coming to head now, starting tomorrow. I’m on pins and needles from here on out.

        How long does it typically take the US Supreme Court between the start of oral arguments and the decision?


        • Usually in the neighborhood of just shy of 3 months, although they can do it sooner. They can even demand that a case be re-argued the next term.

          So it’s anybody’s guess.

          I would look to politics to decide on the timing (especially for this court).


      • I didn’t see anything in that article to change my mind. That was an opinion piece in which the writer basically states that she believes it’s constitutional for congress to regulate the healthcare industry.

        However, regulating the healthcare industry and forcing people to buy private are two different things.

        I read over the bill last night just so I’d ensure that I know what I’m talking about. The bill does many good things, mostly for people who are below or are very close to the poverty line.

        HOWEVER, I noticed that the bill requires many things, mostly preventative care, to be covered 100%. It removes yearly and lifetime benefit caps. It allows children to be covered until they’re 26. It offers government funding to small businesses to companies who cannot afford health insurance for their employees. It also does the same for individuals who cannot afford private health insurance. Those are all great things.

        BUT, where does the government get funding for all of this? Well they will get it from additional medicare taxes on people who make over $250, 000 a year. No problem there. An annual fee will be paid to the government by health insurance providers. What? So in addition to spending money to pay medical bills for it’s insured, they will have to pay fees to the government just for being a health insurance provider? That doesn’t sound fair. And the cost will be passed on to us, the consumer. Next, there will also be a fee on drug companies who either produce or import drugs in this country. Again, that cost will be passed on to the consumer.

        So while the plan will help out the less fortunate, people like myself who are in the lower middle class are going to be affected in the form of higher premiums so that insurance companies can afford to pay for all of the new benefits they must cover AND the annual fee they will now have to pay. And, drug prices will likely go up, too, because when a company’s cost goes up that cost is passed along to the consumer.

        I still find the individual mandate is unconstitutional. No matter what court cases you cite to back up the legality of it the law takes away choice, which in turn takes away freedom.

        As to the fact that states are filing lawsuits against the law, from what I’ve read a lot of that has to do with the increase in spending that will go to medicare. States are broke right now. This law will make an additional 30 million people eligible for medicare. Those are people that states will have to pay for, not the federal government.

        In short, I just see a lot of flaws in this plan. I fear it will put the federal government and its individual citizens further in debt. There has got to be a better solution. Maybe it’s Unicare, but I don’t know how that works so I couldn’t say. I just know that this plan, while its intentions are good, is flawed.


        • TwinDaddy –

          Perhaps it is easier to look at this from a different view, perhaps from the view of a person who doesn’t fully support the Affordable Care Act in its current form but understands why it was passed this way. Setting aside the argument of Constitutional -v-UnConstitutional, the court will decide this issue and I suspect given the current make-up and tendency to legislate from the bench we will see some if not all of this legislation turned upside down shortly. Be that as it may here is another side of the issue:

          1. You are right, being forced to purchase Medical health insurance is simply unAmerican. This is especially true when you are young and have no one other than yourself to consider (no spouse or children). You should be left alone to enjoy the fruits of your labor anyway you wish, right? The problem with this scenario is the young are also inherently stupid, they do stupid things frequently risking limbs if not life in their pursuit of ‘fun’. So what happens when one of them is injured or catches a disease that requires hospitalization and extended medical care? Who should pay for this care? How should this care be paid for? Well, they don’t have medical insurance, their employer doesn’t offer it. They are no longer on their parents coverage (Affordable Care Act is overturned). They are not mandated to purchase it and in their stupidity they made a decision to use their money elsewhere.

          So now, they are admitted to the hospital. They rack up, oh I don’t know $75K in medical charges. They only earn $35K, so combined with the likely $90K in education debt they owe, before they are 30 years old they have $100K in unsecured debt and no way to pay. They also likely have a car note and some credit card debt, lets call it $200K. Do you know what the likely payment on $200K is, per month? Well it it more than they earn. So we now have another person under the age of 25 who will be filing bankruptcy due primarily to their decision not to purchase healthcare insurance.

          But wait, not quite done; guess who gets to pay for the $75K in costs that hospital has to absorb? You and I, that is right you and I pay for it in extra charges and more costly care. Just like we pay for every single other person who doesn’t have insurance, who makes the decision they don’t need it then uses the emergency room for every ache and pain and ends up not paying the bill because they can’t afford to see a doctor without insurance and they waited to long.

          2. Fees and chargebacks – is it fair? Maybe not. But here is the thing, those fees are supposed to balance the field and provide for the less fortunate. The insurance companies and big pharma are now raising prices (before these kick in) to insure they line their pockets with profits before the event (is that fair?) and they have been taking massive profits for years at your and my expense by deny care to millions who pay premiums (is that fair?). The right answer always was the following:

          a) Medicare for all for basic preventative care –
          b) Medicare for all for emergency care
          c) Medicare for all for on-going and pre-existing services
          d) Medicare for all for necessary pharma
          e) Private insurance for upgraded and non-mandatory services

          This allows both private and public systems to work together so neither are shut out of the process. People like me would opt into private insurance, most people would. There are many countries that have similar systems that work really well. Your Medicare “Tax” would go up, so would your employer portion; it would be no where near what you pay today for Private HealthCare coverage. There are many studies that have shown this to be true. All Medicare is truly is the administration of coverage, keep that in mind.


          • You just described what is wrong with our medical care system today. I’m not saying things should stay as they are, I’m simply not convinced that this law will fix it. I just think it will create a whole new set of problems.

            There are premiums caps for people within a certain range of the poverty line, but for all others the insurance companies will be able to charge whatever they like. And I have no doubt that they will.

            Along with all of the other obstacles I mentioned previously, there are just as many questions as there are answers in this bill.


            • Valentine responded much as I would have done. But you point out the problems in the Law (it is a law, no longer a bill).

              The Republicans in Congress are, in my opinion, responsible for the fact that this law doesn’t really solve the problem. It is just a start.

              And that brings us full circle to what this post is about. And it is the peckers in the states with the greatest amount of poverty, obesity, diabetes and heart disease who vote, time and time again, to put in office folks that do not work to help them. People that are, in fact, beholden to industry, in this case, the insurance industry. You can always fill in the blank for whatever the issue it is; republican follow the big money of big industry.

              That’s why Americans are peckers.


              • I’m no fan of the GOP, but I seriously doubt every problem this country faces as all their fault.


                • Perhaps not. But the last three years have shown that they don’t care to be part of the solution. They have simply tried to ensure than anything Obama did failed. They continue to do so.

                  So I think that they take the lion’s share of the blame. Oh, and I didn’t even mention Dubya …


                  • Well isn’t the other way true as well? Don’t the democrats oppose everything the Republicans try to do? That is the major problem today is that neither side is willing to compromise in any situation and therefore nothing gets accomplished.

                    Case in point, the budget didn’t get completed until the after the old one expired because neither side was willing to work with the other to get it done.


                    • Actually, the Affordable Healthcare Act is a better case in point. The Democrats gave and gave and gave. The Republicans kept moving the goal posts.

                      Besides, the Dems are not a cohesive unit. They don’t work in lock-step the way the Republicans do. So I think that my point is valid.

                      Plus, the Republicans are bending over backwards to accommodate the farthest right wing of their party. We give them lip service. Remember Dennis Kucinich.


                    • I don’t know that I’d call the GOP cohesive. There’s certainly a lot of infighting for the presidential nomination right now.

                      Also, the dems showed so some solidarity in Wisconsin when they all left the states to block the “anti-union” laws.

                      You are unto something with the GOP featuring mostly extremist members, though. The assault on women’s rights recently is embarrassing.


                    • Well, they are feeding off each other for the nomination, that’s all. And that will change.

                      They did do a pretty good job in Wisconsin. Hip-hip-hooray! I am not particularly pro-union, but I think they are necessary because workers are often considered a hop skip and a jump from indentured servants.

                      And yes, WE AGREE. There are some crazy folks in that party.

                      Seriously, though, TwinDaddy, you do a good job of putting me (and Valentine) through my paces! Thanks!


                    • I mean it. Our country has become one where everyone thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong. In fact, there are lots of gray areas. And only by discussing them can we figure things out.


                    • True, but too many people are prideful and refuse to give ground on anything and it’s really counterproductive.

                      Eh, but what do I know?


                    • I try not to go there. And, actually, our discussions make me try harder not to go there!


                    • Here’s a pretty good breakdown of the healthcare law as far as what the hearing is looking into and how it will affect people.



                    • Thanks, TwinDaddy, I’ve been following it pretty closely all day. We’ll see how it turn out.


                    • Hi again, TwinDaddy, I skimmed the article you linked to, and it makes some good points. But then I saw this and I am immediately suspicious:

                      “Assuming the Court allows the law to stand as it is now, here’s a review of how a variety of people could be (and, in some cases, already are) affected by the health-care overhaul. (Information is courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation)”

                      Ummmmm. I always consider the source, and what they have to gain from their point of view.

                      But the Supreme Court will decide this issue. And it doesn’t sound like today (the day they argued the mandate) went well for my side.


                    • No, it sounds like most of the panel was skeptical.


  21. I sometimes think the problem is that the VERY RICH have convinced the VERY POOR that they are just moments away from becoming VERY RICH themselves, so they better side with the RICH PEOPLE.


    • Nancy, You hit that right on the head — without being a pecker!

      That’s how the billionaires keep their estate tax exemptions, too. Everybody dreams that they will need to protect their millions/billions. Oy vey.


  22. Very smart, well-researched, and hard to deny. People respond well to visual representations of statistics, so this was cleverly put together. Your lead in was brilliant, too. I’m 100 percent impressed and agree with you in equal proportion.

    If our current administration had people like you speaking to Congress, maybe SOME of them would get it and things would move. Oh, sorry. I had a moment of irrational rational rationality about our political system… 😉


    • Lorna, after the nice things you said in your first paragraph, you are entitled to several moments of irrational rational rationality. It’s only fair.

      As someone with chronic health problems, I take this issue personally.


  23. Loving the analogy!


  24. bigsheepcommunications

    I see a huge merchandising opportunity here – pecker lapel pins, t-shirts, bumper stickers and baseball caps that say “Proud to be a Pecker.” Are you in?


  25. Very interesting, Elise. Thank you for pointing this out and yes, I see a pattern, time after time, after time.


  26. I like your Blog, the Research that you did. But I think you have it just a little Wrong. I will Agree that our Health Care System needs Fixing. The Medical and Pharmaceutics are way over priced and the Insurance Industry with it. But if it is so Bad why do people come to the US. for treatment from Canada, South America and some European Countries.
    What you have Failed to point out is Government Take over and Running things. When was the Last time you were in the State Motor Vehicle Dept. or Federal Social Security Office.
    I have worked for the Federal Government and worked at a Health Care Facility a VA Hospital. I also make use of the Hospital. I know First hand how the Government can Screw things UP.
    And Last of all, Americans Do Not Like being told What they are Going to Do. A ‘Do this or Else’ attitude will get the Woodpeckers going and they Will Knock down the Tree. Hope you have a Great Day. Also I hope my Pecking at your tree does not bother you. You may be 54.5 and I’m only 64.5…LOL


    • Glenn, I am always happy to have folks present a different point of view on my blog, as long as it is done respectfully. But of course, I will argue back unless you convince me that I’m wrong. You didn’t.

      First of all, you are 64.5. Will you be opting out of Medicare? If not, then you and other Medicare-eligible folks have no right to tell the under 65’s that they need to continue with the present system.
      Medicare was enacted in response to the poverty of senior citizens — so that the elderly didn’t die unnecessarily for lack of healthcare. Medicare is also designed with a formulary – CMS, the entity that runs it – can deny drugs, services, etc. It can decide not to pay for certain things. It can force patients to make choices.

      Private insurance companies make those decisions too. So the under 65s who are insured are already in that same position. Would you then claim that those who have no heathcare insurance are lucky because they don’t have to have somebody making those decisions? Ummmm, I bet they’d disagree.

      This is America. We need to take care of each other.

      I agree with another point you raised. Folks do come to the U.S. for specialized care because, yes, it is excellent. But these are primarily people who can afford it – the sheiks and the shahs and the folks at the top of the economic ladder. I agree that our doctors and our hospitals are the best in the world – but not if you can’t pay.

      Or, if you can’t pay, are uninsured, and you don’t get preventive treatment, you end up in the critical care system, at greater expense than if, for example, you took your diabetes medicine, and then the taxpayers HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR TREATMENT ANYWAY, AND IT IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAT WAY. We don’t get out of paying for the treatment of poor people simply by not providing them with government-sponsored healthcare.

      Now on to your point on “Government Takeovers.”

      There are some things that are too big for private enterprise. I believe that Healthcare is one of those things.

      There are problems with government services, and I, personally, blame Ronald Reagan. It was Reagan who transformed our government from a place where the Best and the Brightest went, to one that feeds on itself. We will see the ramifications of that for decades. I was working on legislative and regulatory issues in the 1980s and I watched Reagan appoint one person after another whose sole purpose was to destroy agencies. EPA, Interior. Remember Anne Gorsuch? Remember James Wyatt? If Gorsuch had not defied the law and had complied with a number of environmental laws – at 1980s prices – we’d be in a better position. I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. What we need to do is put good people back into government. People who believe in fixing problems, not where they will line their pockets when they emerge from two years of government service.

      A government (or indeed any entity) that is peopled by people who think that “government is the problem” will solve NO problems.

      And then there are the GOP tax cuts. Our country is falling apart and Republicans are still unwilling to pay their fair share of taxes. Just look at the deficits under Clinton and then under George W. Bush. Ummm. And then look at the roads and bridges that just crumbled because they wouldn’t pay to fix them. Me, I like bridges to stay up. I’m funny that way.

      Personally, I believe in a single-payer system. But the GOP was unwilling to budge on anything. We ended up with an imperfect bill. But it is a starting point, and like most laws will be modified over time.

      We in America need to help each other. And folks need to stop believing that tax cuts solve anything.

      We need to stop being peckers.


    • Couple of things you failed to note Glen, you have mixed apples and oranges when you compare Healthcare Insurance with Healthcare providers and Big Pharma, many people do this and it is an incorrect comparison. To accurately assess the issues one must first separate them into their appropriate slots. I know Elyse has addressed some of your comments, I hope she will forgive me for picking apart your arguments.

      1> people come from all over the world for medical services if they are wealthy and can pay for those services out of their personal funds.

      2> medicare has worked really well for a very long time, administrative costs are under 5%, significantly lower than the greater than 25% administrative costs of private insurance. The only fraud that has regularly been discovered with Medicare is Hospitals and Doctors over-billing for services.

      3> Most Hospitals are privately held corporations, thus competitive in nature and ‘for profit’. They can charge whatever they want, or ‘whatever the market will bear’. Negotiated rates with are different for every plan (insurance), different for a Medicare patient (government), different for a medicaid patient (if they even treat them). Whatever they don’t charge these patients they pass on to uninsured or private pay patients, or alternatively to ‘add’ services such as $25 aspirins.

      4> Americans are told what to do everyday, Insure your Car, Wear a Helmet, Wear a Seatbelt, Don’t Drink and Drive, Send your Children to School, Don’t Beat your Children (even when they desperately need it), Pay your Taxes (on time), Drive the Speed Limit; It seems what you are saying is Americans have been stirred up on this issue and don’t wish to believe that having Health Insurance for themselves and their off-spring is the right and appropriate thing to do, for their future well-being both financially and medically. This of course is primarily due to the well-spring of misinformation fed to them by the GOP beginning in 2008, despite Healthcare for all was originally a Republican idea. Hmmm, Glen why is do you think they are so vehemently against it now? Any ideas?

      5> The Government doesn’t want to take over Healthcare, indeed they want to provide a means for all members of society to access affordable healthcare insurance options. There is such a distinct difference in this it is impossible to understand how it is confused by so many. Why is it do you think so many Americans would prefer “for profit” insurance companies to make decisions about their access to doctors, health care, necessary treatment? Government wants to make Insurance accessible to all Americans, wants to make certain that Americans stop going bankrupt because of the cost of medical care; Private Insurance Companies, Private Medical Providers, Big Pharma have no such interest.

      As Elyse said, you will soon be eligible for Medicare, a great system in all honesty. Will you be turning it down?

      Elyse, sorry for my small rant.


      • No problem, Valentine. You are obviously well acquainted with the situation. And I felt I had ragged on poor Glenn enough.

        Your views are always welcome.


        • It is one of my pet peeves, one of many I guess these days. Having been excluded from insurance / healthcare because of being shot (pre-existing anyone) I fought this battle for years.

          You did a wonderful job.


          • Excuse me while I try to pick my chin up off the floor. You were denied coverage based on a pre-existing gunshot wound. You should offer yourself as someone who can talk to folks at Town Halls around the country.

            Two issues that make me see red — healthcare and guns. Holy cow. Thanks for your comments. I am still shaking my head.


  27. I have not much idea about US politics, but I can tell you after reading so many posts on politics of that part of world; I am just having a feeling that, there is something wrong with your politicians just like ours. May be it is now the problem with most of the country.
    It’s a really thoughtful and intelligent post. This post must be the result of lots of effort from you. Now a days each post of yours is different and unique.


    • Thanks for your nice comment, Arindam.

      Throughout the world, I think we need to question what has led a person to run for political office; I think that many have personal gain and/or power in their minds. Government should be filled with problem-solvers and folks who want to take care of each other.

      In the US, I think there is a huge difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Democrats fit my profile of what folks in government ought to be doing; the Republicans (GOP) are clearly from another line of thinking.


  28. Sad thing is that if this post goes viral, it will be co-opted by the peckerheads and they will wear the title with pride.
    Can’t wait for the first Tea and Pecker rally!


  29. Peckerheads is an apt description of many of our political leaders and wannabe political leaders.


  30. I haven’t laughed this hard in a very long time. I hadn’t thought of that context for “Pounding Wood” — but, then, not being a guy, it’s really out of my realm. Does one go to the internets for guidance, JP?

    It’s sad how the turkey vultures manipulate the woodpeckers in all countries. Seriously sad.


  31. John-Paul

    With a title like this there are going to be a lot of people visiting this post who are disappointed by the content.

    Same in NZ. Not healthcare coverage exactly but the match up between poor health, poor education, income levels etc, etc and policy makers who pretend these things don’t go together.


  32. “A nation of peckers”!! How perfectly perfect!



  33. FF.5….Is it just me or does the “Distribution of Obesity” chart appear to be sinking into the Atlantic AND Gulf? If so…that just…and of course it’s all conjecture, guess and by-golly…might solve a few of the other “Distribution of….” chart problems? Or maybe…just maybe….more?


  34. I’m a bit of a political wonk, if you haven’t figured that out yet 🙂

    What’s most interesting to me about your post is what’s not there… a map of the last couple of presidential elections. If you look at these maps, the trends follow political lines pretty closely… the only place where the maps probably differ (in terms of political party) would be the map of people without health insurance, as it looks like the best portion of the country for health insurance coverage is in the midwest, which has a lot of union jobs which provide health insurance.

    I am sad to say that my state, Colorado, is a part of the lawsuit against the health care law. 😦

    Very interesting post… thanks for the info!


    • HI John,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re a political wonk? I’d never have guessed :). Actually, I think we need MORE wonks and fewer folks with their heads in the sand.
      I wish I had thought about putting the political map in. I may have to revise … If I’m remembering right, I could pretty much superimpose it onto the obesity map :(.

      Sorry about your home state. My adopted home state of Virginia has its own separate suit — and of course, ultrasounds. I want to secede!


  35. Hi,
    Obviously being an Aussie I know nothing about the US politics, but I can admire the work and research you have put into this post, and the astounding statistics you have found. Well Done. 😀


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