One of the best things for me about this terrific movie is that I had no idea what it was about when I went to see it. So I’m not going to tell you, either. Just know that “The Informant,” with Matt Damon, based on a true story, is huge fun.


There is so much positive energy in this 6-minute video, it will totally make your day. Yes, I wish she and her husband had stopped at two kids instead of three (although I’ll bet they’re great kids). And, yes, there are some cons to go along with the pros (mainly, the cost). But on balance, and in the context of 2009’s primary task – keeping the economy from going over a cliff – this has to make you smile. If you agree, spread it around. Note the new “share this” button in the box at left.*

*It lets you email the link to others, or Twitter it, etc. It doesn’t yet work on the archives, and is not yet “date specific” – still working on that – so for now, if you do ever want to share something here, probably a good idea to let ’em know the column date. As in “see the 5 WAYS OBAMA CHANGED HER LIFE from Sept 21.”


When I was a senior in high school, traffic fatalities were taking roughly 45,000 lives a year. (The number would peak at just over 50,000 a few years later. With seat belts and air bags and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a tough economy, which reduces accidents, they were “just” 37,000 last year.) Now comes a Harvard estimate that 45,000 lives are lost each year to lack of health insurance – that people without health insurance are 40% more likely to die of a given medical problem than people with it (after taking age, income, education, obesity, smoking, and drinking, into account). The uninsured are more likely to go without needed care; and to get inferior care when they do go for it.

So we lose to our current health insurance system each year nearly as many lives as we lost during the entire Vietnam War, and about 10 times as many as we’ve lost over 8 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Which, if it were necessary or unavoidable, would not be of much interest. Yet in Canada (oh, and in every other industrialized country on Earth), everyone does have health insurance.


Well, according to this from Bloomberg news Friday – yes. In small part:

By Pat Wechsler

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) — Opponents of overhauling U.S. health care argue that Canada shows what happens when government gets involved in medicine, saying the country is plagued by inferior treatment, rationing and months-long queues.

The allegations are wrong by almost every measure, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other independent studies published during the past five years. While delays do occur for non-emergency procedures, data indicate that Canada’s system of universal health coverage provides care as good as in the U.S., at a cost 47 percent less for each person.

“There is an image of Canadians flooding across the border to get care,” said Donald Berwick, a Harvard University health-policy specialist and pediatrician who heads the Boston-based nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “That’s just not the case. The public in Canada is far more satisfied with the system than they are in the U.S. and health care is at least as good, with much more contained costs.”

Canadians live two to three years longer than Americans and are as likely to survive heart attacks, childhood leukemia, and breast and cervical cancer, according to the OECD, the Paris- based coalition of 30 industrialized nations.

Deaths considered preventable through health care are less frequent in Canada than in the U.S., according to a January 2008 report in the journal Health Affairs. In the study by British researchers, Canada placed sixth among 19 countries surveyed, with 77 deaths for every 100,000 people. That compared with the last-place finish of the U.S., with 110 deaths. . . .

Yet the Canadian “bogeyman,” as U.S. President Barack Obama called it at an Aug. 11 gathering in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, may have “all but defeated” the idea of a public option in the U.S., said Uwe Reinhardt, a health-care economist at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. . . .

Private insurers, the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession fear the “market power” of a public plan, Reinhardt said. They “deployed certain think tanks to find horror stories around the world that can be used to persuade Americans a public health plan in the U.S. would bring rationing.” . . .

☞ Seriously? Private companies deploying think tanks to mislead the public? Sounds almost like the tobacco industry!


Turns out Philip Morris played a key role in scuttling health care reform in 1993 – reform that Bob Dole now admits we probably should have passed, but his advisors told him that allowing it to pass would hurt his chances to become President so he killed it – and that the same key player the tobacco maker used then, former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, is leading the charge to defeat it again this time. (Among other things, she invented “death panels.”) See and read it here, and in the October 1 issue of Rolling Stone.

You know, I was taking with a cab driver a few weeks ago and he summarized it very honestly: “You hear such conflicting things – you don’t know who to trust.” And I found myself saying, “Trust Obama.” Not that every judgment he makes, every action he takes, will be perfect. But can anyone think Philip Morris has the people’s interest at heart more than Barack and Michelle Obama? That the rightwing industry that would have scuttled Social Security and Medicare if they could, that would never have passed a minimum wage bill, that supported Bush so effectively for 8 years, that advised Bob Dole not to let health care reform pass the Senate – can anyone think that they have the people’s interest more genuinely at heart than Obama?


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