Friday, November 27, 2009

Taking Advantage of US Health Care

The Guelph Mercury reports today that the number of Ontario residents heading to the US for medical treatment is growing exponentially. A new report documents:

A 450 per cent increase in OHIP approvals for out-of-country care since the beginning of this decade, a period of explosive growth in new technologies and therapies not covered or available here. The province agreed to fund 2,110 procedures or treatments in 2001, and 11,775 last year.

Patient demand has created a new breed of health-system navigators, known as medical brokers, who find U.S. options for the growing number of Ontario patients who elect to pay for medical services south of the border themselves.

Medical brokers negotiate discount rates with U.S. centres to get Ontarians faster diagnostics, second opinions and surgery. Brokers say that for every patient sent south by the Ontario government, there may be up to 10 others who go — and pay — on their own.

It's easy to say we don't have a dog in America's internal fight over health care, but clearly we do. Ontarians are flocking to American hospitals because wait times are shorter, and technology is better. Both of those advantages exist because the private American system ensures both innovation and adequate resources. If the Americans socialize their system, we may no longer enjoy the same access to the best health care providers in the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Climate Shame

Can't believe I missed this story about leaked emails showing 'scientists' trying to spin and suppress data that contradicted the global warming thesis that has gotten politicians whipped up into a world wide frenzy. I always had a suspicion that we were being sold a faulty idea with the hype surrounding global warming, now I'm sure:

Hundreds of private e-mail messages and documents hacked from a computer server at a British university are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who say they show that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change.

The e-mail messages, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, include discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views. Drafts of scientific papers and a photo collage that portrays climate skeptics on an ice floe were also among the hacked data, some of which dates back 13 years.

In one e-mail exchange, a scientist writes of using a statistical “trick” in a chart illustrating a recent sharp warming trend. In another, a scientist refers to climate skeptics as “idiots.”

Some skeptics asserted Friday that the correspondence revealed an effort to withhold scientific information. “This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud,” said Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist who has long faulted evidence pointing to human-driven warming and is criticized in the documents.

Some of the correspondence portrays the scientists as feeling under siege by the skeptics’ camp and worried that any stray comment or data glitch could be turned against them.

This is scary stuff. How many millions of dollars have been spent on fighting 'climate change'? How many people have been genuinely fearful of an imminent environmental disaster because of the one-sided coverage of climate data? Maybe the upcoming Copenhagen conference will finally provide an opportunity for an honest discussion about the data.

Then again, maybe not.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Food Post

Food is highly personal and we all need to eat something so it makes sense that it would be a hot topic. I just did a Google Blog search and found more than 71 million blog posts about food. Truth be told I'm pretty much fed up with people telling me what to eat, a few examples come immediately to mind.

Last night the lady cutting my hair said we shouldn't drink milk because we're the only animal in the world that drinks milk from another species or drinks it as an adult. Ugh - newsflash - we're not like 'other animals.' No other animals plant their own crops, raise their own livestock, or even trade different types of food. What silly logic.

Of course there are the militant vegans. Last week, the Globe and Mail gave front page coverage to that extremism in an article titled, "Is any meat OK to eat?" The article is full of bizarre assertions about animals such as, "We don't think it's right to create animals that can't reproduce sexually." The only animal I've heard of that doesn't reproduce on it's own is a donkey, and I've never seen that on a plate.

I think of my friend, affectionately known as French Fry because of her pretty clear food preference. Everyone seems to take an opportunity to make fun of her food choices, but she looks perfectly healthy to me. My only goal is to match calorie intake with usage close enough that I don't turn into a butterball. That seems to be working too.

I'm quite tired of the silliness and would prefer to be left alone to eat what I want. Unfortunately the debate seems to have been ranging for quite some time. But the good news is previous generations often figured it out.

The stoic philosopher Epictetus felt he had to address it saying, "Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent." Sound advice there. More than 100 years ago Mark Twain made a similar observation, "Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside."

Even today there are people who get it. Max Fisher wrote earlier this year, "My mistake--and the mistake of anyone bothered by the diets of others--is placing an objective value judgment on what a person chooses to eat and not eat." Right on.

The most definitive answer to the question, "what should I eat?", probably comes from the Bible. St. Peter says:
I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. Then I heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.' "I replied, 'Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.' Acts 11:6-9
I won't argue with the Big Guy. Maybe I'll have a cheese burger for breakfast.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering Our Soldiers

Happy Remembrance Day. This is really a beautiful song by Billy Ray Cyrus and I can't think of a better tribute today.

May God bless all our soldiers. If any of you are reading this today - Thank you for your service to us!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Godspeed Dr. Dobson

On Monday I heard Dr. James Dobson announcing his retirement from the Focus on the Family radio programs. It was a fluke that I was listening to the program at all; I rarely have the opportunity to listen, but when I do I often feel fed and encouraged by the episodes. Dr. Dobson has an exceptional gift at his ministry of helping families live faithfully, lovingly and successfully.

Focus on the Family Canada's press release is fitting noting, “Dr. Dobson’s impact on families in Canada has been profound. Over 26 years, he has left a rich and lasting legacy to Canadians through his books and radio broadcasts.”

That's true. If anything it's an understatement. Whether dealing with practical issues like building a stronger relationship with your spouse and raising godly children or somewhat more controversial responses to attacks on the family from same sex marriage to abortion, Dr. Dobson has always taken an orthodox Christian position and delivered it in an unassuming, deeply respectful way.

It's a testament to his leadership and faithfulness to God's call that he has been able to build such a strong organization and set it up for future success after he leaves the organization.

Godspeed Dr. Dobson, I'm sure whatever you do next will also bear much fruit.