Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let Me Fix…

Good Morning folks!  I’d like to fix heath care.  Mind if I take a stab at it?  Sure?  Cool!

So clearly the most contentious subject of public debate right now are the current proposed changes to our nation’s health care system.   I’ll admit, that I have not bothered to research the proposals that ether the Democrats or Republicans are offering up for us.  I don’t have an opinion on those plans.  I don’t want to have one.  Whatever ether side is proposing, I am sure that they are going about things all wrong.   Allow me to present the Mark Beers Health Care Plan.   I am not saying that what I propose is actually the best solution, but it sure as hell makes sense to me.  I’m not an economist, so my logic may be off line, and if it is I’d love to hear your feed back as to where my reasoning is flawed.

The Mark Beers Heath Care Plan

I think that there are very few  individuals out there who would say, that our current system of health care does not have gross deficiencies.  A good portion of our population repeatedly find themselves in situations where they are unable to gain access to the medical care that might be able to improve the quality of their lives at a cost that will not cause them tremendous financial hardships.  This is a problem, that as a nation should concern us.   I think the error that seams to be cropping up in the logic of the current political debate centers around the argument of what aspect of heath care should be a right extended to all American citizens.   I think the right that our politicians should be arguing about is not to ensure that all Americans have the right to heath care, but instead that all Americans should have the right to have access to heath care.   This I feel is one of the most important distinctions of this debate.   Allow me to explain.

Ensuring that all American’s have access to affordable health care should be what our elected leaders are striving for.   Here, is how I think it should be done.   Under our present health care system you basically have two options by which one can obtain heath insurance.  You can be fortunate enough to have employment that provides you with access to insurance as a benefit of your employment, or you can seek insurance coverage on your own through an existing insurance provider privately.  Ultimately of those two options, the first option is the most appealing in terms of personal cost due to the nature of the distributed cost of your plan through your employer.  As far as I understand, due to my employer’s participation in a group plan through a heath insurance provider, my monthly premium for coverage is set at a manageable rate due to the existence of the other members of my plan who all collectively contribute to the over all cost of our health insurance plan.   With this model in mind, it would seam to me that a system is currently in place that can help to resolve our current dilemma of accessible health care for all Americans.   The system that I speak of is the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.  (This is a good article about the FEHBP.) The FEHBP is the medical insurance plan that currently is responsible for providing the health care to most federal employees, including members of Congress, The President and postal workers to name a few.   By all accounts, this is an insurance plan that delivers excellent benefits to the federal employees enrolled in it.   My question, is why is it not possible to extend the opportunity to participate in this program to any and all Americans willing to enroll in it? 

Extending enrollment opportunities to any interested Americans to me feels like an excellent solution to the desire to ensure that heath care can be accessible to any party that would want it.   To put it plainly, I think that if our nation wants to solve it’s healthcare problem it should go into the health insurance business.   Now follow my logic here.  If the health insurance I currently receive from my employer costs what it does, because the cost of my plan is distributed across the membership base of our group plan it stands to reason, that were you to expand the scope of your membership base the costs of that distributed insurance would go down.  Now, lets take that model and expand upon it on a national level.  So when considering the cost of medical insurance we are dividing the insurance plan costs across numbers in magnitude relating to the population of the entire United States that have also enrolled in the plan.  Working at that scale would at least feel to me to point toward a premium rate that should be manageable for a great deal of Americans.   Is my logic flawed here?

One of the strongest arguments that I hear from conservative individuals when relating to health care is that they express the fear that we will be providing benefits and spending tax payer money to insure “undesirable” elements of our society.   I think that both sides of the debate need to relinquish this argument.   I feel that universal enrollment eligibility would go a long way toward resolving this concern.   Remember, the goal here should not be to give everyone health care.  It should be to make it accessible to as many citizens as possible.    If you want to have health insurance under this plan.  You are going to be paying for it.   Will that lead to portions of the population being uninsured?  Yes, sadly it will.   However, remember the goal is to provide access to as wide a segment of the population as possible.   If you make enrollment to this plan universal, but not compulsory you resolve much of this argument.  If you do not have insurance but want it here is your way to get it.  Do you like your employer provided or private insurance plan fine?  You are under no pressure to change what you currently have, unless you feel it may be more advantageous for you and your family to do so.

Realizing that the Health Insurance Industry is in fact an industry is important here.   No one will deny that medical care is expensive.   However, in spite of this fact insurance companies seam to do alright in terms of revenue.   What is wrong with the government starting their own insurance company and providing the existing insurance structure with some real competition.  Last I checked, we were a free market economy and by that extension subject to laws of supply and demand.  I can’t help but assume that part of the reason that insurance companies are able to charge the rates that they do is because they have little competition or incentive to make their rates competitive.   A national health insurance policy certainly feels like a good way to inspire some competition in the industry which can only serve to benefit the consumer, as now the existing providers must weigh their practices and procedures against their largest competition.  If they are unable to do so they would risk the defection of their current client base to other providers or  The Nation Insurance Plan.

If there is a huge concern and road block that I foresee with the idea of extending a National Plan out of the FEHBP it would be in the need to expand the beurocracy needed to administer such a plan.   That would take a considerable investment to meet the start up costs of that project.  However, it may not be as bad as one might fear.  Since the EFHBP currently administers benefits across the country already, the frame work to expand upon would already be in place.  It would of course need to be expanded to meet the increased needs of the larger user base.   You would need more workers to do the administrative work.   Last time I checked, we were looking for ways to make jobs in this country anyway. 

So these are my thoughts on health care.  What do you think?  Am I way off base here?  I seriously wrote this because it makes sense to me, and I wanted to put it out there for discussion.   I welcome your response.  Maybe I’ll start a series of articles about how I would fix things.  What would you want me to fix next?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Greatest Band There Never Was

On Episode 14 of our podcast my co-host Jessie and I talked about some of our favourite works of animation.  I of course took the opportunity to sing the praises of what is not only one of my favourite animated series of all time, but also perhaps one of my favourite musical groups as well.  The show is called "Beck:Mongolian Chop Squad".  It is a tale of 5 Japanese high school students who set out to create the world's greatest band and just might do it.  Don't believe me?  Just give a listen to some of their songs which I will post for you below.


Spice of Life

I've Got A Feeling - A Beatles cover.  Better then the original in my opinion.  One of my favourite rainy day songs.


Moon On The Water - Not a BECK song, but a song from the series.  I think this song is gorgeous.

Hit in the USA - Not technically a BECK song.  This is the theme song to the series and is performed by a group called the Beat Crusaders.  I think this song should be the theme song for every television show ever.  Period.


I hope that you've enjoyed these tracks.  The anime series they are taken from is well worth your time.  A word of caution though.  As is often the case with anime the original Japanese voice cast is superior to the cast of the English dub version.  I would highly recommend viewing the Japanese version with English subtitles. Not only are the performers better in the Japanese version, but a considerable amount of the plot revolves around the English vs. Japanese language barrier and is lost in the English dub.  Plus for legal reasons you don't get to enjoy the awesome climactic cover of The Beatles "I've Got a Feeling."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Best Band that Never Was

On our most recent episode of Across the Nerdaverse (Episode 14 available soon) my co-host Jessie and I took the time to discuss some of our most favourite pieces of animation.  I of course couldn’t let the chance slip by to discuss my all time favourite anime series “BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad”.   This series follows the exploits of 5 Japanese high school who set out to create the world’s greatest band and just might accomplish that goal.  As promised during our discussion I’m going to put down some of the high lights of the band’s music from the show here.  Any show that deals with the subject matter of an up and coming band would not be nearly as effective if the music they put out wasn’t up to snuff, and BECK certainly does not disappoint in this department.   The music in this series is so good that I count BECK (or the Mongolian Chop Squad as they are called in the States in the series do to the existence of a certain skinny scientologist.) as one of my all time favourite bands.  Which is odd, because I still can’t decide if the band actually exists.  However, don’t take my word for it.  Listen below and let your ears decide for you.

BRAINSTORM – This song rules.  Here the band channels Rage Against the Machine to amazing results.


FACE – A slower song featuring vocals by the show’s protagonist Koyuki

I’VE GOT A FEELING – A cover of a Beatles tune.  I actually think this is the definitive version of the song, and one of my favourite songs ever.

MOON ON THE WATER – Not a BECK song, but another song from the series.  I think this song is gorgeous.

HIT IN THE USA – Also not a BECK song.  This is the theme song for the series and performed by a band called “The Beat Crusaders”.  I personally feel this song should be the theme song to every show.  EVER.

So that is a brief sampling of some of the excellent music contained in this series.  I hope you enjoyed it.  The entire series is available for purchase on DVD’s that feature both the original Japanese voice cast with English subtitles as well as a redubbed English version.   If you have the means I would highly recommend watching the series with the original Japanese voice cast, as they are by far more talented singers and perform the songs better.  Plus, a good portion of the plot of the series revolves around the language barrier between Japanese and English speaking characters.  A tone that sadly gets lost in the dub version.  Plus in the English dub version for legal reasons you are cheated out of the amazing climactic cover of the Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling.”  Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Episode 14 Teaser!

Last night Jessie and I sat down and recorded Episode 14.  We were both very excited to welcome David Leung of Twisted Pixel Games to the show.  Dave joined us to give us some insight into his creative process as Art Director behind games such as The MAW, ‘Splosion Man. He also gave us a little tease of Twisted Pixel’s newest project Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley.  Check out some of the videos below to get a sample of the fine work being turned out by Dave and the crew at Twisted Pixel!   Episode 14’s release will be announced via our Facebook Group as soon as it is ready!  Click here to join the Facebook Group and receive updates on new episodes as they are made available!

The Maw


‘Splosion Man


Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Robots

I found some more robots.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Robots invade Chicago

Over the last few weeks I have noticed these small robot creatures all over Chicago. Anyone know what they're for?

-- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Should We Be Worried?

I've had this picture as my PC desktop for a few weeks now, and more then one person has commented that the picture is a tad bit off.  Superman has a very worried look on his face.  I suppose if Supes is worried that is a sign that the shit is about to go down.