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Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category

Net Neutrality: I am totally lost!

Last night, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 56-31. The game was not available on any broadcast networks, but it was touted as being available on ESPN360.com. I assumed this was some sort of pay per view thing and at 7:30 pm, I was ready to pay to watch the game. So I went to ESPN360.com and checked out all the available videos and in-progress games that were available. Sure enough, the Georgia Tech game was prominently featured.

I clicked on the game and was very surprised to see a message indicating that my Internet service provider did not carry ESPN360.com. What the heck is that all about? Apparently, The Disney Company, owner of the ESPN properties, has forayed into pay model for ESPN360.com similar to what is in place for cable networks. Your ISP has to pay a certain price per subscriber in order to view content on that site. I was immediately reminded of the feud going on between DirecTV and Comcast over the Versus channel. DirecTV’s argument is that not many of their subscribers actually watch Versus (although I routinely did) and that they were essentially subsidizing the network by paying a fee on behalf of the majority of their subscribers who did not watch the channel.

I thought the whole point of the Internet was to provide unfettered access to all of the Internet’s content. If a company on the endpoint wanted to charge a subscription to those who signed up, more power to them. But forcing an ISP to pay based on # of subscribers is simply unreasonable and in the long term unsustainable. Recently, this image began floating around the net – and it could be a sign of things to come:

I thought I was against the type of thing ESPN360.com is doing until I saw this article -> ACA To FCC: Restrict Models Like ESPN360. Now I don’t know where I stand. On the one hand, I don’t trust the cable companies because they’ve have been screwing me with the above model for years. Ultimately, I’d like a la carte programming so that I could pick what channels I want, get a price, and move on. However, I end up with all these lousy channels that I never watch, simply because I wanted to get Discovery Channel, etc. On the other hand, perhaps the government is to blame for this mess with their regulation of the cable television industry and the cable companies are standing up to say “No – please, not again.”

At the moment, I agree with the ACA article for the reasons they cite. This is something we all need to pay attention to over the coming months and years as the Federal government continues to discuss their proposals for net-neutrality.

Forget Healthcare, I Want Faster Internet!

While the United States is debating the role of the government in providing universal healthcare, Finland has passed legislation requiring universal Internet access for its 5.2 million citizens. I find it crazy the “human rights” that are being deemed by governments around the world. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I guess faster porn downloads for the poor? 

A few disturbing quotes from the article:

“We think it’s something you cannot live without in modern society. Like banking services or water or electricity, you need Internet connection.” – Really? What if you don’t have a computer? Maybe I missed the article requiring computer manufacturers to distribute computers to all the citizens of Finland?

“In June, France’s highest court declared such access a human right. But Finland goes a step further by legally mandating speed.” I think Ford Mustangs should be a human right, so I guess I should start petitioning for that. I’ll call it the “Universal Horsepower Act”.

Read More -> Fast Internet access becomes a legal right in Finland

Misdirected Healthcare Reform

The United States has been increasingly debating “reforming” the health care system. The initial talks began some 20 years and have grown to a flaming war of political might. Some in this country believe that the opposition to the current proposals is political in nature and are trying to impose the success or failure of the rapid passage of a 1,000 page bill as a referendum on the efficacy of President Obama.

I have been asked my thoughts on the matter by a variety of poeple and will outline them here as best I can:

1) What was once a perq (employer provided health insurance) is now seen as an entitlement. I’m not sure in its purest form it is, but I agree that no one should be denied access to medical care. Much like pension plans have proven to be unsustainable and 401k programs have become dominant, employer sponsored healthcare also seems to me to be unsustainable.

2) The hospital emergency room is not the playing field where basic healthcare is provided. I have unfortunately been in the waiting room for the E.R. at a couple of different hospitals and have seen first hand those individuals with non-emergency afflictions occupying bed space because that is where “those who cannot afford healthcare” go. Deep down I wonder whether most people know how much a doctor visit really is. I have looked at the EOB (explanation of benefits) for visits where lab work was not required and the visit was less than my co-pay.

3) We all benefit from improvements in healthcare. I am fortunate to be a healthy individual. The unwell people covered by my same insurer are reaping the benefits of the premiums I pay in terms of care today. But at the same time I will benefit from the advances in treatment that the doctors learn from those experiences.

4) I should have choices. No one dictates to me who should insure my car nor who should insure my home. No one should dictate to me who can insure my health. Furthermore, I should be able to choose my coverages much like I do on my car and home. Why should this be any different?

Examining these four basic beliefs leads me to wonder whether the reform program is misguided. Rather than increasing the level of government involvement in my health care, why wouldn’t a reform program increase my own level of involvement? Why do most Americans not go to the doctor for annual physicals between the ages of 18 and 50? These are the areas where a shift in thinking is required. So far I have not seen any government proposals that would put my in charge of my health. And that’s just wrong.

A simple approach would be to mandate that everyone have health insurance, and those that cannot afford it receive a subsidy from the government. Let’s assume that there are 30 Million people without health insurance (a reasonable estimate). And for the sake of argument, say that none of them can afford it. Let’s also assume that this pool of individuals is less healthy than average and should pay a higher premium – $25,000 a year. That is a ludicrous number, right? That comes out to a $750 Billion expense. $250 Billion less than the proposal currently on the table.

So what exactly has Congress proposed? There is no telling. My simple plan is straightforward and solves the underlying problem – have healthcare coverage for all Americans. Let those people who currently are covered continue to be covered under their current approach. Provide the ability for the uninsured to be covered via government subsidy. This would be a less expensive and less invasive first step toward revamping the system and would keep the door open to allow individuals to make their own medical decisions.

We will have to wait and see how this round shakes out in Congress.

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