Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Themes

In the midst of the election season, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reports that if we don't do something to avoid the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the automatic budget cuts that were put in place during the fight over raising the debt ceiling, we are headed towards a serious recession.  There's no chance Congress will reach an agreement on any of this, at least until after the election.  That means riding this wave of uncertainty right down to the last minute.

The campaigns have been talking non-stop about Medicare, but Ezra Klein reminds us that the big Romney-Ryan cuts are to programs for the poor, starting with Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants -- and on and on.  It's a very fundamental disagreement about the role of government.  Since World War II, with the GI Bill and first time home-buyer supports and other programs, we built a middle class, later propping it up with Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.  There was, in essence, a social compact, an agreement into which Americans entered to ensure that every American had an opportunity to grow and succeed.  The push towards small government doesn't help the middle class; it helps the wealthy.  And yet, so many middle class Americans favor the small government model.  It's completely baffling, if you ask me.

"Black and Latino children were more likely than white children to be obese, witness gun violence and ride in a car without a seat belt, according to a study released Wednesday."  There are widespread disparities in health status in African-American, Latino and white fifth graders in Houston, Birmingham, Alabama, and Los Angeles across many health indicators, from cigarette smoking to bike helmet use.  Many of these disparities increase the risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

Here in Connecticut, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and ConnectiCare have all submitted premium rate filings that would result in more than a 13% hike in premiums next year.  Consumers who would be affected by the rate hikes have an opportunity to comment.  I know we did.

We're seeing an alarming number of cases of West Nile virus this year.  With mosquito control district budgets being cut, we aren't really ready for this. 

Six ways to cope with cancer, from the NY Times blogger who's been writing throughout her bone marrow transplant.

A British man who had "locked-in syndrome" after a stroke, and who went to court for the right to assisted suicide, has died.  The court ruled against him and he refused to eat after that.  So sad. 

Children of older fathers appear to be more prone to autism, schizophrenia, as they transmit more DNA variations to their children.  Is this the male version of the biological clock?  Maybe.

Pulling an all-nighter to study for an exam is counter-productive since sleep deprivation greatly compromises comprehension and performance.  Go to bed!

And that's it for this morning.  Have a great day!  Jennifer

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