Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why Does The Right Lie About Medicare For All? Ans.: To Make Medically Bankrupt 'Muricans Feel Better!

No automatic alt text available.
Image accompanying latest WSJ propaganda piece ('The False Promise of Medicare for All')

First, let's grasp that the character who got us into the Great Depression was none other than President Herbert Hoover.  It stands to reason then that his latter day acolytes embedded in the Hoover Institution would be front and center in carrying out his regressive economics and continuing to make the lives of millions miserable today as well.  They, e.g.  Dr. Scott W. Atlas -  in his hit on Medicare for All in yesterday's WSJ ('The False Promise of Medicare for All', p. A17)-  keep at it because it serves their  "profit over people" purpose. It also keeps their rich donors (like the Koch brothers) at the center of continuing political power plays, dramas - and the infusion of their money pays for the PR attacks..

The lies reeled off  in Scott Atlas' piece are so prodigious that if I recited them all they'd consume most of this post - apart from giving them further currency-   so that I will not do. I will just present one of his damned lies, because it invokes our Canadian neighbors, i.e.

"In Canada last year the median wait time between seeing a general practitioner and following up with a specialist was 10.2 weeks, while the wait between seeing a doctor and beginning treatment was about five months. According to a Fraser Institute study, the average Canadian waits three months to see an ophthalmologist, four months for an orthopedist, and five months for a neurosurgeon."

All of which are bald faced lies.    Besides, do we trust the offerings of the "Fraser Institute" or any of its "studies"?  I think not, given they are a creature of the Koch brothers, e.g.


The Fraser Institute is a libertarian think tank based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Fraser Institute is an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN), and was featured in SPN's Associate Member Updates in July/August 2017. [1] Additional reports, ranking and index information about the Fraser Institute are featured in SPN's Associate Member Updates.  The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN)

So are you really going to believe this bunch, OR anyone who cites them?  I think not, nor should you given THEY are the lot selling the real snake oil.    Indeed, the Canadians we spoke with in our last trip to Alberta (Sept. 25- Oct. 6) unanimously agreed they would not change their single payer  health care  for the world, and certainly not with Americans and their pathetic patchwork system with dozens of insurance companies, continually increasing premiums, and drug prices that are more like continuing extortion.

Our niece Inge, a naturalized Canadian (originally from Trinidad),  has lived in Toronto for over 3 decades. She has also had occasion to use the Canuck single payer system multiple times for back issues. Never has she experienced waiting times cited by this kook, Atlas.  (She did acknowledge in certain provinces, an ingrown toenail - which has lesser priority  - may have you waiting a bit longer to see a specialist than say, a broken big toe.)

While the Right and its Libertarian cohort (including the Kochs) likes to baffle with bullshit concerning Medicare for all, its basis is really quite simple and sensible.  It would basically take the existing successful Medicare system, strengthen it and extend it to all Americans. Thus, we would see:

- From birth everyone, every American citizen, will be insured and have access to any doctor or hospital in the country no matter the size of their bank account. (Unlike today when a private insurance corporations dictates which doctor you can see.)

- Unlike today when a high deductible or lack of coverage prevents it, people will be able to see a doctor when they first become ill. This will save on much larger costs down the road when conditions worsen.

- Prescription drug prices will be cut by as much as 40 percent simply by repealing a federal law that prevents Medicare from competitive bidding for lowest drug prices.

But make no mistake that 'Medicare for all'  would be the for profit  medical industry's biggest nightmare because they'd no longer be able to reap profits by invoking  pre-existing conditions or medical loss ratios - preventing sick people from getting care instead of delivering it. Hence, they and their  political lackeys and extremists will be prepared to fight like junkyard dogs to prevent it, including the perverse use of propaganda.

Some of the myths peddled by the Right and the likes of the denizens of the Hoover Institution as well as CATO Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Manhattan Institute etc. are the following - with their knockdowns:

Myth: Single payer is government run health care.

Fact: No, that would be the Veterans Administration system. Under single payer you get a health ID card and can see any doctor or go to any hospital in the U.S.  Doctors are NOT employees of the government and hospitals remain in private hands.

Myth: Single payer will lead to rationing like in Canada:

Fact: No, because right now in the U.S. it is PRIVATE health insurance which rations care by using medical loss ratio calculations to determine how much care must be disallowed to earn x % profit

Myth: Costs will skyrocket under single payer.

Fact: By eliminating the for profit system we can save $350 b a year or more in administrative costs.

Myth: Drugs will be more costly and difficult to get under single payer.

Fact:  Drugs will be cheaper because single payer will be able to bargain for lowest prices - like the VA does.

 All of these points show that too many Americans have been fed a bill of goods about single payer, and we call such tactics propaganda.  It is time to start rationally responding every time the term "single payer"  or "Medicare for all" surfaces in media attacks or PR hits.

We all need to begin to think rationally about how we can make our system much better by adopting it, and also rigorously arguing against the assorted spurious attacks by media know - nothings, their lackeys and the pro-capitalist exploiters.   As a relatively recent example, both Charles Blahous and  CNN's Jake Tapper were exposed as not completely truthful in a   pair of essays published in the journal Jacobin.

Also not surprising is that Tapper echoed the Neoliberal twaddle of The Washington Post which (Jacobin writer) Matt Bruenig points out has regurgitated the untruths in  a separate fact-check  of Ocasio -Cortex, as well as a video segment accompanying an editorial entitled  “The cosmically huge ‘if’ of Medicare for all."   Interestingly, the editors removed the video soon after the exposure.

This led Bruenig to write:

"In some ways, the undead nature of this falsehood is a perfect microcosm of the problems our society faces in dealing with fake news.  Once a false report is out there, it is devilishly difficult to undo the damage it has caused because, even if it is corrected, few people ever recognize the correction and so many people wind up repeating the false report.

Sometime later, a medical specialist (John Perryman) wrote in a response letter to the WSJ (Aug.  17th):  

"The U.S. pays more for health care, whether measured on a per capita basis or as a proportion of GDP than every other nation on Earth".

So no wonder so many Americans have to file for medical bankruptcy (i.e. file for bankruptcy because of crushing medical debt.)   Why then all these persistent attacks on single payer systems? Obviously to make overburdened Americans believe they don't have it so bad after all! They have access to the "greatest medical system" in the whole world"... for a price!

See also:

by Robert Reich | November 14, 2018 - 7:15am |


"Over 70% of Americans–and even 52% of Republicans–now support Medicare for All, a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would cover everyone at far lower cost than the current system."



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Seriously? Over 760,000 Coloradans Still Want to Preserve Slavery - What Gives?

Image result for Colorado slavery cartoon images

As I wrote in  the post on the Dem blue wave midterm  success, a majority of voters supported the ballot measure,  Amendment A,   to ban slavery in the state.    The bad news, 35 percent of Colorado voters did not. The question considered in this post:  Why the hell not?  The.formal ballot question as it appeared on our ballot was:

"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution  that prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime and thereby prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances."

At first blush the question admittedly appeared preposterous, given as The Denver Post Voter's Guide put it  (in the case against):  "Slavery and involuntary servitude are already illegal so the change would be merely symbolic"   

Most people - not just Colorado citizens-  still believe the question was settled after the Civil War.  And despite the Post's  "meh" take, enormous loopholes remained in the language - enough to drive a metaphorical Mack Truck through.  While the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution  abolished most forms of slavery when ratified in 1865, it still left loopholes - namely for involuntary servitude.

 This was in the form of punishment as integrated into forced labor programs in the nation's penal institutions. It especially became useful as many private corporations realized they could save big bucks on labor by getting prison labor, i.e. slave labor for little or no pay. Or if you prefer, "indentured servitude".

Thus, such servitude was fully allowed provided "it serve as punishment for a crime, where the party shall have been duly convicted."  In other words, break the law and you could end up in a prison where you're either breaking rocks for eight to ten hours a day as a slave, or working for a corporation making mittens for 10 cents a day. Slave labor. Indentured servitude. 

Incredibly, with the final tally in, the results showed 766, 218  voters in our state still wanted slavery, vs.  1, 452, 806 who voted to abolish it by changing the language in the Constitution.    

Jumoke Emery, director of the campaign for ProgressNow, and creator of the 'Abolish Slavery'  Colorado campaign told the WSJ  4 weeks ago that most people are shocked when informed that the 13th amendment didn't outlaw slavery in every circumstance. He noted that:

"the language in both the state and U.S. constitutions are a remnant of a more painful time in the country's past."

According to Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, director of the ACLU of Colorado. the Amendment had broad bipartisan support, an hence the 65-35  "big win".    However, that still leaves us to account for the 35 percent of knuckle draggers and throwbacks in the state.

According to The Colorado Independent, many observers were "dismayed" but not surprised.  Just like other purple states, or ones that have recently swung blue, there are plenty of yahoos mainly in the less developed areas (which happens to be 26 counties where the voters wanted to keep the Amendment unchanged) . They insisted: "If ya do the crime, ya do the time". Time here meaning not only incarceration but working 12 hours a day for nothing,  or a pittance.

According to The Independent, quoting activist Hassan Latif:

I think it says what a lot of the political landscape is echoing across the country.  And that is that some people are very comfortable with the way things are and not so much how they should be. … It’s part of people’s ignorance just reflected in their votes against (Amendment A), and it’s very unfortunate that we’re still dealing with the question in 2018.”

This is, again, nothing short of incredible given this is 2018, not 1918.  On the other hand, a primary reason the proposition passed this time as opposed to 2 years ago is likely because of many more Millennial voters who've moved to our state ('Exit Right, Please', Denver Post, Nov. 11. p. 1D)  which also helped set up the statewide "blue tsunami" that "showed scores of Republicans the door".   And may again, in 2020 if they keep banging the drum for Dotard.

Far more generous than many of us - who tend to write off the 'keep slavery' folk as uneducated yokels and mean spirited rednecks,  Jumoke Emery offers three theories:

1) Voters were confused about the language, unsure if it included community service and work release,

2) Genuine hard - assed knuckle draggers who just like punitive forms of indentured servitude and slavery,  or

3)  Those who desire to continue the institutionalization of slavery in any form 

Well,  could have fooled me. I thought the end vote would be at least 90-10 to change the language.   I also still believe there is no "language misunderstanding"  and the racist maggots that voted not to change the language are no better than KKK vermin who - during Obama's tenure-  put up images of Michelle Obama being a whipped slave, e.g.
Image result for obama lynched images

So I put these backward CO voters in the same category, and also likely dedicated, semi-educated Trumpies.  (Trump in 2016: "I like the poorly educated!")  Hell, probably the vindictive oldsters I overhead at the BK the other morning were among this sorry lot.  Besides, the bastards actually acted out to terrify Mr. Emery. As reported in The Independent:

"On Monday afternoon, Election Day eve, he got a call from his wife, telling him to hurry home from work. Someone or some group, had set a bunch of pro-Amendment A brochures on fire on the front porch of the Emery home in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood. It was still smoldering when his wife discovered it.Emery, who is black, likened the incident to a cross-burning.

“This brand of racialized terrorism, and the legacy of slavery and the fear campaigns that were run for decades and continue to be run, haven’t ended,” Emery said. “And it’s important that the nation sees that and understands that in the context of where we are in 2018.”

Police say they’re investigating the incident, though Emery claims the cops only seemed to take interest in the burnt brochures once local media started reporting on it."
This is the sad state the country is in right now, and it won't change until we fumigate it, starting with Trump.  As the blue wave continues to roll in, finding wins in states that Trump took two years ago (the latest being Jeff Flake's AZ state - now won by Kyrsten Sinema-  there is high hope that 2020 will be a banner year to return this nation to normal.

At that point, one can only hope the Trump Nationalist Interregnum was purely an aberration, and no further mutations will arise from its dust and ashes. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Special Relativity Revisited (5): The Inertia Of Energy

We now conclude our introduction to Einstein's theory of special relativity with what many regard as its most fundamental conclusion: the inertia of energy, or light. This is embodied in Einstein's famous equation:

E = m c2

which is more accurately posed as:

E = (
D m) c2

D m is the "mass defect" or difference, say in a nuclear reaction, and c is the velocity of light.

    Before looking at examples, it's useful to consider the relativistic mass of a particle, in terms of its rest mass mo. The rest mass, as the term implies is the mass of the object at rest or:

mo = m [(1 - v2/c2)½]

Thus, if v = 0 (particle at rest) then we have:

mo = m(1)½ = m

so the mass and rest mass are identical.

Now, the relativistic mass is then:

m = mo / [(1 - v2/c2)½]

and again, if v = 0 then mo = m

But what if v = c? (Object moving at the speed of light?)


m = mo / [(1 - c2/c2)½] = mo / [1 -1]½ = mo /0 =

     In other words, m would be infinite! This is another way of saying that to try to achieve the velocity of light one would have to overcome infinite inertia! In other words, it can't be done...not for a material object.

From this, we can also see the relativistic momentum must be:

p = mu = m= mo u / [(1 - c2/c2)½ ]

This approaches the classical value (p = mu) as u
® 0

Newton's 2nd law in the relativistic format is simply:

F = ma = m (du/dt) = d/dt[mo u / [(1 - v2/c2)½ ]

The relativistic energy is found by taking the integral of : (dp/du) u du

® ò o u  (dp/ du) u du

from 0 to u and obtaining:

W = mc2/ [(1 - u2/c2)½ ] - mc2

And by the work -energy theorem:

W = K(f) - K(i)

where K(i) is just the initial rest energy, or mo c2

Then W = mo  c2/ [(1 - u2/c2)½ ] - mo c2 =
 (total energy - rest energy) 

A variation entails finding the work done (W') between two points x1 and x2 with velocity v2 at x2 and time t2, and velocity v1 at x1 and time t1.

Then we may write:

W'  =  ò x1 x2  (dp/ dt) dx  =    ò t1 t2  (dp/ dt) (dx/dt) dt = ò t1 t2  v (dp/ dt) dt

=   ò v1 v2  v  dp   =    ò v1 v2  v  (dp/dv)  dv

Note in the above we used the following facts:

v = dx/ dt   and dp = (dp/dv) dv

Here p is given as a function of v such that:

W'=   ò v1 v2  v  (d/dv) [ mo  v / [(1 - v2/c2)½ ]   dv

On integrating the preceding equation by parts we find:

W'  =   mo  c2/ [(1 - v2 2/c2)½ ] - mo c2 / [(1 - v1 2/c2)½ ]

This equation immediately shows that the effect of the work done is to produce a change in the quantity:

E' =   mo  c2/ [(1 - v2/c2)½ ] 

Note how this is different from the classical kinetic energy equation: 

 E = 1/2  ( m v2 )

In particular E' does not become 0 when v = 0 (Instead it reduces to: 

E' = mo c2

Hence, if we desire a quantity which correspond as closely as possible to classical KE we need to define:

Ek   =   mo c2 / [(1 - v 2/c2)½ ]    -    mo c2

If indeed this is a correct relativistic  generalization of kinetic energy it must reduce to approximately  1/2  m v2   when  v << c.

This can easily be shown by expanding the binomial   (1 - v 2/c2)½   in the last eqn. using the binomial theorem, i.e.

(1 - v 2/c2-1/2    =    1  +    2/2 c2   +   (3 4/ 8c4  ) +    ......

Example Problem:

Apply the basic mass-energy equation, E = (
D m) c2, to the case of nuclear fusion.


1H2 + 1H2
®  2He3 + 2He3 + o n 1

which actually occurs in the Sun.

We now compile the masses (in atomic mass units) on each side:

2.015 u + 2.015 u
® 3.017 u + 1.009 u


4.030 u
® 4.026 u

Now, the right side is less than the left by an amount equal to the mass defect or:

D m = 4.030 u - 4. 026 u = 0.004 u

To get the energy E:

E = (0.004 u)(931 MeV/u) = 3.7 MeV

where 931 MeV/u is the conversion factor incorporating c2

To transfer to Joules:

3.7 MeV = 3.7 MeV x (1.6 x 10-13 J/MeV)= 6.0 x 10-13

Example Problem (2):

Determine the energy required to accelerate an electron from 0.50c to 0.90c.

By the work -energy theorem:

W = K(f) - K(i)

K(i) = mo c2/ [(1 - u2/c2)½ ]

u1 = 0.50 c

K(f) = mo c2/ [(1 - u2/c2)½ ]

u2 = 0.90c   (where: mo = 9.1 x 10-31 kg )

K(f) - K(i) = mo c2/ [(1 - (0.90c)2/c2)½ ]

- mo c2/ [(1 - (0.50c)2/c2)½ ]

K(f) - K(i) = mo c2/[(1 - 0.81]½ - mo c2/[(1 - 0.25]½

K(f) - K(i) = 2.294 mo c2 - 1.155 mo c2 = 1.134 mo c2


K(f) - K(i) = 9.32 x 10-14 J = 0.583 MeV 

Problems for Budding Physicists:

1) A student proposes to compute the kinetic energy of a particle relativistically by using the expression  1/2  m v with the 'relativistic mass of the particle.   Would this be correct? Explain why or why not.

2) Determine the energy required to accelerate a proton from 0.25c to 0.50c. 

3) Protons emerge from a particle accelerator with a kinetic energy equal to 0.49 mc2.   What is the speed of these particles? Compare the result to that obtained from the non-relativistic relation between mass and energy.

4) What is the speed of a particle whose kinetic energy is equal to its rest energy? What percentage error is made if the non-relativistic kinetic energy expression is used?

5) Show that the relativistic  kinetic energy equation:

Ek   =   mo c2 / [(1 - v 2/c2)½ ]    -    mo c2

Reduces to approximately:

1/2  m v2   when  v << c.