Broadcast Flag Through Commitee

Blech, the broadcast flag has made it through committee.

As things stand now, the Senate Commerce Committee has decided we need a broadcast flag, but is leaning heavily against net neutrality. That’s just plain inconsistent. In the argument against legislating the tenets of network neutrality into law, its opponents make the case that federal regulation is unnecessary because it applies government regulation to technology instead of letting the markets sort the whole matter out. That is the line of reasoning followed by Sen. Stevens and other legislators who are leery of mandating net neutrality. At the same time, the senators are fully backing the broadcast flag, which would apply strict government regulations to technology. There’s one common thread here: the interests of big business. With the broadcast flag, big business is for heavy regulation. In the case of net neutrality, it’s not. At least we know where our lawmakers’ true interests lie.

The Daily Show affects young voters

A study found that watching The Daily Show might be causing low youth voter turnouts because viewers have a more cynical opinion of candidates and the political system. Ah, now I get it. Young people aren’t avoiding the polls because the candidates are low quality and the system is corrupt, they’re avoiding the polls because The Daily Show keeps pointing out that the candidates are low quality and the system is corrupt.

The bad idea behind our failed health-care system

Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New Yorker on the trouble with the U.S. health care system is a must read.

Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year—or close to four hundred billion dollars—on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy—a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper—has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.
Here are some groups advocating for single-payer, national systems and universal insurance coverage: * American Health Care Reform – bonus points for the Breakfast Club quote on the home page * Physicians for a National Health Program * Universal Health Care Action Network * Health Care For All

Bush sneaks in vetoes under a veil of formality

It’s bizarre finding this on Science Blog:

An article published in the latest issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly discusses how the Bush administration used a little-known policy tool of attaching presidential signing statements to bills to, in essence, veto them. The statements serve to increase presidential authority while rejecting that of Congress. Presidential signing statements alter specific provisions of legislation without sending bills back for possible veto overrides. This is as effective and substantive as a line-item veto and can nullify a range of statutory provisions even as a president signs the legislation that contained them into law.
I had no idea this was possible.