Saturday, July 07, 2012

Death of a Public Employee

Nick Hall left Mount Rainier for the last time on Thursday.  Unlike his final ascent, when he went up by helicopter as part of a National Park Service team to rescue four trapped climbers on 21 June, Mr. Hall made his final descent in a body bag.  He fell to his death during that difficult rescue.  And while all of the climbers made it off the mountain safely due to the skill of Mr. Hall, his fellow rangers and a helicopter crew from Joint Base Lewis McChord, adverse weather delayed his own recovery for two weeks.

The many tributes to Mr. Hall emphasized his enthusiasm and dedication to the work he did, all quite appropriate.  Also appropriate is to remember that Nick Hall was a public employee.  And while Mr. Hall's work and untimely death are not the run-of-the-mill bureaucratic jobs, it is right and proper to remind ourselves that his ability to rescue people would not be possible without the organization that supported him.

It is also right and proper to remember that Mount Rainier National Park is a public institution, accessible to all for a modest fee.  For that modest fee, a visitor has access to park facilities and organized activities.  For an additional $43 a visitor can climb to Rainier's summit and, if necessary, someone like Nick Hall will risk his or her life to rescue that visitor if necessary.

It's a good deal for all of us.  It was a good deal for Nick Hall until it cost him his life.  Serving us.

Godspeed, Mr. Hall.

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Thursday, July 05, 2012


My first reaction to news that some Republican governors would decline to participate in the Medicaid expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act was that that the motherfuckers were just trying sabotage what they couldn't kill in Congress or the courts.  Jeezuz guys, this is a national program and you are (supposedly) a responsible public official, so do your fucking job and make it work!  Without state participation in Medicaid expansion, many of the 30 million Americans newly insured by the ACA actually will not be insured.  Last week's Supreme Court decision gave states the right to refuse the deal and it looks like Republicans will use that option.

On second, somewhat more sober thought, maybe the Republican governors are just continuing the debate about health care and how to finance it.  If the Republican governors succeed in denying health care to enough people, the ACA will have failed and we will just have to come up with something that does work.

I doubt if those rejectionist Republican governors wanted to restart the health care debate.  I think they are trying to kill what, for all of its flaws, is a public response to a critical public problem.  But all they can kill or sabotage is this particular scheme.  The need will still be there.

So will the Public Option.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Still a Good Idea

July 4, 1776
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

They Got Nuthin'

Republicans are fond of talking "repeal and replace" when in it comes to Affordable Care Act.  But the emphasis is exclusively on the repeal.  Apparently repeal is all that is needed.  According to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the 30 million Americans who would lose coverage with repeal are "not the issue".  Perhaps the Free Market Magic Fairy will take care of them all

The Affordable Care Act has plenty of shortcomings but is, if nothing else, a real attempt to deal with a real problem.  The Republican alternative:  you die, go broke or both.

Case in point:  my 82 year-old friend is a retired lawyer who did very well practicing in Phoenix from 1960 to the early 90's until he got cancer.  He beat the cancer at the cost of his life savings and now lives month to month in subsidized senior housing and makes weekly trips to the food bank. 

If the Affordable Care Act had been in place back then, my friend would not be in such dire straights.

Apparently, that is not an issue that means shit to McConnell and his band of thugs.


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Canada Day 2012

Greetings to our friends up north on your national day.  It is well that the US did not succeed in 1812.

Perhaps the coming year will see the end of the Harper national nightmare.  

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Margaret E. Martin, 1912-2012

Today's Washington Post obituaries listed Margaret E. Martin, statistician.  Curious about  the occupation, I read the obituary and discovered a highly accomplishe, well-respected woman who lived 100 years.
Dr. Martin came to Washington in 1942 to work for the Bureau of the Budget’s Division of Statistical Standards. She helped develop the Current Population Survey, which is now produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and remains the federal government’s primary source of labor statistics.
In 1961 and 1962, she was assigned to a presidential committee analyzing the nation’s employment statistics.

From 1967 to 1973, Dr. Martin was assistant chief of the Statistical Policy Division of the Bureau of the Budget, which later became the Office of Management and Budget

In 1973, she became executive director of the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academy of Sciences. She continued to work part time for the committee for several years after her retirement in 1978.
Few enought can achieve that level of success at any time, but for a woman of Dr. Martin's generation to do so attests to her ability and determination and, no doubt, professional rigor.

Godspeed, Dr. Martin.