Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Rick Scott Problem: Florida's Latest Political Misque

After the electoral problems we faced in Florida in 2000 one hoped that our problems were behind us.  However, the elections in 2010 proved that my hope was misplaced and naive. This was the plea I sent to voters in Florida before the election of Rick Scott as our 44th Governor.  Admittedly it was the wrong track to take as it did not prevent Mr. Scott's election.  Perhaps the better way to go was to point out Alex Sink's strengths vs. Mr. Scott's weaknesses and disqualifications for holding a position of trust in any enterprise not to mention a state.

      If you have a loved one in Florida that might vote for this guy – please have a heart to heart with them and deal with only the facts.
      Rick Scott thinks he can be governor because he does not recognize the difference in the missions of business and governance.
      The changes he made in health care while in charge of Columbia and Columbia/HCA can still be felt by anyone entering a facility once owned by them – reduced patient care due to cutting staffing to unrealistic & sometimes unsupportable productivity goals – physicians limited only to supplies approved by non-physician managers and pressure on hospitals to meet expected increasing operating margins to support stock prices and we can go on.
      His headlong rush to acquire more hospitals to enrich himself led to creating an operating environment where malfeasance could occur instead of doing the hard work of ensuring that the business was run correctly – a problem that would have plagued him in any industry.
      Failure to take full responsibility for his actions preferring to sound a bit paranoid by saying the Federal Government went on a witch hunt and that he was a victim.
      Costing his former company, its patients, physicians, employees and investors $1.7 billion in fines and another $300 million (estimated) on his getaway – the golden parachute. That’s $2 billion dollars the board of directors parted with so they could be rid of Rick Scott. That could have provided a lot of good patient care but is instead being used to launch his political career.
      Let me make one thing perfectly clear – Rick Scott says he’s an outsider, a novice politico. I submit to you he’s been a practicing politician for some time now.
It seems that I am doomed to be a hopeful fool as I did allow myself to hope for the best despite the election of Rick Scott by a tide of youthful and Tea Partying supporters.  As the days dwindle down to his inauguration I see some reason to be concerned about his stand on these issues:
  • Health Care Reform - Rick Scott led a very visible opposition to the Health Care Reform Act when he spent a lot of his own money to form and act as the chief spokesperson the CPR campaign.  According to Rick's own web site he has not changed his desire to overturn the law that helps so many that are uninsured and therefore at the mercy of a for profit health care industry.
  • Public Education - Rick Scott has called for the expanded use of vouchers initiated by then Governor Jeb Bush.  The plan would eliminate many jobs in Florida as the wealthy would get unneeded  subsidies to send their children to exclusive and often restricted private schools.  Additionally, the plan would be open to massive fraud - an opportunity with which Mr. Scott  is familiar.
  • Public Safety - Rick Scott has floated the idea that the prisons in the state could make do with a little more than half their current budget.  He has also called for privatizing the health care of inmates makes sense too.  Mr. Scott is showing himself to be too wedded to a single issue - health care and additional opportunities for rip-offs.
Now we have an unindicted fraud-master surrounding himself with a bunch of yes men and women that he will be able to use to deflect any future charges of malfeasance.  He will be very busy reducing benefits to the unemployed, poor, working poor and lower middle class to the benefit of his wealthy buddies in the form of business breaks and lower property taxes.  Rick hasn't made me feel any better about his election, in fact, I am becoming more and more concerned about Florida's future with this rookie politician thinking he can just wing it.  Remember, he wasn't at fault at HCA - it was his other managers that let him down and he took one for the team - except the Scott team had one player and he got a great payoff to go away.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Post to HP that got flushed - re: Julian Assange

Thank you Julian Assange. I don't know what your personal motivation­s were for doing what you have done but you may have - unintentio­nally - made a huge number of Americans wake up and see what we have as a government.
During a time that the Tea Partying GOP is carrying the water for some of the wealthiest people and companies in the world we have found out that our government isn't as good as the ideals to which we pledge. We classify documents and snark that should have never been put to paper. Then we show incompeten­ce in how we handle such questionab­ly sensitive material by putting them into a system accessible by a Lady Gaga fan. Now we threaten our citizenry if they dare comment on what some idiots have done in our name.
Borrowed this pic from Wikipedia.
 I don't know if I have to put it back.
That's it - I'm not sure how many of the 250 word allottment from HP I used but I'm pretty sure I wasn't inciting anyone to violence or the overthrow of our government or questioning someone's parentage.  So why was it deemed by the censors at HP as being unsuitable?  I don't know and they won't tell.  So please, can someone tell me where I crossed the line?  My goal is conversation not instigation or controlling the conversation.

This particular subject has led me to a future posting.  I'm thinking of trying to connect the dots between 9/11 and George Bush's response to it and how his response has led us to situations like American citizens being cautioned about discussing what passes for diplomacy today and the culture of secrecy we have despite claiming to want "transparency".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thoughts on the Bush tax fiasco

An awful lot has been said about whether the Bush tax bill should be extended, modified or allowed to expire as it was designed.  I can only speak for myself but I would advocate for the end of the tax break for so many reasons.

First of all the tax breaks were not needed when they were jammed down our throats by President Bush and the GOP.  Sure the country was in a minor recession and the Republicans were in a hot tizzy to tear down the Clinton Budget Surplus by giving a big fat gift to the wealthy.  However, the wealthy were not all in agreement about the need of the cuts.  In fact, I recall Bill Gates being a prominent opponent to these reductions at the time.  By making these cuts Mr. Bush ingratiated himself with what he would later call "his base" - the "haves" and leave the growing national debt to our children and grandchildren to figure out.

Additionally, we have now had 10 years of experience with the Bush tax fiasco and did not see the promised growth in jobs.  We have seen the wealthy do what we would all do if we were afforded the opportunity to - bank that windfall.  The net wealth gap between the top 2% and the rest of us has grown larger and faster than ever before.  If there was any investment of these monies it went into companies that were busy off shoring as many jobs as they could and watching their bottom lines grow. 

The mismanagement continues today - our audaciously hoped for liberal renaissance has quickly come back to Earth as President Obama has sought out an extremely cautious path through our trying times - which he continues to remind us he inherited. He has failed to end the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else we may be in clandestine misadventures.  He has failed to end our activities in the dastardly practices of renditions, Guantanamo, black prison sites or bringing torturers to justice.  If he'd only show the world that the Nobel Committee was not wrong in awarding him an early Peace Prize we would reap benefits in our international reputation and economy.

Sorry about that hard left hand turn.  I hope you are still with me. 

The Tea Partying GOP is busy victimizing those that are already victims of this mess.  The TP/GOP engages in a campaign in which they suggest everyone that isn't wealthy already only aspires to live out their lives on the public dole.  Granted there are some people that might be taking advantage but they are a far smaller problem than the TP/GOP want us to believe.  Then when the bias of the social order is debated publicly the Progressives and Liberals are accused of "class warfare".  Our society learned long ago that we are a better people and economy when we lend a hand when it is needed.  We should not ignore those hard lessons learned - we should be putting our collective shoulder to the task of pushing through this economic quagmire!

To those that say they have been taxed enough already you do not truly understand that the "taxes" coming due will not just be collected by the dreaded IRS.  If we fail to help out our unemployed, under-employed, working poor and disadvantaged the life you have come accustomed to living may be forever lost.  Prepare yourself for the "tax man" forms that you may have never contemplated before.  We as a people and country have the work ethic and a sense of fair play to change the course we seem to be taking.

I cannot understand completely why the wealthy and ownership class are so ready to take the risk of flushing the American potential - which is what makes us exceptional - down the drain.  In terms that I'm sure everyone can appreciate, there is money to be made from those we help and employ.  There is only a limited future if the only people that have discretionary income are the wealthiest few.  Try to find someone to buy the goods or services your company may provide if they are not employed or have to spend every nickle scraped together to buy food, shelter and medicine.  Don't be so short sighted - see that eventually the market will not support your business as demand fades away - and if businesses fade away so too the jobs fade away and the potential becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy of total failure.

Let the tax rates return to their previous level.  Restore unemployment benefits to all that have been cut off.  Help those who are in need.  Get busy doing the hard work of restoring the economy and retiring our debt.  After we've got that handled you can go back to being self absorbed .

Well this being my first extended posting has been personally interesting - I'll try to be better focused in the future and provide the links to support my arguments.  Consider this a rant if you will but I've named my blog "Educate me" because I want feedback.  Please feel free to add your comments and opinions but if all you have is name calling in your bag of tricks, please don't bother.  I've been called it all before and it just doesn't get to me.