Sunday, September 20, 2009

It takes two: TGR ski porn milks the skier/camera interaction.

Watching the TGR premier in Jackson Hole is great for two reasons: local footage and stoked locals. They always have a substantial portion of local footage that plenty of locals in the room have also skied. Even though these are some of the most jaded been-there-done-that skiers anywhere, they still went wild for several parts of the flick such as the ridiculously deep, dry powder in Haines and really tight couloirs in the North Cascades.

The movie's title refers not just to the zeitgeist across the country this last winter, but also to TGR's own situation. They too, had to tighten their belt for this production with the loss of Jeep as their primary sponsor. Amazingly, RE:SESSION was put together without a big auto sponsor that was key to their initial success. That they can now put out a movie without one shows how far they've come since Continuum.

That said, they definitely are cutting corners to focus on the meat and potatoes of jib/park sessions, AK big-mountain freeriding, and hucking. There's some powder, some incidental shots of the new tram, and a tacked-on tribute to Shane McConkey, but no real storyline, plot development or examination of the characters. This is the same complaint many people make about porn though, and this is ski porn. What most people want is to cut straight to the action. Methinks it has more to do with limited budgets than lack of creativity. In fact, I would expect a challenge such as this to stimulate the creative minds of the Tetons to make something new happen.

And that's what I was originally thinking about as I watched the movie and noticed a somewhat flat response in the crowd to some sections. The athletes are still there doing their thing, but the rad heli-cam might have been curtailed, leaving it up to the magic between skier and camera, instead of the mechanics. I am saying that some of the shots were unimaginative and unimpressive, but as skiers continue to play with the different features of the mountain and the photogs/videogs learn to make the most of this tightened budget situation, we will continue to see innovation and be impressed in new ways by the art of filming skiing.

So who wants to play?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wingnut healthcare opposition: "I got mine!"

I like to keep in touch with the fringe. By that, I mean groups and people interested in the same issues as me, but with completely illogical stances on the issues. I listen to Rush and Savage on occasion. Since I got seriously informed and active about health care reform this spring, I have spread a lot of my thoughts on Facebook -and so have other health care reform activists, but one group of very fringe folks is catching my attention. They are calling their group "Hands Off My Health", like the government is going to come and put lead in their coffee, mercury in their toothpaste, bury dioxin in rusting barrels in their backyard, clog the toilet with paper towels and leave. It's got a lot of misinformation, anti-government blathering, and general opposition to anything except Republican hegemony. It's kind of the teabaggers of health care. Here are some posts that give good examples of the thought process in the "Nobama" camp.

[Looney associations and thoughts that were only half-finished when they left the author's head]:

Deborah A. Talmadge Obama forgets that allopathic medicine killed George Washington....They bled him and then decided to give him 65 miligrams of mercury......the cure was worse than the illness, kind of like cemotherapy. Obama is trying to get rid of naturepath's. I have great allopathic medical coverage, but chose go to a naturepath and that cost me.
Obama needs to get it togeather[sic].

Jennifer Kent
"We don't know what it would be like to be treated as second rate citizens just because we're not insured. Sadly, good friends of mine do. Affordable health care plans should be available to every citizen."

Last sentence is correct and is currently true in the U.S. The fact that any number of people are uninsured is not an argument for health care reform nor is it an indication of failure of our current system. That's one of the biggest fallacies that underlie Obamacare.

Arrogant bully? That's funny. Obama makes Bush look like the picture of modesty and graciousness and gentleness. I find it hilarious that people criticize Bush for the very traits that describe Obama: arrogance, lack of class, non-intellectual (yes, Obama may use fancy words thanks to his speech writers but catch him on the fly and he sounds unprepared, uncouth, and very ignorant.) ...

The emperor has no clothes, people!

[Threats against the president for trying to do what all other industrialized countries already do for their citizens]:

Sharon Donehey Obama's attempt to turn America into the euro-socialist nanny state of his dreams deserves to fail. Sic semper tyrannis!

[Really flimsy attempts to gloss over the central issue in the health care debate (whether Americans should join together to provide health care to all or if we should go everyone for themselves) with presumptive statements]:

Cheryl Leger Osipov
[Obama] has a track record of lying. Too many ignorant Americans who chose to forget campaign promises that were made to them. And too many ignorant Americans who refuse to remove their blinders and see what's happening. If they believe it's all for the common good - then it's okay, right? Common Good is Socialism. I'm all for charity and helping out, ... but it's not the governments responsibliity to provide my healthcare or welfare. Unfortunately, we've raised a society of entitlement thinking people - it's EASIER to let the government do it for me instead of being responsible for themselves. God forbid - one be responsible for their own bills and themselves?! What a concept!

[Just despicable "I'm worth more than anyone else" crap]:

Joseph Bennett
Joseph Bennett
Hamish - We can kick 25% to 50% of the uninsured out of this country if we enacted a 21st century iteration of "Operation Wetback."

Also, why should I have to wait in the same "Universal Healthcare" queue as a welfare recipient and her ten bastard kids, when I have an advanced degree and contribute far more to the local, state, and federal tax coffers in one year than they ever will?

[And the usual "love it or leave it" assinine ultimatum]:

Bart Cauley
Bart Cauley
hamish your a ifoolish person go live in one of those nations and get terminally ill you will begging for private insurance from America a first rate nation.. It sad that you want something easy and free get a job pay for it and get what you pay for..

Helen Joyce Box
Helen Joyce Box
this person sounds so immature &
uniformed & needs a lesson in history,
& needs to move where they have socialized medicine

My response, after reading a fiery blog on Huffington Post that basically told the "love it or leave it" crowd to get with the program -as in, the "America is a democratic nation and we are all in this together" program, was this piece of my own vitriol:

I wish to tell these kick-the-ladder-down types to go take their selfish, greedy, idiotic tribe and do what they keep telling us, the majority, who LOVE AMERICA, to do: "Go find yourself a floating island, an uninhabited bomb test site -a space station for all I care- and start your own libertarian paradise where you have to pay just to breathe. And when you need laborers because you need to build your profits on someone else's slaving, you want to gobble up America's natural resources or use our military to "defend" your corporate interests...Well! You can just pay them a living wage and also compensate the state for educating them so they are knowledgable in math and literacy, adding to their productivity; and you, my cloistered "free-marketeers", you can pay us a hefty sum for using in a few centuries what took the earth eons to create -with a disastrous environmental impact on the most vulnerable of us- and then, dear Teabag Patriots, you can defend your own damn corporations if you really think they are so holy that foreign countries have no business kicking us out when our corporations buy out their governments, rape their resources, enslave their labor and in-debt their children. When you're ready to talk about paying the bottom 95% of this country for what you currently get FOR A SONG, then...just maybe then...we'll consider your proposal. Until then, accept that Universal Health Care is going to be good for all Americans (including you!) and the same goes for the next piece of progressive change. After seeing the result of Americans working for change that benefits us all, I hope you don't make us force a healthier environment, living wages, and corruption-free public campaigns down your throat.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Enzi gets it

When it comes to health care reform, my senator Mike Enzi gets it -he just doesn't put it all together.

Enzi in 2006: "If you have no insurance, it doesn't matter what services are mandated by the state." (His excuse to vote AGAINST legislation that would stop insurance companies from listing spousal abuse as a "pre-existing condition" that allowed them to rescind the policy.)
Enzi in 2009: "If I hadn't been involved in this process would already have national health care." "National Health Care", one has to assume, would include a mechanism to provide or mandate insurance for the whole nation. So the Senator knows that reforms of insurance has no affect on the uninsured, but is working AGAINST covering the uninsured.

Enzi sees the gaps, but doesn't want to enact the reforms.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I feel...different

What's happening to me lately? I've gone from a mountain man willing to forgo lucrative pay for ski town wages in order to live close to my dreams. It makes a nice slogan for Cloudveil, but a tough life for those working to make seasonal service job income match up with destination vacation location cost of living. But a shadowed clause in the basic contract of "work for subsistence wages and we'll give you a ski pass", represents a gaping hole for the majority of those working in ski towns: no employer-sponsored health insurance with your seasonal job.
So back to me. I live in Jackson. Manage 6 employees as one part of an operation with over 40. Make less than $20K a year with no health insurance. Still, I ski (as we all do here), climb, paraglide and bike and get stupid drunk while building insane pump tracks in the back yard.
So here we are, living for love instead of for work, and when the inevitable injuries happen, we're hosed. Some of us have insurance, but it doesn't cover much, and if your injury takes you out of work, you might lose it all together. At least one injury this summer forced the victim to leave town and move back in with his parents. You'd think people around here would be interested in securing some kind of reform to help them get more affordable insurance. At least, that's my thinking.
So I organized a couple meetings through, Healthcare for America Now, and Facebook. I called my senators and rep. I wrote letters and signed online petitions. I post constantly on FB the articles I find here and there and have become a crusader in "Hands off My Health" -a group that is dedicated to saying "NO" to everything proposed by the Obama administration.
That's what I've been up to. Not entirely changing the focus from mountain adventures, but adding the perspective of politically active mountain town people who are concerned about the world beyond their own idealistic vale. Not many blogs out there cover a political issue, except some of the conservative quips on, so if you find any that straddle the gap between active lifestyle and politically active, please let me know.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today: Huge moment for health care

I've been dormant here, but active on Facebook, about health care for the last few months. I should be agitating, informing, and organizing here too, because I know there are tons of mountain adventurers who need health insurance or just have some really piddly "catastrophic" coverage. (I use scare quotes because, even with the insurance, any injury/illness is still going to be a catastrophe, considering the huge deductible and meager co-insurance typical of these plans). Forthwith, I plan on showing up here as well for those of you who consider, not only whether a tight couloir or runout climb might break your leg, but how the hell you plan on paying the bills for that broken leg, not to mention lost work, rehab, and interest on the bills (supposing you pay some on your credit card). Those of us who are college-educated (and some who are not) who are settling for low-paying jobs in order to be in a ski town, getting as much pow as possible, are particularly vulnerable -economically and from a risk standpoint- of getting F'ed up by a serious illness or injury. Even just the flu can be serious for the uninsured/underinsured. Case in point: this winter, my roommate got a pretty nasty strain of influenza. The cough became a hack and just wouldn't go away. In about a week, it had turned into pneumonia -which is what happens with untreated flu. The coughing continued and caused a cracked rib. Finally, with mounting pain (and all of us yelling at him to get help), he finally went to the doctor for antibiotics, painkillers, x-rays, etc.

Huge bill.

If you've been paying attention, you still might not now much about single-payer, the national health insurance system used by most other industrialized countries, because there has been a media blackout.

You still have a chance to get involved, and the time is now. Obama is trying to get healthcare legislation to the floor of Congress before the August break. Get involved and do something to help yourself and your bros:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I am a political strategist

Dear Mr Plouffe,
I donated and thanks for your efforts. I just want to warn you that I think your compromising has undermined the effort to achieve anything meaningful on health care reform. By dropping single-payer at the start, you lost a very effective argument against private insurance, but you also made the "public option" your only bargaining chip. Now that is getting weakened and it looks like we're going to get very little change out of the reform effort. I think you need to stop fighting for the welter-weight public option to be given a chance and let the whole effort fall on its face so that you can start over with single-payer pitted against the public insurance profiteers. How do you set this up so that Dems don't look like ineffective losers? Well, it's hard since they started themselves down that road, but make sure the Republicans and AHIP lobbyists are seen to have a hand in organizing the reform. That way, when it falls flat they have egg on their faces. If something still comes out of the effort, it's going to be a lipstick-on-pig reform that Americans should be outraged about. When some worthless reform comes out that reduces the rate of increase of health care costs from 6% to 5% annually, I'm going to think "that's what happens when you let Republicans and the industry that profits the most from the status quo take control of reform." Then I'm going to think "now I want Democrats to follow public opinion and enact a single-payer system to finance universal health coverage for all Americans, freeing our businesses and households from an onerous financial cost, while steamrolling Republicans who are offering absolutely nothing (except opposition and foot-dragging) in the face of a dire need for change.

On Sat, May 16, 2009 at 1:03 PM, David Plouffe, wrote:
Organizing for America
Hamish --

We knew healthcare reform would face fierce opposition -- and it's begun. As we speak, the same people behind the notorious "swiftboat" ads of 2004 are already pumping millions of dollars into deceptive television ads. Their plan is simple: torpedo healthcare reform before it sees the light of day by scaring the public and distorting the President's approach.

We need the resources to take them head on with an urgent, grassroots campaign to pass real healthcare reform in 2009.

When the swiftboaters flood the airwaves with distortions, we'll flood the streets with volunteers armed with facts. When they send lobbyists to tell Congress to back down, we'll send millions of calls, letters, and stories from real Americans asking them to stand up.

Please donate $5 or more by midnight Sunday to fight back against these phony attacks and take our message of reform to the American people.

Donate $5 or more by midnight Sunday

The swiftboaters are once again trying to sell the American people short. As during the election, we deserve a serious conversation -- not fear-mongering and deceit. You and I see the importance of healthcare reform every day. We can't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to face one of America's greatest challenges head on.

Passing real healthcare reform will be the toughest, most important challenge we've faced together since electing Barack Obama President.

But it's also a big reason we fought so hard to get here. I know that by working together, and speaking with one, determined voice, we can prevail over the cynics and defenders of the status quo. America's families are counting on us to do just that.

Donate $5 or more to defend healthcare reform today:

Thank you,

David Plouffe

Please donate

Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee -- 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Monetary contributions to the Democratic National Committee are not tax-deductible.

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"I am wedded to the notion that everyone in America should have access to a doctor when they need it and that this should be done fairly and at reasonable cost."
--PBS Reporter T.R. Reid

Friday, May 15, 2009

Republicans: The Party of "NO".

When I was a kid, just becoming politically aware sometime in the 80s, I had a very basic understanding of politics. It seemed Democrats had some good ideas, but it was always the Republicans who shot them down. To me, the Republicans were the party of "NO". While I now have a more nuanced understanding of national politics (Democrats are actually quite often more concerned with their own careers than making good policy and sometimes neither party makes any sense), I'm dismayed to see the Republicans pretty much just saying "NO" to health care reform without any sort of proposal for the situation we're drowning in. High costs, gaps in coverage, well-known inefficiencies are all hobbling healthcare coverage and the economy. You would expect Republicans to try and fix this, since it adversely effects small business, and is forcing us to spend more public money on health care for the uninsured. But with a reform-minded president and Democratic caucus, they are simply agin' it, without trying to shape the reform to Republican ideals. (Without any proposals to increase coverage, you wonder if Republican ideals actually are for less coverage). To make matters worse, they are playing dirty: using a stall-and-deflect strategy to cripple reform efforts and pull the teeth out of any final product from the process. In addition, they are doing it with a strategy based on fear. They're not saying "it ain't broke so don't fix it." They're saying "something scary and unknown about change; we should just stick with what we've got since there's no telling what will happen if we try to reform." See the story here:

Also, for the record, here are the tenets of the "public option" portion of Obama's reform proposal -one of the most contentious parts of the debate since they decided to shoot low and keep the best option (single-payer) "off the table"


The choice of a public health insurance plan is crucial to real health care reform. But right now, it's being smeared by conservatives and insurance-industry front groups. Here's what you really need to know:

1. Choice, choice, choice. If the public health insurance option passes, Americans will be able to choose between their current insurance and a high-quality, government-run plan similar to Medicare. If you like your current care, you can keep it. If you don't—or don't have any—you can get the public insurance plan.2

2. It will be high-quality coverage with a choice of doctors. Government-run plans have a track record of innovating to improve quality, because they're not just focused on short-term profits. And if you choose the public plan, you'll still get to choose your doctor and hospital.3

3. We'll all save a bunch of money. The public health insurance option won't have to spend money on things like CEO bonuses, shareholder dividends, or excessive advertising, so it'll cost a lot less. Plus, the private plans will have to lower their rates and provide better value to compete, so people who keep their current insurance will save, too.4

4. It will always be there for you and your family. A for-profit insurer can close, move out of the area, or just kick you off their insurance rolls. The public health insurance option will always be available to provide you with the health security you need.5

5. And it's a key part of universal health care. No longer will sick people or folks in rural communities, or low-income Americans be forced to go without coverage. The public health insurance plan will be available and accessible to everyone. And for those struggling to make ends meet, the premiums will be subsidized by the government.6

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Boulder on Wednesday, Seattle on the weekend (the weather, that is)

The tough thing about snow is that, even though you want it, you still need it to clear out so you can go have your adventures in the mountains. April's massive upslope storm in Boulder was great for filling in the routes (North Face of Longs skied several times), but there hasn't been a clear weekend for skiing them. A lot of folks are griping about every weekend in April (and the first one in May) being rainy/snowy. Still, I had one chance and made the most of it. I was in NY, looking at the weather forecast for the weekend back in CO. Thursday looked pretty good, before a system came in over the weekend. I called my buddy Jason, who is currently unemployed and game for anything, and we hatched a plan to ski Shit for Brains. I had spotted a line to gaper's left of S4B that would go with all the snow blessings of late, making west-facing lines like this possible:
Jason drove my truck to the airport, met me at 11am and we headed straight up to Loveland Pass. I changed in the parking lot and we headed out to the line, me savoring the adventure I was about to drop into with only a line drawn on a picture as a guide, and Jason puckering at the exposed sections of steep snow and rock scrambling just before S4B. Jason also descended the S4B by himself, which made me extra proud of my little billy goat pal. The next day, rain and snow came to the mountains. Without Jason motivating to get his butt in gear, get my gear to the airport and coordinate for a DIA to S4B commute, it would not have happened. It was a great day out, made possible by commitment, planning and thorough execution

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dueling with metaphors on healthcare

I'm hearing Max Baucus (D-MT) answering a reporter's question as to why Single-Payer is "off the table", hearing him say we aren't even going to give single-payer a look while we forge ahead no-questions-asked with private-insurance mandates. I think it's important to bring this up again and again because we have a public representative, someone at the helm of our healthcare refom debate, has declared he will not even consider single-payer, dismissing it with lame platitudes and vague metaphors.

Since Baucus gets to tell us what we can and can't have, I want to talk back to him. See transcript below:

SEN. MAX BAUCUS: "Well, I just have to make a judgment. And I think at this time in this country, single payer is not going to get even to first base in the Congress."

Let me just jump in here Mr. Baucus, for a news flash: Dude, you're in Congress! You chair the Senate Finance Committe that is looking at the various alternatives (or not). You're the guy at bat! If it's not getting to first base, it's because you won't even face the pitcher.

I just—and we’re also—we’re a big—we’re a big country. It’s—you know, we’re a battleship. We’re an ocean liner. We’re not a PT boat. We’re not a speedboat. It takes time to turn those big, big ships. You just can’t just turn them overnight."

Baucus, you sound like Homer telling Bart "if something is hard to do, it's probably not worth it." If you've lost interest and motivation to take on a systemic solution to a broken system, maybe you should step aside and let someone with vision and energy assume leadership in addressing this crisis.

And we are—United States of America, we’re a different country. We’re constituted differently than European countries, than Canada and other countries. We’re a younger country, where there’s more of an entrepreneurial sense in America than in those other countries. It’s kind of “go west, young man” in, you know, America and so forth."

Not every problem has an American solution, but never mind. This isn't an argument for uniquely American change, but an excuse for the status quo. The subtext here is "stop thinking about what all those other countries do, even if it works." Yep, they might do this thing in other countries they call breathing. It works quite well for ingesting oxygen, but we need to do things our own way here.

"So we’ve got to come up with our uniquely American result. An uniquely American result will be a combination of public and private insurance, but one in which everyone is covered. And just my judgment—and every member of Congress agrees with me, I think, at least those I’ve spoken with, that this is not the time to push for single payer. It may come down—it may come later. But it’s not going to happen in America, in my view. So I’m not going to waste my time pushing on something that isn’t going to happen."

...It isn't going to happen because I'm not going to do it, but that doesn't mean someone else shouldn't go on trying. Of course, I'm the one in control and I'm not letting it happen, but go ahead and try. Good Luck!

Actually, what I hear Baucus saying is that he is afraid of two things: that he'll lose face if he supports single-payer due to all the "socialist" labels that will get hurled at him and, if it doesn't pass, he'll look like a failure and lose his senate seat. Plus there's all that campaign money and lobbying from the private insurance industry that makes so much money off the current system. Only a cynic would think that has anything to do with it.
Here's the bottom line: as long as he continues to act as gatekeeper -obstructing single-payer- the Congressional Budget Office won't do a side-by-side comparison between single-payer and individual mandates. Without that, Americans will probably never learn of the estimated $350 BILLION per year savings that could be reaped with single-payer -AT THE SAME TIME AS UNIVERSAL COVERAGE! But Baucus doesn't want you to find out about that or make up your own mind. He'll give you the options that he wants you to choose.

Health insurance costs continue to rise out of control, with no end in sight as well as the number of Americans without coverage. My own view is that Americans should know the truth about single-payer so this nation can make an informed choice about how to constitute a reformed healthcare financing system that addresses both issues. Put Single-Payer (H.R. 676) on the table.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Downhill helmets for uphill skiers?

Natasha Richardson's death by epidural hematoma recently, coupled with the almost simultaneous death of Jackson Hole ski patroller Kathryn Miller Hess from head trauma, have led to a resurgence of helmet law proposals. If I were in PR, I would already be formulating a press release that puts my brands out in front of the scramble for safety in an inherently risky activity. It's actually already being done, but I would also expect to see more features telling a safety story in helmets next year. I know some pro skiers already wear full-face helmets and there are stricter requirements for these motocross-style brain buckets (same goes for DH MTB and DH skiing helms). Pretty soon, we'll have some kind of second tier of products delineated either by marketing spin like "Freeride" or just "Agressive" but maybe also by speed ratings. Currently helmets are designed for impacts around 15mph, but most skiers on blue slopes exceed 25mph so -as long as the legal department lets them- the helmets might come with a sticker proclaiming "Crash Rated to 35mph" or something like that. Still, I wonder how much uphillers are going to dive in for safety, even as they dive into steep, rock-walled couloirs this spring (much like Spacewalk, where Hess was injured)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Tour for Your Labor

Rando Racing/Backcountry Training Nexus–climbing faster means more turns!

Just last week I went for a tour up in Grand Teton Nat’l Park. We headed up one of the most accessible tours, Pt 9975, otherwise known as “25 Short”. It hadn’t snowed for a week here in Jackson Hole so the skin track was beaten in, but it still took us 6 hours to do the 4 Miles and ~3000’ of skinning to the top. The descent was a 40-degree shot into Avalanche Canyon called the Turkey Chute. The down is always faster than the up and true to form, it took us 45 minutes to get back to the car. 6 hours up and 45 down is not the sort of ratio that makes backcountry skiing sound fun or enjoyable, unless you really enjoy the up. Also, when you get a dry spell like this, you want to be able to tour in further to more remote slopes and shots that haven’t been tracked up yet. So how do you get more out of your tour?

The people to ask are the backcountry skiers who go all out to bust uphill as fast as humanly possible: ski-mountaineering racers. In broad strokes, the lessons they have for the rest of us (without going as far as carbon-fiber boots, toothpick skis, spandex, and anorexia that would make a sport-climber jealous)…

  1. Lighten up. Marker Dukes, Volkl Katanas, and your downhill boots = 24 lbs! That doesn't make for a very efficient touring setup. You don’t have to go to Scarpa F1 Carbon Race boots, ATK race bindings, and BD Cult skis (setup weight: 8.5 lbs), but you can go the middle road:

K2 Coomba ski, Garmont Radium, Dynafit Vertical ST =14 lbs :)

This setup will handle 90% of conditions in the backcountry and work just fine the other 10%.

  1. Get regular. A dedication to fitness is not just a good lifestyle choice, but keeping a regular regimen (45 mins a day 3 times a week outside of the weekend tours) has a huge benefit for your fitness level. You don’t have to train for a marathon, just get regular about exercise and your body will come to see physical effort as a part of life, not a weekends-only torture session that it just has to barely make it through.
  2. Put in some practice. Getting a few speed skills dialed will also greatly increase speed and efficiency on tour. Speed up transitions. Improve your skinning technique. Plan ahead to reduce stopping. Learn about skin track strategy and route planning. The same as you do beacon practice, work on transitioning faster, making more efficient skin tracks, and moving with exigency.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Using anecdotal evidence, NPR passes judgement on NHI

National Health Insurance: all residents of a country are covered under a universal insurance plan that is paid for through taxes. We already provide for infrastructure and national defense in the same way. The system is in use in every other industrialized country and works fantastically well, reducing by two-thirds the amount of administrative costs in the health-care industry. Basically, there is a proven model for reducing health care costs that we could use "off-the-shelf" to fix the broken American health-care financing system.
NPR has taken a look at polling (which supports NHI over the status quo by 2:1) and concluded that it is impossible. Even with vast public support, a Democrat president and Congress, and proven results in other countries, NPR says the new President Obama will not be able to make NHI happen.
Why? Because there are some Congresspeople against it. One of them, Max Baucus (D-MT), doesn't think we should institute single-payer because it "doesn't make sense in this country" and "we will come up with a uniquely American solution." Excuse me for editorializing here, but that's like saying "breathing works great for other countries, but this is America; we'll figure out our own way to get air into the lungs."
Based on confounding logic like Baucus', NPR says that passing HR 676 (Expanded Medicare for All) is impossible. The other reason given is more revealing though: "Pete Stark (D-CA) says the public is not ready...eliminating the health insurance industry." [emphasis added to point out that what is being discussed here is how this country finances health care, not how we adminster it]. What Stark is saying is the ugly truth that requires twisted evasions like Baucus': the health insurance industry is a powerful influence on certain elected officials through the amount of money donated to their election campaigns. He says "the public is not ready", but that's obviously untrue looking at the polls. What he means is that the current crop of representatives are too beholden to insurance industry money to bite the hand that feeds them.
Americans recognize that paying CEOs $3 million a year and giving them $16 million in retirement pay when they didn't even retire is behaving like a cancer that feeds itself at the expense of its host's health. No one would propose leaving a cancer untreated because then the body would have to get used to life without the cancer cells. (And yes, the people in the insurance industry are not cancer cells, they are people, which is why part of HR 676 provides for the retraining of these many workers for other jobs, but at least they'll have health insurance when they are unemployed!)
I feel cheated because NPR has passed judgement on the policy (NHI) simply based on the politics, but they've got it wrong. We'd never have gotten anywere near our current level of advancement if people looked at things like putting a man on the moon or stopping Hitler and said "it's too difficult." Americans (you and me), luckily, are ready to lead their government to do the right thing for those it is supposed to serve: you and me.