Weather Bitching

Yes, it’s very cold here today. But on Sunday and Monday it will be +68°F, which is basically summer. I don’t mind the cold nearly as much as I do these constant insane jumps in temperature. It’s -12°F right now (without the wind chill factor.) How is it normal to go to summer weather (and then back) by the end of the week?


Book Notes: Imperialism, Neoliberalism and Social Struggles in Latin America

This book is very good at describing the very negative effects of neoliberal globalization on Latin America. There is a ton of useful data on the subject in this volume. But. . . it’s an edited collection, and one of the editors is writing from Havana. This means that the book gives these endless, breathy predictions as to how Latin Americans are on the verge of organizing a wave of massive popular revolutions that will put an end to capitalism in Latin America and turn every country into Cuba, which, of course, is paradise on Earth.

So I recommend it for a thoughtful discussion of the imperialism and neoliberalism part but I don’t recommend it at all for the social struggles part because it’s plain silly.

Fat Acceptance and Medical Care

And just one more thing and then I’ll leave everybody alone on this subject.

It’s not feasible to have a public health insurance system in a country that invented and normalized things like the fat acceptance movement. When people insist on leading aggressively and unapologetically unhealthy lifestyles, it’s unrealistic to ask those who don’t to subsidize the treatment of the consequences of these lifestyles.

Yes, the movement is small and marginal. But obesity rates aren’t. “Every industrialized country but the US”, which is a cliche that dominates these discussions, doesn’t have anything like this. I’m sure there are folks who have the godlike magnanimity to be happy to pay Scandinavian tax rates while seeing their next-door neighbor who weighs 350 lbs, smokes, and has 5 chronic health conditions by the age of 30.

Right now the grants and the publications of the FAM look funny. But they would look a lot less funny if my tax rates went up to 50% (that’s the Canadian rates. It’s worse in Sweden)

A P.S. to Medical

I’ve spent my whole life in state-owned health insurance systems. First, in the USSR, then in Ukraine, then in Canada, then in Illinois. And every single time, it was a very bad experience. What’s weird is that it was bad in a very similar way.

I’m currently paying crazy amounts to be on my husband’s crappy private insurance to avoid the cheap and supposedly good state insurance I can have from my work. I’m not going back to a state medical system unless Kamala or whoever force me into it by outlawing private insurance.

Yes, people have bad experiences with private insurance, too. But have they tried both systems, like I have, in order to make an informed comparison?

P.S. By the way, can anybody help me to figure out how to pronounce Kamala? I thought it was “Ke-MAH-le,” accented on the middle syllable. But people in the news seem to pronounce it as “Camel-ah,” accented on the first syllable and sounding like camel, which sounds strange.

Spending on Healthcare

Regarding healthcare, another argument that I find bizarre is “other developed nations spend a lot less on healthcare and get better results.” This statement doesn’t even attempt to take into account the differences in lifestyle that have an enormous impact on health.

How much physical activity do people in those countries get? How much time do they spend in their cars? What do they eat? What are the portion sizes? How high do they turn up the thermostat in winter? I just saw a photo of a thermostat in a Norwegian family’s home. It’s at 15°C. That’s 59°F. In Norway. In January. My thermostat is at 71°C, even though I know that I should go way down for health reasons.

If you want to have the unhealthiest lifestyle known to humanity and live as long or almost as long as people who have a much healthier diet and habits, then of course you will pay a lot more for healthcare.

The Why

So I’m sure everyone has heard about The Why. It’s a project where you look at the hidden motivations of what you do in life.

As an example, let’s take my research interests. I found it hard to grow up and become an adult for reasons that are of interest to no one but my analyst. So I wrote a doctoral dissertation on female Bildungsroman and its fixation on female resistance to growth. And then I grew up and loved it. I’m doing middle-aged adulthood a lot better than I did youth or early adulthood. So I lost all interest in the Bildungsroman genre.

Then the Recession came. My husband lost his job and immigration status. So I became interested in literature of the crisis. Then we figured out that situation, and I’m no longer interested in literature of the crisis.

Now I’m interested in the collapse of popular liberation movements and their transformation by forces of neoliberalism because, in a very tiny way, my worldview followed a similar trajectory.

It works in sciences, too. N is extremely preoccupied by the randomness of existence. So he’s a statistician who builds statistical models that try to bring order to chaos.

It’s just something that’s very interesting to think about.

What’s your why?

Kamala and Medicare

So folks, here is a question. Let’s say Kamala Harris (or whoever, it doesn’t matter) manages to do the Medicare for all / no private insurance system thing. Where do you think the very rich Kamala will get her medical care? Within the Medicare system or with a bunch of expensive private doctors her rich husband can hire by the boatload?

What I anticipate is that I’ll be stuck paying more taxes and getting crappier care (like in Canada) while the rich lady Kamala won’t experience any negative consequences of this. I mean we’ve all seen her. Can anybody honestly imagine her sitting in line for 6 hours at a state hospital (like I did in Canada) or being told by a state doctor that he doesn’t have time to look at her test results (like my sister was in Canada)?