Complicated and confusing processes, threats of punishment for voter
registration volunteers, systematic purging of voter databases -- a
wholesale effort to use any means necessary to deny the right to vote
to wide swaths of Americans. This is what People for the American Way recently called The New Face of Jim Crow.
In the last few decades, there has been a massive shift from
traditional defined benefit retirement plans -- where workers are
guaranteed a yearly return in retirement -- to defined contribution
plans like 401(k)s where money may be contributed each year with no
guaranteed return. The numbers are stark:
of workers with pensions (which includes today only 60% of the
population), 83% had defined benefit plans in 1980, while only 39% had
a defined benefit plan by 2004.
That fragmentation of the health care system lies at the root of much
of the waste and fraud in our health care system. Each player tries
to pump up profits and often waste through excessive billing of third
parties. Each party avoids taking responsibility by shifting
the increased costs onto government or other third party providers.
Short-term profiteering means long term investments in preventive care
or technology gets shortchanged.
The last few years have seen a cascade of books and reports detailing the waste and obscene profits of the prescription drug industry. Even as they rake in large profits, most of their spending goes
to marketing, advertising, and administration-- rather than research
and development of new drugs as their public relations claims.
With new federal rules slipped into the recent reauthorization of the
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, families in
poverty are going to be suffering more -- and states have seen their
flexibility in helping them significantly curtailed by new rigid
federal rules. As this Stateline.org story
highlights, most states are now scrambling to meet these stiff
requirements and many are protesting that the poor will be the victims:
As November 2006 approaches, political observers have their eyes on
changing political winds. A number of observers are also keeping a
close eye on the states, where many outcomes are up in the air and the
stakes are high. Control of 29 legislative chambers -- almost one in
three -- is up for grabs and leaders of both the Republicana and
Democratic parties are pledging to put major resources into winning
Companies are required to calculate the risks to their businesses based
on a range of potential threats to their business models, but there is
currently no requirement that they calculate the potentially
catastrophic costs of climate change. A few U.S. companies do so
voluntarily, but most do not.
The Washington Post details some of the changes states are making in the Medicaid program, party based on federal waivers and partly due to a new federal law passed last December that allows states to offer unequal benefits to different Medicaid recipients.