Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tax scam inundates county

Like many around the state, I got one of these bogus tax-reduction letters over the weekend. It's good that the Courier went after it, and apparently Bruce Colbert got in deep enough to talk to a hired call center as well as the county assessor.

One thing Bruce apparently missed, and which caused me to throw the thing on the junk pile unopened: on the front of the envelope, to the right of "PROPERTY TAX INFORMATION ENCLOSED," is a box saying, "THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT." I'd call that "the most glaring clue."

Why so little capitol coverage?

It continues to surprise me that The Verde Independent is able to find space for news from the state capitol, but the Courier apparently can't.

Here are a couple examples from today's Verdenews.com:
John Pelander state's newest high court justice
Still no state budget: 16 votes needed to meet Brewer demands

While the Courier front page is padded with fluff like this:
Tim's Toyota Center offering week of public ice skating
What is it, where is it?

These papers share resources, ownership and even some personnel, but they're quite different in terms of editorial choices. Editor-ial choices.

Here's the sort of thing we might see if the Courier editors were more interested in statewide issues:
10 new laws that got lost in the shuffle
Renewable energy bill may resurface in special session

Editorial: Food Bank needs steady cash flow

The unnamed Courier editor gets a cookie today for stumping up some support for one of our local food banks. There are many programs operating here, of course, and we shouldn't neglect any of them.

Gittin' Yer Health Care On

We've got two bits on the op-ed page today related to health care, and that makes a nice jumping-off place for a little rant.

First, Tina Blake, billed as a "Yavapai County Community Member" (I think a hack of Yavapai County Community Health Services Member), urges readers to take a class and take control of their own health. In Prescott this is on offer Fridays at the YMCA.

Then there's the Talk of the Town column by Tom Bromley, credited as a retired NY state health care administrator, who sees the need for public health care, but can't quite see how we'll pay for it.

It's a fortuitous coincidence that these appear on the same page.

Bromley's thesis seems to depend largely on the idea that including 45 million uninsured Americans will incur enormous new costs, as if they're paying for it all out of pocket now and they'll pay nothing for it later. I think five seconds of thought about that pretty well dissolves it.

This is not to say that a "robust" public health-care system will cost nothing, of course. What so many of these commenters seem to miss or gloss over is that as a nation we're already paying for all of our health care, that cost grossly inflated by waste, excess bureaucracy, a strong bias for acute care over preventative care, and massive profit-taking. Reducing those costs is what makes these systems economically sensible, and it's also what scares an industry grown fat on the status quo.

What's a lot fuzzier is the huge potential for reducing costs simply by working to prevent health problems. This is practically impossible under our profit-motivated system, and that factor deserves a lot more scrutiny and thought from voters. The YCCHS program is a perfect example of what government is compelled to do that private industry simply won't. Imagine what's possible when reducing costs by making people healthier becomes a primary goal of the entire system.

Here's a smart, easy read today from the LA Times by a Canadian doctor comparing the US and Canadian systems and the lessons we could learn from Canada if we'd deign to take a look.

Lesley contributes an interesting list:

Countries with universal health coverage

Afghanistan*, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq*, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the United Kingdom

*Universal health coverage provided by United States war funding

PS: Props to Grundlecat in the comments for pointing out the headline malfunction on the LTE.