U.S. Health Care System Axioms and Computer System “Bugs”

First, this will be a short post.  Second, unlike many who are bashing Obamacare and the troubled “roll out,” this post will not contain deliberately false statements.  And third….if I think of a third I’ll put it in the second-last paragraph.

I’d like to see all the citizens who are in the Medicare system and opposed to Obamacare because it’s a “government health care program” – I’d like to see them refuse any additional Medicare benefits.  Refuse the benefits.  Won’t happen.

I submit there are two fundamental positions that must be agreed to and accepted before this wonderful and greatest country on Planet Earth will have a health care system that makes sense: 1) that all U.S. citizens deserve good health care regardless of financial capability, race, gender, religion, color, financial capability, national origin, marital status, financial capability, family status, political party,  and 2) that our health care system should not be “for-profit.”

Did I mention financial status as something that shouldn’t prevent a citizen of the United States from obtaining good health care?

My 2), above, is likely to brand me as a socialist, or worse, but as long as health care is a for-profit “system” efforts to adhere to my 1), above, will be mercilessly pummelled by the legions of people for whom that “system” is profitable, including many, not all, medical professionals, drug companies and their marketing and advertising colleagues, lobbyists (really?), etc.

If we can’t agree on 1) and 2), even incrementally with a program such as, let me think a minute – the Affordable Care Act – we’ll never have a complete and fair health care system.  (This was the third…..see the first paragraph.)

Finally, as someone who has a fair amount of experience with complex computer systems, I note that never in the brief history of mankind’s struggle with computer systems has a new system worked perfectly or even very well.  I have been told that an IT legend by the name of Grace Hopper of the U.S. Navy invented the word that describes what IT analysts and programmers without exception find in all computer systems: “bugs.”  I’m told it was an actual bug, fried on a wire in the guts of an early computer and causing the system to crash,  that inspired the use of the word.  I was told these kernels of wisdom by Grace Hopper at a computer conference in Chicago in the last Century (around 1975).  Computer systems have bugs, and eventually the worst of them are exterminated.


Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2013

This very fortunate veteran unfurled the flag and installed it on the side of the garage for Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2013.

It’s the very least we can do to honor the service our men and women in the military render to our country.

My military service was the product of many of my decisions as a young man: pure luck or happenstance.  With no money and mediocre high school grades, I joined the Air Force and signed up for aircraft electronics training.

It was 1957.  The draft was still in effect, which, for any younger readers meant that able-bodied males were required to register and serve in the military for two years.  A requirement I’m convinced should still be the in effect today, although I would modify the program to allow alternatives to military service (for example the Peace Corps, Volunteers In Service to America, and other similar programs).  Wouldn’t it be good for our country if everybody served for a year or two?

I referred to myself as a “fortunate” veteran in my first sentence.  Fortunate because I learned so much and because I served between Korea and Viet Nam and never saw or heard a shot fired or a bomb explode in anger during my Air Force years.

The nearest I came to any conflict was the so-called Lebanon Crises of 1958 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1958_Lebanon_crisis).

Students at ALS (Army Language School, now the DLI, Defense Language Institute) in Monterey, California, I among them, along with the entire U.S. military, had passes cancelled and were placed on alert by President Eisenhower.  Seems the Lebanese Muslims and Christians were at each others’ throats, an omen of wars and terrorism to come.

Why I wound up at ALS and not in the aircraft electronics training I signed up for is a story for another time, but the next day classes were cancelled and we were bussed over to nearby Ft. Ord for remedial firearms training.  Scared most of us, but not the few who wanted in on the action.  A few days later the U.S. Marines were keeping the peace, at least for a while, in the Mideast.

As I write this I’m flashing back to a news story of the time that reported Nikita Krushchev, the boss man in the then U.S.S.R (Soviet Union) had threatened the use of nuclear weapons against countries that interfered with events in Lebanon.  Another reason we were scared.

I call myself a veteran and am proud of having served, even if only for a portion of the Cold War.

Veterans of the shooting wars, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan: you have my admiration, respect, and gratitude for your service.