Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

The greedy are everywhere…

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

– In the U.S., in Europe, and even here in my beloved New Zealand.

– They put on suits, they carry a briefcase, they do ‘deals’ and it all looks brilliant and magical.

– But, sometimes, someone goes behind the scenes and traces some of this ‘business’ and finds that a lot of it is ‘funny business’.

– What would you think of an investment company that did big deals for the purpose of making profits for their investors and, when the dust had settled, the deals were done and all the contracts and the fine print were all read out and traced – you found out that the bankers and the company’s principals made far more profit from all of the money shuffling than any of their poor investors did?

– I think it stinks.   And yet I also think that many business types live and thrive in just this way and consider themselves brilliant,.  And that they consider the rest of us as just their sheep in need of a shearing and too dumb to know we’re being hard done by.

– This bit of fun happened here in New Zealand though the business itself reached around the globe to London as well.  

– No matter.  In fact, all the better.   The more abstract, the further afield, the less normal people can relate to the doings, the better.   Big money moving in the shadows.

– Here in New Zealand, the National Government, under John Key, a former Wall Street type, wants to sell public assets to raise money.   After reading this expose on the investment company, EPIC, I’ll be most curious to  ‘follow the money’ when the Key government does begin to sell those assets.  

– Who will be doing the deals and who will be making enormous profits from the fees along they way?  Why do I suspect that they will be business types like Key?  Types who are telling themsleves all along the way that the fact that they are getting rich is only incidental to the good they are doing for the country.

– Yeah, right.

– Dennis

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The rather curious case of Epic’s fee payments

(this from stuff.co.nz an opinion piece by Tim Hunter)

OPINION: After years of study, there is growing acceptance that homo sapiens has evolved into two distinct branches. One comprises the vast bulk of humanity, the other comprises individuals known as bankers.

Although superficially alike, the latter can be distinguished by their skin, which is thicker than normal. It also has special properties giving unusual adhesion to most forms of money.

In tests using a drained swimming pool filled with Zimbabwean currency, bankers were found to emerge from the pool with up to 25 per cent more cash sticking to them than the non-banking control group.

Scientists initially hypothesised an epidermal layer of tiny hooks, like Velcro, to explain the effect, but now favour a theory of electro-magnetic attraction at the cellular level.

Edinburgh University’s department of parapsychology is also testing observations that bankers can detect the contents of a wallet within a range of about five metres, even through stud walls.

These attributes are an advantage in financial transactions, and Chalkie reckons there could be something like this going on in an investment structure called Equity Partners Infrastructure Company (Epic). Basically, Chalkie’s study of accounts and documents with small print suggests Epic has paid out millions more in fees to bankers and their ilk than it has to its investors.

– Definitely, you should read more here…

Elephants Down Under

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

– Great piece on the difference between politics in the U.S. and those in Australia and New Zealand.

– Dennis

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By Thomas Friedman, New York Times

I’ve learned three things visiting New Zealand and Australia: There is a place in the world where rugby is front-page news. There is a place in the world — the Auckland airport — where the restrooms have digital clocks in the entryway telling you hourly when they were last cleaned and when they will be cleaned again. And there is a place in the world where moderate Republicans still exist — unfortunately, you have to take a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles to get there.

Indeed, to go from America — amid the G.O.P. primaries — to Down Under is to experience both jet lag and a political shock. In New Zealand and Australia, you could almost fit their entire political spectrum — from conservatives to liberals — inside the U.S. Democratic Party.

Or as Paul Quinn, a parliamentarian from New Zealand’s conservative National Party, once told a group of visiting American Fulbright scholars: “I will explain to you how our system works compared to yours: You have Democrats and Republicans. My Labor opponents would be Democrats. I am a member of the National Party, and we would be … Democrats” as well.

For instance, there is much debate here over climate policy — Australia has a carbon tax, New Zealand has cap and trade — but there is no serious debate about climate science. Whereas in today’s G.O.P. it is political suicide to take climate change seriously, in Australia and New Zealand it is political suicide for conservatives not to.

In Australia and New Zealand, “there are plenty of climate skeptics in politics, but they know it’s a political loser to say so,” explained the Australian environmentalist Paul Gilding. “This became the case after Australia suffered its worst-ever drought, lasting more than a decade.” Now, “there is strong public acceptance of the basic scientific conclusion that the climate is changing and humans are a significant contributor.”

– More…

– Research thanks to Amy G. and Cara H.

 

 

New Zealand’s move towards privatizing some prisons

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

– It’s not a good idea.   Data from the U.S., which has been doing this for some time, is bad.   The article, below, is an example of what is happening there.

– Dennis

– To the article…

Why some of us are leaving the U.S.A.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

– These comments were part of a larger discussion in which some of us were discussing why we’d immigrated from the US to New Zealand.   Some felt ‘pulled’ by New Zealand’s attractions while other felt more that events in the U.S. were ‘pushing’ them to find another place to live.  

– Chanah’s comments here clearly show that she and her family felt they were in the ‘pushed’ camp.

– Dennis

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“We came back in 2004. We did NOT come because we fell in love with New Zealand-we came because we wanted to get the Hell out of the United States while we still could (before we hit the age of 40). We came because they were charging us over $500 per month for Blue Cross health insurance that only covered 80% of the doctor THEY chose after we paid $500 deductable. Pretty crappy health care for a Registered Nurse. We came because a root canal ran me nearly $2000 and there was no dental coverage available. We came because we had to pay nearly $300 for a bottle of eye drops for my husbands glaucoma (that now costs us $3 BTW)-we came because we needed a credit card just to afford basic medications and co-pays. We came because I was tired of having to pay “malpractice cover” in order to keep my job. We came because after 911 my Civil Engineer of a husband had nearly $300 per month deducated from his pay for insurance in the event that a terrorist blew up a bridge that he happened to have signed off on. We came because the families of those killed on 911 are now suing those who happen to still be alive that built the World Trade Centers and while personal people have donated money the US governement has done little to nothing to support the families of those lost. We came because my nephew was forced to join the US Army in order to afford College/University and now that his term is up the Army is making him stay on additonal tours of duty against his will. We came because young people in high schools feel forced to go to college whether they want to or not in order to “get a job”. There is little to no respect for the hardworking plumbers, carpenters, labours who find it very difficult to make a decent living to raise a family on. We came because we felt the only way to be safe from the “Mad Cow Disease” that was being covered up was for us to becme vegetarian. Most important, we came because New Zealand offered us Permanent Residency and Australia only offered work visas. The first few years I was miserable. We had to live on savings and minimum wage jobs (we did not have jobs when we came). Am I happy? Actually I think I have come around to the point that I am a lot happier here then I would be in Australia. We’ve had a child (FREE-BTW) and  I KNOW I’m happier raising Rachel here then in America. About the government-the earthquake and its aftermath has given me a whole new respect for the New Zealand government. They are not “unreachable” or “untouchable”  like in the USA. If the Kiwis don’t like something that is going on they WILL hold their officials accountable. And, if that does not work they WILL vote them out of office-and the officials here know it. There are time AND financial limits on elections…all of this primary and sub-primary crap simply does not go on here. When I went to vote I was given an orange  marker to check the box of who I wanted. I forgot my ID so I simply gave my address and phone number and was permitted to vote. I then placed my ballot into a cardboard box….no hanging chads or “rigged” machines here in New Zealand.  What would make my life perfect? For my family to financially reach a point that we can travel to the States yearly-see family & experience the toursit sites. Each trip to the USA is “fun” but it leaves me happier then ever to return to New Zealand…I view the USA a bit like an amusement park-love to go eat, shop and see friends but when the day is over I’m happy to return “home” to some normality and stability.”

– Chanah Luppens – Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

– I love the irony.   Our ‘superiors’ tell us to be good little girls and boys; stand in line, no pushing, wait your turns.   And, they are off like shots racing for the prizes they convinced all of us to wait patiently for.   Fool me once, shame on you.   Fool me twice, shame on me.

– Dennis

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Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lowerclass individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lowerclass individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

– To the study paper, itself:  

– Thanks to New Zealand’s National Radio program, ‘This Way Up’, for alerting me to this study.

– For an audio clip of the ‘This Way Up‘ episode, see Naked Science on 10 March 2012:  

 

Thousands plan to leave Christchurch – poll

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

– Even though the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and atomic plant events have grabbed the world’s attention, the things that have been going on down here in New Zealand to Christchurch are still huge to this nation and people.

– dennis

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More than half of the voters in a Stuff-Press online poll say they are planning on leaving Christchurch – or would if they weren’t tied to the city by their properties or jobs.

Forty thousand people voted on the unscientific poll and 64 per cent said they wanted to leave the city or didn’t know what to do.

Christchurch has been shaken by three severe quakes since September and many people have packed up and left.

Twenty-one per cent of the people who responded to the poll said they planned to leave the city and 26 per cent said they would if it was not for their properties or jobs.

Another 3.5 per cent said they were prepared to walk away from their houses.

The poll asked whether people were planning to leave Christchurch, if they would if it wasn’t for their properties or jobs, whether they plan to stay in the city and if they are unsure of what to do.

Thirty-six per cent said they did not want to leave and just over 13 per cent said they did not know what to do.

Clinical psychologist Corina Grennell said people should leave if they felt it was their best option, but she questioned whether there was anywhere in the world that was safe.

Her house was on a tilt and a large crack ran underneath it. The Grennell family was determined to stay, but wanted to move to another suburb.

Pam and James Kelly moved to New Zealand six years ago to give their family a better life, but the quakes had taken their toll on the family of four, forcing them to return to Scotland.

The Kellys’ story mirrors thousands throughout the city, where people have decided enough is enough, packed up their belongings and left for more stable ground.

May recorded the largest exodus to Australia in one month since 1979 and that was partly attributed to Christchurch residents fleeing the city after the February earthquake.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said he was not worried about an exodus.

“The vast majority of people in this city love it,” he said.

“We know we will get through this stage. We will rebuild our communities. Some may not be in the same places though.”

– to the original…

Man Robs Bank…for Health Care?

Friday, June 24th, 2011

– Healthcare in the US.  Almost an oxymoron at times.

– Some friends here in NZ are thinking of trips to the US and they are looking into healthcare insurance they can buy here to protect them in the US.  Because if you get sick in the US without insurance – God help you.

– So prices were discussed and I had to reflect how those prices compared with what I paid for healthcare in the US.

– For seven or eight New Zealand dollars a day, you can buy travel insurance here in NZ that will cover you in the US.   That’s medical insurance AND travel insurance all wrapped up in one package.

– And, get this:   If you get seriously sick in the US, this NZ insurance will put you on a plane and fly you back to NZ to have you treated here – all on the insurance company’s dime!

– When I was still in the US, my ex and I paid approximately $900 US dollars a month for our healthcare insurance.   That’s $450 each.  And, we each had a $2500 per year deductible on this policy.  So, we had to spend the first $2500 each year out of our pocket before the insurance kicked in and then, after that, it paid 80%.

– $450 per month works out to $15 US dollars per day.  But, if you also calculate in the $2500 deductible each, that’s another  $208 US dollars a month so your insurance is really costing you $450 + $208 = $658 per month for 80% coverage.   That’s $21.93 a day !!!

– Compare that with the seven or eight dollars a day I’ll pay a New Zealand insurance company to cover me in the US – and you get the idea, yes?

– Here’s a story for you now to put the cherry square on top of this sweet little story for you:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Having already set his affairs in order, James Verone calmly walked into an RBC bank in North Carolina and committed his first crime in his 59 years on this planet. Verone handed the teller a note that read “This is a bank robbery. Please only give me one dollar,” took the dollar from the terrified clerk, and sat down on a couch in the bank’s lobby.

“‘I’ll be sitting right over there in the chair waiting for the police,” Verone told the bank teller. And wait he did. Police arrived moments later and apprehended him, hauling him off to the jail cell he so desperately wanted to enter.

No, James Verone isn’t crazy. He isn’t a career criminal. He didn’t rob the bank to get drugs or booze. He didn’t do it to get attention or on a lark. James Verone walked into that bank and committed a felony because going to jail was the only way he could receive the health care he needed to survive.

Verone is one man, but he could really be any one of us. He’s 59 and well past the point of finding a new career. He was laid off from his 17-year job and, with unemployment hardly a survivable wage, took the first job that came his way. He developed a growth on his chest – the sort of medical condition that could be life-threatening – and earned two ruptured disks in his back, along with problems with his left foot.

After depleting his life savings and realizing he had, literally, nowhere else to turn, Verone committed the crime, hoping he could get the medical care that he so desperately needs.

This is what America has come to? Otherwise honest folks, with no where to turn in life, have to resort to fake-robbing a bank with the hopes they’ll be arrested so they can receive medical care?

– More…

A real life experience with Socialized Medicine

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

– One of my favorite themes to write about is the U.S. medical system vs. the socialized medical systems in use in many of the western democracies.

– In the last few days, I’ve had a personal and very real experience of how Socialized Medicine works here in New Zealand.

– I had a heart attack.

The suspect

The suspect

The Event

– Last Thursday, I rode my bicycle into work.   I’m not sure how far it is but I’m a fit and  fast rider and it takes me 20+ minutes to make the journey through the city.  When I finished work Thursday, I decided to see how quickly I could make the journey home so I rode hard all the way and arrived home in 15 minutes – a little out of breath but feeling fine.

– 20 minutes later, as I was sitting and talking to Colette as she prepared the evening meal, I began to feel quite odd.  My upper spine, neck and jaw began to ache and I began to feel a bit queasy.   I told her about this  and went and lay down on the sofa to see if it would pass off.   After a few minutes, it seemed like it was getting better so I got up and we ate the meal she’d prepared.   But, as we got to the end of the meal, I began to feel poorly again and went and lay down on the sofa a second time.   The symptoms were the same with the spine and the neck and jaws but getting stronger.

– After a few minutes, it came to an intensity where I thought, “I need to go into a medical center and see what this is all about.“, and I asked Colette to take me in.

– At this point, thinking back we should have called an ambulance, but I wasn’t thinking heart attack yet.  I was just thinking that I was having some sort of weird event and should go find out what it was.   It was around 6.15 PM when we took off.

– A 20 minute drive took us across the city to the 24 hour Emergency Clinic on Bealey Avenue.

–  The medical authorities here in New Zealand prefer that most folks report to either their own doctor or the 24 Hour Clinic first, rather than going straight into the Public Hospital’s Emergency Room.   But, just as in the U.S., many folks will take their kids with sniffles straight into the main hospital’s emergency room because it is free, rather than taking them into the 24 Hour Clinic,  where there’s a charge to be paid.

– There are some very different pricing structures here in New Zealand for medical care compared to the U.S. but we’ll look into the details of all of that later.

– When I entered the clinic, just above the check-in desk was a sign that said, “If you are experiencing chest pain, please let the desk staff know and you will be seen immediately”.   I did this and I was taken into a treatment room right away and was seen by a nurse who asked me a series of questions.   In less than 10 minutes, a doctor was looking at me and an ECG was taken.   It showed some abnormal descending strokes in the graph that are, apparently, indicative of a possible heart attack.  The doctor decided that my symptoms and assessment results were serious enough to admit me to the hospital, and an ambulance was called to transport me.

– Meanwhile, the pain I’d been experiencing had moved from the jaw and upper spine to the more classic just-to-the-left of center chest.   I never experienced the pain radiating down the left arm that I’ve heard is also a classic symptom of heart attack.   But, by now I was beginning to believe that what  I was experiencing was, indeed, a heart attack.

– And that was an amazing thought.   I’ve always been fit, ate healthily and am a bit of an exercise aficionado.  And, here in New Zealand, over the last year and a half, I’d lost a fair bit of weight (205  to 187 lb) which I didn’t think was too bad for a 5′ 11″ 63 year old male.

– But, be that as it may, the signs were getting stronger that I was having a heart attack as I lay there waiting for an ambulance to come.   My pain was increasing and they gave me a morphine shot and  I believe they also gave me something to prevent my blood from clotting.    In five minutes, the pain was completely gone due to the shot.  If I hadn’t experienced all that had gone before, it would have been hard to believe that anything was wrong with me.   But, then the ambulance arrived to carry us to the hospital and it dispelled that notion.

– At every step, everyone was relaxed and yet entirely professional.   I never felt like a number or like an object being shuffled through the ‘system’.   Eye contact and human warmth were evident in each person I encountered along the way.

– Once at the hospital, I was wheeled directly into the emergency room and my chart from the 24 hour clinic was scrutinized and I was asked many questions – many of them repeats of earlier ones.   Blood that had been drawn at the 24 hour clinic was sent with me in the ambulance. It was explained to me that by analyzing this blood, they would look for enzymes that would  indicate if my heart muscle had sustained damage.

– If they didn’t find the enzymes, then I would be scheduled for treadmill tests to see what was wrong with me.

– But, if enzymes were found, then it would strongly indicate that I’d had a heart attack and I would be scheduled for an angiogram.   An angiogram is an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera  to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery (such as those associated with the heart).   Regardless of what the blood tests revealed, they were going to keep me for the night.  A chest X-Ray was done and then I was taken to my room in Ward 12 (the coronary care unit).   Four of the six beds were occupied when I arrived about 10.00 PM.

– I never felt any pain after the morphine shot and that evening in the ward was mellow.  I read a book on my iPad and went to sleep about 11 PM.

Ward 12 - Cardiology

Ward 12 - Cardiology

– The next morning, the blood test results came back.  I’d definitely had a heart attack and there was an angiogram session in my future.   But, now it got problematic as I’d checked in Thursday evening and Friday’s slots in the Cath Lab (where the angiograms are done) were booked up for the day.   It was looking like I might be there for Friday and the weekend before I could get a slot in the Cath Lab.    I was a bit anxious about that; imagining sitting in the bed or walking the ward for all those hours.

Home - Thursday and Friday night

Home - Thursday and Friday night

– Colette came in and kept me company.  And then, in a stroke of luck, a spot opened up in the Cath Lab which they told me about around mid-day.   Yippie!

– True enough!   And by 4 PM, I was back out again from the angiogram procedure to find Colette (who’d gone home) back waiting for me in my room.

– The angiogram procedure was relatively painless and I was awake the entire time.   A small entrance to an artery in my right wrist was opened for access to my arterial system.  I lay on my back with multiple large computer screens to my left and the doctors to my right. Directly over my chest was a computer-controlled movable X-Ray unit that was shifted around to view the heart from several directions.  I was warned that there would be times when I’d have to turn my head, lest it take off my nose when it rotated.

– My right wrist ached as they worked on it, but not badly.   They threaded a very long, thin catheter up my wrist artery and all they way through into the heart’s arteries.

– I watched what they were doing on the computer screens but, truthfully, I had no idea what I was seeing, though I watched with careful fascination.  When the catheter reached my heart, they entered it into each set of arteries  and injected an Iodine-based dye that showed the outline of the arteries on the computer screens via the X-Ray imaging.

Note the constriction

Note the constriction

– I found out later that all my coronary arteries were in fairly good shape.  They were open with fairly good flow, except the one that had caused the problem.  And on that one, right at the junction of two arteries, it was badly constricted.   See the image to the left where the arrow is pointing.   Cardiologists use three levels to describe how badly closed an artery is;  they say 50%, 75% or 99%.   They said mine was 99%.   This is why the heart muscle, which needs to be fed by these branches, was starving for Oxygen and dying.  And this cell death is why the pain in my heart attack occurred.

– I asked the one of the doctors how these arteries get blocked off.   He said they either do it slowly through the gradual accumulation of  plaque along the walls or they do it suddenly when the harder surface of the inner wall of the artery splits and lets the softer material behind it protrude into the passageway.

– Given all the aerobic exercise I’ve done, I can’t believe this artery had been creeping slowly up to 99% blockage and I’d never noticed.   I think there had to be sudden change at the end wherein a mostly blocked artery suddenly became almost totally blocked.

– They found the blocked area using the angiogram technique and then, once it was identified, they shifted to another technique called angioplasty.  This is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel using an empty and collapsed balloon on a guide wire, known as a balloon catheter.   The balloon is passed into the narrowed area and then inflated to a fixed size. The balloon crushes the fatty deposits, opening up the blood vessel for improved flow, and then the balloon is deflated and withdrawn.

Stent in place

Stent in place

– After the area is expanded, a third technique is employed in which a “Stent” is placed in the newly widened area and allowed to expand to hold the arterial walls at that expansion.

– After this, the long, thin catheter is withdrawn and the arterial opening on the wrist is closed and the procedure is complete.

– I was back in my room by 4 PM, as I said, to find Colette waiting for me.

– They kept me Friday night for observation and during the night they checked my wrist and my blood pressure a number of times.   Once again, I slept well.   My wrist ached a bit from the trauma of the artery being opened but I had no other problems.   I knew the stent was there but I couldn’t feel a thing.   In fact, during the procedure itself, when the catheter was snaked all the way from my wrist into the arteries of my heart, I felt nothing.   And, other than a small amount of local in my wrist, I was not anesthetized or sedated.

– Saturday morning came.   7 Am and the room lights came on and breakfast arrived soon afterward.

– Every hour or so, the nurse would come and relieve the pressure slightly on the device that was clamping the wound on my wrist.  Arteries have a lot of pressure on them and to get one to seal and heal is not a trivial thing.  After a number of pressure releases without blood spurting everywhere, it became obvious that it had closed correctly.

– Colette came in again (what a trooper she was through all of this!) and sat with me.   We played some games on my iPad and waited for the cardiology doctor to come and talk with me and discharge me.   Unfortunately, the doctor got tangled in an emergency situation in the morning so it was far into the afternoon before I was discharged.   But, given all that had happened and how well it had all gone, I had no complaints about this.

The Costs

– Now, I want to talk about the costs of all of this.  I.e., what I paid for these procedures here in New Zealand.  These figures are in NZ dollars but you can translate them into US dollars by multiplying the New Zealand prices by .82 – which is roughly the current exchange rate.

Items:

1. Visit to 24 Hour Emergency Clinic – $100

2. Ambulance – $67

3. Hospital Room (2 nights) – $0

4. Angiogram Procedure – $0

5. Angioplasty Procedure – $0

6. Stent Procedure $0

7. Prescriptions for four drugs for three months – $22

– These prices are not exact but they are good ballpark figures and it all comes to about $187 NZD or about $153 USD.

– 19Jun2011 – I’m adjusting this section as the bills arrive.  The 24 hour emergency bill came in and it was $100, not $150.   Still waiting on the ambulance.

– 24Jun2011 – Ambulance bill came.   $67 NZD.  I’d estimated $50 NZD.

– 24Jun2011 – Also go a letter that I have (1) an ultrasound session appointment, (2) a physiotherapy session and (3) a follow on meeting with the doctor that put the stent in.  My expectation is that because these are all part of the public health services, that I will not be charged for any of these.   I’ll update this if that assumption is not true.

– I spent sometime this evening trying to come up with the prices for these procedures (Angiogram, Angioplasty and Stenting) in the US and it was a damn frustrating exercise – try it yourself.

– Try to find public, easily found figures for how much an Angiogram or an Angioplasty will cost you in a US hospital.

– But you’ll realize that there’s BIG money involved here.  Because, when you go searching, you are going to find dozens and dozens of websites trying to sell you these procedures overseas.

– Consider:  that for so many of these websites to be advertising with such competitive intensity, they must be able to still  make a lot of money selling these procedures overseas for much less than they cost in the US – or they would not be in such a competitive advertising frenzy.

– All of this ought to be telling you something about the US medical costs and whether or not they are reasonable and proportional to the services delivered.

Summary

– When you are in the US , you will hear a lot about how wonderful the US medical system is and about how terrible the socialized medical systems in places like France, Canada and New Zealand are.   They’ll tell you that you are very lucky to get the services you get, at the prices you get, in the US.

– It is an amazing pile of bull-droppings, is my opinion.   The sad fact is that the American medical system has very largely been captured by the ‘everything- is-about-profits‘ corporate world and the American people are much the poorer for it.

– If you want to get into a detailed discussion point-by-point comparing the US system with the socialized systems, you will, I’m sure, be able to find a few points here and there in which the US system wins.   But, on balance, the US system compares very badly.

– This has all been a near and dear subject to me over these last years and here’s a link that will take you through many of the things I’ve published previously on this Blog about the probems with US Healthcare and the US Medical System:

Click Here .

– If there’s a really sad bit to this story it is that all of this may have taken an option off the table for me.   I love New Zealand but I always thought that someday, I might return to live out my twilight years in the US.   I have some large doubts about that now.   First, no one there would ever insure me (post heart attack) for anything I could afford – unless I get a lot more affluent than I am now.  And, second, without insurance, I’d never be able to pay the bills if something did happen to me.  And if I owned a house, a business, or some land in the US – whoop – they’d all be gone!

– You know, that’s just not right.

Postscript: A friend, David D. wrote me about my thoughts here and pointed out something that I’d forgotten.  And that is that when I turn 65, I will be eligible for the US’s Medicare System so I may still have US options on the table in terms of medical coverage and that nice.   Thanks, Dave!

– Here in New Zealand, we all pay for healthcare through our taxes and we are all protected by each other’s payments.

– People say that taxes in countries with socialized medical systems are high.   I don’t find them so.   People with good jobs here will pay up to 33% of their wages as taxes.   But, on the other hand, we don’t have to pay for medical insurance, automobile insurance or business liability insurance because a plague of lawyers hasn’t managed to take over the system here.

– People here expect that the system will take care of them if they get cancer or are in an automobile accident and they are incredulous when I tell them how the medical systems works in the US.

– Know that I am well, my friends.   I’ve had a scare but in the big scheme of things, it was a relatively small heart attack.   In three to six weeks, I’ll be resuming my life just as it was in terms of exercise.



Christchurch Earthquakes continuing…

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

– Had a 5.5 today and then an hour later, a 6.0.   Some buildings have come down that were previously damaged and a half dozen or so folks have been hospitalized with moderate injuries.   50,000 are without power for the moment.    Everyone in this beautiful city is wondering when will all this end.

– For me, personally, my apartment is still in limbo.   I can’t live in it, I can’t sell it and I can’t rent it.   Chances are running about 50:50 as to whether they will rebuild it or demolish it.   At the moment, I’m favoring demolition so I can make a new start.

Update: 15 June 2011:  the 5.5 and 6.0 have been upgraded after closer study and they are now judged to have been a 5.7 and a 6.3.   And, they are now saying that these newest one indicate that we still have a 30% chance of another in the 6.0 range.   Another 50 buldings are down from these latest ones.

– Dennis

Personal – 8 May 2011

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

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I’m back from a month’s trip to the USA from New Zealand. While I was there, I saw many friends and family as I traveled up and down the west coast from Los Angeles to Seattle.

Sharon and I also competed our divorce while I was there and the process was fairly amicable. So, after 20 years of marriage and of being best friends, we’ve ended our legal ties to each other. I sincerely hope we can remain friends as we move onto what lies ahead of both of us now.

Here in New Zealand, the earthquake damage in Christchurch continues to get sorted out. Yesterday, for the first time since the days immediately after the February 22 quake, we were allowed back into my apartment. I was lucky with my unit. I’ve got a lot of large cracks in the drywall (or gib board as they say here in New Zealand) and some broken crockery. But some of the others I looked at are far worse. But, the good news is that they are apparently going to repair the complex rather than demolishing it.

I’m not going to say much else here of a personal nature. If anyone wants to know anything more, drop me a private line.

Cheers!