On Healthcare, Must-See

Recently, I’ve heard three sources Dr. Shiva Ayyaduri, who ran for the Senate as an independent in Massachusetts, Gary Wolfram, the economics professor on Hillsdale online and now Katy Talento (above) explain how insurance companies keep healthcare costs high. It’s in their interest to do so as if costs were affordable for all but catastrophic care, you would only get those policies.

In this video the focus is on how healthcare prices should be openly posted so people know what they’ll have to pay. There’s no reason that these should be shrouded in secrecy till the bills are presented to the “customer.”

Growing Up with a City

51NX1TX317L._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_It’s fitting that I publish my review of Louise de Koven Bowen’s Growing up with a City on International Women’s Day. Bowen was a natural leader and shaped civic life in the late 19th and early 20th century in Chicago. In fact she after women got the vote in the 20’s Republicans wanted Bowen to run for mayor, but she declined. (Remember that our parties’ philosophies have shifted through the decades.) I was blown away that back then having a woman run for a major office was even considered.

Bowen’s memoir begins with her family history. Her grandparents were some of Chicago’s first white settlers. Her courageous, wise grandmother frequently acted as a negotiator or peacekeeper with the native Americans near Fort Dearborn.

As a girl Bowen frequently had delusions of grandeur or desires for high social status. She competed with a visiting cousin from New York, whose lifestyle seemed more aristocratic.and fashionable. To make her family, which was plenty stylish and “couth” look better off, she used her own money to buy a smart uniform for her coachman and insisted on calling him Bernard rather than Barney, which he went by. Barney complied with most of the girl’s requests for finery but drew the line when 12 year old Louise suggested he call her Louise rather than her nick name Lulu.

Bowen was educated at a seminary in town, but upon completion felt her education incomplete. Thus the girl made a decision to read the encyclopedia to round out her knowledge base. She was wise enough to know that while that gave her a broad understanding, it didn’t offer much depth.

As an adult, Bowen was tapped to preside over hospital boards and civic organizations. Her book describes her successes and challenges in hospital management and affecting policy in the juvenile justice system and other causes. Bowen worked at Hull House with Jane Addams and offers insight into Addams’ leadership and beliefs.

Louise Dekoven Bown_courtesy Wkgn Park Dist P4353

With children attending her camp

Bowen saw the need for poor children to have an experience in the country and opened a summer camp for them. She pioneered social work and public policy. She spoke to massive crowds and compelled powerful men to do the right thing. She’s one of many civic leaders who’s gone unsung.

Reading Growing Up with a City, I learned a lot about philanthropy and life in the Gilded Age. I was impressed by how much more connected a philanthropist would be back then compared to now. Bowen would regularly walk through the impoverished neighborhoods to get a real feel for the hardships. When a woman , who’s husband had deserted her, came to a relief organization for help, immediate aid was given for the most pressing needs and then a search for the husband would take place. If at all possible the man was brought back to the family to make him take responsibility. I realize that’s not a cure-all, but we don’t even try such action. (We do try to find “deadbeat dads” and make them pay up, but that’s it.)

As is usually the case, reading a memoir written during an era rid me of silly notions our society projects on to the past. For example, I thought that surely after decades of fighting for the vote at least 50% if not a big majority of women would vote. That wasn’t the case at all. 

Growing Up with a City was a fascinating read that deepened my understanding not just of Chicago history but of the Gilded Age as a whole. I was amazed at all one woman could accomplish.

ALEC? What’s That?

I hadn’t heard about ALEC. I did know about the School of the Americas and do write legislators to close it. Both matters remind me it’s time to write again.

I don’t think America needs either.

Snippets from Saturday’s Lunch

On Saturday I had lunch with a friend of a friend and his wife. Mr. Li is a professor at Shandong University and quite a good, i.e. provocative conversationalist.

Here’s some of what he shared during lunch. I really should have taken notes and asked probing follow up questions, but lunch isn’t the same as Meet the Press.

Mr. Li thinks Bill Clinton is the best president in the last 25 years. He believes [get this] Obama is too much of a communist. As our conversation went on he said that

He thinks increased access to education is a cheaper way to control the population growth, rather than the one child policy.

He talked about violence in China as an aesthetic and something the government supports. I wasn’t really clear on this, but his idea and theirs (?) is that it’s a beautiful outlet. His wife wasn’t so sure.

They told me that Chinese people hate doctors and nurses, because they pretty much manhandle patients. His brother-in-law is a doctor and got a fish bone stuck in his throat. The nurse who treated him just pulled his tongue so hard that it not only dislodge the bone, but now doesn’t fit in his mouth. (Huh? A lot of the conversation was pretty surreal.) Angela confirmed what I’d read that women giving birth are just berated and treated with no respect or compassion.

Their consensus was that China’s a great place to live if you’re rich and powerful. (Where isn’t?) And Scandinavia‘s a great place to live if you’re needy.

They loved American libraries. I agree with that.

Chinese students, they told me, are freedom adverse. They simply want to be told what to do and how to do it. That explains a lot since many students aren’t keen on creative thinking or free discussion. Many seem English adverse, not all but many of mine. Which always leads me to the question why couldn’t your parents find you a major you’re interested in?

I was surprised by how candid the Li’s were. Was it a test?

There’s always these paranoid fears in the Middle Kingdom and there’s a line you don’t cross, or several such lines so it does seem impossible to ever know a Chinese person as closely as other nationalities.