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by Odd Man Out
I’m shocked by this story. You would think our drugs would be more effective, they cost so much more than the same drugs in civilized countries:

A study of 13 industrialized countries released Thursday showed Japan spends the least on health care, while the United States spends the most without providing superior care for the money.

The United States spent nearly $8,000 per person in 2009 on health care services, more than Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden or Switzerland.

Japan spent the least — $2,878 per capita in 2008 — according to the report by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that promotes improved health care in the United States.

US health care spending amounted to more than 17 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, while Japan’s was under nine percent of GDP.

“Japan operates a fee-for-service system, while offering unrestricted access to specialists and hospitals and a large supply of MRI and CT scanners,” said the report.

“Rather than containing costs by restricting access, Japan instead sets health care prices to keep total health spending within a budget allotted by the government.”

In contrast, the US system is beleaguered by higher prices, more readily accessible technology and widespread obesity.

The United States had among the highest rates of potentially preventable deaths due to asthma and diabetes-linked amputations, and showed average rates of in-hospital deaths from heart attack and stroke, it said.

Common prescription drugs cost one third more in the United States compared to Canada and Germany, and were more than double that paid for the same drugs in Australia, Britain, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand.


How do these people sleep at night?

Howie says we can give the credit to people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and brings up the fact that we have fewer people committing crimes — yet more of them are locked up! Hmm.

Torture maestro Yoo escapes justice

It’s not a surprise but it’s a disgrace, especially when you look at the reasoning used by the court who threw out a lawsuit against the man who articulated Dubyas’s torture policies. Via Common Dreams:

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped short of endorsing Yoo’s conduct as a lawyer in the Justice Department, where he wrote memos approving most of the practices allegedly used against plaintiff Jose Padilla in a Navy brig – sleep deprivation, stress positions, isolation, and extremes of temperature, light and darkness.

Padilla also said his interrogators threatened to kill him, and he claimed Yoo had personally authorized his treatment.

At least some of Padilla’s treatment may well constitute torture under current standards, the appeals court said. But when Yoo worked for the department in 2001-03, the three-judge panel said, courts had not yet decided that those practices were torture, or that so-called enemy combatants like Padilla had the same constitutional rights as other inmates.

Right. It’s torture now, but it wasn’t then.

Trickle-down lies about economy

Austerity zealots are like Christian fundamentalists — the more evidence you show them that their basic assumptions are wrong, the more fervently they express their faith. Paul Krugman touches on this point, and on the success of right-wing propaganda campaigns, in a recent Rolling Stone interview:

Part of it is that if you’ve been brought up to believe that capitalism is wonderful and perfect then the notion that it could use some help every now and then becomes alien to you, and there are a lot of people who are so deep into that mindset that it’s very hard for them to get out. And then, a lot of conventional wisdom is shaped; it doesn’t just come from nowhere. It comes from the long-term operation of a lavishly funded propaganda operation. When you’ve had 40 years of [right-wing mega-donor Richard Mellon] Scaife and the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation and so on pushing a line about the perfection of markets and the evil of doing anything that encroaches upon the unfettered right of billionaires to do what they like, that is coloring the way people think about economics, even people who’ve never heard anything directly from any of these think tanks.

But Krugman thinks the Congressional ringleaders who are pushing austerity — i.e., cutbacks on aid to the poor, job creation, and so on — will eventually have to slink away from the party line:

I don’t think John Boehner is going to announce next week that Republicans were wrong and we need more government spending, but I do think that some time next year we might be able to have a discussion that turns around at least some of the mistakes that were made in the past few years.


Compare and contrast.

The forever war

Ted Rall.


I gotta say, I’m hearing about people getting hired now. And I’m seeing a lot more job openings, so something’s happening:

The unemployment rate dropped a notch to 8.1 percent in April, the Labor Department reported on Friday, but the pace of job growth has fallen off, amid other signs that the economic recovery is losing momentum.

The economy added 115,000 payroll jobs in April, a meager showing compared with earlier this year when the jobs tally was rising at twice that rate.

The number of unemployed people in the United States declined to 12.5 million in April from 12.7 million the month before.

But at least part of the reason behind that decline in the number of unemployed is that many people decided to stop looking for for job: The labor force, defined as the number of people working or seeking work, declined by 342,000, Labor Department said.

The number of long-term unemployed, those who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more, was little changed at 5.1 million in April. That group makes up more than 40 percent of the jobless rolls.

Of course, there’s still this.

Why fiction is good for you

Been saying this for years! Fiction teaches empathy in a way non-fiction doesn’t, and now we know how.

Demon weed, or just fags?

Don’t tell the Department of Justice, but Ray Davies may have been substituting the rhyming slang term “Harry rag” for “marijuana cigarette.” But the song could just as easily be about regular cigarettes, or fags, as the cockneys say.

Footnote, from Alternet: More U.S. teens are now smoking marijuana than smoke cigarettes.

That’s right. Among high school students, current use — defined as use within the last 30 days — is now higher for marijuana than for cigarettes. According to the CDC, 21.9 percent of teens reported smoking cigarettes within the last month, while 22.4 percent smoked marijuana.

There is a lesson here, but one that policymakers won’t want to hear: If the idea is to stop teen substance use, the approach we’ve used with tobacco works better than the approach we’ve taken with marijuana. That means regulation of adult use, rather than prohibition…

The DOJ’s jihad on medical pot

The world’s most ridiculously named law enforcement organization — the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms — is only one of many federal agencies participating in the crackdown on medical marijuana centers, something that many Barack Obama supporters couldn’t have imagined happening when they elected him. More here.

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