Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sugar Makes Me Sleepy

In an ironic twist, all of the sugar I've been consuming to help me stay awake has instead been the cause of my problems. Apparently, I have hypoglycemia. This explains so much!

It also, unfortunately, limits the amount of sugar I can eat. Like, none. No sugar in the iced tea, no ice cream, no cookies... Life has taken a slightly less sweet and savory turn and I just don't know what to say about that. Anyway, hopefully with my new diet many of my problems (dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, passing the hell out, etc.) will pass into the night, never to be spoken of or experienced again. Go medical treatment!

From here I think I should probably segue into another argument, something about the state of health care in this country and how the amount of people who can afford health insurance is a paltry amount and that we should be doing our utmost to fix this problem even if it means taking a slightly more socialized bent than Americans are comfortable with/used to. As if we aren't the country of innovation that would and could manipulate those socialized systems to best benefit us. But I haven't really done enough research yet and am still just basking in the glow of knowing what the hell has been wrong with me since almost before I can remember but also being slightly mopey about the fact that I should give up most of those treats that I love ever so. So this is more of just a naval-gazing post than anything of true substance. Oh well.


jjfs85 said...

That would explain so much! It sucks that you can't have any sugar in your diet. But have you ever heard of miracle fruit? It's sold in tablet-form. The berries contain a protein called miraculin that causes the taste buds to interpret sour and bitter flavors as sweet. It's used a lot by diabetics and dieters in Asia where it's easy to get it. Here, the tablets can be purchased over the internet.

mikhailbakunin said...

The number of Americans who have health insurance is not "paltry."

petpluto said...

The number of Americans who don't have health insurance (and I count health insurance that is both affordable and that covers regular medical treatment and not what I have -which is the "Oh fuck, something is seriously wrong with me and I let it get to this point because the cost-benefit analysis had to finally skew toward spending a hell of a lot of money as being very much like having "no healthcare") is more convincing of the fact that we need a system that gives them the coverage that allows them to go to the doctor before they start doing things like passing out all over the place or spitting up blood.

Look, the amount of people in this nation who have good insurance coverage -actually good coverage that isn't just for emergencies- is significantly lower than it needs to be or that it ever should be. I don't have good medical coverage, which means that in order to find out that I can't eat sugars I had to spend a decent amount of money. Had it been anything more serious, I would have had to spend even more money. And that is ridiculous for an easily figured out illness, and something people have to deal with daily. And for something that limits one's quality of life as well as their productivity, the amount of people who have the kind of health insurance that matters is nowhere close to where it needs to be.

And JJ, I never did hear of miracle fruit. I don't know if I'm going to try it or not, as that kind of freaks me out, but thanks for letting me know!

mikhailbakunin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikhailbakunin said...

Wow. Do you have a really high deductible?

Obviously, I agree that not having insurance sucks. (Very soon, I will be without health coverage.)

But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of Americans DO have coverage and, if we're going to continue to rely on private companies for insurance, I don't see how we can avoid leaving some people out of the equation.

Let me explain . . .

A few weeks back we were talking about housing and you agreed that mortgage lenders really have to start turning down risky borrowers to protect the rest of us.

I think the same logic applies to health care.

How can you force insurance companies to provide cheap coverage to people who can’t afford it or have some preexisting condition AND still expect those companies to keep rates low for other policy holders?

Health care providers NEED to weed out the riskiest Americans if they're going to provide good coverage to the majority of people and still turn a profit doing it.

That's my biggest gripe with the plan that most Democrats--including Obama--are proposing. They’re not realistic, and they try to bully insurance companies into doing the right thing for the MINORITY of Americans who lack coverage.

Of course, all of these points are probably moot, since I think you probably want single-payer system . . .


petpluto said...

But most of the people who can't afford health care aren't those with risky pre-existing conditions. They are the poor, the single parents, and young people who have just graduated from college. Which means that the reason these people don't have health insurance is because the cost each month to maintain health insurance is too high a price in order to also do things like eat and have a place to sleep at night. That is my problem; those who have pre-existing conditions should be able to get some health care -because let's be honest, getting adequate health care is way more important than getting a mortgage in 9 out of 10 cases- but my real issue with how the health care system is set up right now (aside from the pesky fact that they aren't required to cover expenses like birth control) is that a lot of Americans can't afford to do things like go to the doctor when they develop a cough, and so end up being more of a burden to the system when their conditions do not clear up because the disease has either spread or taken hold. That is an idiotic system that taxes our resources and makes a lot of people a great deal sicker than they ever need to be.

As for the mortgage industry, I'm inclined to think that is a whole other bag of fruit. The reason the mortgage industry collapsed was partially because they were required -in order to avoid being bought by another bank- to consistently put up large profit margins and to have those profit margins increase quarterly. Because of that, slower more sustainable growth was discouraged -by Wallstreet, by the banking industry, and by its stock holders- and we ended up where we are today. I doubt the same sort of systemic collapse would occur in the health industry, though I could be wrong.

petpluto said...

And yeah, in order to afford to have health insurance, I have a really high deductible. It isn't fun.

mikhailbakunin said...

Poor single parents should (usually) be able to get health care through their state's SCHIP program. The problem is that many parents don't know about it. I remember reading a stat not too long ago that only 1/3 of kids and parents who are eligible for NJ Family Care are actually being covered.

While I think that preventative care is important, I have trouble believing that adequate insurance really compels people to go to the doctor (or live healthier lives in general). I know too many friends and relatives who never visit their physician, even when they're having chronic symptoms. I also think that doctors in the U.S. have a tendency to over-screen, which drives preventative care costs up. So, there are definitely trade-offs.

Health care may be more important than mortgages, but they're both industries. Forcing a company to take on too much risk or incur losses usually results in negative side effects for ALL consumers.

For a business, it really is a zero-sum game. If you add expenses, you have to cut costs. So, in my mind, the question is: Are those of us who HAVE health coverage willing to accept these greater costs in order to cover all Americans?

petpluto said...

Well, I did mention that I haven't done enough research yet to fully encompass the many aspects of healthcare. But my gut instinct is this: the business model isn't always the correct model, even in a capitalist system.

The mortgage and health care markets are both too important to leave strictly to the whims of those who run the businesses and Wallstreet. Why? Because with less regulation and less government involvement, things like the mortgage crisis happen -and more frequently. And the government as it stands now will bail out banks and lending institutions like Freddie Mac but has little in place to help the average person who just got screwed with their pants on. Which causes voter and citizen apathy, which only exacerbates the problems. So my thinking -keeping in mind I've done only the preliminary in research- is that either banks voluntarily create a model like the one Ronald Hermance and his 140 year old Hudson City bank lay out for us (http://www.newsweek.com/id/150466) or we regulate them and separate them -and how we judge their levels of success- from Wallstreet and their model of success, voluntarily or not.

The problems you mention are definitely present. But there have been some indications that doctors overdiagnose because they make more of a profit. There was a CBS Evening News segment about how doctors are being paid by drug companies and the like for doing things like prescribing their pills. Is that the only reason? No. But it is definitely a factor and changing how the game is played -and making it exist both as a business model and as something else- would be a way of changing that. This is what I mean by American ingenuity. We have the ability to make a better system -not a flawless system, but a better one. Because much of the system we have right now isn't even close to being the best -even in comparison to all of the others (unlike, as Churchill would say, democracy).

mikhailbakunin said...

I guess my problem is that you seem to want two inconsistent things--you want to ramp up government regulation of the private sector AND you want to see renewed innovation.

But I don't think that innovation comes from government bureaucrats; it comes from companies trying to make a profit. "American ingenuity" is a PRODUCT of capitalism. I do think you need to find a balance between innovation and regulation, but I don't think you can have more of BOTH.

Also, the federal government "bailed out" Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to help average people--borrowers and shareholders, not CEOs and CFOs. And the mortgage crisis wasn't the fault of the two government-sponsored enterprises. Freddit and Fannie suffered because the housing market suffered. They were being cautious and following OFHEO guidelines.

(Also, the Fed didn't exactly bail them out; they extended their credit lines and gave them access to FHA mortgages.)

petpluto said...

System innovations can and do stem from changing the nature of the game. Americans fear socialization of medicine and banking; they don't want to be Scandinavia or Canada. And that's fine; but we aren't living in a world where we're either socialist or capitalist. We aren't living in a zero-sum world. And Americans can develop a system that works best for us in all of our ways.

And I do think regulation can help innovation. These industries work under -like most people- a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Because as long as the people who make the decisions aren't as badly affected as those who are the decisionees, then it isn't broken. Which becomes a problem. It isn't evil, but it is about making the most money in the short term no matter what. And that isn't always the best thing for the consumer -or, for that matter, those who are creating the product.

So in that situation, government regulation could create more innovation. It is like a sonnet; the sonnet could be said to limit the innovation of the poet. But it doesn't. Working within the sonnet's frame encourages poets to be all the more flexible and innovative in terms of subject and language. I'm looking for the banking/health care industry version of the sonnet, and I don't think it is too much to ask to get one.

Also, if JJ is still reading this, how'd you make the "miracle fruit" appear as a link?! That is awesome!

mikhailbakunin said...

The sonnet analogy is an interesting one, but I just don't think it's true.

When the government sets up regulatory agencies, those agencies tend to impose increasingly rigid guidelines on businesses. These guidelines produce additional barriers to entry (forcing start-up costs and operating costs up), which discourage NEW companies from competing with well-established companies.

Larger corporations can afford to study and exploit regulatory guidelines, and they end up being the only game in town, which crushes innovation, drives prices up and hurts consumers.

That's macroeconomic theory, anyway. It doesn't always play out that way, but it OFTEN does.

I guess the larger point here is that I agree with you in principle. I'm not so much pro-business as pro-innovation, and I think we have different conceptions of how the economy works.

There are definitely smart economists who would agree with you (like Paul Krugman), but I think the majority of market historians would say that regulatory boards tend to be established with the best of intentions, but generally produce the worst results for consumers.

petpluto said...

I wonder if there is anything that can produce GOOD results for consumers, because what we've got right now is pretty crappy as well. I tend to think that any system can be exploited. Every system has flaws and has cracks and has downsides. But I'm fed up with where we're currently heading, and I think a major change is needed in order to equal the playing field a bit. Because laissez-faire economic policies don't seem to be getting it done.

Truth be told though, I'm enjoying our little tete-a-tete.