Health care in America is simply wrong in its approach to providing it.
It's a complete fail in the basic philosophy of it. How badly it fails and in what way isn't even all that relevant unless you discuss how to fix the whole thing - sure you can try to treat the symptom like high bills (lord knows US healthcare is good at going for the symptom over the root illness, too) but if you do that instead of treating the illness you'll kill the patient.
Simply put: universal/single payer can be encapsulated with "High quality care for everyone as affordably as possible, but without penny-pinching it to death."
For-profit care? "Maximum money for every greedy hand in the chain, while producing some sort of care at the lowest attainable cost and quality possible in order to maximize the profit margin."
It's hardly surprising care in America is an ultra-expensive nightmare for a huge percentage of the population. As with everything else in a capitalistic state, a great many need to suffer so that a few can reap sickening profit.
This is standard cutthroat capitalism. An oligopoly or monopoly isn't going to offer more than the most basic of basic services in return for outrageous fees. Why would they? They are required by law to make the maximum profit for their shareholders, which means as low quality as possible for as much money as possible.
The same mechanism is in EVERY BUSINESS in every walk of life on planet Earth. It's one of the primary mechanisms that's destroying humankind, in fact.
So of course, if a competitor comes along that is large enough and threatening enough and with a compelling enough alternative, they'll change their tune - until such a time they can form an oligopoly with the new competitor so they then jointly jack up the costs and lower the quality again.
In a capitalism, monopolies and oligopolies are the inevitable end result in every field. The only reason this case is a bit different is that Google isn't a business built on providing Internet connectivity - they sell cloud services, so they can take a financial hit from this because having superfast broadband enables them to sell their services.
If Google were your typical ISP, they'd be oligopoly-ing along with the rest of them in short order.
Only someone truly stupid would think that AT&T doesn't work this way. The lack of competition is keeping quality hideously low, and they won't build better until somehow forced.
Patents only serve to make it that much harder to innovate as would-be innovators have to try to contort themselves around using existing knowledge rather than using it and improving up on it or integrating it. Yes, you can pay royalties and stuff, but that's obviously never going to be step one or two. Sometimes, the people holding the patent just won't let you use it at all to avoid competition.
Copyright is just as bad in its own way, it just affects other areas rather than innovation in tech fields - there, it retards the rise of new culture, which is arguably as bad or worse. People can't take existing culture and build on it freely, they have to try to work around what's already there.
The only reason either of those things exist is because of our flawed approach to society, running it on the extremely toxic concept of "money" and "trade" in the first place. It's time to leave that behind and create a world of abundance, where neither patents nor copyright exist. All people should have their needs for food, shelter, education, entertainment etc met regardless; once we do that, we can innovate without worrying about who holds some ridiculous "patent" preventing us from moving forward.
The only major problem new artists or artists in general have is getting exposure to enough people to achieve some sort of critical mass. Remove piracy and you remove a huge free advertising channel that, yes, may cut in slightly to the revenue stream (though nobody has proven it does, yet) but it also exposes a lot of people to the material. If you can grab something and explore it without putting money down, chances are a lot better you will. But big music still wants to get the good old days back, when they were the only gatekeeper and made money hand over fist for nothing, really. They still write their contracts that way... even a successful band will wind up in debt for quite a while, while the record company rakes in millions.
Worried about music pirates? That's them, right there, big music.
CD's were also created to be a better sounding medium than vinyl. Especially dynamic range was a holy grail on vinyl, albums were made to the greatest dynamic range achievable in that medium.
Then the CD came along and the earliest generations of material was awe-inspiring in that regard. A drum was a drum, that stood out the way a percussion instrument should. And then some jackass figured they'd compress the sound to make it sound "louder" so they stood out when people did trial listening in stores, which leads us to today when the music is so compressed it's total trash, a mush of compressed noise instead of a proper dynamic piece of music.
The industry should have just focused on quality and continued to focus on quality and not worried about whether or not it could be copied. People buy stuff because they feel it's worth buying, but these days not even audiophiles buy mainstream CD's, because they sound like crap. Well, that and because they hold artists that are crap too, if we're talking major labels.
Copyright was put into place at one time to attempt to safeguard that nobody took a brand new creative work (at the time, basically just a book), ran off copies right away and sold those without paying the author. At the time, it made sense, because we weren't ready as a species yet to abandon money and trade completely. Now we are, and we have to. And in a world where all humans have their needs met by default, the rewards for writing a book or singing a song will still exist, they just won't be limited to getting tons of money to buy crap with.
When is it enough with the conflict-based society, really? Can't we transcend it before we destroy the world rather than later?
This absurd situation just highlights how loony we've let things become in the desperate quest for cash. Another one is the on-going situation with Apple-Samsung-Google lawsuits. It's tragicomic to watch them waste so much time and energy on, at the end of the day, nothing.
More proof that taking a hard line is just stupid. Bans and "enforcement" is almost invariably a bad idea. Anyone sane would choose to make content as easy and enjoyable to get as possible and then simply seduce people away from pirating - it's still more work to go find "illicit" copies than it is to just subscribe to a service and get them delivered to your set. Price it reasonably and remove all the BS and watch people subscribe in droves.
Instead, they're choosing to screw their paying customers over and are trying to literally change civil liberties and laws to make taking a hard line even easier - even though nobody anywhere truly believes DRM or enforcement will work.
I don't know why they'd do this, because it seems so stupid to me, but I presume somebody somewhere makes more money from it, just like the "war on" drugs is still being "fought" because a lot of people make a lot of money off it. Any sane observer of the whole thing will have realized by now that the only way to truly make things better is to legalize everything and then seduce the users away from being junkies and treating people who need help getting out of it... but again, that would just totally interrupt the gravy train for the DEA, the for-profit prison complex, probably some alphabet soup agencies we don't even know yet and so forth.
A softer line to the goal you're after invariably works better than trying to enforce your way there... but that presupposes that your stated goal is your actual goal, and not just a smokescreen. I think we're seeing lots and lots of smokescreens right now.
The fecal matter is about to impact the rotary air impeller in no uncertain terms in the relatively near future. The US is in too much debt to get out of it gracefully, and people are suffering in increasing amounts as the wealth imbalances get worse and their rights are taken from them.
That, combined with the US clearly following the "10 step program" to outright fascism that every other democratic nation that converted to a fascist state did and you have the recipe for a serious storm. The state will need tools to clamp down - the NDAA is one such tool, as is PIPA and SOPA. One is direct control, the other information control.
As Martin Luther King once said, we should never forget that everything Hitler once did in Germany was legal, and that helping jews was illegal. Right now, in the US, slapping a citizen in irons indefinitely and torturing him is also legal.
Really, it's all downhill from here. America is a fascist nation that actually has its politicians stand up in Congress and claim that the nation is a terrorist warzone and that they need to be able to lock citizens up without any due process - and the President may veto it, because it doesn't give him enough powers to lock people up...
This patent hysteria and doing these things that are so wildly against any kind of common sense isn't going to stop until we make it stop, and it's going to take the total redesign of society into one that uses the scientific method to address social concerns - not the say-so of bought and paid for crooks in Congress and the Supreme Court.
You can't really spin this particular case in any way to make it good for anybody in the real world, and it's not the first case or even necessarily the most egregious - the entire way of thinking that this exposes is a sign of a sick, sick society.
There is no theoretical reason why we won't eventually automate everything that doesn't explicitly require human ingenuity and creativity. There simply aren't enough of those jobs to go around, or rather there aren't enough employers to hire the entire world population to be creative.
This, of course, is only a problem for as long as we cling to the outmoded idea that you need a "job" to get "money" so you can get everything else. If we can the idea of money and start running the world on sensible real-world premises and just provide people with what they need, then automation isn't a threat to us - it's the single greatest thing that has ever happened to humanity. 100% unemployment for all - and all the housing, clothing, food etc everyone could possibly need in spite of or even because of that.
Society is broken right now. It's not the fault of the one thing that has ever been necessary to and instrumental in raising human standards of living - technological progress.
Without the artificial "we must make money!" boundaries, those people could be working cooperatively towards creating great new tech, and instead we now have corporations suing other corporations because they can't hoard their data and employees sufficiently jealously. Stupidity made manifest, much like the patent system, copyright and other advancement- and culture-retarding mechanisms...
Certainly sounds hopeful, but while this is true as far as it goes, it doesn't delve nearly deeply enough into the underlying problem, specifically that we're using a system that is inherently non-functional. It is only through massive corrective input in the form of laws, bans, patents and copyrights we can make the money-based society we run limp along in pathetic fashion, and even then we have a billion people starving. To be sure some of that is also because we are nuts - we spend the equivalent money required to feed the world on the militaries of the world every 8 days, but it all goes back to the money approach coupled with national boundaries, which leads to a need to literally kill each other over resources.
This shit's got to go, in the words of Jacque Fresco.
There's no thinking involved about it, I would say. There have been admissions made that DRM is all about controlling distribution, not about deterring piracy.
They want people to pay again and again for the same material. This is blatantly obvious with things like movie formats - they release them over and over in various versions and then a new format is made and they do it all over again.
Now of course it's moving to online streaming... where you'll be made to pay for every view eventually if it's not there yet, which is a wet dream come true for the content owners. And it's all going to have DRM to make sure you don't store a copy and rewatch it without paying. Unless, of course, we decide to get off the nasty merry-go-round and demand some real change.
This! This, right here, is a great indictment of our entire way of life. We're literally wasting time arguing about the name of some lunch snack from a legal point of view, as if that had any kind of real world significance. Make the fricking food and give it to people who are hungry, that's as hard as it has to be.
Then your fellow citizens who make clothes or shoes turn around and give you enough of those for your needs. Well, until such a time as food, clothes and shoes can be fully automated, which we could do now if we really tried to.
Are people really THAT brainwashed that this doesn't strike you as a ludicrous waste of time and effort?
95% of our laws are a pointless waste of life and only exist because of us using a money-based approach and clinging to the idea of ownership of anything. Even most crime that occurs occurs because of monetary gain.
Frankly, the whole discussion about what to call a burrito is making me sick. It's no wonder we're destroying the planet - a billion people are starving yet in the industrialized world we have hordes of people spending their days bickering about bullshit like this. It's utterly sickening and not a little depressing.
It's not just young girls, either, it's young men too. The youngest generation(s) actually believe that it is possible for human beings, specifically female beings, to be impossibly perfect and they judge real-world people according to those standards.
Young girls as well have begun judging each other based on how well they can match not the models, but the highly cleaned up and idealized versions they see in pictures over and over and over again.
Personally I'd like to see a total ban on distorting photographs with Photoshop, because it doesn't matter if people are informed about the pictures being fake - they still have the negative effects. I doubt if such a ban would have a chance in hell, though, so a better plan would be to just change society into one that isn't money based. That would make all advertising moot overnight, which would be much more sane, and would also save mankind. Literally. The profit motive and fiat money-based conspicuous consumption society we've built is herding us straight towards destruction and if we don't start using real-world values to use our resources wisely, we're doomed as a species anyway.
Advertising is just one really ugly and nasty side effect that we're suffering under because of the need to make a profit rather than the need to create things people need sustainably.
The President already got a two-fer when he assassinated and American citizen and the fifth amendment in one fell swoop, so it's hardly surprising the others are now up for grabs too.
They do, after all, inconvenience the ruling class with minor things like protection from unwarranted searches and having to use pesky things like "due process". The President authorized the premeditated murder of an innocent man and bragged about it afterwards, in other words.
It doesn't matter how much proof (not that we've seen much if any) is offered that Al-Awlaki was guilty until such a time as that has been proven in a court of law and he has been found guilty. Until such a time, he was innocent in the eyes of the law. At least if we're going to keep using pesky things like due process and, in this case, the rights guaranteed by the fourth amendment.
Progressives (and anyone else law-abiding who likes the constitution) had better step up now or else forever hold their peace, because rights once taken away are one hell of a lot harder to claw back later.
The financial system and the fact that we use money is directly to blame for almost all the worlds ills. No, it's not "human nature" or anything nebulous like that - it is a system that's basically still feudalism with rulers and peons, a system that's basically predicated on having some people who live well - at the expense of others who live poorly or not at all. It's one thing if that sort of thing is necessary due to severe resource shortages or needing to force a major segment of the population into servitude just to keep the wheels of progress turning, but we've long since passed any such need. If we abandoned this nasty trap we call a "financial system" we could automate, use science and reason and thus provide every human being with all their needs and a lot of their wants - without any sort of need to slave away or "earn it".
That said, the protests aren't (unfortunately) so clear sighted, they are merely protesting the vast systematic abuses of the current system that has speeded up the coming of the second great depression. It was inevitable eventually, but it's here early due to the incredible bullshit that Goldman Sachs and their ilk have pulled the past couple of years, and all the "financial innovation" (which really should be written "criminal gambling with people's lives by creating byzantine and incredibly complex ways of making money out of thin air by betting on more money") is an atrocity against mankind. The people protesting on Wall Street are heroes - not sufficiently well focused heroes, but at least they have the right idea. They just haven't seen far enough - to the fact that we do, in fact, have to protest the financial system, since that is the single most evil thing in the universe. Up until recently, we had to accept the vast and pitch black dark sides to using money and the profit motive, but with technology and information technology, we can now transcend that particular hell and move on to some actual civilization.
Tracking services will inevitably lead to abuses like this as long as it makes sense to abuse it. And it will make sense to abuse things this way as long as society clings to the profit motive and money - the abuse of tracking tech in this case can be easily converted to profit and be used by the government to track people.
This is problematic because said government is wholly controlled by the wealthy segment of society and they have a vested interest in containing any dissenters, peace activists and others who threaten their profit margins and work for more equitable resource allocation.
Of course, the same is true for crime and pollution and conspicuous consumption and any number of nasty behavior that all comes down to money in the end; as long as we cling to this failed societal design we will continue to be victimized by its functionality.
If it's something unknowable like religion then I personally have to go with trying to view things based on what we already know and/or have theorized as well as the observable real-world consequences of religion, and once I do that, religion seems to be a vastly evil force that we need to get rid of. I'm not so interested in discussing various flavors of insanity and which is the least nuts - that seems pointless and a waste of time.
Same is true for politics and finances and such - right, left, capitalist, communist, that's all just slightly different flavors of money-based-society thinking, and the solution isn't in that minor bickering about the internal details of the system - it is in deep-sixing the system in favor for something that has a hope in hell of actually working, without destroying the planet like now.
Now, if we're talking aesthetic choices, things get a bit more murky and considerably less important, but any technological process has very few cases where there truly is more than one optimal approach, in my view. I think it more comes down to it being more difficult to enumerate the optimal choice as well as people wanting some specific thing to be true due to ingrained ideology so they reject reality and try to substitute their own.
I like to think that if someone can prove me wrong in any given area, I will change my mind. Areas where nobody can prove anyone wrong, however, do exist - philosophical or aesthetic choices and the like, and there you have to just go with what you believe and enjoy.