Friday, July 31, 2009

50 Americans die each day from lack of Health Care

More discussion on health care reform from the Thom Hartmann radio show...

The Truth about the Canadian Health Care System

Information about the Canadian health care system from the Thom Hartmann radio show...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Distribution of I-JOBS Funds go to 948 Communities and all 99 Counties

The Governor's office issued a press release today giving details about the first distribution of I-JOBS funds that will be going out next week.

Continuing to lead the way in efforts to create jobs and strengthen the economy, Governor Chet Culver visited the Des Moines Public Works this morning to announce nearly $100 million in additional road and bridge funding from I-JOBS for transportation projects across the state.

“I-JOBS is about creating jobs, improving our infrastructure and strengthening our economy,” said Governor Culver. “Today, I’m proud to announce that, within a matter of days, these funds will be flowing to every community in Iowa. I-JOBS will not only fix our roads, but create new jobs and new opportunities for our communities, and build a stronger, safer Iowa.”

Every city and county in Iowa will receive a portion of $45 million in additional funding under I-JOBS for local street and road projects. These funds will begin being distributed to cities and counties starting next Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Iowa Ranked First in Young Voter Turnout in 2008

From the Quad City Times...

Iowa ranked highest of the 50 states in the percentage of its young people to turn out to vote in the last presidential election, according to a new federal report.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Monday that 63 percent of Iowa's eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 cast ballots in the Nov. 4 election.

Nationwide, the report said, 49 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted. In Illinois, it was 50 percent.

The closest state to Iowa in turnout for 18- to 24-year-olds was Minnesota, at 62 percent, a statistically insignificant difference, the Census Bureau said.

Youth turnout was a focus of last year's election because President Barack Obama's campaign was particularly appealing to young people.

That was evident in Iowa, where caucuses kicked off the election season. More young people than ever took part in those.

The largest increase in voter turnout in Iowa was amongst 25-34 year olds with 30,000 more voters in 2008 than in 2004.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rationing Public Education

Matthew Yglesias dismisses concerns over rationing health care in a public option by comparing it to public educaiton. He concludes those concerns are irrational...

Thinking about the “rationing” question in health care it’s worth trying to get clear. Sometimes there are shortages of something relative to demand—think of a huge oil shock—and the government decides it wants to impose price controls. That, in turn, leads to shortages. So you can attempt to ameliorate the shortages by rationing. Everyone is only allowed to buy so much gas. During World War II, Great Britain had comprehensive rationing for lots of staple food products—you were only allowed so much sugar, so much tea, so much bacon, etc. That’s rationing.

Now consider something else. If you’re a parent in Montgomery County Maryland, you pay taxes to the county and you get to send your kids to very good public schools. But even though the schools are good, they won’t just do anything you want. Your kid can learn Spanish at government expense, but the taxpayers won’t foot the bill for your kid to learn Burmese. But you don’t normally hear anyone say that the presence of a “public option” for elementary and secondary education involves “rationing” of foreign language instruction. If people have the means and want to arrange private lessons for their children of various kinds nobody is stopping them. And certain forms of this sort of supplemental instruction—Hebrew school in synagogues, Sunday school in churches, piano lessons or Kaplan test prep—are quite common.

Gov. Culver Now Tweets

Governor Culver has officially joined Twitter. You can follow him at @GovChetCulver on Twitter.

So far Culver's Tweets have been pretty officially, posting links to press releases regarding flood relief, the National Governor's Association meetings, the I-JOBS program, and the Microsoft data center. Culver definitely hasn't been as folksy as Sen. Grassley is on Twitter.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Are Antiques Green?

My wife and I live in an older home and we frequent antique stores in hopes of finding the perfect peice of furniture that matches our home's style. I've always considered antiques to be green as it is a perfect reuse of old 'junk' and the quality is a lot better than what you'd find at a big box store.

This article at Tree Hugger takes a closer look at how green antiques are.

My latest predicament is this - my wife and I love to buy antique furniture - especially as we prepare ourselves for our first child. It's green, right? I mean what could be more sustainable than buying furniture built to last, and reused over-and-over again? The trouble is, I'm not so sure...

You see, the more I get to know about the antique trade, the more I find out how far dealers will travel to find salable pieces. And as we all know - travel has a high carbon footprint - especially if that travel is done in a private car or van, as opposed to a shipping container or a truck that is packed for maximum capacity. So is a truck-load of flat-pack Ikea furniture really any more polluting than 12 vans full of ancient artifacts? How do we weigh efficiency of transportation against durability and longevity, or emissions in manufacture? [...]

Having talked this over with my fellow TreeHuggers, I suspect that antiques are still a net positive - but it might make sense to look for antiques that are native to your region, and look to hold on to them for a long time (estate sales are obviously a good place to start!). As my colleague Mike pointed out, it's hard to imagine that furniture that lasts for 100 years, and may be sold maybe three or four times, has a higher carbon footprint than flatpack mass manufactured stuff that may be trashed in ten years.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iowa CCI Convention This Saturday

The top 5 reasons you should be @ CCI's Convention Saturday, July 18:

#1 Connect and reconnect. Experience what it feels like to be a part of something. The number one thing members will tell you they like most about the CCI convention is meeting up with members from across the state and learning about each other's issues. Meet up with old friends and make new ones while reconnecting to what's important - standing together for action.

#2 Speak truth to power. CCI members don't just stand by and let things happen. They put pressure where it needs to be put. That is why we have invited legislative leaders and other decision-makers to our workshops and a plenary session. And...if they don't show up to meet with us, in true direct-action organizing fashion, we just might have to take the meeting to them. Be there to hold these decision makers accountable and stand with hundreds of others as we demand that everyday people be put first.

#3 Great lineup of guest speakers and workshop presenters.
We've tapped our strategic, national allies in our fight to put people before polluters, profits and politics. Lunch keynote speaker Deepak Bhargava, from the Center for Community Change (, has years of Organizing to Win! experience. He'll talk about the opportunity we have to stand up for the common good and set the political agenda -- local, state, and national -- that impacts our lives.

Other guests include top staff from:

Food & Water Watch - the folks that brought you, the Global Grocerand more fascinating resources, reports and victories.

Public Campaign - leaders in the fight for clean election reform at the state and national levels. to read their reports and watch Law & Order actor Sam Waterston defend Clean Elections on national TV.

National People's Action - who helps groups like CCI build power to win locally and nationally. NPA's organizing was recently featured in an article in The Nation.

#4 You like pie. In addition to lunch made with family farm and locally produced foods and dessert provided by Chocolaterie Stam (yum!) -- we'll have a homemade pie silent auction. Let the bidding wars begin! (If you'd like to make and donate a pie, please contact Katie at 515-255-0800

#5 High energy, fun! From meeting other members to taking action with hundreds of others to the victory stories to the workshops, you'll be inspired and cheering from your chairs.

I hope you'll join us and feel the power that is the CCI convention.
Saturday, July 18 9am- 4:30pm
Hotel Fort Des Moines in downtown Des Moines
You can't beat the price
-- only $45 per person includes the full convention, lunch made with family farm and local foods, the keynote address, strategy workshops and more.
* Save $10 if you say "CCI is awesome" in the reason you heard about the convention!

To register, follow this link to sign up online.

Please register for the convention today, bring your friends and neighbors, and help us stand up, stand together and Organize to Win!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Cost of NOT Having a Public Option

This diary at Daily Kos takes a look at the cost of NOT having a public option.

But what does it cost us to not have a public option?

Some of the costs of not having a public option are simple to calculate, but immeasurable in value. Infant mortality rates in the United States are 6.37 deaths/1,000 live births. A sampling of other industrialized nations with public health care finds the United Kingdom at 5.01 deaths / 1,000 live births. Canada at 4.63. France at 3.41. If the United States infant mortality matched that of the United Kingdom, just under 6,000 fewer infants would have died in the United States last year. If we could match France around 13,000 fewer infants would have died.

Let's move to the other end of the spectrum. As of 2009, life expectancy in the United States is 78.11 years. Which sounds pretty good, until you realize it puts us one slot above Albania. For the United Kingdom, this number is 79.01 years. For France it's 80.98. For Canada, 81.23. for the United States, that means about 270,000,000 years lost compared just to the slightly better numbers of the UK. 936,000,000 years lost compared to Canada. Want to stick a monetary value on it? Say that just a fourth of these Americans in their golden years are pulling down 20 hours a week and getting minimum wage to wave you into the local big box or bag your groceries. That's $442 billion worth of time lost compared to the UK. About $1.5 trillion lost if those workers had lived as long as Canadians.

There are good things to be said about the American system. When you're in an American hospital, a very good level of immediate care makes you more likely to survive the immediate aftermath of a health crisis. Just had a heart attack? Hug that cardiac care unit close and you're 20% more likely to hang around than your neighbor to the north. However, a low quality of long term and follow up care erodes that difference over the course of a year. Sorry.

But those are only a few of the direct effects of the cost of health care that's distributed by wealth rather than need. There are indirect effects that are equally dramatic.

Millions of Americans are in what's called "job lock." They can't leave their jobs because they feel they can't get the same health insurance benefits on their own or at the next job. A new poll by NPR News, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government shows that one out of four Americans has experienced job lock, in the last couple of years, or someone in their immediate family has. That's despite legislation enacted six years ago to deal with the problem.

Having health care that, for most Americans, continues to be directly tied to their employment has one very clear cost: it makes people less likely to voluntarily leave their current job. Sure, COBRA is now available, but the cost of continuing health insurance on your own is enough to make it of questionable value. The complex and highly variable nature of coverage makes it almost impossible for the average consumer to tell which, if any, insurance plan available to them represents a reasonable deal. Many Americans decide to stick with "the devil they know" rather than face rising costs, the uncertainty of acceptance, and the fear related to going it on your own.

Add to that a hidden tax of $1000 that people with insurance pay for those who do not have insurance.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Smoking Declines in Iowa

The smoking rate among Iowans has delcined from 19% in 2007 to 14% in 2008.

From Bleeding Heartland...'s been a full year since the Iowa Smokefree Air Act went into effect. The public smoking ban was one of the most controversial bills considered during the 2008 legislative session, and advocates praised the law's success at a press conference this week.

According to a recent Iowa Department of Public Health survey, 14 percent of Iowans smoke. In 2007, IDPH research estimated the smoking rate at 19 percent. That's a significant decline, suggesting that around one-quarter of Iowans who smoked in 2007 have since quit. The $1 a pack tax hike on cigarettes approved in 2007 was probably a major factor in this trend as well.