Monday, August 29, 2016

2016:  James Madison and the Margins

In September 1787 while waiting for the arrival of others, James Madison began drafting a blueprint which would eventually be known as the Virginia Plan.  The Virginia Plan proposed a bicameral legislative branch and set the stage for creating the idea of representation according to population.  Madison was no stranger to these questions haven already given long study to historical forms of government, much of it in solitude at his home in Montpelier, VA.

While not a behavioral scientist, James Madison knew his man; or better said he knew the tendencies of men and women by studying the various forms of governance and the corresponding behaviors.  His review of past governance failures challenged him to devise and propose a new system which would promote the best outcomes while minimizing the worst outcomes.  His ability to arrive at his personal conclusions and thereafter propose and have them accepted are central elements to what makes America great and a model for others.

Madison devised a system of interlocking government that he thought could serve the citizens of our country well assuming that those elected to office were NOT wise and good men, or the best of America.  This concept is expressed best when considering the separation of power into three branches of government.  While it is an American ritual to complain about the cumbersome nature of the “People’s Business” in Washington, DC, it is also important to know this feature is a safeguard of ours from an oppressive overbearing government.

Admittedly, it would be a welcome day of freshness if we could see better citizenship practiced and modeled for us rather than our elected leaders focused on “inflamed mutual animosity and rendered more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good."

A representative republic, Madison thought, was different from a direct democracy because its government is placed in the hands of delegates, and, as a result of this, it can be extended over a larger geographic area and gave argument in favor of a large republic against a small republic for the choice of "fit characters" to represent the public's voice.

In a large republic, where the number of voters and candidates is greater, the probability to elect competent representatives is broader. The voters have a wider option. In a small republic, it would also be easier for the candidates to fool the voters but more difficult in a large one. Madison suggests that a representative republic form of government is more effective against factions than a direct democracy. 

Men who are members of particular factions, or who have prejudices or evil motives might manage, by intrigue or corruption, to win elections and then betray the interests of the people. Madison thought the possibility of this happening in a large country, such as the United States, is greatly reduced. The likelihood that public office will be held by qualified men is greater in large countries because there will be more representatives chosen by a greater number of citizens. This makes it more difficult for the candidates to deceive the people. Representative government is needed in large countries, not to protect the people from the tyranny of the few, but to guard against the rule of the mob.

Madison’s theoretical argument for our resultant US Government representative republic could also be used to define what we know as a Bell curve in the discipline of statistical Analysis.  Essentially it means that in any given measured collection of people, things or events that occur there can be expected a certain outcome.  When all outcomes are registered and the frequency of that outcome is charted it looks like a bell; shape with a curved top by greater frequency recordings and moving downwards towards the outer extremes of normal.  This is also known as being on the “margins” compared to the majority who bunch together for thought, performance, attitude, behavior, etc.

While James Madison was a gifted scholar, he didn’t carry a smartphone, own a computer, drive a car or eat a pop tart.  In fact, he was still pretty amazed to get regular mail service.  While he understood the darker tendencies of human behavior in power he could never have anticipated the magnitude, directness and speed of electronic communication nor the resultant power of celebrity and immense wealth.  While the US has been showing some affects of these issues in past elections, the 2016 US election cycle has brought about a unique, unprecedented circumstance which likely will become a watershed for political, social and civic thought and conversation.

In 2016, Donald Trump received the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States.  He used his celebrity to bully about a dozen reasonably qualified persons during the primary election campaign cycle and win the nomination. 

This written work is not about endorsing other candidates or parties;  it is about recognizing that in 2016 we have experienced the Nation’s first failure of James Madison’s theory that a large representative republic would likely weed out non-qualified candidates for important political office, power and leadership.  The author of this work does not endorse and will not vote for such an unqualified candidate for office. 

I encourage you to exercise your right to vote for the many candidates running for the various federal, state and local offices in November 2016.  Because I think the republican candidate for president in 2016, Donald Trump, is such an extreme variance from those in the pool of the “best minds available in American” and does not reflect our core American behavior, I ask you to join me and not vote for Donald Trump.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Summing up 50 years post high school......

Like others, I ventured out of OTHS (Oakwood Township High School) 50 years ago looking for some unearned freedom and ran right smack into Viet Nam.  I luckily survived that experience and in the process found a vocation and set some goals.  

To achieve what I set out to do I became a student for real.  As I did medical things in the military I did that kind of work during school, married a sweetheart who became my 1st wife and eventually prepared to embark on a new career.  Turns out the new career start and the end of the 1st marriage arrived nearly at the same time.

I worked in several jobs picking up good experience and also met my 2nd wife who has been my wonderful partner over the last 32 years.  I continued in a rigorous career of managing healthcare usually doing assignments less attractive to others but appealing to my tastes.  

In 1994 I had my first symptom of cardiovascular heart disease that continued to worsen through 2005 when I decided after 40 years, I needed to stop work and concentrate on getting healthy. 

So now we live very simple, healthy, uncomplicated, stress free lives.  My wife is an exceptional water color artist and I spend most of my time on family genealogy.  I volunteer twice a week working with a surgical team which performs high volume spay & neuter services mostly doing logistical things in that environment.

I laugh sometimes to myself thinking that I am doing some of the very same duties that I was performing in 1967 and think that is pretty neat.

I try to stay out of trouble and at night before I go to sleep and realize that I have not caused any trouble; I mumble “Well played, Rowdy Yates, Well played” then drift off into the night.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Interesting Birthday Party

In 1975 I graduated from UCLA with a Masters in Public Health/Hospital Administration.  My first paying job as an administrator was as an assistant administrator at Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center.  One of my departments supervised was the Les Kelly Family Clinic for the community.  Quarterly I met with Les personally and gave him an overview of operations and how many clients we were able to serve as a result of his generous donation for which we named his clinic.  

You will likely know of Les indirectly as he founded a service to evaluate the value of used cars known as the "Kelly Bluebook". He was a nice guy and he also built the lake for the Bell Air Country Club so he ran in celebrity circles.

The story is about a birthday party we hosted for Les at the hospital Auditorium.  I won't bore you with the details but one example is while walking through the group I bumped into a guy that looked familiar playing an accordion which turned out to be Lawrence Welk.

At some point we all sat down in unassigned seating and I recall having your basic light enjoyable lunch conversation with people next to me and across the table.  After desert, the hostess made several comments and we all sang happy birthday to Les.  Then the hostess said she wondered if she could call on a good friend to sing some songs for us and I started looking around wondering who would be doing the singing. 

To my utter shock the nice guy on my right stood and sang to us for about 20 minutes and you have already guessed that my lunch partner was Howard Keel the male star of Oklahoma.  It was a pretty special memory.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Let’s see, how much time did I spend on yard work today? Let me break it down:

1) 10 minutes calculating that I could prune a limb from a tree and Jean would not notice it until way later;

2) 10 minutes prepositioning the tools and ladder to reach the limb;

 3) 5 minutes cutting (including 2 minutes thinking I may have dulled the chain saw cutting out a tree root buried in the dirt last time)

4) 2 second to determine that the limb would not be falling in the direction I previously calculated;

5) 5 minutes clearing brush and tools;

 6) 1 second for Jean to spot the blood smear when she discovered the “project-in-progress;”

7) 10 minutes wound debridement, cleansing and bandaging;

8) 10 minutes to finish and put up tools;

9) 1 second to self-congratulate myself and walk back into air conditioning thinking it went pretty well this time……LOL

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Healthcare Liberty Rights….

Personal healthcare is so; well, personal when it touches you as an individual.  It really lights the lights of protest and is ripe for sound bites.  The one that gets me a little edgy is the cry that individual rights are infringed with any plan that is related to health care and people should be allowed to make all their decisions unilaterally.  I have a sympathetic ear for such concerns but in reality there is a catch and it is likely you will not hear much about it because it sounds radical or uncaring. 

You hear a little piece of it when you read a boring spending statistic that Medicare spends the greatest amount of one person’s lifetime care costs in the last six months of life.  The tricky unknown in the formula is calculating exactly when your personal last six months of life begins.  Real boring stuff unless it is your life, a loved one or you are saddled with the payment policy to fund the spending.

Here is the unpopular point; when the person who unilaterally opted out of funding his/her share along the way arrives at a critical juncture they opt not to die and feel entitled to the most and best healthcare available.  In short, they just won’t die which is the authenticate outcome one should expect if there is not funding to handle their needs. 

This is predictably when the person’s desperation and panic shows through and asks for the “best you got”.  Who in America will deny that person care then even if they opted out of funding?  Our culture supports doing everything we can.  But when is the right time to discuss the cost of these personal decisions?  Can we expect our Congressional Teams to do what’s right? 

In history we have had such times when good folks were able to use the best talents of America to solve big problems.  I think one good example of this is after the American Revolution’s last shot was fired it took a full ten years to test how a confederation of states would operate in American with each state jealous of and protective of their respective sovereignty.  That is how we do it in America and many examples exist.

I decided to compose this in the summer of 2012 after three days of testimony before the US Supreme Court but before they ruled on the constitutionality of the issues.  Many of the programs identified with the 1930’s New Deal also underwent such reviews and some were indeed struck.  We shouldn’t be surprised either way this turns simply because this is the American way; a good read of American history demonstrates this is the way it has always been in our form of government.  I don’t expect that will change much in the future and I actually think that is the optimistic view.

To say that America has the best healthcare system in the world is simply untrue unless you attach many qualifying statements; it would be the same error as saying all members of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party believe and endorse everything about their party values when they clearly do not.  We don’t have any kind of system and we are just kidding ourselves thinking that way; healthcare people and organizations are just as American as any other industry in America.  This means that what we see as a system is a hodge-podge of conflicting payment systems, massaged regulations and laws operating within multiple jurisdictions driven by short-term public policy.  Everyone working in healthcare has an organization working on their behalf to protect their interests and relative distance from the money trough.

I don’t fear the result of sustaining or striking the issues before the Supreme Court; if they are sustained then the Americanized approach to Healthcare will be shaped over years based on experience and political will.  If struck, we may see a re-orientation to the approach but WE THE PEOPLE have had our taste of some of the improvements already and I am doubtful they will be removed from the landscape.  I am specially thinking of pre-existing conditions, portability and cancellation of coverage just when you most need it.  Well, I least I have my fingers crossed!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ah darn!! Hoodwinked again….

Well I thought I was doing the right thing and generally speaking I was right.  But even right these days comes with a risk analysis involving a risk-reward curve.  Honestly, I always knew the ham for my daily ham sandwich was packaged in something but always kicked the can down the road about thinking much about what it might be.  Yes, eating low fat ham is a better choice than a lot of choices but my time of reckoning has arrived.  Darn it! 

“The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has just completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer. Its conclusion is rocking the health world with startling bluntness: Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption. Consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives. Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen prepared meals. They are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite. This is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh. Unfortunately, sodium nitrite also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. And this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk for those who eat them. A 2005 University of Hawaii study found that processed meats increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent. Another study revealed that every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 50 percent. These are alarming numbers. Note that these cancer risks do not come from eating fresh, non-processed meats. They only appear in people who regularly consume processed meat products containing sodium nitrite.”

My daily processed meat sandwich includes added water, salt and…..

Dextrose is found in high amounts in many common packaged products and baking foods that are high in sugar such as cake mixes and frosting, cookies, crackers and pretzels. Keep in mind that consuming too much of all sugars, including dextrose, has many negative health effects, including suppressing your immune system and impairing your body's defenses against infectious diseases; causing rapid spikes in your blood sugar levels; problems with your gastrointestinal system; and a possible rise in your cholesterol levels.

Sodium lactate is the sodium salt of lactic acid produced by fermentation of a sugar source, such as corn or beets, and then neutralizing the resulting lactic acid[4] to create a compound having the formula NaC3H5O3. As a food additive, sodium lactate has the E number E325 and naturally is a liquid product, but also is available in powder form. As early as 1836, sodium lactate was recognized as a salt of a weak acid rather than being a base, and it was then known that the lactate had to be metabolized in the liver before the sodium could have any titrating activity.  Sodium lactate has a mild saline taste. It may be used in shampoo products and other similar items such as liquid soaps as it is an effective moisturizer.  Sodium lactate commonly is used to treat arrhythmias caused by overdosing of class I anti-arrythmics, as well as pressor sympathomimetics which can cause hypotension.

Sodium phosphate is a generic term for the salts of sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid.  Sodium phosphates are often used as meat preservatives, as an alternative to sodium nitrite. This is common in canned meats.

Sodium diacetate is a compound with formula NaH(C2H3O2)2. It is a 1:1 mixture of sodium acetate and acetic acid but is also described as the sodium acid salt of acetic acid. It is a common additive in "Salt and Vinegar" flavored chips.

Sodium ascorbate is a more bio-available form of vitamin C that is an alternative to taking ascorbic acid as a supplement. The molecular formula of this chemical compound is C6H7NaO6. As the sodium salt of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it is known as a mineral ascorbate.  As a food additive, it has the E number E301 and is used as an antioxidant and an acidity regulator. It is approved for use as a food additive in the EU, USA and Australia and New Zealand.  Sodium ascorbate can reverse the development of atherosclerotic disease, helps in heart attack prevention.  In addition sodium ascorbate plays a significant role in the elimination of chronic and acute infections.   Moreover, it is considered to be an anti-cancer agent. Sodium ascorbate produces cytotoxic effect in an array of malignant cell lines, which include melanoma cells that are particularly susceptible.

Sodium nitrite is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaNO2. It is a white to slight yellowish crystalline powder that is very soluble in water and is hygroscopic. It is a useful precursor to a variety of organic compounds, such as pharmaceuticals, dyes, and pesticides, but it is probably best known as a food additive to prevent botulism.  As a food additive, it prevents growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium which causes botulism. It also alters the color of preserved fish and meats. In the European Union it may be used only as a mixture with salt containing at most 0.6% sodium nitrite. It has the E number E250.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I love you Aunt Bobbie…

In the summer of 1971 I returned home to the IL area with my wife Susie Mundinger-Yates. We traveled a nice route which included several of her relatives but also mine and a little tour of “places” that you show people trying to give them an idea about your early life.

I was 24 years old, a 4 year military veteran, was a licensed clinical professional, successfully returned to college, had been accepted to a California University in the fall, had a little money, driving a new sports car and married to a nice attractive woman. In short, I full of myself!

I sported hair then I would find longish today and a full red bed which I wore for several years. I was not doing this for some political statement or meaning, it was just me perhaps relaxing standards after a military stint. But at the time during the anti-war era, judgments were made about such folks and what they stood for based on appearance. Perhaps I forgot this as I made my way from California College to the Mid-Western culture.

So, I pulled into Chrisman, IL and parked on the square in front of the Drug Store where I remembered my Aunt Barbara “Bobbie” George-Yates worked. Almost immediately I could determine she did not recognize me so I altered my course and stopped at the revolving greeting card rack and started browsing the cards. A short time later she approached me and asked if I needed assistance which I said would be kindly appreciated. Without any recognition at all she was standing next to a 6’ 2” beaded beast that was looking downward into the eyes of his barely 5 foot tall Sweet Aunt; oh the moment was delicious!

I explained that I needed a special card for someone and it was important that the message be on target. So, we started through several of the cards and I read the Hallmark message out loud to her and asked if she could interpret the message behind it for me. I think she tolerated the first couple cards pretty well but I could see her frustration beginning to build and I’m thinking she is about to explode. I picked up the last one, pointed at the message as I leaned over towards her as if to ask her to follow along and as she leaned over I said “I love you Aunt Barbara”. She jerked away with a surprised look seemingly trying to understand; then all she could see was this big guy with his arms out to hug her telling her “it’s me Aunt Bobbie, your nephew little Ronnie Yates”. And then the hugging began in earnest and remains one of my sweet memories of an earlier time.