Problems 

March 21, 2004

The Rising Price of Oil
    The price of crude oil reached a new high of $38 a barrel yesterday, with further increases possible. I find myself wondering who's getting these generous profits. Supposedly, it's OPEC members, but I'm wondering how the big international oil corporations... Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Exxon, Gulf Oil, Sun Oil...  are making out in all this. But irrespective of the question of who's making windfall profits, storm warnings are now appearing, as gasoline prices rise above $2.00 a gallon, with talk of $3.00 a gallon, that rising energy prices will lead to rising inflation, as it did in the 70's, and that it will choke off the recovery. High energy costs fuel rise in consumer prices - Seattle Times

The Rising Cost of Health Care
    An article on Friday observed that companies are slow to hire because of the extreme corporate for employee health insurance. Medical costs have been climbing at double-digit rates for many years now because of the arms race among hospitals to win ascendancy. I've mentioned previously here how, when our daughter was born in 1960, Huntsville Hospital was a four-story brick building measuring, probably, 100 feet on a side. The population hasn't increased much since then. Now it's a half-square-mile campus comparable to, perhaps, one of New York City's largest medical complexes. The core hospital itself is 10 stories tall, and is, probably, 500 feet on a side, with a dozen or so other new multi-story hospitals and clinics associated with it, plus five large new parking garages. It now draws patients from across North Alabama, northeastern Mississippi, and northwestern Georgia. And now, a new regional medical center in Cullman, 40 miles away, is giving it a run for its money. This has been possible because regional residents haven't yet, when their lives are at stake, been unable or unwilling to pay whatever it cost.
    The Clintons tried to introduce national health insurance when Clinton entered office in 1993. That failed to pass, and nothing has been done since then to stem the tide. The Bush administration has declared a "war" on terror, and is attempting to use this "war" as a means of getting the administration re-elected. This task has crowded out other important problems that have been gathering downward momentum over the past three years. (The President will spend $20,000,000 of his $130,000,000 in voluntary campaign contributions this week trying to defend himself from the crescendoing chorus of accusers who are lifting the rug and revealing what's under it.)

The Medicare Prescription Drug Scandal
    The Smell of a Real Scandal  This money amounts to a tax mostly on the working population to pay drug companies for retirees' drug bills. It is said that this will lead to higher drug prices, and windfall profits for the drug companies. However, with the costs of the Iraqi War and the reconstruction of Iraq, and either reconstruction of Afghanistan or another war with the Taliban, it's hard to see how there's going to much money left to take away from the U. S. public. (More about that later.)

The Iraq War
    If the Bush administration wins another term, presumably, the Neocons may continue their Mideast expansion wars as part of their plan for global hegemony. We might ask: how could anyone presume to make such a move after the fiasco that has been Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe they won't try it.
One Year Later In The Sands Of Eden - SpaceDaily
David Kay On Inspections and Absence of Prohibited Weapons - SpaceDaily
Iraqi People Glad Saddam Is Gone - SpaceDaily
Analysis: 'War Leader' Ploy May Backfire - SpaceDaily
Iraq attack reflects Bush world view - SpaceDaily
The role of the Iraq war in 2004 - SpaceDaily
Contempt for Congress - Washington Post
Drop in Foreign Support for U.S. Worries Experts  - Wired News

(To Be Continued)

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