You say you want me to teach WHERE?
Subject: You say you want me to teach WHERE?
By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
Story updated at 10:26 PM on Friday, July 20, 2007
A forum for Ohio educators, sharing thoughts regarding their health care and pension system (STRS Ohio). Researcher John Curry manages a clearinghouse of related e-mails, articles, announcements, etc. His daily mailings include many items that do not make it to this blog. Contact John (email@example.com) if you wish to be on his e-mail list. Kathie Bracy: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From email@example.com, July 20, 2007
ALERT: "Privatize Medicare? NO WAY!" video available
"Privatize Medicare? NO WAY!" shows how the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act threatens to privatize Medicare, irreparably harming over 40 million seniors and disabled people, and driving Medicare itself into bankruptcy and oblivion. We need to solve the problems of both Medicare and the uninsured by extending Medicare to cover everyone with expanded benefits: Medicare for All, also known as Single-Payer healthcare.
More than just a drug program, the Medicare Modernization Act is a plan to drive healthier Medicare recipients out of traditional fee-for-service Medicare and into private plans like HMOs, PPOs and private FFS plans, which will profit since their patients will need little care. Traditional Medicare would be left with the sickest, most expensive patients, and would have reduced funding because of fewer patients and stringent new cost controls built into the Act.
In addition, Medicare would become politically marginalized because the Medicare Modernization Act encourages higher income seniors to leave Medicare, both by charging higher premiums if they stay, and by giving tax reductions if they leave to set up Health Savings Accounts. If Medicare becomes a program for low-income seniors, it will become politically vulnerable to further cuts.
Scrap the Medicare Modernization Act! Instead of being ditched, Medicare needs to be expanded to cover everyone. Call it Medicare-for-All, or Single-Payer Healthcare, we need equal, comprehensive, low-cost, government-financed healthcare for everyone. As market-based healthcare continues to melt down, we need to step up to make a new realty happen.
"Privatize Medicare? NO WAY" also shows examples of what the San Francisco Gray Panthers and the California Alliance for Retired Americans have done to organize against the Medicare Modernization Act and promote Single-Payer/Medicare for All.
You can see "Privatize Medicare? NO WAY" by streaming video at [click here].
You can also request a free DVD or Microsoft PowerPoint version suitable for group presentation with television or computer/projector by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org . (The DVD and PowerPoint presentation is full-screen and has far better resolution than the streaming version.)
We are also available to make presentation to your group in the San Francisco Bay Area.
By Brian Rothenburg, July 20, 2007
Imagine if your Governor was the highest paid in the United States and imagine how the Ohio public would react.
Imagine if you provided the Governor with no limits on renovating the Governor’s Mansion, but knew from his history that he’d spent $6 million on his last residence, imported a room from England for another Ivy League gig and was the subject of a major Wall Street Journal expose’ on his prior spending habits -- fair or not.
Imagine if you found a Governor that created jobs in Ohio decades ago, plopped him back in Bexley today and waited for that magic to work again 17 years later – as if you are in some strange Austin Powers’ political episode where he lands at the “Oval” some Saturday from a strange land down south.
Ohioans are a scrappy lot. When the chips are down, they seek a hero. And when they are wandering in the wilderness, they seek a messianic presence to rescue them from the confusion of false idols. The fact is that Heroes never die – in fact their legend only grows in the memory of distant minds.
But there is a certain truth in the parables of the Bible that comes to mind about E. Gordon Gee and his popular coronation this past week. It reminds me of when Moses left the Israelites to scale the mountains for the 10 Commandments, only to come down and find them worshipping fallen idols, lost in the desert, longing for belief. In the end, Moses never went into the Promised Land – only the Israelites crossed the border.
And if we Ohioans have strayed in the desert, we are a different people with a different economy than OSU President E. Gordon Gee discovered 17 years ago when he arrived from the Mountains of Colorado to the Mountaintop at OSU. And because of that, like him or not, the E. Gordon Gee of 2007 takes an investiture in a very different Ohio.
The Buckeye Institute’s Richard Vedder wrote recently, “The highest level administrators at the great universities I know alternatively despise, despair or are jealous of Gee, looking at him as a rube upstart without the cultivation and manners and dignity that a University president should have. But he delivers – raises schools in the US News and World report rankings, builds pretty buildings, throws great parties, and raises tons of cash. Isn’t that what higher education is all about these days.”
And therein lies the rub. It’s not what higher education should be about these days. Not with Ohio’s undereducated population struggling to pay rising tuition costs at our state colleges. Not with OSU, a land-grant college, suddenly being so selective as to place itself out of reach for even some of Ohio’s brightest. Not with all public colleges struggling to pay for upkeep of the growing number of buildings.
OSU can no longer afford a PR man as its president.
The recent high-level investment in Higher Ed is a financial commitment that the new administration has made to boost the state’s economy.
We are desperate for jobs and our Universities are the cornerstone of what little hope there is of past glory. Our Governor may not feel it in the honeymoon of today, but jobs are our hope – not newspaper rankings. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher’s recent trip to Russia is just the start of the kind of focus, zeal and commitment it will take to recreate a burgeoning Ohio economy.
A recent Quinnipiac survey found that 28% of all Ohioans feel one of their family member will leave Ohio for a better opportunity in the next year. And if that responsibility rests with our elected leaders like Governor Strickland – it also rests at the feet of Ohio’s Higher Ed establishment that long has criticized cuts in funding and stands at the threshold of all it could want.
And if Professor Vedder is right about Dr. Gee, then the OSU club we at Shadows on High often dub “Scarlet and Green” should fear a return of a 17-year old business model.
You don’t need pretty buildings named after the famous or the felonious -- or even need a picturesque setting while you are sitting in your family room watching your class lecture via computer. You may need labs and hands-on instruction for the sciences and certain disciplines. But today’s classroom requirements are much different than yesterday’s. Technology has made Higher Ed more portable.
Dr. Gee pointed out that those parties helped him raise money. Still, even the Vanderbilt Trustees created controls for his lavish spending.
The Wall Street Journal article details a Vanderbilt Committee report led by a retired investment banker, which found the full board never approved the budget or financial items between 2000 and 2005. Among the report’s recommendations was a special panel to monitor Gee’s entertainment, travel, food staff and maintenance expenditures on the President’s mansion.
If there is ever a telltale neon warning sign in Ohio these days, it lies in the shadows of the echo chambers of Ed Boards and board room power ties that cling all too fast to connected straw men like Bob Ney, or Tom Noe, or Bob Taft, or Frank Gruttadauria and a list of endless false power prophets. Given Ohio’s recent past with fallen idols who had little financial oversight, the WSJ article is troubling. Ohio citizens have lost enough public money with the help of loosey-goosey financial checks and balances.
In a political environment where food is scrutinized at all levels of Ohio government thanks to gourmet meals at the Board of Regents [ to the point where the public seemed to be outraged over boxed bologna sandwiches, chips and brownies at event like the BMVs annual computer training sessions ] it would seem logical that OSU Trustees would be sensitized to unnecessary spending and write in appropriate oversight given the public lashing – fair or not – that Gee received over Vanderbilt and Brown expenses.
The Columbus Dispatch last Sunday gave Gee an opportunity to address the Wall Street Journal article when he said:
“In this instance, (the president's house) is in fairly good shape. It does need to have some renovation. I have a particular philosophy. One is the fact that I entertain all the time, so the house needs to be made available for entertaining. ... Secondly, I believe very strongly in people coming and staying with me like a bed and breakfast … I've always used my home to celebrate the community that we're in. But I think being transparent about it, and second of all, having everyone understand that I'm intending on raising $2.5 billion (in a capital campaign). Whatever we expend on buffing the house up will be paid for every month.”
Will OSU adapt away from monolithic buildings to the web-based worlds of our future? Will OSU really be able to become a job incubator for in-state jobs that an increasingly desperate Legislative crowd has anointed and invested? Will the magic of endowments return because of the mystique beneath the bow tie, or is the lagging endowment a sign of a changing desert, in part, because of the Fortune 500 losses in Ohio?
The question is whether the homage to past glory and hope that Ohioans find E. Gordon Gee worth the price tag:
Certainly outside sources fund a large part of the cost. But it is still a public institution. And we know that spending on such a scale would doom almost any other public official in any office in Ohio.
What makes this public official so different? Lots of things, but mainly fierce loyalty from Les Wexner, founder and chairman of Limited Brands. Wexner is central Ohio’s most powerful resident, among Ohio’s most influential citizens and one of America’s wealthiest men.
Wexner was so unhappy with Gee’s predecessor, Karen Holbrook, that he’s rumored to have helped engineer not only her ouster but also reshape the Board of Trustees to insure that he could hand-pick her successor. His admiration for Gee is well-known.
In fact, some insiders in the shadows of the Statehouse are of the opinion that Wexner lured Gee back, not because he wanted to pick the next OSU president but because he wanted to pick the next most influential public voice in State Government. His concern over Strickland – whose pro-union views conflict with Wexner’s overseas business endeavors, are also well known.
While Gee’s spending habits will be the subject of intrigue, they could play second fiddle to his relationship to the Strickland Administration – the new governor who already stands firmly against pricey lunches and for public colleges; but also seems decidedly less socially ostentatious and bookishly more policy oriented than camera oriented.
And the reality is that outside of the “Scarlet and Green Club,” for most Ohioans this is not about financial endowments or Ohio’s notoriously self-immolating “king of the hill” politics. It’s about our need for an economic hero and jobs for our graduating Buckeye sons and daughters.
And you just can’t stop thinking that the block “O” on his chest is scarlet in more than just color. Heroes are larger than life and Gordon Gee is expected to be not just what he really was – but the legend or memory of what people think he was embellished over time.
While OSU Trustees may be satisfied with financial endowments and budget gold, most Ohioans are looking for this collegiate Moses to create hope, opportunity and to create jobs – not a testosterone-laden comparison of University financial endowment size at the annual Big Ten Presidents’ Conference Dinner, or PR rollouts of college magazine rankings and new buildings.
In the end, the E. Gordon Gee of the past, just awoke in a new land and inherited not just the highest salary in the country, but the highest threshold from which to fall. But then again, he has a golden parachute.
Americans United for Change, Medicare Advocates Call on Sen. Voinovich to Stop the Privatization of Medicare
Bush “Medicare Advantage” program nothing more than a handout to the big insurance companies at the expense of the taxpayer and of the long-term care of seniors and disabled Americans who need it most
(COLUMBUS) – As a major battle looms in Congress over the future of the so-called “Medicare Advantage” program – a program which provides huge subsidies to big private insurance companies that provide Medicare insurance – Americans United for Change and the ‘Stop Medicare Privatization’ campaign call on U.S. Senator George Voinovich to take immediate action and stop the privatization of Medicare.
This morning, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released a report commissioned by USAction that shows in 2007 alone, private Medicare plans are being overpaid $311 million in the state of Ohio. Congress’ non-partisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Congressional Budget Office have found that private insurance companies are being paid billions more than it would cost to treat the same beneficiaries under the regular Medicare program.
Click here to read the full USAction report.
In 2003, Senator Voinovich voted in favor of the Medicare Modernization Act, which was the first major step towards privatizing Medicare by establishing billions of dollars in government subsidies or ‘corporate welfare’ to big insurances companies that were allowed to provide Medicare insurance to recipients under Bush’s so-called “Medicare Advantage” program.
Despite its innocuous title, the Bush administration’s “Medicare Advantage” program actually costs the Medicare program and ultimately the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars at the same time it endangers the soundness of the Medicare program that seniors and the disabled depend upon for health care. Like Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, “Medicare Advantage” is a scheme to privatize Medicare and allow traditional Medicare to whither on the vine.
“Just two years after the American people resoundingly rejected the Bush Administration’s misguided scheme to privatize Social Security, President Bush is trying to get away with doing the same to Medicare,” said Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio.org, an Ohio partner of Americans United for Change. “And just like Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme would have irreparably harmed Social Security, Medicare Advantage disadvantages Medicare, disadvantages taxpayers and is undermining one of the most successful government programs in history. Today, we are mounting a campaign to stop the privatization of Medicare – just as we stopped the privatization of Social Security. We call on Senator Voinovich to take meaningful steps to bring an end to a corrupt era of ‘corporate welfare’ by eliminating subsidies for “Medicare Advantage” plans before overpayments destroy America’s greatest health insurance success story.”
Like its successful campaign in 2005 to defeat the President’s Social Security plan, Americans United for Change is again leading an aggressive national effort in 23 states to apply pressure on Members of Congress to pull the plug on Bush’s under-the-radar plot to dismantle Medicare. Americans United for Change is one of many groups participating in the ‘Stop Medicare Privatization’ campaign: the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Alliance for Retired Americans; Medicare Rights Center; Campaign for America’s Future and USAction.
Click here to read more about the ‘Stop Medicare Privatization’ campaign.