July 31, 2009
Indeed, the IRS data shows that in 2007â€”the most recent data availableâ€”the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.4 percent of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. This is the highest percentage in modern history. By contrast, the top 1 percent paid 24.8 percent of the income tax burden in 1987, the year following the 1986 tax reform act.
Remarkably, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined. In 2007, the bottom 95 percent paid 39.4 percent of the income tax burden. This is down from the 58 percent of the total income tax burden they paid twenty years ago.
To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent is comprised of just 1.4 million taxpayers and they pay a larger share of the income tax burden now than the bottom 134 million taxpayers combined.
July 30, 2009
Yesterday, out of the blue, a friend of mine mused, "You know, you've been pregnant now pretty much non-stop for the past two years. I don't know if I could have done that. You're very strong." And it was just...nice...to have someone acknowledge that, to acknowledge my perpetual state of stress and worry and fear for the past 2+ years.
And this friend is the eternal optimist, the person who kept telling me to keep my chin up, that it would all work out, that she was sure that this time would be the time...despite the fact that she has said this four times.
It was nice to finally have her acknowledge the crap sandwich I've been eating for so long.
I talked with Heidi recently, and she teases me that I still always worry about saying the wrong thing, about offending, about not properly acknowledging her suffering. She said she is hard to offend.
I must be easy to offend.
You know the smartass expression "What do you want, a cookie?" Yes, sometimes I feel like I want the cookie. Or the medal. Or whatever else people sarcastically offer to complaining people.
Sometimes I still want to go back and choke everyone who poo-pooed my problems as I went along. Everyone who said that so-and-so had a miscarriage and got pregnant again the next month and everything was fine. Everyone who scoffed at my woes and said I just haven't been patient enough yet. Everyone who said I just wanted things to come too easily.
A year ago, I already thought this experience had made me a worse person. That was still after only one miscarriage, for heaven's sake.
Some people deal with adversity with grace and composure, like Heidi and David. They don't need the cookie.
I need the cookie.
I don't know if that makes me a bad person. Probably. But I dwell on it sometimes, I know unhealthily.
-send tonnes of food to low carbon footprint 3rd world countries leading to a population boom (Daniel Quinn has written some good stuff on this - more food, more people);
-then subsequently invite them to high carbon footprint countries (my country having the highest immigration rate in the world).
This provides a handy excuse to call for a stop foreign "aid", and to stop immigration, while retaining moral highground versus the left. If they really cared about AGW and really believed it to be the greatest threat to humanity, they would stop feeding "surplus" carbon producing humans, and also stop transferring them from low carbon footprint societies to high carbon footprint societies.
It's a fun argument to make against AGW freaks; public policies must mesh together; in my country's case we committed to reducing total carbon emissions to 6% (I think) under the Kyoto accord while simultaneously increasing our population through immigration by about 7% during the implementation phase. You can have the world's highest immigration rate while also fueling a population explosion in the third world, or you can fight AGW, but you can't do both, not at the same time. Public policy debates with leftists rarely present such easy rebuttals to what is so dear to them.
Hey, if AGW gets us off the hook from foreign aid and gets us zero immigration, I'll be Al Gore's biggest fan, but for some reason I'm quite certain that's not their end game.
I think it would be hilarious to hear that brought up in a global warming debate.
July 29, 2009
And how I spent another morning composing my "the baby is dead" post in my head.
But the baby is not dead.
John Elway baby is progressing just fine. He even did a little dance for us on screen, which was probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen, and downright adorable. Just a few little wiggles to say hello and to let me know that he's still there and still going strong.
Heartbeat looks good, umbilical cord growing strong, and we even saw one little arm. (Hopefully there's another one just like it on the other side.)
He's almost an inch long.
And he's a he only because I now think of it as John Elway. Despite my initial longing for a boy, I have completely come to terms with having a girl over the past 2.5 years and think that would be perfectly fine too.
But the bleeding, I cannot stand any more of it. It causes so much stress. The doctor assumes that it is a reaction to the progesterone supplements, which he says I only have to tough out for another week and a half.
This baby has made it further than any other baby before. I feel good about that. I will feel better once I stop bleeding.
Another look in the kangaroo pouch is scheduled for next week.
July 28, 2009
July 26, 2009
Police are investigating a brick with an offensive message thrown into the window of an East Austin home.
The brick, thrown through a 4-year-old boyâ€™s bedroom window, read â€œKeep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong.â€
The homeowner, Barbara Frische, who is white, said she has lived in the home for 10 years.
[...] Police have not classified this incident as a hate crime, said Austin Police Sgt. Richard Stresing, because hate crimes target an individual specifically because of an identifying characteristic, like race. Police say the incident has been classified as criminal mischief and deadly conduct.
Of course, makes perfect sense. A brick saying "Keep Eastside black" thrown into a white family's house has nothing to do with race, obviously.
Friend: Well, I think people need health coverage. And I include dental in that because I think dentist visits are so important.
Sarah: Oh, my family never had dental insurance growing up.
Friend: That's terrible! My kids go to the dentist twice a year, no questions.
Sarah: Oh no, we went to the dentist twice a year too, just that my parents had to pay for it out of pocket each time, for all five of us.
Friend: [horrified look, as if I had said my dad did all our own dentistry at home in the garage]
The conversation turned to other matters, but as I think back on it now, I wish I could go back and restart the conversation from this point. I find it fascinating that this friend equated not having dental insurance with not visiting the dentist at all. My parents took us regularly, and they paid for everything on their own: cleanings, x-rays, fillings, sealant, my broken front tooth that rebroke six times during my teen years, retainers, four sets of braces, Mom's crowns and root canals, etc. I know it wasn't cheap, and I have since thanked my parents for all the dental work they bought for me, especially since now I have to buy my own retainers each time the dog chews one up.
But we received dental care. The lack of insurance didn't keep my parents from taking care of our health.
Why is it that people act like they have no concept of taking care of routine health concerns on their own? As if to say that if it's not covered by insurance, you're out of luck? We weren't out of luck; we just paid for it.
I mean they paid for it. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
July 25, 2009
Yeah, why not?
I heard the other day that the Marines SF are going to start being trained in Pashto, Dari, and Urdu. My first thought was, "What took you so long?" Really, we haven't had this idea until eight years into the war?
I had the same thought when I read that Manzi paragraph: no one has thought to compare global warming model predictions to actual data? Sheesh.
July 24, 2009
July 23, 2009
The thing is that The Cure has so many deployment-applicable lyrics:
I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are
All I can feel
However far away
I will always love you
Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone
For the telephone to ring
And I'm wondering
Where she's been
And I'm crying for yesterday
And the tap drips
Drip drip drip drip drip drip drip...
It's always the same...
AWTM said I need to listen to The String Beans instead, something cheery. I'd better go find some Elvis or Weezer instead.
July 22, 2009
I am watching National Geographic. Kangaroos have two awesome reproductive features that I wish I had.
1) When the joey is 5 weeks along, it gets born and makes the trek up to the pouch to settle in for nine months. What I wouldn't give to take my baby out and keep it in a nice, warm pocket for the rest of its gestation time, so I could peek in on it and make sure it's OK.
2) Once the joey gets settled, the kangaroo mates again, producing a back-up embryo. It sits dormant in embroyonic diapause, and if anything happens to the joey in the pouch, the back-up embryo starts to grow again to replace it. Obviously, that also would've been a great feature for me.
Man, kangaroos have it made.
The baby has a heartbeat.
It grew exactly a week's worth of size and progress.
Because that's not what I was expecting.
This morning I woke up to blood, heavier than I've had with any other pregnancy. I sat the 20 minutes waiting to be seen just trying not to cry, trying not to compose the "my baby is dead" blog post in my head, trying not to imagine doing this over again.
You know, when I told my husband we should go for this, I easy peasy said, "We try once more before you go, and if it's a win, then we're great; and if it's a loss, then we haven't really lost anything because I can still do the IVF."
It sounded far easier in my head to have one more loss than it feels in real life.
I've now made the ultrasound tech a nervous wreck too. She quietly fired up the machine, started ultrasounding, and as soon as she could see anything -- a second faster than I could locate it -- immediately says, "We have a heartbeat," and let out a sigh of relief.
The baby was hanging upside down in my uterus like a bat. It was kinda comical.
But I couldn't even enjoy it. I just felt the relief that it was there, and then immediately started thinking about making it one more week.
Pregnancy, for me, is like deployment. (Actually, pregnancy is worse, because my husband has lived through two deployments; our baby has never lived through pregnancy.) But pregnancy reminds me of the remarks I made at the 2007 Milblogs Conference:
Every moment that I am not looking at that ultrasound screen is a moment when I doubt the baby is alive. I know that is normal for many pregnant women, but for me it has been borne out by too much experience. Baby #2 died within a day of our seeing it on the ultrasound screen. And I don't lose babies naturally; I generally have to find out about it and take medicine to get it out. I won't know it's dead until I see it dead on screen.
And now I have morning sickness, so it's a constant reminder that I'm pregnant. And my house is empty, no husband to lovingly distract me from my worries.
So I asked my mother to come visit.
I need the distraction. I hate to admit that I can't handle this on my own, but it is proving harder than I figured. So my mother's going to come out for a few days and be there for next week's ultrasound. If we make it past next week, that will be the longest I've ever kept a baby alive.
I read this chapter in The Sandbox last night, on how casually an Afghan man says he would divorce his wife and choose another if she couldn't bear children.
Thank heavens I'm an American.
Thank heavens I have such a wonderful husband.
Thank heavens we made it another week.
July 21, 2009
I just thought I'd recap some of my experiences, which aren't that far off from what Crowder went through in Canada. A "greatest hits," if you will, of the past two years of my life.
I've already done my listing of terrible bedside manner I've encountered over the years, but let's see if we can dig up some more gems.
I wish my husband wasn't unreachable in Afghanistan, because he has some good stories too. I seem to remember him needing a physical a while back and thinking he had a 7 AM appointment. It turns out that 7 AM was just the cattle call: every soldier who needed a physical that day turned up at 7 AM to sit and wait his turn. I remember him saying there was a sign in the room that said something to the effect of "Have a seat; this WILL take all day." Heh.
Sean Hannity expressed surprise that Crowder had to take a number like it was a butcher shop or something. We take a number so often in the military life that I didn't even bat an eye at that. In fact, I take a number every week when I go in to get my bloodwork done.
In my experience, I have had trouble getting actual human beings to answer my questions and give me the help I need. Last year when I had Miscarriage #2:
My mother was freaking out. "This is how things work for you? You haven't talked to a human being all day long, just answering machines!" But for me, this was totally normal. I never talk to human beings when I call the hospital. I don't even know how to call a human being, save the advice nurse. In fact, that's why I called her in the afternoon, just because she's the only human being I know how to reach! My mom was shocked that someone, anyone!, didn't call me during the day to let me know what was going on.
My husband called from Iraq at 5:15 PM to see how things were going. Five minutes later, the doctor beeped in. I had to hang up with my husband from Iraq to talk to the doctor! If that doesn't suck, I don't know what does.
Sometimes I've had trouble getting an actual human being to remember I'm being cared for. During Miscarriage #1, they wheeled my hospital bed back to the ultrasound room, and when they were done, they left me in the hallway and said somebody would take me back to the ER. Well, somebody forgot. They left me lying there alone in a hallway after just telling me my baby was dead for an hour. I begged anyone who walked by me to call someone to come get me, but still no one came.
Waiting...yep, I'm familiar with it.
A few months ago I went to the weekend clinic because I thought I might have strep throat. I had an appointment but still had to wait an hour past my appointment time to be seen. He looked at my throat, said he would test for strep, and sent me home. I was to call in 48 hours for the results, and if it was strep, they would then give me antibiotics. I called two days later and got an answering machine that said to leave a message and someone would call me back with my results within 48 hours. Two more days later, they called and said I didn't have strep. By that time, my symptoms had pretty much gone away, but thank heavens I didn't have strep, because then I would've had to go back in to get the meds. Four days to let me know if I had strep. The reason I went in on the weekend is because I deal with children in my job and didn't want to pass strep to them.
And we have the Canadian-style waiting that Crowder experienced. I had to go to the ER on a Friday night back in January:
I expected to be there until midnight. I didn't expect to be there until 4:30 AM. During that time, I had less than ten minutes of actual medical care -- take blood pressure, ask about my symptoms, quick pelvic exam -- and was eventually told...drumroll..."Geez, I don't know anything about fertility stuff, so just call your doctor Monday morning."
In the meantime, while we were sitting around all night, I also wrote about the family next to us:
The gist is that the daughter had a chronic problem that had been happening for months. The parents were separated and the mother was "too lazy" to make the kid an appointment. The dad said that he works here in the hospital and had asked colleagues about his daughter's problem, but since it persisted, they wanted to have it checked out.
On a Friday night. In the ER.
There was no emergency, no sudden change in her condition that made them feel that treatment was necessary, nothing like that. This dad just brought his three kids in to spend the night in the ER. My husband and I were there for eight hours, until 5 AM, and this family had arrived before us and was still there when we left.
That is not an emergency.
This family was clogging up the ER and making me and, more importantly, other people with more pressing problems wait longer. They were sapping resources. If you work in the hospital, can't you find the time to make an appointment for your daughter? Why are you taking care of a child's chronic health problem in the middle of the night on a Friday?
Because you don't have to pay anything either way, that's why.
Why make a regular doctor's appointment during the week, and have to ask for time off work and take the kid out of school, when you could just bring everyone to camp out in the ER all night. There is no cost difference, so it's just easier to do it off hours.
No wonder it took me so long to be seen. And I feel even worse for the guy with the gall stones; he really would've liked to have been treated faster.
I am sure that this family isn't the only one of its kind. They bog down the system for all of us. A problem that's been going on for three months is not something that requires ER care on a weekend. Make a normal appointment and free up that ER doctor for someone who really needs him.
And that, I think, is the crux of the problem. We don't pay for any of our care, so for most people, it's easier to take care of things on nights and weekends than it is to do it during the week. What's the difference, we don't pay either way. And I'm guilty of abusing the system as well: if I had had to pay $100 to go in and find out if I had strep or not, I probably wouldn't have. I would've taken a cough drop and dealt with it. But I used resources because they were free.
Or at least, free to me. Somebody paid.
After Miscarriage #2, the doctor was telling me my options. These words actually came out of his mouth: "Well, we could do another D&C surgery, but that costs the taxpayers an awful lot of money, so maybe you could consider miscarrying naturally?"
Don't let anyone tell you that medical decisions won't be made based on cost once the government is in charge. I have already experienced it firsthand in the military system.
July 20, 2009
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