Geek Inherits the Earth: Health and Safety

Our rational ranter Seth Hall presents three more news headlines; framing them in a distinctly geek-based context. This week, the news presented will not only better prepare you for our kind’s inevitable conquest of the plane. It may just save your life! Empty Space

Man Robs Bank for Healthcare

Tim-Alsip1-240x300A man in Oregon stepped into a bank and instructed the teller to give him a dollar. He then sat in the lobby and was arrested by police without any resistance. Why did he do such a thing?

For the healthcare, of course.

Tim Alsip intentionally committed the crime because he knew he would be arrested, and therefore have access to the healthcare he needed. Alsip has a history of mental illness as well as physical maladies.

So, that explains it, right? He must have been crazy to do this. Not necessarily. Similar incidents have occurred throughout the United States in recent years. This is just one desperate solution to the ever-growing problem of healthcare.

Healthcare is a basic human right, as any doctor or nurse of good conscience will tell you. Several politicians have tried to ease the burden of healing on the American public. First, we had Romneycare. Then, President Obama modeled his own plan after it. Now, the Republicans hate it. The cycle continues.

Regardless of how one feels about these plans is irrelevant for the simple reason that they do not address the two single largest contributors to the problem.

First, there is the issue of people abusing the system. No, I’m not talking about fraud. I am talking about those who have an ongoing medical issue for several weeks or even months, and then choose to visit the emergency room. This only serves to take time away from those who need immediate care, and tosses charges on the individual who could not be bothered to make an appointment. But how did those charges get so high in the first place? This brings me to issue number two.

It’s all your fault. Well, not you specifically. I know you, and you’re too smart for this. Essentially, we have become a lawsuit-happy society, and will sue for every single thing, no matter whether it is justified, viable, or even sane. Even the most ludicrous of civil lawsuits must still be taken up by a court, costing the medical profession, and us, a lot of money. To combat these misplaced and often false claims, medical professionals are forced to increase their malpractice insurance, causing them to have to pay more to avoid losing their homes and livelihood. This in turn causes them to increase the price of healthcare in order to make a living. And finally, the insurance companies stick us with the final bill.

It’s easy to blame what we can see with our eyes and what is presented to us by lazy opposition and journalists failing to look deeper, but we can only solve our greatest problems by finding patient zero. We have to find the exact moment when our problems began, and cure the disease, not just treat the symptoms.

Good thing we geeks like doing research.

Source: Think Progress


Rick Perry Secretly Lobbies for Healthcare

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to National Right to Life ConventionLet’s talk about healthcare some more, shall we?

Rick Perry has been against a lot of things. He’s been against education and marriage equality. He’s also been one of the most vocal opponents of Obamacare. In April, he called the Affordable Care Act “foolish” and compared it to being “held hostage by the Obama administration”.

So, it may surprise you to learn that Perry has asked for federal money to expand the state’s Medicaid program. He has asked for $100 million to help older and disabled Texans with their medical costs. On the one hand, at least Perry is making some kind of perceived effort to help these individuals. On the other hand, his openness against the Affordable Healthcare Act and his secrecy in this matter serves only to prove a political agenda.

Regardless of your feelings on the Affordable Healthcare Act, one thing has to be said. The hypocrisy of our elected officials is revealing, and should be more front-page news. As it stands, conservatives and liberals are kept in their respective corners, maintaining their stereotypical beliefs in public.

We’re smarter than them, guys and gals. We know how to think for ourselves.

Source: Think Progress


Discussion: How the NYPD Almost Ruined Officer Safety


A recent court decision struck down the New York Police’s Department’s stop-and-frisk program, and rightly so. Random searching of individuals is a massive violation of the Fourth Amendment. It’s even worse when your targets are racially or ethnically biased, as was rumored. What could possibly be worse?

How about the fact that the NYPD’s actions could very easily have threatened the safety of every police officer in America?

There is a famous Supreme Court case entitled Terry vs. Ohio. A police officer noticed two individuals walking past the same store several times and looking into the window. The officer knew there had been a series of robberies in the area, and thought their actions suspicious. He went to speak with the men. During the encounter, one of the men kept putting his hand in his pocket, despite the officer repeatedly telling him not to. The officer feared for his safety, believing the man to be armed. The officer conducted a “pat down” of the man’s pockets and found a gun. The Supreme Court upheld this action, and thus the Terry frisk was born.

The Terry frisk states that an officer may conduct a pat down of an individual if that officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the individual may be armed and may pose a danger to the officer or the public. However, a frisk is not a search. The officer may only pat the areas where the individual has easy and readily available access to a weapon. The officer may not manipulate the clothing, and may only remove any items that the officer recognizes as a weapon by feel alone.

As you can imagine, this law is quite useful and has likely saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. However, this tool could have very easily been lost.

The NYPD was accused of targeting black, Latino, and Arab individuals and conducting these frisks without reasonable suspicion. In addition to being a violation of the Fourth Amendment, racial profiling is illegal, immoral, and, according to studies, ineffective. Furthermore, it has set back the barrier between the police and the public by many more years.

Now imagine this. What if the court system had decided that due to this abuse, Terry vs. Ohio should be overturned? What if the police no longer had any way of checking a suspicious individual for weapons while on a call? What if an officer could have saved lives, but due to the irresponsibility of others, was not allowed to?

The safety of our public officials should be a top priority, but to treat certain groups as criminals with blanket and unwarranted suspicion is wrong, and quite frankly, lazy police work. If the police ever want to truly protect the public, they must serve with honor and respect for the rights and safety of the people.

But remember this, guys and gals: most police officers already do this. The vast majority of these peace officers believe that “serve and protect” is more than a cliche. Many of them will put their lives in danger with the sole intention of making sure that no harm will come to you. The next time you see one of these men and women in blue, thank them for standing as a barrier between us and the evils of the world. It will mean more than you can ever know.

Source: Salon