Archive for March, 2017

Vaccine Campaigns

Vaccine Campaigns

When I was a kid I remember seeing a “man on the street” segment on TV interviewing people about the value of seat belts. One guy in particular had a very low opinion of them and made this case: “If my car ever plunges off a bridge and into a body a water, the time it would take to undo my seat belt might be the difference between surviving and drowning.” I had to think about that for a sec, but I imagined he was right — in that nightmarish scenario it would be awful to be trapped in a car rapidly filling with water.

At some point I mentioned this to my Dad as justification for not wanting to wear a seat belt. He put things into perspective for me. I don’t know if it was the straightforward, “Well that’s a pretty stupid reason not to wear a seat belt” that he started with, or the more nuanced explanation with words such as “likelihood” and “logical” that came after. But afterwards I was firmly pro-seat belt.

The medical community has realized that they need to have a “Dad Talk” with the citizens of Michigan regarding vaccinations. This from an MLive story this week:

“According to the 2015 National Immunization Survey, Michigan ranks 43rd in the U.S. for children ages 19 to 35 months, and data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry shows 54 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months and 29 percent of teens aged 13 to 18 are fully up to date on vaccinations.”

It is creating a health risk where cases of preventable diseases such as whooping cough are now making a comeback. Accordingly, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced this week a new campaign called “I Vaccinate.” to increase awareness and provide validated information.

Hopefully this measured, sensible approach will work. And if it doesn’t, there’s always irrational fearmongering….

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Mr Snyder Goes to Washington

Mr Snyder Goes to Washington

Have you ever had to endure an interview for a job you knew that you were not going to get? Or an audition for a part in a show that you were certain was going to go to somebody else? You had absolutely no chance but you were obligated somehow to go through the motions anyway.

That’s how I imagine it was for Governor Snyder when he was in Washington DC recently trying to convince his Republican colleagues to keep the Medicaid expansion of the ACA (Obamacare). In Michigan, that expansion is known as Healthy Michigan, and there are approximately 650,000 Michiganders who depend on it for insurance. The current Republican plan, the ACHA (Trumpcare), would be the end of Healthy Michigan, and Snyder was trying to point out the social, economic, and political costs of doing that. It’s pretty clear nobody had any intention of listening to him.

But points to Governor Snyder. I mean, I’m not letting him off the hook for the Flint Water Crisis (that’s obvious from the cartoon), but I appreciate the effort. It was good to see him sticking up for Michigan citizens, especially some of the more vulnerable. And even if it was all about money, it was still good to see him playing what used to be a traditional Republican role — defending the option that makes the best economic sense.

It may have been all an exercise in futility, but there are worse fates. I’d much rather be Rick Snyder as a voice nobody is hearing than Paul Ryan as a voice nobody is believing.

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Invasive Species of the Great Lakes

Invasive Species of the Great Lakes

The one clear positive from President Trump’s proposed budget: It’s bringing Michiganders closer together. Specifically, in the budget proposal the White House sent to Congress last week, the Trump administration is suggesting to cut the budget of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million per year to $10 million per year.

Well, that’s not so much a “cut” as a “gut.” And not so much an art-of-the-deal low-ball opener as a kick in the crotch.

Whatever you call it, the result has been bipartisan condemnation from politicians and voters in Michigan and other Great Lakes states. The focus of the GLRI is to clean up polluted areas, prevent and control invasive species, reduce nutrient runoff that cause algal blooms, and restore habitat to protect native species. In other words, the GLRI helps us take proper care of our most vital environmental and economic resource.

Why then would President Trump want to mess with that? Especially when we are the very same states that tipped the electoral college to his favor? It seems counterintuitive.

Ah, but this is just Trump being Trump. He’s doing what he said he’d do — shaking up the establishment by not being a typical politician. A typical politician would provide at least some quid pro quo for votes. Not Trump, so this is no surprise.

What might be a wake-up call, however, is that this is a good example of another part of Trump’s nature. His 40+ year public record pretty clearly demonstrates that he acts first in his own self interest. Always. It’s fine when your goals align with his. But when they don’t, he wins, you lose.

So if you’re thinking he could maybe cut back on those Mar-a-Lago golf weekends to free up money for the GLRI, you’re going to be disappointed.

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Town Hall Excuses

Town Hall Excuses

Probably the easiest way for editorial cartoonists to get readers on their side is to make a general target of politicians. You know, not really saying anything, but instead depending on people’s recognition of the stereotype to do all the work — kind of like a hack standup comedian, “And hey, what’s up with those politicians? Have you seen these guys? They’re killing me with their this and their that. Who’s with me? Am I right?!”

I do my best to avoid that. Although on those days when the deadline is looming and that one really good idea has yet to make its appearance, it can be awfully tempting.

The thing is, I have no doubt that being a US representative or senator is a very, very difficult job. I mean, if you’re doing it right, you are beholden to your constituents, who are (as it turns out) real live people. And anytime there are more than a handful of people, there is going to be disagreement. I imagine it is an enormous challenge to navigate that for an entire district or a state.

But this is exactly why I have such disdain for those politicians who are weaseling out of having live, in-person town hall meetings (and in venues large enough to accommodate all those who are interested). It just feeds that negative politician stereotype.

Of course these town hall meetings are likely to be uncomfortable. The politicians will face difficult questions. They will face difficult people. Get over it! Voters literally gave them their jobs with those sweet, sweet healthcare benefits. They will never have to worry about the quality of medical care for themselves or their family. They will never have to imagine financial ruin from an unfortunate illness. The very least they can do is explain to us why all Americans can’t have that, too.

C’mon now! Politicians! Am I right?

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