Last night, several of us attended the Maui opening of Sicko, Michael Moore’s documentary on the state of healthcare in this great country of ours (“Get Well Soon,” June 28, 2007).
Take a look at how those with health insurance are not covered for many services and the doctors within those companies get bonuses based on their DENIAL of patient claims and requests for services. With our brilliant system, we rank Number 37 in the world in quality of health care, infant mortality rates and we die sooner than our counterparts in England, France, Canada and even Cuba.
Why are we number one in Gross National Product but so far down the ranking just below Slovenia? Because of the profit motive of all the pharmaceutical and insurance companies (who have reached their highest profits in history) and the American Medical Association. One British doctor interviewed in the film says he earns about $200,000, lives in a million-dollar home, drives an Audi and has a great quality of life. What he really appreciates is that he can treat patients depending upon need, not approvals, insurance stalls or exorbitant costs.
How can we even look ourselves in the mirror, when we are shipping patients out of hospitals when they cannot afford it and dropping them off at Skid Row or other inappropriate places? We can spend trillions on war but cannot promise our citizens the right to and access to quality health. Or many people lose their lives because insurance companies will not authorize needed treatments to keep their profit margin as high as it is and pay their CEO millions of dollars annually plus bonuses.
It is time to stand up and fight, march and demand our rights. Are we supposed to go to other countries for care or die waiting for insurance companies to approve our needs? We here on Maui have our own set of problems, inadequate facilities and services, but the greater picture is also bleak.
It is time to organize and be sure we elect a president and congress who is not being bought off by the large money factored lobbyists (the most are healthcare lobbyists in Washington) and get what we deserve and every other industrialized country in the world has. Enough is Enough. Go see the movie and reflect on it. It will make you sad, mad and say ,“We are not going to take this anymore.”
– Hermine Harman, MSW (People United to Support Superior Healthcare co-chair), via email
JUST SAY NO TO PALM OIL
On June 30, 150 large spot fires were seen in Sumatra, Indonesia, by a satellite. This is just the beginning of the next four months of Indonesian rainforest destruction using slash and burn clearing for palm oil plantations (“Biofuels,” Feb. 22, 2007).
From 2001 to 2005, 10 million acres of the Indonesian section of Borneo were cleared in such a manner for palm oil plantations. Twenty percent of the world’s global warming CO2 gases are created from slash and burn logging and clearing, the third largest contributor of CO2 to the earth’s atmosphere.
Hawai‘i is about to undertake a decision and is at a crossroads. At two 100-million gallon biodiesel mega oil refinery plants on Maui and Oahu, our electric utility company is going to share in “green washing” a very unstable, volatile and unethical business of using palm oil biodiesel for electric generation. In the last year Indonesian palm oil has risen in demand and thus in value from $400 a ton to $800 a ton. This in turn is driving the illegal cutting of ancient tropical rainforests by Indonesian/Malaysian military generals and multinational corporations. They call it “land clearing” now instead of logging.
Last week 4,300 letters were sent to Governor Linda Lingle from the Rain Forest Alliance in Europe asking her not to approve Biofuels plants using feedstock’s from Palm Oil. This is just the beginning for Hawai‘i and I am afraid that Maui and Hawai‘i will become pariahs for tourism when the word gets out and the world discovers our electricity is generated from biofuel processing plants using palm oil or GMO soybeans from lands which once were magnificent, unique, biologically diverse ancient tropical rain forests.
Before we blindly go any further, let’s invest in research in Hawai‘i and find out exactly what we can grow locally for oil and ethanol feedstock, factoring in what lands will be prioritized for food production. Let’s also research how much of this liquid fuel must meet the needs of transportation and finally, maximize the use of wind and solar for electric generation.
-Lance Holter (Maui Democratic Party chairman), via email