Posts Tagged ‘Veterans Administration’

The passing scene: Links & comments 6/10/14

June 10, 2014

Colleges are full of it: Behind the three-decade scheme to raise tuition, bankrupt generations and hypnotize the media by Thomas Frank for Salon.

College tuition is up an average of 1,200 percent in 30 years.  If that isn’t abuse of monopoly power, what is?  American universities are following an extreme form of the American corporate business model:  Gouge the customers, lower wages (by hiring perma-temp instructors, a.k.a. adjuncts) and award yourself a huge salary for your success in doing so.

Heroin Users in U.S. 90% White, Live Outside Urban Areas by Sonali Basak for Bloomberg News.

A recent study showed that the typical first-time heroin user is an older white person who became dependent on prescription painkillers, then switched to heroin because it was more easily obtainable or—get this!—more affordable than the drug companies’ products.

Lack of funding is the real VA scandal by Suzanne Gordon for Physicians for a National Health Program.

Want to end secret wait lists?  Staff the VA  by J. David Cox for the Huffington Post.

“Cheap.  Fast. Good.  Pick any two.”  In anything, there are tradeoffs.  If Congress chooses to deny the Veterans Administration the sufficient funds to keep up with its increased workload, that’s probably the reason it can’t keep up with its workload.


How to discredit government

May 27, 2014

There is a tried and true way to prove that government can’t do anything right.

You campaign successfully for office.  Then you deny the government agencies you’ve targeted sufficient funds to do the job (as with the Veterans Administration) or add requirements they can’t meet (as with the US Postal Service) or appoint incompetent managers (as with FEMA under the Bush administration).  Sit back and watch your victims struggle.   Give the predictable failure as a reason for abolishing the program or turning it over to for-profit business.

This is as old a technique as the Biblical story of Pharaoh ordering the Hebrew slaves to make bricks without straw.


Disabled veterans deserve better from USA

May 26, 2014

3.ZjgNh3FelFUThe Veterans’ Administration scandal is more than individual mismanagement and bureaucratic coverup.   It is also that the VA doesn’t have enough money to keep up with the increasing number of severely disabled veterans.

CNN reported that veterans are being forced to wait more than the 14-day maximum set by President Obama, and that many VA hospitals have covered this up by keeping veterans’ names off the official waiting list until they could meet the deadline.  At one hospital, CNN reported, 40 veterans died while waiting to be treated.

Note: This figures are not adjusted for inflation

Note that these figures are not adjusted for inflation

There is no excuse for this, any more than there is an excuse for high school teachers and administrators falsifying student test results.  But when you have a bureaucracy that says your career depends on meeting impossible numerical goals, and you lack an independent means of checking results, there will be cheating.  It is not justifiable, but it is predictable.

Memorial Day was originally a holiday to honor the Union soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Civil War.   Because of medical advances, a smaller percentage of troops die now than died then on the battlefield and in military hospitals afterward.   The ironic result is that a higher percentage survive to live with the mutilations and amputations of war.

2.t0lGEo8cPEIThe Washington Post reported that the percentage of veterans applying for disability benefits is the highest on record.  I don’t believe this is because this is because (or at least not mainly because) of malingerers.  I think the higher disability rate reflects a higher survival rate.

Mismanagement and coverups in the Veterans Administration are wholly the fault of the Obama administration.  Lack of sufficient funds to do the job is the responsibility of both the administration and of Congress, and the congressional Republican budget hawks in particular.

It is right and fitting that we honor our war dead with parades and flag ceremonies on Memorial Day, but it should not stop there.  We honor our dead when we pay our debt to the living.