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1 A new Job for you on Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:50 am


I liked this story

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Like everyone who essentially wishes Barack Obama well, and hopes that America regains at least some of its status as a useful member of the world community, I have been keeping a close watch on him.
Jon Carroll

I understand that he is beleaguered by unscrupulous enemies. George W. Bush was beleaguered by enemies, too, but they mostly maintained standards of common decency. That's the trouble with liberals - we always have that common-decency tape playing in our heads. We could make fun of Bush's diction and demand proof for the wild and - it later turned out - utterly inaccurate reasons he advanced for invading Iraq, but we never did say that he planned on creating "death panels."

Neither did Obama, but guess what - right-wing chat monsters are still saying it. Also, we never alleged that Obama was born in a place other than the United States, although Texas was, of course, its own nation for a while and, apparently, the governor of that state wants to secede again. Fine: more federal money for the rest of us. Plus: one less thing to worry about in presidential elections.

Also, if Texas as a sovereign nation declares war on us, we could invade it and crush it. Not that I would be in favor of that. I have three friends in Texas.

So I understand that fighting those dopey brush fires is a distraction for the president. And I admire the fact that he's taken on the whole health care issue first, even though it's bound to make him unpopular. Health care needs fixing. Here's a small fact I ran across the other day. Infant mortality rate in Japan: 3.2 per 1,000 births. Infant mortality in the United States: 7.8 per 1,000 births.

Not that I think Republicans want babies to die. I just think they want insurance companies to make large profits. Did I mention that Japan has a government-run health care system? Heck, in terms of infant mortality, we do even worse than Cuba. Of course, we have Pringles. Everything is a trade-off.

Nevertheless, I tend to worry whether Obama is up to the job. Moral leadership, you bet. Good ideas (mostly), I'm onboard. But I find him a bit too willing to compromise; a bit too unwilling to flex the muscles that his majority in both houses of Congress should have given him. Sometimes, a person has to fight the fights he believes in and, if he loses, then he fights again, and meanwhile he gets some props - and some increased loyalty - from the people who were with him when others were writing him off.

So it was with some trepidation that I read the following front-page article in the New York Times: "As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.

"Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled - a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both."

So the barn is burning, and I understand that the first priority is to stop the fire. But right behind that is to make sure that the house is running smoothly, that all the things that will need to happen whether or not the barn burns down - that is, whether or not health care reform passes or not - will be taken care of.

Forty-three percent is, according to my always-questionable math, something pretty close to 215 jobs out of 500. More from the Times:

"While career employees or holdovers fill many posts on a temporary basis, Mr. Obama does not have his own people enacting programs central to his mission. He is trying to fix the financial markets but does not have an assistant treasury secretary for financial markets. He is spending more money on transportation than anyone since Dwight D. Eisenhower but does not have his own inspector general watching how the dollars are used. He is fighting two wars but does not have an Army secretary.

"He sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Africa to talk about international development but does not have anyone running the Agency for International Development. He has invited major powers to a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but does not have an assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation."

You know, look, I could watch the money at the Department of Transportation until someone better comes along. I could hire four accountants who are currently without jobs, and we could go over the books. I mean, I've ridden in trains, planes and automobiles in the past year, and I've been on the BART monorail. I'd be willing to step down at any moment, and my expense account would be tiny, except for special coffee deliveries.

I know a lot of my readers have areas of expertise. Who wants to be secretary of the Army? Let's pitch in. It's like AmeriCorps, except the pay is better and there are interns.

I'm worried about Obama. He needs some elves. Would you like to be an elf for Obama?

What a fool believes, he sees. The wise man has

2 Re: A new Job for you on Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:35 pm

rosco 357

just a note,after reading the japan vs US ratio, and i think i heard it on the radio or the tv, and i think im correct and there may be factors not explained, but what i heard is the United States is 23rd in the world in infant mortality . BUT take with a big grain of salt, it probably could be easily checked , i just heard it on i think the radio, take care

3 Re: A new Job for you on Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:11 pm



couldn't find one for 2009 this was in 2008

US infant mortality rate now worse than 28 other countries
By Patrick O’Connor
18 October 2008

A report issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents how the infant mortality rate in the United States is growing in relation to other countries. The study, "Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the United States," found that at least 28 other countries now have lower death rates for infants in the first year of life.

The US's relative position has declined steadily. In 1960, it had the 12th lowest infant mortality rate, but by 1990 had dropped to 23rd place, and by 2004—the latest year of the CDC's comparative world figures on living standards—the US ranked 29th. The most recent study, published in July and titled "The Measure of America," estimated that the US is now in 34th place.

The CDC report found that there was no improvement in the incidence of US infant deaths between 2000 and 2005, a "plateau in the US infant mortality rate represent[ing] the first period of sustained lack of decline in the US infant mortality rate since the 1950s." This "has generated concern among researchers and policy makers," the report noted.

For the year 2000, the infant mortality rate was 6.89 per 1,000, a rate that remained stagnant for five years before declining slightly to 6.71 between 2005 and 2006.

The CDC noted: "The impact of child mortality is considerable: there are more than 28,000 deaths to children under 1 year of age each year in the United States."

Several countries in Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and East Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore) have an infant mortality rate below 3.5, almost half the US rate. The CDC's 2004 rankings placed the US in a tie with Poland and Slovakia, and only marginally ahead of Puerto Rico and Chile. The US was behind every developed country in North America, Western Europe, and Australasia, as well as Cuba, Hungary, Israel, and the Czech Republic.

Infant mortality is a critical indicator of social progress. As the CDC report explains, "Infant mortality is one of the most important indicators of the health of a nation, as it is associated with a variety of factors such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices."

This decline in world rankings is another expression of US capitalism's decay. The gutting of social programs by successive Democrat and Republican administrations over the last four decades has led to an extraordinary social reversion. A tiny layer at the top has enriched itself through the dismantling of all impediments to the accumulation of private wealth and corporate profit, supported by tax cuts and the slashing of investment in critical social infrastructure. That infant mortality rates are now stagnating for the first time in five decades underscores the accelerating character of the social crisis.

The CDC report documented the disparity of infant mortality rates among racial classifications. "Non-Hispanic white," Latino, and Asian-American children had lower than average rates, while "American Indian or Alaskan Native," Puerto Rican, and "non-Hispanic black" families had higher rates.

The report noted, however, that the "infant mortality rate did not change significantly for any race/ethnicity group from 2000 to 2005."

In 2005, African-American infants suffered a death rate of 13.63 per 1,000 births, by far the highest average. The CDC's 2004 world rankings indicate that a black American baby would have a better chance of survival if born in Russia (which has a rate of 11.5) or Bulgaria (11.7).

The CDC report did not assess infant mortality in relation to social class or family income.

Another study released earlier this month, however, documented this correlation. Published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and titled "America's Health Starts With Healthy Children: How do States Compare?" the report found: "In almost every state, shortfalls in health are greatest among children in the poorest or least-educated households, but even middle-class children are less healthy than children with greater advantages. Within each racial or ethnic group, a steep income gradient is evident. Children's general health status improves as family income increases."

It also reported: "Nationally, and in every state, infant mortality rates increased with decreasing levels of mothers' education." The mortality rate for children whose mothers had completed 16 or more years of school was 4.2 deaths per 1,000 births, compared to 7.8 deaths for children whose mothers had completed 11 years or less of school.

The failure to improve the infant death rate between 2000 and 2005 came despite significant advances in medical technology, including care for prematurely born babies.

What the CDC termed "preterm birth"—i.e., those at less than 37 weeks gestation—is a key risk factor for infant mortality. In 2005, 69 percent of all infant deaths occurred to preterm babies. The report stated: "The plateau in the US infant mortality rate from 2000 to 2005 was largely due to the combina­tion of the increase in the percentage of very preterm births and the lack of decline in the infant mortality rate for these births."

Only those parents who can afford to pay for treatment can be sure that their premature babies will receive the necessary care. Similarly, many families are finding it increasingly difficult to afford the advanced medical treatment which many infants require in their first year. About 45 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, are now estimated to be without any form of health insurance.

At every level, corporate control over the health care system distorts and undermines the rational provision of medical services. Per capita US health spending was $6,714 in 2006, more than twice the average of other advanced countries. But this spending has failed to improve the population's health. Infant mortality is one indication of this; another is the extraordinary fact that 41 countries now have a longer life expectancy than does the US.

Official per capita health spending figures are in fact misleading. If the resources invested in genuine medical care and treatment were to be calculated and compared, there is little doubt that the US would rank far below many other countries. A substantial portion of purported American health spending is simply siphoned off as profit by the major health firms, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical interests.

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