Category Archives: Healthcare

Dissappointment In A Bottle


Dear Reader:

I have caught a cold. A doozy of a cold. My nose is dripping. My throat feels scorched and swollen. My head is heavy, like you could throw it down a bowling lane and knock down ten pins without even trying.

I suppose I should be grateful I made it all the way through the holiday season without getting sick. Instead, I am able to send the Teen off to school for the day while I spend seven quiet, solitary hours tucked into bed–sleeping, watching Sex and the City DVDs, sleeping, drinking mugs of herbal tea, reading, and, did I mention, sleeping? The sleeping part would have been easier ten years ago, back in the good old days when we still had what I call the Magic Nite-Time Cold Potion.

Like all magic potions, the Magic Nite-Time Cold Potion was foul on the tongue. Syrupy and black with a super-concentrated flavor of licorice, this stuff tasted like the Witches of Eastwick brewed it up in their Crock-Pot slow cookers and passed it through rotting compost before bottling; however, to the sufferer of the common cold or not-so-common flu, this stuff was liquid salvation. Two tablespoons of the potion and boom! You were out cold for the night.

A few years ago, the Magic Potion lost its magic. The mighty hand of government had reached down and snatched it away, i.e. passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. Seems that the Magic Potion contained a vital ingredient used to make a nasty illicit drug. Skanky drug producers were setting up labs in their kitchens and using these over-the-counter medications as primary ingredients for production of crystal meth. In order to curtail production, the government decided to cut off the supply of pseudoephedrine that the users (losers) had been purchasing over-the-counter down at the local drug store. Good-bye nasal decongestant.

Hello sleepless nights for the rest of us.

When my cold hit two days ago, I stumbled to the bathroom linen closet and found the new formula on my top shelf. The pain reliever worked, but my nose remained clogged and runny. I got maybe two hours of solid sleep. Alas, the Magic potion was no longer magic. It was simply Disappointment In A Bottle.

So, thank you all you meth addicts and producers out there with your miserable, stinky “labs” and teeth falling out and shakes and shivers and dirty needles. Do not expect pity from me when I am miserable with a nasty cold. And thank you, Big Government, for making each and every cold since 2005 one-hundred percent more miserable than it needed to be. Thank you very, very much.

As for natural, local remedies, I have been drinking a tea called Respiratory Tonic from a local herbalist– Greenwood Herbals in Parsonsfield. It doesn’t knock me out, of course, but sipping the tonic seems to relieve chest congestion and it opens the nasal passages a bit. The flavor is sweet, not nasty like the Magic Potion, and I can sleep a little easier knowing the ingredients are organically and locally grown.

Drinking hot liquids makes sense when you have a winter cold. Homemade chicken soup with lots of garlic thrown can’t hurt, either. Here is the soup I threw together last night:

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme Chicken Soup

1 chicken carcass with most meat pulled from it and meat set aside
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
Two onions
Garlic cloves, to taste
chicken bouillon cubes to taste
pepper (about 1/8 tsp)
(sea vegetable flakes optional)
dried parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (1 tsp each or so
1 cup or so of dried pasta

Put chicken carcass in big pot and cover with water. Add 1 cut up carrot, 1 quartered onion, and 1 cut up celery stalk into pot. Bring to boil. Boil for one hour. Strain out broth.

Add chicken meat, bouillon cubes, sliced carrots, sliced celery, chopped onion and remaining ingredients except pasta. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are soft, about 20 minutes. Add pasta. Boil until al dente, about 12 minutes. Eat steaming hot.

Be well . . . Outside the Box.

PS: In researching this post, I came across the surprising and welcome information that my Magic Nite-Time Cold Potion is now available BEHIND the pharmaceutical counter. Next time Mr. Upper Respiratory Infection comes to call, I will make a trip to see the man behind the curtain, uh, RX counter. Coin will pass palm. The Magic will be back!

Day 26: Urban Hobo

My Travelon Bag

Dear Reader:

Still babying my foot, I pretty much stuck around Arlington today. It was Tuesday, though. Which makes it allergist day and a trip to the village of Ballston.

Arlington is an “urban county,” and at twenty-six square miles is the smallest county in the U.S. Rather than towns and cities within the county, Arlington is composed of neighborhoods or “urban villages.” Ballston is a business area with high-rise apartments, office buildings, some government offices (the Nature Conservancy has its headquarters here, for example), and Marymount University. And, of course, the hospital.

Virginia Hospital Center

Finding my doctor’s office was easy two weeks ago. Today I took a longer look around the grounds. The neighborhood around the hospital is composed of single-family homes–mostly cute, brick cottages–some with wooden shutters, some with window boxes, most with pretty, cottage garden landscaping. The bus route goes down 16th street, onto Glebe Rd, and in three minutes you can be in the downtown area where you can find shops and restaurants, including an IHOP next to the Ballston-MU metro station.

Sightseeing Essentials

No matter where I go, I take my baby-blue Travelon bag. Here are the essentials for “urban hobo-ing.” A bottle of water. A great bag. A city map. A metro map. A hat and sunscreen in case you want to walk around anytime after 11 a.m. A book. Books come in handy when you waiting the metro and there’s not much of interest to look at. A good book is a welcome distraction when you are waiting twenty minutes for the bus to arrive. Books are a great place to put your eyes when you are snuggled into a crowded metro car and everyone is working really hard not to look at each other. Or at least get caught looking at each other.

Puts the Pocket in Pocketbook

I picked up this bag at Mardens right before our trip to Hawaii a few years ago. After the trip, I stuck the poor thing in the back of my closet and forgot about it. When planning what to bring on this trip, knowing I would be using a Smartrip card, I remembered this gem of a bag and dragged it out into the light of day. Voila! It’s been perfect! The back pocket is large enough for my city map, my Frommer’s guide to D.C. and a novel.

Flapper Chic

The front flap is magnetized to keep it shut and protected even in close quarters like subway stations and crowded museums.

Inside the Flap

Lift up the flap, and you have access to a zippered, see-through pocket where I stash my entry key card, apartment key, and mailbox key. There is an easily-accessed pocket for my Smartrip card. It’s a cinch to lift the top flap, reach in, slide the card out, swipe it, and then slide it back in. Slick! There’s also a cell-phone pocket. Zippers on either side of the cell phone/card area . . .

Safe Room

. . . can be zipped-down to open up a safe pocket for credit cards and cash.

Roomy Storage

Between the leather handles (this thing sports handles AND a strap so you have carrying options) is another large zippered pocket big enough to hold water bottles, a spare book, a folded-up hat and/or small umbrella, maybe even a snack.

I cannot praise this bag too much. I take it everywhere. I sling it across me like a messenger bag when I bike into the city. I slide my arm through the handles and clasp it against my body when I’m at the mall or a crowded area. I let it flap against my hip when I walk down to the grocery store and come back loaded with three canvas bags of food-stuffs.

The Healing Garden next to the hospital

Most apropos to this blog, the bag carries my camera through which I have been viewing this new world. I worry a bit that the camera is becoming a crutch, easing the pain of finding just the right word to describe places like the “Healing Garden” outside the hospital, a place of circular walkways and curving flower beds, a round fountain, colorful annuals, and soothing greenery.

Waiting here for the bus is no chore. Especially since I have a book tucked in my bag to keep me occupied.


Branches in Birdseed Bag

Dear Reader:

I’m scheduled for my bi-annual mammogram today. I can’t say I am exactly looking forward to having my breasts x-rayed, but there is some comfort and joy knowing I am doing something positive and pro-active regarding my health.

I had my first mammogram the year I turned 40, which made me feel about as dried up and past-my-prime as bare branches on the beech trees in my front yard in November. No more the youthful sap of spring. No more the lush verdure of summer. It’ll be all dried and wrinkly leaves clinging to gnarled, cold gray branches from here on out. “Yup,” I thought. “I’ve reached that age where I’m expected to submit to tortuous medical screenings on a regular basis. Mammogram today . . . colonoscopy tomorrow.” Big sigh.

Two years ago, in my mammogravirginity, I innocently put on a happy face and, like Queen Victoria, thought of (New) England.

Yeah, right.

Did that actually work for those Victorian era brides? Because, really, when your boobs are being squished between two panels until they feel as if they are going to be torn right off your chest, it’s pretty hard to think of God and Country or anything else. When it was all over, I met a friend at my favorite coffee shop and sucked down a soy chai latte as my just reward. It was May, the sun was shining, and I’d sailed through this particular rite of passage without too much trauma.

That was then, this is now. Two years later, I’m back at the hospital. It’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten the details of the procedure. They’ve moved the registration desk, but I find it easily enough and give the receptionist my name and date of birth. Three times today I’ll tell people my date of birth. What’s up with that? Do they think I’m lying? Believe me, if I wanted to lie, I’d say I was twenty-seven or something, not forty-two and 11/12ths!

Anyway, I’m put into the elevator and taken down to the lower level where the torture devices, er, x-ray machinery is kept. The receptionist behind the protective plexi-glass sliding window (name and birth date #2) leads me into a changing area, and I’m given two garments and two packets of wipes and told to strip from the waist up, swab my underarms and breasts to get rid of any clinging clothing-fuzz (did I mention that you aren’t allowed to wear deodorant the day of your mammogram?), and put on a “gown” and the “robe.”

Let me just say, that the gown and robe have nothing to do with silk dresses and ermine cloaks. I only think of this because lately I’ve been reading Philippa Gregory’s Tudor novels, as well as watching Showtime’s THE TUDORS series on DVD. The books are wonderful, first-person narratives of a fascinating era in history. The television show rivals movie-quality cinematography, in my opinion, with its lush settings, luxurious costumes, and period detail. I recommend it for anyone 18 or older, or for teenagers whose parents are comfortable with their history-nut teens viewing some sexuality, some medieval torture, and, yes, some breasts.

Hmmm. Is anyone else seeing some parallels here?

I robe-up and step into the “woman’s waiting area” where I no sooner crack open the book I’d tucked into my purse than the door opens and it’s showtime. I’m led into the mammography room. The technician is very nice. She asks some questions (name and birth date #3. Are they kidding me?) regarding my personal medical history, my family medical history and whatnot, and I keep thinking if I could only say the right thing I wouldn’t have to submit to the machine. No luck. I’m asked to bare one breast and step right on up.

The machine is kinda like a vice-grip tipped on its side. The technician places my breast on the bottom tray, I’m told to put my hand on my hip, and then I watch the top tray descend, pressing me between the two plates like a grape in a wine press. A little more. A little more. A little . . . okay, OUCH.

Then I’m told to hold my breath. Huh. I can barely GET a breath, let alone hold it. Somehow I manage. We repeat the process on the other side. Two down, two to go.

The next set is to get some nice pictures of my muscle and lymph nodes. This time I have to put my arm around the machine and hold onto a bar. Now I’m embracing the thing? Again with the squish, squish, ouch on both sides.

“Okay, you can slip your gown and robe on while I check to make sure the images are clear,” the tech says. I sit and read about how to lose 50 pounds like “Ashley” did in an article in a worn copy of Women’s World magazine. I’m about finished, when the tech comes back in and says I can get dressed, the doctors will take a look at the x-rays, and my personal physician will be given the results. Now I look at her. Is her voice quavering? Is there anything troubled about her facial expression? Has she seen something suspicious but can’t let on?

I decide to think about it later. Not now. Tomorrow. Or whenever the results are sent to me.

Back in the changing room, I struggle for a bit with the locker, and slip back into my street clothes. The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes. I walk out past the waiting room, press the button for the elevator, stride right by the reception desk. Nobody stops me. I’m free.

Driving home, I stop for a soy chai latte to sip at home while reading about poor Anne of Cleaves and Katherine Howard (divorced and beheaded respectively by Henry VIII). Overall, I think, the mammogram experience wasn’t quite so terrible. I’m lucky to live in a time when early detection of breast cancer can save my life. What are a few minutes of embarrassment and slight pain compared to a late diagnosis and radical treatments?

I encourage each of my readers to schedule the mammograms your doctor suggests. Remind your mothers, sisters, and friends to go ahead and do self-exams every month. For more information about mammograms, check out Consider donating to the American Cancer Society. Close your eyes and think . . . of courageous, strong, determined women who are battling breast cancer. Send out a prayer or request to the universe for them today.

The Great Book Debate–Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, and Judith Levine

flower powerDear Reader:

Can you believe the size of this amaryllis? Four huge blooms burst open on a thick, green stem over the course of a week. When the last of the four reached its fullest I heard a SNAP! and looked over to see the poor stem broken under the weight of such beauty. I was sad, but placed the flower in a pitcher of water where it brightened my late-winter days for another week. What is more surprising and magical than a tropical flower blooming in the middle of winter?

As winter makes way for a surprisingly early spring here in the great State of Maine, I find myself drawn to opposites: salty and sweet foods, hot drinks and sitting in the cool air on my front step, bursts of activity followed by periods of curling up on the couch with blanket and good book. In the spirit of this month that comes “in like a lion and out like a lamb,” I’ve decided that my reading material should be a study in contrasts.

For months now, storms have raged on Capitol Hill regarding health care, bailouts, the role of government in our lives. We hear on one hand that the American people are mostly satisfied with their insurance plans; on the other hand, we learn of outrage over insurance price hikes in the double digits planned for next year. We know our national debt is so hugemongous there is really no way to comprehend the depth of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into. We also know the two biggest entitlement programs–Medicare and Social Security–are ones no one wants to cut. I’ve watched all this with growing alarm, wondering what is the best way out of the mess we seem to be in, wondering if there IS a way out. Wondering what steps my family and I should take as citizens of our town, our state, and our country. I want to be an active citizen, but I want to be sure I’m acting in a positive, helpful way.

So, small steps. First, before you can try to fix a national economy, it is important to take care of your home economy. This month, in an effort to conserve our personal resources, my family decided to relinquish cable television. The kind of programming I wanted to see wasn’t found on cable anyway. Here’s what I’d like: a daily, two-hour program featuring debate on world and national issues or round-table discussions on said issues. I don’t want to hear party propaganda, so no political party chairmen would be invited. Legislators, yes. Party poobah’s, no. It seems to me that the problems we face today are so vast, so important that partisan politics has no place at the discussion table. Next year’s elections are not as important as next year’s employment figures. I want some straight talk from people who have made it their life’s work to study economics, Contitutional law, sociology, world affairs, energy, natural resources, and history.

Since we can’t always get what we want (and apparently I’m in a minority as the television media tends to give the majority what they want and what we are getting is polito-entertainment masking itself as serious commentary), I decided that if I can’t watch a debate, I’ll create my own . . . with books. I’m embarking on a series of print-debates in the privacy of my own home.

So, last week I invited three thinkers (one of whom is dead) into my home via the magic of the printed page. With Big Government having its day in the sun, so to speak, I decided to give ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand another look-see. In Rand’s hefty tome, we see an America that is at once familiar and alien. The economy is failing. Innovative thinkers are either hobbled by government regulations or quietly disappear, leaving chaos and crumbling infrastructure behind. A few stubborn, heroic industrialists hang on. They can’t quite wrap their heads around the “lack of reason” being displayed by their fellow man.

Ron Paul would agree with Ms. Rand on many points. His book THE REVOLUTION outlines Paul’s philosophy of a weaker federal government, less regulation, a free market Austrian economic system based on a gold standard, and more freedom in general. He postulates that government social programs have hurt more than they’ve helped. He wants to audit (and then end) the Federal Reserve, our central banking system. He’s for free trade, but not necessarily for free trade agreements. Thank you, Mr. Paul. And now, Judith Levine. What do you have to say?

Judith Levine is a freelance journalist who, along with her husband, decided to go an entire year without buying anything other than basic needs. No gifts. No movies. No books. No clothes. The idea was to use what they had, make do, or go without. She wanted to experiment with being a non-consumer. She didn’t really get into her politics much, but reading the resulting book, NOT BUYING IT, you get the idea that she’s liberal. Here is the interesting part for me: Levine and Paul have much in common even though they land on opposite sides of the political spectrum. While Paul says, “let the market regulate itself via supply and demand of consumers and producers,” Levine says, “stop mindlessly consuming and start realizing that your choices count.” Ayn Rand, from the great beyond, chimes in with her “Work so that you may consume, otherwise you are looting from those who produce.”

I listened to all of them with great interest and am deliberately refraining from coming to any hard and fast conclusions about the role of the federal government. There are many considerations, many questions. But on one thing, all three of these authors agreed: Individuals need to take responsibility for themselves and their choices. We need to take responsibility for what we value. Most importantly, if we are to continue to be a viable society, we need produce and not simply consume

I encourage you to click on the links provided and give these three authors at least a cursory glance. Everyone–liberals, conservatives, and those of us in-between–will find their ideas challenged by each of these books.

Have you read anything thought-provoking lately? Any ideas of two authors you might read who have wildily diverging views? Stop in and share. Perhaps I’ll chose them for my next great book debate . . . Outside the Box.

When life hands you chicken bones . . .

Pumpkin Soup and Veggie Salad… make chicken soup!

(The picture here is actually a pumpkin/carrot/sweet potato soup, also very healthy with betacarotene. Sprinkled on the salad is dulse–a sea vegetable with lots of vitamins and minerals.)

Dear Reader:

Tis the season of sniffling–and coughing and aching and shivering with fever. Colds and seasonal flus and H1N1 are spreading thoughout our communities this month, weakening our immune systems, keeping our kids out of school, and making us feel miserable. The television news serves up fresh doses of anxiety every day with stories of severe illness and death and urgent warning to get vaccinated. Of course, the vaccine isn’t even available yet in many communities, so many people feel scared and helpless and stressed. Negative emotions like these do not boost the old immune system. In fact, they wear us down even more. Aside from getting adequate sleep, taking a multi-vitamin, drinking alot of water, washing your hands, avoiding crowded places like the mall, and quarantining your school-age kids as soon as they get off the bus so as not to contaminate the entire household (kidding), what can we do to make this season of sickness a little more manageable?

While waiting for the Swine Flu vaccine to finally arrive and kick in (I heard it takes a week or two), consider the simple power of chicken soup. Made from leftover bones and meat from your Sunday dinner with the addition of a few humble vegetables sitting in your refridgerator, homemade chicken soup is inexpensive, nutritious, and delicious, especially if served with a fresh loaf of homemade bread or maybe some apple muffins. Click here for a good recipe.

So, does chicken soup merely soothe your sore throat or are there some actual, scientific health benefits? According to Dr. Stephen Rennard, chicken soup does contain chemical properties that can ease cold and flu symptoms. The amino acid cystein, found in chicken, thins mucus, helping a sick person clear his/her lungs and nose. When you add onion, the anti-histamine properties of that pungent vegetable can offer some relief. Vegetables contain all kind of vitamins and minerals as well as delicious flavor for your soup.
Read all about it on

Also consider purchasing some sea vegetables such as kelp or wakame or dulse, soaking them for a few minutes, chopping them up, and adding them to your soup. Commonly known as “seaweed”, these greens contain concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamins B 6 and B 12, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iodine, Fluoride, Chromium, and Zinc. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables out of Franklin, Maine offer a large variety of seaweeds. Their products can be found in many grocery and natural food stores, or shop online by clicking on the link above. Sea vegetables can add a slightly more salty flavor to your soup, but there will be no fishy taste. If you chop them fine enough, and mix in some herbs such as thyme, parsley, and rosemary, even the pickiest eaters will never know they are eating, gasp, seaweed.

Do you have any immunity-boosting suggestions? Share you ideas and knowledge here, Outside the Box.

The Golden Rule

October 2009 016Dear Reader:

Like many of you, I was weaned on the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

“Don’t pull your sister’s hair because you wouldn’t like it if she pulled yours,” was the essence of this teaching, and a good teaching, at that. Since I was raised in a Christian household, I learned this rule from the Bible via my parents and teachers. Jesus imparted the idea to his disciples in his famous Sermon on the Mount found in the book of Matthew. Chapter 17 verse 12 in the King James Version says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Now, I do have philosophical problems with conservative Christianity–particularly the Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones, Moral Majority brand–but I’ve always said that if everyone followed Jesus’s teachings (as opposed to the egotistical rantings of our evangelical church leaders), the world would be a much nicer place.

Many other religions teach a version of the Golden Rule. The Network of Interfaith Organisations has posted a Golden Rule Page on their website, quoting religious teachings of various faiths that speak to this “Ethic of Reciprocity.” See HERE for a complete listing.

For example, in Buddhism: A state which is not pleasant or enjoyable for me will not be so for another; and how can I impose on another a state which is not enjoyable to me? (Samyutta Nikaya, V). In Hinduism:This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you (Mahbharata XIII, 114) In Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself (An-Nawawi, 40 Hadith,13).

Even the practice of modern Wicca has its own version of the Rule–The Rule of Three. Wikipedia reports: The Rule of Three has a possible prototype in a piece of Wiccan liturgy which first appeared in print in Gerald Gardner’s 1949 novel High Magic’s Aid:[6][7] Thou hast obeyed the Law. But mark well, when thou receivest good, so equally art bound to return good threefold.’ (For this is the joke in witchcraft, the witch knows, though the initiate does not, that she will get three times what she gave, so she does not strike hard.) See HERE for full article.

From my perspective, The Golden Rule could be considered one of the few universally-accepted concepts of morality. You would think with all this doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, we’d be awash in good works, charity, peace, love, and acceptance!

Unfortunately, there are opposing forces at work–and I’m not talking about the Devil. In his new book entitled THE SPIRIT OF DISOBEDIENCE, Curtis White discusses a dichotomy of philosophy in our American culture where both liberal, secular “reason” and conservative, religious “obedience” are at fault. He writes, “But the dirty little secret is that Enlightenment has come full circle, and we are where we began: immature and unable to think for ourselves. In our commitment to obedience and success, and our sense that the two together are what we really mean by virtue, we are more like the ancient Romans than we know. We’re like the Roman aristocracy measuring our virtue by our wealth. We’re pagans rooting for the empire.” (Curtis White, THE SPIRIT OF DISOBEDIENCE: RESISTING THE CHARMS OF FAKE POLITICS, MINDLESS CONSUMPTION, AND THE CULTURE OF TOTAL WORK, PoliPointPress, Sausolito, CA, 2007. Pg. 10)

White is speaking here of our American concept of success, wringing from the land and from people a capitalistic surplus that benefits the individual (or individual business) at the expense of everything and everyone else. Communism is also faulted. White skewers Marxist philosophy for failing to make clear its spiritual, moral foundation and nattering on about “reason” as if reason were not ultimately tied to our ideas of justice and humanity. Just reading the introduction to this book has my brain cells firing off in ten different directions. What if doing unto others really does encapsulate some sort of universal idea of justice? How would this inform our politics, our career choices, our environmental decisions? When I finish the book, I’ll let you know what White thinks. I’m already applying the concept to some issues facing us today.

For example, Question One on the Maine ballot this November. Question One is a referendum initiative aimed to overturn this year’s legalization of gay marriage. To those who oppose the right of gay people to marry, I ask, “How would you like it if you weren’t allowed to marry the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with?”

For those who would argue that this line of reasoning has no end, that the Golden Rule could be used to justify any behavior, I disagree. This is far from an anything-goes scenario. It doesn’t apply, for instance, to murder, i.e., “How would you like it if someone told you that you couldn’t commit murder?” Ah, well, I guess some psychopaths and sociopaths out there would have a problem with such a law, but healthy-minded individuals recognize the justice of a law against murder. (“How would you like it if someone took away your life?” is the Golden Rule equivalent, actually.)

Another issue to which we might apply the Golden Rule is the healthcare debate, though this is trickier. The easy question is “How would you like it if you did not have access to healthcare for you and your family? Wouldn’t you like it if society made it possible for you to receive health care?” Obviously, if we are being honest with ourselves, we would have to say yes. However, put another way, “How would you like it if someone took away your right to chose a doctor, a healthcare plan, an insurance company, a treatment?” gives us a flip-side scenario. The answer here is again, obviously, “Nope, wouldn’t like it at all.”

Is there some way to provide a just solution for everyone? What would it look like? I believe that most legislators on both sides of the aisle would like to provide healthcare for everyone if only we could find some way that did not infringe on the rights and choices of those who are currently lucky enough to have adequate coverage. I have my own ideas about why we are in such a healthcare mess. I think we were better served when we negotiated with our own doctors–sans insurance companies. Thanks to these companies, doctors overprescribe medications for those who are covered and refuse to see patients who are not covered.

We are over-served on one hand (maximizing profits for the pharmaceutical industry, kick-backs for doctors, etc.)and under-served on the other (because there are no profits to be made there, period). The healthcare situation in the United States exemplifies White’s criticism perfectly, where every virtue is judged according to success and profit.

Is this how Jesus would run things? ‘Course Jesus had a leg-up in the miracle department. He could feed a multitude with a few loaves and fishes and we are stuck with the laws of nature. Still, I think he would exhort us to do better. Somehow.

Religious fatalists will answer that we are ordained to fail, that man can never get it right. I imagine they await the Apocolypse with bated breath. (However, I notice even these conservative Christians don’t seem to be in a big hurry to make it to heaven . . . otherwise why all the pharmacy bottles in the medicine cabinet?) We humans probably will never get it all right. Perhaps the best we can do is follow the best philosophy we’ve come up with so far, the ethic of reciprocity. Secular humanists can call it justice. Christians can call it Matthew 7:12. Wiccans can call it The Rule of Three. On this we agree: Treat your neighbor the way you want them to treat you. The world will be better for it.