Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

HOW LONG WILL ARKANSANS BE CONTENT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HEAP?

November 5, 2017

During the Arkansas Primary Election, Governor Hutchinson and most of the Republican Legislators endorsed Marco Rubio. Little Marco carried only two counties, Pulaski and Benton.

Almost none of the Legislators endorsed Donald Trump who carried 59 counties. On the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders won only one county during what we now know was a rigged election.

During the General Election, also likely heavily rigged, the registered vote was Donald Trump 60.57% to 33.65% for Hillary Clinton. Nobody knows what the actual vote was, likely more than 70% for President Trump.

The largest county with the Capital City of Little Rock and one of the most dangerous cities in America went for Hillary with 56.06%. Little Rock is the Swamp in Arkansas.

The first action Asa Hutchinson took as Arkansas Governor was to embrace socialized medicine. His nephews in the Legislature threw their support to their uncle Asa even though Senator Hendren had warned that the Obamacare Private Option would gobble up the entire Arkansas Budget.

Well, since 2010 the uninsured rate in Arkansas has jumped by almost 10% and next year the Obamacare Silver Plan premiums will jump by 23%.

Governor Hutchinson has fought tooth and nail against the President and for Obamacare against the will of the good people of Arkansas who elected him. I am including a link to a video of Governor Hutchinson’s appearance on MSNBC, yes, MSNBC where Asa Hutchison fits right in with the other Left Wing Liberals. Do you support Governor Hutchinson’s fight against our President and for big insurance companies and the hospital lobby?

Who owns Governor Hutchinson? His major contributions are Uncoded so we can’t know for sure. However, after Uncoded Contributions he received $207,412.58 from Lawyers and Lobbyists. The top sector was Finance, Insurance & Real Estate at $357,731.27. From Health he received $192,398.10 and from Health Professionals he netted $82,196.66. Hospitals and Nursing Homes chipped in $67,483.

So how is Arkansas doing now that so much money is going to politicians instead of healthcare? According to a CBS News report two months ago, Arkansas was ranked the fourth worst state for healthcare behind Louisiana, Mississippi and Alaska. That means Arkansas has a high heart disease rate, cancer rate, low number of dentists, etc. When it comes to life expectancy, quality of life, and overall health coverage, Arkansas is nothing to write home about.

The next time you walk into an Arkansas hospital or clinic and they hand you a clipboard that has been passed around between sick people, think about what kind of germs and diseases that clipboard contains. You won’t be handed a clipboard in Minnesota where the life expectancy is more than five years longer than Arkansas. Minnesota is second to Hawaii with the longest life expectancy, Arkansas is 46th.

Yes, Arkansas has a Health Department but what are they doing? How clean are our hospitals? Do they disinfect rooms or just change sheets? Is it cheaper to ply politicians with big bucks or to put patient healthcare first? Why do we need ten administrators for every Medical Doctor and why do we shackle Doctors with two hours a day of documentation? That’s a rhetorical question! The reason, as we all know, is because Lawyers make a fortune suing Doctors! Governor Hutchinson is a Lawyer and former Lobbyist!

Can Arkansas do better? Probably not with this Lawyer Governor! What could you do if you lived five years longer? What could you do if you had better healthcare at a much lower cost? That is what President Trump wants to give you and what Governor Hutchinson is trying to deny you!

Do you think Apple, Wal-Mart or Amazon could create a nationwide healthcare insurance company that could compete with Blue Cross? In a New York minute! I remember when the Blue Cross CEO in Massachusetts got a multimillion dollar pay raise after losing a huge percentage of customers. Multiply that by 50 states! There is no incentive for insurance companies to cut costs. Bean counters are paid more than Surgeons and CEOs are paid millions. The Wal-Mart World Headquarters in Bentonville would simply not be fancy enough for any major insurance company in America! Those Blue Cross Skyscrapers are not adding one second to your life expectancy but they are picking your pockets.

The aircraft pictured is just one jet owned by Blue Cross. This one belongs to South Carolina Blue Cross. It’s barely 150 miles completely across South Carolina! Do you hear a giant sucking sound? It’s the sound of insurance companies empowered by politicians sucking the money out of your pockets! Can you picture an insurance executive or Governor Asa Hutchinson riding in Sam Walton’s old Ford pickup?

My Fellow Arkansans, if you are content being stuck at the bottom of the heap, KEEP IT UP! Keep voting for slick career politicians who represent Lawyers, Lobbyists and Insurance Companies. We’ll keep the Nation’s highest taxes and lowest wages and keep coughing up money to buy new tires because Arkansas potholes have potholes. Arkansas will keep the 55 mph speed limit, not because it is safer or because it will save gas but because traffic fines are a major additional revenue stream for the Arkansas speed trap. Arkansas will keep its bloated bureaucracies and bureaucrats will keep driving SUVs.

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Henry Knox, You didn’t Build That

May 10, 2017

 

Thanks to Liberal Politicians, the NEA and our Godless Public School System, we have a generation of young people who struggle to take initiative and solve problems without adult help.

There is no doubt that technology is also to blame. You and I didn’t exactly have Google at our fingertips 24/7 when we were transitioning to adulthood.

The problem goes deeper though…our culture has completely lost touch with our shared traditions as Americans. We’ve lost a sense of what becoming an adult entails.

Our colleges and government programs are letting our children and grandchildren down by coddling them rather than teaching responsibility.

Less than half of college students graduate.

And 1/3 of 18-to-34 year-olds still live with their parents.

Americans freak out if they can’t keep their adult children on their healthcare insurance until they’re 26. By 26 I had an enlisted four year Air Force Tour behind me, had become an Air Force Officer. I was married, a private pilot, had been an analyst at the National Security Agency and was on my way to becoming a Jet Fighter Pilot.

I graduated from college without one dime from my parents, without a student loan or any debt of any kind.

I had some kind of job beginning when I was ten years old. I picked up rocks, caught chickens, worked as a lifeguard, worked for Western Electric, worked for General Motors, was an All District High School Basketball Player, VP of FBLA, wrote a column for the school newspaper, explored caves for Civil Defense, was an Explorer Scout, a Fire Martial and went to New York and DC on my Senior Trip. I had spent 15 months on the northern tip of Japan. Then I turned 27.

I know people who would starve to death in a super market if they didn’t have a can opener.

Are you teaching your kids to be dependent? That they can’t build anything themselves? That they are doomed without government telling them what to think and what to do?

Would your child be helpless without a smartphone or boom box? How long would Junior survive on Utah Beach or Mount Suribachi?

On November 17, 1775 – Henry Knox was appointed to the rank of Colonel by George Washington. Knox was 25.

From December 5, 1775 to January 24, 1776, Colonel Knox led an Expedition to transfer 59 cannon (sixty tons – 120,000 lbs) captured by Ethan Allen, and move the British cannon over 300 miles from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston for the fortification of Dorchester Heights forcing the evacuation of Boston by the British. His force brought the cannon by ox-drawn sled south along the west bank of the Hudson River from Fort Ticonderoga to Albany where he crossed the Hudson, continued east through the Berkshires and finally to Boston. The route was frozen and ice covered.

This was considered the greatest feat of logistics during the Revolutionary War.

Before Henry Knox was 26, he was promoted to Brigadier General and Chief of Artillery for the Continental Army.

Knox had been on his own since he was 12 years old and his father died. He was an apprentice bookbinder at Wharton & Bowes in the Cornhill section of Boston.

Knox read and became a self-taught skilled engineer and military tactician. He learned to speak French as well.

At the age of 18, Knox joined an artillery company known as “The Train”

At 19, while returning from a friend’s home in Charlestown, Knox happened upon on King Street in front of the Customs House at the Boston Massacre, where 5 colonists were killed. This changed Henry’s life forever.

When Henry turned 21, he opened his own bookstore called the London Book Store. At 22, Henry formed the Boston Grenadier Corps under Captain Joseph Peirce.

At the age of 24, Henry married Lucy Flucker.

Henry was a volunteer in the patriot army at the Battle of Bunker Hill under General Ward.

After the Red Coat’s were rousted out of Lexington and Concord, they destroyed Henry’s Boston Book Store making Henry and Lucy homeless during the Revolutionary War.

At the end of the War it was Henry’s idea to start a Veterans organization. George Washington became the first President of America’s first Veterans Organization. Six years later, George Washington became The First President of the United States and our Founding Father. Henry Knox became one of his four Cabinet Members as the First Secretary of War.

Maybe examples like this are the reasons young Americans are not taught History? Henry Knox didn’t get a participation trophy.

WHO WILL SAVE HEALTHCARE?

September 25, 2014

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Many Americans have been devastated by Obamacare with $6,000 deductibles and $150 copay. Millions of people with insurance still have to rely on Free Clinics or home remedies. Guess what, you have barely seen the tip of the iceberg! After the election you should be prepared to witness the total destruction of Healthcare as we once knew it. Already we are seeing escalated hospital closures across America. Obamacare economics, politics and demographics have triggered an epidemic of hospital closures around the country and the trend is likely to continue. Hospitals were one of the big support groups for Obamacare and they are still going out of business. How much more do you have to give?

Many problems with healthcare can be fixed BUT NOT BY TURNING HEALTHCARE OVER TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THE IRS. Many of the hospitals listed below were closed because of lawsuits. Ambulance chasing lawyers don’t just chase ambulances, they get elected to Legislatures and enact laws that help ambulance chasers get rich at the expense of the citizens. Just the cost of practicing defensive medicine to avoid malpractice lawsuits is enough to destroy our healthcare system. Insurance companies are a gigantic problem. They will tell you their profit margins are very low but the fact is they pay bean counters more than doctors, operate out of palatial buildings and throw money around like it grows on trees. State CEO’s of Blue Cross are paid millions of dollars. The only reason we have state CEO’s is because health insurance cannot be sold across state lines. Do you think that benefits you? Individuals should also be able to have healthcare savings plans. Oh yes, government over-regulation hits hospitals like it does all businesses. After high school graduation it takes a specialist surgeon 15 years before he or she is qualified to earn a paycheck. By that time many are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Doctors don’t intentionally harm patients as a rule and those who do deserve prison. Instead, our system drags good Doctors through the courts after they use their best judgment to heal patients and even after they perform unnecessary tests to satisfy the courts. Already, millions of Americans travel overseas for healthcare and some companies even pay for it. State of the art healthcare is offered abroad at a fraction of U.S. costs because of reasons I have mentioned.

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Here are some acute-care hospitals that closed their doors within the last two years: Florala Memorial Hospital, Lee Regional Medical Center, Corcoran District Hospital, Christus Health Shreveport-Bossier, Cozby-Germany Hospital, Charlton Memorial Hospital, Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center, Sacred Heart Hospital, W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center, Lakeside Health System, Earl K. Long Medical Center, Los Angeles-based Pacific Health Corp. closed all four of its hospitals in California — Anaheim General Hospital, Bellflower Medical Center, Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center and Newport Specialty Hospital, Stewart-Webster Hospital, Renaissance Hospital, Calhoun Memorial Hospital, North Adams Regional Hospital, Lower Oconee Community Hospital, Natchez Regional Medical Center, Long Beach Medical Center, Good Shepherd Medical Center Linden, Gilbert Hospital and Casa Grande Regional. This list just goes through March.

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Obamacare was passed with 100% of the Democrats in Congress and without a single vote from any Republican. Republicans were not even allowed to read the Affordable Care Act but, as it turns out, even Democrats had to pass the bill before they could read it. Is this any way to run a Healthcare System? If you like your Doctor and still have your Doctor, that might not be the case after the election. Obamacare rules have been illegally waved by the President until after the election. Things will only get worse as time goes by. The minority of hard working citizens are bearing burdens that are breaking their backs while lazy people do only one thing besides collect food stamps and welfare, they vote for Democrats. If anybody saves healthcare, it will not be a Democrat.

The VA is Yet Another Wretched Failure

May 6, 2014

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Enough is enough, the VA has failed miserably and American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger has the courage to call for the resignations of the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey. The American Legion is the largest Veterans organization and a loud voice for Veterans, not for heartless, ineffective bureaucrats. I served on the National Executive Committee for three years and I can tell you it took real leadership and courage to move the Legion to this decision. This is NOT PARTISAN, Veterans are more important than politics.

Allegations from multiple whistleblowers of a secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA Health Care System that may have resulted in the death of approximately 40 veterans have finally made the news. Last year even the VA’s own Office of Medical Inspector reported that clerks at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, were instructed how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency’s goal of 14 days. “These disturbing reports are part of what appear to be a pattern of scandals that has infected the entire system,” Dellinger said, noting issues that have come up in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, “Those problems need addressed at the highest level – starting with new leadership. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks.”

Dellinger said that the failure to disclose safety information or to cover up mistakes is unforgivable – as is fostering a culture of nondisclosure. “VA leadership has demonstrated its incompetence through preventable deaths of veterans, long wait times for medical care, a benefits claims backlog numbering in excess of 596,000, and the awarding of bonuses to senior executives who have overseen such operations,” he said. “Some veterans have waited years to have their claims decided. That same leadership has failed to provide answers to why these issues continue to occur.”

Dellinger said that while errors and lapses can occur in any system, “The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable. This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top.“

When asked by media what the Legion would do if the trio didn’t resign, Dellinger said a draft of the request was being sent to the White House. “This is a very serious situation,” he said. “The administration needs to take steps now. It’s long overdue. Whenever you’re talking about a patient’s life – a veteran’s life – in jeopardy, it’s always serious.”

James Pert served as a Marine in Vietnam. Diagnosed with skin cancer, diabetes and Post Traumatic Stress, he died as he waited for a medical appointment at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. “How could they treat him so badly, when he served his country so honorably?” his widow, Sandy Pert, said to the International Business Times.

The interview came on the heels of a shocking CNN report that administrators at the hospital kept a secret waiting list, which included veterans waiting more than 200 days for an appointment. Not surprisingly, more than 40 veterans may have needlessly died while waiting. The other list – the one that was not kept secret, according to Dr. Sam Foote –included only patients that would be seen in the next 15 days, a reasonable period intended to make executives look good and earn generous bonuses for the top brass.

More disturbing is that this is not isolated to the Grand Canyon State. More reports of “fixed” scheduling are coming from places like Fort Collins, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

As national commander of The American Legion, Dan Dellinger was able to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office a few weeks ago. He expressed The American Legion’s strong concerns about service at the VA and also discussed the unacceptable benefits backlog and poor access to facilities with Shinseki. American Legion Senior Staff Members met with top VA officials and found the meetings far less than satisfactory and the answers not very forthcoming. In fact, the secretary didn’t seem to fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation and, at the time, didn’t feel anybody needed to be replaced. If it were a private institution or if the executives were still in the military, they would be relieved of duty.

VA’s senior leaders didn’t seem to realize that one great tragedy of these delays and needless deaths is that they undeniably besmirch the compassionate work of thousands of dedicated VA employees and the outstanding care that many facilities provide. A few years ago, Unfortunately, the Legion does not see VA enacting the culture change that it so desperately needs with the current leadership in place. Senior VA leaders have isolated themselves from the media and, more importantly, from answering to their shareholders, America’s veterans.

The Legion looks forward to hearing the results of the VA Inspector General’s report and The American Legion welcomes Senator Bernie Sanders’ intention to hold hearings based on the IG’s findings.

Putting Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman and two other senior executives on administrative leave with full pay and benefits is a typical response for government Agencies. VA clearly has a widespread problem that goes beyond the misbehavior of three people. Moreover, VA has been dragging its feet in dealing with the backlog of disability claims and modernizing its records. The private sector would never tolerate such inefficiency and callousness. Neither should veterans.

What’s wrong with America? Welfare claims are expedited at the speed of light, heck just about anybody can get food stamps including millionaires, drug dealers, high class call girls, illegal aliens and yes, even government bureaucrats. Have you forgotten about the $2,000 debit cards handed out like candy after Katrina? Many of them fell into the wrong hands like the Captain of the crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship tripped and fell into a lifeboat. By the time it was all said and done, a billion dollars was wasted giving aid to people using prison inmate’s names or claiming their home was in a cemetery. Stuff happens but stuff just does not happen that favors Veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

On a personal note, I was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Eventually, I was awarded a couple of hundred dollars a month for ONLY one of my ailments and that money was taken out of my pension. The VA robbed Gene McVay to pay Gene McVay. I know, I know, that should have made me ecstatic but I am one of those greedy Veterans who would like to have what I’m owed according to the law. Like hundreds of thousands of other Veterans, I appealed the VA decision making sure the “i’s” were dotted and the “t’s” were crossed. After a year or two I was offered the privilege of driving 340 miles round trip to discuss my case to somebody on TV. My Veteran Service Officer (VSO) and I agreed that nothing needed to be added to my appeal and the VSO notified the VA that I did not desire the meeting. We thought that might expedite consideration. Of course I wasn’t surprised after some time when I received a notification that my scheduled TV meeting had been postponed and rescheduled. Again my VSO notified the VA that I still did not desire the TV meeting.

So, over three years have passed, I lost a kidney, received chemo and radiation paid for by my health insurance and still no word from the VA. I wonder where that claim is setting? Maybe somebody can set it near the water cooler where a bureaucrat might happen to see it? Don’t cry for me, cry for the hundreds of thousands of Veterans in my same boat but without health insurance and even without a home. Veterans are twice as likely to be homeless as the general population and female Veterans are more likely to be homeless than males. I believe the treatment of our Veterans is a preposterous National humiliation but who am I?

I have been a leader in various Veterans Organizations and attended meetings with high ranking VA officials and listened to speeches by the VA Secretary and Under Secretaries promising grandiose things. Veteran Leaders and VA Leaders praise each other while exchanging plaques year after year. The only thing that changes is the faces. The Veterans still languish. Those who can’t take the abuse and lack of care take their own lives. The Suicide rate among Veterans is another National embarrassment. At least 22 Veterans kill themselves every single day and that published rate may be low. The suicide rate among young Veterans under 30 soared by 44% between 2009 and 2011, the latest data available. Americans and our Legislators are concerned about things like Amnesty for Illegal Aliens, saving Desert Tortoises and stopping oil pipelines but prefer to keep Veterans out of sight and out of mind.

Don’t think for a moment that I am a dreamer. I expect nothing to change, in fact, I expect things to get worse. We will NEVER get a day’s work for a day’s pay out of bureaucrats, NEVER. Congress will NEVER outlaw government unions, the workers must be protected from child labor, poor working conditions in air conditioned marble buildings, poor pay that averages twice what is paid in the private sector and black lung disease (sarcasm). Congressmen can write letters and Veterans can plead, hat in hand, but NOTHING will change. The show must go on. The unofficial VA Motto, “Delay, deny and wait until they die” should become the official VA Motto. Our Federal Government is above the Law. Congressmen and Governors go to prison but Bureaucrats are put on PAID administrative leave. Veteran’s claims should be contracted to India or China where they are 1,000 times more efficient. President Obama wants universal healthcare, maybe we can include Veterans. Veterans are people too. With the money spent on VA Healthcare, Veterans could get real Healthcare in real hospitals like real people.

The VA was a good idea in the beginning and worked fine for a while with Five Star General Omar Bradley as Administrator. Bradley told VA workers, “We are dealing with veterans, not procedures; with their problems, not ours.” Make no mistake, Omar Bradley was a great leader and they are all gone. Omar Bradley would not make Major in today’s military. I will leave you with another quote from General Bradley given during a Veterans Day Speech in 1948:

“We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”

SOCIALIST PARADISE 90 MILES AWAY

April 26, 2014

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Ninety miles from the United States lies the Island Nation of Cuba, a case study in Socialism three hours away by Bass Boat. Those who want to learn more about Socialism might want to visit Cuba, one of the World’s most Socialist nations as it has a mostly state-run economy, universal healthcare, government-paid education at all levels, and a number of social programs. A Yahoo Contributor, Stan Stevens, on Yahoo Voices wrote, “The Teapartiers, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, most of the staff at FOX, and Americans who fear Socialism do not really know what Socialism is. Americans who fear Socialism only know it is bad because they have been told it is bad and to fear it by Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, the GOP and those like them.” Stevens is just one of a crescendo of voices touting the greatness of the Socialist system including many in the pedagogical hierarchy who mold the minds of our children.

In 1924, Gerardo Machado was elected president of Cuba. During his administration, tourism increased markedly, and American-owned hotels and restaurants were built to accommodate the influx of tourists. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to precipitous drops in the price of sugar, political unrest, and repression. Protesting students turned to violence in opposition to the increasingly unpopular Machado. A general strike (in which the Communist Party sided with Machado), uprisings among sugar workers, and an army revolt forced Machado into exile in August 1933. He was replaced by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada who was quickly overthrown by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista. A five-member executive committee (the Pentarchy of 1933) was chosen to head a provisional government. A year later Batista took over and dominated Cuban politics for the next 25 years, at first through a series of puppet-presidents. The period from 1933 to 1937 was a time of “virtually unremitting social and political warfare”.

A new constitution was adopted in 1940, which engineered radical progressive ideas, including the right to labor unions and health care. Batista was elected president in the same year, holding the post until 1944. His government carried out major social reforms. Several members of the Communist Party held office under his administration.

Batista adhered to the 1940 constitution’s strictures preventing his re-election. Ramon Grau San Martin was the winner of the next election, in 1944. Grau further corroded the base of the already teetering legitimacy of the Cuban political system, in particular by undermining the deeply flawed, though not entirely ineffectual, Congress and Supreme Court. Carlos Prío Socarrás, a protege of Grau, became president in 1948. The two terms of the Auténtico Party saw an influx of investment fueled boom which raised living standards for all segments of society and created a prosperous middle class in most urban areas.

After running unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1952, Batista staged a coup. He outlawed the Cuban Communist Party in 1952. Cuba had Latin America’s highest per capita consumption rates of meat, vegetables, cereals, automobiles, telephones and radios.

In 1958, Cuba was a relatively well-advanced country by Latin American standards, and in some cases by world standards. On the other hand, Cuba was affected by perhaps the largest labor union privileges in Latin America, including bans on dismissals and mechanization. Between 1933 and 1958, Cuba extended economic regulations enormously, causing economic problems. Unemployment became a problem as graduates entering the workforce could not find jobs. The middle class, which was comparable to that of the United States, became increasingly dissatisfied with unemployment and political persecution. The labor unions supported Batista until the very end. Batista stayed in power until he was forced into exile in December 1958.

In late 1958, rebels broke out of the Sierra Maestra and launched a general popular insurrection. After Batista fled from Havana on 1 January 1959 to exile in Portugal. Fidel Castro’s forces entered the capital on 8 January 1959. The liberal Manuel Urrutia Lleó became the provisional president.

From 1959 to 1966 Cuban insurgents fought a six-year rebellion that was eventually crushed by the government’s use of vastly superior numbers. The rebellion lasted longer and involved more soldiers than the Cuban Revolution. It is estimated that political executions range from 4,000 to 33,000.

Castro’s legalization of the Communist party and the public trials and executions of hundreds of Batista’s supporters caused a deterioration in the relationship between the US and Cuba. The promulgation of the Agrarian Reform Law, expropriating farmlands of over 1,000 acres, further worsened relations. In February 1960, Castro signed a commercial agreement with Soviet Vice-Premier Anastas Mikoyan. In March 1960, Eisenhower gave his approval to a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime.

The invasion (known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion) took place on April 14, 1961. About 1,400 Cuban exiles disembarked at the Bay of Pigs, but failed in their attempt to overthrow Castro. In January 1962, Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), and later the same year the OAS started to impose sanctions against Cuba of similar nature to the US sanctions. The tense confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October, 1962. By 1963, Cuba was moving towards a full-fledged Communist system modeled on the USSR.

During the 1970s, Fidel Castro dispatched tens of thousands of troops in support of Soviet-supported wars in Africa, particularly the MPLA in Angola and Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia. The standard of living in 1970s grew extremely Spartan and discontent was rife. Fidel Castro admitted the failures of economic policies in a 1970 speech.

In 1975 the OAS lifted its sanctions against Cuba, with the approval of 16 member states, including the U.S. The U.S., however, maintained its own sanctions.
Things got even worse in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, when Cuba faced a severe economic downturn following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually, resulting in effects such as food and fuel shortages. The government did not accept American donations of food, medicines, and cash until 1993 when desperation overcame pride. On 5 August 1994, state security dispersed protesters in a spontaneous protest in Havana.

In February 2008, Fidel Castro announced his resignation as President of Cuba, and on 24 February his brother, Raúl Castro, was elected as the new President. In his acceptance speech, Raúl promised that some of the restrictions that limit Cubans’ daily lives would be removed. In March 2009, Raúl Castro removed some of Fidel Castro’s officials.

On 3 June 2009, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution to end the 47-year ban on Cuban membership of the group. The resolution stated, however, that full membership would be delayed until Cuba was “in conformity with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS.” Cuban leaders have repeatedly announced they are not interested in rejoining the OAS, and Fidel Castro restated this after the OAS resolution had been announced.

Effective January 14, 2013, Cuba ended the requirement established in 1961 that any citizens who wish to travel abroad were required to obtain an expensive government permit and a letter of invitation. The now-replaced travel ban dates to 1961, when the Cuban government imposed broad restrictions on travel to prevent the mass migration of people after the 1959 revolution and only approved exit visas on rare occasions. Henceforth, Cubans will only need a passport and a national ID card to leave; they will also be allowed for the first time to take their young children with them. Despite the new policy, a passport will still cost on average five months’ salary and it is expected that it will be mostly Cubans with paying relatives abroad that will be able to take advantage of the new policy. In the first year of the program, over 180,000 left Cuba and returned.

So how are things today in the Socialist Paradise? The President of North Korea rides in a 1970 Lincoln Town Car while the few Cubans who own cars drive 1950’s vintage or older US automobiles. Traffic is so sparse that a pedestrian could duck walk across the busiest street without fear of being run over. Just about every building you see is owned by the government and is dilapidated with Communist Propaganda panted on it. Outside the nicest dilapidated hotel in Havana is a statue of Hugo Chávez. Of course, bank cards, credit cards, and Smartphone’s don’t work and Internet access is virtually nonexistent. Almost every worker works for one employer, the government. Many of the jobs are “make work” jobs because Cuba produces almost nothing. If there is any running water, it is not safe to drink. The power is very unreliable and daily blackouts are a certainty. When the government hands out free commodities there are more workers handing out stuff than recipients. Through all this, 85% of the Cuban population has remained Catholic.

Cuba was once a major exporter of sugar. The late Catherine L “Kac” Burford of Fort Smith, Arkansas owned and ran a Sugar Cane Plantation in Cuba for 13 years with her husband Richard until the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Castro simply confiscated the plantation. Today, under the Socialist System where the government pretends to pay the workers and the workers pretend to work, Cuba has to import sugar and almost all of the rest of their food.

The flourishing 1950’s hotels and casinos are no longer even a faint memory. If there was an influx of tourists there would be no place to stay. Recent visitors were told that their bus driver spoke no English, however, the driver listened intently to the American passengers and took copious notes. Any itineraries must be approved in advance and strictly adhered to.

The good news is that average salaries in Cuba rose 17% during the last five years to $17 a month. There is little difference between salaries in Cuba, a street sweeper earns about $16 a month while a Brain Surgeon earns $22 a month. That kind of salary inequality might still be too much for some people. It takes about an hour to learn to be a productive street cleaner while it takes at least 14 years after high school and a lot of grueling work to become a Brain Surgeon. The Teapartiers, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, most of the staff at FOX, and Americans who fear Socialism might worry that the incentive to do all this work and preparation might not be there. Most every meager thing is free so why work to fix the plumbing system and electrical problems?

The Cuban health care system also seems unreal. There are plenty of doctors. Everybody has a family physician. Everything is free, totally free. The whole system seems turned upside down. It is tightly organized, and the first priority is prevention. Family physicians, along with their nurses and other health workers, are responsible for delivering primary care and preventive services to their panel of patients — about 1000 patients per physician in urban areas. All care delivery is organized at the local level, and the patients and their caregivers generally live in the same community. The medical records in cardboard folders are simple and handwritten, not unlike those used in the United States 50 years ago.

All patients are categorized according to level of health risk, from I to IV. Smokers, for example, are in risk category II, and patients with stable, chronic lung disease are in category III. The community clinics report regularly to the district on how many patients they have in each risk category and on the number of patients with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma, as well as immunization status, time since last Pap smear, and pregnancies necessitating prenatal care.

Every patient is visited at home once a year, and those with chronic conditions receive visits more frequently. When necessary, patients can be referred to a district polyclinic for specialty evaluation, but they return to the community team for ongoing treatment.
Abortion is legal but is seen as a failure of prevention. I caution you not to romanticize Cuban health care. The system is not designed for consumer choice or individual initiatives. There is no alternative, private-payer health system. I mentioned Physicians’ pay earlier but there are government benefits such as housing and food subsidies and all their education is free, and they are respected, but they are unlikely to attain any personal wealth. Resources are limited, a nephrologist in Cienfuegos, 160 miles south of Havana, lists 77 patients on dialysis in the province, which on a population basis is about 40% of the current U.S. rate — similar to what the U.S. rate was in 1985. A neurologist reports that his hospital got a CT scanner only 12 years ago. U.S. students who are enrolled in a Cuban medical school say that operating rooms run quickly and efficiently but with very little technology. Access to information through the Internet is minimal. One medical student reports being limited to 30 minutes per week of dial-up access.

Cuba has developed its own pharmaceutical industry and manufactures most of the medications in its basic pharmacopeia. Even though Cuba now has more than twice as many physicians per capita as the United States, many of those physicians work outside the country, volunteering for two or more years of service, for which they receive special compensation. In 2008, there were 37,000 Cuban health care providers working in 70 countries around the world. Most are in needy areas where their work is part of Cuban foreign aid, but some are in more developed areas where their work brings financial benefit to the Cuban government.

Any visitor can see that Cuba remains far from a developed country in basic infrastructure such as roads, housing, plumbing, and sanitation. Nonetheless, Cubans are beginning to face the same health problems the developed world faces, with increasing rates of coronary disease and obesity and an aging population.

Today there is a huge Chinese presence in Cuba. Most of the TV stations received in hotels are Chinese. One of the most popular persons among Cubans is Ernest Hemingway. He wrote “The Old Man and the Sea” in 1951 in Cuba and published it in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway and published in his lifetime. The Monument Hemingway is pictured above.

So this is my epistle, I report, you decide if you prefer the American Dream or the Socialist Paradise. As for me, the 34 years I spent in the Armed Forces was to protect Americans and the American Dream.