Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Inconvenient Truth About Health Care Costs

Although nobody, neither President nor any of the other positicians is willing to admit it, the major reason health care costs keep rising is because of advances in medicine. If doctors practiced the health care of the 1950’s the cost would be a small fraction of what it costs today. Nobody is suggesting that we throw out the EKG’s, MRI’s, CAT scanners and ultra sound machines, but these and a lot of other very expensive diagnostic and treatment procedures are the major factors driving up the cost of health care, and hence that of health insurance. In spite of the proposals in congress that claim to cut health care costs, there can be no really significant cost cutting unless new cures and diagnostic techniques which require expensive new hardware and procedures are curtailed. This of course is not a pleasant situation either for the medical industry or the patients who use their services.

The present “model” of health insurance is based on the assumption that life is precious and the insured is entitled to whatever approved (non-experimental) diagnostic and treatment regimens are ordered by a doctor. This open ended model is unsustainable because new medical advances will continue to be approved at a rate that causes costs to rise much faster than the growth of the economy and wages. This model must change to keep health care affordable. Increasingly, financial factors will have to be considered in health care decisions. The question is: who will make these decisions?

The health care bill that Obama is trying to get passed does address these costs by allowing the government to set rules as to who gets what kind of treatment. If an extra thirty million people are added to the list of insured at mostly public expense, people are not going to like the rules government will have to make. Logic dictates that this will be particularly true for the elderly because they contribute less to society (the death panels?). Also, rules that limit access to diagnostic and treatment procedures based on cost and other factors, will negatively impact medical advances because an advance may not be accepted by the rule makers. This does cut future increases but at a cost of decreasing the general quality of healthcare. But no rule should prevent those who can afford to pay for a procedure they deem beneficial from acquiring it.

The other option is to let the free market deal with the problem. If insurers loose too many customers because rates are high, they will offer plans with limited coverage at lower cost. You buy what you can afford and live with your decision. Medical advances would be negatively affected under this option as well, but only based on cost of the procedure.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The death of Common Sense

To the editor of the Daily Mining Gazette:

Political correctness has caused the total eradication of common sense. Airline safety personnel must treat little old ladies and Middle Eastern young men wearing Muslim garb with the same suspicion (no profiling). Also, public officials praise Islam as a “peaceful religion in spite of the fact that Muslims are performing a large majority of the terrorist acts in the world. After the 9/11/01 some public schools even taught about Islam and had children reciting Islamic prayers to prevent a backlash of sentiment against Muslims. It is interesting that the government and news media have been unable to determine whether the actions of Mag. Nidal Malid Hassan, who killed thirteen and wounded some thirty others of his associates at Fort Hood were a terrorist act. You would think that his opposition to the “war on terror” which he considered a war on Islam, and his reported statements that homicidal bombers were the equivalent of “heroes” would shed some light on the subject. But nobody can conclude whether or not his Muslim religion had anything to do with his actions.

The murders were a deliberate action. He prepared for the action by giving away his furniture, frozen food, and saying goodbye to his friends. He knew he would not be coming back. He donned Muslim garb for a trip to a convenience store which advertised his Muslim faith. Then, back in his uniform to thwart suspicion, he enters a building where three hundred soldiers are awaiting pre-deployment shots and eye tests, shouts in Arabic, “Allah is great!” and starts firing. It is strange that the investigators and the government cannot determine whether Hasan’s religion had anything to do with his actions, but if a gay is mugged, the government knows immediately that the mugger is a “homophobe” that hates gays. I rest my case, common sense is dead.

Vernon Sandel
P.O. Box 467
Dollar Bay, MI 49922

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Bradley Effect in This Election

Some people in the news have said that Barack Obama may suffer from the Bradley effect, and that he needs a 8-10% lead in the polls to be elected because of the reluctance of some voters to vote for a black man. The Bradley effect was named after Tom Bradley, the long time black mayor of Los Angeles, CA who ran for governor in 1982 against George Deukmejian who was white. In spite of being consistently ahead in the polls, Bradley lost the election. The common explanation for this loss was that many whites would not vote for a black, but neither would they admit the same for fear of being labeled prejudiced.

Race relations have come a long way since 1982. America is ready for a black president when a black candidate is found that is worthy of the office. Barack Obama has already benefited from the reverse of the Bradley effect, in that much of his popularity comes from being black. Barack will have almost total support amongst blacks. Nothing wrong with that. But there is also a feeling of guilt amongst the great majority of whites who are not prejudiced against blacks, and thus we would love to see a black win the presidency. It would show the world that America is finally color blind. Unfortunately, this attitude could lead to electing a very unqualified black to the presidency.

Fifty years ago a person with as little experience as Barack Obama would never have been selected as a candidate no matter what his color or party. With both a Muslim father and step father he would also have been looked upon with suspicion while we are at war with a Muslim faction. But now politically correctness has taken the place of common sense, dictating that we must never "profile" no matter what the risk. Do we really know Barack's true attitude toward the Muslims? He says all the right words but he is a politician, a group noted for telling people what they want to hear in order to get elected. What damage could a Muslim sympathizer do in the White House? I would not like to find out.

Barack Obama may be immenently qualified to be president, but with his record of accomplishments doesn't illustrate it. He may have a proper attitude toward radical Muslims and their despicable plan to force Sharia law upon the whole world through terror, but how can we know? As a man I will give him the benefit of doubt, but as a possible president I will not!

Vernon Sandel

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Barack or Hillary?

It seems like 50% of the news stories are about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Although I am sick of hearing about them, it is of course extremely important that a proper choice is made. The coming election is slated to be pivotal in many respects, one of which is how we will respond to radical Islam's threat to convert us to Islam or eliminate us.

After living through the Clinton presidency with its new scandals about every week, it was refreshing to have a black man (half black anyway) vie for the candidacy on the Democratic ticket. "Go Barack! Anyone but Hillary" summed up my attitude. Barack has a charisma about him that inspires people.

However, the more I learn about Barack Obama the more questions I have about the wisdom of choosing him to be the Democratic candidate. I didn't know his father was a Muslim. I didn't know his mother divorced the father only to marry another Muslim from Indonesia. I didn't know he belonged to a church that vilified whites and whose pastor, Rev. Wright, from the pulpit made racist and anti American statements. I was appalled when I visited the church's web site. I had never seen a more racist web site. It has apparently been taken down now that the Rev. Wright connection to Barack has been publicized.

Of course Barack has denied sharing the opinions of his pastor while not distancing himself from the man as a mentor and friend. He would not be where he is today while standing with Rev. Wright's Statement, "I say God Damn America!" What would you expect a politition to say? I hold that in all probability Barack Obama is a patriotic american, not a Muslim sympathizer (in spite of his mother's twice marrying a Muslim) or a racist black man. But when it comes to choosing man that could become president of the United States, should we even consider taking a chance on a man with so many items in his past that could influence his thinking in ways that could be harmful to our country? What about his wife's comment, "This is the first time in my life I have been proud of my country". Was it a gaffe or is it further evidence that we don't know their true feelings about America?

I have changed my mind. I would rather see Hillary get the nomination. If the super delegates end up making the choice of candidate, I hope they choose the "devil we know rather than the devil we don't know".

Vernon Sandel

Monday, March 31, 2008

God Spoke the Worlds Into Existance??

Many times I have heard preachers say, "God spoke the worlds into existence". Yes, I know that Genesis 1 says, "God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light", etc. But does this mean that God spoke and that speech or sound created light? The picture I get from this is a God that is a big genie in the sky who creates things by magic. I think there is a better interpretation of this that corresponds with other scriptures.

First, we understand sound rather well in terms of pressure waves in a medium. It is difficult for me to believe such pressure waves created the earth, sun, moon, stars, and life.

Second, in John 1:1-3 we read concerning Christ, "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Christ's involvement in creation is further confirmed by Paul in Col. 1:16: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him."

When the scriptures use the word "God" it refers to the Father. 1 Cor. 8:6 "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live."

If God (the Father) said, "Let there be _____" and that created it, there is no role for Christ in creation. A better interpretation is that God said, "Let there be _____" and Christ created it. The scripture does not give a clue as to how Christ created it except in the case of the birds, animals, and humans which were formed from the ground.

Notice that in Gen. 1:20 and 24, the creation of birds and animals, the same "And God said" phrase was used as in all the previous creation verses. However, the Lord God formed the birds and animals out of the ground: Gen. 2:19 "Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air." From this scripture it is obvious that God did more than "speak" the the animals into existance. Thus we may assume that in the other creation days there may have been similar creative activities not specified. God said it and the Lord God (Christ) did it. This fits the pattern of the above interpretation. We are not given the details of how God created the world.

I cringe every time I hear it said, "God spoke the worlds into existence".

Address comments to: vrsandel@hotmail.com

Vernon Sandel

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Birth of Jesus—Harmonizing the Accounts

Why is it that when the Christmas story is told whether in sermon or movie, the total Biblically correct story is never told. Is it because of inconsistencies in the facts presented? Luke (Luke 2), for example, has Mary and Joseph living in Nazareth and traveling to Bethlehem for a census at the time of Jesus birth, which occurred in a stable. He continues with the circumcision of Jesus on the 8th day, Mary’s purification and the sacrifice in Jerusalem required by Jewish law and then the return to Nazareth.

Matthew, on the other hand, makes no mention of Mary and Joseph living in Nazareth prior to Jesus’ birth, but leaves you to assume that they lived in Bethlehem at that time. The star announcing the birth of the “King of the Jews” and the wise men (Magi) are prominent features of the Matthew account. The wise men came to Bethlehem after visiting King Herod (Herod the Great whose official Roman title was King of the Jews), and followed the star to the house where the “young child” (not baby) was. Subsequently, Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt because Herod would try to kill the child by killing all the boys in Bethlehem who were 2 years and under (in according with the time he had learned from the Magi that the star appeared). Clearly the family was living in Bethlehem at that time. After the death of Herod the Great, the family returned to Israel, but went to Nazareth instead of Bethlehem because Herod’s son Archelaus was Tetrarch of Judea.

Movies portraying the events surrounding Jesus’ birth meld the two stories together usually by leaving out the Luke account of returning to Nazareth or by having the Magi visit the stable birthplace of Luke’s account. Neither of these scenarios fit the Biblical account. So what did happen? How can we meld the two together?

In the Luke account the family stayed in the Bethlehem area for at least 8 days. Being poor, Joseph who was a carpenter probably had to look for work during that time. Being an excellent carpenter (we presume), he may have been offered a job on a permanent basis at a wage superior to his former employment. In which case, he would take the family back to Nazareth, collect his belongings and move to Bethlehem. Thus when the Magi arrive they are living in a house as described by Matthew. Although there may be other Biblically correct scenarios which meld the two stories together, this is the one which makes most sense to me.

The difference in the two accounts of Jesus’ birth has caused another problem which is not so easily resolved: the year in which Jesus was born. Since history records the death of Herod the Great as March or April, 4 BC, Jesus must have been born before this date. If the events recorded by Matthew occurred near the end of Herod’s life, this would place the birth of Christ about 6 BC. However the Luke account places the census and birth of Jesus while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Historical records show that Quirinius became governor of Syria in 6 or 7 AD, after the banishment of Herod’s son Archelaus to Gaul (France) in 6 AD. This has been a problem for Bible scholars, most of whom accept the timing of Jesus birth according to the Matthew account. Tertullian, writing around 200 AD, stated that the census had been taken by Gaius Sentius Saturninus, legate of Syria from 9-6 BC rather than Quirinius.

In summary, the Matthew and Luke accounts of Jesus birth can be harmonized, but a mistake has to be acknowledged in the Luke account in naming the wrong governor of Syria.

One other point, when is the last time you stood under a star? The attempts by some to determine what the star of Bethlehem was would seem to be futile if you consider that to guide the Magi it would have to have been a light that was close to earth. Otherwise there would be no way that the Magi could have followed it.

Care to comment? You can reach me at vrsandel@hotmail.com.

Vernon Sandel

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Scams in the Invention Promotion Industry

An aspiring inventor often hears ads on TV and on the radio offering help for patenting and/or marketing inventions. Be extremely careful who you hire to help commercialize an idea. There are a lot of scams out there. This blog is the story of what has befallen a large number of uninformed inventors that hired American Inventors Corporation (AIC) to help them obtain patents. This story is from the 1990's, but just recently one of the patent attorneys complicit in the AIC scam was barred from prosecuting patents.

AIC solicited individuals to submit their ideas and offered a free patent search. They would tell each potential client that their idea had great commercial potential, and in a sales presentation offer to help the customer obtain a patent and then to promote the patent to manufacturers. In a contract signed by the customer AIC claimed they would obtain a "patent" for the customer for a fixed fee or a fee plus a percentage of royalties. The fee was refundable if a patent did not issue. No mention was made of the type of patent to be obtained. AIC was to hire a patent attorney or patent agent, and to supervise the application process. Direct communication between the customer and patent attorney was discouraged. When a patent application had been drafted, the company presented it to the customer for signature. Sound good?

AIC would forward the inventors disclosure to a patent attorney , Leon Gilden, requesting a design patent. A design patent protects only the decorative features of a product and does not protect the structural or utilitarian features. The patent attorney added decorative features to drawings on the customer's application (drawings the inventor did not submit) and filed design patents. Thus the customer did not get the patent protection of his idea that he sought and thought was getting. The design patents, which inevitably issued, were worthless.

The patent attorney, Leon Gilden, was punished for taking part in this scam with a 5 month suspension of his licence to represent clients before the patent office. AIC then hired another patent attorney, S. Michael Bender, to prepare and prosecute over 1000 design patents, many left over from the Gilden fiasco. Bender has been excluded from prosecuting patents before the patent office in an appeal of such sentence by a lower court. To read the whole proceedings see:

As far as I know, the company has not been punished for this scam. If you have questions about the legitimacy of an invention promoter or need guidance in how to proceed with the invention process, I suggest you become a member at http://www.inventored.org/ which is an email forum. You can post a question that is sent to all members and you will get answers by email.

Until the next post,

Vernon Sandel