Consulo Indicium - 1/27/22

Information for your Consideration…

On The Lighter Side (Or, Have We Already Been There This Week?) – I don’t know about you but with everything that’s going on in the world, I’m always interested in something a bit lighter than the latest news about COVID-19, or political infighting, or the risk of conflict with Russia, or, or, or… So, it was heartening (Uhum…a bad metaphor to use for this news) to learn about George Crum who in 1853 had the opportunity to feed Cornelius Vanderbilt at his restaurant – Moon’s Lake House – in Saratoga Springs, New York. Vanderbilt ordered fried potatoes and when they arrived he quickly sent them back to the kitchen because they were “too thick”. Evidently, Moon’s was busy that day but in a fit of fury, Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as he could cut them, fried them up and sent them out. Vanderbilt was tipped over with joy at the delicacy. And so, the “potato chip” was created. But, it wasn’t the first. In 1817, an English physician – William Kitchiner, MD – published The Cook’s Oracle, a cookbook that contained a recipe for “potatoes fried in slices or shavings”. But, it was Crum who made the potato chip popular in the USA. Now, to the point. Americans consume about 1.85 billion pounds of potato chips on a yearly basis or, about 6.6 pounds per person. Actually, I think the per person count might be a bit high since I am a massive Utz Potato Chip eater…

Teenagers Step Up To Support Emergency Care For A Rural New York Town – Perhaps you heard about this on NPR. If so, you can skip ahead. If not, read on… In many of the rural areas around the country, there has been a growing crisis of not only a shortage of physicians, nurses, and others. One of the under-reported areas is among the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) which are in short supply. National Public Radio (NPR) recently ran a report about rural Sackets Harbor, N.Y., where high school students have stepped up to answer the call in support of emergency care. Unlike the urban areas, emergency services  in rural areas are almost always managed by volunteers.  Due to the health concerns about contracting COVID-19 from unvaccinated patients, in many of the rural areas the “elder” EMTs have stepped away from their volunteer role of answering emergent calls. In Sackets Harbor, NY the volunteer EMT system was not particularly overloaded with about one call a day. However, the volunteer staff had slowly melted away as a result of the pandemic. So, a group of teenagers – all under the age of 21 – stepped up to create a trained, volunteer squad to staff the local EMT program. Their response brought back some memories when I served as an EMT after serving for a bunch of my junior years (i.e. <18) as an orderly. I also had the experience of serving as an EMT trainer for colleagues from rural areas as part of a special new initiative in the 1970s – the farmers, truck drivers, store clerks and others who would go on to staff these their communities on a volunteer basis. Of our crew of trainers, three of us went on to medical school. I’m hoping that among the Sackets Harbor group we will see several future physicians or other health care providers down the road. So, kudos for the young team at Sackets Harbor!! 

What Do The Polls Say? – Up above I pointed you to Andy Kessler’s editorial in The Wall Street Journal where he compares what Mr. Redd (a Republican) and Mr. Bleu (a Democrat) consider to be the top social issues facing the USA. The folks at Vistage – a leading executive coaching and leadership development organization – prepared an analysis of the current thinking in American society based on various online polls which suggest that Americans care most about the following ten (10) issues. Their results of the Vistage analysis were used with my editorial distillation:

  1. Poverty – There are more Americans are living in poverty today than at any time since the 1990s. The poverty rate in 2019 was 10.5%. It increased in 2020 to 11.4%. Do we think that maybe the pandemic had something to do with it?
  2. Civil rights – The Black Lives Matter protests across the nation attracted between 15 - 26 million participants – or, the largest protests in our nation’s history exceeding those of the Vietnam era (my generation).
  3. Pollution – While China is #1 in producing greenhouse gases, the USA is #2! In the 2021 “State of the Air” report published by the American Lung Association more than 40% of Americans currently live in locales with unhealthy levels of pollution. And, that’s just the gases. There’s also lots of other pollution contributing to the global climate dissolution.
  4. Education – This is a topic that gets a lot of attention across the spectrum especially as it relates to curricular content in public schools and the cost of tuition for universities. The states comprise 44% of funding for education in the USA but the results are underwhelming. For example, the number of graduating seniors who have mastered reading and math is less than 40%. There is also talk of free Community College by the Biden Administration to set the bar a bit higher for everyone. I must admit, it’s one of my issues. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the education I’ve been privileged to obtain. PS – Thanks for pushing me, Mr. Moreland[1]!
  5. Affordable Housing:More than 11 million U.S. households spend over half their monthly income on rent – if its available. In many places, the shortage of adequate housing presents a real problem.
  6. Homelessness:Making the issue Affordable Housing even more tragic is the increasing level of homelessness across the USA. Over half a million people are now homeless. Solutions are slow in coming and it’s a problem that is increasingly ubiquitous.
  7. Health Care Reform:While some analysts are predicting a deceleration in health care spending (e.g. Deloitte), it will likely only evolve through a dramatic change in the way we pay for health care services. There is a very large cohort of elders (i.e. me and my friends) entering the Medicare pool that will place significant pressure on the health care system (SEE above discussion). We need a very serious discussion about moving health care toward a value-based payment model to support a sustainable health care system.
  8. Terrorism:The US Department of Homeland Security released a report on terrorism in November, 2021, stating: “The Homeland continues to face a diverse and challenging threat environment as it approaches several religious holidays and associated mass gatherings that in the past have served as potential targets for acts of violence. These threats include those posed by individuals and small groups…including domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences.”
  9. Climate change:The World Meteorological Organization has projected a 40% chance that the Earth will cross the 1.5-degree increase in temperature threshold by 2026. Why? It’s due to the impact on the environment which has been broad and sweeping.
  10. Racism:Opinions on the severity of racism and its impacts across society are mixed. As one outcome, the polls reveal the percent of Americans with an unfavorable impression of police has increased from 18% (2019) to 31% (2020) in just one year. But, racism runs far deeper than just the police. It is an endemic problem where we can only resolve through continuing vigalence – from everyone! 

Americans Seek ACA Coverage Ahead of Deadline – Nearly 14M Americans signed up for ACA coverage ahead of the deadline. The and state-based marketplaces were very active up to the deadline date of January 15, 2022. In fact, the increase in enrollment outpaced prior years with the help of a 20+% increase in plan options individuals could seek.


[1] Mr. Moreland was my high science teacher. When I told him that I intended to go to medical school, he looked at me and responded by offering, “Not if you don’t study young man! You’ll never make it.” Wow – what a stimulus!!

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