Canadian Healthcare Failing Canadians – Part I

 

Democrats are undeterred by recent news of the failing Canadian healthcare system. Already, Democratic presidential hopeful Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kamala Harris (CA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) have all endorsed a single-payer healthcare system like Canada. Some states, like California and New York, are considering similar state single-payer systems, despite the demise of such efforts in Senator Sanders’ home state of Vermont.

It is clear they are impervious to real world results where this system is currently in use. In an earlier post, Canada’s Long Wait Times for Healthcare, I discussed the recent findings of the Fraser Institute of Canada in its annual report. This documented median waiting times of 21.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment. The Fraser Institute has been tracking these times since 1993 and 2017 was the worst year on record.

Sally Pipes, president of Pacific Research Institute, writes in Forbes that things are getting worse. Currently, more than one million Canadians are waiting for healthcare treatment, approximately 3% of their population. She says Canadian healthcare was supposed to provide “universal coverage.” Instead it only provides universal access to a waiting list.

It is often referred to as “free healthcare.” But in reality this “free healthcare” costs Canadians with a family of four more than $12,000 to cover their share of the costs. On top of this, the system costs an estimated $1.7 billion per year in lost wages and time. All that expense just to get on a waiting list!

The Impact on Doctors

Doctors are leaving Canada in droves. Orthopedic surgeons make less than half of their counterparts in the U.S. As a result, many doctors are moving to America. Others who were considering careers in medicine have chosen other careers. The result is doctor shortages that only exacerbate the waiting problem.

Rather than increase doctors’ pay, the Canadian government encourages international medical graduates who are willing to work in the system at lower wages. Since cost control is the major motivating factor, the government would rather use inferiorly trained doctors who will work for less.

All this has had no impact on the opinions of Democrats like Senator Sanders who said, “How is it that here in Canada they provide quality health care to all people . . . and they do it at half the cost?”

Apparently Senator Sanders doesn’t mind waiting over five months for his healthcare – but we all know he doesn’t subject himself to such delays personally. They’re only acceptable for everyone else.

 

(For more on single-payer healthcare, see Archives or plug in the word “Single-Payer” in the Search My Posts box.)

Smartphones – Are They Safe for Children?

 

Smartphones can be hazardous to your health – especially if you are a child. Smartphones are the latest challenge for parents. Are they really safe?

Here are just a few of the hazards of giving children smartphones:

  • Video game addiction
  • Pornography
  • On-line bullying – sometimes leading to suicide
  • Predatory strangers
  • Compromised school performance

 

Betsy Morris, reporting in The Wall Street Journal, says, “When to allow children a smartphone has become among the most pivotal of parental decisions in the decade since Apple Inc.’s IPhone remade daily habits.”

Here are some alarming statistics:

  • Nearly 75% of teenagers have access to smartphones (2015 Pew Research Study)
  • They unlock the devices about 95 times per day on average (research by Verto Analytics)
  • They spend close to nine hours/day tethered to their screens (research by Common Sense Media)

 

Parents need to understand that the companies that produce smartphones make money, not just when you purchase the phone, but when your child uses the phone. The more time your child spends looking at the phone, the more money they make. To encourage more use these companies produce algorithms that track what sites users frequent and then steer them toward similar sites as much as possible.

Morris says the goal of companies like Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and others is to create or host captivating experiences that keep users glued to their screens, whether for Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat or Facebook. The business model is so simple even a child can understand it; the more screen time, the more revenue.

As a result, “average time spent” is a tech-industry metric that drives advertising rates and stock prices. Snapchat users 25 and younger, for example, were spending 40 minutes per day on the app, Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said last August. Alphabet Inc. (owner of Google) boasted to investors recently that YouTube’s 1.5 billion users were spending an average 60 minutes a day on their mobile devices.

These companies are now targeting children younger than ever. The number of YouTube Kids users is soaring. Facebook recently launched a new messaging app called Messenger Kids, which is aimed at children as young as six years old. Despite the parental controls provided by these apps, many parents are overwhelmed.

Children can be relentless in pressuring their parents to conform with what other parents are doing. Parents feel guilty if their children seem “deprived” of this modern technology their peers are enjoying. Many parents are in denial, believing whatever their children tell them about their smartphone usage.

Children set up Instagram accounts under pseudonyms that friends but not parents recognize. Some teens keep several of these so-called “Finsta” accounts without their parents knowing. An app called Secret Calculator looks and works like an IPhone calculator but actually doubles as a private vault to hide files, photos and videos. Another app called Photomath allows users to point an IPhone camera at an algebra problem and the app solves it.

What price do children pay when parents give in?

Morris says serious troubles loom when parents give in. From the exchange of sexually explicit photographs or messages – which experts refer to as modern day flirting – to what the American Psychiatric Association calls “Internet Gaming Disorder” among gamers unable to pull away from their screens.

The problems many children face when they become regular smartphone users can be deadly. About 16% of the nation’s high school students were bullied online in 2015 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children who are cyber-bullied are three times more likely to commit suicide, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics in 2014.

The decision to allow your child to have a smartphone must be taken seriously. Allowing a child to have a smartphone opens them to a whole world of influence parents cannot control. As a parent, are you willing to take that risk?

 

(For more information, read the full article by Betsy Morris by clicking on the link to The Wall Street Journal.)

Oprah’s “Truth” Can Be Dangerous

 

Oprah Winfrey is the latest hope of the Democratic Party. It seems the Trump era has made other celebrities believe they could be president, too.

Oprah recently won the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe award night. In her acceptance speech she said, “Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

This was well received by her audience of other Hollywood celebrities but Oprah’s brand of “truth” should give pause to those who take her political ambitions seriously. That’s the advice of Julie Gunlock writing in The Wall Street Journal. Ms. Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s forum and leads the organization’s Culture of Alarmism Project.

Gunlock calls attention to the vaccine hysteria that heavily influenced many parents to avoid vaccinating their children to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). False information about a supposed connection between MMR vaccination and autism was the cause of this hysteria. The source of this hysteria was The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Discredited Research

In 1998, a British doctor Andrew Wakefield published an article in the respected medical journal The Lancet. Wakefield did intestinal biopsies on 12 children with intestinal symptoms and developmental disorders, 10 of whom were autistic, and found intestinal inflammation. The parents of 8 of the autistic children believed their symptoms began after receiving the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The published paper clearly said, “We did not find an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.”

However, despite this disclaimer in the paper, Wakefield held a press conference to say the MMR vaccine probably caused autism and he recommended stopping MMR vaccinations. Instead, he recommended giving the vaccinations separately at intervals of a year or more.

Wakefield’s analysis was thoroughly discredited later and he was found to have done questionable research on other subjects as well. The Lancet retracted his original paper. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, described the original paper as “fatally flawed” and apologized for publishing it. Ten of the original 12 co-authors published a retraction stating:

“We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between the vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient. However, the possibility of a link was raised, and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent.”

Yet, despite the discreditation of this research, Oprah allowed actress Jenny McCarthy to appear on her top-rated talk show and spin her tale of her son’s autism being caused by a recent MMR vaccination. Oprah read a brief statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which accurately stated vaccines “protect and save lives.” However, she did nothing otherwise to challenge the claims of her guest, Ms. McCarthy.

She also failed to mention that major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association affirm the safety of vaccines. When Ms. McCarthy was asked about her own expertise on the subject she replied, “My science is my son Evan. That’s my science.”

McCarthy became a regular on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other programs including “The Doctors”, “The Larry King Show”, “Ellen”, and “The Rosie Show”. The approval she received from Oprah also landed her a season-long place on “The View.” Here she continued to promote her false message about vaccines.

Measles is not an innocuous disease. Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became available in the U. S., there were more than 500,000 reported measles cases every year, according to the CDC. On average, 432 cases a year resulted in death. By the year 2000 the number of cases had dwindled to 86 and the number of deaths zero.

But the disease made a comeback, thanks in no small part to false information from celebrities like McCarthy, with the aid of Oprah. In 2014 there were 667 cases reported. An outbreak of measles shut down Disneyland for a day. Parents should be aware that the risk of serious neurological disease following vaccination is one in 365,000 doses – but the risk of death with the disease is one or two in just 1,000.

Fortunately, the number of measles cases has been dropping since 2014 because the real truth about vaccine safety has gotten out. The number of cases declined in 2015 to 188, in 2016 to 86, with a slight up-tick in 2017 to 120.

The worst of this vaccine hysteria is hopefully behind us but this experience should not be forgotten when considering any political future for Oprah Winfrey.

 

(For more information on vaccines see previous posts The Vaccine Hysteria, Vaccination Fiction Still Promoted, Vaccination Progress.)