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The [Thursday] Papers

1. Mary Mitchell says it so I don't have to.

2. Expecting insight about race from Neil Steinberg is like expecting insight about the Constitution from Dick Cheney.

3. Even Jonah Goldberg has bailed.

4. "Friday Classes Limit Student Drinking on Thursday," USA Today reports. Actually, if you read the story, it's the other way around: Thursday drinking limits Friday classes. And that's the way it should be.

5. At least young people have an excuse. They're still in school - and only four days a week. What's the adults' excuse?

6. Obedience must be absolute.

7. When Sun-Times editor-in-chief Michael Cooke says in a memo that went out on Wednesday that editorial page editor Steve Huntley "has brought honor to our newspaper,' does he mean the time he went along with the endorsement of Todd Stroger because publisher John Cruickshank made a business decision to try to win back black readers (and promised without any authority that the paper would assign extra reporters to cover Stroger), or did he mean the recurring times he got the facts wrong in the Valerie Plame affair even though his own columnist, Robert Novak, was centrally involved?

The memo announced that Huntley is leaving the job to become a senior columnist. I don't know if he was pushed aside. Perhaps it was a business decision.

Books editor Cheryl Reed, who has only been in that job for a year, will replace Huntley, who will stay on the editorial board.

8. Is Ald. Brendan Reilly moving toward a plan to save the Lake Shore Athletic Club and push for its re-use rather than destruction? That's the latest word on the street. And here's what Reilly tells architecture writer Lynn Becker:

"I think there has to be a very compelling case made to tear down historically significant buildings to replace them with new structures. I would say that Chicago has precious few historic buildings still standing today, and it's in the community's best interest to have a good mix of old and new. That's one reason why the Lake Shore Athletic Club issue in my ward is weighing very heavily in my mind and I've spent the last month meeting with local residents, and explore all potential options for that property. I'll be making an announcement by the end of this week . . . . I have asked Northwestern University to voluntarily extend the deadline for their request for a demolition permit for that property, and I'm waiting to hear back from them. (Reilly said he's looking to extend the demolition moratorium by some 60 days to fully vent this plan.')"

9. A question from The Huffington Post for the Democratic presidential candidates tonight: Why are you against a single-payer health care system?

"The first pillar of the system - private insurance - is an inherently flawed means of providing health care. First, the incentive of a private insurance company is to find ways to deny needed care - the less care provided for the same premiums, the higher the profits and the bigger the salaries and bonuses of their top executives. So private health insurance companies pay huge staffs to review claims and deny coverage. Michael Moore's Sicko shows horrifying examples of people who actually have health insurance coverage but suffer from lack of care because insurance companies wrongly denied their claim, and presents eloquent testimony from former insurance company employees about how they were promoted and award bonuses for finding ways to reject coverage.

"Second, private health insurance involves a colossal waste of money. Nearly 1/3 of private health insurance premiums go to administrative costs of underwriting (i.e. turning down insurance applications from consumers who might actually need to use their insurance), claims processing (i.e. denying as many claims as possible), marketing and advertising, plus shareholder profits and multi-million dollar executive salaries and bonuses. By contrast, Medicare's administrative run approximately 2-3% of costs. At the same time, to deal with numerous different insurance companies and their varying claims procedures, doctors and hospitals have to employ large staffs, not to provide care, but just to process insurance claims. Approximately 20% of doctor's income goes to the overhead of processing insurance. It has been estimated that approximately $350 billion a year of health care dollars goes to administrative costs. Saving most of these costs alone could pay to insure the tens of millions of uninsured Americans in a Medicare-For-All system.

"Moreover, the second pillar of the system - employer-provided health insurance - is collapsing. No less a businessman than the chairman of Ford Motor Company stated that employee health costs are 'the biggest issue on our plate that we can't solve. Health care is out of control. It's a system that's broke.'"

I don't know if single-payer is the way to go, but it seems to me conservative business interests and liberal policy wonks should agree that employer-based health care ought to be jettisoned - it's bringing everyone down. A private-based for-profit system is only workable if competition actually breeds better service and lower costs. And a government-based (or at least mandated) system is the only one that can guarantee universal coverage. At least that's what it seems like to me.

10. "If Cook County were a business, the board would be taking steps to remove [Todd] Stroger from office," Bob Reed writes. "In reality, we know that's not going to happen. In fact, there's real doubts that a legal mechanism even exists within Cook County government bylaws to impeach or remove a board president.

11. "Oprah to Open Store."

* Self-Esteem: $49.95 (one week's supply).
* Nostrums: $5.95 each.
* Old-time religion: $20 per visit.
* Snake oil tall/grande: $12.99/$14.99.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Now at a discount.


Posted on June 28, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike An Old Story.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Kanye, Chili, Jimmy, Tarik.

BOOKS - Conway Barbour & The Black Middle Class.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Recall! Malone's Pork Head Cheese.

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