Friday, January 24, 2014

"The World Is Better Than It Has Ever Been"

Twenty years ago, I was staunchly a member of Team Steve, and thought that members of Team Bill were evil, wicked, dishonest, thieves, and greedy, self-centered monopolists.  Much to my surprise, Bill and Melinda Gates have established a foundation to address many of the world's most pressing problems, and, because they are not government operated, they have had tremendous success.  I am publicly congratulating Bill and Melinda for their work to make the world a better place, and for their "Giving Project."  This letter should be mandatory reading for every American, especially for those pessimists who think the world is getting worse all the time.  Read this and read P.J. O'Rourke's new book, The Baby Boom, and go to bed happy because you are living at a time when the world is better off than it's ever been.

Introduction to the Annual Letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

"By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. That’s why in this year’s letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same. 

- Bill Gates"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fail Better

Congratulations to Stan Wawrinka for persevering and finally winning against Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.  You can say you don't believe in affirmations or in visualization, but everyone is talking about Stan's "code."

This is what is tattooed on his left arm (right where he can see it at a glance):

                      "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better."
                                                                            Samuel Becket

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's Just Common Sense

If you pay attention to the posts that show up on Facebook and in other media, it seems there are three issues that beg for government attention, but that don't seem to get any.  First is gun violence, of course.  The second is the heroin epidemic.  And third, increasing income inequality.  And it's not for lack of solutions.  There are solutions that work - in other places.  This writer specifies one way to address the heroin problem, but so far, it's not widespread.  Is it that there is too much money in treating addicts as criminals?  What do you think?

To the Editor NYTimes:
Re “In Annual Speech, Vermont Governor Shifts Focus to Drug Abuse” (news article, Jan. 9):

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s State of the State Message about addiction brought deserved attention to this national public health crisis. We agree that greater access to treatment, instead of criminal penalties, will save lives and money.

The most effective treatment for opioid addiction entails the use of medications, specifically, methadone or buprenorphine. While New York City has many methadone programs and buprenorphine prescribers, medication-assisted treatment remains stigmatized and is still not at the scale needed.
Furthermore, because opioid painkillers most frequently originate with prescriptions, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s safe opioid prescribing guidelines help prescribers prevent new cases of addiction.

The crisis of opioid addiction and overdose is one we can address. Effective addiction treatment that is integrated into mainstream health care, along with policies that promote treatment and not punishment, can reverse the problem in New York City and across the country.

New York, Jan. 17, 2014

The writer is the departing health commissioner for New York City.