aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Medicare prescription drug plan fix
Progress. But nowhere near perfection.
A big bad glaring hole in the Medicare prescription drug program was a bizarre provision that allowed plans to drop medications during the course of the year as long as they gave 60 days notice. That’s changed:
The Bush administration issued a new policy on Wednesday that protects Medicare beneficiaries against the sudden loss of coverage for drugs they are taking under the prescription drug program.
Under the policy, insurers can still change their lists of covered drugs, known as formularies. But if they drop any drugs or impose new restrictions, they must exempt beneficiaries who are now taking those drugs.
Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, summarized the policy this way: “In general, a plan cannot change your coverage for the drugs you are using during the year. The stability of drug formularies is extremely important for many of our beneficiaries.”
Stability? This only means that now when the insurance company drops the drug you’re covered for the remainder of the year before you have to go through the arduous process of changing plans.
Policing teachers, more costs than benefits
I come from a family full of teachers. I believe there are two kinds of teachers accused of (or vulnerable to) accusations of sex abuse: guilty ones and good ones. So I was interested to find this in Salon today:
Administrators and school boards, spooked by a spate of high-profile school sex scandals and fearful of lawsuits, have begun cracking down on student-teacher relationships, despite charges from critics that they are succumbing to unwarranted sexual hysteria. This new censoriousness may protect students from inappropriate behavior, although the question of whether abuse itself is on the rise is hotly disputed. Many teachers and educational advocates worry that such changes also prevent teachers from reaching out to students—and ultimately create a stifling climate that gets in the way of engaged education. [...]
The cumulative result of the scandals—and the fear they have inspired—has been to discourage teachers from meeting with students alone or behind closed doors, having personal conversations, interacting with students off campus or offering them a ride in their cars, or engaging in any kind of physical contact—whether it be a maternal hug or a handshake.
Fear fueled by our own prurient fascination?
[T]here is an element to education, especially at the high school level and beyond, that at its best, is fundamentally intimate. When we talk about teachers who “make a difference,” they are usually not the people who barricade themselves behind their desks, and something essential is lost when all personal contact between teachers and students is ruled off-limits. The cases that make the news are black and white. But the dilemma lies in the gray areas where parents and educators face a collision of two positive imperatives, between the desire to protect their children from a small risk of sexual abuse and the desire to allow great teachers to do their jobs well. Isn’t it possible that a completely risk-free education—like a risk-free life—is also a mediocre one? [...]
As a veteran teacher, [professor of English literature and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut and editor of “The Erotics of Instruction,” a collection of essays about the role of desire and attraction in education Gina] Barreca is puzzled by the public’s frenzied reaction to teacher-student intimacy. “I want to know why all of a sudden we are so hysterical about this, what does this new concern reflect?” she asks. “Because these impulses have been there since Socrates! So this sudden focus on it really seems to be a deflection of a larger series of fears.”
Indeed, in a way that’s all too familiar, it’s hard to distinguish America’s fear of its youth being sexually abused from its prurient fascination with the subject. The headlines announce: ”Sextracurricular Perv-Teach Crisis,” “Sex Education With Hands-on Training” and “Hottie Pedophiles Deserve Prison Time, Too.” Tabloids and cable channels obsess over female teachers who prey on young boys: Mary Kay Letourneau, Christina Gallagher, Sandra Beth Geisel, Emily Morris and the rest of their ilk. And in a flourish reminiscent of pulp novels and pornos, this March, when former Florida middle school teacher and tabloid staple Debra Lafave was dismissed from charges of sexual abuse, Fox News accompanied its report with a photograph depicting Lafave stripped to her underwear, astride a motorcycle. In our hunt for inappropriate teacher-student liaisons, it seems terror has become mixed up with titillation.
Where/who is the Jane Jacobs of our time?
Jane Jacobs, the writer and thinker who brought penetrating eyes and ingenious insight to the sidewalk ballet of her own Greenwich Village street and came up with a book that challenged and changed the way people view cities, died today in Toronto, where she lived. She was 89.
She died at a Toronto hospital, said a distant cousin, Lucia Jacobs, who gave no specific cause of death.
In her book “Death and Life of Great American Cities,” written in 1961, Ms. Jacobs’s enormous achievement was to transcend her own withering critique of 20th-century urban planning and propose radically new principles for rebuilding cities. At a time when both common and inspired wisdom called for bulldozing slums and opening up city space, Ms. Jacobs’s prescription was ever more diversity, density and dynamism - in effect, to crowd people and activities together in a jumping, joyous urban jumble.
On NPR last night Robert Caro explained how she beat Robert Moses.
Today’s equivalent of the urban battles of the 60s is the internet/telecom/copyright fight. Just as communities lost every battle before the Lower Manhattan Expressway, we’ve been losing every battle to date.
We need today a Jane Jacobs-like figure who can inspire and mobilize us in that arena as effectively as Jane did in the urban arena. I like to believe we’ve just begun to fight.
Double parking, a religious freedom?
Pesky sacrilegious neighbors’ complaints about blocked streets are blocking religious freedom?
In the nation’s capital, where parking is scarce, churchgoers say plans to crack down on double-parking infringe on their religious rights.
Worshipers held a rally Sunday afternoon urging officials to let them continue a practice that has long been overlooked.
The D.C. Department of Transportation was planning to hand out warning tickets this weekend and real tickets starting in July, but officials now say they’ll review the enforcement program.
Cars have commonly been double-parked near DC churches on Sundays for decades, but police had largely ignored the practice until neighbors complained.
I have to note that my thoughtful Christian friends here would rue this misuse of the religious rights claim precisely because it gives secular liberals like me something to point to.
Sex toy ban in Georgia?
I’ve been seeing lots of bloggers post about the proposed sex toy ban in South Carolina, including this one from Wired’s Sex Drive Daily:
South Carolina’s legislature is considering banning the sale of sex toys in the state. If it does, it joins Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas in the desperate attempt to control what consenting adults do sexually.
There’s a ban in Georgia??? I don’t think so. Or if there is it’s not enforced.
This billboard in our little town uses the euphemistic “adult novelties.” Don’t you just love the ironic juxtaposition with the billboard beneath it?