Friday, March 28, 2014


From Thom Hartmann's 3/26 report: need to know this. All around the world, people are talking about a basic minimum income, and what they're saying makes a lot of economic sense. Regardless of whether you want to fight poverty, stimulate the economy, shrink the size of government, or simply ensure everyone has a sense of human dignity – you should be calling for a no-strings-attached basic income for all. Since it's inception, Social Security has been incredibly successful at fighting poverty. So rather than slashing it, or means-testing it, we should expand it to every American. In addition to helping low-income workers, a basic income would provide a huge boost to our economy. When people have money to spend, demand increases, and businesses see faster growth and higher profits. Even those who believe that the size of government is our biggest problem should be all-in-favor of a minimum income for all Americans. Rather than administering a huge patchwork of overlapping social programs, our nation could save time and money by simply issuing every citizen a monthly check. A basic minimum income makes sense economically, and it could lead to important social benefits too. Crime rates would likely decrease because people wouldn't need to steal to survive. More Americans would have the opportunity to raise families or complete their education when they're not working three jobs just to get by. And, a minimum income would ensure that no one would be denied their basic human dignity by being forced to live in squalor in the richest nation of the face of the Earth. These are not extreme ideas. When you consider the economic, social, and moral benefits, a basic minimum income just makes sense.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What The U.S. Can Learn

The Los Angeles Times reports on a March 11th Senate hearing on single payer health care (viewable in CSPAN full here).  In the video below, and a highlight described by Michael Hiltzik, Dr. Danielle Martin, a physician and health policy professor from Toronto "bats down the myths and misunderstandings about the Canadian system" that Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) throws at her, concluding with a confrontation about the 45,000 Americans who die every year because they have no health coverage.

A full transcript of the exchange is provided at the article link.  "Premier Williams" is Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, whose decision to have a heart valve procedure near his Miami condo instead of Canada, "is widely viewed in Canada as a rich man's failure to investigate the care available to him closer to home."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), also seen in the video, asked seven experts to testify before his subcommittee on primary health and aging, and on single payer systems in Canada and other countries. Tsung-Mei Cheng, a health policy analyst with Princeton University provided a 28 page overview of single payer, and the sharp contrasts between the U.S. and other nations.  Among the speakers presenting on specific nations, Victor Rodwin spoke about France, Ching-Chuan Yeh on Taiwan, Danielle Martin on Canada, and Jakob Kjellberg on Denmark.  (Their presentations can be found in full here with links at the bottom of the page.)

A short video of some moments from the hearing:

Here's a short 2009 video of Canadians speaking about their health care system:


Also in recent single payer news, and via Physicians for a National Health Program, the Maine Medical Association has announced results of a state wide membership survey on single payer support.  

The survey asked:  
When considering the topic of health care reform, would you prefer to make improvements to the current public/private system or a single-payer system such as a “Medicare for all” approach?
Nearly 65 percent of the responding physicians support a single payer "Medicare for all" approach to improving the current system, a 12 percent jump in support since 2008 and the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

At present, a March 31st 2014 deadline looms for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act, with subsidies for qualifying persons.

More information on how to apply at the White House website


From the Urbana Poetry Slam, poets Jon Sands, Nicole Homer, Jeanann Verlee and Jared Singer perform their group piece My Body (is a Prayer) at the Bowery Poetry Club in 2009.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Amaretto Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies oatmeal chocolate chip cookies


cookie sheet or pan, covered (or not) with foil
large mixing bowl
sturdy mixing spoon
smaller mixing bowl
fork or egg beater


1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg
1/3 cup of canola oil, and another 1-2 tablespoons
1 shot of amaretto


1.  preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  spread foil on cookie sheet or baking pan bottom, spread 2 tablespoons canola oil on bottom to "grease."

3.  mix your dry ingredients together in the large mixing bowl.

4.  beat your egg with the rest of the canola oil and amaretto.

5.  add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, using your hands (clean, of course) for convenience.

6.  then shape 9-12 cookies and lay them out on the foiled pan.

7.  bake for about 17-20 minutes, depending on your oven and the size you have selected.

Cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan;  enjoy!

Serve with milk, coffee or tea.


Amaretto, the key ingredient I added to this recipe, is  described by wiki as a sweet, almond flavored Italian liquer made from a base of apricot pits or almonds .. and sometimes both .. the legend being ..

In 1525, a Saronno church commissioned artist Bernardino Luini, one of Leonardo da Vinci's pupils, to paint their sanctuary with frescoes.[4] As the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Luini needed to depict the Madonna, but was in need of a model. He found his inspiration in a young widowed innkeeper, who became his model and (in most versions) lover. Out of gratitude and affection, the woman wished to give him a gift. Her simple means did not permit much, so she steeped apricot kernels in brandy and presented the resulting concoction to a touched Luini.
For a variation of this recipe, leave out the oatmeal.  You can also use about 1/2 the semi-sweet chocolate chips (more manageable!).  For even more flavor, add some walnut dust (from the bottom of the walnut bag), or crush up a walnut or two very fine, and mix in.

For more amaretto recipes, try my decadent hot cocoa.

-- o.s.r.

*photo credit, top, via wikipedia, "Adoration of the Magi," detached fresco by Bernardino Luini, 1520-25 (Musée du Louvre); bottom, via wikipedia, photographer: Father of Nehrams2020, "An almond shaker shaking a tree during harvest. The first image shows the shaker grabbing onto the tree, and the second shows the shaker knocking the almonds off the tree."