Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Temporary Attitude Adjustment

Because I didn't have to got to work this morning (a good thing, because the latest storm has swept in and, once again, it is pouring rain), I decided to look for the silver lining in the cloud that has been hovering over me and the rest of the nation for so long. I went looking for some good news. I found a few items that qualified.

First, the 2010 Census:

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is calling the 2010 census a success, saying it saved more money than expected.

Locke spoke at a press conference Tuesday to announce the 2010 results. He says the census ended up spending $1.87 billion less than expected, in part because of a strong participation rate.

That figure is higher than the original $1.6 billion in cost savings announced in August.

Any government project that comes in under budget should be lauded. Well done, Mr. Locke. In addition to the cost savings, however, was the semi-good news that 74% of the public cooperated in the survey. I would have preferred a much higher number, but at least we matched the level of the 2000 census. It's as if Michelle Bachman didn't exist.

Next on the list (and this is a biggie) is the passage by Congress of a food safety bill:

The legislation is aimed at preventing tainted food from entering the supply chain, then sickening Americans and forcing massive recalls. It would give the FDA new power to demand recalls and require importers to certify the safety of what they're bringing into this country.

The bill would give the FDA, which is responsible for overseeing about 80% of the nation's food supply, the authority to require domestic food producers to draw up detailed plans to ensure the safety of their products.

Domestic companies also would have to make their records available more quickly to the FDA, and the agency would be directed to inspect production facilities more frequently -- a process now so inadequate that many plants are not checked for years at a time.

Giving the FDA more teeth (and hopefully more money to go along with the enhanced powers) is a wonderful first step in securing our food supply. The food corporations took a big hit on this: they spent big dollars on lobbying against such oversight and lost and now they'll have to start spending money cleaning up their filthy practices.

The last on this very short list is news on regulating health care premiums:

Pushing to restrain skyrocketing health insurance premiums, the Obama administration Tuesday set out new rules requiring insurers to justify any increase of more than 10% a year.

And administration officials outlined new efforts to increase federal review of premiums if state regulators do not have the capacity to protect consumers.

The new regulations should stop some of the more egregious hikes planned by the rapacious health insurers, but at least it's something. After requiring all Americans to get health insurance, the insurance company assumed they'd have free rein on the issue of what they could charge their captive market. Not so.

It's still raining outside, but at least my blood pressure has settled somewhat. I'll continue fussing about things later.

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