The Morning Grumpy – 2/25/13

25 Feb

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

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1. Late last year, Kaleida Health announced that the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital would be transformed into a Veterinary College upon Kaleida moving its operations to the growing Buffalo Medical Campus.

Supporters of the project, such as Oregon attorney and consultant Mark Cushing, point out, there are only 27 veterinary colleges in the entire country.

“Veterinary schools are very expensive. The capital costs are prohibitive. The American population almost doubled, and it added one more vet school in a 25-year time period. The pet population exploded, we added one more vet school,” Cushing said.

Yesterday, The New York Times published an expose on the crushing costs of veterinary education at for-profit schools and called into question whether or not a city would want to invest in such an endeavor.

For years, the veterinary medical association contended that the United States needed more vets, not fewer, especially in rural areas. To support this view, in 2007, the organization helped underwrite a study, hoping to bolster a call for government assistance to help meet a putative shortfall of 15,000 vets by 2024.

The results, released last year, came to a strikingly different conclusion. Titled “Assessing the Current and Future Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine” and conducted under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found little evidence of vet shortages. It also concluded that “the cost of veterinary education is at a crisis point.”

So, a shrinking career field in which fewer and fewer vets are finding work, coupled with crushing tuition rates, especially at the for-profit colleges at which the aforementioned Mr. Cushing is a consultant.

That is a common sentiment among working vets, many of whom say the job market is the worst they have seen. But the deans of many vet schools see growth and opportunities, and one of them is Dr. Elaine Watson of Ross, the only profit-making vet school accredited by the veterinary medical association. Some vets and professors say the school, which is owned by DeVry Inc., a publicly traded educational company based in New Jersey, is a vivid example of all that has gone haywire for aspiring doctors of veterinary medicine, or D.V.M.’s, as they are known.

I suspect that a few years from now, we’ll be wishing that Kaleida Health had chosen the Uniland proposal for the former hospital site which featured a mixed-use residential and office space project rather than a presumed for-profit veterinarian factory.

2. An inspiring story about V.F.W. Post 12097 in Tonawanda.

The post, officially called the Dorothy Kubik/Katherine Galloway Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12097, has a membership of 24 women and 8 men. Officials say it is the only current V.F.W. post that was specifically created for women in the military. Its members are concerned mainly with education and health care.

Randi K. Law, a spokeswoman at the V.F.W.’s national headquarters, said the post was believed to be the only existing one that “was founded to address the current needs of women veterans.” Of the organization’s 1.6 million members, she added, only 12,130 were women. The nation’s first V.F.W. Post geared toward women was created in Topeka, Kan., in 1995 and lasted six years, officials said.

Culture changes as time marches on.

3. It would be nice to see a change in tone on the national news when debating issues of national policy. Perhaps it would serve our pundits and news readers well to look outside the beltway and frequently reference what the American people actually have to say about an issue.

In the poll from USA Today/Pew Research Center, 71% of Americans back increasing the minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25 currently, with 26% opposed. The plan, introduced by Mr. Obama in his State of the Union address, has 87% support among Democrats and 68% support among independents. Among Republicans, 50% back the measure, with 47% opposed.

People who identified themselves as agreeing with the tea party opposed the minimum wage measure 64% to 32%.

Of course, it’s much simpler to let John Boehner or other talking heads presume they speak for the American people or to listen to the angry white gun and religion clinger olds of the Tea Party. Even though Republicans were soundly beaten in the Presidential election and more total votes were cast for Democrats in 2012 House elections. The arguments against a raise in the minimum wage have been heard before. Less jobs!  Higher prices!  Decrease in demand! 

Mind you, these arguments were used when workers wanted 8 hour workdays, when workers wanted mandatory lunch breaks, when workers wanted weekends off, when workers wanted vacations, when workers wanted safe working conditions, when employers would have to pay everyone the same regardless of race or gender, when it came to workers wanting to unionize and every other time the minimum wage has been raised. I guess losing the same argument every time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still make it. Ponderous.

4. Abstinence education and red state values stink as a means to keeping teens from getting pregnant. But, you already knew that.

The teen birth rate is nearly one-third higher in rural areas of the United States than it is in more populous areas of the country, and teen pregnancy rates have been much slower to decline in rural counties over the past decade, according to a new study from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Between 1990 and 2010, the birth rate dropped 49 percent for teens in major urban centers and 40 percent for teens in suburban areas — but just 32 percent for adolescents who live in rural counties. While teens across the country have largely been having less sex and using more contraception, teens in rural areas have actually been having more sex and using birth control less frequently. It’s not clear why that’s the case, but it could partly be because teens in rural areas still lack access to a range of comprehensive contraceptive services.

If you’ve seen the film “Idiocracy” or Honey Boo-Boo, you know why this particular statistic is troubling.

5. Why is health care so expensive?

The American health care market has transformed tax-exempt “nonprofit” hospitals into the towns’ most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions’ most richly compensated executives. And in our largest cities, the system offers lavish paychecks even to midlevel hospital managers, like the 14 administrators at New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who are paid over $500,000 a year, including six who make over $1 million.

Sounds familiar.

Taken as a whole, these powerful institutions and the bills they churn out dominate the nation’s economy and put demands on taxpayers to a degree unequaled anywhere else on earth. In the U.S., people spend almost 20% of the gross domestic product on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries. Yet in every measurable way, the results our health care system produces are no better and often worse than the outcomes in those countries.

This is a fascinating long read, set aside the time to digest it properly.

Fact Of The Day:  In WWII The US would have had their 3rd Nuclear weapon ready for use by Aug. 19 (4 days after Surrender). Their next target would have been Tokyo.

Quote Of The Day:  “Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” –Ron Swanson

Video Of The Day:  After witnessing the annual cloud of smug that emanates from Oscar acceptance speeches, how about we go to the greatest acceptance speech of all time, from Mr. Rogers.

Song Of The Day: “Lucky You” – The National

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

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3 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 2/25/13”

  1. Brian Castner February 25, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Glad you found that vet article in the Times – it is like us to ride the trailing edge of the wave, not the leading one. I’ll buy you a beer if there is a actually a vet program there in 5 years.

    • KBuffalo February 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

       How sad is it in WNY that it’s more surprising when a proposed and highly publicized project actually goes ahead than when it stalls out? I remember last year, when we read talk of a new restaurant by the Naval and Serviceman’s Park all winter long, how surprised I was to go down there in May and actually see it open for business. When I heard about that vet program, I just assumed that five years from now, the building would still be sitting empty.

  2. Michael Rebmann February 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Re #3:  Perhaps in this grand age of equality, we should try something unique.  We could allow work performance become the primary factor for determining a person’s wage.  That could pose a problem though, people might have the incentive to work twice as hard, make more money, and put some poor schmuck out of work.

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