This past September and October, my wife and I spent five weeks riding bicycles along the Rhine and Mosel rivers in Germany, France and Switzerland. We rode just over 500 miles during our trip. Many of the trails we cycled on were lined with big, beautiful trees – some native, some not. Trees next to the trail enhanced the riding experience, they provided shade on hot sunny days and they blocked the sights and sounds of nearly roads and urban development.
There were a lot of apple, pear and plum trees dropping fruit onto the trails; and there were sycamore trees dropping large leaves, bark strips and even a few branches onto the trails. Many of these trees were quite large and overhung the trails, yet we saw no evidence that trees were being cut down. In fact, we saw several places where trees were begin planted along the trails.
We knew the trees we rode under presented some hazards, but we can’t imagine ever advocating for their removal – it seems to us that a certain amount of risk is part of the bike-riding experience.
Help reshape the Plaza
Members of the newly-constituted Arcata Plaza Improvement Task Force are requesting Arcata residents to submit ideas on how to improve the safety and use of the Arcata Plaza. In particular, seniors and students seem to be particularly hesitant to spend time there. I’m sending out a call to seniors, via this letter, to ask you to send me your suggestions.
What would make you feel safer, or draw you there more frequently? I can be reached at [email protected]. Please put “Task Force” in your subject line so I will know to open it.
Any ideas on amenities we can add, or new ways to “occupy the Plaza” are welcome, including suggestions on what to put in place of the McKinley statute. Suggestion from anyone are welcome, of course.
McKinleyville is raising its service district rates again. It is not changing the subject to notice how changing our healthcare system will address this local issue. We know that one out of three Californians is either uninsured or underinsured – either without coverage or with a policy that has small print that comes back to bite the “insured.”
We know that our non-system of limited access directly results in bankruptcy, homelessness and even death to our citizens. Yet when the subject is raised about local activism to change the system many people dismiss the issue as something our Sacramento and Washington, D. C. legislators will handle and over which we have no control.
Wake up people! Our legislators are in the pockets of corporate insurance and pharmaceutical interests, taking in millions of dollars in donations to help them stay in power. Locally, we bear the brunt of having to support the hegemony these interests hold over each and every one of us. If we don’t understand this, we are doomed to continue spending $400,000 billion/year on health care in California (as reported by Assemblyman Wood’s Select Committee on Healthcare). It is estimated that figure will climb to half a trillion in less than a decade. If we do not demand change it simply will not happen.
In Humboldt County our governing bodies, county, city and even service districts spend millions of dollars each year to provide private healthcare policies to its employees (Humboldt County: $18 million; City of Eureka, $2.5 million; McKinleyville Services District, $700,000-plus; Willow Creek Service District, $70,000).
We all pay for these policies through local taxes and fees, which continue to climb necessitating the likes of Measure Z, Measure O and endless fee hikes for our basic needs. All this while we struggle to meet our own healthcare needs.
It’s time to stop feathering the nests of these private interests. A third of the money we spend on private policies (and much more on pharmaceuticals) goes to profit and administrative costs which add no value to health care. Instead, CEOs like Aetna’s Mark Bertolini, who enjoyed $160,000/day salary in 2017, rejoice.
It’s time to take the profit and overhead waste out of health care. Health care is a human right that should not be delivered to only the wealthy. And even if that opinion is not shared by all, everyone must acknowledge that it makes economic sense to move to a rational, transparent, unified system that will save our state and our local citizens billions of dollars (see SB 562 Pollin Report).
That system, of course, is some form of single payer, a delivery plan that has never been shown to cost more than any for-profit system. Publicly financed and privately administered, it is wholly unlike socialized medicine (such as the Veterans Administration) where government has control over healthcare providers.
With single payer, every citizen would have complete access to health care without regard to employment, financial or marital status or pre-existing conditions and would pay nothing at point of service. No more premiums, co-pays, out-of-pockets or deductibles. The small increase in sales or employer/employee fees to cover every resident from birth to death would be many hundred of dollars less than we individually pay now for health care.
We will not see this happen until people understand what it is and how it works. Grassroots education and demand is key—the mission of our local group, Health Care For All—California/Physicians for a National Health Program—Humboldt Chapters.
To this end we have made available the free publication, What If, in many local establishments. Look for it in cafes, libraries, and bookstores in Fortuna, Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Willow Creek. The public is invited to our 5 p.m. meetings, fourth Wednesday of the month (except December) at The Sanctuary, 1301 J St., Arcata. For more information visit healthcareforall.org or write [email protected].
McK Senior center thanks
The McKinleyville Senior Center extends their thanks for the assistance given for the presentation of their Art Show in October which featured only works of local artists who are 55 or older.
It was very successful because of the enthusiastic response of the artists, the help of many volunteers, the interest shown by the community, and the great support of merchants in the area.
These include Eureka Natural Foods, Emerald Gardens Resort, Grocery Outlet, Humboldt Carpet Showroom, HSU Natural History Museum, Miller Farms Nursery, Moonstone Crossing Winery, Safeway Store, Thomas Home Center, U.S. Coast Guard, Trinity Lions Club, North Redwoods Book Art Guild, and The McKinleyville Community Services District.
F. Gilkey, corresponding secretary