Let's Laugh "Til It Dursts!

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This year's annual fundraiser features Milwaukee native and nationally renowned political satirist Will Durst. He'll lighten our mood and, we hope, fill our coffers.

Grassroots North Shore — one of Wisconsin's largest, ALL-VOLUNTEER, progressive groups — has been working on progressive causes and electing progressive candidates to offices both local and national since 2004. But we can't do it without a few nickels and dimes to pay for our office space, a few computers, Internet access and the like. And that's where we need you to come to our aid. 

For this year's one and only fundraiser, we're asking for donations at the following levels:

  • General Admission: $25.00 per person in advance ($35.00 at the Door)
  • Friend of Grassroots North Shore: $50.00
  • Patron of Grassroots North Shore: $100.00
  • Sponsor of Grassroots North Shore: $250.00
  • Grassroots North Shore Host: $500.00
  • Angel: $1,000.00

So join us for some fun and help us reach our funding goal at the same time.

RSVP and make your donation here. rsvp_sm_red3.jpg

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The Problem with Insuring Health

cms_for_healthcare.pngInsurance is a system in which premiums are paid by subscribers into a pool of funds used to compensate losses from future events. Because insured events are usually infrequent, are not recurrent, and are of limited duration, most enrollees pay premiums but do not receive money for claims, so that the pool of premiums exceeds the cost of claims. Think of your homeowners policy or your car insurance. The surplus money becomes profit for the insurance company. Typical insured risks include car accidents, home damage and theft. Skillful estimation of risks allows premiums to be set that are both competitive and profitable. According to Warren Buffet, an important source of income for insurance companies comes from the gap between the time premiums are paid in and the time claims are reimbursed. During this gap substantial free money is available to be invested profitably.

Insurance has existed since ancient times. The Babylonians and Romans paid a ’Bottomry fee’ to receive compensation if one of their ships sank in the Mediterranean Sea. The first written insurance contract was made in Genoa in 1347. In 1777 Benjamin Franklin started a company to insure Philadelphians against fire. Today many additional risks are insured.

However, insurance for health care costs was uncommon before the 1940’s when World War II forced the United States to impose wage controls. Employers could no longer compete for scarce workers by offering more money, and stagnant income made employees unhappy. Adding health benefits attracted workers and made up for frozen wages.

After the war publicly supported health insurance was considered, but in the end a system funded by employers and administered through commercial companies was instituted. Donated care and public hospitals provided care for the poor and uninsured. In the 1960’s Medicare and Medicaid were enacted to cover medical costs for the elderly, the disabled and the indigent. But some people still remained uncovered and had to pay medical bills out of pocket or rely on charity.

Health problems are substantially different from other insured risks. Unlike ship wrecks and car accidents, medical needs are common, recurrent, and often chronic. Pre-existing conditions have nearly a 100% probability of ongoing medical expenses. Only a minority of people do not have significant health care needs at some time in their lives.

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PARTY LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW

Before adjourning to the White House Rose Garden for their celebratory ‘kegger’, the House of Representatives managed to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a very slim margin. Virtually all of the provisions of this $800 billion tax-cut masquerading as health care reform are incredibly odious and worthy of discussion; perhaps the most odious are the provisions, or lack thereof, for addressing pre-existing conditions.

Do you recall when Sarah Palin was claiming that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included ‘death panels’ that would decide who would live and who would die? What she was referring to was a provision in the ACA that would allow health care providers to discuss end of life care with their patients. Clearly she had misinterpreted the language, either from ignorance or the desire to mislead. In short, ‘fake news’. While speaking nonsense for political effect, she was, however, prescient. The GOP AHCA, if enacted without substantial change, will have turned the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate into their own “death panels” for people with pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions
ACID REFLUX (GERD), ADDISON’S DISEASEALCOHOL ABUSE AND RECOVERY, ALS, ANEMIA, ANEURYSM, ANGINA PECTORIS, ANGIOPLASTY, ANOREXIA, ANXIETY, AORTIC ANEURYSM, ARRHYTHMIA, ARTHRITIS, ASTHMA, ATRIAL FIBRILLATION, ATRIAL FLUTTER, ADHD, AUTISM, BARIATRIC SURGERY, BASAL CELL CARCINOMA, BERGER’S DISEASE, BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERTORPHY, BIPOLAR DISORDER, BLOOD CLOT, BLOOD PRESSURE, BRADYARRHYTHMIAS, BREAST CANCER, BRONCHIECTASIS, BRONCHITIS (CHRONIC), BULIMIA, BUNDLE BRANCH BLOCK, CANCER, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, CELIAC DISEASE, CEREBRAL ANEURYSM, CEREBRAL EMBOLISM, CEREBRAL PALSY, CEREBRAL THROMBOSIS, CHOLESTEROL, (COPD), CHOLITIS (ULCERATIVE), CLAUDICATION, COLON CANCER, COLON POLYPS, CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE (CHF), CORONARY BYPASS , CROHN’S DISEASE, DEPRESSION, DIABETES TYPE 2, DIABETES TYPE 1, DIGESTIVE TRACT DISORDER, DISABLED, DIVERTICULITIS, DOWN SYNDROME, DUI/DWI, DUODENAL ULCER, DRUG ABUSE, EATING DISORDER, EMPHYSEMA, ENDOCARDITIS, ENDOMETRIOSIS, ENLARGED PROSTATE, EPILEPSY, EROSIVE ESOPHAGITIS, FELONY, FIBROMYALGIA, FOCAL SEGMENTAL GLOMERULOSCLEROSIS, GASTRIC ULCER, GASTRIC BYPASS, GERD, GASTROPLASTY, GENERAL DISABILITY, GENETIC FINDINGS, GLAUCOMA, GOUT, HEART ATTACK, HEARTBURN HEART DISEASE, HEART MURMUR, HEART VALVE, HEMOPHILIA, HEPATITIS, HERPES, HIGH CHOLESTEROL, HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA, HYPERLIPIDEMIA, HYPERTENSION, HYPERTHYROIDISM, HYPOTHYROIDISM, HYSTERECTOMY, INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE, INSOMNIA, INTESTINAL POLYPS, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, KIDNEY STONES, KIDNEY TRANSPLANT, LEFT-SIDED COLITIS, LUPUS, MARIJUANA, MIGRAINES, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION, NARCOLEPSY, NASAL POLYPS, NON-HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA, OBESE, OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER, ORGAN TRANSPLANT, OSTEOPOROSIS, OVERWEIGHT, PACEMAKER, PAGET’S DISEASE, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, PANCOLITIS/UNIVERSAL COLITIS, PANCREATITIS, PANIC DISORDER, PEPTIC ULCER, PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE, PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER, POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE, PTSD, PROCTOSIGMOIDITIS, PROSTATE (ENLARGED), PROTEINURIA, PULMONARY EMBOLISM, RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME (RLS), RIGHT BUNDLE BRANCH BLOCK (RBBB), SCHIZOPHRENIA, SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD), SEIZURES, SICKLE CELL DISEASE, SLEEP APNEA, SLEEP DISORDERS, STENT (CARDIAC), STROKE, SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA, SUICIDE (ATTEMPTED), TACHY-BRADY SYNDROME, TACHYCARDIA, THORACIC ANEURYSM, THROMBOSIS, THYROID, TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACK (TIA), TUBERCULOSIS, ULCERATIVE COLITIS, ULCERATIVE PROCTISIS, ULCERS, VENTRICULAR ARRHYTHMIA, VENTRICULAR SEPTAL DEFECT, VENTRICULAR TACHYCARDIA, ZOLLINGER-ELLISON SYNDROME
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LET'S TALK ABOUT GUN SENSE

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Does State Representative Dan Knodl, 24th Assembly district, present a threat to public health and safety with his new "anyone, any gun, anywhere" bill? On the basis of his co-authorship of Assembly Bill 247, the question bears asking.

The bill would eliminate the requirement for a background check, training, and permit in order to carry a concealed weapon. When asked to reconsider allowing the bill to come up for a vote, Rep. Knodl replied:

I am a co-sponsor and supporter of LRB – 2039.

Current law allows individuals without a license to open carry anywhere in Wisconsin that is not currently posted. This bill would allow those individuals to simply put on a jacket without becoming a criminal. It would make further changes to ensure that those individuals who choose to carry concealed are able to pick up their children from school without inadvertently committing a felony. School districts, private entities, and local governments would still be able to decide on the local level if they would like to post their buildings, and in the case of schools, if they’d also like to post their grounds. If a building is posted, a person carrying a firearm may not enter. I would expect that most districts will choose to post their property and buildings.

Perhaps Rep. Knodl should learn a lesson from a recently deceased, former Republican Congressman named Jay Dickey. In the mid-1990s, Representative Dickey attached an obscure amendment that prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from spending any funds to conduct research on the public health effects of firearm violence. The bill to which the amendment was attached passed and was signed into law in 1996.

Sixteen years later — long after he had left Congress and just after the Aurora movie theater massacre — he recanted his earlier position. Together with Mark Rosenberg, who had been the director of the disease control center’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control when Dickey’s amendment became law, Dickey published an op-ed in the Washington Post reversing his earlier position.

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Let's Have Fun Making Fun

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Golf Balls to Trump

An Indivisible group in Miami has come up with what sounds like a fun idea. They're writing messages about Trump's agenda on golf then sending them to the White House. Here are a few examples:

Trump chips away at science
Trump chips away education
Trump chips away at the arts
Trump tee’d off at response to budget
Trump shanks his first swing at budget

There are dozens more. We'd be writing them directly on the balls or else on slips of paper that we then glue to the balls.

If there's enough interest in this project, we will find a day/time for a golf ball party with pens, and food, and drinks, and laughs. To let us know whether you'd like to come to a golf ball party, register your interest at the linked page below and we'll get back to you.

Yes, this sounds like fun. Count me in.

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Join Us to Defend Democracy

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All over the country, people are taking actions to Defend Democracy and Fight Fascism. Grassroots North Shore is joining the effort by encouraging all of our supporters to take part. For a full explanation and instructions about how to participate, visit our Defend Democracy page and sign up.

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Olmsted Deserves Recognition in Milwaukee

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A postcard with an idealized view of Lake Park, with a carriage crossing the Lion Bridge, from the early 1900s.
Image courtesy of Lake Park Friends.

Landscape architect left massive legacy in three jewels of county's park system

Frederick Law Olmsted, the guiding light of American parks and landscape architecture – and designer of Manhattan’s Central Park – left a prodigious legacy in Milwaukee. We would do well to celebrate our precious Olmsted heritage.

Starting 128 years ago, Olmsted master-planned what he named our “Grand Necklace of Parks” – Lake, Riverside and Washington parks and East Newberry Boulevard, which gracefully links the first two. His Lake Park layout also envisioned a “Shore Drive,” which became Lincoln Memorial Drive and a road through the park connecting the lake to the bluff (Ravine Road). 

These public spaces were all envisioned as a “system,” a network of parks with varied qualities. Olmsted and his partner, architect Calvert Vaux, introduced that concept in 1868 in Buffalo. Milwaukee County’s stellar system, which evolved over many years, reflects Olmsted’s ideas about complementary urban parks

Olmsted and Vaux also conceived “parkways” as scenic drives approaching or linking parks, meant to extend green space and enhance nearby property values. Charles Whitnall’s 1923 plan for parks and parkways to encircle Milwaukee County was modeled on that concept. Milwaukee’s greenway boulevards, planned earlier, were likewise influenced by Olmsted’s parkway ideas, according to documentation about the Sherman Park Historic District.

Christian Wahl, Milwaukee’s far-sighted park commissioner, recruited Olmsted in 1889 to design three parks, for which land was being purchased. Olmsted visited Milwaukee several times while he was chief landscape architect for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exhibition – a project vividly described in Erik Larson’s 2003 bestseller, The Devil in the White City. After Olmsted retired in 1895, his firm, led by sons John Charles and Frederick Jr., continued supervising the Milwaukee parks’ development. 

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