How Was Your Week, Darling? Minnesota Failings, Reclaiming Power From Trump Supporters, and the Sorry State of COVID Testing

The takedowns and hot takes from a week in the life of Ken Darling.

What’s Up, Doc?

Even in Minnesota, our health care system remains bloated and highly inefficient — and we have perhaps the best healthcare in the country. It is a great American failure.

It still takes most people two to four days to get Covid test results — as we just discovered in our household. I tried to find a drive-up location for a flu shot within my network and everything is booked and there is no sense of urgency or concern; you’d think I was trying to get an iPhone — and for the providers that is exactly what I’m doing, buying a product. Sure, I can go to Walgreens or CVC or an indoor-clinic, but that level of exposure isn’t worth the benefit of the vaccine.

This failure is not due to a lack of resources; quite the contrary: Our healthcare providers are massive and rich, with double the income and resources of their counterparts in Canada and Europe. Clinic owners and specialists and administrators are among the richest people in the country, and Americans commit double or even triple the percentage of our GDP to healthcare. It is not just insurance companies that make our system so terrible; it is the providers, too, even more so.

The real problem is how these systems are structured and incentivized — to benefit providers, not patients; to generate income, not better health; to compete for market share, not serve the public; to perform profitable procedures, not deliver care. They operate exactly like you would expect a protected oligarchy to operate: as bloated, for-profit non-profits, exhibiting the self-interest of business, without the efficiency, and the unresponsiveness of a bureaucracy, without the commitment to mission. They behave just like universities and cable companies.

Sure, our clinics and hospitals are staffed by caring, competent, hardworking, even heroic people and generally do well once you are through their doors. But they are expensive, slow and unresponsive and perform at perhaps 50% of capacity, given how extremely well funded they are.


Freezer Burn

Many of those stranded in freezing temperatures by Trump last night were elderly. Seven had to be hospitalized. But that cruelty isn’t the end of the story. In a week or so, a significant number will have covid symptoms and perhaps a dozen or more, just from this one event, will die, while hundreds will be sickened and really struggle. That is what Donald Trump is dong now, in the real world, everyday, not to win — these events are net negatives for his campaign — but to make Donald feel important. You are killing yourselves, being left, literally, in the cold, for no reason but one delusional man’s ego. And you can’t see it. You aren’t a party, a movement, an alternative; you are dupes being manipulated by a con man, a common crook, a danger to you and your children, who plays to the worst aspects of your natures, the ugly resentments and fears that sit inside you like a tumor.


The Minnesota Walz

I’ve been getting push back for calling out Governor Walz and his failure to respond to the pandemic as promised. I’m sorry, but politicians are not my friends and my party is not my team. I respect Governor Walz and have supported him since he first ran for Congress, but I demand that he be an effective executive, not my favorite uncle.

Back in March/April, Governor Walz said he’d have instant testing and sophisticated tracing in place — using the model that worked in South Korea and Taiwan. He said Minnesota would lead the nation, that he was launching a “moon shot” to push down transmission rates dramatically, an approach other states could follow. He insisted in no uncertain terms, when asked by a reporter, that he would accept the blame if his promises were not fulfilled.

Well, his promises have not been fulfilled. And I, for one, am not interested in excuses.

The Governor has a state of emergency in place, but where is the sense of urgency? Why aren’t the massive number of private and academic labs in the state being used so that everyone can get a routine test easily, with results immediately or, at least, within hours? Why isn’t there a tracing system in place for all positives? Why hasn’t the Governor demanded that all visitors from hot-spots, like the Dakotas and Wisconsin, be tested? Why aren’t all departing and arriving passengers at the airport tested?

Why hasn’t the Governor used his emergency powers to ban all super-spreader events, like the recent Trump rallies? Why isn’t he being much more aggressive enforcing mask usage, especially in bars and restaurants? Why isn’t he harnessing the power of the U and all these medical technology companies in our state?

Where is the moon shot?


Utterly Brilliant!

My primary iMac has a failing hard drive so I’ve retrieved an old one from the closet only to discover it has, since I last used it, become British, like a college kid after spending a semester abroad in London.

My “Trash” is now a “Bin,” my “Movies” are now “Films,” and words I know are spelled correctly have a little red squiggle under them because they are missing a superfluous “u.”

I’m considering figuring out how to change the language setting back to “American English” but, having been one of those semester-abroad kids who said “actually” and “brilliant” way too much for a year after returning from London, I might just keep it.


Don’t Hate Trump Supporters. Take Their Power.

I have good friends, people I respect, even love, who are Trump supporters, including my own brother, whom I grew up with. They are all intelligent, successful, decent people with generous spirits, people you could call on for help and they’d be there.

But, despite their decency and competence, they all have two things in common: 1) They are fundamentalist Christians/Biblical literalists whose mental well-being is dependent on organizing their lives around a belief system with clear rules and black-and-white answers to the big questions of life and death, and 2) They live in an alternative media reality that sees the outside world as a grand conspiracy to deceive them, the True Believers.

These friends and family members like Trump not because they are stupid or racist or evil. They are Trumpers because it fits the worldview they have created, their cocoon of belief, their source of comfort, the feeling they are special, even chosen.

There is absolutely nothing we can do to convert them or convince them they are wrong, but we do have to defeat them and live with them. They are literally a burden we must bear — and control — or we will lose our planet, our livelihoods and our democracy. The good news is, although these folks can’t be trusted with political power, they are hardworking, decent people who pay their taxes, obey the law and help shovel your car out of a snow bank when you need a hand.

So don’t hate them. Just take power from them.

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