President Obama’s remarks on the Supreme Court Affordable Care Act ruling

Today marked an historic day, as the Supreme Court ruled that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was indeed constitutional. My thoughts on it all to come later. For now, here are the remarks made by President Obama on the ruling.


East Room

12:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost.  That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.  But that discussion completely misses the point.  Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.  They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.  They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.  And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support.  And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too.  And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.  They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman.  They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.  This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.  In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive.  I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared.  And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics.  I did it because I believed it was good for the country.  I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now.  It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield.  For years and years, Natoma did everything right.  She bought health insurance.  She paid her premiums on time.  But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year.  And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law.  It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today.  And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance.  These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken.  We will continue to implement this law.  And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.  But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law.  And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time:  putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.

President Obama’s Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Immigration law

Although there are still some very serious concerns about some of the parts of Arizona’s controversial immigration law that have been allowed to remain, I’m really pleased to hear that the Supreme Court has mostly rejected the law. The Court’s basic premise (you can read their judgement in full here) is that  the federal government, not the state, has the final authority on such law. In my view, this is a smack down not only to Arizona but to other states who had been watching the results of this case closely in the hope of emulating it. This would perhaps encourage them to seek better solutions. It also partially (certainly not fully) reigns in possible abuses of power when it comes to how undocumented immigrants are treated. What is discouraging, however, is that police are still allowed to check the immigration status of those they suspect to be illegal. This seems to give a thumbs up to racial profiling.

See President Obama’s statement in full below.

Statement by the President on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona v. the United States

I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law.  What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform.  A patchwork  of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system – it’s part of the problem.

At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally.  I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status.  No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.  Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court’s decision recognizes.  Furthermore, we will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education – which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own.

I will work with anyone in Congress who’s willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values – but because of them.  What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are.  What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country – and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it.

What to do when you hit a low…?

On his blog, full of thought provoking, question-inducing posts, Seth Godin talks about The Dip (click here to read more: Seth’s Blog: The Dip, revisited, plus audio bonus).

The Dip is the title of a book that Godin published a few years ago (one that I admittedly haven’t yet read), which is apparently about questions to ask oneself when one hits ‘the dip’… aka a low, a lull… or perhaps even self-defined failure. While many books promise to give you the answers to success, Godin instead asks you some questions. Sounds promising to me. This has immediately gone on my list of books to read.

Here’s a brief description of The Dip, in Godin’s own words:

Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all.

And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you’re in a Dip-a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try.

What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

This definition of the ‘dip’ is something that resonates with me. I moved to America 5 years ago in pursuit of my version of the American Dream. It has been a thrilling, exhilarating and amazing ride. I’ve done things and met people that I could only have dreamed about, and I continue to find America a fascinating and interesting place where I grow daily in a way that I never did at home.

At the same time, moving to a new country, adjusting to a new culture, making new friends, starting a new career, getting to 30 and much more has been a lot more challenging than I could ever have imagined. In fact, the readjustment (as well as some sense of loss) that comes with moving half way across the world is not something that I even thought about before I did it.

I’ve also seen beyond far the gloss and novelty of living in New York, and in America, and some of it really ain’t pretty. It has been a challenge not only to my sense of self, but has required me to rethink pretty much every value and cultural notion that I grew up with.

For a while, I was wondering if this was normal. Now I see that I’d just hit a dip. You see, it was all just simply fabulous fun for the first few years…then it became harder. Reality started to settle in. I met some really truly awful people, had some truly disturbing experiences. I began to ask myself some soul-searching questions – Is this where I want to raise children? Is this relentless hustle what I really want? Do I want to live in a massive country where I really don’t know that many people [relative to the people I grew up with and went to school with] and where things are so different? Do I even really like America? Doesn’t New York have any trees?! Why are there so many roaches and rats in this damn city? Was London really that bad after all? That sneaky devil then started to whisper in my ear… asking me the ultimate question: ‘maybe you should go back to England?’ 

I know for sure, and have actually always been sure, that going back to England is most certainly not an option – not in the foreseeable future anyway and not for as long as I have the legal right to remain in the US. Even if that pops up in my head for a moment, I say NO. That ain’t happening. But I can see why when one is in the middle of that low, the idea of returning to ‘safety’, to the familiar, seems oh so comforting.

In many ways, I see this as some kind of test. It’s the hero’s quest. You start out on your journey and at some point Life asks you whether or not you really have what it takes to keep on. Are you strong enough? Are you hungry enough? Do you want it bad enough? Are you going to be a winner? Or will you just fall over when it seems too hard? And trust me, at times, it has been really, really, really hard.

During my ‘dip’ I have realized a few things about myself. More than anything, it is a huge learning curve. I imagine it’s almost like a baby learning to walk: You keep getting up, you fall down, you get up, you fall down… and then one day, it just happens and you’ve got it.

Yet, I have come to realize that I love the challenge of it all. I like Life’s tests. I enjoy doing things that others say is impossible or that they doubt I can do. I even enjoy doing the things that I myself questioned could be done. The beauty of achieving is in the overcoming. It’s a bit perverse, but it shows me what I’m made of.

What’s the goal? Self-actualization and the fulfillment of my destiny. To be the very best human being that I can be….and to express that in whatever way it requires expression, to its fullest. Unfortunately, that’s not available to me everywhere in the world. It isn’t in England – and that’s why I left. I believe, in fact I know, it is here in America. So, I will keep on pushing, pushing past the Dip and I will achieve what I came here to achieve. I’m not a quitter, and I’m not going to give up now. It ain’t over till it’s over.

So maybe I’ve answered the question that I asked in the title of this blog.. What to do when you hit a low? Stop. Regain your composure. And then… keep on pushing…

Great Woody Allen interview in the WSJ

I really enjoyed reading this interview – Older, Mellower, But Still Woody Allen – with Woody Allen in the Wall Street Journal recently. I think he gives some very thought provoking answers.

There are a few things in it that I found particularly interesting:

1) Allen claims that he has never sent an email. I wonder how he has managed that (I’d like ot stop sending emails myself, for the most part)… I assume it must be because he has someone/people who send emails for him.

2) He claims that he has never read a review of his work. Considering how biting some can be, I can understand why he hasn’t. He also says that he doesn’t really care what people think of him which I like. As a creative person, it’s important to be able to honour your personal integrity by doing the work that you feel is important and that you need to get out of you, no matter what the response may be.

3) I found it pretty fascinating that he doesn’t let anyone read his scripts. He’s adamant about that.

4) His thoughts on moving on with life resonated with me. Once I have written an article, I rarely go back to it. Especially as I get older, I recognize that going over the past is a pointless endeavour. For better or worse, what’s happened has happened.

5) I balk at his absurdist philosophy on life (“…the true situation is a hopeless one because nothing does last”). I personally can’t understand how anyone can live with such a view and actually be happy or even want to live. If you take that perspective far enough, I fail to see what the point of life is at all. That’s not a paradigm for me!

Enjoy the read!!


Lola in The Guardian: How Adidas trains us to be slaves to fashion

[Originally published in The Guardian]
Adidas has pulled Jeremy Scott’s controversial slave-shackle hi-tops – but not without revealing the true state of consumers
It took me a good few minutes to really look at, deconstruct and mentally digest the image of the purple, white and orange trainers that had been posted on Adidas’ Facebook page.
These weren’t just any regular hi-tops. These had been especially created by the designer Jeremy Scott, with an extra special detail on them: a bright orange plastic cuff, designed to look like a shackle, with a chain connecting the trainer and the cuff, on each ankle.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. A shackle immediately brings to mind slavery and prisons; neither is very glamorous. Not only is there the violent transatlantic slave trade (which still has ramifications in the present and is a deeply upsetting topic for many people) to bear in mind; there is also the issue of the global modern day slave trade, which, according to the latest figures, enslaves more people today than were enslaved during the entire 350-year history of the transatlantic slave trade.
There’s no doubt that Jeremy Scott, despite his assertions to the contrary, was making a statement about the enslavement of human beings. If he wasn’t, he would not have used a shackle-like ankle cuff – with all of its implications. There’s also no doubt that Adidas, which happily showed off the shoes online, had no issues with his idea. It seems odd that a group of presumably intelligent people would have green-lighted these trainers with no idea of the potential fallout.
Beyond the immediate knee-jerk responses, though, Scott appears to have designed a pair of trainers that actually carry a deep social statement about the enslaving nature of consumerism. At the same time, Adidas has revealed a great deal about how it views its customers.
Rather than simply getting upset, we could actually use these trainers as a teachable moment, especially for young people – their target market. Those shackles might spark a discussion about the character and psychology of consumerism today, and the relationship between brands and consumers. 
We all know that brands seek to turn shoppers into so-called “brand evangelists”, who will display allegiance and loyalty, avidly show off their products and tell their friends and family about a company’s products. Now, we could discuss what Adidas is really saying when it encourages its buyers to wear a chained cuff on its ankles. Adidas has taken the idea of being a slave to fashion and made it palpable: now, it actually wants its customers to physically demonstrate their consumer-serfdom.
We could also use this moment to become more informed about how these products are made. Adidas has its own version of slaves working to make such goods – in the form of low-paid workers in sweatshops. Not only does Adidas want to make buyers its slaves, but it also seems content to work producers that way, too. And for the younger people who would buy these trainers, we could ask whether, in this economy, anyone needs to be more enslaved to material goods, psychologically or physically.