Et Cetera …

Time for new solutions

The American public may have a learning disability. As evidenced by the knee-jerk reactions to have government “do something” to address perceived ills, but the subsequent failure to see that government has a difficult time getting it right.

More evidence this week: Problems with Minnesota’s and the federal government’s new health care exchanges, leaving many people wondering if they will have coverage by the mandated Jan. 1 date.

And then there is the ongoing failure of the Veterans Administration to promptly deal with benefits claims. The processing time is up to nine months.

Just because government exists and can implement programs and services does not mean they will run well or meet financial estimates. In fact, the odds more favor the opposite.

Proceed with caution

The federal Food and Drug Administration is working with pharmaceutical makers to get them to phase out certain antibiotics for use in production of cattle, hogs and poultry. It’s a voluntary program that, so far, includes two drug companies.

Other pressure is coming from chain restaurants that want to serve customers antibiotic-free meat.

Under the plan being developed, some antibiotics would still be available to producers, but farmers would be affected, as more animals would become diseased.

The National Pork Producers Council is still signaling support, with an eye on helping reduce human deaths from drug-resistant infections. That tells us the industry could adapt. However, we hope the FDA and drug-makers proceed with caution and with input from producers.

Courts overburdened

The Minnesota Senate’s Judiciary Committee held a meeting this week in which some lawmakers made clear that local jails and law enforcement are becoming overburdened by mentally ill inmates who are not getting the treatment they need.

Mentally ill people need psychiatric care, from counseling to medication. Without these things, they are dangers to themselves and others, including other inmates and jailers.

The problem is caused by overburdened courts and dwindling resources for treatment. Add to it inadequately trained police officers and jailers, inconsistent access to medication and lack of transition programs for the mentally ill.

We hope the state can do better, even if that simply means holding timely commitment hearings.