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Trail Mix 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Seriously?! & r & & r & OK, our great grandkids are left to pay our debt to China, we're in not one, but two wars (with two more brewing) and every time we fill our tanks we pump more cash to Saudis, Iranians, Big Oil and Wall Street speculators. And what are we talking about? Whether a 17-year-old should have gotten pregnant? We know that earlier this week, John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis said, "This election is not about issues." Still, just to zig while everybody is zagging, we'll try a real issue.

Healthy Choices

Health care is kind of a big deal, as there are 47 million uninsured Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Even worse, Kaiser highlights a new demographic group -- the underinsured. These people have health insurance but still can't afford to pay their medical bills; Kaiser sees another 25 million Americans in this category.

John McCain's plan to help is to offer new tax credits that would make existing insurance plans more affordable. He'd also deregulate the insurance industry in an effort to get them to offer more plans to consumers; he'd also expand federal Health Savings Account programs. McCain would also push to limit medical lawsuits, and even deny federal payments on medical errors and mismanagement.

Barack Obama would create a new national health plan, accepting everyone, despite preexisting conditions, with benefits the same as what Congress gets. With incentives, Obama seeks to get more Americans to choose to be covered; he'd also mandate insurance for all children. Companies who cover their workers will get tax breaks, while those that don't will get to pay into the system.

Back to Zagging

So what about teen pregnancy? While many say Bristol Palin's decision is "a beautiful thing," the statistics paint a different picture. Of course, anyone can overcome a statistic, but consider a few of the profound social consequences: Teenage mothers complete high school only 12 percent as often as girls who wait until they are 30, according to Family Planning Perspectives; a boy born to a teen mother is three times as likely to go to prison as other boys, according to the book Kids Having Kids; and daughters of teen mothers are three times as likely as other girls to have a teen pregnancy of their own, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
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