Phil Scadden

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Tap Water and Filtration

Well my wife is water chemist and has been known to identify water from different treatment regimes by their taste. There are a lot of possibilities here. Bore water is highly variable depending on the aquifer geology. Where groundwater goes through peat, it can be quite acidic (sometimes treated with caustic soda in town supplies) and this seems to appeal to our taste buds. Dissolved minerals obviously also affect taste (for good or bad - I dont like water with lime). By contrast city water supplies would struggle to get enough water from bores and often rely on river or lake sources. Unlike many types of borewater, this is not safe unless treated, generally by chlorination. Tastes terrible in my opinion and reactions between chlorine and organic material can create truly foul flavours and smells. 

The good news is that you can remove the flavour/smell of chlorine with cheap, under sink carbon filters. Just be sure to replace filter regularly.

I would be very surprized if you cant get results of regular city water tests from local authority. If not, then I would make stink as should be public information. I would bet on city water being safe from pathogens (but not necessarily from heavy metals) - it is some peoples job to ensure that with massive consequences for getting it wrong. So much so, that all too common for authorities to just chlorinate even when primary source is safe to protect against possible contimination in the distribution network.

What's your best alternate history utopia?

Hmm. I am not convinced that safety issue is only drag on nuclear power. They have a significant cost-competitive issues when there is low-cost gas or coal available as an alternative. Even in 1990 (when we were pretty sure there was climate problem), LCOE of nuclear doesnt look good against FF. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1465-7287.1990.tb00654.x (fig 1)

Second Citizenships, Residencies, and/or Temporary Relocation

As far as know, you are correct. You need to live or work here. The millions of spare dollars option has become politically more difficult after Thiel got citizenship. I would also say that mostly law applies  in-country but various tax, finance provisions etc apply to permanent residents even if not resident. Similar provision apply in UK so I suspect these are pretty common.

It is possible for employers here to make a case to bring in essential workers from overseas, but the bar is very high. While the isolation facilities are being besieged by citizens trying to return, I doubt there will be any change. 

 

Second Citizenships, Residencies, and/or Temporary Relocation

Writing from NZ. We have friends from US who worked here for 10 years (got permanent residency) before returning to the US in 2018. Because the husband has a significant respiratory complaint, he was very vunerable to Covid, but thanks to permanent residency, they were able to return here, do their 2 weeks in managed isolation facility and are staying here till safe. 

I would note that permanent residency makes you subject to local laws as well, at least here. A colleague from US who now has NZ partner was surprized to discover that the law here would regard them as married as far as the Marital Property act. Not a problem for her but not hard to imagine situations where that might be a nasty shock. On the plus side, permanent residents get full voting rights. NZ is cool with dual citizenship which our Iranian neighbours are thankful for. Much easier to travel on a NZ passport.

Of course, no chance of getting into NZ nor I suspect Australia at the moment. Even citizens in long queue with Managed Isolation booked out till June. 

Libertarianism, Neoliberalism and Medicare for All?

I dont suppose that would have anything to do with donations from Pharma by any chance? When the TPP free trade agreement was being negotiated, one of the concerns here was that US would insist on Pharmac being demolished

Libertarianism, Neoliberalism and Medicare for All?

I am unfamiliar with Medicare or in fact the US health system, but an example of "By negotiating 'on behalf of us' the government has the most negotiating power possible and hence should be able to get the best prices." would perhaps be the Pharmac scheme operated here in NZ? Basically, the government assigns $x to Pharmac who negotiate deals with pharma providers. The drugs bought by Pharmac are available to public at considerable subsidy. The losers can still attempt to sell their drug (not excluded from market) but will have to convince the public their version of the drug is "better" (and do so without breaking advertizing laws on false claims). Obviously what get subsidized is supposedly based on maximum QALYs for $$, but a there is a lot of lobbying which I hope is unsuccessful. 

Maybe I am being naive, but surely it should be possible to quantify a countries health outcomes and costs and empirically determine what policies work best (health outcomes/$$) rather than deciding on ideological grounds.