The Worship of Sports in America

Simply put, Americans take sports way too seriously.

How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The New Health Care Bill...A Cautious Congratulations

In the last 2 weeks, 2 events of great personal interest occurred. First, I was fortunate enough to have finally qualified for health care insurance from my current employer after nearly a decade of going without it. Second, the likelihood that most currently uninsured Americans will soon share my good fortune in regards to access to affordable health care insurance has increased after the U.S House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act 2 Sundays ago; the president subsequently signed the bill into law the following Tuesday after its Congressional passing.
Because of my own experiences of having to go without healthcare coverage due to its inaffordability, the latter event marked a coming to pass of a policy which I have personally felt to be a societal necessity ever since I, as a 6th grader in the 1970s, remember asking one of my favorite teachers, “Why can’t poor people go to the hospital for free?”
While Americans—both poor and well-to-do alike—may not get free healthcare as a result of the bill, we will get the next best thing…the right (notice I didn’t say “opportunity”) to affordable healthcare, as well as holding traditional private insurance providers more accountable when they treat their policy holders like red-headed stepchildren. Among the heretofore unknown benefits of the new law include:

-Adult children of insured parents are now able to stay on their parents’ policies until they are 26 years of age, helping to reduce the number of college students without coverage.

-Insurance companies will now be prohibited from dropping (canceling your policy) if you become ill.

-Children (and by 2014, adults) will be prohibited from denying health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

-Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to cap coverage on expensive care due to long- lasting illnesses.



Watch CBS News Videos Online

(for more details on what policy changes are in the new health care bill, and how the new law may affect you, click on the following links):
1. “Health Care: How You Will Affected By Reform Changes”
http://www.ajc.com/news/health-care/health-care-how-will-409705.html
2. “Ten Ways The New Healthcare Bill May Affect You.” http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/109178/10-ways-the-new-healthcare-bill-may-affect-you?mod=family-love_money
3. New Healthcare Bill Pro And Cons: It Expands Benefits Now, Cuts Them Later.” http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/Donald-Marron/2010/0322/New-healthcare-bill-pros-and-cons-It-expands-benefits-now-cuts-them-later


Aside from the immediate and tangible benefits of the new healthcare bill, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the economic result of the new legislation will yield a reduction in the nation’s budget deficit to the tune of some $140 billion over the next 10 years.
But as is often in the world of politics and ideology, people will find a way to disagree with even the most well-meaning of policies. In the last few weeks, the offices of both Republican and Democratic Congressmen have been vandalized (even shot at), anti-tax-n-spend activists have been making waves using red-baiting and other rhetoric-based tactics, and media-savvy Free Market ideologues have attacked the new bill as the start of Americas decline into a socialist dictatorship. Those who supported the bill’s passing in Congress have been slandered with racial and homophobic epithets. Even before the bill became law, there were dozens of raucous public forums on the proposed policy, some resulting in arrests and innuendoes of threats by those who saw the bill as akin to a threat to personal liberties. The rest of the Free World must be scratching its collective heads trying to understand why such a laudable policy change, especially with so many people benefiting from it, would yield so much animus and animosity.
It’s hard to say. In a country where people believed (and many still do) in a conspiracy of an impending One-World-Government heralded by the arrival of a massive fleet of unmarked United Nations helicopters, people can justify just about any position, even as it relates to something as positive as universal affordability in health care coverage. Most of the rhetoric against the new bill is anecdotal and/or ideologically based…nothing substantive against the mechanics of the bill itself. Ostensibly, opponents of the policy like to cite the new law’s requirement that all Americans be mandated to purchase insurance as an intrusion on personal and/or civil liberties. But is this requirement any more of an “intrusion” than the policy in nearly all 50 states that people be mandated to purchase automobile insurance? Are we so trapped in a particular way of thinking that we cannot see that many of the unfounded fears about aspects of the new healthcare law have been a part of either state or federal law for decades? Well, the new law is here and still, America is the bastion of Free Market opportunity that it has always been; the sky has not fallen, and socialism is not the economic model for business.
Have we devolved so much as a society that we would rather focus on fear of the unknown rather than brave new frontiers in policy? People who are so fear-bound need to get over themselves. God does not tell anyone to hate President Obama for his sponsorship of the new law any more than He tells anyone that the new bill is work of the Devil (or a socialist-leaning cabal within the government). As I have often said before, Americans emote too much and reason too little, and that is something that has to change for the betterment of the country.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Response To An E-mail

One of the best things about writing a regular online feature is that I get to share my views and observations with the rest of the world, while at the same time becoming enlightened to the perspectives that others may have on the same topics. A case in point is the e-mail I received a couple of weeks ago that I am just now able to answer.
As I read the e-mail, I considered the possibility that others may have similar questions and/or concerned about my postings and my particular perspectives on political and social issues. As a consequence, I decided to respond to the e-mail publicly in order to both clarify why I write regularly (or irregularly as the case may be), and where my ideological perspectives lay (while assuming that the author did/does not want his/her name revealed).

Hi:
The reason I am contacting you about your blog is because I read a comment you left on the Detroit Free Press’s website regarding Washington’s connection to special interests and how it makes the average American citizen irrelevant to the political and voting process. After reading your comments, I traced your profile to your blog and started to read a few of your past postings.
First, let me say that I consider myself very much an active political conservative. And although you portray yourself as “nonpartisan,” I sense a decidedly leftist bent to your beliefs.
As an example I noticed that you seem to attack Republicans far more than Democrats, and Conservatives more than Liberals. Why is this? I believe in the free market, but not government interference with individual liberty. I believe in God and the power of prayer, and I believe that this country was founded on Christian principles. I also believe in closing our borders, promoting individual responsibility, and the power of hard work to change the lives of Americans for the better, and not government spending or mandates imposed on us by dictatorial public officials.
Please help me to understand where you stand.

P.S In spite of my questions, I find myself agreeing with many of the things your write about, especially as they relate to corruption of the political process because of the money-backed influence of special interests.

I concede that this is not an easy response for me to make convincingly given that most individuals tend to allow their passions, their emotions, and previously-held ideological beliefs to override their ability to reason. I on the other hand—at the risk of being labeled arrogant or elitist—believe that in order to see problems and prepare ourselves to make the necessary changes in order to make society better for all, we must treat our hearts like the enemy. In other words, the only way we can even consider objective analysis of a social or political problem is to leave our personal beliefs as well (especially so) our feelings at the doorstep of reason. Such personality influences such as emotions and ideological dogmas tend to cloud judgment, impair critical thinking, and most of all tends to lead to legislative gridlock in our states and nation’s capitals; this is how I tend approach my postings and my own observations, as I feel that Americans emote too much and reason too little.
In so much as your observations that I tend to have a bias in favor of left-of-center thinking, that may not entirely be a figment of your imagination; I am a former registered Democrat and born-again free-thinker. As such, many of the things that I believe have their basis in a mentality based on what’s in the best interests of all concerned. Overall though, I find way too much wrong with the policies of both Democrats and Republicans alike. To sum up my reservations with these particular established political parties, I find that Democrats are too liberal with regards to many social policies, while I find Republicans far too self-righteous and sanctimonious…and both way too hypocritical in many areas of their stated views on public policy vs. their actions.
I believe in pragmatic social and political policies, not policies which cater to a particular section of the voting electorate, reinforces some narrow-minded dogmatic thinking, or is based on someone’s interpretation of religious principle; I myself an agnostic, and believe that the doctrines of a particular religious tradition has no place in public policy.
Take for example the issue of gun control. Despite the reality of the lunatic fringe, I feel that it is the right of every legal and law-abiding citizen to own a weapon for personal protection. Laws to the contrary only empower criminals, who outnumber the police in many areas of the country. As a matter of reality, the police cannot be everywhere, and in most cases the nature of crimes committed tends to force most officers of the law into the role of post-activity investigators, not agents of prevention. It simply makes no legitimate sense to limit gun ownership and/or possession by those who rely on peace officers who cannot prevent most criminal activity to protect them.
I also don’t believe promoting unfounded fears that our children will somehow be ravaged by the failure to impose laws of questionable effectiveness. The best example I can cite are the no drug zones in and around our public schools. In order to get these ridiculous “exclusion” zones erected and enacted into law, those who promoted the idea played on the fears of the public that our children’s futures would be endangered and the public, which predictably bought into the propaganda, acquiesced. The only thing that have resulted from these zones are mass criticism, mandatory sentencing of non-violent first-time, even more overstuffed jails/prisons, and created discrepancies between urban and suburban schools “no drug zones” (where by the way, drug use is just as prevalent than in many urban areas). The upshot is that imposition of these “no drug/drug-free” zones tends to create a “no drug” area so large that the only end result is an overtaxed judiciary in many areas, and no higher level of safety for children in these areas given that most drug use/purchasing does not occur anywhere near a public school…and even if one happens to occur in said area, the location is usually incidental to schools. Simply out, its unnerving how people are quick to invoke the mantra of protecting our children in craft laws which simply fail to do just that.
If you opt to be a regular reader of my postings, you may take note that my observations tend to come with proposed ideas for policy solutions. Both my observations and proposed solutions may or may not utilize ideas from across the political spectrum; that they may be notions promoted by a particular political group of establish political ideology is incidental, as I like base solutions on the needs of people, not to validate someone’s ideological beliefs. Sometimes, I may op to think outside the spectrum, such as my belief that people should be either licensed or meet some tangible qualifications to bare and raise children. Yes, I freely acknowledge that this seems beyond the pale, but considering how both our children and our parents are turning out, its hardly too much of a social imposition. On any given day in any state in the union, you can see the results of bad parenting. Just pick up a newspaper or turn on any local or national news broadcasts. Social service organizations, government institutions, and local judiciaries are overwhelmed with trying to undo the effects of parents who simply take the time to procreate, but not raise children…and the children who often go bad because of it. I have often made the statement that its insane that you need a license to drive a automobile, to install plumbing, or to even cut hair…but anyone can legally have a child, including those who are little more than children themselves.
Anyway, I hope that I have answered your question(s) about my blog. I invite anyone to feel free to write my blog if they have questions, of just wish to sound off…unlike others, I don’t censor.