Category: America

Failure is Success

John Boehner1

“This is going to destroy the best healthcare delivery system in the world,” John Boehner stated last November as he discussed his fears over Obamacare. This is something that is often stated, especially by the America’s right wing. That we have the best healthcare in the world. “Moderates”, who try to be the mediator in these situations often pretending that both sides have “their points”, will respond by stating that our healthcare system merely being “different” than the rest of the Western world. In America you have a choice with the coverage you want and wait times are shorter due to not everyone having healthcare (not true). If you take both of these points at face value they still don’t really make any sense. If anything they demonstrate the weakness without the policy. Why would it be a good thing that everyone chooses their coverage? There should be no “choice” in this. If you get sick or injured the hospital treats your wounds as much as humanly possible, that’s it. Why exactly should somebody risk not being covered and having to owe tens of thousands? That isn’t a strength but a weakness. If the wait time argument was even true why would that be a good thing? If the lines are so much shorter due to people not seeking care who need it then it is a clear indication that the system isn’t doing its job.

This is something I like to phrase as “failure is success” in which failure caused by the policy is looked as a success, sort of like somebody looking at a faux silver-lining. We see this all the time in politics. When politicians give praise for savings made by cutting social services “to help those who are really in need”. How is cutting money that is meant to be a transfer from the rich to the poor, in the country where they have it the least in the first world, something to support? The entire purpose of these programs is to fund the poorest in our system. With income inequality and poverty being so high cutting these programs is the last thing we should be doing. But yet due to the government lacking more of its spending on transferring money to the poor (a failure) it is seen as a success.

These are things that need to be pointed out during these arguments. Its not a good thing that people have “choice” for coverage, nor are short wait lines due to the lack of patients, and especially the poor getting less money due to the government wanting to save “to help those in real need” when its they who are likely to suffer the most from the lack of these services.

Us vs Them

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A common argument that many liberals and other leftists use to support their positions is pointing to nations that have enacted the policies they advocate. Whether it be welfare, universal healthcare, education, there are a variety of examples of nations that have enacted these things successfully. However the nations that tend to stand out are those in Scandinavia. They often used not only because they are arguably the furthest left wing nations on the planet, at least without authoritarian tendencies, but that they are so widely successful. Policies and services such as free higher education, top notch public transportation, and the widest safety nets on the planet. It is not as if these things are a burden to these nations, if anything they are a supplement. Not only do Scandinavian nations dominate quality of life measurements, they also rank at the least above the average when it comes to education and safety as well.

Whenever Scandinavia is given as an example it is almost always accompanied with the follow up question, “Why can’t America enact such policies?” When this question is asked there is a response that consistently follows, specifically with the more educated crowd. “Scandinavia is a very homogenous place, the people have incredibly similar cultures, backgrounds, and makeup.” This argument boils down to the fact that in society otherization often occurs as people are divided into categories. In Norway for example well over ninety percent of the population is Norwegian, with another five percent or so being white. This diverges quire radically from America, a nation in which more minority babies are being born than white babies. Could this be the source of why Americans tend to be much more phobic of social service programs? It is no secret that an individual of ethnicity X would be more reluctant to help out an individual that hails from ethnicity Y as oppose to X. Just how much would one’s opinion diverge if presented with a certain policy and just changed the demographic that said policy was supposed to aid. I decided to buckle down and look up some information on the topic.

The book Why Americans Hate Welfare explored this very point. The novel’s author, Martin Gilens, looked at poll after poll to seek the answer. He found a very strong correlation between one’s support for welfare and who they think is getting the welfare. It found that support for welfare and the thought to be recipient’s race were highly correlated. There was also the discovery of a mass propaganda campaign of an overwhelming majority of welfare going to minorities, especially blacks. Amy Bartels does a great summary of the book.

The thing that tickled my interest the most was the topic of affirmative action. It is no secret that many white college aged young adults are distasteful of some of the aspects of the admission process. However when sociologist Frank Samson went to UCLA and handed out a survey asking people how they felt that the admissions process should work, the results that followed were pretty surprising. They were divided into two groups, one in which the survey was simply handed to them and the other in which it was pointed out that Asians were vastly overrepresented in the school system. It comes to little surprise that the former group was distasteful when it came to policies like affirmative action but the latter group showed strong support for it.

If you look at the result of Samson’s study and think of yourself, “Wow, I guess these people have taken a position just as far left as affirmative action supporters”, then you are wrong. This is even further to the left.  The argument of affirmative action, at least the most common one, is that it is to help disadvantaged groups climb up socio-economic ladder. It is to help those downtrodden in society. This however isn’t what many of these people seem to be advocating. They seem to feel that it is unfair that Asians are overrepresented in the higher education system and therefore reduce their chances in getting into certain institutions so that other demographics, even those that are amongst the most privileged, have an opportunity to attend those institutions. They do not favor fair representation in higher education but equal representation.

This entire entry may seem like a “no shit Sherlock” entry. However I felt that this is an issue that needs to be given more attention. It seems that educating people about social programs is not enough, but there also needs to be more effort on integrating people with other demographics.

The U.S. Military Takes a Step Forward – Women are Now Allowed in Combat Roles

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The U.S. military is now ending its ban on women in combat positions. Did you have to read that sentence again? I still do, and I just typed it …and heard it on NPR this morning, and I heard it on the television last night. I still feel like it’s not something I should be hearing in 2013. No, I’m not talking about the lifting the ban part, I’m talking about the ban to begin with. It’s been nearly 100 years since we gave women the right to vote (and I’m hoping it was equally bizarre to at least some people back then that they didn’t have that right before 1920), and just now can women die fighting for that right, at least officially and directly.

Women have already been dying and getting severely injured in wars for years now. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled veteran currently serving in the House is great proof of that, and proof what kind of a hero a woman can be. The helicopter  she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade in Iraq. Tammy was in the air, though, and a lot of the ban was on ground troops. Still, that proves that devotion and strength of character of women aren’t in question, nor should they ever have been. After all, there are plenty of women buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Even on the ground, though women have been in the line of danger for quite some time.  As CNN points out, too, “More than 800 women were wounded [in Iraq and Afghanistan], and at least 130 have died.” War now is quite unlike war in centuries or even decades past. There isn’t really a defined front line anymore. Developing new strategies to fit into this truth is part of our struggle in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s also part of the struggle to figure out what our policies and strategies should be in the continuing ‘War on Terror.’ Like it or not, we don’t fight just one clearly defined enemy in a clearly defined space anymore. Our enemies are vast and spread out. As such, women in military roles are already basically in combat roles. As Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars points out, “The current DOD policy is to not assign women to combat units, yet irregular warfare, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, places those in combat support or combat-service support units in just as much risk as the infantry.” In Afghanistan women are also used as outreach to locals. At any point an assignment like that can already morph into a combat mission.

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Is The Era Of Liberalism Really Back?

This week, Mitch McConnell declared the “era of liberalism is back” in response to President Obama’s Inaugural Speech on Monday.  Conservatives in the media and online have gone ballistic over the speech; one that they claim is overly partisan and mixed with a highly liberal agenda.  But is this actually true?

Well, Obama’s speech didn’t talk much about the fiscal issues of the day and really seemed to focus on a much more social agenda.  These issues seemed to be focused on the rights of gays, climate change, immigration, and even a small nod to guns control.  And you know what?  Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are right to say that this was a very liberal speech.

For 1950.

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It’s Okay to Research Video Game Violence

Last week, when President Obama made his sweeping gun control proposals, one of the items mentioned was a request for Congress to fund research to determine the “effects violent video games have on young minds.” This comes after Vice President Biden met with figureheads of the video game industry before making his proposals to the President. In December, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia proposed a piece of legislation that would request the National Academy of Sciences do just that.

Many in the gaming community are not happy about this. Across various gaming message boards, people equate the violence in a first-person shooter to having as much in common with gun violence as Hot Wheels have with automobile accidents. Some have stated that just by meeting with the Vice President, the industry is admitting that it’s part of the problem.

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Multimillionaire Professional Golfer Wants to Take His (Golf) Ball And Go Home Cause Of Mean Old Taxes

I don’t generally pay attention to professional golf (or unprofessional golf either), but this story caught my eye. Seems some guy named Phil Mickenson, is a little bit unhappy at all the new taxes he might have to pay thanks to Obama and California:

“There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and it doesn’t work for me right now,” Mickelson said.

While Mickelson didn’t state specifics, increases in federal taxes under the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff in Washington D.C. and the passage of Prop. 30 in California in November to raise money for school funding have all increased taxes on the wealthy class.

“If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate’s 62, 63 percent. So I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do.”

So what might those possible decisions be?

The 42-year-old golfer said he would talk in more detail about his plans – possibly moving away from California or even retiring from golf – before his hometown Farmers Insurance Open, the San Diego-area event that starts Thursday at Torrey Pines.

Whoa. Sounds kind of drastic to quit your career entirely, but I guess if the government is confiscating that much of your hard earned money, then there’s probably really little incentive to continue, right?

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The hypocrisy of the GOP’s claim as the party of God

I don’t know about you but often I will notice that it’s quite common for the GOP to argue that if you’re Christian you have a responsibility to vote Republican. That the Republican Party better represents Christianity both theologically and sociologically than the Democratic Party does. That either pure Capitalism is the economic policy espoused by Jesus or that the model put forth by the early church found in the book of Acts (Acts 2: 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.) should be discounted. That while charity is an extremely important and key aspect of Christianity and the Bible in general, there is a difference of being charitable voluntarily and the government taking more out of your paycheck in order to support those who are lacking. I find this distinction incorrect and simply an effort to have one’s cake (to be Christian is to be Republican) and eat it too (not being responsible for helping those who are in need).

In the late 1970’s with the creation and growth of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, there was a deep conversion between Christianity — Evangelicalism in particular — and the Republican Party. For the first time the U.S. had a President who considered himself an Evangelical in Jimmy Carter. As his first term came to a close, the evangelical community became disenchanted that Carter wasn’t implementing the type of social policy that it desired. When his reelection came up, this group decided to throw it’s support behind then Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. From Reagan’s response to the Soviet Union and the Cold War to 9/11, the GOP has wrapped itself with the U.S. flag and the cross. This conjoining at the hip has had terrible repercussions on all aspects of our society. From the classroom, to our economic and foreign policies, and even to the growth of the NRA. The GOP becoming the party of God has led to:

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