GUN VIOLENCE REDUX (posted November 20, 2010)
With the onset of our economic problems, crime and violence are once again on the upswing.
As a parent whose daughter was murdered in an armed robbery/home invasion, I am perhaps more sensitive than most to the American crime problem and our apathy towards a solution.
We have made a great national commitment to deal with the problem of international terrorism yet we ignore the domestic version (of terrorism) which puts us all at much greater risk.
America lost almost 3 thousand souls on 9/11; we experience 15-20 thousand homicides a year, two-thirds of which are caused with guns. This is 4 to 8 times what occurs in any other industrialized society. Yet we refuse to make the obvious connection between the high crime rate and the easy access to guns
I cannot for the life of me understand why we don’t take the obvious steps necessary to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that threatens us all. I have travelled and lived in many other parts of the world and I know that there are effective measures that can be taken to deal with the problem. Consider:
It is one thing to have a bunch of crazy people walking the streets of our cities and towns and every nation has them. It is yet another thing to have a bunch of crazy people walking the streets of our cities and towns with access to whatever murder weapon their hearts would ever desire. And in that respect, the United States of America stands alone.
Does it make sense to allow the likes of criminals, mental defectives and children to be able to buy (or otherwise acquire) guns? While I fully support the second amendment it seems to me that we have a right to expect that guns be used responsibly and that there should be consequences for gun owners who fail to do so.
But we are not even close to doing that; every attempt to enact reasonable laws aimed at ensuring responsible care and use of guns is resisted by the gun lobby and its minions. We have gone to the extent of crippling the one agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) whose mission it is to try to deal with the problem and make us safer. The agency has been without a director for several years now and the man nominated by President Obama, Andrew Traver, is being resisted by – you guessed it – the gun lobby for the most inane reasons imaginable.
Once again, money is at the heart of Congressional intransigence. We are unable to solve this nation’s problems because the folks in Washington cater to the “moneyed interests” rather than to the needs of the American people.
It’s a disgrace.
BARRACUDA MISSING (Posted May 3, 2010)
Where is the ‘Cuda lady when you need her???? The silence is deafening!
The Gulf of Mexico is awash with oil; sea life is being destroyed all over the region and vegetation is literally rotting in front of our eyes in what may well be the greatest environmental disaster in history. Yet, we haven’t heard a word from the “Drill, Baby, Drill” queen. Interesting, isn’t it?
Has she been to the gulf to assure herself and her sycophants of the soundness of her view on the matter of energy? Nope. Wonder why?
Now is the time — while the queen and company are taking refuge in the wilds of Alaska and elsewhere — to make the point as to the importance of promoting clean energy and weaning ourselves off the addiction to oil and carbon in general. We continue to pour almost a trillion dollars a year into the middle east, enabling the most US-hostile regimes on earth to, among other things, finance terrorist attacks on our cities (anyone remember 9/11???).
If this doesn’t motivate the deadbeats in Congress to do something about energy, we will ALL need to go to Washington and take over the place — anything would be better than the status quo.
HEALTH CARE FOR ALL – AT LAST! (Posted March 27, 2010)
With the enactment of health car reform this week, the United States of America has at last lived up to one of its most cherished ideals and removed a stain on our national reputation that has existed since the beginning of this Republic.
For almost 250 years we have allowed people to die for lack of access to medical care while other industrialized nations ensure that all their citizens are covered by their national health care systems.
We continue to hear concerns about affordability. In my view that is secondary; what we needed to do – and have finally done – is make a national commitment to ensure that no American will ever again be denied medical care. No longer will we turn our backs on the sick and most vulnerable among us.
It was along time coming, but we have finally done what is right by our citizens. I am once again proud to be an American.
CAN THE AMERICAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM BE FIXED? (Posted February 24, 2010)
President Obama plans to convene a health-care summit this week. I am not optimistic about the outcome.
The health-care system in America is an unmitigated disaster. We spend roughly 16 percent of our GDP on healthcare, an expense that is increasing annually at a rate much greater than inflation. Yet we have approximately 50 million people who are uninsured and thus have no access to medical care other than emergency rooms. Shamefully, almost 10 million of these are children; millions more have insurance that provides almost nothing in the way of useable benefits.
Despite the enormous amount of money and effort expended, we do not deliver healthcare to those who need it most, as exemplified by the fact that we have an infant mortality rate that is nearly the highest in the industrialized world. We continue to hear lurid tales of insurance plans eliminating coverage for the most vulnerable among us: children and seniors. Finally, we burden our industries with the responsibility for providing health insurance, making them increasingly LESS competitive in an increasingly competitive global economy.
Can we repair the current system? The answer is an emphatic NO. Why? It is a system whose purpose, first and foremost, is to make money for the practitioners, i.e., doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. Providing quality healthcare for all Americans is clearly secondary.
The current approach cannot accomplish the twin goals of increasing quality while reducing the financial burden to our nation. The fee-based system is antithetical to our ability to control cost and the success of the insurance based approach, perversely, is dependent on the extent to which care can be denied. Likewise, the current market-based system is such that every time we try to make a change, we are necessarily affecting the financial interest of a myriad of parties, all of whom will present obstacles to the desired change.
We hear endless tirades from politicians about the problem of healthcare in America, but few solutions. The ideas offered tend to focus on incremental pieces of the problem, such as Medicaid for the poor, Medicare for the elderly and the needs of children, all the while failing to grasp the increasingly desperate need we have in this country for a comprehensive, national solution to our health-care crisis. In so doing, we ignore the only solution that makes any sense, a single-payer national health-care system. Most industrialized nations around the world have single-payer systems; they do this while spending half as much as we do, figured as a percentage of GDP. They accomplish this amazing level of cost control and are able to cover everyone!
To effect this change, a national commitment is needed, namely, to provide high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. That must be the goal, and the only goal.
How can we do this? Essentially, we must offer a different kind of health care, one that emphasizes prevention.
The sad reality is that in the USA we have a remedial medical system. The system is procedure oriented, i.e., waiting for the onset of sickness then reacting by conducting tests and administering medication. Little is done by way of preventing sickness and disease.
Comprehensive prevention strategies must be part and parcel of any change that we make to our system of health care. The focus at a minimum must be on encouraging “healthy living”, e.g., nutrition/weight management/fitness guidance, smoker cessation classes, drug and alcohol abuse counseling at the very least.
High quality, affordable health care should be available to every American. A single-payer, national health system is the best way to achieve this. In expressing opposition to such a change, the extent that people are making their judgments based on their own circumstances and not on what is best for the nation should be a concern for all of us. If health reform fails, we are likely to see a continuation of the great American saga: people dying for lack of health care and families forced into bankruptcy because of medical costs beyond their ability to pay.
Continuing this travesty offends my sense of what it means to be an American. It is time to do what all other industrialized nations have done: make health care a right for every American.
We should accept nothing less.
A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP (Posted February 21, 2010)
The leadership of the current Republican party has proven itself completely inept when it comes to becoming engaged in solving some of the problems our nation now faces.
For example, when Ronald Reagan first took office in 1981, the national debt stood at just under $100 billion. Today it stands at $12 trillion. Since we had a budget SURPLUS during the Clinton years we pretty much know exactly who created the debt burden our children now face.
These same guys are the ones who led the charge over the last eight years wherein we doubled the debt, fostering as they did a culture that said we can have anything we want without having to pay for it. Two wars costing trillions? No problem, we’ll just borrow the money from places like China. Trillion dollar prescription drug benefit for Medicare? No problem, just borrow the money from places like China (sound familiar?).
So now we are broke – yet the problems they faced and were too utterly incompetent to deal with are still with us. And thanks to them, the government is without the financial resources needed to help pull us out of the predicament.
Just to complete the picture, we now have a president who has shown a willingness to deal with some of these matters. The Republican response? They offer no solutions, only criticisms at the efforts being made to deal with these issues. Most telling of all, they now complain that the President is spending money we don’t have all the while failing to mention that he is trying to get us out of the hole they put us in.
Hypocrisy is too good a word to describe this bunch.
THE PRESIDENT AND THE LOYAL OPPOSITION (Posted Feb. 2, 2010)
Last Friday, President Obama engaged 140 Republicans in a battle of wits that seemed at times as though he was doing battle with the unarmed.
The Q&A session served to illuminate the utterly bankrupt nature of the contemporary Republican philosophy.
Rep. Tom Price(R-GA)’s interaction with the President illustrated the point dramatically. In complaining about his inability to get the attention of the administration on his health care proposal, Mr. Price had the gall to state that his plan “would provide health coverage to all Americans…without raising taxes by a penny”.
Tom Price is promoting the same kind of nonsense that Republicans have been promoting for the last 10 years, namely, that ‘we can have something for nothing’. They passed a bunch of tax cuts, a prescription drug benefit for Medicare and started two wars without paying for any of it.
The President was polite but firm in reminding Mr. Price of his delusional state. The rest of the Republican questioners didn’t fare much better.
I guess the 140 to one ratio is STILL a little light on the Republican side.
SUPREME COURT MADNESS (Posted January 22, 2010)
So the Supremes have finally done it. As if we didn’t have enough private sector influence in the affairs of government — lobbying and all that — we can now look forward to an unlimited amount of corporate cash and influence in this country’s politics as a result of this week’s decision in the Citizens United vs. the FEC case. The court even overturned decades of its own precedents in doing so. So much for judicial restraint.
I am moved to wonder when/if we’ll hear any complaints now from the elephant party about the evils of “judicial activism” and “making law from the bench”.
As if the sellout to the finance and health care sectors last year wasn’t enough, we should now expect to see this country be renamed “The Corporate USA”. I fully expect to see unions disbanded, child labor laws repealed and a return to sweat shops. I guess that’s one way to prevent companies from moving their operations overseas.
I hope we can get Congress to do something about this travesty. It was a bad decision and something must be done to right this terrible wrong.
THE MASSACHUSETTS SENATE ELECTION OF JANUARY 21, 2010(Posted January 21, 2010)
The election of Scott brown to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy reflects the state of disarray in American politics.
In November, 2008, American voters made a clear, unambiguous statement of their desire for change in Washington, DC by electing a Democratic President and substantial Democratic majorities in Congress. Now, being unhappy with their choices just a little more than a year later, they appear to still want change but have apparently decided that the Republican party is better equipped to deliver the goods.
This can only make sense if we consider the anomaly that is built into our political system such that voters have no choice other than to reelect the very party that got us into this mess in the first place.
We do indeed need the kind of change that will alter drastically the political system in several ways by 1) forcing term limits, a single term, on all members of Congress and 2) ending totally the influence of lobbyists in Congress.
Term limits would ensure that each member of Congress could focus on doing the people’s business and not on getting reelected. Ending lobbying can be accomplished by making members of Congress subject to the same rules as Federal employees such that providing donations, contributions, gifts, trips, etc. to members of Congress would be forbidden. Term limits would also deny the ability of lobbyists to influence members of Congress.
We could accomplish this by conducting a national referendum on these two issues in the next Federal election. I have no doubt that the American people would vote overwhelmingly to endorse both these propositions.