March 22, 2010

A Balm in Gilead

I have a proposition for the ultra-conservatives in this country and for the rest of us. Now, I’m not including all born-again or fundamentalist Christians in this proposal—only those who don’t like the way this country was originally set up and would like to change the direction it’s going. Anyone who wishes to would be welcome to participate and no one would be forced to.
Here it is:


I propose that the US cede a certain territory—say, from the Rio Grande on the south and along the western Texas and Oklahoma borders north to the Oklahoma and Arkansas borders and east to the Mississippi River—as a sovereign territory to be handed over to those who don’t want to live under the US Constitution anymore. For convenience’ sake, I’ll call the new nation ‘Gilead’. The area is not cast in stone—it is simply one possible region to consider.
The territory thus created would have abundant farmland, a coast and an already developed infrastructure including a number of urban areas ranging from large cities to small towns and the connecting highway network within it. It would also include the oil reserves of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

Now, before those remaining behind get all up-in-arms—allow me to remind you: the infrastructure was paid for by everyone’s tax dollars. Gilead’s citizens paid taxes while they were US citizens and are entitled to the benefits they would have received from them had they remained in the US.
Think about it on an individual level: if you and your family were to move from California to Boston, you would be inheriting the communication systems, roads and water lines set up there before you arrived. The same would be occurring here—just on a larger scale.
The two governments involved could, should they choose to, arrange a repayment agreement for the infrastructure inherited by Gilead.

Homeowners who live inside Gilead’s boundary who wish to move out could list their homes on the internet. Those who live outside Gilead and wish to move in could do the same. We would then do a 1:1 swap between homes of comparably assessed value. The homeowners would carry their mortgages with them and pay them off on their new properties—or work out appropriate agreements with their respective lending institutions. Those who are renting would simply move to the area of their choice.

A jobs exchange could also be set up online and people could apply for jobs which would be abandoned by those leaving the area they wish to migrate to.

The area to be included is already populated by a number of people who would want to live in Gilead—so there would be less inconvenience to the general population than would occur if either the east or west coast were the region to be ceded.
Even so, this mass migration would take a while—so why don’t we give ourselves about 15 years to complete the move? This would avoid a massive upheaval of the population all at once and give Gilead’s government time to get set up before the Date of Government Transference.

Considerably less than one generation after implementation of the plan, those people who believe the Constitution was a mistake could move to Gilead and create their own country. Gilead would have no ties to the United States beyond a common boundary and any ambassadorial and trade functions the two governments wish to pursue—just as we have now with Mexico and Canada.

* Inside Gilead, if they wish their legislation to consist of the laws set forth in Leviticus, they could set that up.
* If the primary government or that of any city or state wants to put the 10 Commandments or a Nativity Scene on a public building’s lawn or in the lobby, they could do so.
* If the people want to ban any religion other than Christianity, they could do that, too.
* They could close all businesses on Sundays if they wish.
* They could mandate state-sponsored prayer in the schools. They could ban evolution and teach only creationism.. They could include Bible Study in their curricula, as well.
* They could give government funds to faith-based charities and allow discriminatory hiring.
* Given today’s technology, if they wanted to keep unwanted radio and television broadcasts from crossing their borders as well as limiting internet access, I imagine they could do so.
* They could limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman.
* They could ban abortion and contraception and practice abstinence-only and the rhythm method.
* They could allow hospitals to refuse medical care to any woman hemorrhaging from a miscarriage.
* They could ban stem cell research and outlaw the use of any cures found through such research.
* They could prohibit assisted suicide and direct hospitals to practice all heroic measures to maintain life for as long as possible.

Well, you can see the advantages, I’m sure.

Once an adult moved to Gilead, he or she would no longer be a citizen of the US and would not have the Right of Return. If, on the off chance, someone wanted to come back, they would get in line like any other immigrant and go through the full process. [I would recommend an exception be made for people who were below some agreed-on age—say 21—when the move occurred so that people who were minors on the Date of Transfer can make their own decisions when they reach adulthood. Most of them, though, would likely choose to remain where they grew up.]
Travel between the two countries on business or vacation or to visit friends and relatives would be fully permitted, of course, with the same restrictions currently practiced between the US, Canada and Mexico.

In exchange, the United States’ Constitution would be left intact. Those of us remaining in this country would be let alone to live our lives as we wish to do.

This seems to me to be a win-win situation for everyone involved. The needs and wants of all current United States citizens could be met with minimum upheaval and turmoil.

And, whatever you may be thinking—no, this is not tongue-in-cheek. I’ve been thinking about a way out of the situation this country finds itself in and, though many details would have to be worked out, this general plan seems to me to be a fair and equitable solution.
xxxxx
For what it's worth, I originally published this post back in 2001. Since that time it has become even more urgent that some solution to our situation be found. More and more, I believe, our circumstances are becoming untenable. We must search for a viable alternative to our current problems. I think this proposition may be our best chance.

January 28, 2010

August 30, 2009

British health care explained

How does it stack up next to ours? You decide.

August 4, 2009

Well, as I threatened in the comments on the previous post, I have revived Scattershot Thoughts. And, as luck would have it, my very first post on my return over there was political. Go figure.

Scattershot won't be completely political. It will, though, be generally laced with liberalisms — I know I won't be able to help myself in that department.

Maybe, by broadening my outlook, I'll be able to ease myself gently back into posting here. We'll see. Anyhow, I hope to see you over there.

August 2, 2009

So Long

I’m feeling defeated today. I just can’t seem to gear up for another post. I think PP&D is history.

I kept my sanity and my spirits up all during the Bush years by believing that, when actual leadership returned to this country, people would rejoice. They would recognize the fact that crimes had been committed and welcome the return of a lawful administration. They would be happy to be accepted back among the civilized nations our country had alienated for eight years.

Obviously, I was mistaken.

I’ve been cruising the newspapers and a forum I visit and I can’t believe what I’m reading.
People write, “Why do liberals hate so much?” and in the same post, “Blue Cross Blue Shield is good enough for me. Why should my taxes pay for health care for all those illegals and those commie-pinko liberals anyway?”
And call Obama “Obammie the Commie—the teleprompter junkie.” Just as if every president since its invention hasn’t used the teleprompter.

When I hear Pat Buchannan trash Affirmative Action and declare that the US was built by White men who are being discriminated against after all their hard work, I want to sit down and cry. The US was built by White men? Really? Didn’t Pat work in the White House? Who built it? Slaves. Most of the monuments and public buildings in DC were, in fact, built by slave labor. Guess what color they were?
The railroads in this country were built almost exclusively by Chinese immigrants who were treated like slaves, themselves.

And whose schools are crumbling? The inner city schools which are attended by, primarily, Black and Hispanic students. I used to visit those schools every day when I worked with poor children. How does anyone come out of that environment with hope? How does anyone live in the projects and attend a school that is falling down and ‘learn’ from a teacher who uses improper grammar and mispronounces ‘Scheherazade’ and not feel like a second-class citizen who deserves nothing?

Then, when I hear of a Harvard professor being arrested in his own home because he is Black, I throw in the towel. There is no hope for my species.

And Pat says White men are being discriminated against.

It’s hard to keep trying to be a voice of reason in the face of ignorance, hate and bigotry.

Furthermore, I just keep hearing about massive partisanship. Partisanship. Partisanship.
The Republicans say, “Slow down,” when they mean, “Let’s drag our feet and hope the health care bill succumbs to our lies.” “Let’s fight against rebuilding the economy.” “Let’s let the Birthers run riot and refuse to admit Obama’s an American.” “Let’s let the country spiral out of control in the hopes of reclaiming all three houses over the course of the next four years. After all, THAT’S what’s important—not the well being of the country!”

AND—last night I saw a documentary on Bill Moyers' Journal about the good that can be done by religious leaders who work for positive change. And I cried because “religion” in my country seems to just want to grab power. It seems interested only in exclusion, separation and destruction. Not love.

I’ll keep posting at All That Is, I know that. It’s a happier blog—and it doesn’t require me to read newspapers in order to keep it going. That’s a huge plus, right now.

I know that emotions don’t last forever—they just feel as if they will. But this feels pretty overwhelming, right now. If things change maybe I’ll be back.

Or, maybe not.

July 23, 2009

EMILY'S LIST

Who is EMILY? The folks at Emily's List are asked that question all the time.

EMILY is not a famous feminist, elected official, or the nickname of it's founder. EMILY is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" (it helps raise the dough).
The people who founded Emily's List knew that early money made women credible candidates and gave them the best shot at winning. That is still the organization's goal: to help elect pro-choice Democratic women.

But, a few of years ago, a candidate delivered a speech about what EMILY meant to her — and to women all across the country.
That candidate was Jennifer Granholm, who is now the governor of the state of Michigan and one of the rising stars in American politics. This is what she had to say:

Here is the transcript from a few excerpts of then-Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm's speech at the EMILY's List Majority Council Conference in June 2002.

"EMILY is every woman who has ever sat at a business meeting while someone else took credit for her good work.

EMILY is every young professional who's been told to wait her turn and every seasoned one who's been told she still has to pay her dues.

EMILY is every working mom who's managed to balance a checkbook, who's managed a clean house, a corporate budget and a 12-year-old's basketball tournament in one day.

EMILY is every stay-at-home mom who has ever been asked, 'No, I mean, what do you do? What do you really do?'

She is every woman who's ever had to defend her right to be pro-choice. She's every woman who's ever had to explain her choice not to have a child.

She's every woman who has ever demanded a raise because she's been doing the same work as the man in the next cubicle for the same number of years, and she's still not getting the same pay. She's every woman who has ever wondered why the company won't cover her contraceptives, but will cover that same guy's Viagra.

EMILY is every working mom who has ever fought for quality day care or family leave time. She is every woman who has given up a single day of vacation to care for a sick child or a sick parent.

EMILY is every girl in every classroom whose hand was still in the air after the boys got their questions answered.

She's every athlete who's ever been told, she 'throws like a girl.'
She's every candidate who's ever been asked how she can run for office and have a family at the same time.
She is every African American woman who has had to work three times as hard to be considered as good as her white male colleague.
She is every Jewish woman who has ever been called a princess.
She is every Hispanic woman who has been asked how long her family has been in this country.

She is every woman who has been called too soft or too strong or too aggressive or too nice or too ambitious to get the job done.
She is every woman who has ever been measured against a glossy picture in a magazine.

EMILY is the seamstress who has sewn the graduation gowns for years but has never worn one. EMILY is every woman who helped set up this room today and who will clean up after we leave … and that same woman who only wants her daughters to dream big dreams, because EMILY knows that young girls cannot be what they cannot see.

She is you. She may be your next governor … she may be your next vice-president ... she may be your next president.

And EMILY doesn't get mad — she gets elected!"
xxx
Emily's List is a dynamic, important organization.
Their primary function has been the same since it's founding in 1985. In 24 years they have been instrumental in electing Democratic Pro-Choice women to offices at every level in the country except the Executive Branch and it won't be long till they reach that goal, as well.

And it's time, now, to begin our donations to this worthy cause to be sure we hang onto both houses in 2010. Please go here to check it out.

Dobbs Says There Are "Still Questions". Oh, Really?

Jon Stewart is the most trusted news caster in America today [according to a NY Times Poll].
Heck, even Kansas and Missouri, 2 Republican bastions, voted for him--how trusted is THAT?
And Jon put out this piece on the "birther movement. Take a look.

July 17, 2009

An Insider Speaks Out

Wendell Potter, a former high-ranking PR executive for Cigna wrote an expose of the health care industry. The following is an excerpt. The entire article can be found here.
And here is a related article that exposes numerous practices engaged in by the 'health care' industry.
xxx
I'm the former insurance industry insider now speaking out about how big for-profit insurers have hijacked our health care system and turned it into a giant ATM for Wall Street investors, and how the industry is using its massive wealth and influence to determine what is (and is not) included in the health care reform legislation members of Congress are now writing.

[I]n recent years I had grown increasingly uncomfortable serving as one of the industry's top PR executives. In addition to my responsibilities at CIGNA . . . I was in a unique position to see not only how Wall Street analysts and investors influence decisions insurance company executives make but also how the industry has carried out behind-the-scenes PR and lobbying campaigns to kill or weaken any health care reform efforts that threatened insurers' profitability.

I also have seen how the industry's practices . . . have contributed to the tragedy of nearly 50 million people being uninsured as well as to the growing number of Americans who . . . are underinsured. An estimated 25 million of us now fall into that category.

What I saw happening over the past few years was a steady movement away from the concept of insurance and toward "individual responsibility," a term used a lot by insurers and their ideological allies. This is playing out as a continuous shifting of the financial burden of health care costs away from insurers and employers and onto the backs of individuals.

As an industry spokesman, I was expected to put a positive spin on this trend that the industry created and euphemistically refers to as "consumerism" and to promote so-called "consumer-driven" health plans. I ultimately reached the point of feeling like a huckster.

I thought I could live with being a well-paid huckster and hang in there a few more years until I could retire. I probably would have if I hadn't made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of years ago that changed the direction of my life. While visiting my folks in northeast Tennessee where I grew up, I read in the local paper about a health "expedition" being held that weekend a few miles up U.S. 23 in Wise, Va. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were volunteering their time to provide free medical care to people who lived in the area. What intrigued me most was that Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group whose original mission was to provide free care to people in remote villages in South America, was organizing the expedition. I decided to check it out.

That 50-mile stretch of U.S. 23, which twists through the mountains where thousands of men have made their living working in the coalmines, turned out to be my "road to Damascus."

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I reached the Wise County Fairgrounds, where the expedition was being held. Hundreds of people had camped out all night in the parking lot to be assured of seeing a doctor or dentist when the gates opened. By the time I got there, long lines of people stretched from every animal stall and tent where the volunteers were treating patients.

That scene was so visually and emotionally stunning it was all I could do to hold back tears. How could it be that citizens of the richest nation in the world were being treated this way?

A couple of weeks later I was boarding a corporate jet to fly from Philadelphia to a meeting in Connecticut. When the flight attendant served my lunch on gold-rimmed china and gave me a gold-plated knife and fork to eat it with, I realized for the first time that someone's insurance premiums were paying for me to travel in such luxury. I also realized that one of the reasons those people in Wise County had to wait in long lines to be treated in animal stalls was because our Wall Street-driven health care system has created one of the most inequitable health care systems on the planet.

Although I quit my job last year, I did not make a final decision to speak out as a former insider until recently when it became clear to me that the insurance industry and its allies (often including drug and medical device makers, business groups and even the American Medical Association) were succeeding in shaping the current debate on health care reform.

I heard members of Congress reciting talking points like the ones I used to write to scare people away from real reform. I'll have more to say about that over the coming weeks and months, but, for now, remember this: whenever you hear a politician or pundit use the term "government-run health care" and warn that the creation of a public health insurance option that would compete with private insurers (or heaven forbid, a single-payer system like the one Canada has) will "lead us down the path to socialism," know that the original source of the sound bite most likely was some flack like I used to be.

Bottom line: I ultimately decided the stakes are too high for me to just sit on the sidelines and let the special interests win again. So I have joined forces with thousands of other Americans who are trying to persuade our lawmakers to listen to us for a change, not just to the insurance and drug company executives who are spending millions to shape reform to benefit them and the Wall Street hedge fund managers they are beholden to.

Take it from me, a former insider, who knows what really motivates those folks. You need to know where the hard-earned money you pay in health insurance premiums -- if you lucky enough to have coverage at all -- really goes.

I decided to speak out knowing that some people will not like what I have to say and will do all they can to discredit me.

I'm writing this because, knowing how things work, I'm fully expecting insurers' PR firms to quietly feed friends of the industry . . . with anything they can think of to discredit me and what I say. This will go on behind the scenes because the insurers will want to preserve the image they are working so hard to cultivate -- as a group of kind and caring folks who think only of you and your health and are working hard as real partners to Congress and the White House to find "a uniquely American solution" to what ails our system.

I expect this because I have worked closely with the industry's PR firms over many years whenever the insurers were being threatened with bad publicity, litigation or legislation that might hinder profits.

One of the reasons I chose to become affiliated with the Center for Media and Democracy is because of the important work the organization does to expose often devious, dishonest and unethical PR practices that further the self interests of big corporations and special interest groups at the expense of the American people and the democratic principles this country was founded on.

After a long career in PR, I am looking forward to providing an insider's perspective as a senior fellow at CMD, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak out for the rights and dignity of ordinary people. The people of Wise County and every county deserve much better than to be left behind to suffer or die ahead of their time due to Wall Street's efforts to keep our government from ensuring that all Americans have real access to first-class health care.

July 8, 2009

Well, So Much for the Stimulus

Heard on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:
Hartford Connecticut is poor. Two years ago, it’s kids scored among the lowest in the nation on performance tests. Connecticut also has some of the richest communities in the country. As a result, the state has the widest performance gap of all the states among its students.

One district in Hartford did a massive overhaul of its schools. With no new money, it redesigned its systems to include 4 separate ‘academies’ within each school. The campus that was profiled had the Freshman Academy, the Law Academy, the Green Academy and the Nursing Academy. Except for the Freshman Academy which serves as an introduction to high school, each provides the basic high school curriculum as well as focusing on its own core area of study. For the first time in a long, long time, 2008/2009’s test scores began moving upward.

The kids who were interviewed by the NewsHour reporter sang the praises of their school saying that, for the first time, they believe they have a shot at attending college.
When the stimulus came along, the 4 principals of the school were elated. They intended to hire a school nurse, a counselor, a health teacher, a math teacher as well as raising salaries across the school in order to entice better teachers to come to their system.

I believe any reasonable person can agree—an increase in college attendance and graduation would, more than almost any other development, serve to bring Connecticut [or any other state] out of its economic doldrums and jump-start the economy. It’s too bad the governor of Connecticut cannot be counted among the reasonable people of the world.

True to form, Jodi Rell cut all programs the stimulus would affect by the exact amount of the expected infusion from the Federal Government. What do you want to bet she refunded $300.00 to each of her constituents?
Goodbye, new money—hello, status quo. And so long, prospects of bringing in new teachers, raising salaries, adding support staff. In other words, so much for creating new jobs. Gee, thanks, Governor Rell.

I guess she’s looking out for her and her neighbor’s kids. After all—we can’t have just any riff-raff in those poor towns going to good schools and getting into college. What if the rich children can't get into those good schools because their poorer counterparts make better grades than they do? And, what will those rich kids do for jobs in such an Alice-In- Wonderland world?

Of course, another possibility is that this Republican Governor has joined forces with Rush Limbaugh and simply wants the stimulus to fail. To hell with the country, to hell with her own kids' future if we can see to it that Obama falls flat on his face and we can elect Sarah Palin in 2012.