Entries Tagged as 'History'

It’s not a happy Memorial Day…

It’s not a happy Memorial Day, it’s a solemn Memorial Day.

Today isn’t about barbecues, beach parties, or a day off… it’s about remembering and honoring those who have paid the highest price in the service of our country.

Today we pay respect to the fallen, and give thanks to their tireless efforts to insure the greatness of our country and the liberties we enjoy.

Hidden Evil

Many of my friends and I have engaged in intellectual discussions about the evils of society and what most needs to be fixed.

Views of what’s evil, though, largely depend on your perspective — social liberals might call something evil that a fiscal conservative feels is simply just; and vice-versa.

If you’re a conspiracy buff you’ll enjoy reading through the TheHiddenEvil.com.  Volume I contains a number of factoids, and draws interesting conclusions (I’m certainly not going to say I agree with any or all of them).  Volume II builds on Volume I to make some fairly remarkable assertions — of maybe they’re just hard to believe (or hard to read without a giggle or two at least).

With disinformation an accepted practice of government, organized religion, and business it’s always hard to say definitively what is true and what is a shade of gray.

Originally posted 2010-01-22 02:00:23.

Political Change

I’ve seen a few articles about voters sending a signal of change this last Tuesday with an “anti-establishment” vote… the headlines sound great (along the lines of my “no incumbent” philosophy), but looking at the primary results makes me feel like the declaration of change is more comparable to ice melting in Antarctica in the Spring than anything truly significant…

Real change requires that Americans understand that we are where we are because of the short sightedness and the self-servings of  those we elect — though that said, each and ever American needs to shoulder responsibility for supporting our political leaders and our frenzied consumerism.

Simply put, there’s no such thing as a free lunch — and along with that, you can’t have everything right now.

If we American are to effect real political change, and put this country back on a track that insures our children a safe and prosperous future we need to commit to begin making changes now and pass on to each generation the responsibility and understanding of living in the present while planning for the future.

It’s not going to be an easy path, and we Americans will likely continue to have to address social ills and internal and external detractors; but we must move forward with our economy, society, and environment in a sustainable way with open hands and hearts to help the rest of the world do the same.

Originally posted 2010-05-21 02:00:42.

50 Years of US Peace Corp

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of John F Kennedy’s founding of the US Peace Corps (1-March-1961)… originally just a pilot program, but approved and funded by congress now as an American fixture.

The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.

Since that time, 200,000+ Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

Today’s Peace Corps is more vital than ever, working in emerging and essential areas such as information technology and business development, and contributing to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Peace Corps Volunteers continue to help countless individuals who want to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities.

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship.

The Peace Corps’ mission has three simple goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

http://www.peacecorps.gov/

Originally posted 2011-03-01 02:00:46.

Debunking Canadian health care myths

The following is an except from a Denver Post opinion article by Rhonda Hackett (a clinical psychologist born in Canada, living in the US)

Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada’s taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.

Myth: Canada’s health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.

The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn’t when everybody is covered.

Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S.Ten percent of Canada’s GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada’s. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

What the American taxpayer may not realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.

Myth: Canada’s government decides who gets health care and when they get it.While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don’t get one no matter what your doctor thinks — unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost.

Myth: There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists’ care, and much longer waits for elective surgery. Yes, there are those instances where a patient can wait up to a month for radiation therapy for breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example. However, the wait has nothing to do with money per se, but everything to do with the lack of radiation therapists. Despite such waits, however, it is noteworthy that Canada boasts lower incident and mortality rates than the U.S. for all cancers combined, according to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group and the Canadian Cancer Society. Moreover, fewer Canadians (11.3 percent) than Americans (14.4 percent) admit unmet health care needs.

Myth: Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is.

Myth: Canada is a socialized health care system in which the government runs hospitals and where doctors work for the government.Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt says single-payer systems are not “socialized medicine” but “social insurance” systems because doctors work in the private sector while their pay comes from a public source. Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only. More than 90 percent of physicians in Canada are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Claims are submitted to a single provincial health care plan for reimbursement, whereas in the U.S., claims are submitted to a multitude of insurance providers. Moreover, Canadian hospitals are controlled by private boards and/or regional health authorities rather than being part of or run by the government.

Myth: There aren’t enough doctors in Canada.

From a purely statistical standpoint, there are enough physicians in Canada to meet the health care needs of its people. But most doctors practice in large urban areas, leaving rural areas with bona fide shortages. This situation is no different than that being experienced in the U.S. Simply training and employing more doctors is not likely to have any significant impact on this specific problem. Whatever issues there are with having an adequate number of doctors in any one geographical area, they have nothing to do with the single-payer system.

Originally posted 2010-03-10 02:00:43.

The War of Northern Agression

Or more commonly known as the American Civil War officially ended on 9 April 1865 when General Robert E Lee of the Army of Northern Virgina (Confederate States of America) surrendered to General Ulysses S Grant of the Federal Army of the Potomac ) United States of America) at the Appomattox Court House (Appomattox, Virginia).

In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

The war officially ended, and the country started the long road of reconstruction.

Originally posted 2010-04-09 01:30:38.

Gulf Oil Spill

Well, I’d say that the fact that BP stock is at a fourteen year low is karmic retribution for the way BP has been handling the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; but the stock price doesn’t really hit the company, and most of the large investors are likely to weather the stock price storm until the public forgets about what a horrible company BP is.

Though — the public might not forget too quickly, because the incompetence of BP has now put the problem squarely into hurricane season, and the $2.35 billion that BP has spent to date on the issue could be a pittance compared to what it might cost them if a tropical storm hits the Gulf… and of course the storms have started in what forecasters have indicated is likely to be a very active season.

Originally posted 2010-07-03 02:00:19.

The global war on drugs has failed…

The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world…

Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption. Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers. Repressive efforts directed at consumers impede public health measures to reduce HIV/AIDS, overdose fatalitiesand other harmful consequences of drug use. Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.

 

Global Commission on Drug Policy Report Recommendations:

 

— An end to “the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.”

— Governments experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis.”

— Increases in “health and treatment services [for] those in need.”

— Less focus on the arrest and imprisonment of “people involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets, such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers. Many are themselves victims of violence and intimidation or are drug dependent. Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations.”

— Less emphasis on “simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences.”

— A increased focus on “violent criminal organizations, but do so in ways that undermine their power and reachwhile prioritizing the reduction of violence and intimidation. Law enforcement efforts should focus not on reducing drug markets per se but rather on reducing their harms to individuals, communities and national security.”

Members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

— Asma Jahangir; human rights activist, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions; Pakistan.
— Carlos Fuentes; writer; Mexico.
— Cesar Gaviria; former president of Colombia.
— Ernesto Zedillo; former president of Mexico.
— Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former president of Brazil.
— George Papandreou; Prime Minister of Greece.
— George Shultz; former secretary of state.
— Javier Solana; former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy; Spain.
— John Whitehead; banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial; United States.
— Kofi Annan; former secretary general of the United Nations.
— Louise Arbour; former U.N. high commissioner for human rights; Canada.
— Maria Cattaui; member of the board, Petroplus Holdings; former secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce; Switzerland.
— Marion Caspers-Merk; former state secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health, Germany.
— Mario Vargas Llosa; writer; Peru.
— Michel Kazatchkine; executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; France.
— Paul Volcker; former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
— Richard Branson; entrepreneur; founder of the Virgin Group; U.K.
— Ruth Dreifuss- former president of Switzerland.
— Thorvald Stoltenberg; former minister of foreign affairs and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; Norway.

Originally posted 2011-06-02 02:00:24.

Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell

It appears that the United States will reconsider the “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” policy that prevents gay and lesbians from openly serving in the military.

President Barrack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen have both supported the change but caution against moving too quickly…

It seems though that law makers are in a hurry to repeal the 17 year old law rather than wait 6 more months for a report due from the Pentagon.

I personally see no reason we would discriminate on the basis of sex, creed, color, age, or sexual orientation in any facet of federal policy; but then again, the defense department has a history of “separate but equal” treatment of race (though World War II) and sex (doesn’t seem to be any changes in that one on the horizon) , creed (take a look at the Army Chaplain Corps if you have any questions about a clear Judeo-Christian bias), and age (take a look at the maximum age for enlistees) so why it seems fairly clear that talking-the-talk and walking-the-walk just isn’t a core value of the US military.

Be only what we want you to be!

Originally posted 2010-05-30 02:00:41.

Trust In Government Hits Near-Historic Low

A Pew Poll released yesterday shows “Americans’ trust in government and its institutions has plummeted to a near-historic low…”

Americans’ trust in government and its institutions has plummeted to a near-historic low, according to a sobering new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Only 22 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew say they can trust government in Washington “almost always or most of the time” — among the lowest measures in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question.

And an increasing number — almost 1 of every 3 people — say they believe government is a major threat to their personal freedoms and want federal power reined in.

You can read the complete article on NPR.

Originally posted 2010-04-19 02:00:57.