31 million fellow Americans have health care!!

Why is it that all we hear about is “who’s going to pay for it?” Have the lives of our fellow citizens become so cheap?
What if it were our children who could now get health care (not just insurance but care) in a hospital because they are insured when injured by an accident or threatened by serious illness? Or our parents whose care we are responsible for? What about if it were our spouse or ourselves? Would we then be in favor of “Obamacare?”

I remember a phrase from my past about it depending on whose ox is gored – or maybe whose ox gets treatment when it’s gored.

We watch TV and movies about lives that are saved at the last minute against all odds and we cheer when victims are saved. How different are the reactions of many in real life when they fear that the victims saved may cost them money?! But if we asked these same people which they value more, money or lives, how many do you think would answer “money?” Not many, But their actions  betray their true feelings.

Every other industrial nation has long ago stated their preference for life over money. Can we, in the United States of America, the wealthiest nation on the planet, do less for our citizens, our families, ourselves?

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THE EMOTIONAL TWO YEAR OLD WHO STOLE AMERICA’S SOUL

In his book, SCRIPTS PEOPLE LIVE, Claude Steiner, says that many humans if not most, decide in childhood or early adolescence, how the world works. Since neither child nor adolescent can write a worthwhile script for a play or movie worth watching, it is important that the young author revise or even reverse his or her early beliefs about life. Mr. Steiner believes that many of life’s problems arise from failure to change the early script that people write for themselves as children  and they continue to try to make it work as adults.

Ayn Rand is such a person. She is clearly extremely intelligent but claims her intelligence as a birthright due to no one but herself. She is said to have reverenced her father, but had little regard for her mother. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, a city made of stone that looked to Europe and the West; built by czar Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century. St. Petersburg was seen by Ayn as exclusively a work of man. It was only the works of man that Rand respected. She showed no respect or reverence for nature.

Her fictional heroes and heroines were always blond and blue-eyed and their bodies were as beautiful as their faces. They anticipated the superficial beauty of Hollywood. A biographer says that Ayn was disappointed with her own rather unattractive face and body.

Psychologists tell us that it is important that infants have their narcissistic needs met lest they remain narcissistic throughout life. Although I have not read a biographer who comments about a negative relationship of Ayn with her mother from birth, biographer Anne Heller does report a negative relationship with her mother in childhood. She also says that while Ayn related well with her father when she came to see that he reflected her ideal of a successful businessman, he seems to have been unavailable  to meet her narcissistic needs as an infant.

Not having her narcissistic needs met as an infant, Ayn Rand used her considerable intelligence to spread her narcissism through  fiction, WE THE LIVING, FOUNTAINHEAD, and ATLAS SHRUGGED. She told her readers that their infantile beliefs that they alone mattered, and they should not be influenced by those who tell them they are wrong. They should not move from their two year old conviction that whatever they want is MINE by rights and that they should claim what is rightfully theirs against all odds,

Any concern or consideration of the needs of others should be looked upon  as remnants of a false sense of guilt, left over from the superstitious and harmful religions of the past, and that if anyone faults you for being uncaring, you should tell them that you care about the only thing that really matters, yourself.

Recent American political admirers and followers of Ms. Rand have been Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Securities and Exchange Chairman, Christopher Cox, Congresspersons Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford. It is frightening to think that so many American leaders are following someone who was indeed brilliant but whose emotional development was halted at the age of two.

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THE PRESIDENT’S MOTHER AND CAROLE GILLIGAN

My wife and I were talking about the president during a commercial break from Morning Joe one day this past week. I said that the president seems not to understand that Republicans are not his friends, and they want him to fail. My wife said that he’s just too good to be president. He doesn’t want to offend people. I told her about Maureen Dowd’s piece in last Sunday’s Times. Ms. Dowd had quoted a few lines from Robert Frost’s “Lesson for Today”

“I’m a liberal. You, you aristocrat, won’t know exactly what I mean
by that. I mean so altruistically moral I never take my own side in
a quarrel.”

Later it occurred to me that the president was raised by his mother and grandmother. Carole Gilligan wrote in disagreement with her teacher, Lawrence Kohlberg, that women have a different value system than men. Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development end with the potential sacrifice of everything in pursuit of one’s values. Ms. Gilligan wrote that Doctor Kohlberg’s surveys that took him to that conclusion were too heavily based on male responses and that there were differences in male and female values. Simply put, the chief difference between men and women, Gilligan said, is that men see justice as the ultimate good, women see caring relationships as that good.

Several years ago when Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor resigned from the court to care for her ailing husband, I encountered this difference among my family and friends. I was concerned about the likely change in the complexion of the court from a relatively balanced one to a clearly conservative one. I thought Justice O’Connor’s first obligation was to her country, and all other obligations played a lesser role. The opposition was as surprising to me as it was vehement. My women friends, including my wife, insisted that Ms. Day-O’Connor’s first obligation was to her husband.

Is it possible, maybe even likely, that the president’s avoidance of conflict — his not taking “his own side in a quarrel” — is due to the predominant influence of his mother and grandmother in his growing up years with their caring relationship emphasis?

You may say that he has shown his male preference in strengthening the war in Afghanistan. Considering the American people’s opposition to the war, however, as well as that of the Democratic Party, is his aggression a case of his “Protesting too much?” Does he feel a need to prove his maleness by his willingness to increase the country’s use of force, thereby pleasing the hawks in his administration and in the Congress? Besides, the issue is not aggressiveness at all. The president doesn’t need to beat down his Republican opponents; he simply needs to assert forcefully his own side in the quarrel.

Does the feminine influence in the president’s upbringing explain the things he’s done that make progressives scratch their heads in wonder, and some to regretfully walk away? Maybe he’s only following his feminine training that says he must value caring relationships above all else, even caring relationships with his enemies.

We humans need balance, usually men need to feed their feminine side, consciously developing caring relationships with others. Women on the other hand, need to nurture justice and follow their social values as well as care for family and friends. Too great emphasis on one or the other — especially in leaders — causes confusion and loss of support among those who follow them. It’s also bad for the country.

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IS REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR THE MOST DECEITFUL POLITICIAN OF ALL?

Not being able to get a straight answer to a question or a relevant comment on a subject that has been raised is nothing new for a politician, but Representative Cantor has lowered his comments to total irrelevance.

I saw him first on Morning Joe, not a locale known for persecuting right wingers, and the interview with Mr. Cantor held true to that expectation. None but soft balls were lobbed at the Republican Leader. Later I watched Mr. Cantor online as he was interviewed by David Gregory on this morning’s Today Show. Mr. Gregory was not such an easy interviewer to deceive. Following is the substance of the conversation with my own objections added:

Gregory: Yesterday the president indicated a willingness to give on spending cuts. Are you willing, as you indicated you would be yesterday, to raise revenue?

Cantor: What I said yesterday was in response to the president’s comment about corporate jets. It‘s counter intuitive to raise taxes when the economy is still sputtering.

Me: It was clear from the context that the president used corporate jets as an example, not as his sole concern about corporate wealth. It’s disingenuous for Mr. Cantor to pretend he didn’t know that. It’s also clear Mr. Cantor isn’t answering the question Mr. Gregory asked.

For Mr. Cantor to imply that the Democrats want to raise taxes on lower and middle class Americans is at best, again, disingenuous, and at worst, a bald faced lie.

Gregory: Are you willing to increase revenues by closing loopholes in the tax code?

Cantor: Yes, I’d like to see (tax) rates taken down. What we want is offsetting tax cuts somewhere else.

Me: Excuse me? Mr. Gregory didn’t say anything about lowering tax rates. He asked if Mr. Cantor would be willing to have loopholes in the tax code closed to increase government revenue.

Me again: So Mr. Cantor wants the tax rate lowered, he also wants to “make up” for lower tax rates by cutting taxes elsewhere. How do those two things that reduce revenue increase revenue? Reminds me of a trick older kids played on younger kids: Heads I win, tails, you lose.

Mr. Gregory makes essentially the same objection I did, asking how Mr. Cantor’s  ideas would reduce the deficit, presumably the point of Republican efforts.

Gregory: How does that get you anywhere?

Cantor: This is about stopping spending money we don’t have — not easy cuts for anyone!

Me: No, that is not what “this” is about. What “this” is about is Mr. Gregory’s question, “Are you willing to increase revenues by closing loopholes in the tax code?”

Gregory: Democrats have agreed to spending cuts (hard for them).  What are Republicans going to do that’s hard?

Cantor: It’s very hard to sit here and say we’re going to increase the debt limit of the country when we have a fourteen trillion dollar debt.

Me: I’m doing my best to resist saying to Mr. Cantor, “Easy for you to say, “It’s hard” standing there in the nation’s capitol with food and clothing and shelter, health insurance, life insurance, transportation, every need for your family all provided in the best possible way, while the others whose assistance you’re willing to cut, must provide all those things for themselves. And it’s hard for you to “SAY” it’s hard for you?

I won’t ask you to give me a break, Mr. Cantor, because you won’t even give a break to hungry children and sick and old Americans

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Peace No Longer Even Gets Lip Service

(Truthout article by Norman Solomon — reprinted here under Creative Commons Attribution)

Thursday 26 May 2011
by: Norman Solomon, Truthout | News Analysis

Soldiers of the US Army’s Alpha Company of Third Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division prepare to fire illumination rounds during a training exercise with the Afghan police in the village of Salamanzi, in the eastern Ghazni Province of Afghanistan, January 23, 2011. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

In times of war, US presidents have often talked about yearning for peace. But the last decade has brought a gradual shift in the rhetorical zeitgeist while a tacit assumption has taken hold – war must go on, one way or another.

“I am continuing and I am increasing the search for every possible path to peace,” Lyndon Johnson said while escalating the Vietnam War. In early 1991, the first President Bush offered the public this convolution: “Even as planes of the multinational forces attack Iraq, I prefer to think of peace, not war.” More than a decade later, George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress: “We seek peace. We strive for peace.”

While absurdly hypocritical, such claims mouthed the idea that the United States need not be at war 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

But these days, peace gets less oratorical juice. In this era, after all, the amorphous foe known as “terror” will never surrender.

There’s an intractable enemy for you: beatable, but never quite defeatable. Terrorists are bound to keep popping up somewhere.

A permanent war psychology has dug a groove alongside the permanent war economy. And so, we hear appreciably less about Washington’s ostensible quest for peace.

Right now, we’re told, President Obama is wrestling with the question of how much to reduce US troop levels in Afghanistan. It’s a fateful decision. We should pressure members of Congress and the White House, pushing for military withdrawal and an end to the air war.

But, just as the reduction of US troop strength in Iraq allowed for escalation in Afghanistan, a search for enemies is apt to be inexhaustible. When Uncle Sam’s proclaimed global mission is to prevent other countries from being used as a base for a terrorist attack on the United States, the Pentagon’s combat tasks are bottomless.

Whether or not the “war on terror” buzz phrase gets official use, the tacit assumption of war without end is now the old normal, again renewed in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death. Every day, the warfare wallpaper inside the mass-media echo chamber is a bit more familiar, blurring the public vision into drowsier acceptance of perpetual war.

Years ago, US military spending climbed above $2 billion per day. Some of the consequences can be understood in the context of words that President Dwight Eisenhower uttered in April 1953, during a speech that began by addressing “the chance for a just peace for all peoples” and ended with the word “peace.”

In the speech, Eisenhower declared: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children … This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Maybe, as a former commanding general, Ike felt some freedom to talk like that. But in the current era, trapped within the “war on terror” matrix, Washington’s political framework leaves very little space for serious talk of peace.

When war (“on terror”) is touted as the embodiment of eternal vigilance, war must be eternal – and in that case, why bother to talk much about striving for peace?

So, peace might be a good goal to recommend to some others – but if the United States is terrorism’s biggest target and most powerful foe, then this country is the last place that should expect, or seek, peace.

In the process, the warfare state pins a multitude of hopes on war with a perverse acculturated faith that it will right wrongs, avenge cruelty, straighten the crooked, cleanse the fetid, prevent violence. Countless times, those delusional hopes have boosted the spirals of suffering. But who’s counting?

In one of Kabul’s poorest neighborhoods, when I spoke with a group of about 20 very poor women in the late summer of 2009, I asked what they needed most of all. Their unanimous response translated as one word: “peace.”

But at the top of Washington’s hierarchy, the yearning is very different. The nation’s decade-long war effort in Afghanistan, where it costs $1 million to deploy one US soldier for one year, is a grisly symptom of chronic war fever. More enemies are easy to find, and even easier to make.

A country that’s committed to being at war will treat the real potential for peace as an abstraction.

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WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?

Who’s in Charge Here?

A few years ago when Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, resigned her seat on the U.S. Supreme Court to care for her ailing husband, I argued that Justice O’Connor’s first duty was to her country, and only secondarily to her husband. A friend argued that if I had an opportunity to succeed in an endeavor I was involved in at the time and my wife fell ill, would I not feel obligated to forsake the endeavor to care for my wife. My answer had been “yes, but only because my endeavor did not have the immediate importance or long term effect of being one of nine justices who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

I recently read of a statesman who said that were he to betray either his country or a friend, he hoped he would betray his country. This morning’s Indianapolis Star ran a headline, quoting Indiana governor Mitch Daniels’ rejection of his supporters’ encouragement to run for president in 2012, saying, “I love my country; I love my family more.”

These instances of opposition between personal and professional obligations brought to mind the dispute between Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan. Kohlberg suggested that moral development proceeds through six stages, beginning with simple obedience to authority, and ending with a principle of what he called universal morality or conscience. In the classic example of Heins whose wife is dying for lack of a drug that is available but which he can’t afford, the principle is that he is justified in stealing the drug because saving a human life is more important than property rights.

Carol Gilligan objected to Kohlberg’s stages, saying that his study was too heavily weighted with male subjects and was invalid because of the absence of female values. Whereas Kohlberg insisted that he stressed universal values, Gilligan emphasized relationship values. By extending these two categories a bit, we come up with “Thinkers,” or those who stress universal values, and “Feelers,” who focus on relationships. (The Thinkers/Feelers used here is not the category of the Myers-Briggs Psychological test.)

I have been faced with a dilemma of this kind recently in quoting emails in a book I’m writing, that a friend and I exchanged over a period of several years. The friend was a Catholic priest and pastor, who expressed some thoughts to me, a resigned priest, that he might not have expressed to other lay people. The friend has since died. My reason for wanting to include his opinions in the book about the Catholic Church is that I believe that lay people should know what their clergy honestly think about hierarchy and other church matters. My friend revealed his opinions in honest expressions of his thinking and I believed that by including the emails in the book, I might lessen the gap between clergy and laity. In sharing his thoughts with me, he exacted no promise that I would keep them confidential even in the event of his death.

Those who objected had been close friends with the former pastor and based their resistance on their belief that the pastor would not have wanted his thoughts made public. I based my thinking on the hope that a greater good might result from their publication, and the fact that he had shared his thoughts with me via email. Thus the sides were drawn between “Thinker,” me, and “Feeler,” the pastor’s friends, between Kohlberg’s “universal” standards on the one hand and personal relationships on the other.

I believe that Gilligan is correct in her criticism of Kohlberg, that his standard is not truly universal because feminine values were not included in his study. Therefore Kohlberg’s theory can be called a theory based on general values of males, but not on universal principles agreed upon by women and men alike. Historically, the values of men have been the only values that have mattered and thus might be conceived of, erroneously, as universal values. It’s likely that Kohlberg relied on that historical context that no longer prevails.

I suspect that, more than we have hitherto acknowledged, difficulties between men and women have their source in this general difference between “Thinkers” and “Feelers,” with feminine values tending to be more relationship weighted, and male values more heavily weighted toward the “Thinker” and conscience-based values of men.

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WEAPONS OF MASS EXPLOITATION (Adapted from Truthout)

Weapons of Mass Exploitation (WMEs) are devices used by wealthy corporations to hoodwink the rest of us into believing that our troubled economy is our own fault as consumers, and that they have the solution to the resulting problems. In reality, it is the greed of those who have benefitted from supply side, trickle-down economics, the very ones who point an accusing finger at us.  They have lowered wages and outsourced well-paying jobs in to increase the value of their corporations and shareholder returns.

What WMEs really do is create debt, personal and governmental debt, and cause the

problems that result to pile up. Supply of products and Demand for products are like two wings of an airplane. They must be equally strong, otherwise the economy will crash.

A balanced economy looks like this: supply = demand

The main source of supply is productivity while the main source of demand is wages paid to workers who produce the goods. In the past, balance was maintained by tying wages to productivity in the well founded belief that a deserved increase in wages would allow workers to buy the goods they produce. This connection between supply and demand allowed the two “wings” to grow together and maintain balance.

In the mid-1970s, businesses joined forces, making them able to wield greater power. With this combined power, they cut the traditional link that had tied wages to production.

Because there is always improved technology and increase in investment, productivity increases every year. Unless wages continue to grow along with greater productivity, the economy falters.  Business’s solution to this inequity has been to encourage consumers to borrow ever more, first with credit cards, then with borrowing against their major investment, their homes. This was business’s way of balancing demand with supply. It was the corporate solution, a “Weapon of Mass Exploitation,” or a WME.

An unbalanced economy since the mid 1970s has looked like this: supply = demand + consumer debt (credit card and home equity loans)

A second effect of inequity between supply and demand is worker layoffs, since manufacturers can’t sell all they  produce with full employment. These layoffs in turn result in even more layoffs since employers sell from their overstock, and there are fewer customers who can afford their products.

The author of Weapons of Mass Exploitation, Ravi Batra, writing in Truthout, says that the only cause of unemployment in an advanced economy like the U.S. economy is a rise in the gap between what employees produce and what their employer pays them for their work.

This gap results in problems, not only for employers and employees but for politicians as well. The political solution to the heavier supply than demand is for government to issue low-interest loans through the FED, thus making government a partner with consumers in an attempt to balance badly trailing demand with supply.

The equation continues to develop: What started as equal supply and demand has now become: supply = demand + credit card debt + home equity debt + government debt/deficit.

Unable to sustain its debt, the U.S. government borrowed from other countries, and in the fall of 2011 the U.S. threatens to renege on repayment of loans it has already received. Meanwhile “THE ECONOMY” meaning “THE WALL STREET ECONOMY,” thrives. Wages have lagged behind supply since 1981, with the result that corporations and their executives have grown steadily richer (on wages not paid) while middle class and poorer citizens are deprived of necessities to keep the airplane of the crippled economy from a second recession, of possibly 1930s depression proportions.

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