Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whole Foods and NPR--together again, for the first time anywhere!

I hope all of you have heard that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has written a Wall Street Journal op-ed opposing health care reform. I suspect at least some of you have joined in on the Whole Foods boycott, as I have. But to the clowns at NPR, the boycott must be the actions of a fringe group of leftist nutballs, apparently, because in their online article on the boycott and furor, they achieve the modern equivalent of "balanced reporting". They quote one of the "some" boycotting Whole Foods, who cogently and coherently states that: "he won't be shopping at the store 'as long as this person is in charge at Whole Foods and he maintains his opposition to appropriate health care payment. If this is their corporate philosophy, I cannot support that . . ." Then the writer quotes an opponent: "I wish the whole country would oppose it...And I think that you find now, at least what we hear, maybe not on NPR or Fox News, you hear that the majority of people are against it, but you have Obama sitting there trying to achieve something that people don't want."
Neatly tied up in a bow, isn't it? One for, one against. Except, of course, the first is clearly and simply one man's rationale for his actions, while the other is a diatribe filled with errors. Just like they do at all the right wing rags, NPR has provided "balance" without doing anything to provide the actual facts involved in the right wingers' claims, which are all inaccurate.
Well done once again, NPR!

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What's wrong with America?

TBO and I had a conversation last night--in the middle of the night, during one of our son's many awakenings--after which I couldn't sleep, so I began to think about the question she posed to me: What's wrong with America?
We were thinking specifically of the ongoing craziness surrounding the President's birth, but as I lay awake, I started cataloging all of the utter nonsense or just plain evil things that people in this country believe.
1) Topping the crazy list is the sad "birther" mess. For those of you not plugged in to the media, the right wing has decided to make President Obama's place of birth an issue--the "birthers" contend that Obama is not qualified to be President because, as they think, he was not really born in the US. And even though Obama authorized the release of his actual birth records, and had them vetted by all local authorities possible, and even though others seeking to put this lunacy to rest have corroborated all existing external aspects of his birth (scans of the Obamas' newspaper birth announcements, for example), there are some in the country who have chosen to continue believing that there is a grand conspiracy at work. And it's not just some lone whackos out on the fringe somewhere on the Web--powerful media voices such as Lou Dobbs and CNN are keeping this silliness alive, if not well. Republican Congressmen are at the very least reluctant to voice their disagreement with the conspiracy, and with people like this helping, recent polling shows that a majority of Republicans (and Southerners) in the country have been duped into doubting (at best) Obama's already proven citizenship.
My question becomes, in the face of these disturbing and pathetic polling results, is this a simple case of racism, or is it simple-mindedness instead? My guess is that it's a bit of both, which is somewhat redundant anyway, imho, since the way I look at it, racism is just a form of stupidity, willful ignorance, or plain laziness of thought. Why anyone might actively choose to be stupid is beyond me, but I guess it does make life easier.
2) While perhaps less crazy than ignorant and selfish are those who continue to buy into the Reagan-era line "Government is not the solution to the country's problems, it is the problem." TBO told me of a caller to Patt Morrison's NPR show who was railing against the "Cash for Clunkers" program. The caller ranted that she didn't want her tax dollars going to pay for someone else's benefit, clearly missing the obvious point that she benefits greatly from others' taxes any time she turns on her faucet, or flushes her toilet, or drives on anything other than dirt roads, etc., etc., etc.
It truly angers me that people have become so incredibly selfish as to think that they, and only they, pay into the system and that they do not see any rewards for having done so, buying into the libertarian/conservative canard that it's their money that they see deducted from their paychecks, and no one should touch it. It doesn't take but one single minute to think it through--if government didn't get that money and thereby were non-existent, all individuals would be paying out just as much to get all the public services they enjoy unthinkingly.
I would argue, actually, that without the non-profit government acting on their behalf, any of these services would cost them far, far more of their hard earned dollars. The current health insurance debate points to that very point. Aside from the ridiculous notion that there is some sort of desirable relationship between patients and their health insurance companies--as alluded to by the official (which we know is a joke, but still) spokesman of the Republican Party Michael Steele, although in the press release of that same speech, these lines were deleted. Shocker!--the fight over reforming our broken health care system revolves solely around the idea of government's role in our lives.
One would think health care would be considered a right in any civilized country (as it is in all other Western democracies), requiring governmental action in order to protect us all from the effects of ill health, and one would further think that no decent human being would think to deny that right to anyone else. One would be wrong, of course, but only pertaining to our country. Right wingers of all stripes--yes, even those with a "D" next to their name--are fighting mightily to prevent the federal government from interfering with the stranglehold private insurance companies have on access to health care. Their arguments run from the ridiculous, as noted above, to the purely ideological. Many conservatives are arguing both that a government-run (as if anyone, unfortunately, is pushing for that at this point!) health care system would be inefficient, and also that it would constitute an unfair threat to the private sector-run system in place now. Think about that for a mere second and you will get it: if the government is so inefficient in its operation, why would the private sector be threatened? Doesn't the free market trump all possible government-run systems? That the right wing is even trying to argue along these paradoxical lines makes it clear that this issue is the most troubling issue facing them, and that the conservatives/Republicans know that once a government system is put in place, it will quickly and irrevocably chase out the massively wasteful, immoral, and hugely profitable private one. They are throwing every single thing they've got ideologically against the country's wall, hoping something sticks and they can stop this reform in its tracks, and the argument with the most resonance with people like the caller to the Morrison show is based on the diseased belief that all government is bad, and paying any amount of taxes into it is worse. Which resolves into the sad sentiment that these jerks don't really believe that all people deserve to be treated for their illnesses or health conditions, and in fact, should be made to suffer instead. And that's not stupid, it's evil. Conservatives and liberals have points of contention that can honorably be fought out on our nation's governmental floors, but where is the honor in denying people the right to live without pain or even to live at all? There is none that I can see, and it sickens me to see and hear people arguing so on a daily basis.

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