Musings at the Coast

Posted: September 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Originally posted 10/31/10
Back in the RV now after a good, though spendy meal at the Pelican Pub.  I think I mentioned that the scotch was $9.00, which makes me glad I brought a bottle of Clan McGregor for which I paid $11.00.  That’s two dollars more than one drink at the Pub.

Anyway I’m sitting here having a scotch ( cheap ) and  thinking about politics.  I have decided I hate politics.  It occurs to me that politicians are liars no matter what side they are on.  It is very disturbing to me that the good guys (democrats) are just as big liars as the the bad guys (republicans).  It makes me crazy.  The guys whose policies I agree with are supposed to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.  If you are confident that the things you believe are correct, there is no reason to speak ill of the opposition.  Just tell the truth as you see it and right will always win out.  Evil and ill will may win some battles, but the war will always go to the good guys.

I am a Christian.  I have not always been a Christian.  For years I had no use for religion in any form. I don’t believe that Christianity is the only way to God, it is just my way to God.  When I read and think about the teachings and the life of Jesus it makes me realize that I am very imperfect and have a long way to go if I ever hope to be worthy to be called a friend of Jesus.  I  know some things, though, from my studies that make me a liberal both religiously and politically.  For one thing, Jesus was always speaking against the current religious leaders because they were arrogant and self righteous.  They were certain that they were right and that they were somehow better than everyone else.  When they gave to the poor, they did it in public to be seen by everyone so people would see how wonderful they were.  Yet in private they foreclosed on the houses of widows and other poor folks.  Does that remind you of any modern institutions?

The Bible is a big book that takes a long time to read.  It is difficult to understand in many places.  There is no shortage of people who are willing to tell you what the Bible says and means.  As Christians, though, we are mainly interested in what Jesus said and did in his life and ministry.  That is a much smaller body of literature.  The first four books of the New Testament contain all we need to know about how to conduct ourselves as followers of Jesus.  When I learned this simple fact, life became much simpler for me.  More about that later.

Okay, “health care reform”.  Big subject but vey simple for me.  Question? How can we be assured that everyone has access to quality health care, no matter what socio-economic class they happen to be in.  Easy answer.  We just make it so that all people have equal access to medical services.  I don’t think we can do that by making everyone buy insurance.  Everyone cannot afford to buy insurance.  Insurance companies are in business to make a profit.  No sin in making a profit, but why does everything in our lives have to be about profit.  There are things in life where the profit motive is not a good fit.  Doctors and nurses and other health care workers are people who want to help others.  They don’t want to help only those who have lots of money or good insurance.  They want to help all people who need help.

My wife died because our insurance company decided that the only treatment with a chance of saving her life was not covered. We could have sold our home and gone deeply into debt and perhaps raised enough money to get the treatment on our own, but my wife opted not to do that.  You mentioned that if you had a catastrophic medical condition you would probably lose your home and everything else in an effort to stay alive.  There are people who work no harder than you or I yet have enough money to pay for our health care expenses hundreds or thousands of times over with no effect to their own health care.  These people pay our politicians millions in campaign funds in order to keep it that way.

Let me ask you a question?  What is it that runs our economy.  It is actually very simple.  We are consumers.  We buy products and the retailers order more products and the manufacturers produce those products and hire more workers to produce more products to sell to the retailers to sell to the consumers.  I keep hearing Republicans say that if you give tax breaks to the rich people they will invest more into their factories and create jobs.  That is absolutely false.  Factory owners will only produce more products, (jobs) if consumers are buying those products. Let’s say that you make a rich person pay more taxes because they have more to pay.  At the same time you give a tax break to the middle class (consumers).  The consumers buy more products because they have more money to buy the products.  Do you really think the factory owners are not going to produce those products because they had to pay more taxes?  They will produce the products, whatever it takes, like hiring more workers, because their livelihood depends on selling the products.  Perhaps they will have to buy the 50′ yacht instead of the 65′ yacht because the difference had to go to help pay for you cancer surgery.

We (liberals) were after “health care reform”.  What we got instead was “health insurance reform”.  Not what we wanted, but a step in the right direction.  Ultimate goal:  No one in this country must choose between quality health care and keeping their home or buying food or sending their kids to college.  The beginning of reaching that goal:  Force the insurance companies to be fair and make sure everyone can have health insurance.  The same people who are hollering about the horrors of “socialized medicine” were hollering about the socialistic idea of socialized retirement back in the 30’s.  Millions of older American’s today are thanking God that we ignored the nay sayers back then.  My father would have been dependent on his children to take care of him except for social security.  There are things that do not have to be for profit in a capitalist society.  Health care is one of those things.  Forcing the insurance companies to be fair is just the beginning.  I for one do not think it will work.  I think we need to provide free quality health care equally to all people.  Not because they are Americans, but because they are people.

Jesus liked regular people like you and I.  He was a party guy.  He was always at some party or other drinking wine and talking to people about how they should treat their neighbors.  The only time he went to church was to tell the church people what they were doing wrong.  We just had a President who claimed to be a “born again Christian”.  Then he started two wars.  Took our economy from a huge surplus to a huge deficit as a result of those wars and the fact that he allowed the rich people to run things.  Now we have a president who is a Christian, but doesn’t say much about it.  He is trying to get us out of the two wars and fix our economy at the same time.  I keep hearing Republicans calling the stimulus package a failed policy.  I am just one little guy in the scheme of things, but I have personally seen more than a hundred million dollars worth of construction projects that would not have happened but for the “failed” stimulus package.  Keep in mind that I only see the work in Oregon.  Most people do not know that 1/3 of that “failed” package went to extend unemployment benefits and another 1/3 for tax cuts to middle class people like me.  I don’t know about you, but I had $800 more dollars to spend in this economy because of those tax cuts.  The other 1/3 was for construction projects all over the country.  Failed?  What?  Can we be honest or do we just want to be political?  It took George and Dick 8 years to run us into the deepest hole we have been into in my lifetime.  Let’s give Barack a little more than two years years to pull us out.

I hear people calling this the worst recession since the “Great Depression”.  I don’t know how much you have read about that part of our history, but the little I have read tells me that we are not even close.  Unemployment reached 25% and it lasted for 11 years.  Incidentally, it took a democratic president with the balls to fight the status quo to finally pull us out of it.  They cried “socialist” then too.  We came out of it with a new way of doing government.  Still capitalist, but socialist where it needed to be socialist.  When capitalists fail to serve the people and begin to let greed rule them, we must turn to socialism in some areas to make things fair.  If you can find a way for the insurance companies to police themselves and serve the people, the people will allow it to continue.  If not, the people must take over and make it right.  Obama is trying to give the insurance industry one last chance.  I hope it succeeds, but I am a realist.  I think they will continue to allow greed to run their business.  I think the final result will be that the insurance industry will get tossed out of the health care business by the people.

The government is imperfect, but the government is the people.  The people have the power and will exercise that power when necessary to protect themselves against greedy men.

Wow, this is getting long.  That’s what you get for turning a wild eyed liberal loose with a full bottle of scotch and an iPad.

Cheers
Harvey

Sat. Oct 30, 2010

So as a Christian, how can I justify going to war.  Actually as a modern fundamentalist Christian, it is very easy.  If you believe that the Old and New Testaments are the literal, inn-errant word of God, you can justify almost anything.  Need justification for slavery, it’s there.  Need to justify prostitution, it’s there.  Need to justify executing prostitutes, that’s there as well.  I could go on and on but you get the point.

That’s why I like to differentiate “Christians” from “Followers of Christ (Jesus)”.  If you are a follower of Jesus and his teachings, you will have a very difficult time justifying  many things we do as Americans.  Nationalism and Christianity are incompatible.

If you believe that as Americans we are somehow better than people who are not American you are a Nationalist.  So let’s examine that.  How do you determine if someone is a Nationalist?  Do you think that, because of an accident of birth, you are entitled to certain rights and privileges not enjoyed by others?  I was born in the US and so I am automatically a US citizen.  If I am overseas and become the victim of a terrorist attack along with 5 Israelis, 12 Indians, 3 Italians and 30 Ugandans.  The news casters will say “51 people died today in a terrorist attack including 1 American.  It’s like the attack was so much worse because there was an American killed.  As a young man in college studying WWII, I remember that people were looking for ways to justify dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities.  I asked my father about it and he justified it by saying that it ended the war sooner and may have saved the lives of 5,000 American soldiers. So we were willing to sacrifice somewhere between 150,000 and 230,000 people, most of whom were innocent civilians, for the possibility of saving the lives of 5,000 American soldiers.  So if we do the math, each American soldier is valued at 30 to 46 innocent Japanese civilians.

That brings me to immigration.  Our southern national border seems to be a large area of concern to some people.  It seems that all of these terrible people keep coming into our country so that they can work and make enough money to feed their families.  How dare they.  They are not Americans, most do not speak our language.  I’m sure Jesus would agree that if they were not born in the US and speak english, they have no right to work here and feed their kids.  I mean after all, they are taking our jobs.  If not for them, we could be picking the fruit or mowing the grass or washing our cars or any number of those highly sought after, high paying jobs.

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