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I have a love of the difficult, the impossible questions. When people are deadly serious about a subject, they argue carefully, avoiding the triggering of issues they don't want to deal with. It becomes more important to affect the change we have committed to, rather than discuss it any further. The details get lost in the generalization of "for" and "against". I see this in health care, in the level of frustration at inaction.

People in favor of Obama's plan don't like to bring up the high likelihood of increased cost and decreased quality to those currently covered.

People opposed to Obama's plan don't like to talk about the uncovered citizens. I heard one commentator say that the uninsured had full access to emergency room services, which sounds strange to call a defect in the current system a feature. We do that in the programming world all the time.

People opposed to Obama's plan like to drag out the mention of end-of-life care changes suggested in the plan to show how heartless the plan is, but they don't like to talk about the high cost of end-of-life care and who should pay for it and who is paying for it. They just would rather Obama didn't encourage doctors to discuss it.

People in favor of the heath plan don't like to look at Amtrak, or the Post Office, or social security, or the management of bail out money. They like to look at Medicare as long as no one looks at how its paid for.

People for the stimulus don't like to talk about the 4 buses and 4 jobs that West Hampshire bought with stimulus money at 500K a piece. In plain dollars and sense it just looks crazy. Tax payers have to come up with 500K to pay for a 60K job, and I'll bet its not bus drivers paying for these jobs.

People against the stimulus don't like to look at the incredible panic and urgency at the time the stimulus bill was pushed through. It was a do it right away and do it right! What if government can't fix everything? Wasn't an option.

Nobody understands what stops a recession or even what causes one, but no one wants to hear that, so nobody says it.

People in panic about the runaway debt don't like to discuss the likelihood that a great portion of it will be forgiven. They want it to stay as fearsome as possible. National debt has been known to disappear in the past.

People in favor of social programs don't like to look at the runaway debt and try to get the budget office to lower the numbers. They throw out impossible GDP growth figures when nothing points to their likelihood.

What do both sides have in common? An incorruptable belief in the viability of America as a continuing, effective government. This is constant. What if neither socialism nor capitalism can revive the prosperity engine?

Unions refuse to examine the general laziness and dullness of their members, anti-union forces dislike looking at the behaviors of companies like WalMart, or why unions were created originally.

No one wants to admit that great health care for everyone may be impossible. Both sides are forced by political reality to pretend that there is some scribble of words that can somehow make bricks from straw.

Catholics avoid looking at countries with run away birth rates. Socialists won't discuss that poverty and stupidity and responsibility may be related and measurable factors. Libertarians stubbornly refuse to see the failures of la ze faire economics, saying it was never implemented properly.

All have secret beliefs that will never be admitted to. Republicans secretly believe that the poor are in some way deserving and responsible for their state. Democrats secretly despise the rich and casually lower the bar between middle class and the overly rich. They ignore the fact that taxes are a choice and the risk of taking too much from the earners. People will stop earning if they can't keep it. We cannot turn the hard-working into cattle. Won't work.

No one wants to look at taxes and income as a simple matter of greed and bickering between the haves and have nots. This makes both sides look petty and base. Perhaps they are?

Republicans want to limit the amount you can sue a doctor for, but they call it tort reform. It sounds so much better than caps. Democrats don't want to limit the amount you can sue a doctor because they see at as the poor man's only defense against being completely ignored. It may only be tort risk that keeps hospitals from engaging in dangerous short cuts. It makes sense to limit one man's amount of gain from a single suit, but what if only that one case exhibited enough evidence to meet all the requirements of triability, and represented a large class of people hidden by their poverty from legal protection?

What if both sides are generally right? What then? What if medical care is too expensive for a myriad of good reasons, and is insupportable with or without comprehensive reform? What if we are damned either way?

Tough questions.

- Is death the enemy of all men?
- Are some humans worth more than others?
- How long should people live? 1000 years? 2000 years? What if the last 1900 years are on life support?
- How much of my work should benefit me and how much should benefit you?
- Should we be rewarded for work?
- Are we ever at fault? What are we responsible for? What is good for a country? What is bad?
- Is all speech free? Is yelling free? Is anger free speech?
- Is health care a right? Is owning a home a right?
- How much control should I have over how the fruits of my labor are spent?
- What should be subsidized? Why? Why is a farm, a bank, an S & L subsidized?
- Can a democracy function without a slave class (i.e., undocumented workers)?
- What behavior should I be allowed to engage in? Smoking? Dating? Buying 2 houses? Buying gas hogs? Buying black cars? Driving too fast? Driving sleepy? Driving distracted? Driving while talking?
- Whose responsible for what? Are we responsible for looking the other way? (legally, willful blindness)
- If I get sick because the company I worked for dumped Tanin in my water supply, should I be paid unemployment benefits if that company was shut down for environmental violations before I got sick, thereby extending my life, for which I should be grateful? Instead I create a labor cost?
- It appears likely that preventative wellness care will increase total health care cost? Why can't we face this obvious conflict? If we ignore it, does it go away?
- How much should mistakes cost? Why does who the person is matter as to the determining the cost? Why are any costs punitive? Are we responsible for the overreactions of government and corporations to civil anger? Why is the mob member not responsible for the fear and reaction he provokes?
- Why can anyone be a parent?
- What can't a government be responsible for? Are you sure?
- Is there a system of health care that can reduce the amount of human suffering enough to consider it effective? Can we always do better? Is there a limit to how much of my work output should go to alleviate your suffering? Is there a limit to how much of your work output should go to alleviate my suffering?

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Comment by caseyjo on September 3, 2009 at 9:59pm
Funny, How the more we have the more we think we need..I am personally trying to reverse the thought patterns that bind me. Taking years of programming and looking at them for what they are. Alcoholism saved my butt somehow teaching me that starting all over time and time again in life does not hurt. It has actually given me freedom from bondage. OK...it's too bad that alcoholism took me down that road, but the road taught me, oh how much it taught me.. Things are not that important. It is conditioning of the mind, coupled with basic needs blown way out of proportion. I can never rid myself of the conditioning, but I have a understanding of it, so I can turn off the wanting to a point. I live my life now as through a mind experiment, streaching the boundaries of what I have been taught and rearranging them...Do you ever look around you and say...Jeez, why do I have all this stuff..I just want it to disappear. It holds me back. Well, I am doing it.....getting rid of it little by little.....Is it really the American dream, or the American trap.
Comment by Alendar on September 3, 2009 at 10:31am
Yes, thank God for them! We transfer our doubts and fears to them, and then when we need them they fail - but think of all that bliss we purchased! Perhaps that is enough.
Comment by Alendar on September 3, 2009 at 6:13am
I don't know if the imbalance can be changed so easily. I can't think of a single case in history, except perhaps when America was in its infancy. Each family had their own land and so had the basic leverage to maintain a balance. Often land was given away in order to fill empty areas.

But once the land grab is over, the inevitable seems to occur. The clever, the patient, the smart seem to get richer. The unlucky, the uninsightful, the short-sighted get poorer. All is relatively fair, until their inheritance is passed down, and then the rich find ways to leverage their wealth, and the poor are given nothing by their parents except a strong back. I do not see how this cycle can be broken.

The worst thing that could happen may be revolution. Another is civil war, which I think is more likely.

I think money is just society's way of expressing the differences between fellow men. If we take away money or at least its meaning, then people will find another method. Communist Russia was (is?) a good example.

Though I think all of Russia suffered greatly from its revolution and most people became equally miserable. That is an unfortunate side affect of a revolution driven from the bottom only, essentially a Marxist revolution.

Our civil war abolished slavery, but created share-croppers. It is a step up, but it still is slavery in action, even though not in name. We have created the slavery of debt, and almost all people believe in their obligation to pay their debts. But if debt is just a clever tool of the smart and lucky and inherited, then what chance do the unlucky and gullible have?

Always there will be two men. One will hold onto his grain and wait for the better price. The other will panic and rush to market instead of starving a day longer. This cannot change.

The rise of agriculture is considered the beginning of civilization, and it was also the beginning of slavery and wealth. The ability to delay one's own gratification for future gains is the difference. Or one of them. The creation of landlords began other differences. The brave and the fearful are separated. Those willing to take risk will create deeds to land in exchange for work. Those fearful of the dangers of ownership will trade their labor. The work of many men becomes the fuel of one man through this ability to control fear, to think long-term, to be greedy rather than comfortable. A happy man is bad at greed, but greed is the best defense against the greedy.

And on and on. I don't think that most of the poor would protest if they had the time. They would relax and enjoy life, enjoy the sun and evening. They would live. They would accept the instruction of the fervent, the powerful, the clever. They would compromise for the sake of peace and safety.

And the rich would find others more poor willing to work during those hours, starving out the contented ones. So what has changed? Once it became possible for one man to control the output of more then one man, the future was written. This happened when? 10,000 B.C.? Earlier?

How can so many millenia be undone? What would replace them? I think social injustice must be understood fully. It is not just a snapshot, where we see a fat rich man and a poor skinny man, and just step in and shift the wealth until their even. Or perhaps impoverish the rich man in order to make for the burden of history.
Comment by caseyjo on September 2, 2009 at 2:44pm
Oh yeah...The hard working poor are already working cattle.
Comment by caseyjo on September 2, 2009 at 12:45pm
"All have secret beliefs that will never be admitted to. Republicans secretly believe that the poor are in some way deserving and responsible for their state. Democrats secretly despise the rich and casually lower the bar between middle class and the overly rich. They ignore the fact that taxes are a choice and the risk of taking too much from the earners. People will stop earning if they can't keep it. We cannot turn the hard-working into cattle. Won't work"....

My response.......There are just as many hard working poor that have no choice but to go to work everyday and dig ditches or work in assembly lines in factories non stop till the veins pop out in their legs and they can barely stand anymore. If the poor could afford to take off work and protest, the unbalance would have stopped many years ago, but the poor are afraid they wont have food on the table...Thats what the rich know...keep em so poor they cannot afford to protest...sad but true...sick and shameful...but it is what is is. If things get any worse there will be a lot more trouble than if the rich would give a inch to keep it from happening.

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