Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A week of politics on baynonim: Part 2 (Go to: Part 1. Go to: Other things to read if you hate politics.)

If you're a swing voter, like me, you're having trouble choosing between the atrocious president, and the atrocious candidate. Do I want to cast my vote for an undistinguished senator, who has no plan for ending the war, saving social security, or developing the economy? Or shall I vote for an undistinguished president who has mismanaged the war, threatened to destroy social security, and thinks the US economy exists primarily to further enrich his pals?

If you have an answer I'd like to hear it. Here, again, are the rules: Each day, I'll write about a campaign issue. If your candidate has the best solution, you are invited to argue on his behalf in the comment section. Vigorous, angry, forceful statements are welcome, but if, in my view, you needlessly disparage the other guy, I will delete your comment. I want to know why your man rocks, not why the other guy doesn't.

Today's Issue: The ownership society. (Not as boring as it sounds. Read on)

The president likes to talk about creating an ownership society in America. What's that? Largely, it means that individuals will have greater control of their savings, retirement and health-care benefits. According to Cato, "In the ownership society, patients control their own health care, parents control their own children's education, and workers control their retirement savings." This is what the president wants.

There is just one small problem with this high-sounding idea. We've already had an ownership society, and it failed miserably.

Think "Little House on the Prairie." Laura and her family lived in an "ownership society," didn't they? There were no government handouts, no socialized medicine, no social security. Pa was in charge of his own destiny, and had to pay for everything himself. There was no outside assitance in the event that the fates, or his own bad judgment, conspired against him. If the crops failed, the family starved. If Ma got sick, the family had to work extra hours or sell some jewelry to pay the doctor. Lord, only knows what Pa's retirement was like. On the show he never seemed to have any savings. The poor man probably worked until the moment he fell over dead in the fields.

During the middle ages, we also had an "ownership society." Surfs and peasants "controlled their own health care, their own children's education, and their retirement savings" with disastrous results. One sickness, one mistake, one bit of bad luck, one plague of locusts and all was lost. People lived and died according to their own choices. If a person chose poorly, the official government reply was, "tough noogies" or, in crueler times, "happy starving!"

I read the "Grapes of Wrath." That book took place less than 100 years ago, also in an "ownership society." Left to their own devices, the Joad family was victimized by greedy bankers, unscrupulous landowners and cruel sheriffs. The family had no food, no shelter, no prospects, and the government simply shrugged, as thousands of families like them crowded into miserable migrant camps. Simply because the Joads had made the unpardonable mistake of being a farm family in the 1930s, the family suffered terribly.

People are stupid. People are unlucky. People make bad choices. People are gullible. Which is why disaster will follow, as it always has followed, if we remove the safety nets, and let people fend entirely for themselves.

But is this really hat the president wants? It sure sounds like it. If I'm wrong tell me. If I'm right, feel free to pile on.

If you're keeping score. Baynonim readers, at least as reflected in the comment section, are supporting Kerry. Bush voters are strongly encouraged to raise their voices! The best argument so far, in my humble, arbitrary, but ultimately binding opinion, belongs to The Town Crier. You may reply to him in the comment section of Part 1.


Laura was not real. Neither was the Joads. if they starved it was because of their own faultm which is how it should be. Government is not a baby sitter. Personally I would be all too happy if the poor and also stupid people as well were to die. That's natural law.

As for the middle ages times you arew rong as can be. peasents had a verry happy time with no one to bother them. This is why they produced the chasidim which has the moto "worship god with happiness." how could this have been if they had not any happiness???  

I'm pretty sure the last comment is a joke. If it isn't, perhaps a Bush-voter out there would like to make the point, well, comprehensibly?  

Dear Adam,

When did you begin becoming a Communist? The saftey nets are totally red russian tactics, that take away our liberty and our freedom. If Bush destroys them we will be a better and a freeer people. So what if some bums need to work harder? So what! If you work hard in this country you win. If you dont work hard we tax payers are not your bubby that you should go to for some help.


A good friend of mine is an oncologist (cancer doc). She works every day to save the lives of her patients, many who are critically, seriously ill. Despite their dire circumstances, there are several patients who don't come in for their therapies, who don't take their medication as they should, who just don't show up for vitally important tests. When she first told me about this problem (not revealing any patient info, just sharing how distressing it is when patients continuously sabotage themselves), I couldn't believe it. "Where are their families? what about social workers?" I asked. The sad truth is that some of them have no families, or no functional families to help them, and social workers DO follow up, but they are not wardens, all they can do is call and follow up, and try to arrange for transportation, etc. All of these patients do these things because they have a host of problems that go far beyond their cancers, and generally just are not making choices in their own best interest. They are not of dimished capacity, they are not developmentally delayed, they just make very poor choices. Choices which will lead to their imminent death.

My point is this: even in the most dire of circumstances there are people (more than we think) who make bad choices, even in life or death circumstances. Why, then, do we think that people will make good choices for less life threatening things? Things like saving for retirement, intelligently managing their own investment portfolios or figuring out how to work a healthcare system based on huge profits for insurance companies. In the days of Laura Ingells Wilder, and even the depression in the 20s, families were larger and generally lived closer together. Today families are smaller, more fragmented, separated by geography and potentially not able or willing to help out anymore. Some families are torn apart by drugs, abuse or worse, leaving the remaining members with no support or help.

The bottom line is that most reasonably responsible people think that everyone else in the world is capable of being reasonably responsible too, but this is not the case. And I do not want to live in a society that tells these people that they are simply out of luck, there is no safety net, keep playing the lottery and hope for the best.

(Can you tell who I am voting for? ;) )  

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Now here is a site that has put all the health resources under one hat. Just go an see.**Ju Health** Their webmaster has also gone through some trouble finding interested and health related article. I signed up for their newsletter **Health and Wellness in the 21st Century** and you may want to do so as well since their newsletter person will covering "the baseline of health". So far the topics covered have been pretty interesting. I can't wait to read what they have to say about detoxification of the body. You are even allowed to submit your own article.  

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