Saturday, March 31, 2012

Three Tragedies For the Price of One

Trayvon Martin. Innocent child? Or hoodie-wearin', trash talkin' gangsta?

Big sigh.

Chances are really good, especially now, that nobody will know what really happened on the day he died. And that's really, really sad. For everybody. Trayvon Martin is dead. Whether he was a choir boy or a drug dealer, that's sad. He was seventeen years old, and he was a person. George Zimmerman is a man who has gone into hiding because of threats against his life -- who is also dealing with the stress of having killed a person. Assuming he's even a halfway decent human being who has a conscience, he's gotta be having a rough time.

By my count, that's two tragedies right there.

And then... there's the press.

This is a perfect example of how our news media operates with an agenda. NBC reported the incident and played portions of the 911 call between George Zimmerman and the operator. On March 27th they aired a tape that played like this:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black.

In the full version, it goes like this:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

911 Operator: Okay. And this guy... is he white, black, or hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

I don't pretend to understand what NBC gets out of painting Zimmerman as a racist. Does he hate black people? I don't know. Neither do they. But editing a tape in the way that they did certainly shows they want OTHER people to think he hates black people... as if the color of their skin somehow makes them appear to be up to no good.

Barack Obama did his part, of course, in stirring up more tension. He made certain to make note of Trayvon's skin color, even if it was in a (very) slightly nuanced way. Saying, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon," is saying, "See? He's black - like me." I certainly don't think that President Obama saw a picture of Trayvon and thought, "Geez. That boy looks so much like me he could be my kid!"

And we have news outlets who are printing pictures of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman immediately next to each other. George Zimmerman's picture looks like a mug shot and Trayvon Martin looks like he's about nine years old. (Anybody trying to mold public opinion in one direction there? You think?)

Then we have various politicians making statements and wearing garments they wouldn't otherwise wear to score some political points. And we have people in the streets demanding the arrest of George Zimmerman. And we have Spike Lee trying to sic the public on George Zimmerman, but in getting the address wrong, ends up driving a nice little old couple out of their own home.

I don't think we can even rightly call this a circus anymore.

I had a friend send me an email, asking me to blog on Trayvon Martin. So there. I've done it. Three tragedies in one -- Trayvon Martin is dead. George Zimmerman's life is a serious mess (if the rabid public even let him live). And our media once again showed its true colors. But I guess that's a tragedy that happens every day. Oh - and tragedy number four. The American people just swallow the trash the news media dishes out. Truly it seems that people are unwilling to think for themselves anymore. No wonder our country is in such an unholy mess.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Affordable Care Act

So here we are... the Supreme Court has begun listening to arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. (Of course, as usual, the legislation is named the exact opposite of what it will accomplish...but I digress.)

According to a New York Times poll, two thirds of Americans want congress to repeal all or some of the Affordable Care Act even while large majorities support a few of its major aspects. The parts that people want to keep crack me up, though. It explains a lot about why we are where we are as a country today.

The least popular part of the bill is the individual mandate. Here, I proudly stand up and say, "I am opposed to this, too!!!!" Okay, in the interest of fairness, I should just say up front that I'm opposed to the whole darned thing. But the government forcing me to buy a product of any kind in order to be alive in the US is ridiculous. I know that there are laws out there requiring me to purchase car insurance if I'm going to drive a car... but this is not the same thing. There is no law requiring me to buy a car... I can take the whole package or not, as I see fit. Having three children I have to drive around, I choose the car - and the insurance requirement that goes along with it.

The Obama administration is touting a new poll that shows (supposedly) an equal number of people wanting to repeal the law as want to expand it. Expand it to what, I am not sure -- expansion of what appears to be already in place sounds ludicrous to me. Supposedly, though, I am alone in that. Because David Plouffe of the Obama administration declares that people don't want to go back to square one.

It seems to me that too often people come to their conclusions about political ideas without putting enough thought into the consequences of seeing their ideas enacted. 85 percent of Americans polled approve of requiring insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions. On an emotional level, this sounds lovely. But it's not reasonable or sustainable. (And I speak as one of those people who has been considered "uninsurable" because of a pre-existing condition.) To require insurance companies to accept folks like me would further raise the cost of insurance. Hate to break it to you, but insurance companies exist to make money. This being the case, they have to raise their rates on either the people with pre-existing conditions (which is fine), making the cost of purchasing the insurance ridiculous -- or they have to raise the cost of everybody's insurance, making things more difficult for everybody in order to make sure that I can get mine. Eventually, you have too many people dropping out of the insurance pool because the cost has become crazy, and then the cost goes up even more, etc... etc... So to require insurance companies to accept me is not a good option.

Sixty eight percent of Americans polled like the requirement that insurance companies have to allow "children" to remain on their parents' policies until they're 26 years old. Again, this is not going to happen for free. It's another one of those things that makes an emotionally compelling argument, but doesn't really stand up to common sense. **Rant Alert** At what point can we reasonably expect people to grow up? We're going to tell people that they're old enough to drink at 21. They're old enough to vote and influence national and local political policy when they're 18. But they can't manage their own health care concerns? How silly. If they can't take care of themselves properly, they certainly shouldn't have a say in who is going to make decisions for the country.

I have friends and family with chronic illnesses, and I know that this issue is a difficult one. But when we're making decisions about public policy and the constitutionality of laws, the decision should never be an emotional one. It's time to stop the government's overreaching. I would love to get back to the basics, where the government is actually limited as the Constitution says it is, but I don't foresee that happening anytime in the near future. As it stands, however, I will be happy with a Supreme Court ruling that at least goes along with the Constitution in this case.

The Affordable Care Act should go.