Views on politics and current events

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Random Thoughts About A Cruel 'Sport'

If Michael Vick(quarterback for the NFL Atlanta Falcons) is tried and found guilty of engaging in and promoting dog fighting, he is just as much a criminal as anyone else convicted of doing the same. Whether he is a star football player in the NFL or a just a common Joe that lives down the street should make no difference either way.

There has been much in the media about this, even to the extent of giving the other side of the issue equal time, as in ESPN's website article "Source: 'Vick's One Of The Heavyweights' In Dogfighting."This 'source', a person involved in dog fighting and that has admitted to training over 2,000 fighting pit bulls, says that events such as The Ultimate Fighting Championship (an event that humans participate in) are just as bad as dog fighting, yet those events are legal and people flock to them. He also says that people shouldn't get so upset about dog fighting, especially if they've never been to one. That the dogs were bred to fight, and that the dogs are only doing what comes naturally.

All of that is a very lame defense for a cruel sport. To compare dog fighting with any kind of event that humans participate in is a false comparison. I'm not saying that the bloodletting and violence of these human events is a good thing. I personally do not care for these kinds of events, and do not watch them or support them. But participation is voluntary, and if two or more people want to beat hell out of each other in front of an audience, and if people want to pay to see it,it's their business. But fighting dogs do not have the choice. To say that these dogs are bred to fight is true, but only as a far as it goes. There are also pit bulls that are not bred to fight, that have had the killing instinct bred out of them. So the bred-to-fight defense doesn't hold much water, for if there were no dog fight proponents, the continued breeding for the killer instinct would cease.

Another aspect of this that needs to be brought to light is the animal cruelty/human violence connection. There is ample evidence reported on The Humane Society Of The United States website to suggest that those who feel no hesitancy to be cruel to animals are more likely to commit acts of violence against humans. Eliminating animal cruelty isn't only the correct thing to do. It is vital to help curb the growing tendency to violence in our culture. Turning a blind eye to activities that result in the injury or death of animals can only lead to more animal abuse, and gives the silent nod of approval for violence against humans.

There can be no defense for this 'sport'. It is a form of animal cruelty that exists mainly because of the monetary gain derived from it. Forty eight out of fifty states consider dog fighting to be criminal behavior. Those that engage in this illegal activity are not only advocating and participating in animal cruelty, but are helping to increase violence in our culture and in our nation. Anyone found guilty of this crime needs to experience the full punishment the law provides. No matter who they are.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Lose/Lose Situation Of Iraq

The idiocy of invading Iraq outdoes anything this country did in Vietnam. But what do we do now? No doubt there will be an all-out civil war if we leave. There's civil war already. The question is, can our continued presence prevent an all-out civil war, stop the current civil war, and give some stability to the country?

Pulling out will create just as big of a power vacuum as when we invaded and toppled Hussein. Many will die. If we stay, we're trying to stop a pressure cooker from exploding by sitting on the lid. Many will die, but not as many at one time. Unless the pressure cooker blows up. Then death will run rampant, on all sides, for all concerned. And what about Turkey, Iran, and any other nation that wants a piece of the pie, or the whole thing? It's possible that civil war would be the least of Iraq's problems if other nations get involved.

Our nation is facing some very difficult questions. As much as I have been and remain against the Iraq fiasco, I also think that we owe the Iraqi people more than just destroying their country and then leaving them to the wolves. But I really doubt if this administration and this congress will ever do anything about it. Their main considerations are personal and party politics. Point the finger at each other, discredit the other, take power away from the other, get the hammer and then sit back on their asses and do nothing.

Will it finally come down to choosing between the Iraqi people and our troops? Is there any other criterion that needs to be considered? It will be irresponsible if we pull out. It could be just as irresponsible if we stay. The invasion from the very beginning was irresponsible. But most DC politicos don't seem to have a real sense of responsibility anyway.

Is there another alternative? As there are now more military contractor personnel in Iraq than U.S Military personnel, pull out all regular military and let the mercenaries fight. Let Erik Prince's boys, the ones that pledge to uphold the constitution, the American Way, Apple Pie and God, do the fighting and dying. Won't do a thing to help the world view of the U.S., but this administration doesn't give a damn about that anyway. At least our government service folks would be home. The problem with that is I believe that it would delight this administration. No problem with civilian interference, the lid could be kept on, kick out all the journalists, just have the taxpayer pony up the money to pay the Bear Claw boys. And with this option, many will still die. Perhaps more than the other options. With no accountability for killing, anyone suspected of being 'the enemy' would indeed be the enemy, and be shot. Not to mention it would free up our troops to be re-deployed heaven only knows where.

All the choices are ugly. All the choices will not stop the dying, and some may increase it. Shall the choice be made by not how we can stop the killing, but which choice will result in the least amount of death?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Random Thoughts On Health Care

Is there a health care crisis in this country? According to an article written in The Washington Post in February of 2005, there most certainly is. A few items from the article titled Sick And Broke:

  • 75% of medical bankruptcies are filed by people with health insurance.
  • 1 million people financially ruined in 2004 by illness and medical bills.
  • Most of the medically bankrupt were middle class home owners.
This was reported in February 0f 2005. I'd be willing to wager dollars against tongue depressors that the situation hasn't gotten any better, and most likely has gotten worse. Not only the poor, but the people that have health insurance can't afford health care either. So why do people bother? If we are all (except a very small minority) but one major illness away from financial ruin, why bother with the expense of paying good money to insurance companies who cover less and less? Why should people pay for the privilege of going bankrupt due to illness?

The only alternative is universal health care. No matter how much people are against it, no matter the reasoning against it, the present broken health care system in this country is forcing the issue. I've heard the 'Health Care Savings Plan' or whatever the title of it is, and it is an idea that is obsolete. The economy itself does not afford many people to save much, and it is a savings plan that will do what? Buy health insurance! Another example of paying for the privilege of going bankrupt if you have a major illness.

Some say that health care needs to be reformed by the process of the free market. Free market? For health care? Our lives and health should be regulated by profit, the prime mover of any free market? Seems to me that's part of the reason for the present health care mess. And it isn't right for health care to be determined by who can afford it and who can't, who is worthy and who is not. It isn't right to do that with poor folks, and it isn't right to do it for the neuvo poor, the dwindling middle class.

Like many problems in our country, many recognize the problem, but we can't seem to get anywhere doing anything about it. The reason? There is big money to be made in the present system. As long as big money and big profits are associated with the present system, it will not change. The handful of politicians that want to change it are not the ones that have the backing of the ones that make the large profits. It is a major hurdle.

Some have said that universal health care will be unmanageable, will be costly, will be inefficient. We can look at the present Medicare and Medicaid systems to know how true that can be. It is not a reflection on the original purpose of these programs, but how they can go wrong if not properly managed. Which do we want to do? Discount good programs purely on the basis that it will turn inefficient, or embrace the ideals of the program knowing full well that it must be managed to ensure that it doesn't turn sour?

For those who are against universal health care, what is the alternative? Shall we continue the present system that is getting more and more inefficient, more and more costly, and that serves the majority of people less and less? A system that forces those without insurance to either go to free clinics that are crowded and understaffed, or to emergency rooms that were not meant for primary care that drive the health care costs even higher, or to file bankruptcy after paying high premiums for insurance that doesn't cover the bills?

All of us are already paying through the nose for health care. Taxpayers already finance much of health care in this country. If anyone doubts that, who pays for those people that can't afford health insurance? Who pays for government grants to pharmaceutical companies, grants for hospitals, clinics, etc.? Who pays for Medicare and Medicaid? It seems to me that if we are paying for all of that, we should at least expect and receive affordable, basic health care. The way to do that is to remove health care from the control of insurance companies and corporate health care profiteers. Health care is already too much like big business. That needs to change. There are plenty of models around the world for us to study and learn from. It is a large undertaking, but the alternatives demand we do something. The longer we wait, the larger the problem becomes, and the more people suffer.

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