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Feeding Frenzy

IRS

When you place the phrase “feeding frenzy” into Google you get over 28,000,000 references. The first several references apply to an online game in which you play a fish and you eat other fish to become the “big fish”. Once you scroll past the games, you come to a video in which a diver is caught in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy. This is kind of what we watched on Friday. The IRS was caught in the middle of a conservative feeding frenzy. When you think about it, there are few things that conservatives love more than beating up the IRS. If you can’t actually cut taxes, the next best thing has to be pummeling the IRS.

Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and a Republican from Michigan, is in conservative nirvana. He had a relatively long set-up in which he talked about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and then he got to his main point, “Mr. Miller, with all due respect, this systemic abuse cannot be fixed with just one resignation, or two. And as much as I expect more people need to go, the reality is this is not a personnel problem. This is a problem that the IRS being too large, too powerful, too intrusive, and too abusive of honest, hard-working taxpayers.” He continues, “There isn’t a person I come into contact with at home or anyone in this country, frankly, who does not fear the IRS. They fear getting something wrong in their tax filings. And they fear the IRS’ ability to audit them and wreak havoc in their lives, especially when all they are trying to do is improve their lives, let alone, God forbid, try to make America a better place to live, which is what the IRS targeted them for.” (more…)

By |2013-05-22T21:12:23-04:00May 20th, 2013|Obama administration, Party Politics, Taxes|Comments Off on Feeding Frenzy

Oppositional Society and the Iraq War

Debate in our country has boiled down to our side versus their side

Debate in our country has boiled down to our side versus their side

Yesterday, I asked the question about whether the Iraq war could happen again. Could we, the American people, be pushed into a war of convenience rather than a war of necessity? Simply put, I believe the answer to this question is yes. My answer is yes because we live in an Oppositional Society. This concept, the Oppositional Society, was first proposed by Rebecca Costa in her fabulous book The Watchman’s Rattle. (I’m not sure who first proposed the idea of an Oppositional Society. I first read about the idea in this fabulous book.) Basically, Ms. Costa’s argument is that we boil very complex topics down to yes or no, right versus left, for or against.

If we look at how we debate major issues, we can clearly see how nuance and complexity of argument have been lost in the whole issue and the issue is boiled down to a yes or no question. Gun control. In my opinion, this is an amazingly complex issue. Can the government regulate guns? Most constitutional scholars will tell you that every right that is granted in the Bill of Rights is not absolute. Yet, in this debate, we’ve seen almost every aspect of nuance and complexity boiled down to yes versus no. Assault weapons. There are simply two sides of this debate. Should an American be able to buy an unlimited quantity of assault weapons? Yes or no.

We can come up with theories as to why the United States has gravitated to this extremely simplistic way of examining any problem. Personally, I believe that the majority of Americans get their “information” from the television. Television is extremely good at presenting two sides to any story or topic. Television gets a little bit messier when you present a third or fourth opinion. That simply doesn’t make for good television. Even when you have four or five or even six guests discussing a single topic like on CNBC or Bloomberg TV, the guests conveniently can be categorized into two groups for or against whatever topic is being discussed. Interestingly, this fits very neatly into our political system. Democrats. Republicans. Notice how any third party which pops up is shunted to the side and is painted as being out of the mainstream, crackpots, just as any idea that doesn’t help frame a question in a yes or no answer is also pushed to the side. (more…)

By |2013-03-25T21:43:30-04:00March 24th, 2013|Environment, Iraq, Media|Comments Off on Oppositional Society and the Iraq War

Physicians Need Protection, Too?

This is an interesting letter to Congress written by Doctor Dora Wang of the University of New Mexico.

Open Letter:

Dear Congress,

As a physician and medical school professor, I breathe a sigh of relief, and thank you for giving us the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, and the new Patient’s Bill of Rights.

Next, how about a Physician’s Bill of Rights?

Physicians and hospitals need protection from health insurance companies too, so that we can stay open and provide medical care. We are currently spending about one-third of our resources fighting health insurance bureaucracy in service of our patients, and in the process, many of us are being crushed into closing shop. Little in the current PPACA overtly addresses this.

What good is health insurance for nearly all Americans, if hospitals and physicians keep bankrupting or closing, leaving medical care even more unavailable? Or, if doctors and hospitals have to adopt Wall Street’s values in order to stay open?

America’s medical system was built largely by non-profit and religious charities over much of the 20th century, which is why so many hospitals are named for saints. Courts once stated that for corporations to profit from medical care was simply “against sound public policy.” Yet in the early 1980’s, so much got deregulated — the financial sector, airlines — and American medicine, too. For-profit corporations, previously held out of medical care, rapidly entered this virgin territory ripe for profit-taking. (more…)

By |2010-08-05T07:10:23-04:00August 5th, 2010|Congress, Healthcare|Comments Off on Physicians Need Protection, Too?
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