Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Location: California, United States

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Who Stole the Wheels from the Straight Talk Express?

I used to admire John McCain. At one time I thought that we had political leader that would stand up for the American people. I know that he was a bit bitter when Karl Rove spread all those rumors about his mixed race child in South Carolina way back in 2000. I could see the anger in his eyes for years.

I thought to myself that a politician that was treated like that has two ways to react. He could have become more resolved to fight with even dirtier tricks. Or, he have become even more resolved to stand by his principles and become that rare politician that wins by fighting evil with good. In the long run fighting fair and using facts and logic triumphs over fear, lies and deception.

Well, that was then and this is now.

My mind began to change when John McCain began to cozy up with the Religious Right. We went to beg for support from some of the worst people in the GOP. These are the people who believe that “winning” matters more than the American people. These people somehow believe that acting immoral to win the bigger “moral” battle is the answer to America’s problems. And, from what I have seen in recent years, John McCain has bought into this hype. Spreading lies in order to create fear will win more votes than telling the truth about your “Christian” position.

This is because the American people know what they like and it isn’t the conservative Christian America that the Religious Right wants the government to create for them. Americans do like their religion. They like the fact that there is an authority that helps them decide what is right and what is wrong. But, for the most part they also like their freedom. They don’t normally like anyone, the church or the government telling them how they should live their lives. Well, I should rephrase that. The American people are a bit schizophrenic. They like to know what the church believes, but they don’t want to be put in prison when they decide that they don’t want to follow the rules. The American people like to be told that divorce should not be easy, but they still want divorce to be legal. They want to be told that sexual relations out of wedlock is not the best choice, but they don’t to be put into jail for doing it. They know that the Catholic Church doesn’t approve of birth control, but they don’t want the government passing laws that would make birth control illegal. This is because America is made up of many individuals and not just one isotropic Christian group of people.

Well, John McCain is a conservative Republican and he has a problem. He is conservative not because of his religious beliefs, but because of his patriotism. This is not to say that Democrats can not be patriotic but Democrats generally don’t see patriotism in the same way. Of course this is stereotyping, and we have come to a time in American history where stereotyping a group might disqualify someone from public service, but we need to remember that people join groups because they find people who agree with their personal views. The American political parties are like this. Some people saw two different types of patriotism in the 1960s and 1970s and they were drawn to the two political parties because of these feelings. These feelings have a lot to do with what each political party believes what their purpose is.

My stereotype of a Democrat is a person who believes that government can and should be used to fix the problems in our society. A Republican is a person who believes that government should be used to maintain order. So, a Republican patriot is a person who follows the laws and doesn’t question them. A Democrat patriot is a person that looks at the system of government and finds the problems in the laws and fixes them. The methods and process for these two groups result in a large group of people yelling at the top of their lungs saying that the government is doing bad things in the name of our country, at another group of people that is yelling back saying that our government is doing great things that need to be done to protect us.

Who could have imagined that I could sum up these stereotypes and defend my use of stereotypes in so few words? Obviously doing so opens me up to controversy, but I am trying make the point that John McCain chose to be a Republican conservative because of his belief in what it meant to him to be a patriot and not because of his religious views. But, in order to be elected president he needs the support of the religious groups that infest the Republican Party. So, John McCain has begun doing what he vowed not to do - namely bow down to the special interest groups. He his changing the opinions that he once voiced in order to win the support of the Religious groups. And, if I was a conservative I would toss my cookies if I had to watch him do it. After all, the Republicans invented the idea that a politician should not change their opinions. They forced John Kerry into a corner by echoing the “flip-flop” pejorative. Republicans gave credit to the idea that one should believe so strongly in their ideals that they should never change course - even when it is good for our national interest. And, I think that anyone who is considering voting for John McCain should keep this in mind. How can a Republican vote for someone who thought that gay marriage was good before he thought that it was an abomination? How long will it be before he changes his mind once again?


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Life is Not Always Easy

It wasn’t too long ago that I heard people, mainly conservatives, complaining that the textbooks used in the schools were too biased. Many of these people were opposed to the idea that evolution should be considered as even a remote explanation for the why we have life on this planet in the current form. But, science wasn’t the only subject considered biased by these people. Sometimes references in American history textbooks to the plight of the poor Native Americans, former slaves or unfavorable immigrant groups would get slammed for being biased - or sometimes even “un-American.”

The truth is that history is written by the winners and winners do not normally identify with the plight of those they oppose. But, even more often history is re-written by the new winners every time we make social, political and economic progress. The plantation owners in the rural south wouldn’t even consider commenting on the contributions of their slaves to economy of the south. But, that cheap labor kept the cost of agriculture low for all of the American markets. But, as the former slaves and their families gradually acquired civil rights and the political power that comes with those rights their history began to reflect that new power.

In the United States we often proclaim freedom and liberty as virtues sought by us for all of us. But, when we think of “us” we don’t always see the entire community of the United States as equally deserving of those rights. No institution better demonstrates equality than the military. When you and four of your buddies are out there in harms way everyone understands that bullets do not discriminate. So, it wasn’t surprising that when the vets came home from World War II and traveled the country meeting up with their friends from the military that they were shocked by the discrimination observed around the country. Jack Kerouac describes this poignantly in “On the Road.” These new battles erupted at home and began to bring more social change to America through out the 1960s.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that history would be rewritten again to reflect the brilliance of the civil rights movement and the grand social change resulting from the 1960s. Of course there is only so much room in any textbook and when some points are highlighted then other points are neglected. Sometimes bias comes from these facts alone. Sometimes authors take the initiative to trumpet additional points as well. The result often results in more bias.

History is the telling of not just one story, but a collection of interconnected stories. When two general face each other in battle, they both have their own personal observation, skills and bias brought into the conflict. They each see the other as a dangerous nemesis. History will normally only tell the story of the victor, sprinkled in with the weaknesses of the loser. When the battle began they both had strengths and weaknesses, but history doesn’t record it all. But, when the kin of the loosing general are vindicated on that day of sweet revenge, history records a new story, retelling the misfortune of the old battle story with a new twist.

It shouldn’t be surprising to me that my kids have brought home “new” textbooks that have once again rewritten history.

My daughter is currently taking a High School American History class. Her textbook has been written by several members of the Hoover Institution. When we read her book we now learn the evils of Socialism that have been lurking around every corner of American society. We now know the evils of unions and laborers in general. It has been clarified for me the FDR practically destroyed the country with the New Deal. If only he had left Hoover’s economics to lead us the Great Depression would have only been a small recession. It is truly amazing what they are teaching our kids now days. The irony to this story is seen in an included graph of unemployment from 1925 to 1945 that disproves many of these arguments when you line up the New Deal programs and the results.

Philosophically it makes sense that the Reagan years would have some fall out like this. In the long run we will end up with students being educated with these exaggerated biases to counteract the exaggerated biases from earlier books. It also makes me sad to see this back and forth bickering that polarizes the country. Many students take what they hear in school as fact and don’t think about it. Chances are that there will be many people who believe that unions are bad and the New Deal practically destroyed the country as a simple result of using this textbook. They won’t be taught that there were arguments on both sides of these issues. They will be left with the current winners point of view. Ten years from now we will once again have new textbooks. The current students will be long graduated and left with the biased views that they were taught. The question becomes, what will those new textbooks teach our children? Will they continue to teach of the evils of unions and the New Deal? Or, will they teach us how FDR, our physically handicapped president was a hero that triumphed over adversity in so many different ways?


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, May 02, 2008

When Markets Don’t Work

Today Paul Krugman once again points out that the Republican party has only two solutions to problems - Tax cuts and deregulation or ignoring the problem hoping that it will go away.

Of course ignoring a problem and hoping that it will go away is not a solution. But if you can convince enough voters to ignore the problem along with you then at least you can win elections, control the government and eventually control the information going out to the public.

The Bush administration does this every day with the news from Iraq. How many pictures of coffins do we see coming out of the bellies of the planes coming back from Iraq? None! The reason for this is the simple party line - “its bad news, so ignore it until we have good news.”

The whole surge issue started with an increase in the numbers of deaths and injuries, both to Americans and Iraqi civilians. But, the administration did the best to ignore it, and at best admitted it saying that things would get better when the surge started to “work.”

Well, it’s a year later and the surge is supposed to be finished. The troops are supposed to be drawn down and the Iraqi government is supposed to step up and take over. Well, the reality is that “the enemy” went into hiatus and simply waited until the Americans finished their silly surge. And, now that it is ending those who are against America’s puppet government are slowly waking up and beginning where they left off before the surge began. If the US spent a little more time working with all the political forces in the country, instead of using force to make Iraq do what America believes is best maybe things would be different. But, the current administration doesn’t want you to see that. They continue to be in denial about what the solution must be. They don’t want to even admit to ant wrong doing when the whole situation could have been prevented in the first place.

But the administration is in denial about so many other things as well. Mainly it seems to be a fact that the Bush government is a faith based government. You are supposed to put faith in your government or else you are not being patriotic. Too many people bought into this in 2004 and re-elected George W Bush. Unfortunately we are stuck with this idiot for a few more months. But, if we work together to point out what the Republicans continue to deny then we may have enough people to vote to end this ridiculous ostrich policy.

Paul points out that the health care system is falling apart as we sit here and type. They believe that a market system will fix everything. But, there is a slight problem with markets. Markets react to what the average person is willing to pay for a service. So, I ask you one simple question, how much is your health worth to you? Are you willing to pay your entire family estate to make yourself live a few years longer - given there is a cure. So, given the fact that most people are willing to give up all of their money to live longer, then the price of health care will rise until all of our wealth is spent and health care providers possess all of the wealth. What other possible limiting factor is there? Why would people pay less than they have and decide to die sooner? The average cost of health care will always rise to mean wealth of the country. Health care providers will end up being the only people able to afford health care. If you disagree, then please tell me what will limit the cost of health care in a free market.

The only solution is to limit the market in some way. We can provide less health care, then people would not be able to purchase health care when they need it, thereby conserving wealth. We could allow everyone to become a health care provider and competition would tend to limit the price. Basically we would learn to take care of ourselves. Or, we could mandate maximum prices that health care providers would be able to charge for services. This would limit expenditure and reserve cash for other purposes.

The bottom line is that a free market health care system rations health care to those who can afford it, until they spend all of their money and whatever that they are allowed to borrow until they are forced out of the health care system surrendering that spot to the next guy in line. We could ration health care to the wealthy, or we could ration health care to the sickest, or we could ration health care to the most deserving. In the end health care is limited by the supply. If we maximize the supply and ration to the deserving we end up with the fairest system. Anything else is inherently unfair.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit