August 21, 2011

The Containment of Supply and Demand

Evidently there is a shortage of cancer drugs in the US right now and instead of a humane response, we are seeing significant price increases. The first rule of free-market economics is that the price of a product is whatever the market will bear. However, when securing a scarce product makes the difference between life and death for the consumer, this rule should be suspended: it is simply immoral for scarcity to influence the price of a life-saving product. What would we say to someone who agreed to rescue another person from a precarious situation, (a fire, drowning, etc.) only upon payment of a significant sum of money?

August 20, 2011

Tax the Poor

In the ongoing budgetary contretemps, where spending cuts are being weighed against revenue increases, the Tea Party has stood their ground against any increases in revenue whatsoever. However, it appears that in certain places on the Conservative side of the argument, revenue increases are indeed being entertained. Since fully half of the American population pays no income taxes, although many among them do pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, etc., a growing chorus of outrage seems to be swelling in favor of entertaining tax increases on this segment of the population -- the poor. When political advocacy becomes this inhumane, the only appropriate response is mockery... and none does it better than Jon Stewart.

August 16, 2011

Rick Perry and the Seven Mountains

Jefferson's concept of "a wall of separation between Church and State" benefits not only citizens, but politicians as well. Politicians' personal religious beliefs should be of no consequence to their constituents because they can't impose their religion on their constituents through the government. But what if acquiring governmental authority is actually part of a politician's religious belief system? Should citizens still consider questions about that politician's political beliefs off-limits?

Per the Texas Observer, the recent religious gathering hosted by now-declared Presidential candidate Rick Perry was peppered with speakers who advocate a worldview known as Seven Mountains Dominionism, which believes that the fundamental institutions of society (the Seven Mountains) should be taken over by Evangelical Christians in order to usher in the Millennium and the second coming of Christ.

I think we have the right to question political candidates about their religious beliefs when those religious beliefs are synonymous with their political beliefs. So, I would like to ask Gov. Perry, "Sir, do you believe that you have been called of God to become President of the United States in order to bring about the second coming of Christ?"

The Consequences of Citizens United

Because 2012 will be the first Presidential election since the Citizens United decision, we should watch the amount of money expended by corporations, organizations, and unions in favor of or opposition to candidates for office. Because corporations, organizations, and unions have as their focus a very narrow set of the needs and wants of their contributors, they further the goals of what are termed "special interests" much more than the direct contributions of individual citizens to individual candidates, both complex human beings with varied interests and goals. If in 2012 the corporate expenditures vastly outweigh the amount of money expended by individuals, we should resign ourselves to the fact that special interests are in control of American politics as a natural consequence of the freedom of speech. Consequently, instead of the Federal and state governments reflecting the needs and wants of the average American, they will instead reflect a cocktail of jockeying special interests.

August 12, 2011

Executing Bad People

This article convinces me that Rick Perry is the right President for America. Why? Rick Perry clearly believes in executing bad people, whether or not they have technically committed the crimes they are charged with. As for us Americans, we were fixated for months on the murder trial of a young woman in Orlando, certain in our guts that she was guilty because she was a bad woman, a woman who partied soon after her baby girl was dead. Our visceral distaste for her made it irrelevant that there was very little evidence pointing to her guilt and none for which there wasn't a benign explanation.

So, it seems a perfect marriage between us and Rick Perry. As he leads us into the future, we won't let facts, objectivity, and logic keep us from acting upon what we know in our hearts and guts to be true.

August 09, 2011

Bachmann’s J. Steven Wilkins Problem

This article reports a dismaying association between Michelle Bachmann and J. Steven Wilkins, the author of a biography of Robert E. Lee that makes disgusting assertions about the relationship between slaves and slaveholders in the antebellum South. Bachmann evidently promoted this book as a 'must read' on her campaign website.

So, while we spent months a few years ago fixated on the fact that Obama was a member of a church whose pastor had made incendiary comments about America, a church that by most accounts he attended rarely, we will undoubtedly spend no time whatsoever being furious over Bachmann's explicit endorsement of Wilkins' incendiary comments. Why?

There is simply a right-wing bias in our country, wherein those who go too far rightward are just over-indulging their essentially decent 'American-ness,' but those who go too far leftward are exposing their basic indecency, untrustworthiness, and 'un-American-ness.' Until and unless Bachmann's association makes her just as much (or more) an object of suspicion as Obama's association, I don't think we as a society will ever get back on the narrow road to righteousness.

August 05, 2011

Mandatory Voting?

When I encountered the statistic that only 37% of eligible voters cast votes in the 2010 election, I started to feel that may be the principal reason we are encountering such dysfunction in Washington. When the only people who vote are those with an axe to grind or an interest to preserve, we shouldn't be surprised when our legislature reflects that. The only solution I can see is to require all eligible people to vote. For those who see that as an infringement on freedom, I remind you that we require people to serve on juries, under pain of imprisonment. Certainly, voting is as grave a responsibility as jury duty.

August 04, 2011

Separation of Powers = Gridlock?

After all of the mess with the debt ceiling and the current mess with the funding of the FAA, I truly think that our government is dysfunctional and that we should look at systemic reforms. This article suggests that going parliamentary may be the best way to overcome gridlock. I have no delusions that this would likely happen, but it would certainly never happen if no one advocates for it.