31 August 2008

Response to some readers

This is in response to comments to the post “Impacting and saving lives”. All three of the comments were anonymous, but if you would like to get together in person, since we are close to each other, or leave an email so we can discuss more, please feel free.

And I continue to welcome and love comments from all assorted views.
Comment: In a hypothetical situation, maybe a McCain supporter thinks McCain would be a superior leader regarding issues they consider more important, such as U.S. security, the economy or foreign policy.
Can someone who says that the recent aggression of Russia in Georgia is the “first… serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War” really be trusted to be a great leader in foreign policy or national security?

You question my understanding of history – perhaps you should question his. There have been many international problems in the past 20+ years. But maybe he just overlooks those. You talk of his defending the nation, but how can he truly do that without acknowledging that national defense issues constitute an international crisis. I understand he is trying to protect this country’s borders, but it is international groups that have threatened the people here, it is international groups and troops that are working to end the crisis and that are causing the crisis. He also forgot what happened in Afghanistan when in July he said that Iraq was the first major conflict since 9/11.

I feel that it is best to be able to talk with leaders of different nations to, in some cases, prevent escalated violence before it happens. Obama has already shown that he has the ability to do so and that foreign dignitaries are willing to speak with him – some Middle East newspapers I have read (sorry I cannot recall the names of the papers) say they would much prefer him and his entourage to McCain and his in terms of their needs and their desire to work with the US.

But, Obama is by no means going to completely change the current US policies in that region – that is obvious by some of his sentiments (some of which were contradictory) while over there this summer.
Comment: By the way, what is Obama’s stance on gay marriage? Because I’ve seen video of Obama specifically stating that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” Have you? How exactly do you think, if elected, Obama’s actions on that issue will differ from McCain’s?
I think it’s absolutely shameful that you are a freaking TEACHER and you know so little about the constitution and legal process that you think a constitutional amendment must be made to make gay marriage legal! Have you ever cracked a textbook or read a newspaper? Do you read anything much except “Stuff White People Like.com?”
The difference between Obama and McCain’s stance on gay marriage is big. Obama does not want them to marry (according to him it is only between a man and a woman), but he doesn't want them to be discriminated against. (Yes this is contradictory in many ways.) He wants to leave the issue up to the states (just as Cheney does). According to Obama, he "supports extending federal benefits, rights, privleges and responsibilities to same-sex couples and their children." Though, Palin has put down legislation that tried to deny health insurance to gay couples despite her staunch stance against marriage.

I know that legalizing gay marriage does not require a national constitutional amendment.

I also know that some conservatives are trying to push to make a constitutional definition of what marriage is, and that these are the people who want to put marriage into the highest legal document of this nation. An amendment in either direction is not likely to pass, but still in their minds. Most people for gay marriage are not trying to address it as much on the national level. They are willing to work on the local level to gain their rights.

I don’t read stuffwhitepeoplelike. Haven’t looked at the site since I first saw it about a year ago.
Comment: Why would you assume that their church leaders would dictate such a personal issue and alienate part of the congregation?
On the church issue, I do not know why they would “dictate such a personal issue and alienate part of the congregation”. It is not an assumption. I witnessed it. I felt really alienated in all the churches I attended that shared these stances. When comments were made, I looked around and saw a few others squirming in their pews as well. And it wasn’t just on one occasion. That is a main reason I do not continue to attend the ones here in town and wouldn’t go back to the ones that I visited out of town.
Comment: What’s hilarious is that such an “informed” Obama supporter would even go near the subject of “church leaders” and how they dictate to their congregations, considering Obama’s history with church leaders.
If you are referring to Obama’s Chicago (former) church leader, perhaps you are not listening to all that he says and all that he does with his church. If you are referring to the “God damn America” sound bite that was emphasized by the media, perhaps you need to listen to more than those 10 seconds to get a real idea of what he was saying and better understand how he was trying to help his congregation cope and really get politically active to question what is going on in their neighborhoods.

I by no means have purported that I am a full out Obama supporter. I believe I mentioned that just a few posts ago and in other posts over the past few months, as well.

Obama is not the perfect candidate. Neither is McCain.

There really cannot be a perfect candidate since there are so many people in this large nation that wish to be pleased by the stances of a president, his vp choice, and the people s/he will select to be members of the cabinet.
Comment: So you assume that simply because this man didn’t want to go to the hospital that he didn’t have insurance?... Also, has it ever occurred to you that this man had a seizure because he made a choice to stop taking his medication?
You refer to the man we found on the sidewalk. I was not assuming that he denied the ambulance due to lack of insurance. I am also not saying that by not taking medicine he may have brought it on himself.

I am using him as a stepping point to touch on a much larger issue.

I personally know many people who have stopped taking medicine because they have no insurance. I know people who have decided not to seek medical attention because they have no insurance and have to pay the daily bills they incur rather than try to scrounge together enough money to see a doctor. I have friends who have had to buy medicine in other countries because they could not get it here because they have no insurance. I know many people with and without insurance who would chose not to take an ambulance or go to the hospital because of the exorbitant price of the hospital and the ambulance ride. I have had friends and students who had ambulances called on them and were angered to find out how much the ambulance cost them. My post Unsure insurance assurance shows some statistics. This study was not really large, but it reflects many of the people in this country since there are about 47 million in the nation without insurance.

Neither of the main candidates plans are perfect. According to The New England Journal of Medicine,
McCain’s plan embraces market forces and promotes individually purchased insurance. Its centerpiece is a change in the tax treatment of health insurance. Currently, workers do not pay taxes on health insurance premiums paid by their employers. The McCain plan would eliminate this tax exclusion and use the revenue generated — projected to be $3.6 trillion over 10 years — to pay for refundable tax credits for Americans obtaining private insurance ($2,500 for individuals, $5,000 for families). Uninsured Americans could use their credits to help buy insurance coverage on the individual market, and workers with employer-sponsored insurance could use theirs to offset the cost of paying taxes on their employers’ premium contributions or to purchase coverage on their own.
In addition, most uninsured Americans would probably remain uninsured under the McCain plan. Given the high price of health insurance, even with the new tax credits, many lower-income people would still not be able to afford coverage. And if the credits are not indexed to the rate of growth in health care spending, that affordability gap would grow over time (as would the number of Americans who would pay higher taxes for employer-sponsored health insurance). Indeed, with the proposed credits, many Americans could afford only high-deductible insurance policies. The McCain plan could consequently trigger a move from comprehensive insurance toward thinner coverage policies that shift costs onto sicker patients. Moreover, some employers, particularly smaller businesses, might stop offering insurance if the tax benefits of employer-sponsored insurance were eliminated. As a result, some currently insured workers could lose coverage.
Perhaps the most serious problem with McCain’s plan is its reliance on the individual insurance market. Individual insurance policies are administratively expensive, typically involve medical underwriting so that sick persons and those with preexisting conditions are charged higher premiums (premiums also increase with age) or are denied coverage altogether, and generally offer less comprehensive benefits than employer-sponsored insurance.
Obama's plan is a little different in that it relies on an employer mandate, new private and public programs and regulation.
The core of the Obama plan is a requirement that employers either offer their workers insurance or pay a tax to help finance coverage for the uninsured (some small businesses would be exempt, and others would be subsidized). The Obama plan would also create two new options for obtaining health insurance: a new government health plan (similar to Medicare) and a national health insurance exchange (a purchasing pool analogous to the Massachusetts Connector) that would offer a choice of private insurance options. Both would be open to persons without access to group health insurance or other public insurance, as well as to small businesses that wanted to purchase coverage for their workers. Income-related subsidies would be provided to help lower-income persons afford coverage. And private insurers could not deny coverage because of preexisting conditions or charge substantially higher premiums to sick enrollees: the Obama plan would end medical underwriting according to health status.
Since the plan lacks an individual mandate for adults (coverage is mandated for children), it would not cover all the uninsured and therefore would provide universal access to insurance rather than universal coverage. However, most Americans without insurance would gain coverage through the new public and private insurance options, and Obama has not ruled out adopting an individual mandate in the future if the plan does not produce universal coverage…
Although the Obama plan would substantially expand access to insurance, it lacks reliable cost-control mechanisms and a viable financing source. Reinsurance would shift private-sector costs for catastrophic cases to the government but would not reduce total health care expenditures. The plan also assumes that substantial savings will be achieved by increasing the use of electronic medical records, improving the management of chronic conditions, and strengthening prevention, but none of these worthwhile measures is likely to control costs in the short run. The new national health plan could control costs, but its effectiveness in slowing spending would depend on its enrollment and the political willingness to restrain provider payments.
Neither plan addresses all the people in the best manner. And it is difficult to really figure out the impact and total cost of both for the citizens of this nation. Obama's relies on the government, while McCain's relies on competition.
Comment: You say: “They want to keep taxes low. But they don't care that the tax system is disproportionate to people's incomes.” Again, you’re displaying a lack of knowledge about the tax system. Do you know the statistic s about what percentage of U.S. taxes are paid by what percentage of the wealthy? If so, please state them. I’d like to see you make that same argument again after citing them
With regard to the proportionality of the taxes, it may seem to be a smaller percentage taken out for the lower, middle, and working class families, but how easy is it to live when you are living below the poverty threshold (which for a family of four last year was making a mere $20,650), paying out 20-something percent of that in taxes makes for hard living. When you are making in the 100s of thousands, giving up 2o-something percent is really not going to make it hard for you to decide if you want to eat, pay bills, take care of your children, or pay your taxes.

Under both main candidates’ tax plans, everyone would pay fewer taxes.

Obama’s plan would raise taxes for people making over $250,000 from 35-39%. He will not tax income between $102,000 and $250,000 for Social Security, but would for all over $250,000. He would give tax breaks to about 95% of the population that earns less than $250,000. This may be seen in a $500-per-worker tax credit for those who earn under $150,000 and a $4000 credit for each child you have in college. If you are a senior citizen earning less than $50,000 there would be no income tax. But the Tax Policy Center says that seniors may end up paying more if corporations pass their corporate taxes onto the consumers.

McCain would leave a lot of the tax cuts the current president has enacted, including the eliminating the marriage penalty and increasing child credits which help out the middle class. He would keep the cuts to the wealthy by eliminating the highest tax brackets. He would double the dependent exemption, which would benefit families that are large in all the different incomes.

Obama calls for a greater estate tax than McCain.

Since McCain’s tax breaks are still going to exist for the wealthy, his plan would cost the US Treasury more money than his opponents plan, according to the Tax Policy Center. If the tax breaks are renewed, Obama’s plan would bring in an additional $700 billion over the next 10 years, but McCain’s would cost $600 billion. If the tax breaks expire, both plans would cost the nation money -- $2.7 trillion for Obama and $3.7 trillion for McCain.
Comment: I think what frustrated me about your blog post the most was the assumption that the conservative viewpoint represents hatred towards groups. The fact is that in both liberal and conservative circles, the crazy nutjob haters exist. In the marketplace of ideas in this country, we will disagree vehemently about important issues.
I was not trying to imply that only conservatives show hatred. That can be seen across the spectrum of political thought. Hopefully the hatred will stop. So many people throw out the claim that this is the best nation to live in (especially ones that have not been to other nations), yet there is so much angst among the people here. This is supposed to be the land of opportunity, and yet so many people do not have the same opportunities as others. Many people hardly have any opportunities. I know we can't all be one large happy family, but hopefully we can be a dysfunctional family that works to really benefit the masses on all socioeconomic, racial, sexual, political, gender, and any other levels.

This was longer than I anticipated.

Thank you for sharing all of your comments. I welcome them all opinions.


  1. Thanks for such a well thought out and researched post. I learned some things from it that I didn't know.

    I have a LOT of research to do before November!

  2. I respect that you took the time to answer my comment. At least you have the courage and an open mind enough to debate the issues and don’t automatically delete any criticism. However, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I still disagree with you, and in some cases I feel your answers actually support my point of view rather than yours.

    You say regarding the candidates’ medical plans “Neither plan addresses all the people in the best manner. And it is difficult to really figure out the impact and total cost of both for the citizens of this nation. Obama's relies on the government, while McCain's relies on competition.” EXACTLY! Obama’s plan relies on government--wasteful bureaucrats. Mounds of indecipherable paperwork. Red tape galore. Consider the DMV or the IRS. Consider trusting the most important thing you have--your health and your life—to them, with their inefficiency, wasteful nature and bad attitudes. Do you understand what happens when you eliminate competition? Things become stagnant. Quality deteriorates. Say that you have two lemonade stands across the street from each other. They are constantly trying to one-up each other by undercutting each other in price, as well as adding exotic flavorings to their lemonades to entice the customers to their stand. But if there’s only one lemonade stand, they have no reason to improve, do research into organic ingredients or make better lemonade. They can also let their customer service go to shit because they know the customer has no other choice besides their stand. Sure it’s a simple analogy, but let’s look at it in another way. You say it’s impossible to know the cumulative effects of Obama’s plan. I beg to differ. All you have to do is look at other countries with socialized medicine. Why are so many people from those countries making the long, expensive journey to our country for medical care? Don’t you think it might be because theirs lacks our standards, innovation and quality? Do you consider the long waits that some people have in countries with socialized medicine for the most basic procedures, and how scary and nerve-wracking that must be for them? Why don’t you look at some of those studies and get back to me. Look at the rate of breast cancer deaths in some European countries because by the time the poor woman gets a mammogram, the cancer is so advanced that they are unable to save her. All it takes is rudimentary knowledge about socialized medicine to understand these basics. Why is it that you’re so vocal about it, yet this has obviously not even occurred to you? You singling out the words "government" and "competition" in summation is full proof about how little you understand the big picture on this issue.

    You said regarding Obama’s stance on gay marriage: “The difference between Obama and McCain’s stance on gay marriage is big…Obama does not want them to marry (according to him it is only between a man and a woman), but he doesn't want them to be discriminated against.” Then you go on to talk about Bush’s proposal to make a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage between anyone but a man and a woman. McCain voted against Bush’s proposal in 2004. McCain is also on the record stating several times that he supports gays entering into legal contracts that give them the same basic rights that married people have. He (exactly like Obama) just doesn’t want to call it “marriage.” So then, how is “the difference between Obama and McCain’s stance…big”? There is essentially no difference. No matter who is elected, the issue will be left up to the individual states. So when you say that the difference is “big,” you are quite simply WRONG. You’re apparently reverting back to the idea seemingly brainwashed into your head that any Republican is an evil bigot. These candidates can basically say the same thing and people like you are still repeating the same inaccurate, tired lines about their “big differences.”

    Your defense of Obama’s church leader Reverend Wright is laughable. You’re wrong when you assert that “perhaps” I need to listen to more than a ten second sound bite to make up my mind about what “Reverend Wrong” said. Believe me, I’ve not only heard “10 second sound bites” but I’ve read full transcripts and seen videos of his sermons. The man is an angry, bitter bigot with an unabashed hatred for America and its government, Republican or Democratic. Watch one of his speeches in entirety on You Tube. He accuses America of being “terrorists” by “supporting state-sponsored terrorism against Palestinians.” Oh, those poor, innocent Palestinians. They just sit there acting all peaceful and agreeable, minding their own business and get bombed. Reverend Wrong actually blamed America for the events of September 11. If you claim to have heard/read more than just seconds of his sermons, I’m really not sure how you can defend him. If you think that Reverend Wright’s sermons are so harmless and inspiring, why would Obama have gone to all the trouble to distance himself from the Reverend’s comments, saying that he didn’t agree with them? At least Oprah Winfrey was smart enough to recognize his toxic “leadership” in the name of religion and walk out of there a long time ago. Why Obama and his family were so close with this man and stuck around for twenty years is much more a mystery. Why, if you’re so concerned with bigotry and oppression, do you gloss over the bigotry of Rev. Wright? And if you agree with Rev. Wright that all “terrorism” is bad, then why do you condone the close friendship between Obama, Wright, and admitted terrorist William Ayers?

    You say about taxes: (Obama) “would give tax breaks to about 95% of the population that earns less than $250,000” Really? Because I’ve got some swampland in Death Valley that I’m dying to get rid of at a very reasonable price. We should talk. Talk about naivete. Do you know what a “tax and spend” Democrat is? Some of this stuff you’re writing makes me think that you were literally born a few days ago.

    In your original post, you say about the man having a seizure on the sidewalk “He did not want their help. He said that he did have history of seizures, that he had been taking medicine for them before, but had stopped. This made me super pissed. Likely, he does not have insurance, and can't pay the exorbitant price for the ambulance let alone the hospital care.” Then when I said you were making an assumption, you say: ”I was not assuming that he denied the ambulance due to lack of insurance.” Oh really? Talk about contradicting yourself.

    Then you say something that by far makes me most angry out of any of the things you’ve written. “So many people throw out the claim that this is the best nation to live in (especially ones that have not been to other nations), yet there is so much angst among the people here. This is supposed to be the land of opportunity, and yet so many people do not have the same opportunities as others. Many people hardly have any opportunities.” Let me tell you that I have been to nearly every continent, including Africa. Have you? What other countries have you visited? You want to see angst? Have you seen Africa? Have you even seen Mexico, for that matter? What third world countries have you been to? You have the nerve to claim that “many people (in America) do not have the same opportunities as others.” Really? Have you ever even spoken to people who have come here from other countries and discovered that compared to their country, their freedoms and opportunities here seem Utopian to them? I’ve personally talked with Mexicans, Africans, Germans, Russians--so many people who contend that Americans are SO SPOILED and they don’t even understand how good they have it. Apparently and unfortunately, you are one of those Americans. When you say that “many people hardly have any opportunities,” I really hope that you’re not talking about black people. Because if you take a young black person and a young white person, both born in America and in the same tax bracket, both working hard in school and applying themselves and getting exactly equal grades, it’s actually the black person that has the better chance of getting into an excellent college with a free ride. All it takes is a lot of hard work and a lack of attitude that you are “owed something” by society. Why don’t you listen to someone like Bill Cosby talk about all the opportunity that is there for black people who literally throw it down the drain? No, because then you wouldn’t have anyone to blame for your attitude that “Life Should Be More Than This.”

  3. Stuck, you did a valiant job of responding. As you see from his/her response to your response is that these kind of people troll progressive sites to push a right wing agenda. They aren't open to truth or humane answers to problems and are the antithesis of peaceful coexistence. I rarely waste my time of them anymore.

  4. Anon alpha-male troll--You have a right to believe whatever you want, and I think there are things you and Stuck are never going to agree upon. You fall into the common trap of conservative logic that contends that anything that is more socialist-based can only be one end of the extreme or the other. It's either got to be breadlines in communist Russia, or it's what we have now. If America is so great, why can't we evolve into a new, functional, inclusive system? You're stuck thinking inside the box.

    What I really want to address is the last paragraph of the last comment. I'll comment for Stuck, because she's probably insulted. She has, in fact, traveled around the world. Her parents are Nigerian. She goes there often. You wouldn't know that, because you're obviously a troll. I'd refrain from lecturing her about your visit to Africa. Again, you're falling into the trap that if Americans aren't living in abject poverty, then they should just shut up, which is why you should just vote for McCain and I'll cancel you out. Obama believes it can be better, that it doesn't have to be that way. The fact that American corporations and globalization is exacerbating poverty around the world might seem irrelevant to you. People from other countries might believe we're spoiled, but they also believe we're bullies and we're an idiot for twice electing George Bush. Again, I could go on and on about this.

    But the most offensive (and false) thing you said was that black kids have more opportunities to go to school with a free ride. Um, just because there are several scholarships for people of color does not mean there are equal opportunities. That's asinine. Read some DuBois, read some Kozel, live and work within the black community, and then we'll talk. There's so many ignorant assumptions in your last paragraph, I almost puked up my iced coffee.

    But, the last commenter was probably right. You'll lament the povery on your trips abroad, then continue to ignore the realities of race and poverty at home. I'm going to knock on enough doors for Obama to more than cancel your vote out. Then I'll go have coffee with conservative folks who can talk about things civiling without trolling and patronzing others.


I share my thoughts and would love to read your thoughts, too.